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   Chapter 6 Six

Beauty and the Bad By Aubrey Wolfe Characters: 45719

Updated: 2019-04-13 22:14

I'm still in shock that we're actually here – and how many nice cars there are surrounding us – but I'm more shook over the fact that I'm actually standing in the middle of a street race. I have always read about them or seen them in movies, like Fast and Furious, but I never imagined experiencing a real one, or that they actually exist. I imagined that it was a possibility, but maybe in places like Tokyo or Paris, all the big cities.

Not here, practically around the corner from my house.

"You seem a little shaken up, " Reece says, giving me a teasing smirk. I try and give him a reassuring smile, but I can feel my lower lip trembling slightly. He takes my hand in his, and clasps our fingers together. "Don't worry, sweetheart. You're with me, nothing bad will happen, " he shouts in my ear over the loud music and revving engines, his breath warm and light against my ear.

I manage to give him a small nod. He leads me over to the line-up of cars, where a heavily tatted guy with long hair comes bounding up to Reece, a large grin on his face.

"Reece, my man, you made it! Carl said you weren't going to make it, glad I took that bet against him, " the man says, clapping Reece on the back, before giving him your typical 'man-hug'. His green eyes slide over to me, and widen a bit. He pushes some of his long, dark hair out of his face and straightens up.

"Who's the lovely lady?" he asks, stretching a hand out for me to take. Reece, with lightning fast reflexes, slaps his hand away, tightening his grip on mine.

He narrows his eyes at the man. "Hands off, Kyle, " he mutters, but his tone is still light. The man, Kyle, holds his hands up in defense and laughs.

"Well, no need to tell me twice. Anyway, come on over, everyone has been waiting for you, " he says and bounds back over to the line of cars, where a small group of people have gathered around.

"Who are all these people?" I ask, glancing nervously at all the people slowly gathering around us.

"Just friends, some close, some are followers."

"Followers of what?"

Reece grins at me. "You'll see soon."

I frown, not sure if I want too.

We walk up to the group, and I see more people covered in tattoos, some without, but the majority of the people gathered are covered in either black or colorful ink. It makes me feel like I'm hanging around with a biker gang, if there weren't so many cars.

"Reece Hawken, as I live and breathe! You aren't too good enough for us now?" A man with sandy blonde hair and a scruffy beard comes barreling up to Reece, almost tackling him to the ground.

"Easy there, big guy. You're going to mess up the jacket, " Reece jokes and pulls away to dust off the invisible dirt. "Besides, I could never be too good to remember my roots."

His roots? What is he talking about? I want to ask, but I feel like a bug on the wall, watching from the outside.

Reece squeezes my hand, and pulls me forward.

"Dustin, this is Haley. She just moved here, I wanted to show her what Brisbane really has to offer, " he says, and they grin at each other, as if they're sharing a secret. I look between them, waiting for some sort of answer as to what he is referring to by 'what Brisbane has to offer'.

"I hear you, and you're in luck. They're just about to start off, and we're short a driver. Still got what it takes?" Dustin asks, and points back towards where the start line is.

Wait, does he mean he wants Reece to race? I look to him and wait for his answer. He just smiles.

"How much?" he asks, reaching into his pocket.

"50, " Dustin says. Reece pulls out a wad of cash, and slaps it into Dustin's out stretched hand. They both nod, and part ways. Reece grabs my hand again and tugs me along.

"What just happened?" I ask.

"I just paid to race, and if I win, I get it all back, and then some, " he says and beams down at me, like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.

"You're going to r-race? Isn't street racing extremely dangerous? You could get killed!" I say and try to rip my hand out from his. He stops and turns to me with a deep frown on his face, the first time I have seen him upset in anyway, and he still looks fucking irresistible.

"Haley, I have been doing this a long time, you could almost call is a career starting point, " he says, giving me a lopsided smirk.

"Career starting point? What kind of career do you have?"

