Authors: Tess Oliver
Tags: #FMX Bros
FMX Bros #1
+Bonus Novel Strangely Normal
FMX Bros #1
Copyright© 2015 by Tess Oliver
Cover Image by
Kruse Images & Photography
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All Rights are Reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Table of Contents
Denver twisted the throttle, and his bike hit the metal ramp at top speed. Man and machine flew into the air as if they were both equipped with invisible wings. He tilted the bike sideways and brought his left leg around so both legs were on the same side. He straightened the bike as he swung his leg back over for a smooth landing.
Rodeo clucked his tongue in disgust. “Knew he wasn’t going to do that backflip.”
“Shit, you kidding?” I nodded toward the ramp. “He barely had enough air for a Nac Nac. Our boy, Denver from Boston, has been out of it ever since Melody told him they were through.”
“And that is why I never let a girl get into my head.” Rodeo’s black Oakleys were always a permanent fixture on his face, even when the sun wasn’t shining, which was rare in this part of Southern California. The wild print on his shirt made it hard to tell where the fabric ended and the tattoos began. He was one big blur of ink and pattern. Parker, or Rodeo, as we called him at work and at play, had grown up in Montana. He liked to brag that he’d been breaking colts since he was old enough to sit in a saddle, but now he preferred a horse with two wheels. And he rode a dirt bike a lot like a wild bronc, with grit, determination and a completely insane lack of fear.
Denver pulled his bike up to the retaining wall where Rodeo and I sat. He dropped his goggles down from his face and shut off the engine. “I need a shot of jet fuel in my ass or something. Can’t seem to defy gravity these days.” Denver, my other roommate and coworker, was the opposite of Rodeo. He was the silent, take it all in and analyze the shit out of it type. He should have ended up at MIT or one of the big brainy schools, but he’d hated sitting in class and he’d hated homework. His greatest achievement to date, aside from a near perfect score on the SAT test, was pulling off a flawless backflip on his dirt bike. His smarts came in handy though. He was so skilled on the construction site, I’d promoted him to foreman just six months after hiring him.
“Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard the gravity gripe before, bro.” Rodeo smacked me on the shoulder. “Speaking of gravity, let’s see who can get the most air. Denver will be the judge. Loser has to buy the winner donuts every morning for a week. None of those stale old pieces of dough they sell down the street. And since I’ll win this bet, I like donuts the way I like my women—hot and tasty. Oh, and I’d like the rainbow sprinkles please. None of those boring, monochrome chocolate donuts with the chocolate sprinkles.”
Denver stared up at Rodeo.
Rodeo lifted his hands. “What? Don’t look so shocked. I’ll win. I’m thirty pounds lighter than him.”
Denver pointed to his face. “This look of shock is from you knowing how to use the word monochrome in a sentence.”
“Ah, fuck you, you east coast snob. And maybe next time your parents name a baby they should consult a fucking map so they can see how far Denver is from Boston.”
A flicker of movement caught the side of my eye, and I looked back at the vineyard that ran adjacent to our property. My dad had bought the land as an investment. My sister, Finley, always joked about the many stages in our dad, rock legend Nicky King’s, life comparing them to all the different periods in other great artists’ lives, like Picasso’s blue period. The place I was now living at with my two roommates had been a part of his investment period. He’d decided he wanted to start a winery and purchased the land. One measly crop of grapes later, he got bored of the idea and switched to investing in urban real estate.
Aside from the skeletal remains of the posts where the grapes had been planted, the ten acre spread was mostly barren land. At the front of the lot sat a mid-century ranch house, typical Southern California architecture. When Kingston Construction, another Nicky King investment and my main source of income, landed a big project building a resort and casino for a local tribe, I moved into the property to be close to the job site. It had been the perfect place to set up ramps, a track and even a foam pit for practicing shit that I was sure I wouldn’t land without breaking a few bones. I’d made my dad’s failed investment into my own two wheel playground. Rodeo and Denver had been working for Kingston Construction for two years, and they’d gotten me hooked on freestyle motocross. Or as my dad liked to call it ‘that quick trip to the emergency room sport’. Both of my coworkers had won some respectable competitions, and Denver was now making more money from sponsorships than from construction.
I looked across the way to the neighbor’s property. The acreage was a far more prosperous vineyard than my dad’s. In fact, Modante Winery was the most productive and well-known wine business in the area.
I lifted my sunglasses and squinted to the stretch of cleared land off to the side of the estate’s main house. It had been set up with a riding arena and stables. A girl was leaned down over a massive black horse galloping around a jumping course.
I tilted my head that direction. “Who is that, Denver?” Denver had moved to the neighborhood when he was twelve and he knew a lot about the town.
Denver placed his helmet on the wall and hopped up next to it. We all stared over the rows of grapes at the girl riding the horse. “That would be Kensington Modante, heiress to the Modante fortune. This is only the vineyard. The actual winery is closer to town.”
“Hmm,” I said, quickly losing interest. “I’ve dated too many of those heiress types, especially the ones with their million dollar horse obsessions. They are usually all snoot and no fun.”
