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“Yeah and not everyone goes out and parties while the man they love is in a coma for three days.”

“Please stop talking about her, else I won’t be able to stop myself from committing a crime of passion the next time I see April,” she said, her tone light and teasing. On the inside, her thoughts were anything but light or teasing. More like dark and murderous.

“You know if he wasn’t such a great guy, I’d probably hate him.” Jake reset his stopwatch on his phone.

“Why?”

“Because it’s effortless with him. He’s a natural, only he doesn’t give a shit like the rest of us—pardon my language, ma’am.” Jake tapped his screen and whistled as Carter zoomed past. “Just shaved a half second off, the bastard.”

“I hate to disagree but I think Carter gives a shit”—She grinned.—“about racing.”

“Nah, he only hates not being first. Racing cars is an outlet for him. It’s all about the thrill, the sport…not the glory or the money. All that is icing on the cake.”

“So he’s really okay with giving all this up?” Jake fiddled with the brim of his baseball cap. “Not everything. He can still be involved without being out there, and he’s got the business sense to do it.”

A sense of foreboding washed over her, but she shook it off as Carter came roaring into the Pit. He climbed out of the car, pulling off his helmet and tossing it at Jake. His hair was plastered to his forehead. He unzipped his suit, exposing the form-fitting t-shirt underneath that defined his muscular chest.

“What did you think?”

“I think it’s a damn good thing you’ve retired.” Jake bumped Carter’s fist with his own. “Else I’d be eating your exhaust.”

“Admit it: You love the taste of my exhaust,” Carter said and Jake punched him in the shoulder.

“On that note, I’m getting the heck out of dodge. Going to see a woman about a woman.”

“Later, bro.”

Melanie smiled over their exchanged. Carter crooked a finger at her. “Get over here and stroke my ego.”

Oh, she’d like to stroke more than his ego, she thought as she ran to him. “That was amazing! You were amazing and I couldn’t stop cheering for you, once I picked my heart off the asphalt.”

Trying to hold her at arm’s length, he said, “I’m all dirty and sweaty.”

“Don’t care.” Wrapping her arms around his neck, she hugged him tight. “You looked good out there.”

“Not as good as you did running to me.” He let her go slowly, his eyes dropping to her br**sts. “Everyone else enjoyed the show, too.” Fingering her necklace, he smiled. “This looks good on you, too.”

Stepping back, she tucked her hands into the pockets of her jeans and toed a boot on the asphalt. “I slept in it last night.”

He raised his brows, his fingers dipping lower and making her shiver. “That so? Well, how about you wear that necklace to my house and I’ll cook you dinner?”

“You cook?”

“You can’t live with Leah and Lawton Ambrose for eighteen years and not learn how. It’s a requirement for the boys and the girls. Chaps my ass that Heath’s better than me. Boy can make some mean strawberry and cream crepes.”

Laughing she laced her fingers with his, walking off the Speedway with him. “What about the rest? Wait, I already know. Luke lectures on safety while Logan is the bottomless pit. Evangeline sits back and takes notes and Zoe bosses everyone around.”

“I’d be impressed with that, except for the fact that you practically lived at my house since you were eight.”

“Please, you can know a person for years and not really know about them or their family.”

He got a faraway look in his eyes. “Ain’t that the damn truth.”

Chapter Fourteen

Carter’s house was nothing like she imagined, mostly because she’d only seen homes like it on MTV Cribs and Southern Living magazine. The foyer had a ceiling that had to be as tall as the house. Her stilettos clicked with every step she took on the white marble floor.

“Nice shoes.”

“Thanks. I wore the necklace, too.” And her shortest skirt. The pushup bra seemed to be doing its job as well. Pinning her shoulders, she smiled.

Carter ran his eyes over her, green turning dark with desire. He cleared his throat and motioned for her to follow him. “Dinner’s ready.”

“Sure it’s big enough for the two of us?” The dining room was bigger than her entire house and could seat at least fifty people. Okay, so maybe she was exaggerating but the room was ginormous.

“We can eat in the kitchen, if you want.”

Letting out a thick sigh, she pretended to consider his offer. “Nah, I’ll suck it up and eat in here.”

“I appreciate your sacrifice,” he said with a wry smile. He held out her seat, waiting for her to sit before he wiggled the chair up to the table.

Her plate was already fixed, with a juicy steak, steaming baked potato and a fresh salad. “Dessert’s in the kitchen, so eat all your veggies, Miss Smith.”

Rolling her eyes, she picked up her glass of red wine and took a small sip. “Yes, sir, Mr. Ambrose.”

Waving a fork at her, he made a sound of mock disapproval. “Don’t make me punish you for having a sassy mouth.”

“How would you go about that?” She put on her best angel face to hide how wicked she wanted to be with him.

“I’d put it to work singing my praises.”

“Boring,” she said with a pout. “I bet you could think of something else for my mouth to do.”

His eyes dropped to her lips and she could practically see the lust written in them. “How’s the steak?”

She almost dropped her fork. The steak?! “Fine.” She stabbed a piece and chomped down on it. Chewing the delicious meat, she stared at everything in the room, but him.

Trying to make small talk was too much to ask of her, mostly because she was too ticked off and—once again—too embarrassed by her shameless mouth.

Eating the last bite of salad, she pushed back her chair and stood. “Thanks for dinner. I’ll help clear the table.”

“Wait.” Carter’s arm shot out, grabbing her by the wrist. “I have something that needs saying.”

Yeah, well she didn’t want to hear some speech, re-emphasizing how they needed to take things slow. Or at all. “My steak was great, the meal was great. Everything was so great that I’m too full to eat dessert,” she said, smoothing her skirt down. “You don’t have to drive me back to the hotel. I’ll text the driver I used last night. He was great.” If she said great one more time, she would stab herself in the hand with her own fork as punishment.

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