Happy Hour (Racing on the Edge)

BOOK: Happy Hour (Racing on the Edge)
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Racing on the Edge

Happy Hour

Sometimes all you want is just a taste
.

 

 

A novel by Shey Stahl

 

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, sponsors, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, dead or living, is coincidental.

 

The opinions expressed in this book are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NASCAR, its employees, or its representatives, teams, and drivers within the series. The car numbers used within this book are not representing those drivers who use those numbers either past or present in any NASCAR series or The World of Outlaw Series and are used for the purpose of this fiction story only. The author does not endorse any product, driver, or other material racing in NASCAR or The World of Outlaw Series. The opinions in this work of fiction are simply that, opinions and should not be held liable for any product purchase, and or effect of any racing series based on those opinions.

 

Happy Hour

Sometimes all you want is just a taste.

Copyright © 2012 by Shey Stahl

Published in the United States of America

 

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of Shey Stahl.

 

Warning: This book contains adult content, explicit language, and sexual situations.

 

http://sheystahl.blogspot.com/

 

ISBN-13: 978-1470022877

ISBN-10: 1470022877

 

 

 

Acknowledgments:

 

Some authors place their acknowledgments at the end of the book, others at the beginning. After writing this story, I believe the correct placement is in the beginning, for me. The words spilled across these pages wouldn’t be possible without the following influences.

 

My husband, I can honestly say that you are the only person who really knows me in ways I’ve never had to explain. Time stands still when I’m with you, the memories we’ve created influence me in ways that can’t be described with words but alive with gestures. You support me no matter what I put you through and allow me to share my time with you and my characters floating in my head. Your willingness to eat out so I can write all the time, and the ability to look past the laptop to see the television is appreciated. Thank you.

 

My mom, you told me when I was younger to follow my dreams. This is me trying, for you. Thank you for always supporting me in anything I do and pushing me when I needed a push.

 

My sister, thank you for your ability to laugh until you cry when I’m trying to explain something to you. Not many of us have the ability to do that in life and you do. Thank you for always being there when I just need someone to listen, even if you do laugh when it’s not funny. I also, even though I don’t feel that way at the time, love that you laugh at me when I make a fool of myself.  At least one of us is laughing.

 

My dad, I’ve learned over the years, through my own strange tendencies, my dry sense of humor comes from you. Lucky me. I wanted to write a book that would draw around the way I grew up and my favorite memories you provided with racing. Thanks to you, I honestly feel the racing comes to life in this book. I hope I’ve captured that in these books because they are some of the best memories I have from growing up at the local dirt tracks. Including the one where you rolled me down a hill in a sprint car tire when I was five.

 

My daughter, though you’re still very young and I hope you never read this and maybe just skip to this page only, I love you. I never truly understood the bond between mother and child until I looked at you. You throw plenty of fits right now and treat me as if I’m your personal jungle gym and punching bag, I can look past that and see the love, I think.

 

Mo, thanks for letting me talk to you
endlessly
about these books and pre-reading for me. I really appreciate your insight into what readers enjoy. It’s also nice to know that I’m not alone in the world. There is actually someone out there who’s like me in many ways. I feel bad for our husbands.

 

Linda, I’m so glad I met you and had the opportunity to receive your assistance with writing these stories. I’m not sure you understand, though I tell you constantly, how vital you were to the development of these stories, but you were. Thank you so much for reading them, re-reading them and making me think about the direction of the stories. And also, showing just as much enthusiasm for these characters as I do, it makes this story for me personally, come alive.

 

Finally, to those who pre-read my stories, offered input, all the local racers who allowed me to interview them, gave me inside information, and pushed me along the way to do this. A special thank you to: Axel, PJ, Catie, Danielle, Lisa, Kellie, Joe, Philip, Michelle, Jen, Henry, Kasey, Trey, Joey, Justin, Billy, Tyler, Laura, Marty, and Carol.

