[fXr] The Odd Couple Part 02/02

By: Dane Preston

Writing Prompt: No

Date: 25th Aug 2021


Howling Wolf One @ Somewhere over WiscAnsin
9:20 AM – Sunday, August 22nd, 2021

What the fuck am I doing? Allison and I arenít exactly on speaking terms right now, and Iím on the familyís Howling Wolf One, flying to some lake near Parts Unknown. Thank the gods for Marie, Callan, Rose and Ciara, they were such energetic chatterboxes that they were the perfect distraction from having to have the tough conversation. Eventually, I tuned out, which I tend to do. Looking at the window, I can see Allisonís reflection perfectly as sheís laying on the floor coloring with all the kids.

A couple times I caught her glancing at me and I got butterflies in my stomach. I saw her look up at someone else before quickly putting her head down, so I stole a glance and saw she was blushing. When I looked in the direction Allison had been looking I met VooDooís eyes with my own. She slowly, methodically, intimidatingly crossed her arms and glared at me. VooDoo is a believer in tough love, play stupid games, win stupid prizes and all that.

The plane touched down at the private airstrip not far from Parts Unknown. I couldnít wait to get off the plane and see my little lovebugs, but I slowed down when I saw Allison practically running down the stairs to meet the twins as they ran toward her. Jenna and Damon were not far behind the kids, Damon still sporting some black eyes and a scar above his left eye, courtesy of Brandon Moore.

I watched as Allison dropped to her knees and took our precious babes in her arms, I could see Damon was less than pleased. The grimace on his face shifted from Allison to me as Luke and Layla broke away from Allison, ran over and latched themselves onto my legs. I scooped them up and buried my face in their chests, squeezing them both as tightly as I could, without hurting them. Upon setting them down, I could tell Damon was about to give us a lecture.

I need to speak to the both of you.

Thatís my cue to take the kids and get them on the plane. Jenna led the twins to Howling Wolf One, I heard Luke oohing and aahing at the giant mechanical bird. My little man had a thing for machines, same as me. Damon waited until Jenna was gone before he started in on us. I could only imagine the severity of the tongue lashing we were about to receive.

Dane, if you will give me a moment with Allison? Looking at me, I could see the pain and the anger in his eyes, I looked over at Allison, we shared an “Oh Shit” moment as I turned and stepped away. It took Damon a while to collect his thoughts, he just stared at Allison, who looked like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar waiting to be scolded. Youíre my daughter, I will always love you. But thisÖtrystÖwith Joe Montuori, I will never approve of it. Iím sorry if that makes me an asshole, but I stand by it.

Nodding her head, she replied, I can live with that. I should have known better. For what itís worth, I am sorry. I feel like I took away Michelleís title of worst Riggs ever. I do want to go on the record, that was the only time. First and last.

Youíre the best Riggs.

I watched as Damon stepped forward, enveloping Allison in his massive arms, they stood there embracing each other for what felt like forever. When they released each other I saw Allison wiping at her face as she breezed past me without so much as a look. I headed back to Damon, his hands on his hips, head pointed to the sky, Allisonís tears on his shirt. Lowering his head, Damon took a deep breath before folding his arms across his chest.

If he made Allison cry, I can only imagine what I have in store. I looked over my shoulder just in time to see Allison step onto the plane. Turning my attention back to Damon, I just stared at him, jaw clenched, looking like a raccoon, which made me laugh inside as Damon broke the silence.

You are my son in law, until this Montuori business, I couldnít have been happier for the two of you, even with your ‘unconventionalí relationship. Going quiet, I knew he was about to attack. I would be a hypocrite to jump down your throat for cheating, you know, I did it too. Itís no secret itís why Voo and I are so close. While I donít know the facts or have all the answers, this isnít characteristic of Allison. Iím of the mind that all the rumors and Joe gaslighting her, combined with Sahara making a play for you right away, it may be what lead to them hooking up. But I believe my daughter. Or not…

I donít know how to fix this.

Talk to her, son. Talk to her.

Easier said than done, Old Man. You wanted to be done with Stellar when you cheated. I never wanted any of this to happen. How can I talk to her now, what can I even say that would begin to make things better? This is all I could think about while Damon and I walked over and boarded the plane. The second leg of the flight was nerve racking, because the only thing going through my mind was how to approach Allison and talk about what had happened.

Getting to the beach was a blur, we had two shuttles that met us at the plane and took us straight to the lake where there was a gorgeous Pirate Ship docked. I was in awe at this majestic seafaring vessel that had jumped out of the pages of Treasure Island, now docked in a lake in Wisconsin. I helped unload the twins, who Jenna took off my hands instantly. She is too kind to say it, but I know sheís upset with me over everything. I took a deep breath and made my way onto the ship and gave myself a tour.

