Authors: Marian Tee
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary Fiction
She said darkly, “That’s because he wouldn’t have called any other girl
like it’s a stupid compliment or something. And it’s
” She paused then added emphatically, “And it’s not true, too.” Bobby crossed her fingers behind her back.
Kellion laughed. “I’m sure it’s not.”
“Try to sound more convincing and I might believe you.”
He looked at her admiringly. “All the girls I know that Leandro has dated have limited vocabulary.” He mimicked, “
Yes, Leandro. Whatever you want, Leandro. Oh, Leandro.
“So you’re a refreshing change. Surprising, too – I wonder what you did to catch his attention.”
Bobby said cheekily, “I kicked him.”
The sound of Kellion’s laughter – which had been the second one in such a short time – had Leandro frowning as he looked at Bobby. He trusted Kellion, but Kellion was also the biggest flirt in their club.
“You’re jealous.” Helios, the leader of the club, remarked with amusement. Tall and olive-skinned like Leandro, he was the only man in the club who had golden hair instead of dark. They liked to tease him as “Mr. Sunshine” about it even though they knew that Helios’ temperament was more like a solar eclipse than anything else.
Leandro flushed. “I’m not. I’m just worried he might say something about me that Bobby’s better off not knowing.” Uncomfortable with talking about Bobby, he changed the subject. “Thank you again for your family’s support for my father’s candidacy.”
“You know we will always be behind you.” Leandro knew it was all Helios would say about the subject. The other man, although not as hot-tempered as he tended to be, was even more mercurial, his silent ways hiding a ruthless streak that few ever glimpsed.
Helios suddenly looked distracted, and when Leandro followed the other man’s gaze, he saw the club’s official photographer, the tomboyish MJ, taking snapshots of the newest member, Yuri.
“Is Yuri giving you trouble?” Leandro would be frankly surprised if Helios said yes since he knew Yuri, and the younger man was well-known for being courteous, like a throwback from the golden days of knighthood.
Helios said reluctantly, “No. It’s MJ. She’s monopolizing too much of Yuri’s time. She might become a distraction for him.”
Leandro smirked. As far as he could see, little MJ was becoming more of a distraction for their fearless leader than anyone else. “We all know why she joined the club, Helios.”
A faint grimace twisted Helios’ face, which – Leandro acknowledged in amusement – was almost as pretty as a girl if not for the extremely hard angles of his cheeks and jaw. Leandro knew that Helios was also remembering the day they held screenings for vacancies in their club. MJ had been the last to be interviewed – and the one who blurted out that it was because she was in love with a member of the club that she was applying for a position –
“Yuri could be her mysterious crush.”
Helios shrugged. “I don’t give a damn as long as she does her job.” When he looked at Leandro and saw the gleam of amusement in his friend’s eyes, Helios knew that he wasn’t fooling Leandro one bit. He said seriously, “Tell this to anyone and I’ll kill you, friend or not.”
“Even if you are
her secret crush, you can always steal her away.”
“We will never talk about this again either.” He stopped then added reluctantly, “Not in public at least.” Helios realized at that moment that he did need someone to talk to about the damn brat, if only so he could hear someone tell him he was just going to make a fool of himself. He and MJ had nothing in common. Worse, MJ was scared to death of motorcycles. That was normally a major turn off for Helios, but in MJ’s case, it only made him irritable. What the hell was so scary about bikes? They were just
Leandro said with a grin, “Understood.”
Helios glanced at the girl Leandro had brought with him.
Two could play this game
, he thought. “And what about your delightful Bobby? Are you ready for the whole world to fantasize about her the moment they discover her connection to you?”
The words wiped the amusement from Leandro’s face completely. Helios was unfortunately not exaggerating. The way she looked now – ‘hot nerdy biker chick on the hunt’ was apt indeed – with almost half of her glorious breasts on display by that ridiculously tight silk top, Leandro was sure Sports Illustrated would be knocking on her door the moment he introduced her as his girlfriend.
“She won’t pose for any magazine,” he said curtly.
“Even if she wants to?”
“She won’t pose.” He was going to buy the fucking magazine before he’d let Bobby pose.
Helios said quietly, “She truly means something to you then? I admit to being skeptical when I heard that you were dating a girl in your school and she wasn’t…your usual type.”
, Leandro thought grimly,
seemed to have a fucking easy time correctly guessing how he and Bobby came to be
. How long before it was Bobby figuring out the truth as well?
When Leandro didn’t answer, Helios knew that it was an answer in itself, and one that he didn’t welcome. He could see that Bobby Granger was a nice girl, someone who did not deserve to be a political pawn.
“The polls back home show that your father’s slowly gaining public favor again. The local media has also been faithfully following your “courtship” of Bobby. They love how she was voted Philanthropist of the Year, and though she is as rich as anyone here, she doesn’t act like it. They think of her as a possible princess championing the poor. Does she know that?”
“And you have no desire to tell her?”
“I will tell her…when she needs to know.” In the back of his mind, he knew that he was making the same mistake again, protecting himself at the cost of Bobby. But he just could not help doing it. The same unspoken fear was inside Leandro, protecting a small part of him to make sure it survived if the people he loved did not end up loving him back.
The ride back home was spent in tense silence even though Leandro kept her close, their fingers entwined on his lap, her head against his chest and his arm around hers. All the while, she wondered why he wasn’t trying to kiss her.