 

 

 

This book is dedicated to my very supportive husband who has taught me more about the way an internal combustion engine works than I ever thought possible. Thank you for not only being my best friend all these years but also helping form this story with your knowledge of engines and mechanics.

 

 

 

Where there is love there is life.

~Gandhi

 

 

 

Prelude

Hooked Up

Sway

 

Hooked Up – This refers to a car that is performing at its best because all parts are “hooked up” and working well together.

 

“This is beautiful.” I told him climbing into the back of the truck. Jameson had already laid out the blankets in the metal bed of the pick-up truck.

“I came out here the last year when I was racing in the Busch series.” He said conversationally pulling me onto his lap where he sat on the edge of the tailgate. The faint sounds of
Wicked Game
playing over the stereo hummed around us.

“Really,” I gave a sidelong gaze toward Jameson. “Who was the lucky girl?”

He let out a soft chuckle. “I told you, I haven’t been with anyone in over a year. I came out here by myself. In fact, I actually spent the night texting you from this
exact
location.”

I couldn’t say anything to that.

What would I say?

He didn’t give me a chance to think about it before he turned me around so I was straddling his hips. My legs wrapped around his waist while he sat on the edge of the tailgate.

His lips skimmed along my collarbone and then back again before removing my tank top as the song continued.

I was stumbling through this, deeper in love with this man, yet he remained clueless.

He honestly had no idea how madly in love I was, or did he?

“You’re so beautiful honey.” He whispered leaning in for the most passionate kiss I think I’d ever had.

When he pulled back to look at me his expression changed, softened even.

His mouth opened as though he wanted to say something but he didn’t, he just stared back at me with his hand rested against my cheek.

I wanted to say so much in that moment, it seemed fitting.

I wanted to tell him how much I loved him and how much I’ve always loved him but just like him, I didn’t say anything, I just gazed back at him.

Feeling myself nearing tears, I leaned in kissing him again, and then removed his shirt.

Jameson lied back against the bed of the truck and closed his eyes. I skimmed my fingers across the muscles in his chest, down the ripples in his stomach to the sharp lines of his hips.

Rocking my hips against him once, the friction of our clothing caused him to moan and grab my hips securely with his hands, moving me the way he wanted.

I took everything he gave me that night, knowing I was falling deeper and deeper into whatever this was between us but I also couldn’t make myself care.

This was fun, this was exciting, and this was us.

Everything with Jameson and I was always so simple and easy that I couldn’t think of a reason why this couldn’t be too.

I also knew it wasn’t enough. I would want more.

 

1.
               
Aero Push

Sway

Aero Push – This happens when following another race car too close. The airflow from the lead vehicle doesn’t travel across the following vehicle normally. The air goes over the top with a downward force on the front and narrows. As a result, the car won’t turn easily in corners. The front of the car tends to push up the banking toward the outside wall resulting in an “aero push.” This condition is more apparent on the exit of the turns. The only way to compensate for this is to slow the car down.

 

“Two tickets?”

  “No.
One
ticket for Charlotte North Carolina,”

Peering down at the chips in my black toenail polish, I touched them up with a black Sharpie I found beside the bed.

“What city?” The woman with Southwest Airlines barked back at me.

I gathered she was just as annoyed. After being on the line with her for the last twenty minutes, I hated to tell her she wasn’t exactly my favorite person either.

Glancing out the window as I paced, a slow but constant mist of rain fell. A steady flow of cars came and went through the parking lot of the dorms. Most of the students heading home for the summer, as was I.

“Like I said the first five times, Charlotte North Caroline,” I really wanted to add some choice words at the end but I refrained.

I couldn’t be sure what I’d do five minutes from now if I was still on the damn line though. A girl can only take so much this early in the morning without coffee. And personally, I believe in our

constitutional right to speak our minds. In fact, I think more people should exercise this right, in my opinion.

“Would you like this flight for today?”

