Redline Lover [Take Me, Lover, Book 1]
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by Charlene Teglia
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
Description: Riding the edge? Take Me, Lover, Book 1 When it comes to cars, former race driver Adam Richards knows how to maximize performance. Love? It doesn't come with a maintenance manual, and it's just as well. The secrets he's hiding behind his partnership in a racing garage don't lend themselves to lasting relationships. Now that Maggie Parker is back in town, though, he's got a few ideas to make her purr like a finely tuned engine. Life taught Maggie that men don't stay. Leaving Adam before he got bored was supposed to protect her from heartbreak?only it didn't work. If helping her sister was the only reason for coming home, she might have got away unscathed. But the story she's been assigned to write is going to bring her within scorching distance of her old flame. Adam is as irresistible as ever--and just as stubborn. He won't give her a story, but his offer of a no-strings fling is one she can't refuse. Passion pushes them to the limit, sparking Maggie's belief that loving Adam is worth the risk. Until she digs deeper and discovers some things just don't add up? Warning: Cornea-blistering sex scenes that use ALL the words, a hero to eat your heart out over and True Romance. Plus fast cars.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: November 2009
22 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [121 KB]
Reading time: 71-99 min.
Adam Richards carefully finished reattaching the oil pan to the underside of Shauntel Johnson's bulletproof '68 Chevy Impala before he answered. "Is that so." His low drawl didn't invite further explanations, but Pete jumped in to provide them anyway.
"Yep. Came back last night, late. Staying at her sister's. Guess she came to help out with the baby. You going to go see her?"
"I imagine she'll come to see me if she needs an oil change," Adam said, and then mentally cursed himself for the Freudian slip. Maggie'd used him to change her oil, all right, and then driven away without a backward glance.
"Don't be like that, Adam." Pete kicked at Adam's boots, the only part of him that stuck out from under the car. "You let that girl get away once. You want to wait until you're too old to chase her down and get her back?"
Adam wiped his hands on his oil rag and planted his feet on the concrete floor of the garage, using the leverage to scoot himself out from under the Chevy so he could glare at his partner without 4,000 pounds of steel making it a wasted effort. "Maybe I don't want her back."
Pete Crenshaw nodded. "Right. And that's why you've been sulking ever since she left, jumping when the phone rings, turning down every woman who comes your way if she wants anything more from you than a tune-up or a ring job."
"I don't sulk." Adam levered himself up off the creeper so he'd have the advantage of height, if not logic. "And I didn't know you wanted me to proposition the customers. I thought we were running a garage here, not a dating service."
"And I didn't think any man who could lift an engine block would be afraid of a girl."
"You're going to be like this the entire time she's here, aren't you?"
"Damn right." Pete grinned.
Pete wouldn't drop it, that was clear. And the last thing Adam needed was to have his partner playing matchmaker between him and the journalist who'd decided he wasn't that interesting, after all. There was always a risk that something would trigger her investigative instincts. Pete of all people should be aware of the risk, but he apparently thought it made life more interesting.
So the sooner he put an end to this, the better, Adam decided. He'd see Maggie, she'd be polite and distant, so would he, and everybody in Lake Anne village would see that there wasn't anything to talk about. "Fine," Adam said. "I'll go see her."
But first he'd clean up a little. Not because he cared what Maggie Parker thought, but because it was polite and her sister wouldn't appreciate him tracking grease into her house.
"Can I get you some more juice?" Maggie hovered over Anne and frowned at the exhausted pallor on her sister's face.
"I'm fine." Anne lifted one hand off the bed to wave Maggie away. "We're fine. See?" She indicated the tiny, fuzzy, dark head nestled into the crook of her arm.
"Okay." Maggie reached down to lightly stroke her new nephew, marveling at the soft skin and the way he curled his little fingers around one of his mother's. She tamped down a surge of rage at the man who had abandoned this precious baby before he'd even drawn his first breath, leaving her sister to try to cope with first-time parenthood alone.
Her soon-to-be former brother-in-law should have been here, should have held baby Joey and counted all the fingers and toes while Anne was too blurry to do it herself but needed reassurance that her baby was indeed perfect in every way.
