She crouched to pick up her notebook but stayed there a moment when her head went light. Residual fear choked her while her senses came back online—the smell of chemicals and smoke, the sound of machinery and voices. That had been too close. Too damned close.
Pushing slowly to her feet so she didn’t topple, Rubi turned, and walked toward the trailer, shaken. She’d watched dozens of stunts over the last month while visiting the set to gather information for these apps. All their stunts were insane. All dangerous. But that…
She’d been fine until the bike tilted sideways. Until Wes had been sliding along the concrete at God only knew what speed. Looked like two hundred fucking miles an hour to her. She might even have continued to be okay if he hadn’t simply thrown himself to the ground. Now, she felt unhinged. Confused over the distress. Terrorized over the fear of something happening to him.
She jogged the trailer’s steps and entered the old piece of shit the guys dragged around with them from jobsite to jobsite. Thanks to Lexi, the trailer was now a remodeled piece of shit. The new secretary, Rachel, a darling little brunette, glanced over the top of her cute tortoiseshell rims with a breezy, “Hey, Rubi.”
Rubi’s best friend, Lexi LaCroix, her long, blonde hair loose, hanging shiny and straight to the middle of her back, turned from the window with a worried frown wrinkling her perfectly smooth forehead. “Everything okay?”
“He made everyone laugh, as usual.” Rubi shrugged, trying to pretend her heart had not just tried to jump into her throat, but the irritation in her voice didn’t fit the facade. “I guess that means he’s not dead.”
She needed a few minutes and turned for the small bathroom at the rear of the trailer.
Rubi closed the bathroom’s thin door, but Rachel’s voice filtered in. “They’re fine. They do this all day, every day. If you fuss, they get all pissy. Pffft. Men.”
She ran the water, dipped her hands under the cool stream, and pressed them to her cheeks. Gripping the sink to hold herself up, Rubi looked in the mirror. Her eyes were dark with residual distress, her face drawn with tension.
She didn’t like this at all. This worry. This fear. She wasn’t made to weather this kind of emotional stress, which was why she lived the way she lived—with very few attachments. But Rachel was right. This was nothing. They did it every day. Had done it every day for years. These guys knew what they were doing. Which was why they were the best in the business.
These feelings were so hypocritical considering her own love of speed. Her own maniacal driving tendencies. Wes was trained. Wes had won championship after championship in international motorcycle races the likes of MotoGP and Isle of Man before entering the world of stunts. Wes was a professional. Rubi was just a rebel—breaking speed limits for the hell of it.
Alarm bells rang in her head. This stunt mishap shouldn’t have disturbed her so deeply. If Troy or Keaton or Duke had been the Renegade bouncing along the viaduct, she’d have been worried. Maybe a touched panicked, but she wouldn’t be unraveling at the seams like this, and that told her Wes wasn’t the only one with emotions pushing the boundaries of their friendship.
The floor shook with footsteps, and the trailer filled with muffled male voices—laughing and chatting, bullshitting over the stunt.
“No, no, no.” Rubi pushed off the sink and shook back her hair, shoving all the erratic feelings aside, then scolded herself in the mirror. “You’re not falling for him, dumb shit. He is way out of your league. He doesn’t do temporary, and you don’t do permanent. Don’t fuck up a good thing.”
The lecture left a strange, painful hollow at the center of her belly, and she exited the bathroom, glad she and Lexi were having lunch together today. They hadn’t gotten any girl time since Jax entered the picture, which, she realized, might be why these feelings, why this…deeper-than-normal friendship had developed between her and Wes.
Yes, a few hours with Lexi would set Rubi straight. That thought helped her pull it together. But only until she walked into the trailer’s common area.
All the Renegades were back, shrinking the trailer to the size of a microchip. Rubi could have choked on the testosterone thickening the air. But she was distracted.
Wes stood at the center of the room, the neoprene suit pulled off his shoulders, hanging low on his hips. She stopped short and pressed an open hand over her heart for the second time in fifteen minutes.
Her fantasies hadn’t come close to the real deal, standing only six feet away. His stormy gray-blue eyes shone with residual excitement from that crazy-ass stunt. With his hands planted at his hips, his muscled pecs and biceps glistened with sweat. The fine line of golden hair low on his abdomen disappeared between his belly button and the waistband of whatever he wore beneath the neoprene.