Before answering, I sighed dramatically attempting to let her know just how frustrated I was. “Yes.” I gritted out, my leg continued to bounce as I sat there waiting.

Once I finished coloring my toes, I tossed the Sharpie aside.

“First class or coach?”

“First class,”

I blamed Jameson for all of this bullshit I was going through right now. The jerk called me at two in the morning to tell me he clenched the pole for the NASCAR Winston Cup Coca-Cola 600 race tonight and needed his good luck charm there. I hadn’t seen a race in person since Daytona—I figured I owed him that much.

I was also inclined to think I was not fully awake when I agreed to fly across the United States for
just
the weekend.

Who does that kind of thing?

Me, I did that shit.

Why?

Because I’m an idiot, that’s why.

Jameson Riley was my best friend that
finally
made it to the big time this year. After taking his precocious racing talent from the bullring dirt tracks of the Pacific Northwest to the elite levels of NASCAR, he did it.

And if he asked me to fly to the North Pole to see Santa Claus with him, I would.

That’s how pathetic I was.

From the time I met Jameson when we were eleven, we’ve been inseparable, up until a few years ago when I decided it was time to finish my bachelor’s degree and actually attend classes. That meant me being in Bellingham while my friends were traveling all over catching any race Jameson could.

I’d been attending Western Washington University in Bellingham for the past three years and finally graduated last week, a free woman. No more late night study sessions cramming for mid-terms, I could finally have a life of my own.

It took me some time to decide what I wanted to do with my life. You know constantly putting it off, taking classes like pottery or art to avoid actually having to make a decision. But when my dad, Charlie, said he didn’t raise a pit lizard for a daughter, I made the decision to go into Business Management. That sounded sophisticated enough for me.

College effectively ended my “Pit Lizard Phase” of following Jameson around on his quest. I wouldn’t even say I followed him around either. I was there for a reason but it wasn’t always the
right
reasons.

Now, finally all Jameson’s hard work had paid off. Last winter he signed with his father’s new NASCAR Winston Cup series team Riley Simplex Racing and a full sponsorship from Simplex Shocks and Springs, a manufacture of well, shocks and springs for race cars.

So there I was, the one left behind, flying out to see them every few months and getting drunken text messages from them in the middle of the night after races.

If I was honest with myself, which let’s face it I hardly ever was, me deciding to finish college was more about trying to get over my Jameson infatuation and less about me growing out of my pit lizard stage.

Unfortunately for me, like it or not, I loved him, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it, or
wanted
to do about it.

So now here I was, still in love, still a pathetic pit lizard, and excited as hell to see Jameson’s first Coca-Cola 600 race.

Running roughshod through the Busch Series last year, he won fourteen races so Jimi, his dad and car owner, decided it was time to move up to the cup series.

For his first season, he was doing remarkable well. On his second start in Rockingham, he won his first career cup series win. Alas, I wasn’t there for it.

He did thank his best friend on national television and that was comforting to a certain degree. I still had to watch it on TV instead of being there and experiencing the excitement first hand. I must have cried for an entire week, but I made my decision to finish college and I did just that.

The worst part about not being there for the win was him calling me from victory lane because he couldn’t stand not to hear my voice. Talk about making me feel like an asshole.

I finally finished getting my ticket and headed out the door in a mad rush to SeaTac Airport. As I waited for my truck to warm up, I sent Jameson a text to let him know I would be there tonight.

Got my ticket, by there at two. Someone had better pick me up!

He responded instantly, which surprised me. Lately it took him hours.
Headed to interviews. Can’t wait to see you! Alley will pick you up.

Naturally, I smiled like a fool over his texting excitement to see me.

I managed to make my flight on time, despite the Seattle traffic and many instances where I flipped people off. I also found the need to stop by Starbucks and pick up an iced white chocolate mocha.

This was probably the best decision of the morning. Who knew what type of shenanigans I could get into at an airport, surround by other people,
without
caffeine.

