18 February 2019

Read Chapter 1 from Bella and the Summer Fling

Book 2 in my Love on the Track series releases on February 22nd! But you can read a sneak peek of the first chapter here. 

Chapter One

It’s just after midnight. I can hear my brother Brent’s phone playing music in the room next to mine. When he lived here full time, he’d always listen to music to fall asleep, and whatever tunes he was obsessed with at the time would soon become my favorite music, too. Now that he’s home from college, I guess not everything has changed. He’s taller, more muscular, and acts like he’s all grown up. But he still needs music to fall asleep.
I finish drying my hair and then I sit on my bed, exhausted from the night, but somehow still unable to sleep. My body feels like every single nerve is awake and ready to party. I’m too excited. Too giddy, too surprised. Too… floaty.
I’m so much of so many feelings right now.
The greatest though, is pride.
I look over at my nightstand, which is now the temporary home of my shiny new trophy. I’ll have to find the perfect place to display it tomorrow, but for now, it’s right here next to my bed. My smile widens. My new trophy is at least two feet tall, with a white marble stand two sparkly blue columns. At the top, there’s a little golden dirt bike with a guy on it. On the bottom, engraved in a small golden plate are the words:
Women’s Class
2nd Place
Not bad at all for my first ever race. I may have had a dirt bike since I was six years old, but up until a few weeks ago, I only rode it for fun. I never tried to be particularly fast or talented, because it all seemed too impossible for me to achieve. I just rode around on the dirt bike track, jumping over small jumps, and having fun. It was my hobby, not my career or anything. I didn’t need to be fast or spend money on races that I had no chance of winning.
But that all changed when I met Liam Mosely.
He’s eighteen like me, but unlike me, he didn’t go to high school and waste all his days stuck in a stuffy building with demanding teachers and dramatic classmates. Instead, he’s been homeschooled while he focused solely on dirt bike racing, or motocross as it’s called professionally. He finally got good enough to race with a professional team last season, but then he was kicked off when he got into not one, but two fist fights with fellow racers. Fighting is unsportsmanlike and against the rules. He was kicked off Team FRZ Frame in a heartbeat, and they didn’t care that he had a good reason for doing what he did.
Liam’s dad decided to exile him to spend the summer with his mom here in Roca Springs, Texas It's a teensy little country town that no one has ever heard of. And it’s where we met. He never did tell me why exactly he got into those fights that derailed his professional career, just that he had a good reason for it. My smile slips a little bit. I don’t want to be stupidly crushing on a guy with an anger problem. But the Liam I know doesn’t have one. I believe him when he says he’s not normally a fighter.
Tonight I watched him back down from a bet with my brother. He could have gone out there and raced him and totally won because Liam is much faster than Brent. But he didn’t. He didn’t want to fight, didn’t want to cause any more bad blood. So whatever reason made Liam punch those other guys, I’m sure it was justified. Because I hate the idea of crushing on a guy who talks with his fists.
Not that it matters, by the way. I totally can’t crush on Liam Mosely.
Even though I just kissed him.
I swear my heart is still beating twice as fast as it should be, even though the night is over. The races are over, and that kiss is over. I came home and ate dinner and showered and now I’m still feeling that dizzying rush of adrenaline and excitement. I guess nights like this will take a while to get over.
I participated in my first ever motocross race and kissed the hottest guy I’ve ever kissed, all in one night. And now I have a shiny trophy and the memories of Liam’s soft lips to remember it by.
This was a good night.
But it can never happen again.
I definitely want to race again, maybe even race several more times. But that kissing Liam thing? Never again. Sure, he’s crazy hot and talented and always seems to listen when I’m talking to him, but he’s not boyfriend material. Boyfriends don’t move back home at the end of summer, and that’s exactly what Liam will be doing.
He’ll try to get picked back up on another professional race team and I’m sure it’ll happen for him. He’s too good of a racer to be left out in the cold. He’ll get picked up, and he’ll race professionally again, and he’ll become even more famous and even bigger of a deal than he is now. He’ll meet some charming supermodel or maybe even an actress—whoever she is, she’ll be gorgeous and perfect—and they’ll fall in love and get married and he’ll forget all about little ol’ me, Bella Castro, the random girl from a small town who kissed him one night after a race.
I take a deep breath and pull down the sheets on my freshly made bed. It’s time to go to sleep. Otherwise I’ll just sit here and stare at my trophy and think about him all night. I may not be a psychologist, but I know that’s not healthy.
I crawl under the covers and lay down, listening to the gentle beat of Brent’s music from his bedroom. One full song plays. Then another. Then five more.
Ugh, I can’t sleep.
I roll over in bed and grab my phone off the nightstand. My mom hates cell phones because they take away too much of our time. I was one of the last people in school to get my own phone because she hated them so much, but finally when I turned sixteen and started driving, my dad convinced her that I needed one for safety reasons. Mom says you can’t enjoy real life when you’re looking at a phone all day. I get it, kind of. But my real life happens to be on my phone. I check Snapchat and then Instagram, where I scroll through beautiful photos and weird photos and memes until my eyes hurt. It’s just after one in the morning. I’m still not tired.
My phone lights up.
Liam: You awake?
Oh crap. He’s texting me! In the middle of the freaking night. I should put my phone away. I should turn it off and go to sleep. But…
Me: Yup
