“Oye mami,” one of the bikers called. She blocked out his voice and clenched her fist.
If Stoke’s didn’t give so much money to her roller derby league in exchange for one night of carhopping, she’d never stand for the kind of lewd comments the rough motorcycle types liked to throw her way. Then again, she was skating around in crash pads, a black pleated miniskirt, and a bikini top with the league’s alligator-on-roller-skates logo over each breast. She got better tips this way, and the league was hurting for cash this season.
“Hey.” Lily, her best friend and teammate, screeched to a halt on her toe stops. Her frilly skirt flipped up, exposing her Talk Derby to Me booty shorts underneath. She probably meant to do that. Lily was a tease, but that was because she could afford to be one. With her Greek goddess looks, men were always interested in her curves.
It was one reason why on the track she was known as A’thing’a Beauty.
“If those assholes touch me, I’m going to bash them over the head with a baseball bat.”
“You say that every time we’re here. Besides, your cop buddies wouldn’t let that happen.” Lily pivoted neatly and rolled with Madison toward the ticket window, wiggling her fingers at the cop car sitting in Madison’s section.
“They’re not my friends.” She refused to look at the two off-duty patrol officers. They weren’t bad people.
Some of the cops Detective Matt Smith sent to “protect” her were even nice. But that was because they wanted something she couldn’t give them. Evidence her ex-husband was a drug dealer.
“I’ve got a guy in my section, and he’s been eyeing you since he got here. I swear he’s got a thing for you. I think we should switch.”
“What?” Madison almost tripped over the curb. Lily never gave up the section behind the grill. The concrete wasn’t busted up and it made for good skating. Besides, the bikers didn’t park back there.
“I tried flirting with him, but he didn’t pay me any attention.” Lily rolled her eyes. It was crazy to think a man wouldn’t notice her. She was athletic and curvy, with perfectly sun-kissed olive skin, long, curling hair braided into pigtails, and her makeup never ran because of sweat.
“Who is he?” Madison peered toward the back lot, but had no idea which car was his.
“Orange muscle car, black stripes. Here. Take this to him.” Lily handed her a banana split with two spoons.
“Don’t ask. Just go.”
“No.” Madison shook her head and pushed the frozen treat back at her. “I don’t do bad-boy types. Not anymore, remember? If he doesn’t have a pocket protector or a suit, I’m not interested.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Honey, have you looked in the mirror? You don’t exactly scream ‘nice guy material’ anymore. Neither of us do. Besides, it’s not like I’m telling you to go marry the guy, just flirt a little. You’ve got to learn how to do it again. Please?”
Madison glared at her. Roller derby had given her the kick in the pants to get her life together when she’d had nothing. But most of all, she’d found a family, something she hadn’t had since high school, which was more depressing than she wanted to think about.
“Fine,” Madison grumbled, and took the banana split back.
“Yay!” Lily gave Madison a little push and slapped her bottom.
She peered over her shoulder at her friend, nerves clamoring inside of her. Her? Flirt? She hadn’t done that in ages. Wasn’t even sure if she knew how to anymore. She’d have to trust that if she got into any kind of awkward exchange, she could count on one of the other derby girls to pull her ass out of the fire. That’s what derby sisters were good for, right?
The orange muscle car sat under a long, tin awning, shielding it from the afternoon sun. She couldn’t tell anything about the man sitting in the car except he had wide shoulders, the kind of big muscular arms she could
dig her nails into.
Those thoughts needed to stop—right now. She hadn’t had sex in ages and her hormones were in overdrive.
At this point, she’d have fantasies about anything with a pulse. Which was probably why Lily was shoving her at this man, but was she ready? Were there rules for newly divorced women about when they could date?
How was she supposed to act? Did she need to tell the guy up front?
“Right, because nothing is sexier than saying, ‘Hi, my name is Madison and I’m newly divorced after being separated for three years,’” she muttered to herself. Then again, leading with Hi, want to give my lady parts a tune-up? probably wasn’t a good idea either.
Time to put her customer service face on and stop thinking about s-e-x.
The driver slowly came into view, one delicious inch of muscular arm at a time until she could see the rest of him. He had one arm hanging out of the open window, with a black-and-gray tattoo peeking from under his shirtsleeve. He had short, sandy brown hair and a strong jaw with generous lips she wanted to see smile for some crazy reason. Sunglasses hid his eyes, but she felt them crawl over her body. Madison smiled at the man and felt her pulse in her throat. Why did she have the sudden urge to trace those inked lines with her tongue?
She’d become something of an ink addict since her divorce, as evidenced by the tattoos she’d accumulated in the last few years. One glance at her customer and she shivered despite the heat.
Hot wasn’t a strong enough word for him. Panty melting might be more accurate. She was out of her league here. He’d chew her up and spit her inexperienced ass out. Lily could have this one all to herself.
Madison slowed to a stop, careful to not spill the quickly melting ice cream. “Hey, I’ve got one banana split for you.”
His lips curled downward a bit. “I didn’t order one.” That voice. It rumbled across her senses, straight to her core, setting off her internal alarms. Danger!
“Oh, you didn’t? They told me to bring it out here.”
Shit. Shit. Shit. This is all Lily’s fault!
“Give it here.” He gestured for her to bring the ice cream closer while he dug in his pocket. “Two spoons, huh?”
“That’s what they gave me.” She shrugged and handed it over.
Madison hadn’t even noticed the plastic silverware stuck neatly in the sides. Now, if he would just take it so she could skate her happy ass away, she wouldn’t complain about the bikers for the rest of the afternoon. She could only assume he was studying her. His gaze was hidden, but she felt it drift across her shoulders, down her breasts and stomach to her legs. She’d toss on a shirt, too, no matter that it was ungodly hot. She was not ready for this kind of attention, even if her body screamed something else.
“You look like you could use a cooldown.” He pulled his sunglasses off and she nearly stopped breathing. He had the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. Like the sky on a clear day, or the bluest of ocean lagoons. “Want some?”
Nope. Nothing from you.
“It looks really good.” He spooned a bite of the slowchurned vanilla into his mouth. The way his lips wrapped around the spoon was completely fascinating. Where had he learned that? “There’s plenty for two.”
“Uh, sure.” Was that breathy voice really her?
He offered her a spoon and held the treat for her to scoop some. Stoke’s might be known for their beerbattered fries, but they made a mean homemade ice cream. It was one of their better-kept secrets. She greedily dipped her bite into the fudge, making sure it was dripping with chocolate.
“You want to sit down?” He gestured to the passenger side of his car.
She froze with the spoon halfway to her mouth. Attractive man, tinted windows, sitting here watching her and now he wanted her to have a seat in his car. Shit, fuck and damn it. Why hadn’t she seen it before? Hot guys in cool cars didn’t pick girls up like this, did they? Not when your last name used to be Ross. All the desire burning in her breast went out in one poof of nonexistent smoke. This had to tie back to Dustin.
Madison jabbed the spoon back in the dish and placed her hands on her hips, glaring at Mr. I-Melt-Panties-For-A-Living. How dare he take advantage of herself-imposed celibacy with his hotness? It just wasn’t fair.
“Why are you here? And don’t tell me it’s for the beer fries.” She glanced toward the patrol car but—Shit!—the cops were gone. Could she get the attention of one of the girls in time? What if he grabbed her and drove off ?