I remember my 5th grade Ship Trip, we went on a much smaller ship and slept overnight. From bow to stern, starboard to port, the galley, the cargo hold, the bunks, the Captainís cabin and back to the midship. In the distance I can hear all the kids playing on the beach, so I walked over to the railing and leaned against it as I watched the twins splashing around in shallow water, while the bigger kids were jumping off a floating dock into deeper water.

I didnít hear her coming, but I practically did a double take when Allison nudged me on my right side, only to lean against the rail next to me, an obvious space between us. Looking closer, Allison was standing just like me, squinting her eyes the way I do. Mocking me? I took a relieved breath at the good fortune smiling upon me.

Can we talk?

I was taken aback, hearing the words escape her lips. I nodded and the words just started flowing out of my face.

Thatís all Iíve wanted since the Maury ShowÖ But thatís the second straight time Iíve been held back from getting to you. First, at Blood Money and then at Maury. Itís beginning to feel like weíre the ones who got played and this was Joeís plan all along.

Dane, you know that those lie detector test results were a lie, right?

I looked away and nodded, In my heart, yes. In my head, with all thatís happened in the last few months, Iíve had my suspicions.

I watched out of the corner of my eye as she stared at her clasped hands as she rubbed them together; I was relieved to see the rings I placed on her finger all those years ago, still where they belonged. Every time I turned around, Sahara was there somehow touching you. In Medical… You naked in the locker roomÖ When I saw you two at the show and how she was talking to you, touching you and trying to calm you down, almost as if you had shown her how. I just felt there was something more, that I wasnít a part of. You gave her my place.

I looked her dead in the eyes, Iím sorry Princess, but you left your place open for her to slide her way in. I saw the storm of anger forming in her eyes, I slowly raised my hands. Iím not here to fight with you, nor place blame. My love for you has never waivered, sure, Iím an emotional mess because of all of this, but there must be a way for us to make things right and move past all of this. Whatever that is, the first step is you and Joe losing those Islands Tag titles. Just know one thing, Sahara has not been given your place, nor will anyone else.

For someone who isnít placing blame, sure as Hell felt like you were. She looks away from him and back down at the kids, she nods her head and then sighs. Iím a big girl, I can take it. But make sure you get it all out of your system right damned now, because I donít want to hear this was my fault for the rest of my life in every argumentÖ that is if we can fix this. And if we canít, I will go with whatever story you want to go with. Everyone will believe it anyway. Just like they are believing it now.

I didnít choose any of this, Allison. Your father purposely had Opt-Out clauses written into each and every one of our contracts since AW. For this exact situation. I get that you wanted to make nice with the enemy and prove that we do things better than your dad and company used to. But in the process, you opened a forbidden door, allowing doubt and suspicion to creep into our lives. I saw tears forming in her eyes. Yes, you are a big girl, and Iím a big boy. We have to own OUR mistakes. My first one was by not insisting that we exercise the Opt-Out clause. Yours was going along with Joeís faÁade in the first place. We both shoulder the blame, for how this started, and for sleeping with other people without each other present. We both broke the rules. In a really big fucking way. And fuck what other people think or believe.

Sheepishly she asks, So, I guess we start working on repairing us after Joe and I lose the belts then?

I love you with all my heart and I want nothing more than for us to heal. But yea. Until ties are severed with Joe, we canít even begin to work on our relationship.

I can live with that. I stood there as she placed her hand on my back and gave it a rub, before she made her way back down to the docks and the kids.

Barad-dŻr @ New York, NY
11:07 AM – Tuesday, August 24th, 2021


Man, I really thought X was my friend. I know he doesnít really run the day to day shit, thatís all on Miss F, but goddammit, he couldíve tossed me a bone so I wouldnít have to deal with Joe Montuori as a partner in this damned Toxic Tag tournament. Leaving my apartment, I could swear that I saw a blond in the lobby purposely avoiding me. But I wasnít sure so I shrugged it off and made my way out to the town car waiting for me.

The driver was one of those trained robots who only acknowledge you when youíve arrived at your destination. So the ride to this mandated counseling session was quiet. Too quiet. All the thoughts running through my head; Brandon attacking Damon, One Night with Sahara, seeing Allison crying into her fatherís chest, watching Allison storm off the set at the Maury Show with Joe in hot pursuit, to getting arrested with Joe.

The last few months have been bizarre as fuck, and even that feels like an understatement. It might actually do me some good to have a professional to vent my problems to. Having been lost in my own thoughts I had no clue how much time had passed, I didnít know the car had stopped until the driver was opening my door to let me out.

I was escorted into the building by two burly security guards, one of which badged me into the elevator, upon stepping off the elevator I was met by two more large security guards. After being directed to the reception desk, I walked over to find a portly lad on the phone, typing away at his computer and sipping coffee, those who work with the direct public are made of sterner stuff than I.