When Leandro’s chauffeur-driven car parked in front of her dorm, she blurted out, “Leandro, about what you said—”
His lips covered hers.
There was the kiss she was waiting for, but before she could think about what it meant, the kiss was already over, Leandro lifting his head to tell her quietly, “I don’t want you to feel pressured about returning the words. I just want you to know that I find you beautiful in every way.”
The crowd was
and uncontrollable, a monster consisting of hundreds of heartbeats that craved the excitement of a forbidden race.
Leandro had invited her yesterday to accompany him as his date to tonight’s event but Bobby refused, knowing there was something else she had to do. She felt so guilty and unfair about Leandro having said the words and her not saying it back. She wanted to. How she wanted to, but Bobby had to be sure it was the real thing this time.
The race was kicking off at a warehouse along one of Florida’s interstate highways. The thought of Leandro racing on a motorbike –
on a public highway was more than enough to make Bobby want to throw up. The fact that he indeed participated in a few such events when he was in Greece still gave her nightmares from time to time. Bobby could only be thankful that he had now “retired” and was content to sponsor such races.
Bleachers had been set up for the spectators and Bobby managed to find herself a spot at the very top where she could see everything. Strobe lights beamed different shades of light on the bikers and the ground while heavy rock and roll music roared out of the speakers.
Everyone was in a mood to party, but all Bobby could do was eye the twenty-foot tall ramp in front of the crowd nervously.
Seeing how Bobby was looking at the stunt area, Kellion said sympathetically, “I know it looks suicidal, but he’s a pro when it comes to these stunts.”
“But it’s so dangerous,” she mumbled.
“He’s got this, I promise.”
Bobby shook her head. “I just don’t get why you guys have to do this. I mean, the biking stuff and all? And if you really want to race so badly, why do you have to do it
“There’s a freedom when riding a bike that you can’t get from racing a car…any kind of car.” He tried to search for the right words to explain his connection and every biker’s connection to his bike. “It’s more intimate, like the bike becoming a part of you, an extension of your limb. That’s why it feels like I’ve lost an arm if my bike gets damaged and it’s my fault.”
“But what about the people who care about you and—”
Kellion smiled. “I know what you mean, and it’s not like that here in Florida. In Greece, the guys are insane there – they absolutely have no rules and that’s why Leandro’s accident happened. But here in Florida, Helios is in control and he runs a pretty tight ship. We’ve got everything the big leagues have except the license. And that we don’t want. When you go pro, the money sharks come in and make things boring. But when it’s underground, we make the rules.”
“So it’s really safe?”
“As safe as bungee jumping.”
“That’s the one where you jump a off a fifty-story building, right?” She scowled at him. “Not helping.”
Kellion gave her head a little pat like he would to a younger sister. In a way, that was how he thought of her. “He’s going to be fine.” He paused. “But you know he’s going to feel even better if he knows you’re here, right?”
“Don’t tell him. You promised!”
“Yeah, but I just think—”
“There’s something I need to know and I can only do that if I see him…and he doesn’t see me.”
“You want to catch him flirting with other girls?” It had been Kellion’s primary suspicion, but the way Bobby blinked at him told Kellion the thought hadn’t even occurred to her, leaving him even more puzzled.
“He’s not going to flirt with other girls.”
Because he loves me,
Bobby wanted to add but didn’t.
“You’re that sure?”
“Absolutely.” But she still held her breath anyway when the host finally called out Leandro’s name and the girls in the crowd went wild. He was dressed completely in black leather, making him look so sexy-badass it had Bobby gasping along with the others.
Kellion smirked and took a snapshot of her.
She heard the click of his phone. “Kellion!”
Bobby glared at him. “Delete that—”
“He’s getting on his bike now,” Kellion said, distracting her.
Her head quickly snapped back towards the front. Leandro was indeed getting on his bike, and he had switched the ignition on, the crowd roaring its approval as his motorcycle growled to life. The brand of his motorcycle was something she didn’t recognize, but even with what little knowledge she had of bikes, Bobby instinctively knew Leandro’s was a dream machine. It was big and black, and there was something about its sleekness and power that made the bike seem like it was custom designed to match Leandro’s build.
He bent down, revving the engine again, and the crowd roared with it.
And then he was flying.
Bobby screamed, her heart racing as Leandro and his bike raced up in the ramp at full speed before soaring. Time stopped for everyone else as Leandro and his bike was up in the air, and no one made the smallest sound as Leandro attempted a full 360-degree turn—
—and he made it with effortless grace. His landing was soundlessly perfect, with Leandro facing the crowd as his bike hit the ground.
Leandro slowly got off his bike, the girls going wild as he came solidly to his feet and slowly took off his helmet.
She watched in dry-mouthed wonder, her heart still racing, unable to believe someone so dazzlingly good had said he loved her.
And then his eyes found her.
Once, she had been talking to a girl who had asked her about love. And Bobby, fresh from the heartbreak of Blaine’s cruelty, had said everything in her heart, knowing that all the girls in their yoga class – most of whom knew what had gone down between her and Valerie – were listening. She had spoken the words defiantly, wanting everyone to know that even though she had been humiliated, she wasn’t going to let Blaine and Valerie win again by allowing herself to be bitter.