Safe.

By: Tara Fenix

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 11th Dec 2021

December 11, 2021
Hartford, CT
Docherty Estate
SAFE.

There was nothing that Tara desired more than to collapse in her bed after a long weekend… Thursday, she had to be in Australia; Friday, she had to be in Los Angeles, and now she had Saturday and Sunday to herself before she had to make the trip to New York City to make her official debut at FIGHT. There had been two matches where Tara was meant to make her in-ring debut for FIGHT: once against Jaxton Matthews, and then later scheduled to compete against Miss Michelle, but things happen; the first match was missed when Jaxton was deemed unable to compete, and the second time, Tara had her own situation that prevented her from being able to attend the event. Third time’s the charm, though; the third time, Tara was going to enter FIGHT! Towers for the first time as a competitor against Joe Montuori to avenge her sister, or rather her own family name, after the defeat that Jennie had suffered during Silent FIGHT!. It was time for FIGHT to truly see what The Phoenix Queen was capable of doing.

She had actually planned to go into the city to close on a penthouse that she had purchased. She knew that New York City and Hartford weren’t particularly far, but she was certain there would be evenings when she didn’t feel like traveling.

Sabin trudged along ahead of his mother, as he fumbled a hand into his pocket to get the keys to the household. Something had caught the eye of Tara as she and Sabin approached the home belonging to the matriarch; she could see a vehicle parked in the back of a driveway. A 1967 Chevrolet Impala. Undoubtedly a car that would cause Tara to drool over, but all of the vintage vehicles that she owned, that was one she could not get her hands on; she only knew a few people that did, but only one person that would be brave enough to trespass on her property. Sabin’s exhaustion must’ve been why he overlooked it.

“Go ahead without me. I’ll be right in.” Tara said.

Sabin just continued trudging forward and waved a hand backward to indicate that he had heard her, and she didn’t have to tell him twice. He shut the door behind him. Tara kept her eyes on the door briefly to ensure that he was not going to come out to check on her, and when she was satisfied, she tucked her hands into her jacket pockets before walking toward the Impala. The gravel crunched beneath her feet. As she neared the vehicle, she could hear the door open, but decided against saying anything too loud, not too close to the house. Standing at the Impala was Angel, Tara’s ex-husband who had recently somehow won back her favor; a spark between them caused them to want to give things another chance; however, they didn’t want to make the news public. Not yet.

The exhaustion erased from Tara as she closed in on Angel, and finally wrapped her arms around him and seemed to sink into him. She let out a happy and content sigh while holding him for just a moment, and could feel his arms wrap around her.

“What are you doing here?” She finally asked in such a way that indicated she wasn’t upset that he was there, but rather surprised.

“I wanted to make sure you got home safe.” Angel replied

“What if Sabin had seen you?” Tara asked in turn. “After what happened, he would be livid.”

“It is almost over,” Angel answered rather stoically. “Then we can put this all behind us.”

Tara, without taking her arms from around Angel, leaned back and stared up at him; she was still glowing by his presence. “I hope so,” she finally muttered and took another step back letting her arms fall from him. She turned so her back was to him, and took a couple steps forward. He didn’t reach out for her, but rather shut the door to the Impala giving her an indication that he intended to stay a bit longer. He tucked his hands into his pockets and took the same number of steps that Tara did, keeping no more than a meter of distance between them.

“Are you ready for your fight in New York?” Angel asked.

Tara nodded her head without toward him.

“Why do you want to fight this… Montuori?”

Tara snickered over the question. There were several answers that raced through her mind, but she dismissed many of them when she finally answered, “Because–” without turning toward him.

“Because…?” Angel persisted with the question.

Tara looked over her shoulder toward him, and he could see that smirk come to her as if it had been a transformation. She snickered and pivoted on her feet to face her lover, and gave an instinctive shrug, “Because I need to set the record straight.”

“You answer for your sister?” Angel mocked her with that question.

