Friday, October 24, 2014

Final Lap Erin McCarthy

Final Lap

  (Fast Track #8)



Switching into high gear……

At a friend’s lavish wedding, Harley McLain and her twin sister, Charity, meet sexy stock-car driver Cooper Brickman. The more reserved Harley is immediately smitten—until he hits on her twin. But Harley has had enough of being the “nice” girl, and after trading dresses with Charity, she seduces Cooper for a night of wild sex.

……ready for a hot lap.

What was supposed to be a one-night fling gets complicated when Cooper needs a nanny to look after his kid sister—and is convinced sweet, dependable Harley would be perfect for the job. She can’t resist the money—or Cooper’s hot bod. But when her deception is revealed, will it destroy her dependable image—or will he finally realize how sexy sweet can be?


Harley McLain felt like Cinderella at the ball. Well, without Prince Charming. So far the only man to pay her any mind at this wedding was the groom’s stepfather, who was thirty years her senior and blind drunk. But still, standing on the terrace looking down over the gardens of the beautiful Biltmore estate, at the wedding of the illustrious stock car driver Ty McCordle and his PhD bride, Imogen Wilson, Harley definitely thought the night was magic. There were a million twinkling lights strung across the enormous heated tents, and red and orange spotlights in a floral pattern lit up the side of the mansion to reflect the autumnal beauty of the mountains.
It was chilly outside in her cocktail dress, the November air brisk, leaves swirling across the stone floor, but Harley had wanted to take a minute to pause alone against the railing and appreciate the majesty of the mountains and the scene spread out before her. When her friend Eve Monroe had invited her to the wedding she had been reluctant to attend initially, knowing she would feel like an outsider in the racing crowd and being an add-on guest, having only met the bride and groom a few times. But Eve had insisted she needed a plus one, since Eve’s new husband Nolan wasn’t able to attend with her, which was actually a plus two because of Harley’s identical twin Charity being there as well. Now Harley was glad she had come just to experience the beauty of the estate inside the tent and out.
Besides, the groom had teared up when he had seen his bride appear on the stone steps of the mansion and descend towards him. That was worth the two hour drive from Charlotte, just to see that love wasn’t the fictional unicorn Charity was convinced it was, and Harley was starting to waver on herself. She didn’t want to be that girl who felt bitter, but she was starting to question why love seemed to come easily for everyone else but her. It felt like the last time she’d been on a date Christ had been on a potty chair. It had been that long, honest to goodness.
“Do you mind?” a masculine voice asked her, the air shifting as someone stepped in along side of her.
Actually, yes, she did, but that would be rude. Harley turned to give Mr. Whoever a polite smile and instead almost swallowed her tongue when she realized who it was. Cooper Brickman. Playboy driver. Good-looking as sin. The object of many a schoolgirl crush, including her own. And technically it wasn’t a schoolgirl crush, since Harley still got a little weak kneed every Sunday when Cooper climbed out of his car, and she was way past the classroom.
Now he was standing next to her on the terrace under the fairy lights, wearing a tux. She was no longer cold, that was for damn sure, though her nipples were suddenly standing at attention underneath her dress.
He was holding up a cigar and a lighter, asking her permission to fire it up.
Like she would say no to him. For any reason. Whatsoever. “Sure, go for it.”
“Thanks. I needed a breather. A break from all my dance moves.” He winked at her. “I’m Cooper, by the way.”
As if she didn’t know that. “Harley. Nice to meet you.”
“You, too.” He puffed on his cigar, expensive lighter clicking shut.
Harley thought the stoogie reeked like yesterday’s tire-kissed skunk, but she didn’t mind since when the hell when she ever going to get to stand next to Cooper again? Never. That’s when. She could have sex with him via osmosis. He didn’t even have to touch her. It was just enough that there was only six inches between them. It was like a virtual orgasm.
Sneaking a look over at him, she studied his profile. He was gorgeous, with a strong jaw, a narrow nose, rugged shoulders, and dark blond hair falling in his eyes. Beautiful, almost.
“Damn, beautiful, isn’t it?” he asked.
Harley started. “Huh?” Her heart started pounding overtime.
“The estate. I’ve never been here before. It’s amazing.”
Right. The gardens. Not him. Not her. Not this moment. “It is. The mountains are just beautiful. Our room has a view, but I guess every room has a view.”
“Our? You here with your husband?”
She was going to tell herself he cared whether or not she was single. “No. My twin sister.” Eve had gotten her own room because she didn’t like to share. At all.