Something flashes in Reece's eyes, and his smirk falters slightly.

"That's a story for another day. Right now, I'm going to win a race. Stay with Dustin and Kyle, they know the good spots to watch the race. I'll see you at the finish line." He gives my hand a squeeze, and turns to get in his car. Before I can stop him, I feel a hand on my arm and turn to see Kyle grinning at me.

"Don't worry, he'll be fine, he's done this plenty of times. Hasn't lost a race yet, as far as I'm concerned, " he says and starts leading me away. I stand on the side of the start line, watching as Reece pulls his car up next to two others.

They all rev their engines, as a girl wearing a skimpy outfit stands in front of them, holding what looks like a white t-shirt. She holds it up, then thrusts her arm down, and they take off in a flurry of smoke. I try and keep an eye on Reece's car, but they blaze down the road within seconds, disappearing.

"Where are they going?" I ask Dustin.

"They're doing a loop, just a few blocks. Reece will be back in a few minutes, " he says and turns back to his exotic looking car.

Like he said, a few minutes later, I hear distant engines roaring down the street. Everyone rushes back to the start line, which I now assume is the finish line, and cheer as they try and make out what car is in front.

I can faintly make out Reece's black Subaru through the smoke and headlights. His car is going well over 100/mph, and crosses the finish line with seconds the spare. Before his car even comes to a skidding stop, everyone is crowding around it, cheering and clapping.

"Looks like your boy won, " Dustin grins and runs off to join the others. I wait on the sidelines until the crowd thins down, barely able to see the top of Reece's head. I briefly see him walk up to a strange man, and he hands Reece a wad of cash, double the size he had handed Dustin earlier.

Just as he pushes the stack of cash back into his jacket pocket, his eyes slide over and connect with mine. A sexy smile glides across his lips as he makes his way toward me. As he gets closer, I can see how bright his golden eyes are, full of adrenaline, his face flush.

"I almost forgot what that felt like, " he says, a cheesy grin now on his face.

"Forgot what?" I ask, unable to keep the contagious smile from touching my lips. Reece moves closer to me, wrapping an arm around my waist.

"The rush of the race, the feel of the speed under your fingertips." His voice drops to a low, husky tone, sending shivers all over my body. His other hand reaches up to grasp my chin, and before I know what's going on, I'm lost in the feel of his lips, hungry against mine.

I can almost taste the adrenaline coursing through him, pouring into me, causing my heart to race and pound in my ears. It's the only sound besides our heavy breathing that I can hear.

All the sounds of the cars and people cheering around us fades away. It feels exactly like it did on the beach, like it's just the two of us, and I never want this moment to end. But all good things must come down.

We're pulled away when we hear a car screech to a stop behind us, and someone angrily slams their car door.

"What the hell are you doing here?!" I'm shocked once again, to hear Athena cry out. We whip our heads around to see her in an angry flurry of blonde hair. She stomps up to Reece, her pretty face twisted into an ugly sneer.

"Athena, always a pleasure, " Reece mutters, not even trying to sound warm or welcoming.

"Save it, Reece. Since when do you dabble with the commoners?" she bites back, crossing her arms. While they banter, I take the opportunity to look at the car she just flew out of. I'm surprised to see it's just as beautiful and exotic looking as Dustin's, almost better looking than Reece's.

I also recognize the light pink car, as one of the cars in the race.

Which means, she just lost against Reece.

No wonder she's so pissed off.

I tune back into their conversation, suddenly interested in what she's arguing about. Why is she so upset that he's here, and why does everyone keep commenting on him being too good for this place? This place is amazing! I don't feel good enough for this place.

"I had that race. If it wasn't for you popping out of nowhere, that money would've been mine!" Athena shouts, her face now red.

Reece lets out a howl of laughter, almost catching me off guard.

"That's what you're so angry about? Because I showed up, and stopped you from cheating? You should've just said something, we'll go again right now, just you and me." Reece is already walking over to his car before she says anything.