Taking a look around the waiting area, I noticed that Joe hadnít arrived yet. Glancing over my shoulder, I see the two guards from downstairs have joined the two up here. ”Slow day fellas?” I ask in an unsuccessful attempt to lighten the mood. So I turned back to the guy at the reception desk.

They always this quiet and brooding?

Who, the security guards? I have no clue, this is the first time weíve ever had security guards here. I was advised that this was a precaution thanks to your employer.


Is your partner going to be long? We booked off the entirety of the day for you both, as we were informed that this was going to be a difficult sessionÖ

He is not my fucking partner. This is some random ass gimmick that FIGHT! is running with, pairing bitter enemies together.

Be that as it may, the doctor would like to get started soon.

I took a seat and waited until I was called in to see the headshrinker. A few minutes had gone by when my name was called. I stood up and met Dr. Irina Firstein, while Joe was nowhere to be found.

Mr. Preston, is it?

Yes maíam.

If you please, Dr. Firstein will suffice.

Yes maíam, I say again, drawing a smile upon the good doctorís face.

This is going to go swimmingly, I just know it. This way pleaseÖ she led me down a hallway and into a corner office with one helluva view. Rich, dark mahogany desk and floor to ceiling bookshelves, this headshrinker was well read. A weathered but still beautiful leather seat sits kiddie-cornered facing an L shaped couch. She gestures for me to have a seat on the couch as she grabs a notepad from her desk and sits in the leather chair. We sit quietly for a few moments as she scans through some previous notes. I havenít a clue what to do with you two.


You and Mr. Montuori, who seemingly couldnít be bothered to show up on time. This is very much out of my depth, but I could not pass on the offer presented to me. Iíve seen your record. You spent 5 of a 10 year stint in San Quentin State Penitentiary, for involuntary manslaughter in the course of a street race?

Yes, maíam.

I understand you self-medicated for a long time, before checking yourself into a rehabilitative program at the behest of your wife?

Yes, maíam. Is all this really necessa–

Suddenly the door bursts open and Joe Montuori walks in, wearing his Fatal Attraction Championship title, A Dickless Dane Tee Shirt and a bouquet of flowers in hand. Awright, now that the Star of this excuse for a tag team has arrived, we can begin. Joe makes a beeline toward the doctor, handing the bouquet of flowers to her.

Theyíre lovely, thank you. Dane and I were just going over some of his personal history —

Eh, fuck this guy, doc. Heís a lost cause. Iím only here so I can show up to Toxic Tag and win it all by mys–

I saw fucking red. I donít remember it happening, but apparently I jumped off the couch and speared Montuori over the good doctorís desk, files and books and a desk lamp or three following in our wake. I landed on top of Joe and just started pummeling his face in.


Seconds later the four burly ass security guards had pulled me off of Joe and escorted us back into the waiting area. The guards sat Joe and I on opposite sides of the room. The doctor was on the phone moments later, screaming at the person on the other end, whom I can only assume was someone from FIGHT! Joe and I locked eyes and just stared daggers through one another.


A few minutes later, Dr. Firstein comes back into the room, calm, cool and collected. Iíd stake the 10,000 Blood Money reward on Xavier throwing more money at the good doctor. Sitting down in her chair, Dr. Firstein brushes her hair out of her face, and picks up her notepad.

Security, please strap Mr. Preston and Mr. Montuori into their chairs so we can continue this session.

Wait, what?

The security guards advanced towards me and Joe, and as usual, the used car salesman began to negotiate.

How much to strap in Dickless Dane and not strap me in?

Shaking his head, the security guard strapped both me and Joe in, while Joe was glaring at the guard as he was being strapped in. Dr. Firstein looked very smug as she spoke.

I’m sorry we had to do this gentleman, but if neither of you complete this session, neither of you compete in Toxic Tag, and my time will not be compensated. And this is for the good of New York City as a whole.

I AM New York City, Doctor. I know you know this.

Oh, fuck you, Meatbol. Everyone knows the Montuoris are bottom feeders. Your family is filled with negligent slumlords and conmen! Your entire bloodline is a joke.

Dr. Firstein throws her notepad on the floor as she explodes from her seat.

Will you two please STOP!? I have some questions for each of you, once weíre finished with the questions, youíll both have the floor to address one another. But for now, please let me do my job!

We both looked at each other and nodded, before looking back to the doctor and nodding to her as well.

Now, Mr. Montuori, what made you decide that it was the right decision to get involved in the marriage of Mr Preston and Allison?

Thatís such an easy question, Doc. I’m a good guy and I know how to treat my lady. So before I got back involved in the wrestling world after a hiatus, I had a plan. I paid attention to everything that was going on in the wrestling world. I also got some great feedback from Brother P and others. I was just waiting for the right time to make a return and get what I wanted. And boy did I get what I wanted. I wanted to bring FOCUS back- SUCCESS. I wanted to win some GOLD- SUCCESS. I wanted to make Damon Riggs’ life a living hell- SUCCESS. And I wanted to make Allison Riggs my woman- SUCCESS.