“Y’all identical?” he asked, looking over at her curiously.
People always wanted to know that. They found the twin concept intriguing, for some reason. She nodded, used to the question. “Physically, yes. Otherwise, not so much.” Charity was the sexy sister. Harley was the serious one. Or at least that was the label everyone slapped on them because Charity was outspoken and fond of displaying her cleavage. Harley preferred the natural look, makeup free for the most point, and she preferred the girls to remain in her sweater, not catching air and creepy stares.
“I have a sister, too,” Cooper said. “She’s twelve. She just moved in with me and I think she might kill me, honestly. Been driving for twenty years and I have never felt at risk of dying, but it’s this kid that’s going to be the death of me, I’m telling you. It’s stressful as hell to be responsible for another human being.”
“I’m a nanny for a couple of pre-schoolers,” Harley told him. “I love kids. But I haven’t dealt with any pre-teens yet. You have my sympathy.”
“I’ll trade ya.”
She laughed. “That only works in reality shows.”
“Damn, so you mean this is real life?” He gave her a grin. “Shit. I’m screwed.”
“I’m sure your sister will settle down. Twelve is a tough age for a girl.” Harley remembered legs that were too long and a sudden painful awareness of boys.
“She’s had it really easy and really hard at the same time,” he said. “That doesn’t sound like it makes sense, but it’s the truth. I want to do right by her. But I don’t always know what I’m doing. Actually, I don’t know what I’m doing at all.”
The laughter had left his voice and Harley heard the sincerity, the worry, in his voice, which she respected. It did her heart good to hear that he cared so much about his sister. To her, he’d always just been the cocky grin jumping out of the seventy-eight car, sexy and confident.
But then he shook his head. “And I have no idea why I am boring you with my troubles. You just have one of those faces. Makes me feel confessional.”
She did. Everywhere Harley went people wanted to overshare with her. The bank teller spilled about her divorce, the dental hygienist confessed to an affair, the man behind her in line at the grocery voiced his fears over his upcoming surgery. She was used to it and didn’t mind, for the most part.
Though she did wish, on occasion, someone would ask her how she was doing. If people would see her as a woman, a potential friend or lover, instead of just a sounding board. That was not going to be tonight, apparently.
Before she could even respond, Cooper continued. “Maybe you could give me some professional advice. Can I grab you a drink and bend your ear?”
Harley could think of many, many things she would rather do with her evening. And many, many things she’d rather do with Cooper Brickman. There was no way she could say no though. Because it was Cooper Brickman. And the truth was, she probably wouldn’t say no to anyone. It was a problem she had, not saying no. Maybe that was why people shared their TMI with her all the time. They read her correctly that she wouldn’t shut them down.
“Sure, of course. I’d be happy to.” Harley figured she’d be able to gaze at will on the picture of hot he presented in that tux while she murmured appropriate words of understanding for five minutes. Then maybe they could move on from the topic of his sister to the topic of her desire to see him naked.
Forty-five minutes later Harley opened her mouth for the ninth time or so to speak, but Cooper didn’t seem to notice. He was too busy venting what must be about a decades worth of anger and anxiety and didn’t seem to require any response other than an occasional nod from her. It was worse than she had expected. It was like any warm body would do, and she was it.
“Our mother is in the south of France with a twenty-two year old boyfriend, though I use that term loosely, and my sister is staying with me for a few weeks until she gets back. But you know what will happen, don’t you?”
“No.” She had absolutely no idea whatsoever.
“She won’t come back for months. Mark my words. Who ditches their daughter like that?” Cooper stuck his finger out and lifted his glass of whiskey. “A selfish woman, that’s who. I love my mother but she doesn’t always have her priorities in order.”
Harley was going to give some kind of pat answer, because she did feel bad for his sister, but Cooper kept talking.
“What if Mary Jane starts her period or something? What am I supposed to do about that?”
“Uh…” Harley felt as appalled as he looked. He took another deep, bracing swallow of his whiskey.
“And my housekeeper said she needs a bra, which maybe she does. I don’t know. I’m not going to look! But how the hell do I deal with that? I cannot take her bra shopping. I’m thirty-five. She’s twelve. That’s fucking weird, pardon my language.”
Good Lord. Harley wanted another drink. “It is a little odd. But she’s your sister, not a random kid you have no relation to. It’s perfectly acceptable. