Releasing Tomorrow: Lynked ... Today, Chapter One
Lynked releases tomorrow. Excitement abounds, I tell you. So, I thought for my offering today, I'd give you the first chapter of the MMA inspired story. I had so much fun writing Devon and Nic's story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Blurb:

When a fighter’s path crosses with a beautiful woman, he’s positive the meeting will only end in her leaving his penthouse with sex hair and a smile—until life and the law steps in, inevitably linking their futures forever.

The accident that ended his fighting career wasn’t enough to keep former mixed martial arts champion Devon Lynk out of the sport. His new business, Chaine Lynk, an exclusive fighting company, has made him millions through illegal gambling. Happy with his life, he never suspected it could be his downfall … until the morning after leads to something so much more than he expected, and he’s left with the weight of guilt and responsibility on his shoulders.

Veronica “Nic” Stacey made her way to Edmonton with the intention of starting life anew, but her first night in the city lands her in a stranger’s bed and things don’t quite go as planned. Waking up to find out her brother is in jail is one thing, but learning the man she slept with is also his boss is another matter altogether. With no knowledge of the city and nowhere to go, she’s left taking the only help offered: Devon’s.

With Chaine Lynk’s doors closed and Devon facing possible jail time for his involvement, reality takes a front row seat. Love and lust intermingle as he comes to learn what his business and choices have cost the girl he wants most—now he just has to fix it. But is it already too late?



Chapter One

“Hey, Jordan.”
Immediately, Nic’s older brother asked, “What’s wrong?”
Sighing quietly, she shot a fleeting glance out at the Grand Falls gorge from her apartment’s bay window. She should have known better than to call him back before she calmed herself down. There was no hiding anything from Jordan. Or maybe it was just Nic who couldn’t hide things from him. After all, because they were only a year apart in age they had grown up stuck to one another and even though he had moved an entire country away, they were still as close as ever.
“Nothing. I just—”
“Liar. You’re sniffy again.”
“Sniffy?”
A deep laugh filled the receiver. “Yeah, you get the sniffles when you cry and then you act all sniffy for hours after.”
“I do not!”
“Whatever you say, sis.”
“Did you want something?” Nic asked, trying to draw her brother away from her current emotional state.
“You called me, Veronica.”
“You called me first.”
“I can’t call my little sister for a chat when I’m bored?” When Nic didn’t respond, she heard her brother drum his fingers before he said, “Seriously, what’s wrong?”
Nic didn’t know what to say. Really, it was a lot of things. Between being fired from her job at the clothing store, the sudden emptiness of her bank account, and the crazy ex-boyfriend who just wouldn’t get the fucking hint and disappear, she was ready to call it quits.
“Is Don giving you issues again?” Jordan asked, voice turning dark.
“No,” she replied. At his disbelieving noise, Nic flinched. “Okay, so he’s been around.”
“Just around?”
“He showed up at Shreds yesterday going on like he usually does…”
Trailing off, Nic figured she didn’t need to say any more. Jordan would get the hint. Her ex-boyfriend was a sore topic, one she didn’t like to discuss. Don had a possessive streak, and while it wasn’t anything Nic couldn’t handle on her own, sometimes he got to be a little bit much. It certainly didn’t help that her hometown was so small everyone knew everyone else’s business. Or at least they thought they did.
Don happened to be the son of the county mayor, so his behavior was constantly being overlooked and excused. Nic, on the other hand, was the daughter of a less than favorable woman in everyone else’s eyes. A woman who had been known to sleep around, dabble in drugs, and neglect the children she’d bore.
People tended to lump Nic and Jordan in the same category as their mother without really giving them a chance. It was just assumed that Nic was a whore and that Jordan would be no better than the father who had up and left when they were only babies. It was a battle they constantly fought against, and a cycle Nic was determined to break. She wouldn’t ever be her mother. In fact, she tried so damned hard to be everything her mother wasn’t. She never touched drugs, didn’t step out of line as a teenager, and rarely took chances that would make her look irresponsible. That wasn’t who she wanted to be.
But closed-minded people were still closed-minded.
“And?” Jordan finally asked. Nic didn’t miss the tension in his tone.
“My boss wasn’t there yesterday.”
