With another shift of his weight and a jolt of fuel, Wes accelerated. He lowered his upper body until his chest rested on the fuel tank, until his view of the wreckage was framed in the handlebars, then kicked the bike into high gear. The engine screamed, echoing off the concrete and rattling Wes’s brain. Every cell in his body exploded with life.
“Three… Two… One…” Jax said again, far too soon for Wes. He needed a good long ride—in a couple of different ways. But this was business. “Now.”
Wes slammed the front brakes and threw his weight forward. The bike’s rear tire bucked into the air. With nothing but balance, brake pressure, and physical strength, Wes managed to keep his face off the concrete.
He controlled the bike’s endo for two hundred feet, then clamped down on the brakes and threw his weight again. Bullying the bike to mesh with the laws of physics, Wes spun the opposite direction. He dropped his ass to the seat and the bike’s back end to the ground. Then gunned the machine directly toward the metal inferno.
Hot damn. He’d nailed those moves. This take would scream on screen.
“Start your slide,” Jax said.
Wes leaned the bike toward the ground, guiding the Ducati into a sideways suicide.
“Three… Two… One…”
Jax paused a beat and the pressure of the concrete burned across Wes’s hip, then his thigh…
He gunned the gas and jerked his lower leg from between the concrete and the bike.
But his boot caught.
A flash of fear seared his spine. He gritted his teeth and yanked at his foot.
His leg popped loose. He released the handles. The bike speared toward the flames.
But the unexpected pull of his foot had altered the trajectory. Instantaneous thoughts pinged through his mind.
The bike would hit dead center. The crash would be bigger. The spread of debris wider.
Wes hit the concrete, and all thought vanished.
He bounced. Tucked. Rolled.
One of Rubi’s hands fused around her phone, the other around her notebook. She watched, frozen, helpless, as Wes tumbled end over end, his body bouncing with each hit against the concrete.
Over. And over. And fucking over.
Beside her, Jax swore and grew two inches as his easy stance tightened.
Rubi’s heart slammed against her ribs. “Jax?”
“Not good.” One of the cameramen moved out from behind his equipment and took one giant step forward.
Jax smacked a hand against his chest. “Wait.”
The word was barely out of Jax’s mouth when the Ducati slammed into the fiery pile of cars. Debris exploded into the air. A shocked scream popped out of Rubi’s throat. She stepped backward—more out of surprise than force. Fear zinged through her blood like CO2. Her muscles jerked as fiery pieces of metal rained down around Wes.
Panic streaked through her, chest to belly, in electric jolts. “Oh God.” Rubi dropped her notebook and started forward. “Wes.”
Jax caught her arm. “He’s okay.”
He and three other men stood ready to run—their gazes watching the sky as the fiery debris continued to pummel Wes. The thick scent of smoke and chemicals snaked into Rubi’s throat, filled her head.
She burned from the inside out. “Do something, Jax.”
On the floor of the viaduct, Wes curled into a ball and shielded his already-helmet-covered head. After the last piece of flaming metal hit the concrete, Jax released Rubi’s arm and sprinted toward Wes. All the staff followed, abandoning equipment and pulling out telephones. Others did the same—all from different directions, converging on Wes where he lay on his side.
Jax reached him first. Dropping to his knees, he leaned over Wes, his mouth moving as he spoke. A second later, they were both hidden behind a mass of people, and Rubi couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move.
Her whole body swam with terror. Her mind juggled fears.
He’s okay. He’s fine.
She swore she repeated the mantra in her head for excruciating minutes before the cluster of observers parted and Wes sat up. But it had to have been seconds, not minutes, because Rubi still hadn’t breathed…and she hadn’t passed out. Now, the air hissed out of her lungs through a tight throat, and the hammering of her heart seemed so much harder. So much faster. So much louder.
Jax helped Wes pull off his helmet, and all that blond hair caught the sun. But only when Wes turned to Jax with a gleaming grin did Rubi’s stomach finally untwist.
He said something that made everyone hovering howl with laughter.
Rubi didn’t find this amusing. But relief uncoiled in her chest, creating a painful ache. She closed her eyes and pressed a hand to the discomfort. “Oh my God.”