Happy Hour (Racing on the Edge) (4 page)

BOOK: Happy Hour (Racing on the Edge)
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I turned sharply to see what they were smiling at only to see Jameson making his way over to us with a huge grin.

I ran at full speed towards him jumping in his arms, and yes, I wrapped my legs around his waist. I won’t lie, I was hoping for some sappy reunion where he confessed his undying love for me and we drove off into the sunset in his race car, but that didn’t happen. Instead, he
did
wrap his arms tightly around my waist pulling me against him tightly.

“I’ve missed you Sway,
so much
!”

If I wasn’t already in love with him, I just fell in love, and so did my crankcase with my legs still tightly wrapped around his waist.

Right about then, I realized my crankcase was making all kinds of justifications that my mind would have no patience for, if it were still in charge. Warmth spread over me when I could feel his strong arms flex as he held me against his body. His breath blew over my neck, shivers ignited down my body firing nerve endings into race mode. I hoped like hell he didn’t feel me trembling in his arms.

“I’ve missed you too.” I said softly breathing in the smell of his sun kissed skin. He smelled of racing and summer, two things my senses had memory for.

At my words, Jameson turned his head kissing my cheek, his lips lingering. Pathetically, I found myself leaning into his touch.

It must have looked inappropriate because Alley cleared her throat beside us. “Do you two need a room?”

I looked over at her pursed lips in a hard line while she glared at me.

Jameson laughed setting me on my feet beside him, his arm wrapped around my waist pressing me securely to him.

“I can’t believe my best friend is a superstar now.” I mocked punching at his shoulder. “Will you sign my arm?” 

His eyes narrowed at the willing appendage and before I could retract it in time, his tongue darted out licking me. “There’s your autograph.” He rolled his eyes. “What’s the plan for tonight?”

I looked down at my arm, coated with Jameson drool.

Did I wipe it off?
 No, not me, I left it there.

“You have the driver’s meeting in an hour.” Alley reminded him but kept tending to Spencer’s eye. I felt bad but only for a second, a brief second.

Jameson chuckled eyeing Spencer. “What happened to you?”

“Your best friend there decided to try and take my head off with a spring.”

“That’s my girl.” Jameson nodded in approval. A shy grin appeared like that of a small boy hiding a secret.

I fell a little deeper.

“Listen,” Alley smacked his shoulder grabbing his attention. “You have the drivers meeting and then introductions start at four. After the race you have to make an appearance at the Howl at the Moon
in downtown Charlotte.”

Jameson turned towards me, a sly smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “Did you get a hotel room or do you need to stay with me tonight?”

“Alley got me my own room.” I told him, hoping he didn’t catch the fact that I was giving him ogle eyes, also instinct for a pit lizard.

He smirked. “Well, I guess that means I have to return you to your room tonight.” For a moment, a brief moment, I thought I saw disappointment in his eyes.

With the way he looked down into my eyes, the rest of my internal components lined up on the same side as my heart and crankcase. We were all ready and
willing
to do whatever Jameson Riley wanted.

“I’m not getting drunk tonight, Jameson.” I warned as he lugged me towards the garage.

The last time I got drunk with Jameson on my twenty-first birthday, I ended up with a tattoo on my ass of god knows what but strangely resembled his lips. He had a matching tattoo that
also
, strangely resembled my lips.

Actually, that wasn’t the last time we got drunk together. There was the time after the tattoos that we ended up doing body shots with Jameson puking in the parking lot for an hour afterwards.

Moral of this outcome, we shouldn’t get drunk together.

It
never
ended well.

“So you say,” Jameson pulled me by the hand. “I bet I can convince you otherwise.” He paused, the smirk still present. “Besides, I have another ass cheek that needs branding and so do you honey.” he teased with a slap to my ass.

If there was one quality about Jameson that most failed to recognize was he had the negotiation and debating skills of a seasoned politician, no lie. If he wanted me to do something, he could convince me in a matter of seconds.

I knew one thing—this pit lizard was going to have a
good
time tonight.

 

 

 

2.
             
Groove

Sway

Groove – This is a racers slang term for the best, most efficient, and fastest route around a racetrack for a particular driver. The “high groove” takes a car closer to the outside wall for most of a lap, while the “low groove” takes a car closer to the apron than the outside wall. Some racers will refer to this as a line. Drivers search for a fast groove that changes depending on track and weather conditions.

 

Jameson took me around before driver introductions started and introduced me to everyone with Simplex Riley Racing. The team had grown since the last time and even though I’d met most of them in Daytona, there were a few additions to the team. Some of the pit crew was new, like Ethan and Gentry, both affable guys that fit in well to the combination.

His crew chief, Kyle Wade, was still the same. I stayed with him while Jameson did pre-race interviews and talked with his teammate, Bobby Cole.

