Authors: Tess Oliver
FMX Bros #3
Copyright© 2015 by Tess Oliver
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
Nothing. No hands. No feet. Just me and the bike floating in a perfect arc through the air. Then gravity. Not the real kind. The bike was no longer following the same trajectory as my body. It fell out of view, and there was nothing but ground in front of me. Only it wasn’t covered with dirt. It was the gray and white tile from the kitchen floor. The sensation of falling startled me awake.
I glanced at my phone. It was two in the morning. I had to be at a photo shoot for my main sponsor, Crushin’ It Sports Gear, at seven A.M., but something told me I wasn’t going to drift back off anytime soon.
The room was hot. We were still in that confusing time of year, near the end of spring and the beginning of summer, when it was just warm enough during the day to wear light clothing but not quite hot enough for the air conditioner.
I threw off the sheet I’d been sleeping under and stepped out of bed to push open the window. The night air cooled my skin, and the room was less stuffy. But the empty growl in my gut urged me to grab the last slice of jalapeno and sausage pizza, even though the pizza had very likely been the catalyst for my weird dream. Especially since we’d eaten it just before going out to practice. I was, of course, completely used to the sensation of falling from the sky with my bike, but thankfully, so far, we’d always come down together as one entity.
The house was dead quiet. Halfway to the kitchen it occurred to me that Rodeo might have already beat me to that last slice. He tended to raid the fridge on his way to bed as if he needed to fortify himself for the long night ahead. With the loud symphony of sounds I’d heard pushing their way through the plaster walls separating our bedrooms, he had definitely needed it tonight.
With both Cole and Rodeo hooked up tightly with girlfriends, girlfriends who spent a lot of time here at the house, I’d been feeling like a fifth wheel. It had seriously gotten me thinking that I needed to find a place of my own. As much as I hated to leave the perfect playground we’d set up with kickers, a foam pit and even a small track, I was also feeling completely in the way here.
I didn’t bother with the kitchen light and headed straight for the refrigerator. I pulled open the door. I reached around behind the carton of milk, Rodeo’s favorite hiding spot for food, but my fingers only met with a tub of butter. My head was still thick enough with the groggy haze of sleep that I hadn’t really noticed the quiet whispers behind me until they morphed into giggles.
“Shit.” I straightened and spun around, using the refrigerator door as my only stitch of clothing.
Cole’s girlfriend, Kensington, smiled sweetly at me over her cup of cocoa. “Guess someone else couldn’t sleep either.”
Rodeo’s girlfriend, Sayler, was unabashedly nibbling on the last slice of pizza. “Like your pajamas, Denver. Didn’t know Kitchen Aid had moved into the sleepwear business.”
“Yeah, it’s the newest thing for summer. Keeps your ass fresh no matter what the temperature outside.” I looked pointedly at the pizza in her hand.
Sayler held it up toward me and blinked her big brown eyes coyly. “I’ll share.”
“That’s all right.”
She shrugged and began picking off the pieces of jalapeno.
Kensington held up her cup. “There’s still some warm milk in the pot.”
“Nope. I’m good, even if my ass is turning blue.”
Sayler was now taking off the chunks of sausage, leaving her with nothing but greasy crust, the greasy crust of my midnight snack. “So, Rodeo says you’re going on a modeling shoot tomorrow.”
I stared at both of them. They were holding back grins. “That’s it. Mock the man who is standing with his naked butt in the fridge. And now, thanks to the cold air blowing in from behind, everything is shrinking, which will only add to my humiliation when I step out of my steel cloak. And, for your information, it’s a photo shoot for an advertisement, not a damn modeling shoot.” I lifted my arm and twirled my finger, signaling for them to look away.
They both turned their faces toward the kitchen window. I shut the refrigerator door and headed out of the room.
“For what it’s worth,” Kensington called, “I think they made the perfect choice for their ad campaign.”
Sayler laughed. “Yep, looking at that tight, perfect ass, I’m ready to buy whatever product they’re selling.”
I headed back to my room with hunger still gnawing at my empty stomach, a chill on my bottom half and the knowledge that both Kensington and Sayler had now seen me completely naked.
Cole came plodding out of his room into the dark hallway with a major case of bed hair. He’d smartly taken the time to yank on his jeans. His eyes widened. “Dude, there are women tiptoeing about the house, and you’ve got all your junk out there in its natural state.”
“Your warning comes too late.” I slipped past him.
“Damn, did you eat the last slice of pizza?”
“Nope. Sayler’s in the kitchen dissecting it. She obviously has no respect for cold pizza. Think I need a new place to live,” I said over my shoulder as I headed to the room.
“What you need, bro, is a fucking robe.”
Rodeo was airborne. His heels clacked back behind him with one hand free and the other gripping the crossbar. He reseated himself as rubber hit dirt.
Sayler looked up over her sunglasses. “That was good, right? I mean it looked good. Could have used a little finesse as he returned to the bike but then maybe that’s just my ballerina side coming through.”
“No, you’re right. He was sloppy on the way back down. Otherwise, it was pretty good.” I caught a glimpse of Cole walking out of the house. He was having a problem with the casino contract, and he didn’t look too happy about something.
“What was that trick called?” Sayler asked.
“Believe it or not, that trick is called a Rodeo Air. And before you ask,
, it was not named after him.”
“Too bad, he would like that.” Sayler hopped off the brick wall to greet Rodeo as he rode his bike toward us. Cole reached the wall at the same time.
I dropped down to the ground. “What’s up, boss? You look pissed.”
