Home > Combative (Combative #1)

Combative (Combative #1)
Author: Jay McLean


I FLEX MY fingers, watching the dried blood shift around my knuckles. I should be at home icing the shit out of them. But I’m not. Instead, I’m in a tiny room with nothing but a table and two chairs. I don’t know how the fuck I got into this mess. Actually, I do, but the asshole was talking shit and I had no choice.

That’s a lie.

There was a choice.

I made mine and I ended up here.


The door swings open, and a suit walks in; his back to me—talking heatedly with someone on the other side of the door. “I’ll handle it, Pulver,” he says, before shutting the door and then...nothing. He just stands there staring at the closed door. His shoulders heave once, his head moving from side to side. And then slowly, he turns.

The corners of my lips lift, but drop when I see him jerk his head. The action’s so slight that if I weren’t focused on him, I would’ve missed it. His gaze shifts to the camera in the corner of the room. It’s a split second movement, but one I understand. He rolls up the sleeves on his crisp, white shirt and takes the only seat available on the other side of the table. Resting on his forearms, he leans forward. “Parker.”

I smirk. “Officer.”

“Detective,” he corrects.

“Who’d have thought,” I mumble.

His features falter for a second, but only a second before his mask is back in place. He looks down at the open folder in front of him, his eyes scanning the page from side to side, and then he lifts his gaze. “Kyler Parker?” he asks, but he already knows who I am.

I nod once.

His eyes fix on the cuffs digging into my wrists. Letting out a breath with a huff, he leans to one side and shoves his hand in his pocket, revealing a set of keys.

The second he removes the cuffs; there’s a banging on the door.

His eye roll makes me chuckle.

Another suit, a fatter one, stands at the door with his eyes narrowed. “Davis,” is all he says.

“I said I’d handle it!” He stands up and walks to the door, then proceeds to forcefully shut it in fat-suit’s face.

Once he’s settled back in his seat, he resumes his stance from earlier. “You’re in a bit of a mess,” he states.

I nod again.

He pulls a picture from the folder, now settled in the middle of the table, and pushes it under my nose. “You recognize him?”

Another nod.

“You broke his jaw, his nose, busted a rib, and punctured his lung. You also did some heavy damage to his right eye. They don’t know if it will have full functionality again.” He raises an eyebrow. “Was it worth it?”

I clear my throat and lean forward, matching his position.

Amusement fills his eyes. Then, just like that, it’s wiped. “Are you mute?”

I bite my lip to stop from smiling. The taste of my blood hits my tongue.

He hides his smile. “Does it taste like victory?”

I drop my chin to my chest and do my best to keep it together.

The scraping of his chair grabs my attention. He’s on his feet now, working his way over. Stopping next to me, he takes a seat on the edge of the table.

“Ky,” he starts, then pauses for what I assume is dramatic effect. “I can call you Ky, right?” He doesn’t give me a chance to answer before adding, “Here’s the thing. Witnesses say that you had to be pulled off of him, and even then you kept throwing blow after blow. The damage you did—there’s too much of it. Obviously he’s pressing charges, so is the owner of the bar you just trashed because you couldn’t control your temper.”

“Fuck you.”

He raises his eyebrows. Then, clearing his throat, he slowly crosses his arms.

“I could just leave you here. You could go to court—do the whole trial thing. I bet you think your chances of being let off are high—ex-combat vet suffering PTSD...all that shit. But the truth? The truth is it might have worked if we were talking assault, but we’re not. We’re talking attempted murder, Parker.”

I lean back in my chair and look up at him.

“I’m here to make a deal—one that you should take.” He sighs and drops his head, then pushes off the table. Reaching into his back pocket, he pulls out a pair of handcuffs, the same ones I was wearing when he walked in. He circles them around my wrists—looser than they were before. “You have one night.” He places his business card in my hand. “An officer will tail you. I suggest you get a drink and think about taking the deal.”

“Fuck your deal.”

He smiles. “Fuck your life.”




I LOOK OVER my shoulder, but nothing has changed. Officer Declan, the poor asshole chosen to babysit me, hasn’t moved from his spot in the last two hours.

Flipping the business card between my fingers, I eye it curiously.


Detective Jackson Davis, right above the Philadelphia Police Department logo.

And his hand-written note; meet me at Colton’s Bar.


“Asshole,” I mumble under my breath.

“I’m the asshole? You’re the one that left and never looked back.”

I flinch in my seat—not from him being here, because I expected that, but because of the harshness of his words. “Jackson,” I greet, just as he sits on the barstool next to me.

“I thought for sure you’d at least call. I didn’t expect much, maybe a ‘hey bro, I’m alive.’”

I return my gaze to Officer Declan, but he’s no longer there.

“I told him to leave,” he states. “So, I’m glad you actually read my note instead of trashing it like I thought you would.”

I dip my head and stare at the beer in my hand. “You said something about a deal?”

He orders a beer for himself and turns to me. “I need your help.”

I don’t respond. I don’t know how. I was already fucked, but whatever he’s offering isn’t going to save me. It’s going to save him.

He says my name and then pauses for a long moment. “It involves you.”

I turn to him. “What the fuck are you talking about, Jax?”

Running a hand through his hair, he takes a sip of the beer just handed to him. “This stays in the vault. You got it?”

“Sure. Whatever.”

“I’m working on a case. It’s an underground fighting organization, but we suspect it’s more.”


“We think it’s a cover for a drug ring.”

“So where do I come in?”

“I need you to fight.”

“I don’t fight.”

“Pretty sure that guy you just put in the hospital would say otherwise.” He blows out a heavy breath. “What the hell did he say to get you so amped?”

My jaw clenches. My fingers curl, gripping the beer tighter. “He said the war was fake and that we were fighting for a cause that didn’t exist.” I search his face, waiting for him to tell me how stupid I am, but it never comes. I add, “I fought so he could wake up every day and not be afraid to leave his fucking house and he thinks—”

“You should’ve killed him.”

I shrug. “Maybe.”

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