Read an Excerpt
Power over Power
I pulled open the glass door against the glaring Saturday morning sun. The heavily windowed walls offered little relief from its brightness as I blinked and looked around the lobby.
Dominic sat at his desk across from the front counter. One month before, I had watched Dominic on the first night of class as he stood at the front of the studio and introduced the defense system in which he would be training us. The students stood in a row in front of him, dressed the same way he was in sneakers, black t-shirts with the royal blue Krav Maga logo on the chest, and loose, lightweight black pants with matching royal blue stripes down the sides.
“Krav Maga is not like traditional martial arts,” he had explained. “Traditional martial arts involve sparring, a back-and-forth, a focus on skill. Krav Maga is about dropping somebody?knocking someone out within ten seconds so you can get away.” He met the eyes of each student in the line in front of him. “It’s also not about size. The point of Krav is that it puts everyone on an equal playing field, focusing on universal vulnerabilities that anyone can exploit, regardless of size.”
His voice was calm, assured, serious. I had watched him, captivated. Dominic didn’t necessarily look like a self-defense expert. He was only slightly taller than I was, probably five-foot-ten. His build was slim and athletic. The denseness of his muscles, however, was evident not only under the short sleeves of his t-shirt but also in the resounding thuds that reverberated off the studio walls as he demonstrated kicks, punches, knees, and elbows on the punching bag at the front of the room as the students watched in silence.
Despite the subject matter, there was no bravado or machismo in his countenance. I had seen from the pictures and accompanying labels hanging in the lobby that Dominic instructed traditional martial arts as well as Krav Maga. While I had never taken any myself, I sensed in him the understated confidence I had observed before in martial artists?an exquisite self-possession and understanding of their capabilities, the assurance as such that there was no need to prove anything to anyone. It was like they had power over their own power. It served them rather than the other way around. There was no compulsion to use it, to put it on display; it was just there, second nature, if it was ever needed.
Dominic looked up at my entrance.
I smiled at him and glanced at the clock. Saturday morning class was optional, a makeup class for those who missed any of the three sessions held during the week or who just wanted an extra review. I was about five minutes early, but there didn’t seem to be anyone else around.
He followed my gaze. “You're the only one here so far. People often trickle in around starting time on Saturdays. You can have a seat if you want, or go on in and start warming up.”
I sat on the bench perpendicular to his desk, and he smiled and turned back to his computer. I didn’t need to look at Dominic to feel the way he was affecting me. It happened just from being in the same room with him. It was something that went beyond looks, beyond personality, beyond simple attraction. It was pure heat, like a raw power of undiluted wanting, craving, hunger. I felt it when I watched the nonchalance with which he taught the methodology used by the Israeli army for hand-to-hand combat, a methodology designed, ultimately, to kill people. I watched the skill, control, and focus of the lightning flashes of movement, the cracking thuds against padding that seemed effortless to him, and felt the raw heat in my core. Every movement he executed was exactly what was called for, nothing more, nothing less. He didn’t execute power just for the sake of executing power. Power was cultivated in him so deeply that it simply came out when needed.
I wanted to fuck him so badly I could hardly stand still.
Five minutes later he glanced at the clock again. “Hmm. Maybe people had a little too much partying on a Friday night,” he chuckled as he stood up. “I’ve never had attendance this low on a Saturday.”
“Yeah, I imagine you want to cancel,” I babbled, standing nervously.
Dominic shrugged. “It’s up to you. You can certainly take off if you’d like. If you want to stay, I’ll work you.”
A shiver went through me, and I tried not to shudder visibly. I glanced around, not sure if I did want to take the class with Dominic all by myself. I knew his focus was strictly professional, and I might end up making a fool of myself as I practically drooled over him.
“Uh, okay. If you don’t mind,” I responded, my mouth appearing to ignore all the considerations that had just run through my mind.
“No, come on in,” he said, indicating the studio with a jerk of his head and leading me into it. I moved to the far end toward the supply room and set my bag and purse down on the bench.
As we began stretching, my breath quickened. The training hadn’t even begun, and already I knew this was a mistake. I wasn’t going to be able to handle this kind of undivided attention from Dominic. Even if he were interested in what I was, which I had no reason to believe he was, the studio’s walls were made of glass, making the view from the street wide open. He wasn’t about to fuck me with that kind of visibility.
I had to get out of there.
“Okay, you remember the way we learned early in the week to defend against a choke hold?” Dominic asked.
“Yeah,” I answered, clearing my throat. Dominic approached me, and I almost backed up, not trusting myself if he touched me.
“Show me what you remember.” He reached forward and placed both hands around my neck, facing me. My breath caught, and I snapped my hands up and slammed my forearms into his, breaking the grip.
“Good,” he said, stepping back. “Let’s try it up against the wall.”
I was painfully aware of my ragged breathing and the wetness between my legs as Dominic leaned into me, wrapping his hands around my neck and pushing me back against the wall. I defended again and had to consciously resist pressing my hand between my legs.
“Okay, grab a kick shield,” Dominic said, nodding at a stack in the corner of the room. “I’m going to demonstrate the kick we learned on Wednesday. Remember, start with your weight on the kicking foot?hop quickly to the other foot and kick while you’re in the air. The momentum increases your power. Then recoil immediately. Always recoil right away. Limbs not up against you are vulnerable to being grabbed.”
I nodded, trying to focus. Dominic backed up, and I crouched in position with the kick pad in front of me. Dominic’s foot snapped forward, and I was almost knocked backward by the force of the impact even as the padding absorbed most of it. I shuddered as I imagined what such