Love ignites…behind the wheel.
From burning up the pavement to burning up the sheets, Noah Langley knows the kind of reputation he has. When a freak accident leaves him seeking anonymity, he finds himself licking his wounds and pride in Carson, North Carolina. Unfortunately, his case of bad luck has just begun.
Working as a mechanic is in Tate Mitchell’s blood, even though her dream has her spending her free time pushing her limits around the track. A rush job for a tourist has her coming face to face with her teenage crush and the man that ruined her life, Noah Langley.
But, it’s not until their lives are threatened that Noah and Tate have to face the reality that falling in love may be just the start of the race.
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Knowing that she needed to call Noah, Tate walked sullenly to her office and closed the door. She knew the call and meeting were going to be awkward considering the way she had stormed away, but it wasn’t her fault that she had a temper that fired up with the slightest flicker. She had inherited that trait from her father, though Tate had never seen her parents argue. But she had witnessed her father go off on one too many employees.
Logging onto the computer, Tate pulled up Noah’s file and stared at the cell phone number listed. If she was a vindictive woman, she could easily give that number out to all of the celebrity gossip sites. The women would have a field day with that information. But she needed to be professional. After all, this was a job, and she needed to act like the businesswoman that her uncle had trained her to be.
Scrolling through her part’s dealer site, Tate made a list of costs and then tallied up expected hours of labor. She was happy with the cost, but she knew it would be pocket change to Noah.
Taking a deep breath, Tate dialed the number on Noah’s record then not-so-gently placed her head on the desk as the phone rang. The three rings took an agonizingly long time until Tate almost considered hanging up, but as the voicemail clicked over, she decided that she could leave a proficient message.
“Mr. Langley, this is Tate Mitchell with Tate’s Auto body. I was calling to discuss your vehicle. If you could return our call at your earliest convenience, it would be much appreciated. You can call us back at 555-9073 and ask for Tate. Thank you.”
She thought she’d feel a sense of peace and relief having got the call out of the way, but instead, she felt. . .anxious. Even though Noah pushed every one of her buttons, she knew that he wasn’t the only reason that she lashed out at him. There were years of anger simmering below the surface and every time he egged her on, that anger would explode like a small volcano. Tate worried about what it would take for a full-fledged eruption that would shake her to her core.
Not sure what to expect, Tate hung around her office for another five minutes to see if he would call back immediately. She was one of those people that screened her calls and assumed most people did the same. But when no calls came through after five minutes, Tate went back out to the shop to finish up a few of the jobs they had before the weekend.
Right before they were scheduled to close up the shop, Tate was called to tow a car that had been in a head-on collision about thirty minutes from town. She left Beau and Hugh to close things down and went to pick up the vehicle.
By the time she returned to the garage, the sun was setting over the mountain range. It was Beau’s weekend to handle the shop, something each of them rotated, and she had been looking forward to getting in some laps this evening, but she knew she could always put it off until the following day.
Backing the truck into the lot, Tate lowered the vehicle off the flat bed, wincing as the truck emitted a loud beeping sound. The car she had picked up had a crushed front end, but it was drivable enough that Tate could move it into one of the open bays so that she could do a value assessment.
She wanted nothing more than to head home and relax in the claw foot tub that came with the cabin, but instead, she was going to spend the next couple of hours assessing the car’s damages.
It was a hot and humid night in the garage, so Tate opted to keep the bays open and run the fans. She wished that she had the funds to fix the AC, but it was either call the repair man or pay Hugh. And paying her friend was a top priority. She was lucky that neither employee complained about the heat.
Finding the radio stored in the corner of the room, she turned it on and found a local rock station to blare through the speakers. At least the stereo could drown out the sound of her growling stomach.
Tate had just popped the hood to the car when she heard a throat clear from behind her. Not sure what to expect, she spun around with a wrench clenched tightly in her fist only to face Noah.
“What do you want?” she growled. Tate wasn’t even sure why she was immediately angry at the sight of him. Maybe it was from their argument earlier, or it could be from her memories surging forward.
