Coming: June 25th
“I’ve been a mess over you since the first day I laid my eyes on you, when you were looking up at me with those big gray eyes…”
↪ R E V I E W ↩
Not my first read by author, I have read plenty to where I know her writing style and enjoy it very much. This one particularly caught my eye just from the blurb then the cover too!!
What are the odds Dakota finds Easton Crews at the same race she was just cheering her friend Ben on? Slim, but here he is. Three years too late, but he is here in the flesh. It’s not enough he ripped her heart to shred, nope he came back for more just as Kota started to move on. To be fair Easton left at the worst time ever!!
When Easton jumps right back in like the old times, Kota is having the hardest time with her feelings. One day she wants to punch him , kick and scream and the next she wants to JUMP him! It’s a fine line they both play, the secrets, hiding and things that were never said. So where do they go from here, around and around it goes is all i am going to say. You will not expect that will come next and what both Dakota and Easton do may be hidden but can’t fool them all!
This is a second-chance-enemy-to-lovers romance. The heroine Dakota is very strong in this, Easton is a medium alpha, meaning he is big strong and handsome and has his alpha ways but not over-powering All the side characters are great, there is a lot of them I will say. There is betrayal, death, mystery, hate and passion…so much passion if anything. Dakota seems to do everything with heart! I think that was one of my main reasons I enjoyed. Dakota and Easton have a hard and bumpy road ahead of them for sure!!
↪H A P P Y – R E A D I N G↩
The heat in the room is suffocating me, making it nearly impossible to fully concentrate on the task in front of me.
With every single move, I feel the sweat pouring down my body, making me more uncomfortable and irritable with each passing second. I’m close to losing it. This jumpsuit has to go. I’ve tried, but I just can’t do it. I won’t anymore.
Stepping away from the Yamaha I’ve been working on, I fight for air and begin stripping the hot fabric from my body as if it’s on fire.
I feel two sets of eyes burn into me as soon as the ugly brown suit hits the floor. I kick it out of the way with a relieved breath.
I’ve been working here at Brooks’ Garage for three years now. It’s my family’s business, and as one could guess, I’m the only female mechanic in a shop full of dirty, sweaty men.
Eyes wander my way eighty percent of the time, which is exactly why my father is continuously asking me to keep that heat-stroke-waiting-to-happen uniform on to keep them focused on their duties. He claims that me not wearing it slows them down and things don’t get done to the best of their abilities.
Seeing Talon and Mitch both staring extra hard at me now that I’m down to my jeans and old tank top, I can’t argue that.
“Stop staring at my ass.” I call them both out without even bothering to look. “It’s because of you perverts I’m stuck wearing that hideous thing to begin with.”
“I agree.” Reese’s voice comes from behind me, making me jump, scaring me a little. “It’s one hundred percent our faults and not yours at all for wearing something that fits you so… good.” He steps to my side to watch me work, looking a bit flustered. “I definitely agree with your father’s order to keep the jumpsuit on, Dakota. Maybe you should listen.”
I look up at Reese’s red face as he waits to see what crazy crap will come out of my mouth today.
Those dimples need to stop being so cute. They almost make me want to break my rules of no dating my father’s mechanics. Normally, a guy like Reese—short, blond hair, perfectly shaven face, well dressed—would be too clean cut and pretty for my taste, but covered in grease and looking rough and dirty, he’s pretty cute; even I have to admit.
“I’m mad at you too then. I hate that thing so you guys will just have to learn to stop staring.” I stop what I’m doing and look up at him watching me. “You just came from the office. The old man still here? It’s late.”
“Yeah. Asked me to tell you to stop by before you leave.” His blue eyes look me over with admiration, but as usual, he doesn’t say anything to give away what he’s thinking. “I think you’re in trouble, again. That’s what… the third time this week?”
“Possibly.” I toss the torque wrench into the toolbox and stand up, cleaning my hands off on my ripped-up jeans. “How much trouble?” I question with a small smile.
“Can’t tell this time.” His focus lowers to my breasts when I turn back around to face him. He’s quick to pull his gaze away, afraid of me catching him. “Might want to put your jumpsuit back on, though, Dakota. Like you said… we can’t control our staring. I’m not trying to get into trouble like the others.”
Stepping up to him, I grab the back of his head and pull it down so I can whisper in his ear. He always gets nervous when we’re this close, afraid of pissing my father off. It’s kind of cute and fun. “That’s a shame. I like them bad, Reese. You should try to break the rules once in a while. You might like it.”
“Dakota!” My father’s tired voice booms over the speaker, causing Reese to jerk away from me and put some space between us. “I need you in my office.”
My stomach drops from the tone in his voice. He’s in one of his moods.
“You should really stop being such a rebel, Dakota.” Talon laughs from his spot in front of his Yamaha R1 he’s been working on all day, before bringing his attention over to Reese. “And you really need to grow a fucking pair. You jumped away from her as if your dick was on fire the second you heard Kevin’s voice.”
“Fuck off,” Reese mumbles, while walking away. “It’s been a long day. I don’t want to listen to your crap.”
Leaving the boys to work out their bickering, I exit the room and make a right down the hallway, toward my father’s office.
The second I step inside, he looks up from a stack of invoices and gives me a stern look. “Dammit, Dakota. Is that why my guys are working slow? Where’s the new jumpsuit I ordered you? I’m not paying them to stand around and stare at my daughter all day.”
“I was about to die from a heatstroke, so I took it off. Besides, I’m done for the day. It’s ten past seven.” I shut the door and sit down in the chair across from him, reaching under the desk for my leather boots. “Is that why you called me in here? Or does it have to do with that fancy stack of invoices you’re throwing around?” I ask while changing into them.
He tosses one in front of me and releases a frustrated breath. I just hope he makes this short, because I’m already running late to watch the race. “You gave a twenty percent discount on a two-grand job without asking me first. This is a business. We don’t just hand out discounts to our friends. I thought we’ve been over this. It has to stop, Dakota.”
“It wasn’t a friend,” I point out, prepared to defend my actions. “It was Ms. Rogers. She came in to fix up her late husband’s bike to give to her son Zeke. It needed a lot more work than I originally told her, and she barely had the money to pay it.”
My chest tightens just thinking about Ms. Rogers’ face when she thought she wouldn’t be able to afford the bill. That bike meant a lot to her, and I could feel it with every word that left her mouth that day. She was close to breaking down. “I wasn’t about to let her spend money she couldn’t afford to spare, and there was no way I was keeping the bike as collateral until she paid. I’ll pay the twenty percent out of my own pocket. I made the decision, so it’s on me.”
My father’s blue eyes soften, and I can tell right away he’s thinking about Quinn and how he did everything in his power to honor her after she died. It’s been three years since we lost my sister, but not a day goes by we don’t all miss her. Losing someone you love is never easy. There’s an ache in my chest—this void—that will never go away.
“No. I’m not going to make you pay for it out of pocket.” He tosses the receipts into a drawer and then runs his hands through his blond hair. I can tell he’s torn on how to handle me now. “Next time just tell me, please. That’s all I ask.” He looks up at me, his jaw tight. “I hate being so hard on you, but you haven’t followed the rules since you were a little girl in pigtails. I need to know you’re not just throwing money away. The business depends on it.”
“I’m not.” I stand up and reach for my leather jacket, ready to get out of this stuffy office and unwind. “Sorry I didn’t tell you. I did what I thought was right at the time. Then I got busy and forgot.”
“You may put up the biggest wall out of all my children, but I know your heart, Dakota. It’s in the right place.” He nods his head and stands up, reaching for the keys to his Chopper. “I need to hurry home. Your mother has dinner waiting and you know she’ll have my ass if it gets cold. You sure you don’t want to join us? Your brother can’t make it, so it’ll just be your mother and me. We could use the company.”
I shake my head and reach for my phone as it goes off in my back pocket. It’s Hope, as expected, so I send her a quick text to let her know I’m on the way. “Can’t. Busy. Roman will be there too and I’m already running late.”
He tiredly ushers me out of the office and locks it up behind us. “Right. Oh, and I forgot to tell you, I have a new mechanic starting on Monday.” He gives me a pleading look and I know what’s coming next. “Promise me you won’t give him a hard time. I have enough shit to deal with.”
“I’ll think about it,” I respond, while walking in the opposite direction. “Maybe.”
“Dakota,” he scolds.
“Maybe is a good thing from me. You should know this by now.” I smile and turn away, slipping my favorite leather jacket on. “Tell Mom I love her, and I’ll come to dinner one night next week. Cross my heart.”
Dad mumbles something from behind me, but I keep on walking until I’m out the back door, heading toward my motorcycle.
Less than fifteen minutes later, I pull up at Myers’ Speedway and park my bike in the first available spot. The parking lot is already full of cars and bikes as expected. I’m the last person to show up, which sucks for me and my wallet.
While taking my helmet off, I spot Roman leaning against his black GMC Yukon, looking chill and relaxed, as if he’s not in a hurry to get to the bleachers when I know damn well he is. He always is.
He nods his head at me in his cool Roman fashion and flicks his cigarette on the ground, before reaching on his hood for a stack of pizza boxes.
“A little late, baby sis. Looks like you’re the pizza bitch next time.”
I grin and grab the top four boxes from the stack. Apparently, he was late last time, which made him the pizza bitch tonight. “Had a lot of work to do at the garage today. But I’m here and ready to see a race. Please tell me we have some decent riders this time. Is Ben racing?”
“Yup.” My brother is the one grinning now, flashing me his handsome smile as he passes me and begins walking backward. “Looks like Ben will have some competition this time. Sort of a secret weapon. There will be nothing boring about this fucking night. Trust me.”
My heart races with adrenaline as we hurry through the gates and drop the pizza off in section A, before rushing over to section B where everyone is seated, talking about the racers.
“Secret weapon, huh?” I brush past my brother and take a seat in row two. “Who is it? You can’t just say that and not give me a name.”
“You’ll see. All you need to know is he’s good and he’s going to win tonight.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it.”
The five riders are getting some practice rounds in, so I focus my attention on Ben Logan for the next twenty minutes. My brother may be bragging about this secret weapon that’s racing tonight, but it’s been years since I’ve seen anyone as good as Ben Logan.
Hope pops up from behind us and squeezes in between my bother at I. “Excuse me. Make room for me.”
Roman lifts a brow and pats his lap. “You could’ve had the best seat in the house. Maybe next time.” He stands up and starts stepping through people to get up to the fifth row.
Hope’s eyes follow him all the way up, until he takes a seat with his group of friends and winks down at her.
I’ve been friends with Hope since we were ten. Even though Roman won’t admit it, I know he has a thing for her. His occasional flirting gives him away. But he believes that dating each other’s friends complicates things.
Not sure I disagree. Therefore, I stay away from his friends. Not that any of them interest me.
Not anymore, anyway.
I can’t say the same about my friends wanting to stay away from my brother. Every girl wants Roman Brooks. I’ve yet to meet a girl who doesn’t.
“Would it be wrong for me to tell you how your brother looks completely hot in those worn-out jeans?” Hope bumps my arm and laughs when I roll my eyes in disapproval. “Sorry, but it’s true. He has the perfect ass, and he’s just so, I don’t know…” She shrugs. “Cool. Without even trying.”
Hope’s family owns the racetrack, so we’ve gotten away with holding races after hours here for amateur drivers looking to have a little fun in between the professional races. They used to get on us about them and even break them up, but they eventually gave up and learned to trust us.
It’s an excuse for us to get together and watch each other get dirty and roughed up. No professionals. Just young, wild, adrenaline junkies looking for a good time.
I find racing to be so damn hot.
Sexy, mysterious men speeding past me on powerful bikes, risking their safety for the rush. Regardless of what’s under the helmet, I always imagine they’re sexy when they’re racing.
Truthfully, only a small group of them live up to my imagination once the helmets come off.
Still… it’s exciting. There’s no denying that.
“Who are you going for?” Roman asks from behind me now. I swear, he’s all over the place at these races. He can’t sit still for longer than two minutes. It’s as if he has to talk to every single person, and truthfully, every single person wants him to. “I already know but want to check anyway. Just in case you want to change your mind and go for my guy.”
