Trapped: Without a Box

By: Betsy Granger

Date: 17th Sep 2021

Green eyes open slowly as Betsy Granger comes out of a foggy sleep. As she looks around the swanky hotel she’d been set up in, she felt a moment of confusion. She could have sworn she was just in… In where? The only place she could have possibly been was London, England, where she was meant to wrestle the next day. Chuck Matthews, her current boyfriend, had remained in Chicago, where something strange seemed to be happening to his mind. Worry fills her as she pulls out her phone and scrolls through the screenshots of strange tweets he’d put out. Gibberish was the best way to describe what the calculation genius was putting out and Betsy knew that she should be back there, by his side trying to figure out what was happening to his mind. As her thoughts darken, she turns to look in the mirror and is surprised for a moment by her choice of attire. Tight black yoga pants with see-through lace up the sides and a matching halter top that shows just enough of her toned tummy. Her hair is fluffed out around her face, with just a touch of makeup to enhance her already gorgeous looks. Despite the casual choice of clothing, she knew she looked like an absolute snack.

The roar of the motorcycle coming up the road towards her hotel broke her out of her thoughts. She dashes to the window to look out, pulse racing, breath shallow, but she can’t see the customized bike just yet. But she knew who the rider would be and through her sudden rush of excitement, a freezing dash of guilt cut through her as Chuck’s face came into her mind once more. Though she tried, she couldn’t ignore the accusatory probing of her thoughts, reminding her that she was playing with fire. It wasn’t too late to call this off; he might be arriving now, but that didn’t mean she had to answer the door when he knocked. Making up her mind, Betsy quickly dims the lights and makes her way to the door, sitting down on the floor with her back pressed against it. The roar of the bike heightens as it reaches its destination before the power is cut off. The urge to crawl over to the window and take a peek at him was strong, but Betsy closes her eyes and wills herself to stay put.

Now she can hear his footsteps coming down the hall, moving rapidly as he searched the room numbers for the one she’d given him. Her heart skips a beat as his footsteps finally pause and his knocks fill the room. Hiding her head between her legs and wrapping her arms around her knees, she quietly begs him to leave. Her heart pounds in time with his second round of knocks, these a bit louder than the first.

“Bets, are you in there?” His voice calls out to her, forcing her head up.

The sound of his voice fills her entire body with warmth; before she knew what she was doing, Betsy had gotten back to her feet and turned to face the door. Her hand was on the knob when he knocked again and this time, she didn’t hesitate to open the door. His brown eyes locked onto hers as they took each other in, finally face to face for the first time. Drinking in his warm smile and perfect jawline, Betsy could only gawk at him for a moment, at a loss for words. He was even taller than TV had made him seem, and every bit as chiseled as he looked through the t-shirt and leather riding jacket. His brown hair was a wild mess; he’d attempted a quick brushing with his fingers before coming up to meet her. It only added to his smoldering good looks in a way only he could accomplish. Years of admiring him through the TV and fantasizing about their first meeting had not remotely prepared her for this moment.

At long last, James Raven stood close enough for her to touch and all Betsy could do is stare at him in open awe. Her breath catches in her throat as his eyes begin to scan downward, but her mind explodes when he licks his bottom lip without realizing it as he drinks her in.

“You were going to invite me in, weren’t you?” he asks her in a playful tone, his eyes burning into hers.

Swallowing hard, she nods as he steps forward, taking a few compensating steps back to allow him in. He looks around as he slips off his jacket, allowing her an opportunity to collect herself. “I can’t believe you came here… To see me.”

Well, that wasn’t as smooth as she’d hoped.

James turned back to her, the most disarming smile she’d ever seen in her life gracing his inhumanly handsome face. “And miss the opportunity to see The Queen of Shade Style perform live? Not a chance.”

So much for keeping her cool; his words cause her to clap her hands as she bounced her toes and let out an excited giggle. “To think, The People’s G.O.A.T. coming to England to see me perform. What a wild ride life is.”

Flashing her an indulgent smile, James takes a seat in the chair by the desk, allowing a brief silence to fall between them as he studies her once more. “You didn’t have to pull my leg too hard to convince me to come here, Betsy.”

