Authors: Valerie Roeseler
Tags: #Angels, #Romance, #The Helio Trilogy, #Valerie, #Midnight Divine, #Fantasy, #Paranormal, #Roeseler
This book is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, organizations, businesses, places, events and
incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely
Copyright © 2016 Valerie
All rights reserved.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner
whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for
the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Published by Valerie
Editing by Angela Hill
Cover Design by Valerie
Layout by Valerie
11 years of proof that
are not fiction.
1. a self-luminous heavenly body.
In the few hours before
sunrise, over forty amped up import cars line the sides of a deserted black top
road amidst the hordes of fans hollering and whistling at the racers that are
to be our entertainment for tonight. When my roommate, Alice, mentioned
underground street racing in Red Meadow, I expected to experience an inferior
crew of rednecks in stock pickup trucks racing down a hidden dirt road in the
middle of nowhere. After finishing up practice at our band’s makeshift studio,
I took a shot of Jägermeister and smoked a joint before we headed out to Willow
Creek to see what the buzz was about. Alice confessed she hadn't been to the
races in a few months, but promised I wouldn't be disappointed. I wasn't so
sure that would be the case. To placate my new roomie, alcohol and weed would
be my preferred entertainment versus a group of posers trying their hand at
illegal street racing.
Minutes outside of town, we
pull onto an overcrowded back road, and at once, I'm nervous. My apprehension
picks up, triggering my heart to pound in an attempt to explode from my chest.
This isn't right. I can't be here
determine as I take in our surroundings. I roll down my window and light a cigarette in an effort to compose
myself into exuding impassiveness as I park us closer to the marked quarter
mile. There's no reason for me to feel anxious about being here, because I won't be participating in the races, and
hence I won't be betraying my personal oath to stay out of trouble. I'm more
familiar with this environment than Alice is aware of, and I plan on keeping it
that way. In moving to Red Meadow for a year late start at college, I left my
illicit past behind, and it would stay there. This is my chance to start fresh
and make something of myself. Something I can enjoy and be proud of instead of
floating through life lethargic and oblivious.
“Holy shit! Right, Ivy?”
Alice hollers as we step out of my white Mitsubishi Evo Lancer. I grin at her
across its carbon fiber hood as I lock it with the key fob over my shoulder and
join her to observe the crowd. The ground vibrates with the pulsing music
echoing in the humid night air as colorful neon lights accent the cars lining
the street and drunk coeds grope each other on the hoods and trunks of their
cars. My high intensifies within our surroundings comparable to an outdoor rave
as I sink into a parallel home away from home. Yet, I know I shouldn’t be here.
I love racing, but I don't want to be absorbed back into this world. My skin
prickles with the static in the air, and I want to flee the scene with my tail
tucked between my legs. Except, I don’t want to disappoint Alice by bailing out
I've grown close to Alice
over my first month at Red Meadow University. She reached out to me through an
online forum for students to find roommates a month before classes began. She's
a local, and being a junior she's able to rent a house off campus close to the
university. Alice has a sprightly personality that compels everyone she meets
to fall in love with her. We both love music, partying, coffee, and she's the
single girl I've ever got along with. I had an instant connection to her when
She's the lead singer for a
local band called
begged me to try out for their lead guitarist opening after the first time she
heard me play. I’ve been their lead guitarist since and loved the opportunity
to get over my stage fright playing for crowds. Music is my second love. I'm
done with racing and swore I would restrict myself to enjoy driving as a
normal, law abiding citizen. Deciding I would play it cool for tonight, I let
my system numb from my intoxication and high.
I started racing as soon as
I received my permit to drive the streets of Los Angeles at age fifteen. My
hometown neighbor, Gideon, had me hooked when he took me to my first race at
age thirteen. Gideon moved in next door to me the year before. I was crazy
about him. He had piercing blue eyes I couldn't stop staring at because they
were almost ethereal. We dated as high
school freshmen, but
it was short lived. It lasted two months of holding hands before he admitted he
adored me as a sister rather than a girlfriend. I was crushed, but we remained
friends for years.