“Who do you think? I’m all up for mystery men, but I have my doubts when it comes to racing against Ben. You and I both know he’s the best.” I stand up and watch the five racers, trying to figure out who this mystery guy is. “Give me a hint. There are two new bikes this month. Which one is your guy?”
“The one on the black Ducati. He’s going to smoke Ben. Your awesome as hell brother is never wrong. You should remember that.”
“I guess we’ll see. He hasn’t lost in over twenty races and I’m betting he won’t tonight. Your guy has nothing on him. Just admit it.”
To be honest, I hadn’t even been paying attention to the guy on the Ducati until now. I watch him carefully as he makes a turn, his knees and elbows almost scraping against the track. He’s smooth in that sexy he knows what he’s doing type of way.
You can see the confidence in the way he rides, and it almost has me reconsidering my pick for the night. Almost.
“Well I’m with you, Dakota. I say Ben has it again.” Hope claps and screams at the top of her lungs. “You got this, Logan!”
People begin cheering and screaming in excitement as the practice rounds end and the riders start lining up, ready for the real thrill.
Since we don’t get any fancy lights to tell us when to go, we have to count on the announcer to kick it off. Which is Stiles Hall with a megaphone and flashlight. He loves that thing way too much and refuses to hand it off to anyone else.
“Are we ready?” he screams. “Hell yeah, we’re ready! Don’t know why my ass even bothers asking. We’ve been waiting two weeks for this night. Fourteen damn days of boring shit and jerking off alone to video games, waiting for a thrill. Well, the wait is over! We’re here tonight…”
My patience begins to wear off as Stiles goes on and on, making everyone in the crowd boo and yell for him to stop running his big mouth.
Make this crowd wait for too long and they’ll start to get hostile. I’ve seen it happen before, but apparently, Stiles hasn’t learned his lesson.
“I’ll be back.” Jumping to my feet, I rush over to Stiles and tackle the megaphone out of his hand before anyone else can.
“Oh, come on!” He throws his tattoo-covered hands up and gives me a crooked smile. “I was just getting started, babe.”
“You’re lucky it was me and not one of the guys. Everyone is about to kill you. I’m doing your ass a favor. You owe me.” I hold the megaphone to my lips and turn it back on, keeping my eyes on the five racers eagerly waiting for the countdown. They’re all looking Stiles’ direction, revving their engines. Probably not a very good sign for him.
I snatch the flashlight from Stiles and push him out of the way with my hip. Holding it up with the light end facing the racers, I begin the countdown. “On your mark, get set, go!” Satisfied, I flash the light and toss Stiles’ toys at him. “You’re welcome.”
The racers take off and an instant rush of excitement courses through me as I hurry back over to my seat, while keeping my eyes on the track.
Hope hits my arm in anticipation as soon as I sit back down beside her. “Did you see the way your brother’s mystery racer took off? Holy shit! Ben might have some competition after all. This is exciting.”
“Yeah,” I whisper, while watching Mr. Mysterious take the lead.
I’m completely intrigued by this man and somewhat turned on. I don’t even know what he looks like, but the confidence exuding from him is completely breathtaking and enthralling.
He’s not dressed in racing leathers like the other four guys. Instead, he’s wearing a black leather jacket and a pair of faded jeans with boots. Getting hurt is the last thing on his mind.
Five laps down and Ben is finally back in the lead again, but it’s neck and neck. Stiles shoves a slice of pizza in front of my face, but I push it out of the way, before walking up to the fence and wrapping my fingers in it.
I’ve never watched a race so hard in my life, and my heart has never beat so fast during one.
The other three racers don’t even exist in the same world as Ben and Roman’s mysterious racer. They’re the only two I see, and I don’t want to miss a second.
The fence rattles beside me, before I hear my brother cheer on his secret weapon. “Fuck yes! You got this! Go!” He shakes the fence and then looks at me with raised brows. “Still going for Ben? I won’t tell anyone if you change your mind.”
I turn my attention back to the track to see Ben is back in second place and isn’t riding as confident as usual.
But like I said, I like to see a grown man sweat. Plus, I don’t want to give my brother the pleasure of going with his guy after he’s been so cocky. “Yeah. I’m sticking with Ben.”