If you were to spend time around a racing team, at the track or even away, it wasn’t hard to figure out who the driver was. Maybe it was the type of personality racing attracted. Just the same, you could tell who the crew chief was as he was the one carrying just as much of a burden but with less pay.

“How’s he doing?” I asked Kyle knowing he’d give me an honest answer if I asked.

Kyle was a big burly guy, not as large as Spencer was, but similar to a teddy bear with his olive skin, brown hair and puppy dog brown eyes. He was adorable, if that was an appropriate word to use for a twenty-nine year old man. I thought it was. Every time I saw him, I wanted to cuddle him and spoon-feed him applesauce, because that’s not weird at all.

Kyle joined Riley Simplex Racing around the same time as Jameson so it took a few races for them to get into a groove together. The turning point came when Kyle made the right call in Rockingham—that led to the victory.

Jameson respected him and you needed that in a crew chief. And let’s face it; Jameson rarely respected anyone besides his parents.

“Oh, you know. Still the same moody asshole he’s always been.” Kyle placed his arm around my shoulder leaning into me. “Although, once he found out you were coming, the boy was in a surprisingly
good
mood.” He hinted with a grin and a waggle to his brow.

Everyone on his team, and other teams for that matter, thought something was going on with Jameson and me since Daytona. Even though I wanted that, I denied the accusations, as did Jameson.

Annoyed at the invasion into his personal life, he would usually bark something along the lines of, “Fuck off, mind your own business.”

Our relationship did appear relatively strange. We hugged, held hands from time to time. Hell, we’d even made out on some occasions but it was always held to friend standards, for the most part.

Don’t get me wrong, there were times when Jameson and I explored with each other growing up but clothing always remained intact most of the time.

I say most of the time because there were times when my memory was a little faded due to alcohol consumption.

So from the outside, we
could
look like
more
than friends. Either that or they saw right through my tough exterior and saw that I was madly in love with this man.

After the drivers meeting, I watched as a news reporter from ESPN approached Jameson after he finished up with Fox Sports.

“Hey Jameson, you got the pole. Do you think you have a chance at winning?”

“I think we have a chance.” His eyes dropped tipping his sunglasses down. “This No. 9 Simplex Ford is running great. Both practices we were up front. I would expect to see us stay up front.” He said leaning against the side of his hauler.

His weight shifted to one side appearing relaxed, his eyes told another story, which was why he slid the sunglasses down. There seemed to be an emptiness about him or maybe that was the defining edge of who he was and who he wasn’t in a sport that constantly tried to mold a triangle to fit within a circle. Since his first race, I witnessed this side emerging through interviews.

Some thought Jameson was just another cocky rookie trying to prove himself. The way he regarded other drivers and reporters, basically, anyone outside of his circle, wasn’t from arrogance but vulnerability.

Vulnerability uncharacteristic for a racer with his hasty clout.

“Now let’s talk about this hefty fine handed down this morning by NASCAR
...

Jameson hung his head, a slow shake revealed his aggravation. Just as the shifting of the wind, the tension crept over him. His left hand reached across his body running the backside of his hand down his jaw. In a gesture that seemed straightforward as maybe satisfying an itch, I knew the weight behind it.

“I don’t really have much to say about it.” He told them, his voice taking on a throaty rasp from all the interviews today.

The reporter continued to ask questions. Jameson snuck a drink of water running before his hand through his hair with a contemplative tug, his gaze focused past the reporter on the track.

He hated doing interviews, absolutely hated it. So it was easy to see the frustration as one reporter after another hounded him for interviews. I guess you had to keep in mind how quickly he went to a household name to understand his frustration with the constant media attention.

Growing up racing on dirt, he’d been measured one of the local boys even though his dad held royalty status among the racers.

Even when Jameson raced USAC (United States Auto Club), it was nothing compared to the attention he received once he was thrown into the Winston Cup series. When he won his second race at Rockingham, his lifestyle became just as fast as his driving. It was unbelievable the following he now had.

With the way NASCAR had evolved over the years, these guys were hounded like rock stars.

Watching him was also bringing out the pit lizard in me who was slobbering over every move he made, every wink he gave me, every tug of his hair, every crooked grin.

Let’s just say my rev limiter was working on overdrive trying to control my engine from exceeding its maximum rotational speed and exploding. I had it bad. But all things considering, I was okay with that—for tonight anyways.

The rest of the afternoon, we hung around in Jameson’s motor coach waiting for driver introductions to begin and catching up with everyone that I hadn’t seen since Daytona in February. Though just getting to the motor coach was a task.

To give you an idea of the following Jameson had now—it took about fifteen minutes just to make it to his motor coach with all the garage groupies wanting his autograph.

Let me take a moment here and explain the difference between a garage groupie and a pit lizard. A garage groupie is a teenage fan who knows nothing about NASCAR or even who’s leading the point’s battle, and usually only cares about the younger drivers. Now, a pit lizard is woman who hangs around the pit area, has a certain driver in mind and will do anything in their power to sleep with them.

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