“I answer for my family,” Tara snapped back, “I’ve built my name, and my reputation in this industry for so long and it does matter to me. It is important to me. I don’t want to see it get squandered away because she can’t carry her weight!” Tara began to raise her voice and she seemed more annoyed with Jennie and her losses piling on. Angel glanced up to see if any light had come on to signify that Sabin may have heard the commotion, or was trying to see what was taking his mother so long, but there was no sign of him. “So now I have to swoop in–” she said while swooping her arm in front of her, “–and bail her out… Make sure she pays attention, and starts learning a damn thing.”

Angel could hear how annoyed and frustrated Tara was getting just by this discussion, and put his hands to her shoulders; she raised her hands to his wrists and held onto them for a moment but she just shook her head.

“It is not your job to look out for her,” Angel reassured her, “She handles her battles; you handle yours.”

Despite the words coming from Angel to try and convince her otherwise, Tara still shook her head but eventually raised it and gave him a half feigned smile, “It’s my reputation.” Tara stated boldly. She truly felt that Jennie’s actions inside of the ring had a direct measure to herself because she was her head trainer. If Jennie is not performing, it reflects on her own ability as a trainer. Tara didn’t hide the emotion from her face, as she began fumbling out with a few words, “She– she’s lost at PWV–”

“Tara…” Angel tried to interject.

“–she’s lost against Michelle–” Tara seemed to be drowning out anything Angel tried to say, and continued with her own rant.

“Tara.” Angel said more sternly.

“–she’s lost against–”

“Tara!” Angel finally shouted which caused her to raise her bright blue eyes toward him; her lips trembled momentarily as she seemed to still be fidgety with trying to get the words out, “You are not responsible for her. You need to win this match for you, yourself, and no one else.” His eyes seemed to ask if she understood, and she seemed to catch on. She just nodded. “Focus on Montuori.” Angel said while cupping her face into his hands and being sure he had her full attention. She nodded a second time.

“You know… Sabin is pretty tired,” Tara said, “I’m pretty sure he’s already asleep. If you want to stay…?” Tara suggested to him.

“It is a bad idea.” Angel answered. He seemed like he wanted to reject the proposal, but he had already caved with several steps toward her as she took his hands and started leading him around to the backdoor. “What about the car?” Angel raised a valid question; however, this didn’t dissuade Tara.

“It’s far enough out of the way. I don’t think anyone will notice unless they’re looking for it. Just… please stay. You’re already here.” Tara said while still holding onto his hands and pulling him around back with herself. Angel finally nodded his head which earned a smile. There was no resistance in his step, but the two did remain cautious the rest of the way.


… The Next Morning …

“TARA!” Jennie’s shrill voice echoed throughout the house, causing Tara and Angel to stir awake.

“Crap!” Tara muttered under her breath, and began running her hands through her hair to try and fix it. She knew that she had to hurry.

“Does she not call before she comes over?” Angel asked in a hoarse whisper.

She could hear Jennie stopping to greet all of the dogs, “Yes, Queen ‘Thena, you’re very lovely! But– stop stopping in front of me! Just–EURGH! You’re so cute!” Tara scrambled to her feet and went straight for the dresser; she didn’t care what she could pull out, but pulled out a shirt and shorts before quickly putting both on.

“Not usually,” Tara whispered back and hurried to the side of the bed, “But I don’t want to let her know just yet… Just– you know… I don’t need them in my business right now.” Tara leaned in and gave Angel a kiss on the lips, and caressed his cheek, “I love you.” Tara said before rushing toward the door leading out to the hallway. She stepped out and closed the door behind her just as Jennie had reached the door.

“I have a bone to pick with you!” Jennie shouted while jabbing a finger at her sister’s chest; Tara waved it off and tilted her head, “Are you just waking up? You’re usually up before the sun…” Jennie shook her head to get herself focused, “Not important!” she shouted again, and just as she was about to continue, Tara raised a finger to silence her.

“Can we discuss this over coffee?” Tara asked with a grogginess evident in her tone.

Jennie seemed to ponder it for a moment, “Your terms are acceptable.”

