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Authors: Elizabeth Lee

Clutched (Wild Riders)

BOOK: Clutched (Wild Riders)
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CLUTCHED

A Wild Riders Novel

Elizabeth Lee

Copyright © 2016 Elizabeth Lee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

No part of this book may be reproduced without written consent from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

PIRACY IS A CRIME.

Please do not make me have to hire actual pirates to hunt you down for stealing my book.

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Prologue – Chayse

Chapter 1 – Hoyt

Chapter 2 – Chayse

Chapter 3 – Hoyt

Chapter 4 – Chayse

Chapter 5 – Chayse

Chapter 6 – Hoyt

Chapter 7 – Hoyt

Chapter 8 – Chayse

Chapter 9 – Hoyt

Chapter 10 – Chayse

Chapter 11 – Hoyt

Chapter 12 – Chayse

Chapter 13 – Hoyt

Chapter 14 – Chayse

Chapter 15 – Hoyt

Chapter 16 – Chayse

Chapter 17 – Hoyt

Chapter 18 – Chayse

Chapter 19 – Hoyt

Chapter 20 – Chayse

Chapter 21 – Hoyt

Chapter 22 – Chayse

Chapter 23 – Hoyt

Chapter 24 – Chayse

Chapter 25 – Hoyt

Chapter 26 – Chayse

Chapter 27 – Hoyt

Chapter 28 – Chayse

Chapter 29 – Hoyt

Chapter 30 – Chayse

Chapter 31 – Hoyt

Chapter 32 – Chayse

Chapter 33 – Hoyt

Chapter 34 – Chayse

Epilogue – Hoyt

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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Prologue – Chayse

I
t always started exactly the same way—a rush of heat spread across my chest, my insides a tight coil of nervous anticipation, my palms slick. Each and every time. By now I should have been used to it. It wasn't my first time. Not by a long shot.

My pulse pounded. I could feel its cadence reverberating through my bones. I could feel it in every contraction of my muscles as I tried to steady my breathing and stay in control. The adrenaline coursing through my veins wouldn't allow it. I felt wild and alive. I felt free and invincible.

Go with it.
Giving myself permission to be reckless wasn't hard. I lived for moments like this.

I leaned into every movement as I relished the power between my legs. Power that I was incapable of fighting. Power that dominated me. Power that I would happily succumb to each and every single time.

Hold on.

I fought for a breath. I fought for control, but it didn't matter. I was completely incapacitated. Overcome with all of the sensations flooding my system. I couldn't think straight, not when I was so close to the finish line.

The air left my lungs as fast as I was breathing it in as I reached the home stretch. I couldn't hold back any longer. I didn't want to. I wanted to finish as quickly as I'd started. I wanted to get there first, if I didn't it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying as I knew it could be. I rocked my body forward, needing the extra push. It worked. It worked big time.

I won.

My endorphins were in overdrive and my body suddenly relaxed as I slowed to a near stop. It had taken everything out of me, but I'd finished first.

“Good for you?”

“Sure was,” I grinned as he pulled me against his chest. “Almost as good as winning a race.”

Chapter 1 – Hoyt

“L
adies and gentlemen, your Captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign. Please remain seated with your seatbelts securely fastened and your tray tables in the upright position. We are experiencing a bit of turbulence as we approach our destination. Thank you.”

The overhead announcement pulled my attention from checking the time on my phone for roughly the tenth time.

The turbulence on my flight from Illinois to Texas was nothing compared to the turbulence going on in my head. I hated flying. Not because I was scared of a fiery death, but because I wasn't the one flying the plane. Handing over the fate of the aircraft to two guys I didn't know had my heart racing the second I sat foot on the plane. The odds of a human error were much higher than that of a mechanical failure. Trusting someone else with my life was not something I liked to do. Not to mention what I knew was waiting for me on the ground when Tom and Dick landed this bird.

The short vacation back to my hometown with my brother, Reid, and our friend, Brett, had to be cut short when I received a call that I couldn't ignore. I wasn't a big fan of change even when I knew it was inevitable.

“You can't pass up this opportunity,”
Reid had said when I told him about the offer from Throttled Energy to coach a rookie motocross rider. I hated when he was right. I was so used to being the
smart one
that any time he outwitted me, it through me for a loop.

Being the younger brother of a famous racer wasn't going to get me through life and I would not be depending on it to. Living in Reid's shadow was always tough. I had to make a name for myself. I couldn't just be his little brother anymore. I wanted people to know me. Hoyt Travers. As my own man.

I'd already proven to some that I was capable of making even the best better. I'd done it with Reid. After I graduated from high school, I spent the majority of my time trying to figure out what my brother could do to win more races. He was one of the most talented riders in the business, but that didn't mean he couldn't improve. When he'd actually started listening to me, and stopped seeing me as his pipsqueak little brother, I'd helped him perfect his form and execution. I'd helped him find his flaws and make them almost nonexistent. I was his extra set of eyes. I saw things that he didn't and when he took the suggestions I had for him he became faster and stronger on the track. The trophies and checks that he took home were proof.

Hell, even Brett who was a freestyle rider and self-proclaimed know-it-all, had asked me for advice from time to time. The scientific side of me knew exactly what he needed to do to get more air and makes his tricks bigger and more explosive than they'd ever been before. Having an endorsement from two of the top motocross athletes surely hadn't hurt my chances of landing the gig with Throttled. It was up to me now to live up to their expectations.

