The Fighter who Needed Me – Rachelle Stevensen

Brooks Parker sat on Cabe’s ship waiting. Just endless waiting. They had finally spotted the other ship in the distance and Burk was pacing in their room, as if that would help get them to Lily faster. Brooks wanted to laugh but couldn’t. His brother was wound up and he felt for him. Truly he did. He knew that Burk had finally found his woman only to have her taken from him. And Burk was not going to have someone fight his battles for him. He was going to go after Lily and that was that. Even though she still did not give him the time of day. Brooks sighed. He wished he could find the woman who was meant just for him. He knew she was out there, just had not seen her yet. And that was the biggest reason Brooks had never even touched another woman. He had never been kissed, had hardly hugged Eden.

But to him, Eden was his sister. And he knew that she was not for him. He recalled the night before his mother died. She had called him in to talk to her, and he knew, and she knew that she wasn’t going to last much longer. He did not know why she had gotten so sick so quickly, but she had. She was breathing hard and her skin was flushed and had a yellow cast to it, when he walked into her tiny bedchamber. You could smell her death in the air. It was a lot for someone of his age to bear, but he had been through a lot already in his short life and this was just the beginning of the end. He sat by his mother on her bed and she held her hand out to him. Which he took.

She was shaking, shivering and her eyes were almost lifeless, glazed over with the fever that wracked her body. But she still smiled at him. “My dear sweet boy,” she said as he took her cold, sweaty hand and Brooks had to fight not to cry. “You and I both know that I am not going to live much longer. Burk does not want to see it, but it is the truth. My time has finally come. I wanted to talk to you before I go. To tell you how much I love you. How proud I am of the man you are becoming.” She had to stop and cough, which racked her small frame until she finally sat back, gasping.

She wiped a bit of blood from the corner of her mouth and Brooks hated seeing it there. She grabbed his hand again, “I wanted to tell you something. A secret that I never told anyone. Until today.” Brooks nodded and she went on, “When I was a young girl, of about five and ten years of age, I met a man. He was wonderful Brooks. So good to me, so in love with me. His name was Reece Parker, and he gave me you.” She smiled at him and Brooks gave her a tiny smile back. “We had only been together for a few months before we found out I was with child and he was so happy.

Oh, my Reece was a wonderful man. And I was so happy that I was going to be living a different life. One full of love. My parents were not good people and hated me, and my siblings. When they found out I would be leaving, that was the only time my mother cared. She told me she was happy for me and to live my life in a different way than theirs. And that was the last time I saw them.” Her eyes filled with tears, “Reece and I left our tiny village and moved to one by the sea. And as each day passed, our life was perfect. Reece had a wonderful job as a fisherman, and I took in sewing and mending to pass my day as I waited for his return.

Until one day, he did not come home. A storm came up out of nowhere and he, his ship and his crew all died on the sea. It broke something in me and while I wanted nothing more than to raise my child in the house, we had been so happy, I could not. I moved to London, hoping against hope that I could do more mending and sewing, but that did not bring in much and after giving birth to you, I needed some way to feed you. To clothe you. So, I did what I never thought I would do.” He knew what she was talking about and knew how much she hated her job as a prostitute. “I did what was necessary, Brooks, but to this day, I hated every single moment. I am telling you this for a few reasons. One, I loved your father.

He was my entire world and if he had not died, our life would be one of happiness and love. Instead of this.” Brooks shook his head and his mother held up her other hand, “No, let me finish. Two, I want you to find what I did. Do not settle for anything less. Do not give any part of yourself to someone else that isn’t the one you are meant to be with. You will know when you meet her Brooks. Wait for her. No matter how long it takes. Please Brooks.

The moment I saw your father I knew he was the one for me. And after he died and having to do with other people what I had done in only love before was too much to bear. Please my love. Please wait. I know it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.” Brooks nodded and she went on. “I had to let you know about your father before I died. He was so thrilled about you. To become a father. He truly was the best man I ever knew.