The closer we get to the end of the last lap, the crazier and more spread out the crowd gets, until I can feel bodies enclosing me against the fence.
“Go, Ben!” I scream at the top of my lungs. “Come on!”
My adrenaline is pumping to the point that I can’t stand still. My whole body is pulling me closer to the action. I push my way through the crowd and over to the opening in the fence just in time to see my brother’s guy win the race.
Fifteen laps and he somehow managed to stay in front for at least nine of them. I’m completely impressed, and on the edge to see this man take his helmet off.
My brother is the first one to rush onto the track to congratulate the winner, so I follow behind, taking heavy breaths as the guy on the black Ducati reaches for his helmet and slides it off his head with a confident smirk.
My breath hitches in my throat and it feels like my windpipe is closing on me the second I see who the mystery guy is.
The person that took off and left without so much as a goodbye after my sister died.
He wasn’t only my brother’s best friend. He was the one person he’d trusted since they were eight. Easton was family. To all of us. He was my friend too.
To me, that meant he was supposed to stick around and be there for us in a time of hardship. Not just up and move, leaving his best friend without someone to lean on at his hardest time. I’ll never forget how much that fucked with my brother’s head and made it hard for him to let people in who wanted to be there for him.
My breathing picks up as he moves into the light and climbs off his bike, letting Roman take it from him.
His amber eyes land directly on mine as he slowly takes his jacket off and walks toward me with that confidence he always possesses.
Without meaning to, I take my time checking out his muscled body, as if I somehow have no power over my actions at the moment.
The white thermal shirt he’s wearing shows off his broad shoulders and muscular arms as he runs a hand through his dark messy hair.
He has his sleeves pushed up past his elbows, displaying his armful of tattoos he didn’t have when he left, which I can’t help but notice.
Breathing heavily, my gaze slowly moves up to his full lips, focusing on the black ring as he speaks.
|Easton Considering the fact I took off almost three years ago without so much as a goodbye, the look of anger and confusion on Dakota’s face doesn’t surprise me one bit.|
She’s looking at me as if she wants to rip my beating heart out with her bare hands… as if my very presence both pains and angers her.
Would it be wrong to admit that seeing so much emotion and hatred from her makes her completely fucking beautiful in this moment?
Her lips purse as her gaze meets mine again. Those intense gray eyes burn into my soul, scorching me as she speaks. “Really? It’s been three years, Easton. Three damn years since we lost Quinn and you took off without even saying goodbye. Hi doesn’t even begin to make up for it. You should’ve just stayed gone.”
Guilt washes over me as Dakota pushes past me with force and disappears through the crowd without even giving me a chance to speak.
My eyes fight to keep sight of her, but it’s no use. Everyone around me are cheering and congratulating me, excited to see me after so long, making it impossible.
Yet, the rush and excitement of winning doesn’t come close to the adrenaline I feel coursing through my veins right now. The feeling I have in this very moment after not seeing her for so long will haunt me forever, reminding me why I left to begin with.
Dakota may find it hard to believe, but I had my reasons for leaving when and how I did. Even if it did pain me. And it did. More than I could ever put into words.
Her older brother Roman was my closest friend. One of the only people I could fully trust other than Dakota. Taking off was one of the hardest things I’d ever done.
Roman pulls up beside me and jumps off my bike, distracting me from my thoughts. “Shit. I can’t believe you’re back. Happy to have you, brother.” He admires my Ducati, completely unaware that my head is somewhere else right now. “This bike is sick. Ben didn’t stand a chance tonight.”
“Happy to be back, man. You have no idea.” I pound his fist, before turning back to the crowd in just enough time to see Dakota rush over to a Harley and straddle it.
With a clenched jaw, I walk toward the fence and watch her take off as if she can’t get out of here fast enough. I can’t help but think that maybe her hating me is the best thing for us both right now.
Exhaling through my nose, I turn around to the sound of Hope Myers’ voice and do my best to pretend I’m not affected by Dakota’s disappearing act.
“Wow! I can’t believe you’re back. It’s been so long. It’s so good to see you.” She roughly throws her arms around me and squeezes. “You just smoked Ben’s ass out there. I don’t remember you being able to ride like that before you left. I’m impressed, Crews.”
