“Ride or die.”
I shouldn’t be here. I’d be in so much trouble not just by my mom, but by my entire family, blood-related or not. But I couldn’t resist the street-racing scene. I didn’t drive or anything, I just loved watching.
My name is Ember Toretto-O’Conner. I’m twenty-three with blonde hair that makes me stick out in a crowd like a lion in a herd of zebras. I took on after my dad, but inherited my mother’s personality. I was the only kid in my direct family. My uncle Dom and his wife, Letty, never had kids. I don’t know why. Roman married a woman named Gia, and they had a son a few months after they got married named Brandon. He was a year older than me. Tej never married.
I stuck out like a sore-thumb with my outfit. Compared to all the girls in skimpy outfits, I was a pariah in my jeans, tank top, and hoodie. I received weird looks as I walked past all the cars, with a more than a few people calling out to me saying: “You don’t belong here, sweetheart!”
I ignored them, getting as good a view as I could and as close to the starting line as I could. Two cars were lined up: a Nissan GT-R and a Ford Shelby Mustang. Both were older cars but were well taken care of, along with all of their parts being upgraded. I waited for the race to start. I glanced at the driver of the Nissan since it was closest. The darkness surrounding him made it hard to see him, but I managed to see he had blonde hair and couldn’t be older than twenty-five. A leggy girl that possessed the looks of a Victoria’s Secret angel walked out onto the road, standing in front of the cars, counting down. Just before the girl gave the ‘Go’ signal, the Nissan driver looked my way. We made eye contact briefly; I looked away quickly, feeling a blush creep up my cheeks. He was a lot handsomer than his side profile let on… I dared glancing back at his car. He faced the road rather than me now, which I was grateful for. When the ‘Go’ signal was given, the two cars shot off. I knew the Nissan driver would win. He had better tires, a better engine, and his car seemed in prime-condition. The other driver had too much wheel-spin when he took off which was due to his bald tires. I smiled when the Nissan crossed the finish line, way ahead of the Mustang. The cars turned around, heading back down the road and to the area where cars waited to race. The Nissan went back to the starting line though, waiting for his next opponent. I avoided looking at him, not wanting to make embarrassing eye contact again. I’m rather shy when it comes to meeting new people. I can do it, I’m just not the one to typically initiate the conversation.
I watched the Nissan driver race the new opponent. Mr. Hottie, which I now deemed the Nissan driver’s name, smoked the opponent. I almost felt bad it was such a bad beating. He liked revving his engine once in a while. It made my heart race. I wanted to drive that car myself. Not that I would. I didn’t have the courage to get behind the wheel of a car like that, but that didn’t stop me from thinking about it. I mean, not only was this car a powerhouse, but the design was immaculate, from the silver paint to the two black stripes running down the middle, I was in love, and couldn’t help but admire the car.
After six more drag races, Mr. Hottie retired. Whether he quit for the rest of the night or was going to beat some more people later, I didn’t know. Deciding I wanted to ask him about his car, to see all what he’d done to it, I maneuvered my way out of the crowd to the less dense crowd surrounding all the waiting cars. I kept my head down, my hands in my pocket, and stuck to the shadows to attract the least amount of attention I could to myself. I scanned the cars, searching for the Nissan.
“Are you interested in me or the car?” A voice queried.
I jumped guiltily, facing the person who’d spoken. Mr. Hottie stood in front of me, peering around his car. “Your car.”
“Ouch, I saw you looking earlier, and now seeing you over here, I was hoping you were searching for me,” he chuckled with a charming smile.
“Sorry to disappoint. Good job earlier.”
“So, 2014 Nissan GT-R. Back then, it was worth almost a hundred grand. Now it’s pretty cheap. It comes with 545 horsepower, but you’ve obviously upgraded that. In fact, by the looks of it-” I walked around the car slowly. “- you’ve upgraded everything on it. Transmission, tires, engine, body work, intake, exhaust, suspension, you name it.”
“You know cars. After I bought it and fixed it up, it now has 750 horsepower. I’m trying to get more upgrades on it to get more horsepower. I haven’t seen you around here before. You new to the scene, or are you just really good at hiding?”
“I like to think I’m just good at hiding. I’ve been coming here for years.”
“Strange I’ve never seen you before. No offense, you kind of stick out,” he laughed,
I harrumphed. “Thank you for pointing that out because I had no idea.”
“What’s your name?”
“Jason Stark. You can call me Jace if you want. My friends do. What’s your last name?”
I hesitated. I might not be known by my first name here, but my father and my uncle are legacies here, making me a legacy. If you were anyone down in the street-racing scene, you knew who Dom Toretto and Brian O’Connor were. If people found out I was here, they’d spread the word fast, and my family would hear that I was here. And like I said, I’d be in so much trouble.
“I’d rather not say,” I finally said.
“Are you famous or something?”
“Sort of. My family is here. Anyways, are you racing anymore tonight?” I wanted to get off the subject of me as fast as I could.
“Probably not. I have college stuff to do. I should’ve been finishing it earlier. The street-racing pays well if you win; I win. It’s helping me pay for my degree.”
“So you’re only… what, twenty-one? Twenty-two?” I inquired.
“Twenty-four. I started college late. Family issues prevented me from going sooner. Hey, did you come here by car or did you walk here?”
“Let me give you a ride home. A beautiful girl like you shouldn’t be walking by herself,” he offered.
“Thank you, but my mother would kill me if she saw me dropped off in that car,” I said, nodding towards his Nissan. “Not to mention she would then have my uncle kill you.”
There was a tic in Jason’s jaw. “Can I walk you home?”
“You shouldn’t leave your car here though.”
“I’ll have one of my friends drive it back to my place.”
“You would trust one of our friends to drive it back to your place?” I chuckled. “I wouldn’t.”
The corners of his lip slightly upturned. “Let me make a call, and I’ll walk you home.”
“Listen, I’ve walked home plenty of times before. But if you’re so adamant about me getting home safely, I’ll take a taxi. Deal?” I suggested.
Jason sighed. “Fine, but I’m paying him. Come on.” I protested against this, but he paid no heed. He waved down a taxi and opened the door for me.
“Thanks for this. Honestly, I have the money to get home,” I remarked.
“No problem. Will you be coming back here tomorrow night?”
“I don’t know. Depends on work.”
“You should come. I got to say, even if you were only checking out my car and not me, I still enjoyed talking to you.”
“Feelings mutual. It was nice meeting you, Jason. See you around.” I sat down in the taxi; Jason shut the door. Just as the taxi was about to turn around the corner, I looked back. Jason was gone. I faced forward again, smiling to myself. I wanted to see him, and contrary to what I’d said earlier, I’d actually been searching for him too.
I shouldn’t go tomorrow. I knew having affiliations with anyone there had the possibility of my family finding out, and of course I’d be on lockdown until I was sixty. But as long as Jason didn’t know my last name, I would be all right. He wouldn’t be able to spread the word about a Toretto-O’Connor legacy hanging around if he didn’t know I was a legacy.
I made up my mind. surprising