Today has been a long, rough day. It was nearing 97 degrees outside and I was sweating in places that weren’t natural. I stood trackside, my tablet in my hand, as I studied the track layout while making notes on certain sections. Jay wasn’t hitting the whoop section fast enough, throwing off his whole rhythm, but he won’t listen to me. Being a woman in a predominantly male world isn’t easy. I love my job. I lived and breathed motocross, but that didn’t make my life easier. I am a female trainer both on the track and off with a side degree in massage therapy, throw that in next to a male racer and their ego got the best of them. None of them liked to listen to a female, especially one who was 5′6" and looked like she should be on a runway and not trackside. All seven of them acted this way. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m on my seventh racer and we were already butting heads.
Jay rode off the track, grinning like the cocky jerk he was, and stopped right at my feet. The jerk almost hit me, making me step back a foot. If he wasn’t technically my boss I’d slap him into next week and teach him some manners.
“How was that? I thought I did better on the whoops coming out of that second corner.” Jay was pointing towards the track as his mechanic walked over and started tinkering with the motor.
I started saying, “That whoop section was horr...” but I was quickly cut off when his mechanic, who also had a problem with me, cut me off and asked Jay how the bike was running.
“Runs like shit, man. The throttle is too touchy and third gear is tripping up. I thought you fixed this.” Jay tore his helmet off, hanging it from the handlebars, and then glared at me. “What? Nothing smart to remark?”
I bit my tongue hard. I had lots of smart remarks to give to this punk but I’m not going to start our day off with each other at our throats. “You didn’t come out of that second turn fast enough. You were sloppy on the whoops and that’s leaving space for another racer to fly past you and cut you off on the inside of the next corner.”
Both Jay and his mechanic snorted at my statement and it seriously ticked me off. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t know what I was talking about but that clearly didn’t matter to either of these men.
“Listen, lady, I’ve been riding my whole life,” Jay retorted in a snotty manner and then pointed at his mechanic. “Bill here says my riding is fine. I wouldn’t be in the top five riders, heading to Anaheim next week if I didn’t know how to ride.” Him and Bill both laughed, looking down their noses at me.
The rage inside me was boiling to the surface and I was about to lose my temper, but then Jay’s dad walked over and smacked the back of his head. “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. The last time I checked, Tanner is still the best. Again.” Then he pointed to me and said, “She’s the best trainer out here right now. You’d do your best to realize that. Your whoop section was sloppy. Do it again.”
“Yes, sir,” Jay replied impishly, keeping his gaze averted from me.
I gave Mr. Parker a small smile and a quick nod. His dad should be around more often. But at the same time, I didn’t need him to help me; I just need to figure out a way to get through Jay’s thick skull so we can be a team.
My phone buzzed in my back pocket before I adjusted the tablet in my hands and pulled it out. My heart rate picked up at the sight of a message from my new guy. I completely ignored the men standing around me and opened his message.
XT077: Thinking about you.
I met XT077 a few months ago on an extreme sports dating site. Now, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing online looking for men, but what you don’t know is the awful luck I’ve had with them in real life.
I grew up among motorheads. My dad is into hot rods, motorcycles, and motocross. My two brothers are the same and even raced motocross themselves. That is until one of them got really hurt, breaking a femur and collarbone, and couldn’t ride professionally anymore. They all are the reason I do what I do today. Motocross is in my blood and I’ll never give that up. And because it’s so strong in me, I ended up dating a few of my brother’s race buddies and they all turned out to be duds. So after my last harsh break up, I searched online and found this website for people who love extreme sports and before I know it, I’m signing up as CCgurl27 and met XT077 a week later. Neither of us exchanged names and I used a fake profile picture. I wasn’t about to put myself out there until I knew it was the right time. XT077 had a few photos on his profile but never of his face. And I left the subject alone. I didn’t want him asking me for photos when I asked him for some. All I know is that if his face matches his body, then we’ll be just fine.
“Earth to Tessa. Can you run into the trailer and grab Jay another helmet? This one is soaked in sweat.” I snapped out of it and saw Mr. Parker staring at me. I had never met this mystery online guy in person yet and he was already distracting the heck out of me. I needed to focus.
“Sure thing, Mr. Parker.” I shoved my phone back into my jeans and headed towards Jay’s trailer. The thing was massive and one of the best I’d seen. All the racers have a mini-mansion on wheels with a toy hauler in the back. Being professional motocross racers gave them the best trailers in the world. The back was a miniature version of a mechanics shop and held Jay’s bikes, race gear, and had all the tools needed to keep the kid racing. I whipped open the tall steel locker that held Jay’s extra helmets and grabbed the first one I could.
I was heading back out the trailer when I heard some hushed voices and my name being thrown around so I stopped to listen.
“I don’t know why Jay keeps her around. Yeah, everybody says she’s the best but if that were true how come Jay doesn’t have that trophy yet?” I didn’t recognize his voice but his words stung me. I could only do so much for Jay. It’s not my fault the kid won’t listen to me.
A chuckle tore me from my thoughts as the other man spoke. “Jay keeps her around because she’s hot. He wants to tap that and hold dominance over her. Jay isn’t going to listen to her any more than he’ll listen to us. The sooner she realizes that the sooner we’ll all be better off.”
More laughter filled the trailer and I wanted to scream. My fists were balled up at my sides and my face was feeling warmer and warmer after each breath I took. I am getting so sick and tired of all these men thinking they’re superior to me. I can probably out ride any one of these men! They wouldn’t be laughing then, would they?
“She should strut that tight ass of hers in a pair of black shorts and join the rest of the Monster Energy girls: Trackside.”
Oh! No, he didn’t! I have nothing against those women, as some are actually good friends of mine, but I was the last girl to stand pretty next to a racer holding up their trophy. How dare they?! I’m a damn good trainer! I’m amazing at my job! I am...
“Tessa! Where’s that helmet?”
I spun to find Mr. Parker standing there with an impatient smirk on his face. I had to take a few deep breaths before handing him the helmet and stepping out of the trailer and heading back towards the track.
After today, all I wanted was an ice cold beer and some sweet chat time with my online guy. Is it five o’clock yet?
Jay was back on the track and still not listening to a word I have been saying. He’s still taking the whoop section too slowly and now it felt like he was mocking me when he’d stare over at me before hitting them. What do I have to do to get this privileged jerk to listen to me?
The whine of his bike got closer as I marched right onto the track, standing on the first whoop with my hands on my hips. Jay was coming around the second corner when he saw me and came to a halting stop, almost hitting my feet again.
“You’re still too slow on the whoop section, Jay!” I barked out, trying to be louder than his bike.
He rolled his eyes at me. Actually rolled them! Was he five years old?!
I grabbed the mouth of his helmet and made him stare at me. This heat and his ignorance were irking me to no end.
“Do you want to beat Tanner Flynn?” When he nodded, I added, “Then pull your head out of your ass and humor me. Pick up your speed; see what happens.” I forcefully shoved his helmet away, his head flopping around, as I marched back off the track and spun to glare at him.
His eyes were dark and he looked perturbed. Jay looked at his dad then and nodded before tearing off like a bat out of hell. He was picking his speed up alright but now he was going too fast; being too impatient.
“Shit,” I cursed under my breath. “He’s coming out of that corner too hot.”
It was then that I saw my whole career flash before my eyes. Jay came out of the second corner, pinning it, and when he hit the whoop section his back tire started to get away from him. And when that happened, he lost control of the bike. All I could see from my position was Jay crashing hard and because of the speed he was going, all I could see in the dust was Jay, bike, Jay, bike until they both landed hard, the dust settling around him. I was frozen to my spot, not able to move a muscle.
That’s when the screams came from Jay. The entire crew, including myself, ran to him, pushing the others out of the way to get to him. The standby EMT team were rushing over to Jay with their medical bags. From the sound of his continuing screams, I knew it was bad.
They checked him before pulling his helmet off and he looked white as a ghost. My mouth went dry at the sight of him and I knew then that he was terribly hurt. And that’s when I saw it.
The EMT guys had cut his jersey up from the wrist and what greeted me was enough to make me turn my head and want to throw up. There was no doubt in my mind that he had broken his arm. The bone had completely snapped in half as it protruded from his skin. He was soaked in blood and still screaming.
I have seen multiple crashes and multiple injuries but this one took the cake. It was bad. No, it was catastrophic.
Jay was still screaming as they lifted him onto the gurney and started hauling him towards the ambulance. His dad was right on his tail and soon the screams were muffled by the closing ambulance doors.
When I looked around all the guys were staring at me with a scowl on their faces, like this was my fault. Sure, I told Jay he needed to pick up his speed, but I didn’t tell him to pin the throttle and end up with a broken arm. No, that was all on him. But I couldn’t help the sick feeling in my stomach at the thought of what this meant. Jay already hated me, there was no way he wasn’t going to blame this on me and I’d be on the highway by morning to head back home.
I needed to get away so I headed back towards the trailer, finding my own and slipping inside as the air conditioning blasted me in the face. I tossed the tablet on the counter and pulled my phone out from my back pocket so I could be ready when Jay’s dad called. But when I looked at the screen, I was greeted by another message from my online guy and even though I was freaked out by Jay’s accident, I was happy to see a new message from him.
XT077: I wish you were here. Today has been rough.
I smiled as I sat down on the couch and grabbed my iPod remote and turned it on. Metallica started playing and it was helping to calm my nerves. Then I started messaging the mystery guy back.
CCgurl27: You have no idea...
Although I had no idea what he did for a living, he has mentioned he lives in California, loves to surf and skydive, and has a love for all extreme sports. Which makes sense since we met on an extreme sports dating website. It was a nice change of pace from the dirt bike racers I’ve dated in the past. I could get used to dating a surfer if he continued to be this sweet. Someday we’d be faced with meeting each other and actually exchanging names, but until then I was happy being in this little fairy-tale and making up my own images of what this guy was like and what his name is.
XT077: I wish you were closer so we could meet. Soon, yeah?