Rodeo kept watching her. “Yeah? Well, I wouldn’t mind a crack at a snooty heiress. I’d like to be the one to introduce her to what real fun is. Course, I guess I’d have to be the equally snooty heir to a rock fortune like you, King, to get a crack at one.”
I turned to him. “Yeah, it’s your lack of family fortune that’s keeping you out of that girl’s riding breeches.”
“What? You don’t think I could get a piece of that?” Rodeo asked, pretending to be insulted. He nodded. “Yep, there’s no fucking way, but I take comfort in knowing that you couldn’t get her either.”
“Who says?” I asked.
“Fuck,” Denver muttered. “Here we go again.”
“What are you whining about now, bitch?” Rodeo asked.
Denver huffed. “This competition and betting thing is getting old. I mean, yesterday you two were planning a trip to the airport to see who could make the metal detector go off first with the metal plates in your bodies, which was already a competition when you two were comparing who’d had more injuries and broken bones. Then, there was the Cool Hand Luke style egg eating contest, and I had to listen to both of you puking your guts out all night.”
I pressed my arm against my stomach. “Dude, told you not to ever bring that up again, or cook an egg again. Fuck don’t even mention chickens, for that matter. And besides, betting is fun. You’re on, Rodeo.”
“With getting the most air?” he asked.
“Yeah, that, but the girl too.” I looked back toward the rider.
“Don’t you want to know if she’s hot first?” Rodeo asked as he jumped off the wall.
“Just how shallow do you think I am?” I looked at Denver. “But, seriously, bro, is she?”
He nodded. “Haven’t seen her in awhile, but she’s a head turner.” A head turner coming from Denver was high praise.
I watched her fly over another jump on the horse. “That has to be almost as much a rush as jumping bikes. Is she married? Suppose I should have led with that.”
“No, but I’m sure she has a long line of suitors,” Denver said. “I heard she’s been seeing Nate Harkin, off and on. He lives out here. He has some of the same sponsors as me.”
Rodeo pushed his glasses up on his head as if that would help his hearing. “Yeah? Nate Harkin, the four-time Supercross champion?”
I glanced over at him. “Shit, you look like the starry-eyed groupies who follow my dad around the country.”
“That guy is fucking amazing, and this bet just got better. You don’t stand a chance against Nate Harkin.”
I laughed. “Fuck you, and your little Harkin bro-crush. What are the stakes?”
Rodeo straddled his bike and sat back, tapping his chin. “Let’s see. It’s got to be big enough to match the impossible feat I’ve laid out for you. Oh, I forgot, there’s one rule. You can’t tell her you’re Nicky King’s son.”
“You don’t think I can catch a girl’s interest unless I tell them I’m the son of a rock star?”
Rodeo pulled his goggles off his handlebars and slid them over his head. “Never said that. Just not
girl.” He pointed toward the vineyard.
“Let me just say that living with you two is far more fucking entertainment than I ever would have expected,” Denver said. “Does he have to sleep with her?”
“Just a date and a kiss,” I said. “Rodeo being the perv that he is, he’d probably expect pictures for proof. If I don’t get to float the Nicky King connection, then one date and one kiss in three weeks and I win. You haven’t named the stakes yet.”
Denver crossed his arms. “This should be good. I can just see those little gears grinding in his semi-empty head right now.”
A gleam sparkled in Rodeo’s eyes. “That ‘69 Corvette you’ve been wanting to restore, that’s what I want.”
I laughed. “And what the hell do I get when I win? And it better equal that car.”
Denver snapped his fingers with an idea. “Rodeo has to do all the grunt work on-site, digging ditches, moving dirt, burger runs, all the shit everyone hates to do, for a month, without whining.”
“Perfect,” I said.
Rodeo stared up from his bike, looking a little less enthusiastic about the whole thing. “A fucking month? Make it three weeks.”
“Nope,” I said. “A month. Now go hit that ramp and catch some air. The loser has to buy pizza tonight.”
Rodeo pulled his goggles up from around his neck. “I’m thinking cherry red.”
“Cherry red what?” Denver asked.
“The color I’m going to paint the Corvette when her pretty little pink slip is in my hands.” He leaned down over the handlebars and kick-started the bike. A long rooster tail of dust followed his back wheel as he took several warm-up laps around the yard.
Denver looked over at me. “Just how the hell are you going to throw yourself into the path of a winery heiress?”
“I’m thinking our alluring, equestrian neighbor has just made it onto our Halloween party guestlist.”
Bentley cantered around the end of the arena. I pointed his nose toward the last jump. There was nothing special about it, but he’d balked more than once at this particular jump, for no apparent reason except that he was a horse and he felt it his prerogative. Sometimes Bentley spooked at what I liked to call invisible scaries. I wondered if horses had a sixth sense like the kid in the movie who could see dead people.
I wiped the earlier attempts from my mind so that Bentley wouldn’t sense my tension. He needed to clear this jump without a problem before we could stop for the day. I lifted into a two-point, dropped my hands forward and kept my leg on the gelding. His stride was right, my position perfect and Bentley felt soft under my hands. We flew up and over, landing flawlessly on the other side.