Joe smirks at me after that remark.

Funny, I seem to recall Damon beating the brakes off youÖ And for the last GODSDAMNED TIME, she is NOT YOUR WOMAN!

Calm down buddy, it’s ok. She was in good hands with me and she enjoyed the ride on the Monty. And once again ALLIE ABOARDDDDDD!

Joe is cracking himself up, treating this session like a big joke. I could feel myself turning red, and if I could get out of these blasted straps, I would rip Montuoriís head from his shoulders and feed it to the fish.

You really are a special kind of stupid. She Amazoned you, idiot. She dominated you and made you her bitch in the bedroom. I didnít think she was capable of such an emasculating act. She basically fucked you with YOUR OWN DICK, you moron.

Language please, Mr. Preston. It seems clear that Mr. Montuori is just answering my question in a way to upset you. But let’s dig a little deeper here. How do you feel about how Mr. Montuori has treated Allison?


Dr. Firstein stares daggers straight into Joeís chest. His eyes were haunted, filled with fear.

The same warning goes to you, Mr Montuori, watch your mouth. It was not your turn to speak. If you want me to tell FIGHT! that you shouldn’t compete this Saturday night, what would happen?

The ratings would drop, merchandise sales would be at its lowest, and Allison would be upset.

Allison wouldnít shed a fucking tear for you. The ratings would fucking skyrocket, no one pays to see you. Only YOU pay to see YOU, fuckin narcissist. You need your partners and friends to carry you through every fucking match. You’re incapable of fighting by yourself. Thatís why Brandon bailed on you. He says you are beneath him, weak, nothing more than a circus clown. Iíve said it several times, Iíll say it again; BRANDON MOORE WAS THE TRUE LEADER OF FOCUS. As far as how Joe has treated Allison, he flaunts his money and buys overtly expensive things that she simply doesnít care for. He treats her like a piece of arm candy and a common whore. The only reason he did any of this was to get back at both my father in law and me.

Dr. Firstein appears ready to move on to the next question, as things are really starting to get heated.

Mr. Montuori, how do you feel about Mr. Preston?

I can’t believe you would really ask me that. There isn’t a positive thing to say about this man. He rather work on a muffler, then spend time with his EX wife. He cheated on her with a whore named Sahara. Heís behind me in Blood Money Points. I’m a tag champ with his EX wife, he’s nothing. As a matter of fact, the only good he has done in my life is the INCOME im making off these DICKLESS DANE shirts. By the way, SOLD OUT across the country and overseas. So thank you asshole.

Mr. Preston, how do you feel about Mr. Montuori?

Heís that spoiled rich kid that drove daddyís Porsche to school every morning. He does nothing for anyone, and yet expects the world from others. He has no idea what a real relationship looks like, and has no idea how to be a father to another manís children. He is the textbook definition of a narcissist, down to the letter. Anything he does, he only does because it benefits him. If my wife doesnít wise up and come to her senses soon, sheís going to be cast out once sheís outlived her usefulness to him. He thinks he is better than everyone in the ring, despite losses to Damon, Vhodka, he would have lost to me, but brass knucks and a low blow couldnít put me away. Sure, he talks a good game, but the cold, harsh reality is that he is an absolute fraud.

Before I could tell what was happening, Joe somehow broke free from his restraints and was making a beeline straight for me. With my hands strapped down, I couldnít defend myself when…


Joe slapped me in the face and started to dance around having some fun. But the fun stops as J Mont cocks back and fires…


Unable to fend for myself, Joe delivers a straight right hand to my jaw. I feel my lip pop and then I taste blood. Dr. Firstein is frantically screaming for security to separate the two of us as sheís already on the phone with who I can only surmise are the police. Security guards rush in, but these boys were not built to run, they were winded just walking in. Four pairs of hands dig in and pull Joe away to one side of the room and me to the other. I wipe the blood away from my busted lip, while Joe runs his mouth more than ever while hiding behind a wall of humanity.

Yes, Sergeant, itís time. These two are out of control. Iíd like to conduct the rest of this session from an interrogation room in your precinct. Perhaps theyíll be on their best behavior knowing New Yorkís finest could walk in at any time.

Dr. Firstein hangs up the phone, sheís clearly pissed off at the two of us. There must have been officers on standby for this very moment, because the sirens sound close.


Cops showed up, hauled our asses to the closest precinct. Now Joe and I are sitting across from one another, handcuffed to the table. The looks weíre shooting each other means another war could be coming, but I think weíre smarter than that. There is enough fire power in this room to take out a small army. There are two officers at each end of the room and one to either side of both of us. at the end of the table. Dr. Firstein had an officer standing right behind her, clearly feeling pleased with herself and just as protected.