I swallowed hard after reading his last message. He’s already talking about meeting? Well, who am I kidding? We’ve talked about meeting in the past but it never went farther than talking because we were in different states and our schedules never lined up. I really did want to meet him but at the same time, I didn’t. What if he’s not the guy I have been picturing in my head? What if we don’t connect? We’ve been talking for months and if we don’t connect then I’d have to say goodbye and start all over. Why, oh why does dating have to be so difficult? And why does it have to be so difficult to find a decent guy who isn’t going to cheat on me or treat me like dirt?
CCgurl27: Yeah, soon. :)
My phone started ringing in my hands and I saw Jay’s dad’s face light up the screen and my heart fell into my stomach. This is it.
“Hello?” I answered with a timid voice as I squeezed my eyes shut. I am waiting for him to start yelling at me.
“Tessa, we need you at the hospital. It’s bad. Call me when you get here and I’ll meet you downstairs.” He hung up and I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding. But wait, he didn’t yell at me. He didn’t even sound upset.
I ignored the buzz of a new message coming through from my guy and grabbed my keys and ran out of my trailer to my truck. Maybe I’m not fired after all.
The hospital was crowded and I recognized a ton of Jay’s crew members milling about, none of which gave me very pleasant facial expressions. I had called Mr. Parker when I arrived and he told me to meet him in the waiting room, where I was currently standing.
When he appeared in the doorway and didn’t look too happy I knew something was about to go down. He gestured for me to follow him but I wasn’t alone. Several of the crew members followed along behind me. This can’t be good.
We all entered a room that looked like a meeting space as they all took their seats, leaving one open for me next to Mr. Parker. I was a shaking mess, my nerves all over the place. Why are we in here? Why hasn’t anyone told me about Jay’s condition?
“Thanks for coming everyone,” Mr. Parker stated, looking around the room at everyone except me. He nodded to the chair next to him and said, “Take a seat, Tessa.”
I didn’t want to take a seat. Taking a seat meant he would start discussing what he brought us all in here for and I’m not sure I’m ready to hear what he has to say. But when he threw daggers at me with his eyes, I slipped into the chair.
He cleared his throat before beginning. “Jay is out for the season.” The entire room burst into a wicked commotion and nasty snarls, no doubt directed at me. Then Mr. Parker turned to me. “We’ll no longer be needing your expertise, Ms. Reed.”
I froze. So he is firing me.
“Jay has a nasty break, no thanks to you,” Mr. Parker snarled, gripping the edge of the table as he stared at me.
“You can’t honestly believe this is my fault!” I barked back. This is ridiculous! I’m a damn good trainer! It isn’t my fault that this little jerk decided to go too fast and couldn’t control his bike. Maybe if he listened to me the first time and worked with me, this wouldn’t have happened. Unbelievable.
“We do believe that!” Mr. Parker’s voice was raised. “You told Jay to go faster. You kept pushing him!”
I scoffed. “Of course I was pushing him! You hired me to be his trainer, not his mother. He was going too slow in the whoop section, you even agreed with me, and now this is my fault?!”
The entire crew was silent as they watched us, not saying a word.
“You should pack your things and leave.” Mr. Parker stood up from the table then, clearly done speaking with me, as he left the room and the crew was right behind him.
I pulled my phone out and messaged my guy.
CCgurl27: worst day ever...
Then I tucked tail and left the hospital. There were only a few things I needed to grab from my trailer before I headed north to go back home. Even though I hated that I just got fired, it was a blessing in disguise. I hated working for Jay and hated how everyone treated me here so I’m glad they fired me. I can be done with all of them.
After grabbing my things from the trailer I shoved the boxes into my truck and headed out, not looking in the rearview mirror once. Good riddance.
I made it about an hour north when my phone started ringing.
“Is this Tessa Reed?” The man on the other end asked.
I groaned, thinking it was the press wanting to ask me questions about Jay’s accident. I wasn’t in the mood for this and didn’t want to talk about Jay.
“It is...” I replied hesitantly.
“Oh, good. This is Nick from Sky Racing.” I gulped at the mention of who he is. Sky Racing was the biggest and best team in motocross. All the best riders rode for Sky Racing; including Tanner Flynn. “We heard about the tragic ending to Jay Parker’s career today and also heard that the family fired you.”
Great. Now I will forever be marked the woman who ended Jay Parker’s career. “Listen,” I began with a sigh, “I don’t want to remark on Jay Parker’s career. It isn’t my fault he had this accident, regardless of what his family is saying.”
Nick laughed. “We don’t think it’s your fault. We know all about you, Tessa Reed. I’m calling because we need a trainer immediately. The first heat races are coming up next week in Anaheim and Tanner Flynn needs a trainer like yesterday. He’s seen your work and knows all about you. He wants you and only you. When can you be here?”
I felt the blood drain from my face. Is this a joke? Tanner Flynn, the best rider in the industry, has requested me? This is unreal.
I choked out, “Well, I can head that way now. I can be there tomorrow.”
“Awesome. We look forward to working with you Ms. Reed.” Then he hung up and I felt like I was on cloud nine. The best rider wanted me; me! Today is turning out to be alright after all.
I whipped around on the highway and headed back south towards the highway that would take me west and to California: To Tanner Flynn.