So good and kind. You are so like him, in looks and the way he was to others. Do not let that go away when I die. Stay true to who you are my sweet boy. Please.” Brooks nodded again and she sighed and lay back against her pillows. “I have loved you from the start and don’t regret a moment of being your mother. Not when life was hard, when I had to do what was necessary to survive. You are my life Brooks, and I will always be grateful that I got to be your mother. Even for this short amount of time.

Be strong. For you and Burk. He is already struggling, but do not let him fall. Be his rock and his anchor. I know you can do that. It is who you are. And know that both your father and I are so proud of you. That we loved you.” Brooks could take it no longer and let the tears fall free. “Please don’t leave me mother.

Please.” She pulled him into her arms and held him to her weakly. She shushed him and rocked him as he sobbed against her. She ran a hand over his hair and just held him as he sobbed. When he pulled away, her eyes were shining with tears, and she cupped his face. “I love you Brooks. I will always be right here.” She pointed to his heart and then hugged him as tightly as she could. When her body was racked with another coughing fit, Brooks sat up and helped her get a drink of water. He sat with his mother as she fell asleep, and he told her he loved her as she did.

She whispered it back and that was the last time she said anything to him. The next morning, they woke up to her cold body and Brooks had gone numb. He knew that she was going to die, but it still broke something inside of him to find her lifeless. Burk was angry and hurting, but Brooks locked it all away. Needing to be strong for them both. And when they were kicked out of their flat and had to survive on the streets, Brooks did what he could to help out. He learned to pick pockets, but hated taking from men in the same situation they were in, so he waited until he found a man who thought he was better than everyone else, and didn’t notice young boys that lived on the streets. Too bad for him, but the money fed them for a fortnight. He also knew how to sew but finding out that skin was much different than fabric. He had to sew Burk up when he came home with a knife wound from fighting men bigger than him, and then learning how to fight.

Fighting with Burk in the streets for a few scraps of food, and then fighting in the ring for a few shillings. Until someone, more specifically Charles Sawyer, saw them fighting. He had them come to his underground fighting ring and took them under his wing. They went from starving boys living from day to day and praying they would survive to men. Men who had to fight to get their next meal. Who had to fight to figure out where they would sleep and they did it all together. As they grew older and stronger, and started getting seen more and more with each fight, Burk was called the Devil of Whitechapel, or the Underworld, because of his black hair and amber eyes and he was called the Angel’s King, as he had white blonde hair and bright blue eyes. But he was just as deadly when they fought as Burk. If not more so. He was shorter than Burk but had speed on his side.

And he was not afraid of anything. Nothing scared him. Nothing came close to harming him. Not if he did not want it. And no one got close to him. He was as fast in the ring as he was at deflecting women and their advances. Aside from Burk, Brooks liked being solitary. He was just fine not being around anyone, especially not women. He hated all of them for treating him and Burk as if they were objects to be used and Brooks had to put his foot down more than once when someone got pushy with him. He would always remember his mother and their discussion before she died and not once did he waver.

Nor did he want to. He was never even tempted. Neither was Burk. Burk had found his woman and had lost her when they had just started out fighting. He was not going to let just anyone touch him. When they made enough money to stop fighting for Charles and his son Carter and do something for themselves. The brothers decided to open their salon and teach men how to fight. It was what they were good at and Brooks loved it. He was content in his life and thought he was happy. And he was.

Eden came into their life and gave it meaning. Helped them see just how lonely their lives were. And Brooks threw himself into teaching, boxing, the orphanage and helping the women in any way they could. But in bed at night, he was lonely. Tired of sleeping in a cold bed. Not enough to change it, but he wished every day that he could find his love. And when Lily came back into their lives, he knew that was it for Burk and he was happy for his brother and his sister. But once again, he was left out. And it hurt him more than he let on. And when Lily went missing, Brooks would do anything to help Burk find her again.

Including coming on this journey. But now that they were here, Brooks had a feeling deep in his soul this is where he was supposed to be. And sure enough, he was right. The moment he held Persephone in his arms and saved her from the man trying to take her, he knew his waiting was through. Knew that it was finally his turn. That he had found his life. His soul and he was never letting it go.

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