My phone rings. It’s not just a phone call – Liam Mosely is Facetiming me at one in the morning. Oh crap. Oh crap, oh crap. I’m wearing Mickey Mouse pajamas and my hair is in a bun and I have no makeup on! This is not okay!
But maybe that’s for the best. If Liam sees me looking like all gross, maybe he’ll realize that it’s pointless to keep up this flirting thing with me. Maybe he’ll stop calling, stop hanging out with me at the track, stop being my friend. Then maybe I can finally get over him and move on with my life.
I sit up in bed and I answer the call.
“You’re up pretty late,” I say in a voice just above a whisper. Brent is in the next room over, after all and he will flip if he knows I’m talking to Liam.
Liam is wearing a black shirt, and he looks just as heart-crushingly hot as ever. He smirks. “You’re one to talk.”
I roll my eyes. “I was about to go to sleep.”
“Want me to let you go?”
I shake my head. “I can talk. What’s up?”
“Why are you whispering?” he says, leaning closer to the phone when he says the last word.
I feel a blush creep to my cheeks. “My brother is in the next room,” I say. “It’s better if he doesn’t wake up.”
Liam’s expression goes from playful to somber. “I tried to talk to him. Before your race started, just him and me.”
“What?” My eyes widen at my outburst and I remind myself to go back to a whisper. “You did? What did you say?”
He shrugs one shoulder, then lays back in his bed. He’s holding the phone above him and I can almost imagine that I’m standing in his room looking down at him while he lays in bed. The thought does weird things to my stomach.
“I told him I was sorry,” Liam says. “He didn’t seem to care.”
“Wow.” Brent hadn’t told me about this. He was excited for my first race and he was happy for me on the whole drive home, but he never mentioned this.
“He just needs time,” I say, and for all I know, that’s probably a lie. My brother hates Liam. I don’t think he’ll stop hating him any time soon, unfortunately.
Liam’s lips twist into a smile. It’s a little forced, like maybe he’s trying not to think about my brother’s lack of goodwill toward him. “So what did you think of your first race?”
“It was exhilarating. And amazing,” I say. I want to lay down, too, but that feels somehow too intimate. So I keep sitting up on my bed, looking at my phone for the video chat. “It was scary, too, but mostly fun. I owe it all to you.”
“Nah, you did this. It was all you.”
I shake my head. “You gave me the skills and the confidence to race. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to get out there and race.”
His eyes soften. “I’m glad you had a good time. My first race was a disaster.”
“Oh yeah?”
He nods. “I was six years old and I thought I was a little badass.” He chuckles at the memory. I had drank a whole bottle of chocolate milk on the drive to the track, and it was the middle of the summer, so it was like a hundred degrees outside. I was so nervous, and it was so hot, and when I was at the starting line, my stomach started hurting. All I had all day was that chocolate milk. No food, no water. And then halfway through the race, it came back up.”
He cringes at the memory. “I puked half curdled, hot, chocolate milk while I was riding. It got all over my helmet and my clothes. It was so gross.”
“Eww!” I say with a laugh. “That’s awful.”
Yeah it was,” Liam says with a smile that makes my own stomach hurt. “I didn’t even finish the race. My very first race, and I got a DNF.”
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“Nah, it’s all good. I went back the next weekend, and my dad made sure I didn’t have any chocolate milk. I think I got tenth place. I sucked. But I didn’t care, I just wanted to keep racing until I won.”
“And how long did that take?” I ask.
His teeth bite down on his bottom lip. “Longer than I care to admit.”
“Whaaaat?” I say sarcastically. “You mean the great Liam Mosely wasn’t always a winner?”
“Not even close.” He turns on his side to talk to me. Now it looks like we’re laying next to each other… if, well, if I was his phone. I’d be right next to him.
“I think I was around eight or nine before I won a race. It was hard. It took a lot of work, and my dad only brought me to the track. He’d sit on his phone or his laptop the whole time, doing work. He couldn’t teach me anything because he didn’t ride dirt bikes, and he didn’t care about the sport. I think he just kept taking me to the track because he felt bad about the divorce. But I kept riding, and I learned from watching others, and soon I got better.”
I yawn. “When did your parents divorce?”
“When I was six.”
“Wow, me too,” I say. “I hated it. Brent didn’t really care much. Or at least he acted like he didn’t care. My parents are still friends, though.”
“Yeah, mine are too.” He shrugs. “Kind of. My mom got remarried, and she’s pretty happy now. Phil is a good guy.”
“Plus she lives in Roca Springs, so clearly your mom is awesome,” I say with a grin.
He rolls his eyes. “I don’t know about that.  I prefer the big city life.”
We keep talking, about our childhood memories, and dirt bikes, and television shows. I don’t know when it happens, but soon I’m lying down, too, watching Liam through the phone while he lays in his bed.
We talk about a lot of things. And we don’t talk about that kiss we shared tonight. I find myself staring at his lips while he talks, imagining what it would be like to kiss him again. For real this time. Not as a silly bet. Not as a joke.
Another yawn overtakes me.
“I should let you get to sleep,” Liam says, his voice soft and soothing. He’s nothing like the arrogant version of himself that’s often portrayed on YouTube or articles from motocross magazines. He’s sweeter in real life.
“I don’t want to go to sleep,” I say, just as my stupid mouth betrays me and breaks into a yawn again.
He laughs. “It’s almost three in the morning.”
“Really?” I say, glancing at the time. “Wow.”
“Go to bed,” Liam says, peering softly into the phone. He looks so cute right now, his hair all messy on his pillow. “We’ll talk tomorrow.”
I nod as I yawn again. “Okay. Goodnight.”
I hang up and drop my phone on the nightstand. Then I sink into my pillow and close my eyes. My whole body feels warm, electrified. I’m really not supposed to have a crush on Liam Mosely.
But right now, I don’t really care.

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