Jennie stood aside to let Tara take the lead, and Tara did. The whole while, Jennie was rambling on, “What were you thinking? Why would you do this? And don’t try to say that you didn’t want this, because everyone is saying you asked for this match!” The sisters walked down the staircase; Tara was visibly getting annoyed by Jennie’s ranting, but she remained silent. Jennie was still just one step behind her, even almost overlapping her when they began going down the stairs. “We had a deal, Tara! The deal was that you were not going to get in my business, okay? This is just typical of you!”

Upon reaching the kitchen, Tara had done a good job with biting her tongue the entire time. It was as if she had tuned Jennie completely out, and let her continue her ranting and raving. Tara reached into the cupboard to pull down one of her mugs, and let out a heavy sigh when she looked at the empty coffee pot.

“Like, Tara– again– I did my best, why is that–“ Jennie began.

“Why is that not good enough for me?” Tara said as she slammed the cup down on the counter, now frustrated by the rant. Tara turned toward her, with a fire in her eyes, but Jennie didn’t recede despite Tara’s advance towrd her, “Because you’re better than this, Jennie. You’re better than what you’re doing out there, but you have it set in your mind that this is some sort of fucking joke! You’ve lost how many matches, Jennie? How many?”

Jennie wrapped herself with her arms, and bit on her lip nervously; she did look up to ponder the number.

“FOUR!” Tara shouted at her while holding up four fingers in her face, “Out of the last FOUR matches, you have lost FOUR! When did you start? September? I’ve been back since December, LAST YEAR, and have four losses to my name… And I get it: you want me to stay out of your fucking business, but you are my business! When is that going to click for you? I trained you; you are representing me; you are my business. And you are fucking embarrassing yourself.” Tara scoffed, turned her back to Jennie, and pounded her fist against the counter.

Jennie looked upset, and trembled for a moment. She wanted to have an answer for her sister; she wanted to insist that she could handle this… But something seemed to come to her mind, and she did still manage to keep a weak smile. “Y’know… I’m getting better. I’ll get better.”

“You’re getting better? Jennie,” Tara faced her sister, and cocked her head to the side, “it sounds good in all the fairytales… All of the people who cry about their best, and how they’re getting better, but at the end of the day: nobody cares. The only thing they’re going to care about is results. This is the world we live in. You can cry to me about how you want me to stay out of your business, but this is my business; you are my business.”

Silence ensued between the sisters for a moment. Jennie trembled as if she wanted to lash out at her, but she thought better of it… At the end of the day, Tara was someone that Jennie had always looked up to. Tara had taken her in when she was thirteen-years-old just so the two would have a chance to actually know each other, despite having a four-year-old of her own to take care of. She always had her best interests in mind. Tara was the caretaker.

“You don’t want this to be personal? Okay, we won’t let this be personal.” Tara said with a snicker, “You are not just my sister, but you are also my student. You represent me every time you step into the ring. Your successes and your failures will have an impact on the next people wanting to come and be trained by me. Now, I have a record to set straight–”

“Set what straight?” Jennie interjected.

Tara sneered over the interruption. “Joe.”

“What about him?” Jennie asked again.

“Joe embarrassed you, and embarrassed my name by putting that belt– the–” Tara scrunched up her face and looked physically disgusted at the thought of the belt, “Queens Championship on you. By tying that disgrace to our name! Our name! And so I have to come clean up the mess you’ve made, and set the record straight to Joe Montuori.” The surname slipped off her tongue with disdain. “Now he sounds like one of those typical whiny failures that always talks about new year, new me, Tara said in a mocking tone, New company, new me, whatever he wants to try to claim, or anyone that walks through the FIGHT! doors want to try to cry about, I want them all to be put on notice…”

Jennie let out a long sigh as she leaned back against the kitchen island, and crossed her arm. She was too nervous to try to interrupt Tara, and Tara could tell, but Tara now had a fire burning inside of her.