“Good.”
“Today he was,” Nic said softly. “And then Don decided to make another appearance.”
“Shit.”
Yeah, that about summed it right up. Nic had thought, when she’d explained to Don two months earlier that she was done with him and his ridiculousness, that he had finally gotten the point. Apparently, he hadn’t.
“I should have kicked his ass when I visited last summer,” Jordan muttered angrily. “I knew he was a spoiled little cock—”
“Jordan!”
“Sorry,” he mumbled, but he didn’t sound a bit apologetic. “Lemme guess, he got you fired?”
Nic exhaled shakily, feeling her shoulders get heavier from the weight. “Yep.”
“Screw it. Come to Edmonton. Tomorrow. Why not?”
“What? That’s crazy. No way, Jordan.”
He grew silent as her panic started to rise. Just the thought of doing something like that screamed crazy and irresponsible. People would talk about her. They’d say things she wouldn’t be there to defend or refute. Gossip would spread like wildfire. Don would likely be patted on the back and told he’d dodged a bullet because she’d always been doomed to end up just like her mother.
Oh God, Nic couldn’t even breathe when she considered it.
Jordan seemed to pick up on her panic thousands of miles away.
“Nic, take a breath and think about it. The job market in New Brunswick is crap. You were already accepted to the university here in the fall.”
“Yeah, but I don’t have the money for tuition. That was the point of this job. At least if I didn’t save enough for this semester, I’d have enough for the start of the next one.”
Not to mention, school actually gave her a responsible, adult reason to get the hell out of her hometown and away from the nonsense and drama.
Again, her brother grew quiet. “What if I could get it?”
“The money?”
“Yes. I could get it like nothing. You know I’m doing well with this company. I don’t want to explain it all over the phone, but if I needed a big sum at once, it wouldn’t be difficult for me to get my hands on it.”
Nic bit her lip, actually considering his offer. It would be a huge change to simply drop everything and move all the way across the country, but she had already been planning to do that anyway. Her roommate wouldn’t mind and Nic didn’t have a whole hell of a lot of things that she would leave behind. She missed her brother like nothing else, despite him making a serious effort to come and visit at least once a year.
“Veronica?”
“I’m still here. But, honestly, I don’t know if I should. You have like what, two roommates? They won’t like your little sister bunking with them, too. Not to mention, I won’t have a job right away. I still need to do the online courses before my acceptance to the university is approved. That just seems like a mess to me. You know I’m not one to take risks like that, Jordan.”
“Just say screw it. We’ll figure out the rest when you get here. Take a chance. Do something different, Nic. If you don’t, nothing’s ever going to change.”
Do something different.
“Okay. Buy me a one-way ticket.”
• • •
Nic blinked awake with bleary eyes when her brother shook her shoulder, grinning playfully. The loud laughter ringing outside of the bedroom had her wincing. She was lucky she’d fallen asleep at all. Jordan’s friends had absolutely no concept of personal space, privacy, or how to use inside voices.
“Rise and shine, sunshine.”
“Go away.”
“Nope. Get up, Veronica. You didn’t want to stay here alone tonight, right?”
Hell no, she thought.
Rubbing the sleep away, Nic finally sat up in her brother’s bed. She had only just arrived in Edmonton that morning, three days after giving her brother permission to buy her a plane ticket. More than once she had second thoughts over the choice, but this was her last ditch effort to try something different and start fresh.
Jordan glanced at the watch on his wrist. “I’ve got a couple of hours before I need to leave for the venue, so if you’re going with me, you need to get yourself done up.”
Nic scowled. “Excuse me?”
“Yeah, it’s kind of high class, despite the bloodshed.”
Great, Nic thought. A fight club with money and rich people. Awesome.
“And I need to call Dev, my boss,” Jordan added. “If you want, the guys will—”
“No thanks,” Nic interrupted.
She didn’t want to spend any more time than was necessary with Jordan’s roommates while he wasn’t around. While they seemed like nice guys, and she was sure they were when they weren’t slamming back beers, she’d had more than enough of their rowdy, hands-on approach for one day. God help one of those men if they happened to put their hands on her when Jordan was close enough to see them do it.