Instead Anne just had Maggie, arriving late when her flight was delayed, and completely clueless about what new babies and new mothers needed. Clueless, but determined. I won't let you down, Maggie vowed to them both.
The doorbell rang and Maggie straightened. "I'll get that. You try to get a nap."
"I'm allowed to have visitors, you know," Anne said, but she closed her eyes with a tired sigh.
"Yes, you are. When you're up to it." Maggie slipped out of the bedroom, closed the door as softly as she could to keep from disturbing the baby, and went to open the front door.
The bright smile of greeting froze on her face when she saw who was standing on the front porch.
Something clutched in her chest and she forgot to breathe. It only took one glimpse of this man to turn her inside out. Still. Distance hadn't given her any immunity. It only made her eyes hungrier for the sight of him. He still wore his dark hair in an almost military crew cut, a holdover from his racing days when helmets made the style practical. His dark eyes were as impossible to read as ever. His almost harsh features settled him firmly into the category of men who could never be called pretty but would always be noticed.
The height and breadth of him, and the scent of soap that didn't disguise the potent scent of male filled her senses and she drank him in like a woman who'd been dying of thirst.
She would have seen him sooner or later, but she'd planned on later. Later would've given her more time to brace for the impact he had on her.
"Hello, Maggie." His voice was cool, even, his expression polite. They might have been strangers or casual acquaintances, Maggie thought, feeling a twisting pain in her center. "I came to give your sister this."
Adam held out something the size of a postcard. Maggie stepped into the doorway, halfway out, to take it from him. Their fingers brushed and she tried not to react but it was Adam, and even the most casual touch set off a shiver.
"It's good anytime," Adam added when she didn't say anything.
Maggie focused on the card and realized it entitled Anne to a free service at his garage. That would come in handy. Maggie hadn't trusted the aging Toyota Tercel to bring her sister and nephew home from the hospital. They'd made it, but Maggie thought it had been a near thing. "Now would be good," she muttered. Then louder, "Thank you, Adam. Anne really needs this."
"I know." His mouth tightened. "She never brought her car in for maintenance after she married Brad. It's long past due."
The disapproval in his voice told her plainly what he'd thought about Brad. Adam had strong feelings about responsible car ownership. If Anne had married him, her brakes wouldn't squeal and her steering wheel would never again pull to the left, Maggie thought. Although it was impossible to imagine Adam married to anybody.
Adam getting married seemed about as unlikely as Adam deciding it was okay to drive a car with a flat tire. And it probably held about as much appeal for a man who loved speed and performance--none. Which made her wonder all over again why he'd ever decided to take her for a mattress ride. Boredom and convenience seemed like the logical explanation.
"Thank you," she said again. When at a loss for words, it was always safe to fall back on polite neutrality.
"Thought she'd rather have that than another casserole," Adam said, his voice solemn.
Maggie felt her lips twitch and then shape themselves into a smile. "Good call. You are not the first member of the community to bring something by. The freezer's already full."
"Guess you don't need me to take you to dinner, then."
Maggie did a slow blink of surprise. "No."
"Want to invite me to join you?"
She opened and closed her mouth soundlessly. Then tried again and found her voice. "Sure. Okay. Come in." She stepped back and held the door for him. "They're sleeping, though."
"I didn't come to see them." His low voice sent another shiver through her.
He doesn't mean that the way it sounds, Maggie told herself sternly. And even if he did, a smart woman would ignore it and pretend he didn't.
Too bad the last thing she ever felt around Adam Richards was smart.
Go see Maggie. Be distant but polite, Adam thought. Right. That plan had lasted about as long as it took Maggie to open the door and fasten her baby blues on him. Or maybe his eyes were to blame. They'd rested on her soft red curls, her thick lashes, that full, pouting mouth he remembered all too well and had dreamed about more than once since she'd gone away, and the dangerous curves that her jeans and tee shirt did nothing to disguise.
One look at Maggie and he was inviting himself in. For dinner. Because a few minutes of polite, public chit-chat on the front porch wasn't punishment enough. No, he had to maneuver to get at least half an hour alone with her. While her sister and a newborn baby slept just down the hall.