“Looks like we’re on a three week break. The county is questioning the western border of the site. It’s going to take a few weeks for the surveyors to come out and get a report back to the building inspector. Guess we’ll just have to ride motorcycles, drink beer and play with women for three weeks. Just hope I don’t lose too many of the crew.”
Rodeo shut down the bike and yanked off his helmet. “Shit, three weeks is a long time without a paycheck for all of us. Guess Denver can become a full-time model now.”
Sayler climbed on behind Rodeo and put her arms around his waist as she propped her chin on his shoulder. “How did the pictures turn out, and when do we get to see them?”
“No idea. I never saw the proofs. I don’t even know if they’ll use them. But I got the check, and that’s all that matters.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out the paper with phone numbers. “I think this is my cue to move out. I can use the time off to settle somewhere new.”
“Ahh, you’re not still upset about Kensie and me seeing you naked, are you?” Sayler’s question made Rodeo laugh. Cole did a better job at hiding his amusement.
“Nope, I figure after hanging out with this numbskull—” I inclined my head toward Rodeo. “You needed to see what a real man looked like in the buff.”
“Yeah right,” Rodeo grumbled.
I glanced at Cole. He’d been trying to convince me to stay. At the same time, he understood why I needed to find a place. “Summer’s just around the corner and I was thinking it might be cool to find a place down near the beach. That way we could practice up here where it’s hot as Hades and then head to my place for some cooler temps and waves.” I held up the paper. “Got two good leads. One of them offers dirt cheap rent at a house two blocks from the sand, but I’ve got to do a bunch of handyman stuff to make up for it. Thought it sounded like my best bet.”
Cole walked over and plopped a hand down hard on my shoulder. “Son, you know I support you with whatever decision you make.” He looked over at Rodeo. “Our little Denver from Boston is leaving the nest, Ma.”
“Now, why the hell am I Ma?” Rodeo asked.
Cole turned back to me. “If it doesn’t look worth it, then consider staying. After all, who the hell is going to fix the computer and the sound system when it goes on the blink?”
“If that doesn’t just say it all. You only love me for my brain.”
“And your ass,” Sayler added. “Don’t forget the ass.” Rodeo lifted a brow her direction. She shrugged off his admonishing look.
“I’ll be fifteen minutes away. Well, forty minutes with traffic. This will be good for me, boss.”
The new place wasn’t ideal, but it was mine to walk around in naked, eating cold pizza, whenever the hell I pleased. I’d replaced the screen door, or, more accurately, I’d added one. The screen door that had been there was nothing more than a bent metal frame and some frayed mesh. The man who owned the place had moved out of state, but he couldn’t sell it because the two-story duplex belonged to a family trust.
There would be plenty of fix-it jobs for me to do to make the place more livable. A big bonus was a short walk to the beach, and if I stood in just the right position in the shower stall, I had a view of the ocean from the tiny window. I had a bed, a couch and a refrigerator, all the amenities I needed to be perfectly happy. The only thing missing was a place to jump my motorcycle.
I walked into the bathroom to hang a new shower curtain. The old one was as useless and nonexistent as the former screen door. Footsteps tapped the steep, rickety stairs leading up to the top story. The owner had mentioned that he’d rented it out to someone. I wasn’t stoked about the idea only because I was sure I’d be able to hear every footfall above my head.
I walked to the front door to catch a glimpse of my new neighbor, keeping my fingers crossed that it wasn’t a three hundred pound linebacker who liked to wear high heels.
I opened the door and peered up the stairs. No high heels. Just sandals. It definitely wasn’t a three hundred pound linebacker. And, even though I knew it was completely wrong and even though my parents had raised me with manners, I let me gaze linger far too long on the amazing legs climbing the steps before saying something.
I cleared my throat so as not to startle her on the questionable flight of stairs. “Do you need some help?”
She glanced back down at me. There was an amazing face to go with the great pair of legs. Her long, wavy hair was the color of dark chocolate. “Oh hey, are you my downstairs neighbor?” She set the box she was holding on the landing and headed back down. I met her halfway.
Her smile made her button nose crinkle up. It caused a crease through the spray of freckles. She was daylight. There was no other way to describe her, pure, unfiltered daylight. She stuck out her hand, a move I should have made first, but I was too damn stunned to think of it.
I took hold of her hand. Her fingers were long and thin, and an energy came through her firm grip that I couldn’t explain. Could have just been the way she was smiling down at me from the step above.
“Oh my gosh! What a coincidence. I grew up in Colorado too.”
My parents and their infinite wisdom, I thought grimly. “Actually, I grew up in Boston.”
Her cute, tawny brows inched together.
“Confusing, I know. Denver was my grandfather’s middle name. He too, had nothing to do with Colorado. New Englander to the core, in fact. My mom liked the name. And I’m keeping you from getting settled in. Just wanted to let you know that I’m here if you need any repairs.”
“Oh, right. The landlord mentioned that. Sounds good.”
I glanced back down to the narrow driveway running along the house. There was a compact car parked at the end. “Do you need anything else carried up?”
“No, I only brought a few essentials. Didn’t have much room in my car.”
“So, it’s just you?” I asked.
“No, the rest of my group will be arriving shortly. We’re a troupe of traveling tap dancers.”
I stared up at her. Another smile broke free, followed by a laugh that worked perfectly with the rest of her.
“You got me. I was actually imagining a football player with a high heel fetish, but tap dancers, that’s a good one. I won’t keep you.” I turned back but stopped. “Oh, and don’t let my mention of the high heels fool you. I’m a big fan, as long as they’re on the right pair of legs.”
“You know, my intuition told me you might be a high heel fan.” She turned to climb up to the landing. I let myself take advantage of watching her legs for just a few seconds longer before willing myself back into my apartment.