Home > HATE (Madison Kate #1)

HATE (Madison Kate #1)
Author: Tate James




I shouldn’t be here.

If my father knew…

But I would take those risks to witness this fight. This fighter.

Music boomed from the speaker beside me, and the crowd got louder. More frenzied and impatient. Adrenaline pulsed through my veins, pushing my own excitement to such a level that I could barely stay still. I started bouncing lightly on the balls of my feet just to keep from screaming or fainting or something.

A grin curled my lips, and I nodded my head to the familiar tune. "Clichéd choice, but could have been worse," I muttered under my breath. “Bodies” by Drowning Pool continued to rage, and I pushed up on my toes, trying to catch a glimpse of one of the reasons we’d skipped out on our shitty Halloween party.

"MK, I don't get it," my best friend, Bree, whined from beside me. Her hands covered her ears, and her delicate face was screwed up like she was in physical pain. "Why are we even here? This is so far from our side of town it's scary. Like, legit scary. Can we go already?"

"What?" I exclaimed, frowning at her and thinking I’d surely just heard her wrong. "We can't leave now; the fight hasn't even started yet!" I needed to yell for her to hear me, and she cringed again. She had reason to. In a crowd dominated mostly by men—big men—Bree and I stood zero chance of even seeing the octagon, let alone the fighters. Or, if I were honest, one fighter in particular. So we'd climbed up onto one of the massive industrial generators to get a better view.

The one we’d picked just happened to also have a speaker sitting on it, and the volume of the music was just this side of deafening.

"Babe, we've been here for over an hour," Bree complained. "I'm tired and sober, my feet hurt, and I'm sweating like a bitch. Can we please go?" She tried to glare at me, but the whole effect was ruined by the fact that she still had a cat nose and whiskers drawn on her face—not to mention a fluffy tail strapped to her ass.

Not that I could judge. My costume was "sexy witch," but at least I'd been able to ditch my pointed hat. Now I was just wearing a skanky, black lace minidress and patent leather stiletto boots.

It was after midnight on October thirty-first, and we were supposed to be at our friend Veronica's annual Halloween party. Yet Bree and I had decided that sneaking out of the party to attend a highly illegal mixed martial arts fight night would be a better idea. Even better still, it was being held in the big top of a long-abandoned amusement park called The Laughing Clown.

Like that wasn't an infinitely better way to spend the night than being hit on by a boy with a Rolex and then spending all of three minutes with him in the backseat of his Bentley.

Yeah, Veronica's parties all sort of ended the same way, and I for one was over it.

"Bree, I didn't force you to come with me," I replied, annoyed at her badgering. "You wanted to come. Remember?"

Her mouth dropped open in indignation. "Uh yeah, so you wouldn't get robbed or murdered or something trying to hitchhike your way over the divide! MK, I saved your perky ass, and you know it."

I rolled my eyes at her dramatics. "I was going to Uber, not hitchhike. And West Shadow Grove is not exactly the seventh circle of hell."

Her eyes rounded as she looked out over the crowd gathered to watch the fights. "It may as well be. You know how many people get killed in West Shadow Grove every day?"

I narrowed my eyes and called her factual bluff. "I don't, actually. How many?"

"I don't know either," she admitted, "but it's a lot." She nodded at me like that made her statement more convincing, and I laughed.

Whatever else she’d planned to say to convince me to leave was drowned out by the fight commentator. My attention left Bree in a flash, and I strained to see the octagon. Even standing on the generator box for height, we were still far enough away that the view was shitty.

My excitement piqued, bubbling through me like champagne as I twisted my sweaty hands in the stretchy fabric of my dress. The commentator was listing his stats now.

Six foot four, two hundred and two pounds, twenty-three wins, zero draws, zero losses.

Zero losses. This guy was freaking born for MMA.

It wasn't an official fight—quite the opposite. So they didn't elaborate any more than that. There was no mention of his age, his hometown, his training gym… nothing. Not even his name. Only…

"...please give it up for"—the commentator gave a dramatic pause, whipping the crowd into a frenzy—"the mysterious, the undefeated, The Archer!" He bellowed the fighter’s nickname, and the crowd freaking lost it. Myself included.

“Paranoid” by I Prevail poured from the speaker beside us, and by the time the tall, hooded figure had made his way through the crowd with his team tight around him, my throat was dry and scratchy from yelling. Even from this distance, I trembled with anticipation and randomly pictured what it’d be like to climb him like a tree. Except naked.

"I'm going to guess this is why we came?" Bree asked in a dry voice, wrinkling her nose and making her kitty whiskers twitch. Her costume wasn't as absurd as it could be, since most members of the crowd were in some form of Halloween costume. Even the fighters tonight wore full face masks, and the commentator was dressed as the Grim Reaper.

"You know it is," I shot back, not taking my gaze from the octagon for even a second. I hardly dared blink for fear of missing something.

One of his support team—a guy only a fraction shorter with a similar fighter’s physique and a ball cap pulled low over his face—took the robe from his shoulders, and my breath caught in my throat. His back was to us, but every hard surface was decorated with ink. We were too far away to see details, but I knew—from my borderline obsessive stalking—that the biggest tattoo on his back was of a geometric stag shot with arrows. It was how he’d gotten his nickname. The stag represented his star sign Sagittarius–the Archer.

"Ho-ly shit," Bree gasped, and I knew without looking at her she had suddenly discovered a love for MMA.

"They say he's being scouted for the UFC," I babbled to her, "except they said he has to stop all underground cage matches, and apparently he told them to shove it."

Bree made a sound of acknowledgment, but knowing her, she didn't even know what the UFC was, let alone understand what an incredible achievement that was for a young fighter.

"Shh," I said, even though she hadn't spoken. "It's starting."

In the makeshift octagon, The Archer and his opponent—both wearing nothing but shorts and a plain mask—tapped gloves, and the fight was officially on.

Totally enthralled by the potential of the main event fight, I waited eagerly to see how it was all going to pan out. Would it be an even match of skills and strength, spanning all five rounds? Or would it be a total domination by one fighter? I could only cross my fingers and hope The Archer hadn’t grown cocky with his recent successes and ended up KO'd in thirty seconds like Rhonda Rousey.

The other guy struck first, impatient and impetuous. Watching the way The Archer blocked his attack, then struck back with a vicious jab to the face and knee to the side, I could already tell it would be over before the end of the first round.

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