Her cheeks flush at the husky change in his voice, the rosy shade coloring her face and giving her away. As her heart pounds in her chest, she turns away from him and heads towards the mini-fridge which was stocked with a variety of beverages and snacks. With her back turned, she misses the momentary flash as James Raven briefly transformed into Admiral Thrawn. His red eyes burn with a frustrated concentration as he keeps them trained on Betsy; he only had moments to regain the humanoid form before she turned back to him.

“Did you want anything to drink or maybe nibble on? I’ve got the best of… well, most worlds in this bad boy.” Straightening her shoulders, she turns back and is met with a charming smile from James.

“I’m fine, thank you.” Something about his tone made her gaze at him a moment longer, her eyebrows scrunching together as concern fills her face.

“Are you alright? You look tense.” Allowing the fridge to shut gently, she walks towards James as he gets to his feet.

He reaches out and touches her arms gently, his face warm and soft even as his eyes burn with unspoken desire. “I’ll be fine, Bets, don’t worry about me.”

They were closer than she’d ever pictured them being now; the realization made her head spin a bit as she lifted her head to look up into his face. Pushing back the impulse to grab his head and kiss him, she takes a step back, sucking in a breath. Disappointment is clear in his expression, forcing her to turn away and look out the window. “It’s a gorgeous day out, how about we go for a ride or a walk or… Something.”

“Betsy…” his voice is tender as he approaching her. Slowly, he reaches out a hand and takes hers, giving it a squeeze as he pulls her forward slightly. His free hand reaches out and cups her cheek. “If my being here is making you too uncomfortable, tell me and I’ll go. I don’t want to be the source of your distress.”

She reaches her hand up and cups it over his, removing it from her face though never letting go of it. “I don’t want you to go, I just… “

“There’s no rush here, Betsy. If you’d like to take a walk or go for a ride on the bike, we can do that. I just came here to spend time with you.” He draws her closer, their faces inches apart now. “I would never want you to feel I’m forcing you to do anything you don’t want to.”

“Oh, wow, how are you real?” Betsy whispers, closing her eyes and turning her face away from his.

With a deep chuckle, James releases her and steps away; sighing with relief, Betsy sags into the window seat to catch her breath. “How about we order some takeout and just shoot the breeze for now?”

Unable to keep from smiling, Betsy nods her head eagerly and jumps up to grab the menus from the tiny kitchenette. Red eyes burn into her while her back is turned as the Admiral struggles once again to maintain the imprint of Raven to carry out his devious plans…

****Some Words From the Impossible One****

“Let’s keep this short and sweet, shall we? I made an example out of Eoin O’Rourke last week and it didn’t go unnoticed. Now I find myself paired up with Brother Mine and his Boo Thang to take on this trio of unnaturally good-looking people for my first shot at gold?

This one is all about teamwork and friendship, yeah?”

Betsy grins into a camera, though it doesn’t reach her eyes. If anything, the normally perky Impossible Traveler looks drained, physically and emotionally.

“Not a problem on our end. I can’t speak for the Family Riggs and that Montuori fella; they seem tight, but lines get blurred all the time. But will it be enough? The way people act around here in Fight!, you’d think they were about to step into the ring with a bunch of rookies and not one of the most dominant factions in the entire fucking industry. That’s right, bishes, Legacy lives, thriving on those who would think that we somehow faded into obscurity. We don’t crawl away to die, we evolve; we adapt to the situations and surroundings we find ourselves in, but the foundation never crumbles.

Shawn Warstein never once waivered in his belief in that never say die mentality; nor has he ever failed to be the first one to put Legacy ahead of personal gains. He and James shared that mindset and it has made them the most indomitable force for how many years? When I was first accepted into the fold, I was but a child, greedy and always wanting instant gratification. It was Brother Mine who took me under his wing and taught me the ways of patience and planning. Shawn is the one who schooled me on what it means to cleave to the family you choose, no matter what.”

Slumping down into a chair, Betsy drops her elbows into her thighs and plants her chin into her hands.

“Kasey is good for him… She’s good for Legacy, I’m just going to put that out there. Perhaps that’s not what we go by these days, but the heart of the idea is still present. Kasey Winterborn embodies that mold to perfection. In the time that I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve discovered a heart of gold protected by a warrior’s armor. She’s a woman to be admired and a friend to hang on to. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to be sharing a ring with her; now we get to make the jump from costars to trios champions. Everything we touch turns to gold, it seems.