“So, hey…I wanted to talk to you for a minute.” Jordan seemed to turn nervous under his sister’s gaze before Nic waved at him to get on with it. “You know how I was sending money home for you every once in a while and whenever you asked, I wouldn’t really talk about it?”
Nic shrugged. “Sure. You didn’t need to do that, though.”
“I know, but that’s not really the point.” With a tense sigh, Jordan stood straight up and shoved his hands in the pockets of his dark wash jeans. “Chaine Lynk is kind of infamous around Alberta, okay?”
“Chaine Lynk, that’s the name of the company you fight under, right?”
Jordan nodded. “Yeah, but again, not the point. It’s not like every other fighting company, Veronica. The people on the guest list aren’t regular everyday men and women you could meet wherever. I just…shit, this should be so much easier than it is.”
Nic was confused. She didn’t understand why her brother seemed unable to explain whatever it was he needed to get out. Surely, it couldn’t be that bad—after all, whenever he talked about mixed martial arts, the cage, or fighting professionally, he always seemed to love it.
“Just spit it out, Jordan.”
He licked his lips and stared down at the bed avoiding her gaze. “It’s a private company. The guests who are allowed inside to view the fights have a lot of money. The men who own Chaine Lynk have a lot of money, too. Sometimes they get bored, so that money gets tossed around between them and the patrons to make it more interesting. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
A lump had formed in Nic’s throat. If her brother was involved in something illegal, she wasn’t all too sure she wanted to know. “Are you saying they gamble?”
“And if I was?”
Nic tossed her hands in the air, frustrated. “Don’t play word games with me. Is that what you’re telling me?”
“I’m telling you that when you go in there tonight, you might see stuff like that. If you do, you should turn cheek. It doesn’t affect you. You have no hand in it. Ignore it. Say nothing when we leave. That’s all.”
“Jordan…” He only shrugged again, refusing to acknowledge the warning in her tone. “I know your dreams are wrapped up in fighting professionally, but if it’s going to get you locked up, is that really the road you want to travel to achieve them?”
Then she had another thought and had to ask, “Is that where the money for my tuition is coming from?”
If it was, Nic didn’t want to touch it at all.
Instead of answering her question, Jordan cleared his throat and reached over to tousle her short hair. The action was teasing and familiar, as he’d done it a million-and-one times to her before. It didn’t matter how close they were in age, Jordan never let her forget he was the older one. Sometimes that came in the form of words, and other times it was actions that showed Nic he would always look out for her no matter what.
“Don’t worry about it, huh? Just do what I asked and in the morning, you’ll be one step closer to getting into the university.”
Something akin to worry settled in the pit of Nic’s stomach. “Anything else I should know?”
“Well, maybe…”
“What?”
“Stay away from the fighters, okay?” Jordan made a face, feeling wholly uncomfortable. “I know you’re twenty-two, and I’m not a fucking idiot, Veronica, but please stay away from the fighters. You’re right. This is my career here. It wouldn’t look good for my sister to be chumming it with someone involved with Chaine Lynk—it might cause issues.”
“I wouldn’t—”
Jordan’s deep laughter stopped her words up short. “I know you wouldn’t, sis. It’s not you I’m worried about. God knows you wouldn’t do anything that made you look bad. It’s them. Some of those guys couldn’t turn away from a pretty face if their life depended on it. Be careful, that’s all.”
Nic could do that. “Sure. Just say no, right?”
“Right.”
• • •
A chat call rang through on Devon’s laptop. His cell phone hadn’t stopped ringing all night, and now this?
Why was it that everybody seemed to think he had no life on fight nights? That, suddenly, every second of his time needed to be spent fulfilling those around him with mindless chatter and boring information?
He tapped the key to allow the call without seeing who it was first. “What?” His teeth clenched. “Is it extremely important or could it wait an hour?”
“Well, that depends on what or who you consider important, Dev.”
His shoulders relaxed at the sound of his half-brother’s voice. “It’s been a long day.”
“No doubt there.” There was a sound of shuffling papers on the other end before Chaine laughed. “Did you see the Sun today?”
“You know I don’t pay attention to that rag,” Devon muttered while he sat down. “There’s nothing in it that interests me unless it’s a new name to add to the client list for the company.”
