I jerked up to my tiptoes again to see the peel of the tires kicking up dust as they struggled to get going. I bobbed up and down a little with the excitement, and I couldn’t contain my ear to ear smile. The cars shot past, sending a gust of wind in my face and a thunderous pounding in my chest.
“Shit!” I heard behind me and turned to see K.C. wiping her shirt.
“I spilled beer,” she mumbled.
I saw Jared a few feet behind her, still leaning on his car, not even watching the race. His focus was entirely on me, something familiar in his expression. In that moment, the race, Ben, and K.C. didn’t even exist.
A tiny moan barely made it out of my throat as my heart sped up and my stomach flip-flopped.
He was giving me the same look I got Wednesday night right before he kissed me, and I knew I hadn’t imagined anything. It was anger and desire mixed together to make something hot enough for my knees to go weak. From the way he’d been ignoring me yesterday and today, barely sparing me eye contact, I had begun to wonder if it’d all been a wet dream on my part.
Taking a deep breath and tearing my eyes away, I tore off my jacket and tossed it to K.C. “Put this on.”
“Thanks.” She held the cup in one hand and slipped on the jacket with the other.
Sparing Jared another glance, I noticed that his chest rose and fell hard as his eyes spit fire. The desire was gone. His gaze was on Ben now, who I realized had also been looking at me but turned away as if he’d been caught eyeballing something he shouldn’t have.
Again, I immediately wanted to cover myself.
I was here for the race. I reminded myself and turned back to the track.
Madoc and Liam were never head to head. Either Madoc was drastically behind Liam, or Liam was a ridiculous distance behind Madoc. After a minute, the crowd started laughing when they realized that Madoc was just toying with his opponent. No wonder Jared wasn’t watching. He knew it would be an easy win. Not that Liam’s Camaro wasn’t worthy, but Madoc was more experienced and had done a hell of a lot of work to his car.
On the last turn, Madoc surged ahead one last time and crossed the finish line to the sounds of cheers and whistles. People rushed his car, and Madoc emerged with an idiotic grin on his smug face. Some girl grabbed his gray t-shirt and stuck her tongue in his mouth. Eww.
Liam slowly climbed out of his car and immediately looked to K.C. who, I noticed, was blatantly wrapped around Jared again. My leg spasmed with an urge to kick something when I saw him bury his head in her neck. She giggled with pleasure, obviously for show.
“Jared’s up next.” Ben rubbed his jaw. “Roman’s awesome. I hope I didn’t bet on the wrong guy.”
I honestly didn’t know who I would bet on if I cared to place money on either dickhead.
“Everyone clear the road!”
The Race Master was starting the next event. “Trent and Roman, get your asses on the starting line.”
And suddenly I was nervous about this match up.
Ben and I parted with the crowd so Jared could pull his car out. K.C. came up to stand beside us, but for some reason, I couldn’t look at her.
As Jared climbed in and started his engine, the girls around us started jumping and squealing. Papa Roach blared at a deafening level from his speakers. He revved the engine a few times to get the crowd going, a playful grin on his lips.
The Boss 302 pulled up onto the track, and I realized I almost felt like leaving. Jared and I had dreamed about being here together to race, and now I was on the outside looking in. He was living this without me, and I hated that I was being left out.
Roman had just pulled up in his Pontiac Trans Am. Even though his 2002 car was considered ancient compared to Jared’s, it stood an outstanding chance of winning. The amount of work and options Roman had added to his vehicle made it a formidable machine. Unfortunately, Derek Roman didn’t rely simply on his skills as a mechanic to win. There had been many injuries out here when he’d raced in high school.
“All right!” the Race Master announced. “Clear the track for the main event of the evening.”
According to K.C., the Loop only has a few races per week during the school year as the college kids had gone back to school, so this was a light night with only two races.
Jared’s music filled the air, and I saw him take something from his hand to hang it on the rearview mirror. I couldn’t make out what it was, only that it was bulky and looked like a necklace.
The same girl who set off Madoc and Liam came to stand in front of the cars, shaking her ass as she walked in front of their headlights.
The smell of fuel and tires permeated the air, while the engines’ rumble coursed through my legs. Jared stared ahead, wearing a stone face, waiting for the call.
“Ready?” Little Miss Look-At-Me called.
“Set?” The engines roared.
“Go!” Her arms fell hard to her sides, and the cars zoomed past her, kicking up dust and rocks in their wake. I darted onto the track with the flood of people to watch from behind, more afraid than excited this time.
As much as I hated to admit it, I was worried. Roman would do something shady and hurt Jared. Even after everything, I didn’t want to see him hurt.
The cars’ taillights got smaller the closer they reached the first turn. It was four lefts, and the race would be over. The turns were sharp, and this is where a drift racer might be better for the Loop. The track was small, these cars were big, and the turns were hell. For this reason, no cars were allowed to park on the perimeter of the turns.