"What exactly is that going to prove?" she shouts after him.

He turns briefly to grin at her. "Cheat all you want, and I'll still win. If you manage to beat me, the prize money is all yours."

"And what if you beat me? What do you get?"

This makes Reece stop in his tracks. He spins on his heel and slowly walks up to her, whispering something in her ear. I'm too far away to make it out, but whatever he asks for, it makes her eyes go wide, and then furious.

She stomps back to her car, giving me one fleeting, narrow eyed look, before sliding in and driving to the start line. Reece is still standing in the middle of the street, looking right at me.

"I'll be back, sweetheart, " he says, loud enough for me to hear. He winks at me, then jogs over to his car and joins Athena. Dustin and Kyle walk up to me, confused looks on their faces.

"What's going on?" Kyle asks.

"Athena is angry that Reece beat the race, he said something about her not being able to cheat since he showed up. So, he's going to race her, to supposedly prove he can still win, even if she gets the chance to cheat."

Dustin and Kyle look at me stunned eyes, even I'm shocked myself, that all that just came out of my mouth.

Kyle grins. "You're starting to sound like one of us already."

I manage a small smile back, but my response is cut off when Reece's car comes to a stop in front of us. His window rolls down and he looks straight at me.

"Get in, " he says and smiles.


Reece reaches across the car and throws open the passenger door.

"I said, get in, you're coming with me this time."

Something in me pushes my body to get in the car without a second thought. As soon as the door closes, Reece races off to the start line. I meet Athena's eyes through the car window next to mine. She looks shocked for a few seconds, before she narrows her eyes and looks away.

The girl from before stand in front of the two cars, except this time she's right in front of me, standing just a few feet away from the cars. I'm surprised her clothes aren't filthy from the amount of dirt and dust that kicks up when the cars take off.

"You ready, firecracker?" Reece says over the roar of his engine, his eyes dancing with excitement. His choice of nickname reminds me of what he first said to me.

You're the firecracker across the street.

I just smile at the memory, wondering once again, how I was able to capture this exotic man.

His hand reaches across my lap to squeeze mine, before returning to the gear shift in the middle. I grasp my seatbelt across my chest, praying I make it through the end of this, and nothing bad happens.

Reece did say that Athena could cheat.

Just how far is she willing to go?

Before I can think about it further, the girl drops her arms in front, and we're taking off down the street. The houses and shops become instant blurs, everything just a rush of color. I have to keep my eyes focused in front of me, already getting motion sickness from trying to focus on anything else around me.

I hear Reece let out a low chuckle, amused at my reactions. I want to turn and frown at him, but I'm too afraid to move from my seat. We come to a sharp turn, and I shut my eyes as soon as we hit the corner, but I feel myself gliding along the edge.

I open my eyes just as Reece turns out of his drift, into a smooth opening. In that instant, I feel the adrenaline kick in, and I sit up further in my seat, a grin slapped on my face. I watch as the rush of things go by, no longer feeling sick, but feeling the rush course through me, inviting it to ring in my ears and pump through my veins.

I have never felt anything like this, besides when I kiss Reece. But this is a new kind of adrenaline. It's more freeing.

Just as it looks like we're about to make the last turn, Athena hot on his trails and looking like she is trying to come up Reece's side and slam his car, the sound of loud sirens rings through the air.

Reece and Athena make the sharp turn, and come to a dead stop in front of two police cruisers. We're at a four-way stop, unable to go back or forward.

I briefly see Reece and Athena exchange a look through their windows, before they take off in opposite directions, the cops unable to react fast enough. They split up as well, one going after us and the other chasing Athena.

"This is not happening, " I moan to myself and clutch the side of the car as Reece makes a sharp turn, going a lot faster than he was in the race.

"Don't worry, I've done this plenty of time." Reece grins like a maniac at me, not taking his eyes off the road

andoned garage, though there are a few scattered cars, all at least missing one noticeable part.

