A fight for what’s right becomes a fight for his life.
As guilt plagues him, Matthew Elliott’s world begins to spiral out of control. The harder he holds on, the more it slips through his fingers, and he’s helpless to stop it.
Entering into the underground cage-fighting scene, he starts out fighting for what’s right. The deeper he gets, the more guilt consumes him—the more pain he takes for his penance—and he’s soon fighting for more than justice.
He’s fighting for love.
He’s fighting for his life.
It was a usual Friday night at the bar. Except it wasn’t.
My partners Mitch, Kurt and Tony were there with me. My boyfriend Kira was there too, along with my boss, Berkman, and most of the guys from my division. There were celebratory drinks, a tab on the bar and congratulations all round.
I should have been happy. And part of me was. But part of me wasn’t. The smile on my face and laughs with the boys didn’t quite sit right, but the more I had to drink, the easier it got.
“Here it is!” someone called out. “Turn it up!”
The attention in the bar was drawn to the TV as the barman turned up the volume.
“…in this breaking story, after almost eleven years, Detective Matthew Elliott has announced his resignation from the LAPD…”
There were cheers and applause from around the bar, a few claps on my shoulder. Kira squeezed my thigh under the table. I smiled and lifted my beer in a salute before taking another swig.
I hated press conferences. I had a healthy distaste for the media and the paparazzi and I hated having to put my life on display for the public. Yet there I stood in front of a dozen cameras and even more reporters about to give the biggest announcement of my career.
It was ironic that the biggest would be my last.
I was on screen announcing to the good people, and the not-so good people, of LA that I was no longer a detective. I was no longer a part of the Fab Four. I was no longer a cop.
The questions started and I heard myself reel off the well-rehearsed answers on the TV. I’d given dozens of press conferences over my time with the LAPD narcotics division, and I’d never dreamed I’d be standing there announcing to the world that I was walking away from all I’d ever known.
Yet there I was, doing exactly that.
The questions on screen continued.
“Can you tell us why? Why are you retiring, Detective Elliott?” one reporter asked.
“Does this have anything to do with being outed as a gay cop last year?”
“Where does this leave the Fab Four? Do you have a replacement?”
“Are you planning a career in politics?”
I laughed at that, on screen and at the table in the bar. Mitch, who was sitting across from me, laughed as well. “No plans for running for Governor? Come on,” Mitch joked. “You’d make a good politician.”
I finished the last mouthful of my beer and pointed my empty bottle at him. Instead of telling him to get fucked, I said, “My turn to buy. ’Nother beer?”
“Hell yes, if you’re payin’,” he slurred.
I turned to Kira and leaned in towards him and asked, “Drink, baby?” He shook his head at me. I must be drunk if I’d called him ‘baby’ in front of the boys. Fuck.
“Nah, I’m fine,” he said. “Someone has to make sure you lot get home okay.”
“’M sorry,” I said, trying to apologise. “S’been a big day.”
Kira smiled sadly. “I know it has.”
I nodded, and stood up off my stool. I swayed as I made my way to the bar. I was drunk. It had been an emotional day, after an emotionally charged few weeks since I’d announced that I was leaving.
It hadn’t been easy. It had been one of the hardest decisions I’d ever made, but it was the right decision. My partners at work, Mitch, Kurt and Tony, were surprisingly okay with it. My boss had warned me against it, but ultimately agreed it was the right thing, but Kira…Kira didn’t like the idea at all.
He didn’t understand why I was leaving the department. No matter what reason I gave him, he didn’t believe me. He knew I loved my job, it was a part of who I was, he’d said.
And it had been a bone of contention between us since.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t being supportive. He just didn’t understand. I told him it was a decision I’d toyed with over the last twelve months, since he was abducted and tortured, beaten, held hostage because of me. And that wasn’t a lie. It just wasn’t the whole truth.
The whole truth was something I couldn’t tell him.
Kira knew there was something else to it. Of course he did. We’d been living together for almost twelve months, heknew me. And I’d never lied to him before. I’d never had to. And he knew I wasn’t telling him something.
He’d get quiet whenever I talked about leaving, waiting for me to explain the truth, but I never did. The night I told him I’d handed in my resignation was our first real fight. He yelled, and I yelled back, and he threw a glass into the sink and I slammed some doors.
We hadn’t spoken for two days afterwards.
It had damn near killed me.
A hard thump on my arm and a large hand on my shoulder snapped me out of my memories. My boss, my ex-boss, Berkman stood beside me and threw some twenties on the bar. “Whatever this man wants,” he told the barman.
I ordered some shots of bourbon under the watchful eye of the man who’d been like a father to me. I looked at him and gave him the best confident smile I could fake.
“You sure about this?” he asked quietly.
I nodded. “Yeah…”
The older man’s jaw bulged and he exhaled through his nose. “But?”
I looked back to where Kira was sitting with Mitch and the others. “I’ve never lied to him,” I said, suddenly feeling every drink I’d had.
Berkman nodded. “It won’t be easy.”
“Mmm,” I agreed, swaying where I stood. I didn’t want to talk about it. Not here, anyway. Not that Berkman would have said anything. “Need another drink,” I mumbled, picking up a fresh shot of liquor. I threw back the bourbon and when I put the glass back down, the bar wasn’t as close as I thought. Berkman put his hands on me, I realised, to steady me. Fuck, I was drunk.
“I’ll carry these to the table,” Berkman said, indicating to the drinks on the bar. Then he faced me in the direction of where Kira and Mitch were sitting. “You go that way.”
The bar was loud and busy and as I crossed the floor, I bumped into familiar faces with pats on the back and rounds of good luck and best wishes. Berkman beat me back to the table with my drinks, and when I finally got there, everyone was smiling at me.
I slid my arm around Kira’s shoulder and he manoeuvred me onto my stool and handed me a drink. I held up the single shot, and Mitch, Kurt, Tony and Berkman all raised theirs. Kira held up his soda and they all bumped their glasses against mine.
“To Matt,” Berkman declared. “To the future and wherever it may take you. We wish you well.”