Most of the flight, I thought about how I really couldn’t believe I was doing this, among other things. What kind of idiot dropped everything for a guy that she knew didn’t feel the same way about her?

Me, I do that shit.

The story behind Jameson and me was simple, to us. And though it started back when we were kids, the relationship itself, for me, changed the summer we left home in hunt for the USAC Triple Crown title.

When Jameson graduated high school, he finally convinced his sprint car World of Outlaw champion father, Jimi, that he was old enough to pursue his racing dreams. You see, Jameson had been racing since he was four years old but Jimi made the stipulation that he graduate from high school before he could move to the east coast.

Graduation day came for Jameson

we packed up his Ford F-250 and headed East with Spencer his older brother, Alley Spencer’s girlfriend, and Emma, Jameson and Spencer’s younger sister, who graduated a year early just so she could come along.

Naturally, when he asked me to come along, I did without a second thought. Now, up until that point, Jameson had always been my best friend, never anything more. Sure, we’d done the teenage experimenting with each other but it never led to anything.

Somewhere along the way that summer, surrounded by the lingering sweet sting of methanol, a mystifying greatness emerged from a single dream of one boy. And somewhere between those dirt tracks, sleeping in the car alongside the road, and eating a shitload of fast food, I fell head over heels in love with Jameson Anthony Riley as he fought to be his own.

Looking back on those times, during high school I could feel my feelings for him shifting but
that
summer they really took on a life of their own.

Jameson Riley was a gritty asshole, plain and simple. He was moody, childish at times and could easily put a toddler to shame with the fits he threw. Over-reactive, had textbook aggression issues and was downright arrogant but that didn’t change the fact that I loved him despite his
many
flaws. Just like any single-minded athlete, he had a burning desire to race, and that’s
all
he did. That over-reactive side, that single-minded athlete mentality was
who
he was and how he got to where he was now.

I stayed by his side through it all that summer and the years to come. Even through the engine problems or set-up deficiencies, the runaround he got from track owners, other drivers and sponsors. I was his rock in his crazy life.

Despite being his rock, I was never the
one
for him. Jameson had one girlfriend in high school, Chelsea Adams, and more nameless one-night-stands than I cared to know about.

Through them all, I sat in the wooden bleachers with rusty nails, wishing he would see me for who I was, absolutely perfect for him. I wanted him to see all the unconditional love I had for him, but he remained oblivious to this day.

That I knew of, the only people who knew how I felt about him were Emma and Alley. Being women themselves, they caught on quickly to my advances that Jameson did not. They also had to endure my pathetic flirting in the very close vicinity of our traveling arrangements that summer. Believe me; there were
many
times when I wanted to slap myself even.

Finally the captain came over the intercom to announce our final descend into the Charlotte area.

Scrambling around, I hurried up and put my iPod and laptop away. I was finishing last quarter’s books for my dad.

Once graduation day came for me, Charlie my dad, wasted no time throwing me into the family business of managing the track. I knew his intention was to have me take over when he retired. I think the jerk has been grooming me for this since I was a kid but if you’d asked him, he would just smile.

It has been just Charlie and me since I was six. My mother, Rachel, died of breast cancer when she was twenty-five. After her death, we moved from Aberdeen to Elma Washington and that’s when racing caught my attention.

Soon after the move, Charlie purchased Grays Harbor Raceway, a 3/8 oval clay racetrack off Highway 8. I was literally around racing every weekend and was eventually how I met the Riley family.

The first time I saw Jameson Riley, I was eleven years old, the summer of 1992.

Now that I think about it, it was eleven years ago this weekend.

The night we met, I was at the track one Saturday evening for the weekly races. I remember that day distinctly because it was one of the hottest days in Washington’s history. It was something like a hundred and two degrees that day. When your average summer temperature reached maybe eighty that was hot.

Jameson likes to joke that this had something to do with him and his good looks.

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