Gideon saved me on numerous
nights from my adoptive father’s rage. Frank Harris was a belligerent drunk and
always took out his anger on his wife, Ruth, and myself. Gideon was my best
friend. My only friend—I was a bit of a loner. I enjoyed fast cars and rock
music while other girls fancied cheerleading and mainstream bubblegum pop.
Gideon seemed to understand me better than anyone else. Even when we reached
school, and he became a rising football star, he
always made time for me. We did everything together. He taught me to skateboard
and surf, everything I know about cars, and even how to defend myself from my
adoptive father’s drunken abuses. We were peas in a pod.
That is, until my junior
year of high
school. It was the
first race of the school year. I remember isolated flashes of what happened
that night. I was drifting a sharp corner as something rammed my car from the
passenger side. I tumbled over a cliff, side over side until a large tree had
stopped me upside down and crushed the passenger door into my right side. It
broke my collarbone and a few ribs, I had cuts and bruises covering my entire
body, and with miraculous fate, a simple twisted ankle. Hanging upside down, I
Gideon standing on the other side of the tree. I
cried out to him for help, but he made no effort to move. Tears blurred my
vision, and he was gone.
Recovering in the hospital
over the next few months, I questioned whether or not I indeed
or if he was a
figment of my distraught imagination. But unlike his character, he never came
to see me in the hospital. When I was released after a period of time to return
home, Gideon had moved out from the house next door. He never came back to
school. He vanished
without so much as a goodbye
. I felt betrayed and
vowed to never let another person close enough to hurt me again.
Alice spots her boyfriend
across the road from us and waves as she raises onto the tips of her toes.
She's five foot even and as thin as a rail, reminding me of a baby bird, but
you could never miss her in a crowd with her four-foot-long brunette hair.
“Hey! Y’all made it!” Eric
yells over the noise as he engulfs Alice with his massive arms. Eric
a freight train, intimidating with his large
frame and dark brown eyes.
“Yeah. Ivy took some
convincing,” Alice announces, and I roll my eyes in jest. Eric locks an arm
over each of our necks and leads us through the throng of people to get closer
to the starting line. The headlights lining the road strobe as people float
past them, making me dizzy. The air smells heavy with petrol and burned rubber.
This is, by far, not what I had expected.
I light another cigarette
as the last set of racers pull up to the line.
A tall and lanky flagman creeps to the double yellow
line between the two racer’s cars, dressed as a conspicuous outsider in his
black hoodie and dark Aviator sunglasses.
Only assholes wear sunglasses at
In the right lane sits the
meanest Nissan Skyline I've ever seen. White smoke billows around its admiral
blue body as the driver burns out the rear tires over the bleach puddles,
prepping them for better grip. It backs up and repositions at the starting line
as a red, stock Toyota Supra repeats the same process, engulfing the crowd
within a dense, white cloud, obscuring our vision. Compared to the thundering growl
of the Skyline, the Supra’
an angry bumble bee
as it revs its engine. The roar of the crowd is drowned out by the sonic blast
of the two engines revving up and provoking each other.
My stomach does
flip flops of excitement at the ferociousness emanating from the Skyline.
The flagger points to each
driver consecutively and waits for them to nod back. He holds both of his hands
parallel above him in the manner
a traffic controller
and seconds tick by, building the anticipation of the crowd. The imports lurch
and halt like restrained guard dogs waiting to be released for an attack. The
flagger’s arms drop, and the cars launch through the spectators with intimate
our clothes to ripple from
the tailwind. My long black hair swarms my face as my breath hitches with
fascination. The reverberating blast of the Skyline makes my stomach flutter as
it passes its contender with ease. I'm shoved into the street as people spill
out to see the finish line. An instant passes and shouts ensue when the Skyline
signals the win with the flash of his hazard lights.
