I had absolutely no business being here I thought to myself as I looked around the busy NASCAR track. This was a huge mistake and I knew it. I kept telling myself on the drive up to the track that I was doing this because I needed the money and to keep that thought in my mind while I was out there sweating my ass of today. I was lucky enough to be a free-lance photography and I could take on projects like this, for companies who would pay me for my work. I normally loved shit like this, but today? Today this felt like an actual job.
I stood in the hot New England sun and pulled my dark hair into a messy bun before snapping off a couple of a pictures. The drivers were getting ready to qualify for the race and those that already had finished were standing around talking to the press and each other. I pretty much knew all o the drivers and I knew at one point or another, I was going to run into the one that I was trying to avoid. Isn’t that usually how it worked?
I used to love NASCAR racing. In fact, I used to go to as many races and tracks that I possibly could when I could. Until one fatal day it broke my heart. Actually, scratch that. It took my heart, smashed it into a million fucking pieces and then shoved it back into my chest. I’ve avoided racing and NASCAR all together since that happened.
“I should have stayed home.” I mumbled to myself as I lifted my camera to try and get a few more pictures. Lately I had tried to stick to babies and weddings. Again, I made a mental note to think about how I was doing this for the money and nothing more. It was nice to get out of the house for a bit and enjoy myself. Maybe I could think of this as a vacation of sorts, even if it was only a couple of hours from my house.
I spotted my friend and driver Finn Houston standing up ahead with another driver who I hadn’t had the chance to meet yet. It was actually because of Finn that I heard about this job and if he hadn’t pushed me to take it I most likely would be at home right now taking pictures of another “Frozen” Birthday party. Nothing against Elsa or anything, but I’m just ready to let it ago. As much as I prided myself in being a strong and independent woman, I felt a sense of relief wash over me when Finn raised his hand to wave me over.
“Hey, Sully!” Finn flashed me a big smile and pulled me into a giant hug as soon as I got close enough. He was handsome, not as good looking as his brother Cooper had been, but close enough. He was close to six feet with broad shoulders and thick blonde hair. His green eyes sparkled with happiness when he pulled back to look at me. “I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to see you until now. How does it feel to be back?”
I shrugged my shoulders. I couldn’t lie to Finn without him knowing. We knew one another too well. “It could be worse. It hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be.” I let my eyes wonder a bit and they landed the driver standing next to him which turned out to be a big mistake. Huge mistake. I made sure to familiarize myself with some of the newer drivers once I had been hired for the job and I recognized him immediately. Rand Shepard. Young gun, rookie driver, heart breaker, bad boy. He had thick midnight black hair that curled around his ears, not to mention that he was tall and built like a linebacker. Rand Sheppard was not your typical race car driver. He broke all the rules while winning all the races.
Finn put his hand on Rand’s shoulder. “Sully, have you met Rand yet?” He raised his eyebrows at me.
I shook my head. “No, not yet.” I smiled up at Rand as I tried to ignore the alarms and bells going off in my head. Warning me to run, telling me to watch myself. I wasn’t sure what it was about the young driver that had me so on edge.
“Brooklyn, right?” Rand’s thick southern accent caught me off guard. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of dark sunglasses, but that didn’t stop him from making me feel like he was undressing me while he slowly looked me over. A smile tugged at the corners of Rand’s perfect pink lips and I got the feeling that he wanted to eat me alive.
I immediately disliked Rand Shepard. There was no other way to describe the feelings running through my mind right now. Anger flashed through my veins as I stared up at him. Drivers like him? They thought they were every woman’s dream. Cocky and full of himself, Rand probably thought I would drop my panties for him right this second. Over my dead body.
“It’s nice to meet you, Rand.” I plastered a fake smile onto my face and turned back to Finn.
“Oh no-the pleasure is all mine, darlin’.” Rand’s voice shouldn’t have made me feel the things I was feeling right now, but I couldn’t seem to control my body. It had a mind of its own right now. I could hear the teasing, the flirting behind his words and it took all I had not slap him across the face.
Finn coughed softly. “Alright then.” He shot Rand a look that might have killed him if this was a video game and I was never happier to have him in my corner. “Sully, how about you take a few pictures? Rand and I would love to help you out with that.”
