Startin’ With Me by Wendi Zwaduk

“You’ve won.” The reporter, a slender ebony haired woman, nestled close to Tucker. Her voice dropped to a purr. “What are you going to do now?”

“Catch my breath and my girl.” Tucker Poston nudged the woman out of the way and searched the crowd. She wasn’t there. Megan. His woman. He elbowed his car chief, Farin. “Where’s Meg?”

“Left twenty minutes ago, Track Champion,” Farin growled. “Maybe if you’d told her the truth, she’d still be here cheering for you.”

“Stall.” Tucker waved to the throng of camera people. Farin was right. Tucker had screwed up. Megan was the one woman he couldn’t forget and dammit, he wasn’t going to let her slip away. “I gotta catch her and set things right.”

“Try the hauler. She said something about getting out of the way.”

“You’re a good man.” Tucker slapped his friend on the shoulder. “Goodnight folks!” He nodded and ran from the podium. As he pushed through the swarm of people, his pulse sped. Dammit. His relationship with Megan meant way too much to screw up and yet he did every damned time. First the kiss with the trophy queen. Then dumping Megan to date said trophy queen. And yet, Megan remained his closest friend.

When he reached the pits, a single bulb in the hauler bathed the prone race car in a warm yellow glow. His breath clogged in his throat and he took off his hat to run his fingers through his hair. “Meg? Honey, are you here?”

Replacing his hat, he paced the length of the hauler door. “Dammit.”

“I’m up here.”

He jerked to a stop and looked in the direction of her voice. Megan stood, illuminated in the moonlight, atop the hauler. Dark curls tumbled around her face. The denim hugged every curve of her hips and legs like a second skin. The sweatshirt hid the gentle swell of her breasts, but he sure as hell knew. He knew her body as if it were his own and he couldn’t help but smile. He’d seen her standing there plenty of times during the races, but this time she just looked right—destined to be there.

A twinge of sadness streaked through him. She never quite gave up on him, even when she had no reason to care. “Can I explain?”

Megan sighed and sat on the edge of the car transporter. “Sure. Explain away.” She kicked her legs in time to a tune only she could hear. If he reached up, he could touch her and reassure himself he could smooth things out with her.

“Will you come down here? I don’t want to shout.”

She shrugged and stood. For a split second his heart stopped. Would she jump? When she turned on her heel, his heart started beating again. A moment later, Megan appeared in the main garage doorway and folded her arms. “Talk.”

Tucker took a deep breath and let it out slowly. All the words he’d practiced through the race evaporated. He blew the breath out and leaned on the hauler door frame. “I deserve your anger. Every bit of it. I never should’ve been with Kelsey. It was a disaster waiting to happen.”

“She’s pretty and nuts about you.” Megan chewed the corner of her mouth. Her voice remained flat. “I’m not upset.”

“You should be pissed with me. She wanted to ‘be seen with the winner’ so she could milk the spotlight and break into acting. Honey, that’s not what I’m about and I can’t go on like this.”

“Oh really? You’ve managed so far.” This time her words caught. She looked away and picked at the cuff of her sweatshirt. A late September breeze fluffed her hair from her shoulders. If he stepped forward, he could press kisses to her pulse points and wrap her in his embrace.

Tucker inched towards her and smoothed a lock of her hair through his fingers. “I focused on the wrong things before. I thought things with you couldn’t get better, but when they just about fell apart, I saw that, hey this isn’t about me anymore. Winning, racing, it all doesn’t matter if I don’t have you in my corner.”

“You have your pick of women.”

She hadn’t pushed him away, but she hadn’t closed the gap. Her bottom lip trembled and the action stabbed him in the gut. “Meg, listen.” He rested his forehead against hers and cupped her jaw. “I’m a hard man to love. I bleed race fuel, but you understand that. You smile and I know that the shitty run is just that—one run. Any other woman would bolt, but you don’t. Sweets, you have my heart.”

She stared deep into his eyes and sagged into the curve of his body. “Tucker, we’ve been through this.”

“No. We haven’t. You’ve been my rock and I walked all over you.” He feathered a kiss to her lips. “I don’t deserve you, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let you go without a fight.”

A simple smooch wasn’t going to do. He took the kiss further, tasting every inch of her. Her tongue tangled with his as she gripped his fire suit. Her voice cracked and slipped to a whisper. “Don’t do this.”

“What?” he asked, kissing her cheeks. “I can’t stop wanting you. Needing you.”

“Tucker.”

The pleading tone in the way she said his name both thrilled and tore at him. The sounds of footsteps crunched on the gravel. He twined his fingers with hers and led her to the solitude of the front of the car hauler.

“Let me help you.” He grasped her hips and placed her on the hood of the race car. He stood before her and nestled in the crook of her thighs. “You deserve better than a second tier racer and that scares the hell out of me. The moment I think I’ve got everything under control, I find out how fucked up it really is. But I’m not letting the chaos rule any longer.” Tucker rubbed his erection along the seam of her jeans, creating friction and enveloping himself in her heat. “Starting now, starting with me, I’m all yours.”

She snorted and worked the zipper on his fire suit. “You suck at sappy and I’ll dent this hood.”

“Do I have you?” Tucker buried his nose against her neck and sampled the delicate skin. “I can replace the hood, no sweat. I can’t replace you.”

“You’ve always had me.”

Her breathy moan turned him inside out. Tucker shrugged out of the top half of his fire suit. The fabric settled low on his hips. “You know, we haven’t christened the cabin of this hauler.”

Megan tugged her sweatshirt up over her head. Her tousled hair spilled onto her shoulders and crimson stained her cheeks. Tucker grabbed the hem of his undershirt, only to have his hands stilled. She produced a condom from her jeans pocket and a smile widened on her kiss swollen lips. “Leave it for now.”

“I love the way you think.” In one swift motion, he worked her jeans down her legs. Dampness darkened her panties. The scent of her arousal, spicy and sweet filled the air. He moaned and worked his cock free from his boxer shorts. Screw dainty and pretty. They’d have that later. Right now he needed to be with her, inside her, a part of her.

Before he knew it, she’d rolled the condom onto his penis and guided him into her wet depths. Another moan rumbled in his throat as he pistoned in and out of her body. Megan clawed at his back and placed biting kisses on his lips. In mere seconds, the orgasm over took him. She muffled her cries in the crook of his neck.

Resting on his elbows, Tucker rubbed his nose over her cheek and fought to catch his breath. “I love you, Megan Noel McCarthy and I’m not giving up on us.”

Her eyes glittered in the dim light. “Take me home and make an honest woman out of me?”

“You got it.”

About the author: I always dreamed of writing the stories in my head. Tall, dark, and handsome heroes are my favorites, as long as he has an independent woman keeping him in line. I tend to write books with titles taken from songs because music is one of my many muses. I earned a BA in education at Kent State university and as well as a Masters in Education from Nova Southeastern University. I’ve tried my hand at teaching, waitressing, and retail sales, but writing holds my heart. I love NASCAR, romance, books in general, Ohio farmland, dirt racing, and my menagerie of animals. I have six books under contract and more than my brain can handle percolating. I can’t wait to share them with you! www.wendizwaduk.com

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