“It’s good to see you too, Hope.” I smile down at her when she pulls away from our hug. “Yeah, I’ve had a lot of frustration to release over the years. You know I’ve always loved racing.”
Sadness washes over Hope’s face as she grabs my hand. I know what’s on her mind and I don’t want to hear it. “I’m sorry about…”
“Please stop.” I release her hand and look up, inhaling a deep breath, before slowly releasing it. “Let’s not bring it up. Not now.”
“Right. Sorry.” She gives me an apologetic smile and begins walking backward to catch up with a few people that called out for her. “See you at the pub for a few drinks?”
I give her a nod.
“Great!” She turns on her heels and pushes through the crowd, looking around as if she just now discovered Dakota is gone.
Apparently, I’m the only one that noticed when she left, because Roman is looking a little confused himself now as he follows me out toward the parking lot.
“Where’s my sister?”
I look toward the road, watching as other cars and bikes begin pulling out. I know where they’re all headed, and I can’t help but to wonder if Dakota will be there as well.
Roman slaps my back and shoves my helmet into my chest, catching me off guard. “She must be at the pub already. Let’s hurry and get there. Mae is holding down the place by herself right now. I gotta beat the crowd or it’s going to be ugly.”
Nodding, I reach for my bike. “I’ll meet you there in a few.”
“All right, man.”
What the fuck am I doing here?
I stand still, looking around as my old friends hop into their vehicles, everyone eager to get to the next spot of the night and be together.
This was the life.
I left it all behind, and now here I am, trying to trick my mind into believing I haven’t missed out on so much by leaving when I know that I have.
After taking a few deep breaths, I slide my helmet on and straddle my bike, mentally preparing myself for what may come of the night.
My nerves calm the instant the cool air hits me as I speed down the street, passing up vehicles and weaving through them. I’ve always been one to seek out a rush. A little danger gets my blood pumping. Nothing seems to calm me more.
Within minutes I’m pulling up at The Sit-Down Pub. As expected, the parking lot is full, and I have to find two vehicles to squeeze my bike between.
As I’m getting off and hanging my helmet, I feel a hand grip my shoulder and squeeze.
I turn around to see Ben Logan grinning at me. He’s giving off the impression he’s happy to see me, but his narrowed brown eyes give him away. He doesn’t want me back here. He’s always seen me as his competition and an obstacle in his way. “I really should hate your ass right now, but damn, it’s good to see you, Crews. It’s been too long.”
He reaches his hand out for me to shake, so I take it and match his glare. “Sorry, man. I know the track has been yours since I left. I almost took it easy on your ass, but didn’t feel like being the good guy for a change.”
He lets out a humorless laugh and takes one last drag from his cigarette before tossing it at a car like an ass. “No one ever does. Shit. Come inside so I can buy you a drink. Loser buys. Rules haven’t changed,” he adds.
He’s still wearing his two-piece racing leathers, but slips the red and white jacket off and drapes it over one shoulder, before pulling the door to the pub open.
Word on the street is that Ben Logan hasn’t lost his last twenty races. I’m sure me showing up after so long and beating him has only given him more reason to keep his eye on me. I just hope the dick enjoys what he sees.
The noise as we enter the pub brings me back home, reminding me of what nights like this used to feel like.
People talking over each other, passing around shots, and still talking about shit that happened weeks before.
It’s that small town love you miss once you’re gone.
My eyes instantly land on the six tables pushed together in the middle of the room.
Stiles waves us over and slaps the chair at the head of the table. “Easton fucking Crews!” He slaps it again. “This seat is for you, buddy. The winner’s fucking chair. Seat of the champion. The top dog…”
“All right, we get it, Stiles.” His sister Blake slaps the back of his head and smiles. “Come on. Shots are ready. No one drinks until the winner does. That means you should probably hurry up and get your gorgeous butt over here, Easton.”
I catch Ben’s jaw clench from the corner of my eye as I walk toward the winner’s chair, while he takes a seat at a random one at the table. It’s something he’s not used to and it’s easy to see he’s pissed.