Thank you officers for the prompt response and helping me finish this crazy session.

The officers all tipped their hats to the good doctor. Smoothing her hair out, adjusting her glasses, Dr. Firstein assumes control of the session for what I can only hope will be the third and final time.

Ok gentleman, now that weíre in a more secure venue for this session, Iíd like to do an exercise. Iím going to lay out photos of all your opponents for this Saturday Night in the big Toxic Tag Wars Match. You both will take turns giving your thoughts about each one you see in the photo.

We nod in agreement, though Iíd much rather rip Joeís face off, and I can tell from his demeanor that he likely feels the same. Without another word from the good doctor, she lays out the first photo.


Joe Montuori: “The best brother anyone could ask for. Always has my back.

Dane Preston: “The superior Montuori, but heís still a clown flexing his water weenie like itís a python.

That got a chuckle out of Joe.


Joe Montuori: “An uncreative piece of shit. There is only one Dickie and thatís LIL DICKIE.

Dane Preston: “Iíd like to disagree, but I already beat him. And he is biting off more than he can chew with both Dynasty AND FYA.

I glanced at Joe and put a fist out, he shrugged and bumped my fist. If I wasnít handcuffed to the table, I might have fallen out of my chair.


Joe Montuori: “The best woman in the whole entire world.

Dane Preston: “Nah. She IS the entire world to me. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we will endure.

Joe scoffs in response to my comments.


Joe Montuori: “Whore, Slut, Bitch, Tramp, CuntÖ. Do I need to continue?

Dane Preston: “Broken, but still good. Canít stand pandas for some reason. A bad ass when she wants to be.

Another scoff from Joe, clearly not a fan of Sahara.


Joe Montuori: “We have come a long way. I can actually say today, we are friends and heís a good dude.

Dane Preston: “At one point I looked up to him, aspired to be like him. I guess in a way Iím more like him than I thought. While I intend to heal the rift between my wife and me, Iíd like to have a career even half as memorable as his.

Joe stuck his bottom lip out like Robert DeNiro and nodded his head in agreement.


Joe Montuori: “Take my vision away. Who the hell would want to look at that everyday?

Dane Preston: “Creepy. Compelling. Cryptic. She threw a challenge my way not long ago. Letís see if sheís brave enough to step up in the ring.

Shaking his head and rolling his eyes, I hear Joe mumble, “yeah okay.”


Joe Montuori: “One of my best friends now. We turned the corner, buried the past and built on the future.

Dane Preston: “Legendary. One of the baddest bitches Iíve ever known. While weíre not the closest of friends, and she keeps trying to steal my hetero lifemate from me, I respect the hell out of her.


Joe Montuori: “Yeah, she definitely hates my guts. Oh well, she will have to learn it’s my way or the highway.

Dane Preston: “Youíve got a fucking deathwish. This is the Femme Fatale. The Devilís Favorite Redhead. One of my mentors. Friends. And holy FUCK she wants to kick the shit out of the two of us as much as she wants to throttle Vhodka. Iím not looking forward to a confrontation with her and neither should you.


Joe Montuor: “Isnít she from 101 Dalmations? She reminds me of that lady that smokes the long Cigar and drives a Cadillac.

Dane Preston: “No you jackass, thatís the redhead with the snack cakes running around with that crackhead buddy of yours LC, thatís Ophelia Pain. Do you not pay attention to who our fucking coworkers are? Joeís head starts to bobble from side to side, his mouth running in mockery. Sweet gal, one of the few peers I have that are actually Team DíAllison. Thanks Dru.


Joe Montuori: “Who?

Dane Preston: “Who?

Joe and I actually agreed on this one. We looked at each other and gave an approving nod and bump fists again.


Joe Montuori: “Just what her name defines, lack of interest or concern.

Dane Preston: “A legend. We travel in the same circle, but only in the past couple of years have we actually been in the same promotions at the same time.


Joe Montuori: “I think she has a secret crush on me and who wouldn’t!

Dane Preston: “Oh, the things I could tell you. Howling Wolf, flying over the Pacific Ocean, Allie and Ani in our room. Helluva fighter, as cunning as they get, and a LEGEND in her own right.


Joe Montuori: “Donít know the guy, just see him run his mouth like he is King Pin. If he gets in my way, he will be like the KINGPIN movie, one arm is ok and the other arm will be a Hook after i break it off.

Dane Preston: “His name carries a solid buzz around the business. Solid reputation. But he is with Dickie Watson, and the same warning goes out to him; donít bite off more than you can chew. While Dynasty and FYA have their own blood feud going, we will be more than happy to put the boots to the four of you.


