Kyle Ogden never got tired of tradeshows. As he and his coworker, Arthur, put together their booth at the Martial Arts Supply Show in Vegas, Kyle kept an eye out for friends and customers.
Like most businesses, even with a big market, it was really a small world. Kyle had started with the Right Fit Equipment company out of college. At first, he’d done everything from Youth Sports to custom athletic shoes, but once his boss had learned Kyle had a brown belt in Karate and was working on other martial arts, she’d put him on the wrestling and very hot martial arts circuit. Kyle loved it!
“Your boy toy is over there.” Arthur nodded to the booth across the aisle. If Kyle was the demo specialist, Arthur was the tech guy.
“Shut it. His company isn’t exactly gay friendly.” Kyle looked over. Jim Park stood there surveying the booth area with his ice queen of a coworker, Ms. Chen. Both were Asian, but Jim was friendly and laid back. Ms. Chen wasn’t very social especially with the competition.
Arthur just shook his head. “He gives you a different excuse every show. Why do you bother?”
“Do you give up every time a potential customer says no?”
“He’s not a customer. He’s the competition. Dating the enemy when you’re in marketing and strategy wouldn’t be smart. Jim’s got some sense. You’re crazy.”
“Well, he won’t date me so it’s not a problem.” Kyle stared at the lean muscle on Jim’s tall body. With dark eyes and straight black hair that flopped into his eyes at times, Jim was hot. Kyle enjoyed the view when Jim bent to work on the booth. A firm ass, strong legs, and a sculpted back all hinted at the sexy man under the clothes.
Jim worked for the private company, Ping Inc. They were smaller but loved to put a dent in Right Fit’s market share. Not only conservative, Ping went for the traditional styles in everything.
“Get yourself an Asian boyfriend and get it out of your system. Jim isn’t going to bite. You’ve been trying for over a year. It’s getting boring,” Arthur said.
“I’ve dated all types of guys, it’s not the Asian thing. It’s him. He’s intense when we talk.”
“I’ve heard he’s straight.”
Kyle shook his head. “No way. He’s playing it for Ms. Chen. Some companies you just can’t be out at. Go distract Ms. Chen.” Arthur had a thing for her. Kyle knew it was just a fantasy, but he’d use Arthur to get Jim alone.
“No, she’s better in my imagination wearing leather and riding me.” Arthur turned and went back to work.
Kyle chuckled. “We’ve all got our things, man. Go ask her how she is with a riding crop?” Working these shows together for a while now, Kyle and Arthur knew each other well. Kyle would lay down good money that Arthur liked his women in charge.
“Kyle! She’d slap me and stab me with those high heels.” Arthur’s tone wasn’t scared or repulsed.
“You’d love it.” Enough torturing Arthur. “Fine, tell her you heard a couple distributors talking about acquiring Ping. That they are in talks with the big boy owners. You don’t want to spread rumors, but you thought she should know.”
“You’re mean. Then what? She’ll ask who and where they are.” Arthur was a tech guy in more than sales. He knew how much force a fall mat could take and the strength of their clothes. Most of what they did at shows was clothing and safety related gear. Safety was essential as kids got into martial arts more and more.
Clothing styles varied and individualization was growing as more people tried it. Which meant new supply companies popped up all the time to compete. Many flopped. Some like Ping had found a niche in traditional styles. Their lines were classic. Right Fit wanted to be cutting edge.
Ping employees were conscious of the competition and that the owners could sell them in a second for a tidy profit. “Tell her you didn’t get names, but you’ll find them. Take her around looking. Of course, you can’t find them. Maybe, they’re in a private meeting? You’ll let her know when you see them. That way you can go back and flirt more with her.”
“Wild goose chase.” Arthur didn’t object too much and smoothed his hair.
“And compliment her shoes. Buy her a coffee. Geez, I’m gay. Getting girls shouldn’t be my area.”
“Her shoes? She’ll think I’m gay,” Arthur said.