“Daddy-Dearest and his new wife are sporting three pictures this week.”
Devon pulled up the Sun’s website, and in an instant the social pages were lining his screen. He rolled his eyes, and disgust fell from his mouth in a half-growl.
“At least she’s somewhat pretty,” Chaine said.
“She is young enough to be your sister.”
“Yours also, bro.”
He replied with yet another half-growl. The Albertan oil baron and multibillionaire Jeffery Wolfe had created enough children around Canada that his dick should have been considered a sperm-donating machine. Devon’s mother, Mia, was just one of the unfortunate women who’d fallen directly into the trap that was Jeffery.
Chaine, on the other hand, was the only recognized child by their father. Having been married to Chaine’s mother when he was conceived and staying with her throughout the vast majority of the pregnancy, it was the longest relationship Jeffery was known to have. The man had been proud of his pretty wife who came from just as good of stock as he in oil country, so he hadn’t held back from fawning over the pregnancy like a father would. Father being a term Devon used very loosely when it came to Wolfe, as dropping off a weekly deposit of sperm versus actually being a parent when the child was living and breathing were two completely separate things.
“She looks really familiar,” Devon noted. He studied the picture for a bit longer before closing the web browser. “But so do the fifty other women who hang off his arms.”
“Well…” The brief period of silence caused Devon to freeze. “I’ve seen her before.”
“Please tell me she isn’t an old girlfriend of yours because that would be creepy, man,” Devon said. Chaine snorted under his breath. “A whole new level of creepy, honestly.”
“Not an old girlfriend, Dev. She’s, uh… Well, you know that really well-to-do doctor that was kicked out of Chaine Lynk a few months back?”
Devon immediately knew whom his brother was talking about. Very few patrons had been permanently removed from Chaine Lynk’s client list. The doctor in question had liked to drink far too much and then bait their fighters when they were out of the cage. It was unacceptable behavior regardless of the money he was shoving at them.
“Sure. Why?”
“That’s his ex-wife.”
Devon cussed and slammed the laptop closed. “So she’s been to Chaine Lynk?”
“Once, I think, but maybe more,” Chaine said. “She certainly knows what’s going on behind the scenes, you know? Maybe that’s why we’ve been having these issues with the cops and stuff.”
Chaine Lynk was a very lucrative and popular business that had grown to unbelievable heights in the short three-year time span since the brothers founded it and opened the doors to the richest and the best. With his background in mixed martial arts fighting—gaining his first light-heavyweight title at twenty-one—Devon hadn’t been ready to say goodbye to the sport when a snowboarding accident had pushed him out of the league.
He’d worked almost every second of his life to gain what he had lost in a simple seven-minute run down a snowy mountain. Devon had made that run more times than he could count and never once had he crashed to that devastating extent before. The impact with the tree shattered his kneecap, nearly splitting his leg in half from the force of the hit. The heavy nerve and muscle damage left the fighter stumbling through the next few months, going in for surgery after surgery to repair the damage.
At only twenty-three and a half, Devon wouldn’t fight again, at least not professionally.
There was always opportunity in failure, though. Soon after the accident, Devon’s half-brother, who was the definition of hand-me-down riches, had waltzed into Devon’s world like he was always meant to be there.
With Chaine’s family money and Devon’s insurance payout, the brothers founded Chaine Lynk—an exclusive and member’s only event where the depth of your pockets determined if you were good enough to pass the threshold. The best mixed-martial art fighters came from all across Canada to be a part of the new up-and-coming fighting company. Devon’s experience and titles made the fighters flock. Chaine’s connections, money, and last name drew the clients in.
The stats, be them good or bad, of a fighter after each match were added to the pile in the database for Chaine Lynk, which caused a fighter’s popularity to grow or plummet within the group of people who were there to watch them battle it out. Unlike most mixed-martial arts companies, Chaine Lynk didn’t use rounds to break up the time in a fight; rather the ref who watched and judged the men allowed a single uninterrupted fifteen-minute match—unless injury needed him to step in.
The changes Devon and Chaine made were what made their MMA fighting company so different from the rest. There were no titles to be given or taken away. It was solely based on a fighter’s ability against the other opponent, and no one was removed out of the system because of their losses in the cage—though a loss would influence their influx of cash.