"I hope you like tuna casserole," Maggie said over her shoulder in a soft voice.
Right now he'd take just about any excuse to sit across from her and look at her, Adam thought, and that did not bode well. "Tuna's fine."
Maggie waved her hand in the general direction of a chair. Adam sat and watched while she moved around the tiny kitchen, getting out plates and forks, serving both of them. He remembered her as light and graceful, but some tension was making her movements stiff.
Was he the cause of that? Adam considered the possibility, then dismissed it. She was probably upset about having to leave her job, come back to Reston, Virginia, and provide the support her brother-in-law hadn't been man enough to give. Worried about her sister, too, he thought.
"Anne will be fine," he said, wanting to reassure her.
Maggie's hand almost slipped on the plate she was holding. She set it down in front of him with careful deliberation. "I know." She placed the other plate in front of the empty chair across from him and took her seat. "I'm going to make sure of it."
Her mouth settled into a stubborn line, her chin jutted forward, and she picked up her fork like she meant to attack her dinner if it did anything but cooperate.
"Planning to stay awhile?" Adam asked with a level calm he was far from feeling.
"Yes." Maggie stabbed at a noodle. "Until she's recovered and back on her feet. My boss gave me a remote assignment, so I'm covered for six weeks."
If six weeks wasn't long enough, Adam didn't doubt Maggie would narrow her blue eyes, stick out her chin, pick up a phone and spit out rapid-fire arguments until her boss gave in and extended her leave.
"That's how long the doctor said her post-surgical recovery would take," Maggie went on. "Since she ended up having a C-section after labor didn't progress, she can't lift anything. She'll need a lot of help."
"It's good of you to be here," Adam said.
Her mouth tightened. "I should have been here sooner. She was alone in surgery. She didn't have anybody waiting to hold Joey and tell her how beautiful he is."
Brad was an ass, Adam thought. And a dead one, if Maggie ever got a hold of him. Fortunately for Brad, he was probably several hundred miles away, safe from Maggie's wrath.
"Sorry," she added a moment later. "I'm sure you don't want to hear me going on about all of this."
That brought him forward in his chair. He reached out and captured her hand in one of his before he could stop himself or think about what he was doing. "We used to be friends, Maggie."
She tensed her hand, then relaxed it in his hold. "Is that what you call it?" Her voice was mild, but the way she kept her gaze focused on her plate made Adam wonder what she didn't want him to see.
"Lovers, then." He used the word boldly and waited to see what she'd do.
She didn't argue or disagree. She nodded once, and then continued eating. She left her hand in his instead of pulling it back.
"What's your remote assignment?"
"You. Adam Richards, the unsolved mystery. Interested?"
"Not in a story. Do you have another lover now, Maggie?" As soon as he asked the question he wanted to call it back, but it was too late. It hung in the air between them and the silence felt like the warning calm before a storm.
It was none of his business if she did. None of his business if she didn't choose to sleep alone. None of his business who she wrapped those pale legs of hers around at night.
"Are you asking if the position's open?" Maggie continued to look down as she answered his question with another question.
"I don't have a lover." She lifted her eyes and fixed them on his. "There's nobody waiting for me in Chicago, wondering how soon I'll be back. Unless you count my boss."
"He only counts if you've been sleeping with him."
Maggie snorted. "He's not my type."
"Then maybe you'd like to sleep with me while you're here." Adam watched her face, trying to gauge her reaction.
She didn't look shocked or appalled. She didn't look eager, either. She looked thoughtful. She tilted her head to one side and considered him before asking, "Why?"
She had to ask why? He only had to look at her and he was as hard as the concrete floor of the garage. The sex between them had been hot and urgent, no matter how often they had each other, and he'd been far from finished with her when she walked away.
She'd left him with an itch he couldn't scratch, an ache he couldn't satisfy. A hunger that he could ignore but never entirely escape. "You left before I could get you out of my system."
Maggie blinked. "I see. Am I still in your system?"
"What do you think?"