“I didn’t come here to pull that new company, new me bullshit! I came here to bring who I already know I am, and to conquer everybody on my way to the top… I can’t do that if you are undermining me, which is why I need you to step up. I need people to see our name and fear our name! I don’t want them to look across the ring and ask: Is it Tara or Jennie? Jennie? Okay, no problem! Oh, Tara? I’m in danger! Tara mocked again, “I want them to just see FENIX and tremble.” She changed her tone ever so slightly; despite her being frustrated with her sister, her tone had shifted in an attempt to empower and inspire her, “Those that have disrespected our name, I want a handwritten apology, and I want it to be clear to everybody that follows: don’t let it happen again.” Tara eyed Jennie up and down, who remained still, “I am going to make an example out of Montuori, and I expect the rest to just fall in line. But don’t think I’m doing this for you–” Tara said sharply and pointed a finger at her, “I’m doing this for me,” Tara turned the finger to herself and tapped it just under her neck a few times, “I’m doing this for me.” Tara let out a chuckle under her breath.

“I told everybody from day one, from the day that I returned, that I am going to take back everything that’s mine. I am going to have everybody to know, whether it’s at FIGHT!, whether it’s at XWF, whether it’s at IWF, or anywhere! When I step into the ring, it is mine. Someone already ducked me on what was supposed to be my debut, and then something came up and I couldn’t make the match against Michelle…” Tara didn’t sound pleased by having to admit that, but before she could continue, Jennie finally found the courage to speak.

“What did happen that week?” Jennie asked her with concern.

“I don’t expect everyone to understand, but Eddy was sick that week, and he takes priority over everything else.” Tara said reassuringly. Jennie gave a subtle nod in agreement with Tara’s standpoint. “But that’s not important, because now… I’m finally going to debut. I’m finally going to be able to show FIGHT! what it is that I’m capable of doing, and I’m going to erase some of that shame. So long as I’m breathing, it’s mine,” Tara reiterated, before locking her eyes with her sister, “and if you come back into my house and talk to me like that again, it’ll be the last thing you do.” Tara gave the subtle threat to Jennie.

Jennie raised a finger to her eyes and wiped away a tear before it could even fall from her eye, “Umm…”

“Mom?” Edward asked from the doorframe; he could see his mother and aunt standing across from each other, and could tell that there had been tension, and that it was still there. Undoubtedly, he had heard the commotion throughout the house.

“Hey, lil’man!” Jennie was the first to call out. Jennie was the first with a spring in her step to walk over to her little nephew and she knelt down to his level, putting his arms to his shoulders. “Did you sleep okay?” She asked with her eyes locked on his. He answered with a nod.

“Good morning, baby,” Tara answered after. “Sorry if we woke you.” Tara said, and let out a heavy sigh as she turned toward the cabinet and began fumbling through to make some coffee.

“I was up,” Edward answered.

“Umm…” Jennie forced a smile as she looked back at Tara, “Listen, I did sign you up for the FIGHT! Secret Santa–” Jennie said and could see Tara already gave her a glare, and Jennie gave a semi-apologetic look, “I thought it would be fun! We can go to the city tonight and start looking for gifts… They should have emailed you the name of the person you got…” Jennie was able to return to her perky self. “Let’s… go ahead… eat… get dressed… and we’ll make a family trip out of it.” Jennie smiled and ruffled Edward’s hair before heading up the stairs.

“Stay out of my room!” Tara called out while finally getting her phone. She began typing a text message.


… Hours Later …

 

Downtown in the Big Apple was particularly hectic this time of the year. People wandering to and fro trying to get some of their Christmas shopping done. This was one of the places that Tara did not desire to be, but she wore her jacket and walked in her usual confident stride. Between Jennie and Tara was Edward, and despite him getting to the age that he did not want to be coddled, Tara insisted on holding his hand to keep him safe. Jennie’s eyes were darting back and forth at all of the shops around Time Square.

“Who did you get?” Jennie asked with full excitement in her voice. It amazed Tara how quickly Jennie was able to bounce back and go back to being positive despite their argument.

“Umm…” Tara snickered and shook her head, but held her phone out so that Jennie could see. Jennie looked to ponder an idea for the name.

“You’ll never guess who I got!” Jennie said.

