Fierce want gripped his entire body—the same desire he’d suffered last night—and he groaned.
As if she’d heard him, Rubi glanced up from her notepad. With her sunglasses still on the top of her head, those light eyes were piercing. Her gaze remained directly on him even as Troy continued to talk, and he felt the sexual tension as if they were connected by a wire of electricity.
Frustration spiked, and he revved the bike. “Come on, dude,” he said to Jax through the headset feed. “Wait too much longer and we’re going to have to realign the shot to kill shadows.”
“Hold your dick on.” Jax’s voice pierced Wes’s ear. “I’m putting three more cameras on this take. It’s not like we can run it a dozen more times.”
He rolled the bike back and forth in a restless sway as he watched the key grip—a guy who handled camera placement—run between cameramen. The best boy, a kid who taped down all the electrical wires, worked frantically in the key grip’s wake.
Waiting was one of his least favorite pastimes. Plus, today, every moment of downtime allowed his mind to drift toward his brother, which Wes had been trying to avoid by staying busy, dammit. And, just like every other time his mind had lolled toward Wyatt, his stomach balled into a fist. He’d be out of surgery by now. At least that was Wes’s hope. He hadn’t had a chance to call his mother for a few hours now.
“Okay.” Jax’s voice sounded in Wes’s ear. “We’re set to go.”
The familiar flutter of anxiety that came with every stunt—stronger for some than others—stung his breastbone. Down the stretch of concrete, all but two members of the crew cleared the area. The remaining members tossed lighter fluid on the crashed vehicles, and the fumes flooded his nose even this far away. He didn’t like Rubi so close to that shit.
“Jax,” he said. “Can’t Rubi watch from inside? The fumes are choking me all the way down here.”
“Copy.” Jax turned from one of the cameras and spoke to Rubi. She shook her head, and Jax returned with, “She says she’s fine. You good?”
He should have known she’d do whatever she damn well wanted. But he reminded himself he didn’t have to like her stubbornness to admire it. “Yeah, good.”
Extinguishers filled with foam fire retardant passed through the staff clustered off to the side. They would run out and smother the flames poststunt. If this didn’t take on the first round, it would be a royal bitch and a time suck to set up again.
He glanced toward Jax, but his gaze halted on Rubi. He got that delicious pinch low in his gut again, and instead of envisioning the death-defying act he was about to perform, Wes’s mind filled with the little burst of warmth in Rubi’s eyes when she’d laughed at his helmet head. The glimmer of her perfect teeth when she’d reached up and tried to straighten it out. The feel of her touching him. Yeah, she wanted him. Now, he just had to convince her of that.
He wiped sweat from his eyes one more time before dropping the Plexiglas on his helmet. God, he wanted out of this getup.
A scorching whoosh sounded as the cars went up in flames, dragging Wes’s mind back. His body responded with a sympathetic burst of heat as fire licked the air. That was exactly what he felt like every time Rubi got within ten feet.
A different member of the crew ran into the center of the concrete near the inferno, a slate in his hands to mark the scene and take.
“Ready,” Jax said in Wes’s ear, “Set…” At Jax’s pause, Wes revved the bike. “Action.”
The snap of the slate ricocheted off the concrete surroundings. Wes focused on the stunt, the placement, the timing, and lifted his foot as he shot forward.
“Angle a little east,” Jax said, watching how things looked from one of the cameras. “Yeah, good. Three. Two. One. Hit it.”
Wes shut down all outside thought. His frustration with Rubi, his concern over Wyatt dissipated like vapor, and a familiar, consuming cohesiveness with the universe filled him—brain and body. One making him intensely aware of the road, the air, his body, the laws of physics. The connection made him feel so alive, he vibrated with excitement.
He gunned the bike and shifted his weight backward. The front tire popped into a wheelie, and he kept just enough of his weight off the back end to allow the rear tire to spin against the slippery concrete. Vibrations rocketed through his body. Adrenaline flooded his veins. Acrid smoke spilled off the tire and enveloped him, filling his head with the scent of burning rubber—an instant high. Even after decades of racing and thousands of rides, this shit electrified him every damn time.