That Supra never had a chance.
I shake my head with a pleased
The racers drive back to
the starting line through the mob of fans, and money's exchanged between the
gamblers crowding the street. The drivers emerge from their cars to shake
hands, and I see a wad of cash being accepted from
to the Herculean driver of the Skyline. Mr. Skyline's
low on his face, covering his features, but my
inner self drools at his incredible package of muscles and inked arms bulging
black cotton shirt.
“That guy’s never lost!”
Eric yells in my ear with excitement. “And thanks to him, I can pay my rent
again!” He laughs, showing Alice and me the quick eight hundred dollars he just
made. An uncomfortable smile twists my lips, remembering the thrill of the race
and the joy of winning more cash than I ever needed to support myself. I had
managed to earn two-hundred and sixty-eight thousand dollars before I left for college.
“Sweet,” I mumble without
taking my eyes off of the winner. Alice catches me staring at Mr. Skyline, and
she elbows my arm to get my attention, then wiggles her eyebrows with a knowing
look. “So, who is that guy?” I probe, feigning boredom. I feel drawn to him
Eric eyes me with concern,
“Jack Roe. He’s a good friend of ours.” Just when I thought it couldn’t get any
better, an entourage of drunk bimbos slink up to Jack, pawing and giggling
while they flip their hair and flutter their eyelashes for his attention.
Without a doubt, he loves it—I think it's disgusting.
I don’t care how hot
he is. I’m not fighting for a guy’s attention. Look at him! What a man-whore.
Mr. Skyline glances up at
me with an amused grin. With smooth strides towards Eric that scream power,
confidence, and commanding attention, he leaves his groupies behind to pout. I
a tribal tattoo running from his right wrist and
disappears under his sleeve to reappear on his neck and end at a point just
behind his ear. His ball cap shadows his eyes as wisps of blonde hair peak out
under the edges above his ears.
“What’s up, man? It's been
a while. Enjoy the show?”
booms, giving Eric a
fist bump. Jack’s voice is velvet to my ears: deep and soothing. A sense of
calm pours over me.
Eric’s face lights up,
yeah, dude! You don’t disappoint.”
“No, I don’t,” Jack brags,
winking at me.
I roll my eyes and cock my
hip out, crossing my arms over my chest.
Completely not my type
chuckle comes from Eric at Jack’s flirtation with me.
Jack reaches his hand out
to me, intent on introducing himself, “Jack Roe.”
To show him I'm not
interested in his charms, I refuse to reciprocate the handshake he offers. “So,
I’ve heard,” I mock with boredom.
His hand drops to his side
while his cocky grin remains a stain on his face, “Good things, I hope.” He
pauses, waiting for me to answer. When I don’t, he continues, “Did you enjoy
I stuff my hands in the
back pockets of my jeans. “This really isn’t my scene,” I lie to avoid any
connection with him even though he's effecting me on a level I've never
experienced before. I can’t stop the flip flops in my stomach, and the pull I
feel towards him.
“So, they dragged you here
despite your protesting?” he snickers.
“Actually, I thought it was
going to be a bunch of rednecks in pickups.”
Great. That almost sounded like
Jack's grin grows wider.
“Is that more your scene?” He crosses his arms over his massive chest and looks
me over from head to toe, giving me his million dollar smile
not in the slightest bit casual about checking me out.
“No,” I glare at him,
showing my annoyance.
Hello? Do I look like a Southern Bell in my Black
Norma Jean Shirt and tattered dark-wash jeans? Oh, must have been my black
Chuck Taylors! Pfft!
He gives me a twisted grin.
He’s messing with me
I laugh within, refusing to reveal it across my face and scold myself at my
attraction to his charm.
Alice pipes in, “She’s the
new lead guitarist for
That’s more her scene. She can shred like no other.” She smiles at me and
elbows my arm again with the compliment. Jack appears amused, but I make no
effort to further the conversation.