“Go ahead and show me…” Tara answered. The three of them stopped walking for a moment so that Tara could glance at the phone, and she raised her eyebrows. “You’ve got an easy one.”

“Just because she’s your–” Jennie began.

“That doesn’t matter. She doesn’t exactly hide what she’s interested in.” Tara said while rolling her eyes. “There’s a shop there that you may want to check out, and I guess– what does mine even like to do?”

Jennie pondered for a moment, “I usually see her trying to take down notes… Doodle? Writing?” Jennie shrugged.

“Do I get to pick my gifts?” Edward asked with his own tone of excitement.

Simultaneously, Jennie answered, “Yes!” whilst Tara answered, “No!”

Jennie and Tara looked ready to butt heads, but Jennie immediately backed down. It was Tara’s son, afterall. “I’ve already got you a mountain of gifts. This is my first year back with you, so… it may be crazy.” Tara nodded her head knowing that she may have gone overboard with Edward’s gifts, but this didn’t seem to bother Edward in the least.

“Let’s go ahead and split up, and meet back here in an hour.” Tara suggested.

Edward went with his mother to the shop that she felt would carry something that she was looking for, and Jennie went off in her own direction. When Tara and Edward entered the shop, a bell that hung overhead rang to indicate to the shopkeeper that a customer had either come or gone. There was a lot of stuff that littered the shop, filled with notebooks, typewriters, pens, pencils, and everything. The walls had bookshelves that lined every wall, even the windows leading out to the street with bookshelves that were filled from floor to ceiling with books in various conditions.

Tara took a moment to wander around the shop for a while, but ultimately settled on a rustic leather notebook; she threw in some old books for good measure.

“People don’t usually hand write anything these days…” The old shopkeeper muttered while beginning to enter the prices on a tablet that he seemed to be struggling to figure out while grumbling the entire time.

“This person apparently does.” Tara replied. She wasn’t ready for any more pleasantries with everything on her mind, with the ex-husband making a comeback into her life that she was trying to hide away from the rest of her family, and what would finally be her debut at FIGHT! NYC. Tara couldn’t help but ponder over the thought that the notebook wasn’t enough; she would have liked to have it personalized to the individual. The two got into a heated debate of their own during their latest encounter, but Tara didn’t want them to think ill of her because of that.

The shopkeeper continued to grumble before finally shouting out, “Francis! Get down here and show me how this blasted thing works!”

The sound of someone scampering from the upstairs section of the shop could be heard whilst Tara was waiting to just check out. She tapped her foot, getting rather anxious to get out of the building. When the child who didn’t look much older than Edward finally showed up, “It’s easy, Grandpa.” He said while taking the tablet and began tapping away.

The shopkeeper chuckled over the expertise that his grandson showed with the technology, “Kids, am I right?”

“I didn’t have anything like this when I was a kid,” Tara said with a shrug.

“Why’s her hair–oh…” The grandson suddenly lit up with excitement, “You’re Tara! Grandpa, this is Tara!”

“Now, now, let’s not be rude! I’m sure the lovely lass is not looking to garner any undesired attention.” The shopkeeper insisted as he tried to calm his grandson down.

“Yeah, I’m actually in a bit of a rush. But it’s always nice to meet a fan, though, and I hope you’ll be cheering me on…” Tara said with a smile. She did have a soft spot for the children even if her attitude didn’t always reflect that same compassion for the older people. “But I really am in a rush, so is everything good?”

“Yes, yes, it would appear so!” the shopkeeper answered while putting everything into a paper sack, and holding it out for Tara. Tara took it with her hand, “Merry Christmas!” the shopkeeper finally said.

“Merry Christmas.” Tara answered, “And I’ll come back to give your grandson an autograph.” Tara finished.

“Kick Joe’s ass!” the grandson shouted out.

“LANGUAGE!” the shopkeeper yelled at his grandson.

Tara got a chuckle from the comment by the grandson, but she and Edward walked out of the building. She looked around Time Square again to see if Jennie had re-emerged yet, but there was no sign of her.

END.