Joe Montuori: “He has lost his mind. He is Delusional in all his thoughts. Tell me that I turned my back on him when he was the one that left. I never held him back. He stayed back. But I will show him Saturday night WHY I WAS THE LEADER and he was the PAWN.

Dane Preston: “My first brother in arms. Shit went south. Thereís a chance we can find a way to bury the hatchet. But before that, we need to settle an old score. He wants to prove to the world that heís better than me. I just want to prove to him that I am just as good as he is.

Dr. Firstein flipped two photos at once, we looked at our own photos and realized that we are the last two. She just went through all the teams in the Toxic Tag tournament.

Joe Montuori: “Where is Ashton Kutcher? Am I being punked? Or better yet, Call Maury backup. There is no way that me and Dane agreed on a lot of these wrestlers. FUCKKKKKKÖ

Dane Preston: “Iím just as shocked as you are.

Joe Montuori: “Maybe Dane, just maybe you aren’t as bad of a guy as I thought.

Dane Preston: “Yeah, youíre not so bad yourself, I supposeÖwait what?

Right after I said those two words, we both took a deep breath and realized what we just said. I guess we kinda got caught up in the moment and well, you know what happened next.

Joe Montuori: “Pause. RewindÖ You’re a DICKLESS, Car Muffler sucking BITCH who better stay out of my way so I can win this Toxic Tag Match. You will just fuck things up just like your MARRIAGE.

Dane Preston: “Listen up you FUCKINí MEATBOL, the only thing Iím going to fuck up IS YOU when this tournament is over. Toxic Tag marks the beginning of the end for Joe Montuori. Mark my words, Iím going to run through you and I will win back my wife.

And there we were, right back where we started; at one anotherís throats. The way the universe intended us to be. As we were trading insults and slurs, Dr. Firstein cleared her throat, and the officers in the room began to advance on us. The officers started uncuffing us and we shut our mouths immediately. With a smile, Dr. Firstein pointed at Joe, and half the officers went to his side and escorted out of the room.

Mr. Preston, may I have a moment before you go?

Yes, maíam. What can I do for you?

When you have the chance, please hurt that man as badly as you can. You are correct, he is a textbook narcissist. And by the creator he is obnoxious. I am so sorry you are being subjected to his toxic behavior. I hope you and your wife can get through this and come out of it together, she paused for a moment and then whispered, Iím Team Preston all the way!

I couldnít help but give her a hug, I thanked her and apologized for my behavior, she waved it off, said something about our session being the wildest, most raucous session sheís had in her career. And with the money that FIGHT! Paid her for putting up with us, she can retire a helluva lot sooner. We say our goodbyes and I take my leave. Fifteen minutes later, Iím strolling through Central Park. I needed to collect my thoughts and I thought the fresh air would do me some good. As per all FIGHT! Contracts, a camera crew or a handful of drones are assigned to each of us as we go about our day. They call it ĎA Day In the Life of a FIGHTerí. This is how we “shoot” nowadays.

Weíve all got our reasons for doing what we do. Professionally speaking. We all have our various motivations for putting our bodies on the line. Along the way we acquire a following, not the social media or fan type of following, but a following of peers. This isnít always a good thing, because in many cases these followers are your enemies. This is the case with Joe Montuori. For the last several months I have been trolled, harassed and tormented by the man, his arrogant, gaudy, obnoxious personality and presence have done nothing but disgust me. Iíd give anything to put my fist down his throat. All I have to do is get through Toxic Tag, start bell to end bell, and then he is fair fucking game.

The opportunity to face him, the promise of that sweet pot of Blood Money, the thought of taking that Manhattan Championship from his cold, dead hands is more than enough to keep my ass in line. Proper motivation is sometimes all that is required. We all know how this match is going down; youíre teamed with your most bitter rival, and the only way to survive or win the match is predicated on working as a cohesive unit. While I will break up any attempts to pin Joe, I wonít step in to prevent him from eating a punch in the mouth.

At the mere thought of those words, my jaw and lip began to throb, so I rubbed at my jaw for a moment before I continued.

I said it the last time the world saw me, being the nice guy got me nowhere, fast. So, since the circus sideshow has ended and the clown has gone his merry way, letís get to brass tacks. There are fourteen other competitors, seven other teams that stand between me and what I need to reach my end goal. Weíre all in the same boat, well, most of us are at any rate. Weíre stuck teaming with someone we canít fucking stand. As I said earlier, we all have our reasons. Frankly, I could give two shits about anyone elseís motivations but my own.

I refuse to be counted out by these old heads who only came out of retirement to take a crack at my mentor before he rode off into the sunset. I refuse to be subjected to the bullshit Iíve had to endure for the last four fucking months. There is only one person in FIGHT! Who has suffered as much, if not more, than my wife and I have. That person is VooDoo. I doubt there is anyone with as much emotional stake in this match than the three of us.

