For Lacey Callihan, things couldn't get much worse. She's working a dead-end job, living with a dead-end boyfriend and stuck in a dead-end town. When Lacey's boyfriend steals her meager life savings and hits her for questioning him, it's the last straw. She skips town in her rust-heap of a car - which she can only pray will get her as far as Texas. And it does. Spluttering to a final stop just as she crosses the border. But when two ultra-hot cowboys pull up in their convertible red Mustang and offer her a ride, Lacey has a feeling her luck is about to change ...
(courtesy of The Romance Vault) on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
I awoke feeling happy, God knows why. I’d had little sleep, the day was already hot as sin, and I had another long shift ahead of me at a job that I hated with every fiber of my being. I’d had waitressing jobs before that I’d half-enjoyed, but The Rusty Nail was hardly a choice establishment. The clientele were a seedy, drunken, desperate bunch who never tired of groping and grabbing as their beer-on-tap was liberally, endlessly served. By me. A dead-end bar on a dead-end street in a dead-end town, that’s what it was. The tips were good enough, though, so I’d stuck with it for eight and a half months so far, saving every penny I could get away with, stashing my wadded bundles of cash in an empty peanut butter jar I hid at the back of the kitchen cupboard where I kept the herbal teas, the organic rice, the walnuts, when I could afford them: it was a cupboard Cal avoided.
I’d thought of quitting my job more than once, God knew that. Every day, in fact. But it helped that I could walk the mile and half from the house we were renting – a glorified shack with one bedroom and the smallest kitchen I’d ever seen. My car was a rust heap that ran, but barely. It needed some stuff done to it that Cal had promised he would take care of, especially after the mechanic said the repairs would cost more than the car was worth. Cal was a mechanic, so I’d thought he might make it a priority. Take it to work with him, or something. Fix it when he had a spare hour or two.
That hadn’t happened. His motorcycles needed fixing. There was always a part that had to be replaced or a spark plug to tune, or whatever.
Cal’s promises had never been something I could reliably hinge my hopes on. Even in the beginning. Now, after almost two years of living together, our relationship had taken on all the glitter and glamor of the dingy windows the sun was feebly trying to shine through. And it wasn’t having much luck. Looking around the stuffy, messy bedroom, I couldn’t quite place the reason behind my unwarranted spark of optimism. Beyond the dirty panes of glass, the sky gleamed a bright, incandescent blue. Outside this house, it was a masterpiece of a day and one that I wanted to make the most of.
And I remembered: today was my birthday. My twenty-first.
I’d already planned to stop in at a swanky shop I passed on my way to work, to treat myself. There was a handbag I’d had my eye on for a whole month. It was red and orange, made of leather. Expensive. Just last week, it had been put on sale. Thirty percent off. And if a girl couldn’t buy herself a present on her twenty-first birthday, then what was the point? I worked hard and I figured I deserved it. God knew Cal wouldn’t buy it for me. I’d be lucky if he even remembered it was my birthday.
Before I could rise from the bed, Cal’s burly arm wrapped around me. I could smell the sweat and grease of yesterday’s workday. He hadn’t even bothered to shower before coming to bed. Nice. He pulled me closer, and started kissing my neck, but I struggled, pulling away from his grasp. “Let me go,” I said. “I’m getting up.”
His grip on my arm tightened. “Let’s have some fun,” he murmured.
It was the last thing in the world I felt like doing. Fun with Cal, I realized at that moment, wasn’t fun anymore. It had been, once. A long time ago.
I wriggled free of him and heard him swear. “What the fuck’s up with you, Lacey? Are you screwing around on me or something?”
“No,” I said, instantly relieved to be out of his reach. “I just have to get into work early today. There’s a new girl starting and I have to train her.”
“Why do you have to work so much? You should spend more time here. With me.”
I didn’t bother telling him that I was specifically avoiding doing exactly that, or that I had some other stuff I wanted to do before work. If he knew how much money I planned on spending on the bag, he’d go apeshit, plus he’d wonder how I made enough to buy it. At first I’d felt a little guilty about skimming off of our shared income. Hiding it away for myself. I’d been saving since I got the job at The Rusty Nail. I must have known I wouldn’t be here forever. Even then, without even realizing it, I’d been hatching an escape plan.
I took a quick shower and put on a pair of white cotton panties, a white sundress and my favorite sandals. Drying my long, wavy, white-blond hair until it was smooth, the way Cal preferred it – out of habit more than any inclination to please him, I left it loose. I guessed it was already ninety degrees outside and it wasn’t even . Checking to make sure Cal wasn’t up yet, I went to the kitchen and put the kettle on, to muffle the noise I was about to make. Reaching to the back of my cupboard, I pulled out the jar. But when I pulled it out, it felt light. Opening it, I could see that it wasn’t stuffed full with the $2,314.00 I’d saved. There was only a small roll of wadded-up tens and twenties. My stomach did a weird little flip and I reached back into the cupboard, searching. Maybe it had tipped over, and spilled. But no. It was tightly sealed, well-disguised. Aside from a few forgotten tea bags and some rice grains, the back of the cupboard was bare. I counted the money. A hundred and fifty-eight dollars. My fist balled around the crumpled bills. Anger bristled in me, and a sadness that felt more like grief. Tears pricked at the back of my eyes.
