Traditions Ch. 05

byhoneyblood©

"Oh, quite a few." Aidan joked. "I'd sleep wit one eye open if I was ya."

Cheyanne smiled. "Duly noted."

Declan grunted and took hold of her hand. "Don't encourage him, Cheyanne. He'll only screw wit ya later."

The trio all piled into the truck with Cheyanne in the middle. Declan didn't waste any time getting on the road. He was more than uncomfortable having Aidan in the car with Cheyanne.

"So mi cousin tells me ya came from America."

"Like you couldn't tell." Declan huffed under his breath.

Aidan ignored him. "Where from?"

"Texas."

"So how do ya like living across da pond?"

"It took some getting used to, I guess." She gave sideways glance to Declan. "But it grew on me."

"How has my cousin been treating you right?"

Cheyanne smiled and nodded her head. "He's been a complete gentleman."

Declan gently squeezed her thigh in appreciation.

"Gentleman?" Aidan snorted. "Really? I would have though he would have tried ta shag ya by now."

That comment earned him a smack in the face.

"Ah!" Aidan tried to rub away the pain on his forehead. "Damn, Declan."

Declan returned his hand to its resting place by Cheyanne's knee. His cousin deserved more than a slap for that comment.

"Dec, why'd you go and do that?" Cheyanne turned and removed Aidan's hand to see the red mark begin to form on his forehead. "He was just joking."

The hell he was. Declan knew what his cousin was doing. Aidan was fishing for information. Most gypsies were catholic, so sex before marriage was strictly forbidden. For most gypsy men, they had a bit more freedom to go out. It's made more than a few men to act a bit promiscuously. His cousin wanted to know if that had been the case in their relationship. Aidan wanted to know if sex had been the reason he and Cheyanne had lasted so long.

Well it wasn't, and it would never be. He would never disrespect a girl in such a way, especially Cheyanne.

"No no, it's ok." Aidan allowed Cheyanne to check him a bit more before lightly shrugging her off. "I'm used to being abused by him."

Cheyanne turned and softly punched Declan on the shoulder. "You're such a bully sometimes."

"Me!" Declan was appalled.

Aidan was laughing his ass off in the passenger seat.

The conversation mellowed out after that. Aidan and Cheyanne seemed to get along pretty well, which made Declan feel a whole lot better. As usual, the drive to Cheyanne's café didn't take long, and Declan managed to park a few feet from the entrance.

"So this is where you work?" Aidan asked as they stepped out of the truck.

"Yup, this is it." She answered.

"Hmm," Aidan eyed the place before looking back down at her. "And you like it? Working here that is?"

Cheyanne shrugged. "It's nice enough. They don't run me ragged, and they were nice enough to give me a schedule that worked around my classes."

Aidan looked a little skeptical.

Cheyanne notice the look. "What?" She inquired.

He just shrugged. "No'ting. Just not use to seeing a girl work is all."

That's when Declan decided to jump in. "What he means is, most girls we know don't work. It's usually the man's job to bring in the money."

"Oh, well I find it rather rewarding to be able to spend your own money." She turned back to Aidan. "Wouldn't you agree?"

Aidan consented and nodded his head. "Can't argue wit dat. But ya might want ta take some time off on Saturday."

Declan gave his cousin a withering look.

Cheyanne quirked an eyebrow. "Umm, why do I need to take off?"

"Oh," Aidan continued while ignoring Declan's dirty looks. "Declan's semi-final match for the Cage Warriors Championship is this Saturday?"

"Really?" Cheyanne's voice got a bit sharp. "He didn't tell me that."

Aidan gave her a confused look. "Didn't you know that he fought?"

"Oh no. I knew. I just didn't know when his big match was coming up." She turned and gave Declan a pat on the back that had a little more force then was friendly.

Oh yeah. She was pissed.

Declan could kill his cousin.

"Well I should be getting in." Cheyanne walked up to Aidan and gave him a hug, which he readily accepted. "I hope to see you soon."

"Like wise." Aidan spoke before breaking away.

Cheyanne gave him one last smile before turning to Declan. That smile quickly fell. She quirked her eyebrow up at him.

"We'll talk later." With that she walked off.

No kiss, no hug, and no thanks for him. The cards were just not working in his favor today.

Off to the side, Aidan let out a long whistle. "Wooo, dat is some girl you've got mate."

"That better be a compliment." Declan grumbled.