That’s not to say I’m not excited at having Shawn there as our third; on the contrary, being able to be THEIR third is an honor. I just never thought my first taste of any kind of tag gold would be with Brother Mine; I always rather thought that accomplishment would begin with James Raven.

Funny how life works out sometimes, isn’t it?

I couldn’t have asked for a better pair to have stood with me.”

Green eyes sweep outward past the camera, settling on something just beyond.

“Then there’s me… The merry wanderer, Impossible Traveler… And soon to be Islands Champion, because there’s just no other way this ends. Anywhere I go, ticket sales increase and TV ratings skyrocket. And allowing myself a moment to humblebrag a bit, it never takes me long to make my impression. I have this annoying habit of snagging gold within my first match or two and uh… Well, would you look at that?!

It’s my second match, and I’m already up for a championship? Huh, the last time that happened, I walked out of a PPV with the Network’s Phoenix Championship. I’m having some serious deja vu right now, you guys. And as much fun as that was, I didn’t have anyone to celebrate with, not until I got backstage. I don’t know about you, but I love a good mini-party in the ring before the referees kick me out for the next match. Winning a trios title with Brother Mine and his Ginger Dream Girl would be a riot.

Tick-tock goes the clock, the new Status Quo is coming in hot.

I’d never expect you to give those belts up without a proper fight, but it’s going to prove futile in the end. We’re coming in to show you how this trios business should be done.”

Some of the fire begins to return to her lifeless eyes.

“I haven’t celebrated my first full year in the business and I’m already one of the most in-demand talents out there. So many have attempted to stop me in my tracks and nobody has been able to put me away yet. If the three of you, along with many of your homebred Fight! Brethren would step out of your Tower more often, you would find that the masses are already heralding for Betsy Granger everywhere I go. Top stars seek me out for matches and I’ve not only answered the call but toppled them in their own yards, making them mine.

And now I’ve come to do the same to Fight!”

She gives a half-hearted smile as exhaustion takes a firm grip on her. The light fades and she slumps heavily into her chair, a haunted look passing over her face.

“To the Family Riggs and Paul Montuori, I’m eager to see what the three of you are made of. I’ve consulted Brother Mine on the subject, but asking him about opponents usually garners the same amount of disdain every time. It’s clear the three of you were good enough as a unit to win the Islands Championship, but what was the quality of your on par with the Status Quo?

I highly doubt it.

We’re not coming to try and prove all the ways we’re better.

We’re coming to drive it home why we’re the undeniable BEST.”

Betsy sticks her hand in the camera, her trademark ending as the camera flickers off.

****Back to the Chaos****

Hours have passed and in that time, Betsy and James had shared many stories, laughter, and two large pizzas. Never before had Betsy felt so comfortable with someone she just met, while also feeling like an electric fuse ready to blow. Every move he made was done with such casual perfection, it seemed almost practiced. Even though she hung on to every word he spoke to her, she constantly found her eyes admiring some different feature of his. The way his eyes lit up when he spoke of his passions, the way his face darkened when he spoke of darker times. The beam lit up his face when he gushed about his son. Utterly enthralled, Betsy devoured every moment spent in his presence; nothing could make this night more perfect…

Well, so she told herself over and over. Then they would lock eyes again; every time, she’d be forced to look away, knowing the look of want on his face matched her own. As the sky went through its daily motions, the sun disappearing in favor of the moonlight, the pair shared anything that came to their minds. Through that period, they would get up for one reason or another and it wasn’t lost on Betsy that every time that happened, they ended up a little closer together. Currently, they were sitting close to each other on the couch, bodies touching as they continued to pick each other’s brains. Even the brief periods of silence that would fall between them were relaxing, the moments allowing her to get lost in his eyes without losing the conversation. Everything about this night was wrong and she knew it, but being this close to James Raven felt more right than anything she’d ever experienced.

“Penny for your thoughts?” his voice breaks another pleasant silence that had passed between them.

Startled, Betsy realizes she’d been staring at his lips this time and felt her face burn again. “I was just marveling at how quickly we got comfortable with one another today. I mean,” she says, catching the amusement light up his eyes. “It’s not hard for me to make friends, but I get very awkward around guys that I’m into. But with you… I don’t know, it just feels natural that you should be here with me.”

“Is that right?” James asks, his voice not masking his delighted surprise.