When I was younger, everyone thought that I'd follow in Reid's tracks. Literally. I was just as talented as he was on a dirt bike. The problem was, I didn't have his drive. I didn't live to ride the way he did. Chalk it up to me being “too in my head.” Reid's flaws were physical. They were things that could be adjusted—like the way he sat on the bike or how fast he went into a turn. My flaws were mental. Over analyzing every single aspect of riding is a sure fire way to wind up crossing the finish line dead last. I liked to be in control of everything and when I was on the track surrounded by other riders it was impossible. The odds of one of them crashing into me or doing something to throw my game off were too high. Being worried about what every other rider was going to do was too much for my head to handle.

So now, at the ripe old age of twenty-two, I was a retired rider and newly minted riding coach. I felt better about life the second I stopped riding to win. Sure, I liked to ride when I wasn't watching race footage or at the track taking notes, but it was strictly for fun now. And, I was totally okay with that.

Nick Pilsner, the head of Throttled's marketing and public relations department, had seen what I could do with guys like Reid and Brett and offered me a chance to recreate their success with a new rider. I didn't know much about Chayse McCade, other than she was a female rider and the daughter of Rick McCade, former motocross champion. Her old man had been out of the game for a while now, but her bloodline was impressive. Back in the early nineties, Rick McCade had been the man to beat.

“She's just as talented as her father was,”
Nick had promised over the phone.
“She just needs to refine her skills. She's a little wild.”

I wasn't sure which made me more nervous, the fact that she was a she or not knowing if I'd be able to pull out the talent Nick swore she possessed. Dealing with Reid and Brett was one thing. They were guys. They didn't let their feelings get involved on the track. Their personal lives... sure. They were first class passengers on the Hot Mess Express, but on the track they were beasts. They were ruthless and relentless and they knew how to take my constructive criticism. Everything I'd read online about Chayse McCade said that she was unpredictable. Her stats were mediocre at best. One month she was on top of the leader board, the next she was at the bottom. The few videos I'd been able to find of her online weren't enough to say whether or not she had the chops to make it or not. She was fast, I'd give her that, but it's not just about being the fastest. It's about being the smartest, most versatile, most in shape
and
the fastest. She had a ways to go.

I liked consistency and predictability. Two things that I'd surmised were not McCade's strong suits. I'd said a little prayer that it was because she hadn't ever been taught and that it wasn't because she was a chick. It might have sounded a little bit chauvinistic of me, but my experience with women was to blame. Every girl I'd ever dated had taught me that they often let their emotions get the best of them. The last girl that I had went out with cried when I told her that I wasn't really looking to settle down. The one before that threw a full soda can at my head when I'd told her that I didn't really like her new haircut. So much for being honest. In my defense, they shouldn't have asked questions they didn't want to know the truth about. I was a straight shooter if nothing else.

“Ladies and gentleman,” the pilot called out of the loud speaker. “Please fasten your seatbelts as we make our approach into Austin–Bergstrom International Airport. It's sunny and seventy-five on the ground.”

Perfect riding weather.

I pulled my belt across my lap and fastened it as I looked out the window. I took in a deep breath and watched the place I'd called home for the last seven years come into view.  My mind started analyzing the sounds of the landing gears shifting into place.  Everything seemed to be in working order, at least from where I was sitting. What Tom and Dick were doing in the cockpit was yet to be determined. Hopefully they were making all of the right moves. The closer the view of Austin became, the more nervous I became about what I was going to be facing when I met Chayse McCade.  Moreover, the questions I had about myself were on an endless loop.

Could I duplicate what I'd done with my brother and Brett or was it just a fluke? Was I actually capable of being a successful coach? Was I even worth the big paycheck they were offering? Worse, what would happen if I wasn’t?

My stomach dropped as the plane descended into the Lone Star state. Guess it was time to prove myself. For better or worse.

Chapter 2 – Chayse

“W
here should I park?” I asked the salt-and-pepper haired woman who'd greeted me at the gate. The Mill Valley Training facility I was going to be calling home for the unforeseeable future was completely surrounded by an eight-foot tall chain link fence. It might have been the first time that I hadn't sneaked into a place like this. Brick buildings and metal sheds littered the property, but mostly it was just beautifully sculpted, well maintained dirt. Mill Valley was top of the line as far as training facilities went. I knew that just on the other side of that gate my future was waiting for me—complete with a competition grade track and every other thing I needed to become the best female rider in the business.  Hell, maybe even the best rider period. My gender shouldn't have made a difference. I'd never let the fact that I was a chick slow me down.

“What's your name, baby?” the woman asked, her smile and sweet Texas drawl sent warmth spreading through my chest like hot cocoa and hugs from Grandma. Not that I knew a thing about hugs from Grandmas. Looking at the petite older woman standing beside my truck, she was exactly what I'd always imagined a grandma was like. Soft green eyes that crinkled at their corners. A frame that carried a little extra weight from her years of child birthing and eating all of the cookies and cakes I was sure she baked. The high-waisted jeans and soft burgundy cardigan she was wearing were very grandma appropriate attire. My mom had made damn sure that her parents wanted nothing to do with us and I was fairly certain my dad never mentioned my existence to his mom and dad.

“McCade, ma'am,” I answered, summoning up a smile. I'd been trying to be as pleasant as the people I'd already met in Texas. I'd had to stop a couple times on my drive down from Reno and even at gas stations and rest stops they had all seemed so cordial with their “ma'ams” and “thank yous.” I cleared my throat. “Chayse McCade.”

BOOK: Clutched (Wild Riders)
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