I stormed into the bedroom. Cal was awake, lying on his back with one arm slung behind his head. His other hand was gripping his erection, rubbing it. “Come here for a minute, baby. Come and give me a little love.”
“Where’s my money?” I accused, having no intention of doing any such thing.
“I needed it to pay the rent,” he said, increasing his pace.
“I already gave you my half. Last week. Besides, the rent’s only seven hundred. Where’s the rest?”
“My Harley’s havin’ a few issues, honey, you know that. I just needed a new exhaust pipe. And the clutch was rusted.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You used my money to fix your Harley?”
“Yeah. I figured you wouldn’t mind. You got plenty there.”
“What about my car?”
“I’ll do that next. Oh, fuck,” he gasped, using both hands. “Come on, Lace. Come sit on me.”
“Fuck off,” I said, shocking even myself. I never swore. I always thought it sounded crass. Trashy. Never mind that I wastrash, I mused, surprising myself again with the errant realization. I’d never thought of myself that way before this minute, not even once. But now that my money was gone I was back to square one. Back to The Rusty Nail and the endless, bottomless pit that was my life. Why had I ever even bothered to scrimp and save and dream? Maybe this was all I was destined for. Maybe he was my destiny. As I considered this possibility, my spirit kicked up defiantly. No way. No fucking way. “I want my money back.”
Cal jumped up and strode over to me, grabbing me. He pushed me against the wall, pinning me with the heavy weight of his body. “What the fuck did you just say to me?”
I’d never been afraid of Cal before that moment. Irritated, disappointed, mildly repulsed, yes. But never afraid. The rage in his eyes terrified me. Even so, I refused to cower from him. I was done with him, I knew it right then and there. All I wanted to do was get away from him. Desperately. And I wasn’t thinking straight. “I said give me my money, you useless, low-life loser. Give it to me!”
It was then that Cal slapped me, right across the side of the face. Hard. So hard that I fell, bumping my head against the wall. And in that split-second of white, star-flicked brutality, I took my chance. I crawled through the open bedroom door before he could react, and I rose to my feet, running to the front door. He ran after me but I was quicker. I pulled the door open and ran across the unkempt lawn to the driveway, where my old car was parked. The keys were in it. It wasn’t a car that someone would want to steal. He was searching for his jeans, or something to put on, in the messy bedroom. I had seconds, and I prayed with every ounce of religious tendency I possessed, which – until then – wasn’t all that much. I prayed as though my life depended on it, and maybe it did.
I pumped the gas and turned the key. The car spluttered but didn’t fire. I did it again. And again. On my fourth try, the engine roared to life. I gunned it once more, then jammed it into reverse. I backed right out onto the road, not even looking or caring. I think I would rather have died a sudden, violent death than have stayed in that house even one second longer.
A car swerved and honked but I barely even noticed it. He was coming.
Slamming the car into drive, I floored the accelerator and lurched out into the path of oncoming traffic. I didn’t care if I hit him or if someone else hit me. I gunned that piece-of-crap-turned-
beautiful-chariot to speed, manoeuvering my way between a few cars, whose drivers were waving their fists and yelling. I barely noticed.
Glancing in the rear-view mirror, I could see him. Standing there in the middle of the road, shirtless and barefoot. Getting smaller in the glorious distance.
I was twenty-one years old and had a hundred and fifty-eight dollars to my name.
And I was free.
Somedays you just need a short, HOT read and Wild Ride was the perfect scratch for that itch! Juliette Jones starts this story off with Lacey getting herself free of a bad situation (read Chapter 1 above) and setting off to find a new life... and boy what she found was Kindle melting!
Wild Ride takes off at a break-neck speed and gets the ball moving quickly. Juliette Jones does a great job of combining great pacing with to-the-point dialogue. These characters know what they want and go after it! This is a quick short story/novella but at times you get that depth of emotion and connection between the characters so that you feel you are getting a full length story of content (without all the extra drama in the mix).
Wild Ride is erotica, but also more. Juliette Jones managed to weave in a sweet story about taking chances and going for what you deserve and want, in between the heat. I wish this short story was the start to a longer novel (and maybe it will be) because there is still so much I would like to read about with Lacey and the boys (the epilogue was FANTASTIC at giving me a sneak peak at what that next book could be like).
Lacey sure picked the right car to bum a ride off of and if you a fan of erotic stories or if you are in the mood for something hot, with a good story and sweet connection, then Wild Ride is the perfect pick!
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Juliette Jones is the author of BILLIONAIRE and WILD RIDE. She has worked as an editor, a librarian and the administrative assistant of a hot billionaire. She lives in New York City.