"Uh, where are we, Reece?" I ask, hearing the hesitation in my voice. I feel him reach around in the slight dark and grasp my hand, giving it a light squeeze.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to let anything happen to you, " he says, not making me feel any better. We finally reach a door, and he pushes it open to reveal a slightly dimmed garage bay, with more cars, some up on hoists and others parked on the side, again with parts and pieces missing.

"What is this place?"

"This is where I work during my spare time, and where I get all the latest parts and upgrades for my car, " Reece says, leading me further into the building. "I actually got my first part-time job here, back when I didn't know anything."

"Which was how long ago?" I ask teasingly. Reece just looks back at me and grins. We pass a sign, and I pause a little, squinting at the fading red letters.

Sommers Autobody Shop

New and Used Cars

The first name stands out to me, and I know I've heard it before. It clicks in my head just as Reece pushes open another door, but it's too late.

Ethan is standing on the other side, hunched over what looks like an engine on a large wood table. His head snaps towards us when we enter, and all the color drains from his face.

"H-Haley? What the hell are you doing here?" he asks, obviously not noticing Reece yet. His eyes slide over in that second, and he looks down at our still connected hands. The color returns to his face in bright red, and he rushes at Reece before either of us have time to react.

Or so I think.

Reece reacts with perfect timing, grappling Ethan before he can lay a punch. They wrestle with each other for a few seconds.

"You son of a bitch, I told you to stay away from her!" Ethan growls, finally giving Reece a shove, dusting himself off.

"Oh yeah? Who the hell do you think you are, pipsqueak? Wasn't my fault you left her hanging at the party you invited her too." Reece's face darkens. "Besides, your girl made a bet, also not my fault. She didn't have to take the bet, but she did."

I know he's talking about Athena, and the bet that I would be 'off-limits' to Ethan. A bet I'm not exactly supposed to know about.

Ethan gives Reece a confused stare, looking back at me. I just shrug, trying to play off that I have no idea what's he talking about.

"What does that mean? What did you bet Athena, and why?"

Reece laughs. "Because she decided to get hot-headed, over me butting in on her race. She lost the race, and the chance to cheat, so she wanted a re-match."

That isn't true. Reece instigated the re-match, so she could cheat.

But now, I'm thinking it's something else. Why would he lie to Ethan about wanting a re-match race with Athena? It can't be because of the cops, or he wouldn't have mentioned it at all.

"And the bet, well I'm not sure you want me to say it out loud. I can tell you later, after I introduce Haley to the other's, and then I'll tell you who won." Reece winks at Ethan and walks back up to me, entwining our fingers again.

Ethan glowers at our clasped hands, then looks at me, his piercing eyes softening. Reece whisks me off again before I have the chance to say anything. He leads me behind Ethan to a set of stairs going up.

I can hear faint music floating down, and light chatter mixed with laughter. When we reach the door where the noise is coming room, I almost expect Reece to open it to another party. Instead, there's only a handful, maybe less, of people standing around.

They all stop and stare when we enter, the noise silencing instantly. Until someone yells out.

"Is that Reece?" A guy with bright, almost bleach blonde hair, and tattoos up to his neck comes running up to us, a bright smile on his face, lighting up his equally bright blue eyes. They do their bro-style handshake, then he sees me.

"Oh, and you brought a friend?" He phrases it like a question, looking over his shoulder nervously. "Boss man isn't here right now."

"I know, he already knows I'm here, I'll catch him later." Reece grabs my hand and leads me over towards the rest of the group.

There is a rather tall woman with dark hair, leaning against a table covered in red solo cups, eyeing another table in front of her, with a game of beer pong set up. She too, has a few tattoos covering her exposed arms, but not as many as the blonde guy.

As we get closer, I realize it's Athena and Dustin playing beer pong. I double-take when I see Athena.

"What is she doing here?" I ask Reece.

