Now a college senior, Shelby has little choice but to attend the annual Christmas party at Ridenhour Motorsports when her stepfather's boss asks her to be the keynote speaker to honor Dale's twenty-fifth year with the team. She takes an instant dislike to the team's young superstar, Kolby Barnes, due to negative comments the guy has directed toward Dale in the press. After she tells the arrogant NASCAR driver off, things take a bad turn when Dale casually offers to bet his '71 Barracuda Hemi agasint the new Audi Kolby drives if he can beat Shelby in a drag race. Thanks to her big mouth and hot temper--along with some unjustified faith in her racing skills from her stepfather--Shelby finds herself where she swore to never be again, drag racing on the lonely country lane where Colt Hannah ruined her life.
I set the emergency brake again and hit the gas. The rubber was hot now, so the car didn’t slip before the tread grabbed the asphalt.
“Better.” Jonny grinned and patted my knee. “Take her ass down. So fucking tired of seeing these folks who can’t drive with these high dollar cars.”
I managed not to smile. Maybe I could entice him to race her next. It would do my heart good to see him have to go to his knees and—
Uh, no. Not going there. What the fuck am I thinking?
I took a deep breath and slid my hands to the two o’clock and ten o’clock positions on the unfamiliar wheel. My anxiety faded into concentration. I narrowed my focus to the two white lines bracketing the deserted lane and the guy on the yellow line in between our front fenders.
“Ready!” The brown-haired dude raised the colorful necktie again. Really, who was he? Even his voice stirred a memory, but I couldn’t place him. Had he paid Colt to fuck me? Or paid Brandon to fuck Caroline?
My concentration faded as the questions brought my anxiety roaring back. I just wanted to get out of here. I let the clutch out about halfway and just stomped the pedal to the floor, letting the handbrake do all the work.
“That ain’t gonna work. You burn out that brake and you’re screwed. Doubt there’s any place open to get a new part. So quit doggin’ it, Shelby.” I ignored Jonny’s ill-tempered bark.
Drop the flag and let’s rock. In my head, I pictured Caroline’s taillights. There was no way I could beat her.
“Go!” The tie began to fall. I let the clutch out. The rear tires made a gratifying grab. The front tires lifted off the asphalt, by design, so the rear tires would grip, but the Mustang just kept getting air under the front tires. My heart knocked against my ribs but I kept my foot on the gas. What goes up, must come down.
The front end kept rising, until I could see wet asphalt through the spaces in the engine compartment.
It’s gonna flip. I yanked my foot off the gas pedal. Relief sent a hot flush across my skin when the tires dropped to the pavement. Pressing the gas again, I yelled, “No!” when the chassis began to slide sideways, toward the woods. I spun the wheel in the direction of the skid and jerked my foot to the brake.
Caroline’s taillights flashed—a quarter mile ahead. I twisted in my seat to look out the back. The guy on the start line gave the Mustang’s rear deck a pat.
“Fucking amateur hour.” Jonny scowled. “Jesus, Shelby, you gave up three quarters of a second before you even got off the line. Then you lost control of the goddamn car.”
“Well, I know all that!” Puffing my cheeks, I blew out a breath. “I just don’t know why it happened.”
His almond-shaped eyes widened. He unhooked his safety harness and made a grab for his phone.
“See if you can get her backed up. Think you can handle that?” He jabbed a number and put the device to his ear. “Yo, Caine. Seriously, what’s Plan B?”
I reversed so hard, he snapped forward, but to my annoyance, he slammed a hand to the dash so I didn’t get to see him bleed. When I had the car lined up, I turned off the engine and rolled out. Slamming the door, I stalked from one end of the car to the other, watching Caroline’s smooth reverse through narrowed eyes.
She hung out of the window. “What happened?”
“I don’t know what the hell Colt’s done to this damn thing. It’s… it’s possessed.” I threw my hands out. Jonny let out a loud groan and slid down in his seat. Slapping a hand to the side of his face, he spoke into the phone, but I was too pissed to listen while he tattled.
“C’mon, Shelby. Let’s give it another go,” Caroline urged. “You just gotta get used to the car, is all. You can’t quit. We just got started.” She giggled. “And I still got gas in the tank. Fire it up, girlfriend. Let’s go before my babysitter calls to say I need to come home.”
Easy to say sitting on sixty grand worth of ‘my daddy don’t have time for me but he can write a damn check’. And why, oh, why, did she mention that baby? How could Colt ask her to do this? What if something happened? If the car continued to malfunction, I might hit her car. If she got hurt, how would she work? I’d never be able to forgive myself if I made it impossible for her to look after her child.
“I’m telling you, it’s that… that,”—stabbing a finger at the monstrosity sprouting from the engine, I spluttered—“whatever the fuck that is. It’s not set right or something.” I crossed my arms over my chest and bent my knees, stooping to glare through the window until Jonny slung his door open and got out.
Scanning the engine compartment, he gave me what I guessed passed for a wide-eyed look. “Huh. Hang on, I see the problem.” He reached in to wiggle a belt on the chrome plated phallic symbol the guys called a breather. “Oh, okay.” He straightened with a smile. “You were right. All good now. Let’s go.”
“Do you think I was born yesterday? How many damn hours have I spent watching Caine and Colt play around in this engine? You didn’t fix a goddamn thing.”
“Because there’s nothing to fix.” His reasonable tone only set me off. “Let’s try again.”
“Grrr!” I yanked the door open and flopped into the seat. Feeling for the lever, I tried to adjust the seat forward. The seat slid forward the extra inch I needed, but there didn’t seem to be a catch at the right spot.
