The Finish Line
Another night at the races is more than burnt rubber with a hit of nitrous. For one young woman, it's navigating trauma, love, and loss in the stifling Texas heat under the watchful gaze of her brother’s best friend and reigning King of the Streets, Jordan Slater. Home in Arkadia again, Raelynn Casey starts to heal from a terrible incident at college. She finds love in Jordan, a member of her brother’s circle of racing buddies. When another in the racing circle, the guy who took her to her high school prom, exposes his feelings for Raelynn, tragedy erupts like a tank of race fuel. Guilt, remorse, and pain must be overcome before Raelynn and Jordan can race to The Finish Line.
I’d never cared what anyone thought of me before. I wasn’t as brash or opinionated as my sister or as reckless as my brother, but the opinions of other people had never dictated when or how I went about my life.
Caleb had always cared what people thought of him, of me. But he wasn’t here, he was nothing more than a memory.
I fingered the chain at my neck and followed Jordan into his house. The throb of music died as the door swung shut behind me. I was consumed by the relative quiet.
His home was immaculate. The kitchen granite gleamed and the steel appliances shined.
“My mom would kill for your cleaning lady’s number.” I had to say something. I couldn’t stand there and stare at his back. Though, watching the muscles move through the tight t-shirt made me feel things that I hadn’t expected.
“She has it.” There was a hint of laughter in his deep voice. Was there a sound on this planet sexier than that? I swallowed a deep breath and tried not to think about all the things that were sexy about Jordan Slater.
“Who?” It came out as more of a squeak than a question.
“You’re looking at him. I make Devin leave the door to the spare room closed when he’s here. I can’t stand to see stuff all over the place.”
“You should probably steer clear of my room; the floor is covered with clothes.” I tried to laugh, but there was something about the look in his eyes when he turned around that stole my breath.
“Probably, but then I’d be too eager to add to the pile.” Though my skin suddenly felt superheated, I shivered. “If I remember right, Grey Goose?”
“Yeah.” I focused on the countertop while he pulled a bottle from a cabinet by the fridge. It was work he’d done, granite he’d cut and placed himself. I’d helped clean the dust from the floors the day he’d put it in.
Jordan moved so smoothly from one topic to another, that I had trouble keeping up. I was still spinning from his comment about the clothes pile. “But really, the other was fine. You don’t have to—”
“I know.” He topped off my cup and handed it back to me.
“Thanks.” The silence stretched out between us, me spending the entire time trying to look at anything but him.
His sudden, booming laughter startled me. “Really, Rae?”
“The only way I can get you to talk to me is to kiss you or piss you off. Explain that.” His dark eyes were alight with mischief.
My gaze narrowed and I allowed myself to see him, really see him for the first time that night. I studied the dark eyes, the even darker brows that were now raised in challenge. His nose was a little crooked and there was a scar on his bottom lip. His skin was dark, almost red with the remnants of summer.
He shouldn’t be attractive, and yet I couldn’t look away. It had always been like that for me, a truth I couldn’t deny. For me there would always be Jordan Slater, everyone else could only follow in his shadow. He was on another level.
What was worse, he saw right through me. He knew it would always be that way.
I shook my head with a sigh. “I can’t find my footing with you.”
“We’re friends, isn’t that what we agreed on?” He made it sound so simple. It was too easy. I didn’t believe him or his tone.
“Then what else do you need?” You could hear the arrogance. It was pissing me off and turning me on. The big jerk.
I need room to breathe. Standing alone with him, he occupied all my senses at once. Everywhere I turned, there he was. I was assaulted by the sight of him, the scent of him, memories of the taste of him.
I took a long drink of the liquor kissed juice from my cup and fingered the chain around my neck.
“You still have that?” This time his surprise lacked any arrogance.
I smiled fondly in spite of myself. “I do.”
“One of us is going to have to get you a better one for Christmas this year.” His voice was softer now, but not like it had been when I was nothing more than a kid to him. This was different, with a touch of something more erotic.