I see everyone in this match as the means to an end. It makes no difference to me who I throw hands with, Brandon Moore, Dickie Watson, Paul Montuori, or Allison, Sahara or Voodoo. As much as I would hate for Joe Montuori to win something due to my hard work, Iím willing to take one for the team, so to speak. So go ahead ladies and gentlemen, tell the world how awesome and amazing you are, tell us all how youíre better and that youíre going to destroy us ĎOne by Oneí. And I will tell you to put up AND shut up. Talk is cheap. Action is the only commodity worth a damn in this place.

I know that Iím going to have several people gunning for me. Dickie has a score to settle with me since I beat him. Paul Montuori fancies himself better than me, despite me leaving him breathless the last time we encountered each other. Joe Montuori goes without saying. I know VooDoo isnít going to waste an opportunity to kick my ass for having sex with Sahara. I know Allison is still sore at me and would relish the chance to get her licks in. And Sahara and I are no strangers to facing each other in the ring, after all, she and I had one helluva war back in EWA where Murph and I first came across her, so it wonít surprise me at all if she gets some shots in on me.

Shawn Warstein is one of those cats that comes with a respectable reputation, I am hoping we get a chance to test that reputation. Druscilla, poor Druscilla, this is gonna hurt me a helluva lot more to have to hurt such a pretty thing like her. Vhodka and Vincent are fucking nutcases Iíd prefer to avoid at all costs, but I doubt that Iíll have that luxury, so if they walk my way, Iím swinging for the fences. Asher Jules, I can only recall the twat running his mouth on Twitter, heís one of Vincent and Vhodkaís rescues, Iíll be as nice as he allows me to be.

Then weíve gone Anicka, our sweet Anicka, I gotta be honest, when she hurts me, I kinda like it, and I know sheíll never shy away from a fight. Apathy and Dollface I donít have much experience with, I know Apathy is a fucking legend in our circle, and Dollface has teased wanting to lock up with me. Weíll see if Dollface actually delivers the goods. Apathy is welcome to step up as well.

Brandon Moore. I donít know what crawled up your ass and died, but you seriously need to have Michelle shove her tiny arm up your ass and yank it out. Youíve been a fuckiní cunt as lately and you need to calm the fuck down. This kick youíre on, nobody being able to do what you do on the mic, brother, weíre professional wrestlers who get paid to talk shit. And I can almost guarantee that weíre all getting paid the same, or at least somewhere in the same ballpark. So do everyone a favor, dial it back a notch or ten, before someone decides to hit you hard enough that your jaw needs wiring shut. Just so weíre clear, I volunteer as tribute to do the honors. Címon brother, walk my way, letís give the world a taste of whatís to come once Iíve disposed of your Meatbol FoCuS brethren. Iíll see you all Saturday night at Toxic Tag.

I was beyond done with this whole situation. Joe Montuori had made a mess of my life. I have never wanted to kill someone before, but Joe raises my ire more than anyone I have ever met. The walk back to the apartment building was uneventful. I stepped into the elevator and leaned my head back against the wall, closing my eyes for what felt like the briefest of moments, when the elevator doors parted. Stepping out of the elevator and into the apartment, Iím nearly scared half to death to find Sahara, dolled up wearing an overcoat, sitting on the couch.

Iím not even going to ask how you got in here. She sees the cut on my lip, and crooks her eyebrow, wincing in pain immediately due to a cut on her forehead. Who did that to you?

Your wife. Who did that to you?

Montuori. We had our mandated couples counseling session today. You should see his ugly ass mug.

Hard pass. Let me get some ice for that lip, baby. Iíll be right back.

Confused and in another world, I walk over to the windows overlooking Central Park. Moments later I hear Saharaís footsteps, so I turn around. There she is, butt naked in all her Goddess like glory, ice pack in hand. I took the ice pack and pressed it to my face.

Thanks, but can you do me a favor and go put your coat back on? We should talkÖ

She sighed.

You wanna talk? Now?!

I can hear her pouting as she walks back into the kitchen and retrieves her coat. Happy now? I turn around in time to see her cover her breasts and tie the belt around her waist.

Yes, thank you. Look Lauren, I feel like a total asshole after all that has happened between usÖ With everything going on with Montuori and Allison, you have had my back. Youíve been my #1 cheerleader. For that I am grateful. But this, you sneaking around, seducing me, us having sex, that cannot happen again. She was about to interrupt me, please let me finish. I am a warm blooded male, complete with a dick and a heartbeatÖ

A devilish grin crept across her face, You can say that againÖ

The point is, I see you, gorgeous as Hell, body of a goddess, badass wrestler, and youíve had my back. But, Iím married to a woman who is also gorgeous as Hell, body of a goddess, badass wrestler, has my back, has given me two precious children, a home, a family that I could never have dreamt of while I was locked up. As much as Iíd like to, I cannot give you what it is that youíre after.