Kyle took another look. Open toe with red painted toenails, black high heels with red dragons on the side. “No man, those are fuck me heels. Tell her you like the Chinese dragon art. She’ll bite.”
“Her restraint is better than Jim’s. You need to get Jim alone and make a move.” Arthur popped a breath mint. “You owe me one.”
Kyle watched Arthur catch Ms. Chen and lure her away with business talk. It was the one thing she couldn’t resist. A little tradeshow fun couldn’t hurt. Kyle enjoyed yanking Jim around since Jim refused to flat out say he wasn’t interested or to just go out with Kyle. He needed to find Jim’s weak spot. What couldn’t Jim resist?
Walking over, Kyle helped Jim position part of the booth backdrop. “You can run, but you know you’ll see me again. Nice set up today.”
“Ping and Right Fit. Close in the alphabet so close in proximity. Your company should pay for prominent end space.” Jim pointed to the huge booths on the ends.
Kyle shook his hand. “Nah. We do quality and style in the martial arts stuff. Those guys are into quantity and flash for the uncommitted. We’ll take that business, but we don’t go in that big. Wastes money to over compete.” He moved closer. “Hit my next belt in Tae Kwon Do. How are you doing?”
Straightening the picture on the booth wall, Jim shrugged. “Good. I’m considering others. I’m more about control and strength.”
“I’d be good for that,” Kyle joked. “Come on. Ms. Chen is nowhere in sight. Quite being so paranoid.”
Jim stopped arranging and looked at Kyle. “Stop. We have a lot in common, and we could be friends, but I’m not playing out my personal life at a work function.”
“You won’t see me outside of work so you’re tying my hands.”
Jim glared. “I’ve told you. It’s not right. We’re competitors. There are at least four good reasons for us not to do anything. Our careers are number one.”
Leaning in, Kyle got close to Jim’s ear as if what he said was a trade secret. But he inhaled the masculine scent and had to control his desire to kiss Jim right there. “When I get you naked, we won’t be talking about customers or company policy. You’ll be begging for more.”
Jim took a half step back and leveled a harsh stare at Kyle. There was fire behind his eyes. The stare lacked the icy edge Ms. Chen managed, but it said back off. “You seem to be doing the begging. I think you’re working very hard for another no. Plenty of men here would say yes so it must be our products.” Jim set a new pad sample on the counter area.
“I didn’t know you had a new mat coming out. Actually innovating, Jim? Shocking for Ping.” Kyle felt the pad.
“As much protection with half the bulk.” Jim nodded with pride.
“Nice. But I’m not the tech guy. I’ll let Arthur press Ms. Chen for specs. I want to know why you keep dodging me. Even at the martial arts class, you won’t spar with me even though we’re well matched.” Kyle had first notice Jim at the academy. Maybe that was it, seeing Jim all sweaty in combat. L.A. had a few good academies. Jim had walked into Kyle’s about fifteen months ago.
Then Jim had been at the very next tradeshow Kyle had worked. It was fate. With Jim’s passion for the competitions, Kyle knew they were a fit. If only Jim would give it a try.
After the initial rejection, Kyle had truly tried to get Jim out of his mind. Hitting on other men, dating and enjoying them was one thing, but he couldn’t get the idea of Jim’s quiet restraint out of his head. Sparing with Jim would be ten times as arousing, especially in competition.
© Cheryl Dragon
Winner Takes All
Author: Cheryl Dragon
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Kyle wants Jim and Kyle gets what he wants no matter how hard he has to fight. This time, he’ll fight harder than ever because Jim thinks Kyle’s a player and he’s been around players before. He suspects Kyle’s games have ulterior motives, and he’s not about to fold.
As competitors at a tradeshow, they show off their martial arts skills to demonstrate their products, but they soon discover they share a fetish for taking wrestling and fighting to the next level—late night wrestling matches that end with the winner getting whatever he wants. But with everything on the line, it will be a fight to the end to discover which winner takes all.