Picking up one of the shots, I hold it up and look around the table. All eyes are on me, waiting impatiently for me to give them the go. “Cheers.”
Everyone clinks glasses together, Roman sliding across the bar-top and jumping over to join in at the last second.
Tossing back my victory whiskey, I can’t help but to notice Dakota isn’t amongst the group at the table. Talk about feeling like an asshole. There’s no denying I’m the reason for her absence, and that is a shitty feeling.
I set the empty glass down and look up from the table, releasing a deep breath. Blake’s green eyes catch mine, before she stands from her chair and walks over to squeeze in between Roman and I. “You’re looking great, Easton.” She checks me out, making it very aware she’s into what’s under these jeans. “Glad to have you back. I missed you.”
I pull my eyes away from hers and look toward the door, showing my disinterest. The last thing I want to do is make it seem like she has a chance. Blake’s had her eye on me for as long as I can remember. Even when she was with Roman. That’s not my style.
Roman begins piling the empty shot glasses in his hand, holding them out so he can whisper in her ear. “Yeah, he still doesn’t want you, babe.”
“Screw off, Roman. No one asked you.” She gives Roman’s shoulder a shove, before storming over to the other side of the table where Ben is seated.
He instantly scoots his chair out and pulls her into his lap. It’s always been like Ben to take what he can get. He’s not looking for more than a quick fuck and most of the girls don’t seem to care. I doubt that will change anytime soon. Although from the way he’s looking around the room in search of someone it’s easy to guess it’s not Blake he wants in his lap tonight.
I clench my jaw at the idea of him still being into Dakota. Makes me wonder if she’s given him the time of day yet. Just the thought of them together makes me want to choke his smug ass.
I hear Stiles talking in my ear now as he scoots my way, but my attention is focused at the bar, where Dakota has just walked in and snatched up a bottle of vodka. She doesn’t bother looking this way as she pours two shots and then a third, lining them up.
Mae notices, and jumps to snatch the bottle back before Roman can see. He’d flip his shit, and if I see her do it again, I will too. But unlike Roman, she’ll probably kick my ass for it.
Mae says something I can’t make out and then goes on to make Dakota a mixed drink, emptying two of the three shots into the glass.
“Where are you staying, man? I have plenty of room if you need to crash.” Stiles grabs my shoulder to get my attention.
Of course, it has to be right when Dakota finally looks my way, so I speak, without giving him my full attention. “With a friend a few minutes outside of town.”
Doesn’t matter, though, because Dakota pulls her eyes away the second they meet mine. Apparently, she can’t even stand to look at me. That fucking stings.
“Here’s that shot I owe you. Enjoy, Crews.”
Clenching my jaw, I grab the shot that Ben slides my way and watch as Dakota grabs her drink and walks over to pick a song on the jukebox.
I toss the shot back and lean back in my chair, observing as Dakota tilts her head back to the sound of Fade by Staind. Her long, dark hair almost reaches past her ass, swaying as she moves her head back and forth, and then takes a sip of her drink.
Listening to the lyrics, I swallow back the pain and close my eyes, taking in her message. I know her well enough to know it’s meant for me.
I get it. She was in a dark place and I wasn’t there when she needed me. My being back in town is only bringing up the memories of me leaving. It’s enough to make me pissed at myself for leaving that night.
My eyes open to the sound of someone calling my name, before everyone starts yelling for another round of shots and talking to me all at once.
Even though I’m not in the mood for celebrating, or chatting with my old friends, I accept another shot and tilt it back, along with everyone else at the table.
I get pulled away after that, tons of questions getting thrown my way, causing me to lose sight of Dakota.
A while goes by before I see her again. She’s in the back corner with Hope, Stiles, and Reese, playing pool.
I stop talking to Mae and grab Roman’s shoulder as he walks past me. “That Reese guy seems to be getting real fucking cozy with your little sister. Are they dating?”
Roman lifts a brow and looks toward the back, laughing as Dakota bends over the pool table. Reese is checking her out, but his looks are flighty, as if he’s scared to get caught. “Dude is afraid to make a move on her. She’s not interested in pretty boys like him. You know how my sister is.”