"It is." Aidan inclined his head in the direction Cheyanne had left. "She's good for ya Dec."

Declan turned his head and gazed at Cheyanne's retreating form. He admired the way her hips swung as she took each step. What a woman he had.

Declan enjoyed hovering in the moment, before his cousin brought him crashing down.

"So why didn't you tell her about yar match?"

Declan turned and gave his cousin a hard glare. "Yar a fucking prick, ya know dat?"

Aidan raised his hands in defense. "What?" He gave Declan a confused look as he walked by to get to the truck. "Wha'd I say?"

Declan jumped into the cab and slammed the door. "Asshole." He cursed under his breath. He waited until Aidan was buckled into his seat before laying in on him. "Why'd ya have ta go and mention the tournament?"

"Why is dat such a big deal? I thought she knew you fought?"

"Yeah she does. She know..."

"Then what's the big deal?"

Declan let out a reluctant sigh. Cats out of the bag now.

"Cheyanne has actually never been to one of my matches."

Not fully understanding the connection, Aidan just nodded his head. "Ok."

"And whenever one of mi matches was coming up, I just tol' her dat they were pretty small and not worth going ta. She'd take da excuse and not complain about it."

Still confused, Aidan continued to nod his head.

Declan could tell Aidan wasn't getting it, but he continued talking anyway in the hopes that his mentally challenged cousin would make the connections.

"Anyway, dis time it's different. Cheyanne knows that dis Warriors match is wha' I've been working towards. She's not go'in ta except some excuse I've made about how unimportant it is. She's go'in ta want ta be there."

"But you never even told her when it was."

"No, that's not true. I've told her before dat it was coming up soon."

"Yeah, but ya never tol' her the exact date, Dec. Why?"

Declan clenched his jaw. "For the same reason I didn't want her at the other matches."

Aidan jus continued to stare at him from across the cab, waiting for Declan to explain himself.

Oh for fucks sake.

"Come on Aidan. You know mi family likes ta come ta my fights."

"Are you serious? Dat's why you've never tol' her. Because of your parents?" Aidan scoffed and leaned back in his seat. "Ya know, you've seriously taken this whole secret relationship thing to a whole new level."

"Oh, screw you Aidan."

"I just wan'ta know how you've managed ta keep your parents in the dark so long."

Declan turned the car on and pulled out into traffic. "You'd be surprised how easy it is."

"You're just making t'ings worse for yourself."

"No, I'm trying to make t'ing easier for her."

"How?"

"Oh, come on." Declan raised his voice a bit. "You and I both know dat my parents would flip if they found out I was dating Cheyanne. They don'a exactly hide how they feel about non travelers. How do you t'ink they'll react when I tell them?"

"So you t'ink that avoiding the subject and delaying their meeting is going to help?"

"No...just, no." Declan huffed in frustration. "I'm just trying to find the right time to tell my parents. Then once enough time has passed, and they've cooled off a bit, I'll introduce them to Cheyanne."

"And you really t'ink that's going ta work?" The look Aidan was giving Declan showed that he didn't think his plan would work.

But Declan chose to ignore it. In his mind, his plan worked out perfectly. It has too, he thought. It just has too.

******

Declan had spent the last few hours at the gym after he dropped off Aidan at home. He needed to get his last few work outs in before his match Saturday. In three days' time he'd be in the ring fighting for his chance to make it to the finals. He needed to be at his best. Today, however, he was off his game. Right now he was sparing with another fighter and he wasn't doing well.

"Come on Declan!" Fergus coached him from the side of the ring. "Watch your footing. Cover your left shoulder." Declan caught that bit of advice to late.

"Umff." Damn. That was the second time he's taken a hit to his side.

"Okay, that's enough for today." Fergus climbed up into the ring and patted both boys on the back. "You boys did well today."

Fergus was being nice. Declan knew how bad he was doing. Shaking his head, he turned from the others and walked to his corner of the practice ring to grab his towel and water bottle. He took a few sips before pouring some of the water in his hands to rub on his face and neck. The cooling effects of the liquid helped his muscles relax. He went to reach for the towel that was hanging on the top rope when someone quickly snatched it off.

"Rough day, McCarthy?" Jagger gave him a slippery smile as he twirled the towel in his hand. "Getting nervous about our fight on Saturday?"

Declan just rolled his eyes. "You wish."