Saharaís jaw dropped, Wow. Youíre going back to her arenít you? Seriously, after what sheís done?

With a sigh I reply, Honestly, I canít say what the future holds. But Iím not going to be an asshole and string you along and promise to be with you if Allison and I donít work out. You deserve better than that. All I can offer is my friendship, professionally and personally. You get my back, Iíll get yours. But that only works if you want it to.

Sahara plops back into the couch, leaning her head back. She heaved a sigh of exasperation, and Dane could clearly hear her utter the word, Shit!

It was clear she had something on her mind. What?

Itís, she seemed to hesitate, and based on how she started rubbing her temples, she was attempting to be careful with her words. I-uh, you know how I ran into your wife earlier. She motions to the cut above her eye. It was a whole staircase thing, but, forget about that. We kinda got into a thing–

A thing?!

Yeah, like, a woman to woman conversation. I said some stuff, she said some stuff–.

I kinda got that when you said conversationÖ

Raising her eyebrows, she gave me her best, Ďwould you shut the fuck upí look, and then added — just in case I missed the signs — Would you shut the fuck up and lemme finish?!

I got the message and raised my hands and made it obvious I was waiting for her to continue.

I kinda got the sense that she– Sahara paused for a moment and closed her eyes. –maybe sheís not lying about lying.

The language was somewhat confusing, but it was clear she was about to elaborate.

I um, I donít mean lying about the fact she lied, I mean Ö I think the whole thing was bullshit, Dane. I donít think your wife was lying. When we got to talking, it was Ö mayb- she mumbled something I couldnít quite make out.


She looked up at me and rolled her eyes, I said, maybe I was wrong about her. Okay?!

Okay. So why donít you tell me what you thought and where you were wrong about her? I could practically see the steam bursting from her ears as her face got redder and redder. I took a seat on the couch across from her and gestured for her to go on.

What the fuck do you want from me?! I come here and practically throw myself at you, and you just wanna talk? Okay, fine Dane, letís talk. Letís be real with each other, since thatís what you want. I got this feeling when me and Allison were talking — after we beat the snot out of each other — that maybe all of this was just a misunderstanding. You cheated on each other, yeah, because you both thought the other one was already cheating, and neither of you actually were. That ainít on me. I ainít the one that took my personal life and put it on a goddamn television for the world to see. You two did that. By choice. And then she fucked him and you fucked me and everybody fucking fucked–

Saharaís nose scrunched a bit as she looked up with a bit of a confused look on her face thinking about what she just said.

At least I think that made senseÖyou know what I mean.

Dane ran his hands through his hair and turned away for a few moments. So wait, youíre telling me you actually believe her now?

Sahara somewhat shrugged, Think about it. She already did the deed and doesnít deny it, whatís there to lie about now?

Welcome to my nightmare.

You believe her?

Yeah, I do. I had my suspicions, but the Maury Show confirmed them. I knew Joe was up to no good from the start. I just needed proof. I suppose I should be thanking you for that?

Me, whatíd I do? she asked with a puzzled look on her face.

Me. I raised an eyebrow, at least in her mind you did. And that was all Joeís doing, since the moment you started chasing meÖ

Donít act like you didnít get some pleasure from itÖ

I wouldnít lie about something like that. I stared out the huge window as the sun was setting over the park. Still, I never really put any thought into why Joe has been doing all of this. What was his motivation? The counseling session definitely opened my eyes to a few thingsÖ

Oh donít tell me youíre going soft on me. That man has literally walked all over you, your family and your wife. He deserves no pity.

Trust me, I knowÖ Once this Toxic Tag shit is behind us, one way or the other, I am going to make him pay for the destruction he has caused in my life.

Thatís more like it.

I know at some point I need to kick Sahara out, but since she started talking about having a change of heart about Allison, it really did make me think about Joe a little differently. He was by no means innocent, he caused a lot of pain and turmoil in my family, and has been a gigantic pain in the ass. But when it comes to people that are miserable and masking it the way Joe is, thereís got to be something deeper going on. We wound up ordering food and talking for a few more hours before I called a car to take Sahara back to FIGHT! Tower.

As I walked her out to the car, we shared a brief hug, before she shoved me away. Without her noticing, Iíd slipped my hands in her pockets and took Allisonís keycard back from Sahara. As the car was driving away, she looked back at me, and I raised my hand with the keycard between my index and middle fingers. Quickly searching her coat pockets, Sahara turned back to me and glared, then she whipped her head around and flipped me off as the car slowly made its way out of view. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled my phone out. Raising the phone to my ear, I flip the keycard between my fingers.

Hi. I heard about your dustup with Sahara. Gave her a nasty cut. Yeah, Joe took advantage of me being strapped in a chair. So, during this dustup, did you happen to lose something?