“We didn’t make any adjustments to the upholstery. You need to worry about some shit that might help.” He made a noise I took as derogatory.
“I will slap you.”
He ducked his head to study the side mirror before he cut hard eyes to mine. “Do I need to explain what would happen next?”
His hot and cold act reminded me too much of Colt. “Look, Jonny, I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but I left you standing in that parking lot yesterday because I don’t want what you have to offer.”
He raked his hands through his hair, as if it wasn’t already a hot mess. “Thank God you did. I need to play nice with the Hannah family. Giving their little sister a much needed spanking would’ve blown up in my face.”
Before I could figure out how to respond to that, the crunch of tires made me glance into the rear view mirror. Caine skidded to a halt off the side of the lonely lane and got out of Dale’s truck. Waving to Caroline, he strode to the GT500’s engine compartment and peered at the blower. To my relief, he began to nod after a moment’s perusal.
“What’s the matter with it, Caine?” Caroline called.
“Lubrication issue. You might wanna suck face with your buddy while I handle it.” Caine straightened and stalked to my door. Yanking it open, he barked, “Get out, Shelby.”
I slid out of the car, but didn’t get why Caroline started clapping. “Oh, this is the best Christmas gift ever,” she squealed.
Looking from her to Caine, I tried to catch up. “So, you brought what you need to fix it?”
Caine curled a hand around my arm. “The car doesn’t need lubricating. You do. Spread your legs.”
I jerked from his grasp, alarmed by the hard thump his commanding tone sent to my girlie bits. “No! I’m not some young kid who just does whatever you say anymore, you bastard.” I had plenty more to say, but Jonny’s presence saved Caine from hearing it.
He took the wide stance I was learning to hate and crossed his arms over his chest. “Now, just hear me out. After Jonny called, I got to thinkin’. When I taught you to drive, I mixed racin’ up with sex in your head. I think that’s your problem, because all that big blower’s doin’ is gettin’ more air to the fuel mix so you can fly.”
I wanted to scream, but kept my voice low. “You’ve been here all of one minute, Caine. You don’t know what my problem is.” His grin told me I’d misspoken. I hurried to say, “What the car’s problem is, I mean.”
The way his eyes narrowed made me wish I wasn’t backed up against the Mustang’s door.
He lifted those damn broad shoulders. “You can fight your nerves, or whatever’s holding you up from making a clean start. You can keep swearing it’s a mechanical problem, when we all know it ain’t. Or, you can ask me to wipe everything out of your head except the thought of how good Caroline’s little tongue is gonna feel when you kick her ass.”
Caroline’s cry rang through the silent woods. “Oh, in her dreams. I’ve been waitin’ on this for a long time. Hope you ate some rich girl pussy at college, Shelby. I ain’t got time for no amateur head.”
I wrenched around to stare over the top of the car, but I was too damn short and her new car sat too low for me to see her, so I just yelled. “Do you get head from many women, Caroline?”
“No, baby.” She giggled. “I been savin’ my girl-on-girl cherry for you all this time. Can’t wait to feel those dainty fingers slidin’ in and out of my pussy. And as soon as you get me off, Russ is gonna bang my fucking brains out, ‘cause watching is gonna make him feel like Superman, even though I doubt you can make me scream. But still, if he asks ‘em real nice, maybe Caine and this hot little number you brought along will dive right in for seconds. But all you’re gonna get is my cream on your chin.”
“I grew up in the wrong goddamn town,” Jonny blurted. “Fuck me, are y’all serious?”
Caroline’s teasing tone evaporated. “Get her ass behind the wheel and find out.” She gunned the Viper’s engine, then let the motor idle. “If she can get that bitch off the start line, that is.”
I tried to think of a way to back out of this, but all I could think about was all the nights spent out here that culminated in the best sex of my life. And how close Caine stood. I realized I stared at the growing bulge in his Wranglers and jerked my gaze to his face.
Caine grinned like he’d learned how from the devil himself. “The Shelby I used to know would be christening Caroline’s hood in… oh, maybe fifteen seconds from now. If you let me and Jonny help, you can make her use her tongue for somethin’ besides talkin’ smack. Or… not.”
Heat flashed over my skin, leaving a fine film of perspiration. The hard thump in my clit made me squeeze my thighs together. Caine’s grin said he knew that, too.
The promise of explosive orgasms that shook me to the core was something I should resist, but four years of lackluster sex danced in my brain. Blood rushed to my folds and I was already wet. I’d taken enough Psychology courses to know that Caine might have a point about the operant conditioning that made my brain connect sex with racing. Every time I’d raced in the past, I’d been aroused out of my mind. All I wanted was to hit that finish line and collect my trophy fuck.
Why not? It wasn’t very likely Caroline had found two boyfriends in a row who secretly pimped her out. I’d almost fucked Jonny the day before—and still wanted to. I’d do whatever it took to beat Kolby. Fucking Caine might be the best way—the only way—to get his help to screw Colt, metaphorically speaking.
“You better know how this is done, Caroline.” Spinning, I yanked open the door and gripped the top edge of the door frame, butting my ass against Caine’s groin.
His chuckle sent a shiver down my spine. Or maybe it was due to the way he gripped my hips. “Nice try, but you ain’t in charge. Pull those pants all the way down, Shelby, and then spread those legs wide. Then ask Jonny real nice if he’d please put his fingers in your pussy. My palm’s itchin’ to get reacquainted with your ass.”