"Your right. I do wish...that I had a more challenging competitor. They must not have had any more good fighters to pair me up with."

"Don'a flatter yourself, Jagger. Ya just be ready for da beating I'm going ta give ya."

Jagger only laughed as he threw the towel back and walked away. "Just make sure you're ready."

Oh no this fucker didn't. This joker did not just turn his back on him. Declan was already pissed off and this jerk was just pushing his buttons. He was tempted to jump out of the ring and go after him when he felt a hand in his shoulder.

"Eh." Fergus turned him around and inclined his head towards his office. "Let's talk for a bit."

Declan sighed and followed him into the back office.

Fergus sat behind his clustered desk and extended his hand to the empty chair on the opposite side. "Sit down."

Declan complied and relaxed into the worn down leather chair. While he let his muscles unwind he took the moment to look around the room. Old trophies from Fergus's fighting days were mixed in with the new trophies won by a few of his old students. Medals of all kinds were hung up on the walls, and off to the far right in the corner was a cork boards covered in thank you letters and pictures. It was clear that, even though most people thought he was washed up, several people at some point in time had considered Fergus to be a great coach.

A soft clearing of the throat distracted Declan from his perusal of the wall.

Declan quickly moved his gaze back to Fergus. "Sorry." He apologized.

Fergus waved him off. "Your fine. I'm glad when someone takes a moment to look at these old paper weights."

Declan smiled at the small joke. "They're hardly paper weights."

"Maybe." Fergus shrugged his shoulders. "You're the only one that thinks so. No body round here even remembers that old Fergus use to train with the best of them."

"Well they will." Declan assured. "Once I make it past the semi-finals this Saturday."

"Yeah." Fergus leaned back in his chair. "That's actually what I wanted to talk about, son. What the hell was going on today, huh?"

All Declan could do was shake his head. "I don'a know. I've just had an off day today. There are t'ings on my mind dat are kind of weighing on me and I guess it just got da better of me." The statement wasn't a complete lie. Thoughts of Cheyanne had been weighing on his mind ever since he and Aidan left the café earlier that day. He knew that she wasn't too happy when she heard about his upcoming Warriors match. Internally, he had been trying to think of ways to approach the subject when he picked her up that tonight. He wasn't about to tell Fergus that though.

Fergus rubbed his gruffy chin and thought for a moment. "Does that have anything to do with the fact that your opponent is Jagger?"

Declan had to refrain from rolling his eyes. About a week ago, match ups for the semi-finals were finally announced and Declan was surprised to find out that his opponent would be the asshole who'd been talking smack for the past year. With all the other fighters that qualified for the semi-finals, he was paired with Jagger. Declan wasn't exactly upset. In fact, he was actually happy that he'd been given a chance to kick the loser's ass. He had just wished he had been paired with someone that would actually have been real competition.

"No. Dat prick is definitely not da reason. Like I said I just have a lot on mi mind."

"Well you can't let things like that mess with your head, especially this Saturday."

"I know dat sir."

"Everything you've worked toward this year, all the beatings, all the black eyes will be worth it when you're in that in that ring this weekend. But you have got to keep your head together. So whatever it is that's weighing on you right now, you need to deal with it. Make sure it's not a factor come time for your match." Fergus tilted his head and gave him a look. "Do you understand what I'm saying?'

"Yes sir, I do." Declan understood that this match wasn't just important to his career. It was important to Fergus's as well. In the past few years, Fergus had been unable to dish out any championship fighters. Any good students that he had were usually persuaded to work with other trainers. Declan had several more years to make a name for himself. For Fergus, this could be his last shot before retirement. Declan didn't want to ruin that chance for him.

Glancing up at the clock on the wall, Declan noted the time. He needed to be ready to pick up Cheyanne in a few.

Fergus noticed his gaze and twitchy behavior. "Got somewhere you need to be McCarthy?"

Declan snapped his attention back to the man across from him. "I'm sorry sir?"

"I said, do you need to be somewhere?"

"Uh, sir...Actually I do. I apologize, but I promised to pick up someone after training."

Fergus stared at him for a moment before consenting and nodding his head. "Okay. Well don't let me stop you." He waved his hand and dismissed him.

He had opened the door and stepped on foot in the entry way when Fergus called him back.

"McCarthy."

Declan turned and looked back at the older man. "Yeah."

"Make sure you handle whatever's bothering you."