“It is… And that can’t be good, right?” Jumping up from the couch, she begins to pace as her words speed up. “I mean, I invited you here to be with me, even though I have Chuck waiting for me at home. I should have told you not to come and head home because something is going on with him. I almost didn’t open the door, if I’m being honest.” James is leaning forward against his knees now, just watching her. “Just as you arrived, I was slapped around with guilt and I wasn’t going to let you in. I was going to pretend that you weren’t here. And then you called my name…” She pauses in both her words and her pacing as she turns to face him. “And I couldn’t NOT answer the door. Because the fact is, I want you here… I never in a million years thought I would ever actually have the opportunity to get you alone; now it’s here and at the worst time for me to have it… And it’s not fair to have you here, because I WANT something to happen; but if I let it, then it’s not fair to Chuck AND it makes me a cheater and a terrible person and…”

“Betsy, stop.” James has risen from the couch now and swiftly closes the distance between him and Betsy. Grabbing her shoulders, he peers down into her face. “I told you earlier, I never want to be the source of your distress. If my being here is causing you this much guilt and turmoil, I’ll walk out that door and we’ll leave it at just this. You have nothing to feel ashamed of, all we’ve done is shared a meal and talk to one another.” His hands move to her head, his fingers tangling into her golden locks. “I won’t lie, Betsy Granger: I want you too. I’m glad you didn’t turn me away tonight, because I’d rather have these few hours than nothing at all. But if you feel you need to send me on my way to go back to Matthews, then do it.” Releasing her, he steps back and gazes at her.

Their closeness had shaken her to her very core; with all of her being, she had hoped that he would have kissed her when he’d grabbed her head. Disappointment washes over her as her arms stay held out dumbly. “Oh, James…” His name left her lips in a tone that was unmistakable to both of them.

Seizing her face in his hands again, James doesn’t hesitate this time; his lips crushed hers in a hot, yearning kiss that she returns as her arms wrap around him. The strength of his embrace crushes her in the best way as he lifts her slightly off her feet and carries her to the bed. They fall back together, Betsy pulling him down as their heated kisses continue to grow more passionate. Reason leaves her as his skilled hands begin to roam her body, igniting every inch he touched. Nestling himself between her legs, he presses his body against her deliciously, lust pulsating through her. She whimpers softly when his lips leave hers, but when they touch her neck, a deep shiver runs down her spine. Her eyeballs slide into the back of her head as the lids slide shut.

And then there was Chuck’s face in her mind again.

The abrupt thought makes her gasp loudly as she tries to push James off of her. His lips pause as she pants beneath him. “I’m sorry… I can’t do this,” she whispers breathlessly as she attempts to slide out from under him.

Leaning up on his shoulder, James looks down into her face, using his free hand to brush some hair out of her face. “You can do whatever you want, Bets… With whoever you want.” She shakes her head, but his lips graze her ear, making her shiver again. They tickle the lobe when he starts to whisper again. “I want you, Betsy Granger.” his words play through her mind, enticing and irresistible. His lips have moved from her ear and touch her cheek. “I know you want me too… Give in to it. Be with me.”

“James…” Betsy says breathlessly, the last of her resistance disappearing as his lips find hers again.

Things begin to heat up quickly as James wastes no time removing his shirt and tearing open Betsy’s in the process. Pushing her bra down, his lips close over her left nipple, sucking at it greedily; she can feel his lips curve into a grin at her sharp intake of breath. A little moan of disappointment leaves her when he removes his lips, but they quickly wrap around her right nipple, causing her to cry out. James takes his time tasting and teasing her breasts before his lips begin to move lower, his tongue flicking out along the way to taste her sun-kissed skin.

A loud knock on the door interrupts them both as a voice calls out to her. “Sister Mine, you in there?! I recognize James’ bike, so you might as well open up!”

The male voice broke Betsy out of her lust; eyes opening wide, she glances towards the door as James lets out a frustrated growl. “I don’t have a brother, who the hell could that be?”

“Ignore it, Bets… Focus on me.” James says softly, but Betsy catches the slightly sharp edge behind the words. His face disappears between her legs as his hands come up to bring her pants down; head swirling, Betsy quickly forgets about anyone at the door as the slick material goes lower and lower…

A crash as the door is kicked in from the other side causes James to jump to his feet and assume a fighting stance. Betsy lets out a startled shriek, leaping from the bed and covering up as quickly as she could. Running through the door is Shawn Warstein, looking horrified by what he’d just burst in on.