“Sorry. I had a message to call you to speak about my car and I figured I would see if you were still down here before I waited until the morning.”
“I made that call like four hours ago.”
“Yeah, sorry. I was at the hospital to meet baby Bella before they were sent home.”
She almost felt bad knowing he wasn’t off somewhere doing the playboy things he was notorious for, but he was visiting his friend’s family.
They stared at each other and Tate felt a spark of electricity detonating between them. She could almost see each flicker and glow of the current. It was indescribable and also terrifying.
“My car?” he asked and Tate gawked at him in confusion until it finally registered that he wasn’t here for her; he was here for his car.
“Yes. So, we had spoken about the power steering rack and hydraulic leak.”
“I recall,” he said and Tate continued.
“Well, I took it apart to investigate further so I could determine what parts to replace. From what I could tell, the seal in the hydraulic pump is missing.”
“Missing?” he said in confusion.
“Yeah, missing. When was the last time you had it checked over for maintenance?”
“I got a once over from our team mechanic a month ago.”
“Is there a reason he would try to remove the seal for any reason?”
Noah took a menacing step toward her, and for the first time, she actually feared being alone with him.
“Noah,” she said, holding up her hands to keep him at bay.
“Tell me, Tate. Are you accusing my team mechanic. . .the man that has been like another father figure to me, the man that taught me how to drift a car, the man that gave me the actual birds and bees talk. . .of deliberately removing the seal on the hydraulic pump to. . .what? Damage my car?”
“No, I wasn’t implying-” Tate tried to explain, but Noah stepped closer, moving into her personal space and damn if she didn’t take a deep breath, the smell of his cologne soothing her nerves. She should have been scared, but she was the opposite; she felt alive.
Tate reached out and placed her hand against his chest. Wrong move as the heat from his skin sifted through his Henley shirt onto her palm.
“Noah, I wasn’t-” Before she could utter another word, she found the hand placed on his chest cradled in his hand and pinned behind her back. He trapped her against him with his strength as his free hand reached up to cup her chin. Tate wasn’t sure what was going on, but she was powerless to push him away. “What are you. . .” she whispered before his lips captured hers.
Tate had been kissed before, but nothing like this. Noah was demanding, persistent, and all-consuming with the way his mouth melded against her. His tongue begged for entrance and her lips parted to allow his exploration. The brush of his tongue against hers felt like a wicked dance. She had never felt desire like she did at that moment.
His lips began a path of their own, leaving small nips and licks as Noah made his way down her throat. She whispered his name as her head tilted backward, eyes pinched closed. The grip he kept on her hand tightened as her free hand slipped around his waist and under the hem of his shirt, seeking the warmth of his skin.
“Noah,” she whimpered. Tate needed more from him. Her body felt as if it were on fire and she knew there was only one way to extinguish the flame. “I need you.”
He pulled his head back, gaze heated and filled with lust as he stared down at her.
“Be ready. Because once you drop that checkered flag, Tate, you’re mine. Do you understand?”
She had no words, completely enveloped in her yearning for more; Tate nodded her head in agreement.
Releasing the hold he kept on her hand behind her back, Noah skimmed his fingers up her arm until he cradled the back of her neck. With a forceful tug, he pulled her face closer to his until their noses were almost touching. A slip of paper was all that would fit between the space.
“Say it. I need to hear the words.”
Her tongue peeked out between her lips to wet the dry cushions before replying. “Take me. I’m yours.”
Renee Harless is a romance writer with an affinity for wine and a passion for telling a good story.
Renee Harless, her husband, and children live in Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She studied Communication, specifically Public Relations, at Radford University.
Growing up, Renee always found a way to pursue her creativity. It began by watching endless runs of White Christmas- yes even in the summer – and learning every word and dance from the movie. She could still sing “Sister Sister” if requested. In high school she joined the show choir and a community theatre group, The Troubadours. After marrying the man of her dreams and moving from her hometown she sought out a different artistic outlet – writing.
To say that Renee is a romance addict would be an understatement. When she isn’t chasing her toddler or preschooler around the house, working her day job, or writing, she jumps head first into a romance novel.
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