I used to…
Still, it bugs me to see the way he’s looking at her. His eyes have barely left her ass since she bent over to focus on her shot.
Not giving a shit what Dakota might do to me, I walk over to the pool table and lean against it with my arms crossed. My narrowed eyes meet Reese’s.
“Hey, man,” he says, uncertain. “Congrats on winning tonight.”
“Thanks,” I say stiffly. “It felt good to be on the track again.”
Dakota looks up from concentrating on her shot. She’s been taking an awful long time to figure this out, which tells me she’s had too much to drink already. “Look who’s still here. Coming to say goodbye this time? Well, goodbye. You can leave now.”
“I’m not leaving yet.” I hold her gaze. “So, hate me all you want.”
She growls and tosses her cue stick down on the table, before reaching for the jacket I gave her on her eighteenth birthday and slipping it on. “Then I’ll leave. Being in the same room with you sucks.”
Pushing past me, she takes off through the crowd, shoving the door open.
I look over to see Roman is too busy to notice, so I rush after her, giving the door a hard shove on the way out.
She stops and turns around when she hears my boots crunching in the gravel behind her. The cold look in her eyes is almost enough to freeze my damn heart. “Don’t you dare follow me, Easton. Turn back around and go inside.” With pained eyes, she points at the building and screams. “GO!”
After yelling at me, she immediately turns back around and starts walking again to get away from me.
Ignoring her demand, I stalk toward her, wrapping my arm around her waist right as she attempts to straddle her motorcycle.
“You’re not driving home,” I say, while squeezing her waist and pulling her against me. “I get that you want fast right now. That you need a rush to clear your head. Trust me, I know you. I’m the one that got you addicted, but you’ve had too much to drink.”
“You don’t need to worry about what I do,” she growls out in anger, before elbowing me in the stomach in an effort to get away. “Dammit! Let me go. I need to leave. I can’t be here.”
She’s still trying to fight me, so I carefully lower her to the gravel and trap her under my body, pinning one of her legs underneath mine. “Give me your keys,” I growl, an inch away from her lips. “Don’t make me force them out of your hand. I can pin you under my body all night if I fucking have to, Kota.”
“Yeah, I don’t think my brother would like that much.” She attempts to buck me off with her hips, but it does nothing.
I smirk down at her and push my hips closer against her body. “Fight me all you want. I’ll win.”
“Fuck you, Easton!” Breathing heavily, she lays still and fights to control her breathing from below me. After a few seconds, her eyes meet mine, and she grins. “Fetch.” She tosses her keys across the parking lot and then pushes my chest, speaking against my lips. “Now. Get. Off.”
I release a hard breath and take a moment to analyze her face. It feels like forever since I’ve seen it.
Her big, gray eyes are framed by long lashes and her dainty, freckled nose is now pierced and flaring out in anger.
Catching me off guard, she pushes her way out from under me and closes her eyes as she runs her hands over her face and lays back. “Just leave me be. I don’t want to be anywhere near you. I’ll have Hope take me home.”
“You really mean that?” I question with a tight jaw. “You still hate me after three damn years?”
“How can I not?” she bites out, before jumping to her feet, ignoring my hand as I reach it out to help her. “You tore my heart out. Now get out of my way.”
I bite my lip, holding in my anger as she pushes past me and disappears inside.
I’m still standing out here with my hands in my hair when she walks back out a few minutes later following Hope to her old, beat-up truck.
My heart pounds relentlessly as I watch them hop inside and drive away.
You tore my heart out.
Those five words hurt like hell. She’s always been good at making me feel.
Growling out in frustration, I search for her keys and slip them into my pocket, before walking back inside, grabbing my jacket, and then walking back out.
Luckily, no one noticed or else I’d have people on my ass, trying to get me to stay. I can’t be here right now. I need to be alone, so I can drown out the noise in my head.
I walk for a good thirty minutes, fighting my thoughts, before I make it to the hotel I showed up at a week ago.
As soon as I get inside, I reach into my bag, pop a few pills, and swallow them back with a swig of whiskey.
The first swig is followed by a few more, then a whole lot more, until finally, I can’t think anymore in the darkness of this nearly empty room.
Everything finally turns to black.