Falling Under
Page 11

 Lauren Dane

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So she took off, glad for the warm, dry evening, and when she’d pulled into the lot at the track, she’d parked where the other people who worked at Twisted Steel had.
PJ had just been getting out of her car when she caught sight of Carmella.
She gave Carmella a hug and tugged her toward the covered area the Twisted Steel folks hung out at. “So glad you’re here. Asa and Duke came together so I don’t expect to see him for a while.”
“I’m here for root beer floats.”
“Me too. And rings.”
Both women were greeted happily, and before too long they both had a root beer float and a basket of freshly made onion rings on the bench between them as the first racing heats began on the track.
Duke raced in their fastback. Carmella loved the sound of the engine and bet Duke did too.
“I met Duke before I met Asa and I remember thinking how gorgeous he was. He’s a ridiculous flirt and women seem to swoon and sigh in his wake. But he’s not a jerk or a pig,” PJ said to Carmella.
“He’s the kind of gorgeous that makes a girl forget everything else.” He really knew how to flirt. “I feel like a total amateur around him,” Carmella admitted.
“But you’re having fun.” PJ’s brow—the one with the piercing—rose.
“God yes, it’s fun. Still, on a scale of one to ten, being here and letting myself flirt with him is a bad idea in the eleven or twelve range,” Carmella admitted to PJ.
They surged to their feet as Duke raced over the finish line.
“I hear you. So much.” PJ’s gaze roved over the crew at the fastback, looking for Asa, who stood out with his hard-edged good looks.
Once she found him and he’d looked up to wave their way, PJ turned back to Carmella. “But what’s the worst that could happen? It’s just flirting. Even if it was more, it’s not the end of the world, right?”
Carmella couldn’t nurse any grand notions for anything happening with Duke beyond harmless flirting. She knew the score. Knew what Duke was. “I know you and Asa have this amazing thing so you’re love’s cheerleader. But I’m Duke’s employee. If things go wrong, I could lose my job.” Her healthcare, her benefits. Her freedom to make her own choices on her own terms. “I can’t afford it.”
PJ cocked her head. “Do you really think Duke would fire you if you two made out and then moved on? He only looks like a bad boy but he’s truly a nice guy.”
“I think it’s dangerous territory. Regardless of what he is or isn’t.”
“Sounds like you’ve been there,” PJ said. “I’m here if you want to talk about it. Or anything else.”
“Thanks.” Carmella realized how much she’d missed having close friends. “For the record, I don’t think he’s a bad guy. Or that he’d misuse his power to hurt me. But I can’t rely on that. People depend on me.”
PJ thought about it for a bit. “Fair enough. It’s still early days with all of us. You’ll come to trust what you think in time. In any case, if you lost your job, know I’d snatch you up in a hot minute to work for me at Colman Enterprises.”
Carmella goggled at her. “What?”
“What yourself, Carmella. You have the magic. Lottie was good at her job but it was a little loosey-goosey in the office. She let stuff slide. They were all used to that and you came in and you’re tightening things up, organizing. It’s two steps instead of four to do things now. You have a way with the guys at the shop. I have a thriving business and you’d be the perfect person to keep it that way. So. I’m just saying that if you wanted to go a little further than flirting, and if Duke was terrible and fired you, you’d still have a job.”
Carmella let herself relax just a little. Options were always a plus. Not that she planned on flipping on the red light and having Duke over for several bouts of enthusiastic sex at the suggestion she had a job somewhere else.
“Thanks. It’s never a bad thing to be wanted.” Carmella’s gaze slid from PJ to where Duke had just gotten out of the fastback and was talking to Asa.
His helmet was under his arm and he stood in that lanky way of his, all loose and warm. It was deceptive.
She’d seen a glimpse here and there of what lay beneath. He didn’t miss much and she had her doubts he was more than two seconds away from springing into action at any given moment if he needed to be.
“No lie.” PJ patted her arm. “Now, I’m going to head down to the pit when Asa races. Because it’s really hot. You should wander over to where Duke is staring at you. Say hey. Be neighborly.”
Neighborly. Right. Well, he was her neighbor. But she wanted to ride him, not take over a cake. Maybe she could take over a cake and ride him.
Or she could feed him cake as she rode him. He would be so inventive. The way women he was involved with had looked at him over the time she’d known him told her the man had to be a champ at sexytimes.
So of course now all Carmella could think, as she locked her attention on him and she found herself headed his way, was of Duke, naked and covered in sweat. And some frosting.
“Nicely done. Congratulations,” Carmella said as she reached him.
“Thank you kindly.” They began to walk toward the crowd. “Not too many people get to drive cars really fast and call it work. Turns out I’m pretty lucky.”
They hadn’t gotten very far before his friends had started to gather around him, plenty of them women looking at his marvelous ass, just waiting for his attention.