Declan hesitated before nodding his head and walking out of the office. Heading to the locker room for a shower, Declan took what his cousin and Fergus had been saying to heart. He needed to address his issues with Cheyanne, and he needed to address them tonight when he picked her up from work. He didn't need this weighing on his mind. With the match this Saturday, he needed to have a clear head.

Thirty minutes later, Declan pulled up in front of the small café. Taking a moment to lean his head in the head rest, he turned his gaze to look through the big open window of the small restaurant. Declan had a clear view of Cheyanne, and he could see that she was getting ready to leave, or rather people were trying to get her to leave. Cheyanne was busy wiping down a few tables while the other waitress, Ginger, was trying to shoo her out. After a few seconds Ginger was able to snatch the small rage Cheyanne was using to clean, and pushed her towards the front door. Laughing, Cheyanne consented and started taking off her small waiters' apron as she headed toward the front counter. For a moment, Declan smiled as he watched her shuffle around the café. Then he remembered the hard conversation he was planning on having with her, and his smile quickly faded.

Turning his head away from the café, Declan let out a long sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose. God he was already regretting some of the things he was about to say to her. Maybe telling was a bad idea. He couldn't do this right now.

Cheyanne waved at her coworkers and told them goodnight before walking out of the door. When she turned she saw Declan slowly making his way out of the truck and over to her. The smile that she had been sporting quickly disappeared. Thoughts of their earlier conversation were fluttering through her mind. When Aidan had mentioned that Declan's Warriors match was this Saturday, it kind of surprised her. This had been the match he'd been training for over the past few months. There were days where Cheyanne couldn't get him to stop talking about it. So why didn't he tell her that his fight was this weekend? She'd find out.

As he took the last steps over to her, Declan didn't fail to notice when her happy smile fell away. He was smart enough to know that her change in attitude was because of him.

"Hey." He said.

"Hey."

"How was work?" He asked.

She shrugged. "It was fine."

"Good." He inclined his head towards the car. "Let's get ya in da car and out of this cold. There's a few t'ings I kind of want ta talk to ya about."

She huffed and slowly sauntered to her side of the car. In quick choppy movements, Cheyanne opened the door, got in, buckled herself and shut the door. Gripping onto the door handle, Declan had to take a deep breath. She was clearly still miffed about their earlier conversation. More than anything, he needed her to be understanding. Sending up a silent prayer, Declan opened his door and got in the truck. Once they were both buckled in, he safely pulled them out into traffic. The silence between them was starting to build a low tension in the cab. Looking at her from across the seat, Declan noticed the way Cheyanne's knee continued to bounce up and down as she stared out the window.

"Are ya planning on sending a Morse code message wit that knee of yours?"

Declan's comment caught her off guard for a moment. "What?"

Declan placed his palm on her knee and gently squeezed it to stop her movement. "You're starting ta shake da car."

"Oh," she sighed. "Sorry."

He rubbed her thigh. "It's fine." Squeezing her leg one more time, he removed his hand and placed it back on the steering wheel. "Are you nervous about something?"

She looked at him for a moment before shaking her head. "No, I'm just...wondering. Thinking, I guess."

He paused for a moment before asking. "About what?"

As if he didn't know. Cheyanne needed to relax a bit. Over the past few months, they had been working on being more open with each other. Declan had been doing great up to this point. She just needed to relax and keep on open mind. There had to be a good reason why he was keeping secrets again.

"I just was wondering...why you never told me your fight was this Saturday."

Cheyanne didn't fail to notice when he jaw tensed.

"I just...I...thought I already told you."

Cheyanne just stared at him. "Really?"

He nodded his head. "Really."

She continued to stare at the side of his head. Cheyanne didn't like that he refused to look at her. From where he was sitting, Declan could practically feel the soul searching look she was giving him. When she didn't respond after a few minutes, he assumed that she had taken the excuse he gave her.

Cheyanne waited a few minutes more before nodding her head and turning away. "Okay."

Declan wasn't quite sure if he heard correctly. "What?"

"Okay." She said. "Pull over."

"Why?" he inquired.

"Because I think you lying to me."

He snapped his head and gave her a look. "Are ya serious?"

"Yes." She gave him a quick look to show him she meant business. "Pull over."

Declan looked at her a second longer before shaking his head and cussing under his breath. It took him a moment to find a place to pull over but he was able to find one. He quickly turned the car off, yanked the keys out, and leaned back in his seat.

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