If I said I wasn’t nervous I’d be lying through my teeth. Tonight’s race had me more on edge than I’d ever been about a race. A lot of big names had signed up and a lot of troublemakers would be there.
Even though he hadn’t said anything I knew Dad was a little anxious today. We hadn’t done much at work, most of the day he and I sat in his office letting everyone else work. He and I had talked about our usual things, escape routes from the police, places to cool down at. This area wouldn’t be heavily policed but it was a tricky track.
Willow had called off today. I had given up on her, she still refused to even glance at me as I walked by her. The text I had sent her sat unread or at least unanswered. Anger was now my only emotion toward her, the only one I’d admit to.
I don’t know why I had expected her to come back around. Maybe because she had before. The girl was as stubborn as they come. I was trying to help her, for once I was the good guy in all of this. Was this karma teaching me a lesson?
At least tonight I could take my mind off of her, tonight I could forget everything but driving. Maybe it was time for me to give up and go let someone else distract me. I really didn’t know if another woman would help or just make things worse. I just knew that I needed her out of my mind.
There wasn't much to do to get ready for tonight. After work, I had gone upstairs and changed before heading out for a bit to eat. On my way to grab a burger, I found myself driving unnecessarily by Willow's. Her car was in the driveway and I don't know why but I felt a little better knowing she was there. Maybe she was sick. Sick of me.
My fee for tonight had already been wired and I had drawn my race number. I wasn't worried about my middle of the pack starting point. I knew how to weave and make my way to the front.
As I pulled up I looked around seeing some faces I knew some I didn't. Taking my position I got out and found Ash. He was sitting in his car with the door open with some blonde-headed girl in his lap. "Damn man, can't you wait till after the race?"
The girl jumped up out of his lap as Ash stood up, "what's wrong with one before and one after?"
I shook my head at him, "and you say I'm the hoe." I looked around, "it's crazy out here tonight."
Ash nodded turning serious, "there are a lot of racers from up north down. You need to watch them, they will try and take you out as a pack."
I frowned, I had heard of racing teams ganging up on one car at a time trying to take them out but I'd never raced against any that ever tried that. I mean sure I'd had cars try and cut me off or run me off the road but never had I really been singled out.
"I'm not worried, I've got this."
Ash looked down at me, “keep your eyes open Maddox. I don’t trust these people.”
Nodding I turned to go back to my car. If Ash was worried there was probably more to the story than what he was telling me. Dad had warned me this race could be difficult but I had kinda blown him off. I guess he had been right.
Scanning the crowd I looked for Willow, some part of me still hoped she would show up. I had thought I had seen her once but when the girl turned around it wasn't her. Rosalyn was here, I had caught sight of her the moment I pulled up. If I did decide to lose myself in another woman it wouldn't be her. She had taken things too far.
A horn sounded signaling the race would start in the next five minutes. I nodded at Ash as I walked to my car getting in. Looking down at my phone I saw dad had text me telling me good luck and to be careful. He always text me before every race but I had hoped Willow would have at least wished me good luck too. I felt stupid. Why couldn't I forget about her?
The race started with a shot of the gun. There were at least 30 of us racing tonight. Taking off I paid little attention to the pack easing my way up slowly, I knew the course so I knew when I could pass and when I needed to ease up.
I had a really bad habit of tuning everyone else out as I drove, I worked one car at a time. When the two black cars came up beside me I hadn't even seen it coming. I knew they were trying to force me off the road so I tried my best to avoid them. I swerved past another car picking up speed to try and get them off my trail but it appeared they were determined to stay on my ass.
I had managed to work my way up the line of cars avoiding being boxed in by the two cars trailing me. If I could find Ash I could ride beside him for extra protection but he wasn't upfront. I hadn't seen him fall behind but then again I hadn' been paying attention.
Hitting a curve fast I let my car drift through when I felt the first hit from a third car that had appeared out of nowhere. "Shit," I mumbled as I shifted up trying to gain speed again before the next curve. Hitting the next curve I accelerated again pulling ahead of the others. There was a straight shot for a few feet before the next curve and I was hoping to get an even bigger lead on them when I felt the hit from behind and my world began to spin.
I knew I had been hit from behind and I knew enough not to panic. My training kicked in but I hadn't been prepared for the second hit that sent me straight off the side of the curve crashing downward. I remember falling, then the darkness.
Car after car started coming in, none of the Maddox. I knew something was wrong. I felt it in my gut. No one seemed to care that he wasn't here yet, 15 cars had made it in and yet not him.
Seeing a guy that I knew I had witnessed Maddox talking to before I ran up on him. "Have you seen Maddox?"
The guy looked down at me frowning, "he hasn't made it in yet?"
I shook my head.
"Shit," he said jumping in his car.
I didn't wait for an answer, I didn't ask for permission. I just jumped in beside him. The man looked over at me surprised but shook his head taking off sending me slamming against the door.
Car after car passes us but none of them were Maddox. “Look for anything weird, tire marks, anything that shouldn’t be in the road.”
I nodded, “ok.”
“There will be some curves coming up, it’s important, anything no matter how small we need to check out.”
I nodded watching him pull his phone out. I assumed he had tried to call Maddox. “Should I call Blaine?”
The man looked at me, “not until we know something is wrong. He could be fine.”
Going around a curve I tried my best to see. It was dark and the headlights were the only light besides the moon. “Stop.” I yelled.
I was jolted as the guy slammed the breaks pulling to the side, “what? What did you see?”
yanking the car door open I took off running behind me to where I had seen the black streaks, they looked like somebody has been cutting donuts. I stopped running when I saw the guardrail damaged. The guy ran past me “omg, call Blaine. Call Blaine now!”
My body began moving again as he hopped over the guardrail. Looking down I saw Maddox’s car upside down. “Oh my God. Oh my God.”
The guy looked back up at me, “look I’m going to see if he is ok but I need you to call Blaine. Tell him you're with Ash.”
I nodded pulling my phone out of my pocket and hitting the number I had programmed in for him. It was the shop's after-hours number which I assumed was his personal cell. I held my breath afraid he wouldn’t answer. It was after 1 am. What was I supposed to even say?
“Knights Automotive this is Blaine,” I heard his sleepy voice say.
I hesitated but when Ash started yelling I blurted everything out. “It’s Willow, Maddox has crashed. His car is upside down. Ash is trying to get to him.”
I could tell from the noises in the background he was getting up. But I couldn't speak. I was watching Ash looking for any sign Maddox was ok.
“Damnit Willow tell me where?”
Looking at the bridge I shook my head, "in the curve, mile marker 215."