I reached down and patted the horse’s neck. “See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? And you’ve still got all your horsey fingers and toes.” I slowed him to a trot and circled back around. Dad was coming up the brick pathway to the arena.
He shaded his eyes with his hand as he lifted his face to me. “That looked good from back there. Is he still giving you problems with that last fence?”
I reined Bentley to a halt. “He was but I think we finally chased away the goblins, the ones only visible to a horse’s eye. We’re going to take a trail ride to cool down.”
The buzz of motorcycles carried our attention, horse included, to the neighboring property. Dad huffed in irritation. “Just let me know if those bikes are a bother, and I’ll make a call to my friend on the city council.”
“No, they’re only out there on the weekends and in the evenings.” I pointed to Bentley’s pricked up ears. “Besides, it’s good for him. Exposure therapy, I like to call it. He’s way too sensitive to sounds. If I get back into showing, I don’t want to have to worry that a spectator’s cell phone buzz is going to send me shooting into the air like an astronaut without a rocket.”
Dad smiled. He was one of those men who was aging so gracefully Mom teased him that he looked even better now than on their wedding day. I had to agree he had the whole Clooney thing going on where each gray hair and wrinkle just made him that much more appealing. Across the way, the rider hollered, “Whooee” as he jetted off the lip of the ramp. He flew high in the air, tilting the bike so that it was nearly parallel with the ground before righting it and landing solidly on two wheels again.
“Sure wish the investor had done something useful with that property. Certainly didn’t expect it to be rented out to a bunch of hooligans on motorcycles.”
It was my turn to smile. I raised my fist and put on my crotchety old man impression. “Those darn hooligans.”
He nodded. “Yeah, yeah, Kensie, you’ve made your point. I’m an old curmudgeon, and I know it.”
“You wouldn’t be if you didn’t use words like hooligans and curmudgeon. But you’re a very cute curmudgeon. Now I better take this boy out on the trail. Oh, and I’ll try to stay out of any shenanigans.”
“Jiminy Cricket, you dog gone better.” Dad opened the gate.
I walked Bentley out.
“How is your knee, Kensie? You shouldn’t be pushing it if it’s still bothering you.”
“I walk like an old hunched over woman in the morning, but once I get moving, it feels pretty good.” I looked down at him and found the concerned, creased gray brow I’d anticipated. “Don’t worry, Dad, I’m not going to start competing again until I’m completely sound.”
He laughed. “I know you spend enough time in the saddle to get confused, but I don’t want my daughter to be sound. I want her to be healthy and safe and not heading for a middle-aged life plagued with arthritis and joint pains.” He rubbed his back. “Trust me, it’s not fun.”
I shook my head. “Yep, climbing in and out of those rowdy golf carts and lifting up those high-ball glasses can be pretty hazardous.” Aside from a short stint of time when I was thirteen and I knew absolutely everything, I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t get along well with my dad. Mom was a different story, but the older I got, the more I learned to accept her quirks. And she mine. “Well, we’re going to head out. I’ll be up at the house to get back to work in an hour.” After college, I’d gone straight into working for the Modante Winery. I’d always looked forward to being a part of the business, and my accounting degree had been a perfect match.
“All right, see you in a bit.” Dad turned but then stopped and tapped his head. “Wait, I knew I came out here for a reason. Jeez, senility, not a pretty thing. Anyhow, a dozen red roses came for you. Think it’s that motorcycle hot head, Harkin.” His characteristic eye roll followed the name.
“No wonder it slipped from your head. You conveniently like to forget he exists.”
“Not true. I just think Keith is a better match for you. He’s already a junior partner at the law firm.”
law firm,” I interjected. “Besides, Nate Harkin makes a lot more money racing motorcycles than Keith makes sitting behind his massive mahogany desk. Keith’s a nice guy, but I glaze over when he starts talking. He doesn’t make me laugh. He doesn’t make me feel anything.” I thought about the last few times I’d been with Nate. He’d made me feel small and crappy and I’d just about ended it. The roses were obviously an apology attempt. “Unfortunately, Nate isn’t scoring too many points lately either. Sometimes I think I’ll never be happy with anyone, Dad. And the weird thing is, I’m all right with that. I think.”
“I blame myself, Kensie,” Dad said in a completely serious tone. “I’m the male model in your life. So you’ve had to set the bar very high.”
I smiled. “Yes, that is the problem. Actually, that statement is not all that far off the mark. Mom was lucky the day you wandered into her designer shoe path. I just wish someone perfect would wander into mine. And I’m not asking for much, but Prince Charming would be a good start.” I lifted my foot away from Bentley’s side. “And instead of designer high heels, he’d have to be all right with poop covered riding boots.”
Dad’s mouth curled up into a hopeful smile. “What about Mark Levi’s son, Tyler, admittedly he’s no Prince Charming, but—”
“Dad, stop playing matchmaker and stick to what you do best—winemaking and keeping Mom happy.” I blew him a kiss and turned Bentley toward the trail.