“Betsy, what the fuck is going on here?! Who is this shirtless blue bitch?”

“Wait… Aren’t you Fuzz?” Betsy asks, startled as the legend she admired in her youth suddenly entered the room.

Shawn’s face darkens at the name. “I thought you of all people knew better than to call me that, Sister Mine.”

“Isn’t that your ring name? And why do you keep calling me Sister Mine?” Betsy stares in confusion as she inches closer to James.

“He doesn’t know boundaries or what a do not disturb sign on the door means,” James says, giving his friend a hard glare. “Whatever it is, Shawn, it could’ve waited.”

The look on Shawn’s face is murderous as he slowly makes his way closer to the couple. “I don’t know who the fuck you are, but whatever game you’re trying to play with Betsy better stop. Now.”

“Or what?” James asks with a mocking laugh. “What can you do to stop me?”

“James, what the hell is going on?” Betsy asks, suddenly scared. James holds his arms out to her and she hurries into them, never taking her eyes off Shawn Warstein.

“Shawn is just being a jackass, as usual. You’ll learn to get used to that once you get to know him; however, now is not that time. If you wouldn’t mind, Betsy and I were in the middle of something…” James motions towards the door, which hangs helter-skelter on its hinges.

“I’m not going anywhere without Betsy, you creepy blue fuck.” Shawn is now close enough to grab Betsy, which he does. He locks his hand around her arm and attempts to pull her out of James’ arms gently. “It’s time to go, Betsy.”

“You’re crazy,” Betsy says, attempting to shake her arm free.

“Normally I’d agree, but this isn’t one of those times. I don’t know what this guy is trying to pull, but this ain’t James, Sister Mine.” Shawn’s tone is firm, but there’s a slight urgency beneath it.

Betsy shakes her head firmly, holding on tightly to James. “Of course it is, look at him.”

“I am and I’m telling you Bets, that’s isn’t fucking James Raven. It’s some big, blue mother fucker with the creepiest eyes I’ve ever had to look at. Seriously dude, what’s with the glowing red shit, did you deep throat a traffic light?” Shawn shakes his head in disgust as he attempts to reason with Betsy once more.

Before he can try, two more men enter the room; both of them are dressed in grey uniforms with austere expressions on their faces. With a flick of his wrist James motions for them to handle Shawn. Flanking him on either side, they both grab one of his arms and attempt to drag him from the room. Shawn struggles, managing to free his right arm and swinging at the guard to his left. James pulls Betsy back to safety as the three start to brawl, Shawn fighting the two powerful Chiss soldiers disguised as humans. Even still, Shawn puts up a hell of a fight, holding his own against the two experienced combatants. Unfortunately, the numbers game took its hold and they eventually managed to subdue him. Shawn looks up at Betsy, his eyes glittering with anger.

“Come on Betsy, snap the fuck out of it! I don’t know how to save you from this one!”

“There’s nothing to save me from; you’re talking absolute insanity now,” Betsy says, shaking her head at him sadly. “Take him away, officers.”

Shawn begins to struggle again as the guards drag him towards the door. It’s then that a new voice calls to them from the shadows. Betsy and James look to the door in confusion, but the owner of the voice is only a dark shape against the shadows that lurk beyond. Meanwhile, Shawn’s face lit up into a smile before falling as he realized that his lover was rushing into a trap. A moment later, Betsy is staring at a gorgeous, red-haired beauty wielding a… was that an actual lightsaber?

“Shawn… Betsy… Boy am I glad to see the two of you! This is some weird stuff going on!” Kasey Winterborn, having just battled her way through a unit of Admiral Thrawn’s men with Betsy’s dual-ended magenta lightsaber, now stared down the two soldiers who had released Shawn to deal with her. “Oh, is THIS how it’s going to be, then?”

The only sound in the room for a moment is the satisfying hiss as Kasey reignites the lightsaber and holds out an arm, inviting the soldiers to bring it on. Shawn, meanwhile, turns to Thrawn and tackles him, forcing the Chiss to break his hold of Betsy. Crying out, Betsy turns to push Shawn off of James, but when their eyes lock, all she can see is burning red…

Her world turns ice-cold as fear grips her and darkness fills her vision…

****TO BE CONTINUED****