I gritted my together. “That would be great, thanks.” I avoided looking back in Rand’s direction and instead, picked up my camera from around my neck as the two men tried to get into a more natural position. “Just relax, both of you.” I giggled at the expression on Finn’s face. “Just try to act normal.” I clucked my tongue along the top roof of my mouth. “If that’s possible.” I shot a look at Rand for a second just so he knew that yes, dickhead, I was talking to you.
“Darlin.” Rand’s smooth southern accent washed over me like butter on toast. “I couldn’t be more natural if I tried.” I resisted the urge to tell him to shove it up his ass and instead, plastered that fake smile back on my face. I needed this job. I needed this money. London-she needed to stay in school.
Finn shot a look over at Rand. “Dude-you’re acting a like a real douche. We talked about this.” His eyes had gone hard. “Knock it the fuck off.”
Ha-Ha I wanted to laugh at him. Finn, forever my protector and for a second I felt a wave of heartache wash over me like I hadn’t felt in a very long time. Cooper and Finn-shit they were the best bodyguards a girl could ask for and-
“Sully?” Finn brought me back to reality again.
I looked up at the sound of my name. “Sorry.” I turned to face Finn and Rand but had to take a step back. Rand removed those dark sunglasses. Staring back at me now were a pair of the bluest eyes I had ever seen. They were so blue you might think you could swim in them and could swear they could see straight into your soul. Shame and desire mingled deep in my throat as heat settled deep in my belly. Fuck me.
I gathered myself together and managed to snap off a few shots of Finn and Rand together, before I got a couple of them both alone. I knew that I was working faster than I normally did and I hated myself for it. I tried to shrug it off on the fact that I could see how tired they both were, how tired I was and the fact that I wanted to try and get a hold of London tonight if possible. I wanted to make sure she was doing alright and just wanted to hear her voice. I hated having her so far away, but she was happy and doing what she loved. We both were.
The real reason I was moving so fast was because I wanted to get away from Rand Shepard as fast as I could. I didn’t like him or trust him.
“Thanks.” I covered the lens of my camera when I was finished. “Appreciate your help.” I met Finn’s gaze and he smiled at me. “Good luck this weekend.” I added as an afterthought.
“Text me later, Sully.” Finn pulled me into a hug again and I knew he meant well. I knew he would try and drag me out to some party or something I didn’t want to be at. He let go of me and glanced over at his teammate who was unzipping his firesuit.
“Don’t need luck.” Rand stated and when I turned to look at him I instantly regretted it. “I could however, use the company of a beautiful woman. Any plans tonight, darlin’?”
My mouth fell open and I stared up at him. Mother fucker, who did this guy think he was? I noticed the way his white undershirt clung to his broad, chiseled chest and the colorful tattoos that were visible. “Excuse me?” I managed to stammer out.
“Come on, Brooklyn.” Rand took a step towards me and I took one back. “I don’t see a ring on that pretty little hand of yours, so unless you have a boyfriend back home-”
My entire body began shaking. I wasn’t entrily sure if it was because I was angry or excited about the words coming out of Rand’s mouth right now.
“That’s enough, Shepard.” Finn stepped between us before I had the chance to do something I really shouldn’t. Or say something even worse.
I watched as a huge smile broke out on Rand’s face. A smile so bright that it would put the Rockefeller Christmas tree to shame. “Alright, no need to get so upset.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I’m sorry if I upset you, darlin’.” He still had that shit eating grin on his face that made me not want to trust him. “But, if you change your mind, you know where to find me.”
“You.” Finn gave Rand a little shove. “Need to chill the fuck out and go back to your RV. Take a cold shower or something. What the fuck?”
Rand didn’t look one bit sorry about what he said. He shook his head at me before turning and leaving me standing there with Finn who looked absolutely madder than a wet hornet. “Sully-”
“I’m fine.” I put my hand up. “I’ll be fine. I have a few more pictures I need to try and get before I head back to my hotel. Don’t worry, I’m a survivor remember?”
Finn looked like he wanted to say something more, but he didn’t. “Text me. Just let me know you’re alright.”
I assured him I would and we both went our separate ways. I realized that I wanted nothing to do with Rand Sheppard and I was going to make sure as hell sure I stayed away from him the rest of the weekend.
Little did I know that wasn’t going to be the case.