"There's a lot to explain, and I'll tell you eventually. Let's say hi first." He continues to tug me towards them, my legs feeling like Jell-O. I know Athena is going to tear me to shreds when she sees me, especially after our talk today at lunch. She once again warned me, and I once again ignored her.

Like I thought, she spots me and narrows her eyes, but doesn't blow a lid. Dustin notices that she's stopped playing, and follows her line of vision. A grin breaks out on his face when he sees Reece and I.

"What's up, guys? Haley, great to see you!" He runs up to me and wraps me in a big hear hug, lifting my feet off the ground. I let out a light squeal of surprise, having no choice but to clutch his broad shoulders, his scruffy beard tickling my chest.

Reece clears his throat behind us, and Dustin lets me go. I spin around to see a dark look covering Reece's face, his gold eyes clouded over. He grabs my hand as soon as Dustin let's go and lightly tugs me back to his side. I try and hide my smile, wanting to poke fun at him, but knowing it's probably not going to go well.

"Relax, Hawken, tuck the claws away." Dustin winks at him, and surprisingly, Reece relaxes, and gives him a hug. "What are you guys doing here?"

"I wanted to introduce Haley to the rest of the group, since last night was cut short." As he speaks, his eyes slide past Dustin, to Athena behind him, her eyes still narrowed.

"I've been meaning to talk to you about that, " she says and stomps over to us. Dustin takes that as his cue to leave, and takes a step back, watching with wide, anxious eyes from the side.

"What is there to talk about? We all knew if the race was never interrupted, I was going to win, " Reece says with so much confidence, I can feel it radiate off him practically.

Athena rolls her eyes. "You're so full of it, Reece. No one knows who won that race, so no one won the race. You keep your money, and you and Ethan can continue to–"

"Athena!" Reece cuts her off with a growl. She rolls her eyes again, and saunters off, the beer pong game long forgotten about now.

"So, you've already met Dustin, and of course Athena." Reece clears his throat and pushes me towards the really tall girl. "This is Angelika, but everyone just calls her Angel for short."

"But trust me, I'm far from one, " she says and extends her hand for me to shake. I grab her hand lightly, then dragged into a big, bone-crushing hug.

"It's nice to see Reece come home with a girl, and not a trashy one, " Angel says, finally letting me go so I can breathe.

"Is he known for that?" I try and joke, but deep down, I can feel the sting of jealousy.

Angel lets out a snort of laughter. "He isn't known for bring any girl home."

"Shut up, Angel, " Reece growls. "I should have known this was a mistake. Alright, you met the rest of the crew, let's go, Haley." He moves to grab my arm, but Angel jumps in front of him.

"No, wait! We're just teasing, Reece. It's been a little while since we saw you, or your brothers. We didn't even know you were back in town."

When she says that, Reece's eyes dart toward me nervously, giving me an almost obvious clue, that I'm not supposed to know that info.

"Sorry, just got settled, so I thought I would stop by and see what everyone is up too, " Reece says, clearing his throat awkwardly.

Dustin jumps back into the conversation. "We just finished a perfect job, with a hefty payday." He grins like a maniac. I notice that Reece becomes more tense and uncomfortable looking.

Perfect job? Hefty payday?

I try and piece what he's talking about together, but he could really mean anything. We are standing in an autobody shop, after all, regardless of how many shops I think have a rec room like this one in the back.

"We we're actually just about to go out and celebrate, we're just doing a little pre-drinking before we head over. We're meeting Kyle and Karl there, too, " Angel says.

Kyle and Karl? I try not to laugh at the cute twin names – completely assuming they're the names of twins. I remember then, I have already met Kyle, at the car meet. Interesting to know he has a twin brother.

Reece's eyes flicker towards another door further in the back.

"If you want to come with us, you have about 20 minutes to get ready, and dress flashy, " Angel says.

Reece raises a brow at her. "Why?" he asks cautiously.

Angel and Dustin grin at each other, before looking at Reece and I.

"We're taking you guys to a rave."

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