The illegal gambling on the fighters had begun as a small thing between Devon and Chaine. Fifty dollars here or there on a particular fighter they liked was nothing to the grand scheme of things. But like everything else with Chaine Lynk, the betting had grown quicker than it should have. Rich people with idle hands and pockets full of cash were a bad combination when they were trying to keep the business on the straight and narrow. The betting between patrons and hosts made the events more profitable, and fighters started gaining cuts from the winnings, adding to their pockets as well. Devon had opened an offshore bank account to hide the illegal cash coming through his business.
The gambling wasn’t completely out of control but Devon worried it could be getting there, seeing as how the attention of the police had started looking Chaine Lynk’s way in the last year. One raid, six months earlier, had given the police little evidence but enough to know there was something going on.
“Maybe Jeff’s money is talking,” Devon wondered aloud. “It would certainly explain why they keep hounding the doors like dogs.”
Chaine agreed. “Dad has a screwed up way of showing his love.”
“That’s putting it mildly.” Devon gripped at his hair in frustration. “I’m just the bastard from the street corner whore, remember? So, I expect his nonsense to a point. I mean, you’re the one he likes, Chaine, and he still can’t stop pulling this crap.”
“Define like.” Chaine laughed deeply. “This is getting old.”
“That it is.”
Behind him, Devon could hear his flat screen lighting up with more information from the automated polls for the fights. “Did Stacey get his draw tonight?”
“Jordan Stacey?” Chaine asked.
“That’s the only Stacey we’ve got, isn’t it?”
Turning in his chair, he reached up to the screen behind him and moved the touch-activated cursor upward to find his favorite fighter’s name hanging against another popular Chaine Lynk fighter in the heavyweight division. Jordan Stacey’s stats were lighting up the screen.
“Yeah, he did. He’s against Ron at eight. Pretty much certifies his win, anyway. I’m calling his name for my light-heavyweight choice of the evening.”
“You always pick Jordan.” The comment sounded suspiciously whiney.
“That’s because the kid always wins,” Devon shot back. With a couple taps of his fingers, Devon had placed his choice into the system along with the amount of money he was willing to throw in the pile. “It’s not my fault you agreed to give me first choice on fighters, Chaine.”
“Are you willing to let me take that choice back?”
Devon smirked. “Hell no; then whose money would I take? I like yours the best, Trust Fund.”
The topic of Chaine’s trust fund was a sore spot and Devon knew it. But he had to give his brother props: since they’d opened the doors to Chaine Lynk, he hadn’t touched that part of the bank. Devon knew it had something to do with Chaine’s desire to break away from his father and the Wolfe name. There wasn’t enough money in the world to push that kid into the oil country life Jeffery wanted to see Chaine living in.
Devon didn’t blame him a bit.
“Shut up,” Chaine said. “I’m taking on the lightweights tonight, anyway.”
Devon noticed that. The screen in front of him started filling with the information other members had recorded in. Their top picks and bet amounts were adding to an already massively growing number.
“I think we might break a record,” Devon said, grinning.
There was nothing more satisfying than taking cash off the hands of those who needed their pockets lightened a bit.
“We should probably go back to the old way, though.”
Devon knew what his brother was hinting at. The electronic system allowed members who weren’t even in Edmonton on fight nights to bet on the divisions or fighters of their choice and be paid out through offshore accounts. While nothing led back to them directly, there was still a chance their systems could be corrupted and then they’d have police stuffing illegal gambling charges down their throats.
“I know. But the guests won’t like it and we’re going to lose a lot because of it.”
“They don’t matter.” Something in the tone of Chaine’s voice stuck Devon as odd but he chose not to press on it. “It’s not their company, you know? Besides, we have those contracts to think about, too. We can’t have the major companies coming in to plaster their logos across our stuff and the fighters while we keep up the betting on the side. It’s not worth that risk, Dev.”
“True, but I haven’t okayed that yet, man, so quit bringing it up. I don’t like the thought of my boys wearing what someone else wants them to and you know that. They’re fighters, not prizes to be put on show while they wear someone else’s garbage,” Devon said, reiterating an argument the brothers had been having for quite a while. Devon’s phone, which was lying on a chair across the room and had been going largely ignored all night, began ringing once more. “I got to go. People are demanding my attention again.”
