Lennox

By: Dallas Cole

Chapter One




Elena



I like uncomplicated things. Numbers. Machines. A car looks complicated, but it’s really not. It’s a beautiful, straightforward system of gears and tubes and pistons all working together. I know every part and how they’re supposed to work. If I want them to perform better, then I know just how to tune them, just what brand to plug in. I can see right when they’re about to give out, and I can soften the blow. Take good care of a car, and it’ll take good care of you.

People are a little bit tougher. Right when I think their system’s working as it should—that’s when it all goes to hell.

“Elena, djevojka, watch where you leave the toolbox!” Drazic, my uncle, kicks at the soles of my Docs. “Slide on out of there.”

I finish tightening the lug I’d been fastening into place and shove my way out from underneath my latest work of art: a deep purple 1973 GTO. V8, all new nitro system, kickin’ bass, and enough wild horses to leave all those jackasses from the upstate crew choking on the dust.

I stand up from my work sled and peel off my heavy gloves. “What do you think?”

Drazic’s grin splits through his weathered, deeply tanned face. “I think Nash better know how lucky he is. You got brains, beauty, and you can soup up a beast like that?” He lets out a low whistle.

I roll my eyes and swat him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry.” I remind him often. “This baby should be ready in time for next week’s race, if Nash can log some practice hours in it.”

“Yeah, if I can pry him away from you.” Drazic shakes his head. “Gotta pay the bills first, djevojka. The crew can’t run without our point man.”

“Please. I know how important the trials are. Rattle the upstate boys, right?” I grin back at him and fiddle with the end of my ponytail. “You needed something?”

“Just a question on the books. You log those invoices from last week?”

My smile fades. I follow Drazic into the cramped office of Drazic Muscleworks and sit down on an empty corner of desk space while he rifles through a stack of papers. “Finished up this morning,” I say. “They should all be there. But, um, I wasn’t sure about some of—”

Drazic’s gaze slides toward mine, and I stop talking. There’s no threat behind it, but I know enough not to say anything more. Drazic’s my dad’s brother. He followed my parents to the US from Croatia, and he’s been my legal guardian since I was eight. I owe my life to him—no exaggeration—and I know he’d do anything for me.

Would, and does. That’s why I don’t ask where all the money comes from that keeps the shop afloat and his crew out of debt. It kept me out of the foster system, or worse. The least I can do is keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself.

“But you logged them all,” Drazic says.

I nod and stare down at the ground.

“Shit.” Drazic snaps the file folder shut. “Okay. It’s okay. It’s no problem. We’ll just—pick up some extra work. Everything’s gonna be fine.”

But I know damn well what the ledgers say. Numbers and cars—they don’t lie.

The front door bells jangle, and in walks Nash, shoving his shades up into the mussed blonde peaks of his hair. “Elena? D? You here?”

I bounce off the desk and rush out to greet him. “Hey, baby!”

Nash sweeps me into his arms. The hard line of his muscles presses through my thin tank top as he cups my face in his hands. “Missed you, angel.”

“Missed you, too.”

He lowers his lips to mine. He kisses like a shot of Nitric Oxide, all hot and cold racing through my veins.

Nash is about as uncomplicated as they come—one of the reasons I love him. He races hard, fights hard, and fucks hard. I never have to worry about him when he’s out with the crew, and he never has to worry about me. I grew up drooling over Nash, but he was a perfect gentleman—didn’t dare look at me until I turned eighteen two years ago, and he was sure Drazic wouldn’t kill him. Of course, Drazic will still kill him if he ever treats me wrong. But I don’t think I have to worry about that.

“Look at you. All sweaty and oil-stained.”

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