Hanging up on his brother, Devon fumbled to get to his phone before the call went to voicemail again. “Yeah?”
“Mr. Lynk?” Stress echoed in his secretary’s voice. “I don’t mean to bother you but a fighter would like to speak with you before you leave for the event tonight.”
“Was that you calling every five minutes?” Devon asked his secretary.
“Um, yes, I think?”
“I thought their managers understood you weren’t the messenger between us?” he asked.
“This request came directly from the fighter, sir,” she replied.
They seriously needed to get their fighters better ways to contact their bosses if the guys were still refusing to use the manager to boss system they had in place. “Which fighter?”
“A Jordan Stacey?” Kelly answered.
“Thank you. And Kelly, the next time a fighter calls, be sure to give them their manager’s number as a polite reminder for how they’re supposed to contact me when I’m away from the offices, venue, and gyms.”
“Will do.”
Hanging up the phone, Devon was quick to seek out Jordan’s contact number. The whole secretary deal was his brother’s idea. All the day-to-day tasks of handling the fighters landed on his shoulders and because of his experience, it wasn’t all too hard for him to keep up. There was something to be said for a hands-on boss, and that was what Devon preferred to be when it came to Chaine Lynk and the fighters they contracted. However, on fight nights in particular, he couldn’t be their go-to guy like he was every other day. Devon had a different mask to wear, and for the most part, the fighters understood and respected that.
“Hello?” Jordan asked when the call picked up.
“Jordan. It’s Devon, what’s up?” The light laughter of a female followed louder male laughter on the other end of the phone. “Please tell me you’re not drinking, Jordan. I just bet on your ass.”
“No way, Dev, I’d never do that. The guys were just joking around with my little sister so it’s a little loud.” Devon said nothing as Jordan continued speaking. “I need a second fight for the night. Can you put it in?”
“We don’t do two in a night; you know that. There’s a big risk of injury and I don’t want you in that position. You’ve got major scouts looking at you right now, Jordan.”
The voices became muted as Devon heard a door shut. “Chaine did it for Sammy a month ago so I know you can.” There was a short pause and then a quiet sigh. “Listen, under any other circumstances I wouldn’t ask but I finally got Veronica out here from back east and I need the cash.”
“That’s your sister, right?”
“Yeah,” Jordan replied. “She wasn’t supposed to come out until the fall but, well it’s a mess, okay? So I need a second fight tonight.”
A war began battling in Devon’s mind. He didn’t care much that giving the twenty-three-year-old a second match would possibly cause issues between the fighters because they’d handle that on their own. It was more the dangers of putting Jordan’s body through a double round of beatings when the first would certainly take a major toll on his level of endurance and strength.
“If you lose, Jordan...”
Jordan scoffed. “I won’t.”
“You’re too damn arrogant for you own good, you know that?” While it sounded like an insult, Devon meant it as a sort of compliment. The kid had a reason to be a little arrogant, honestly. “Fine, but a medic has to clear you in the back. And don’t ask for it again.”
“Gotcha, Boss.”
With his phone finally silent, Devon sat back in his large chair and stretched. His wrists popped as his neck cracked. The familiar pain in his left knee stung when he extended his leg but it was a sensation Devon had come to ignore out of habit. Despite the medical warnings to not push his old injury, at twenty-seven, Devon still went to the gym three times a week and took a seven-kilometer run every morning. It hurt more than he was willing to admit but there were limits in his life that Devon wasn’t willing to put up simply because someone else said he couldn’t do it.
At those thoughts, Devon’s eyes travelled to the sidewall in his office that was filled with the different awards he’d received for his accomplishments in the fighting world. His time as a professional mixed-martial arts fighter had taught him a simple but harsh lesson: as quickly as you rose, you fell.
A small piece of mesh he’d cut out from the mat where he won his first professional match still hung in a shadow box on his office wall. It solidified everything he’d ever worked for. It was his pride, sweat, and tears on a roughly cut square, stained with a ruddy brown. Only, sometimes the fabric reminded him of what he’d lost, too.
Double edged swords. They were everywhere.



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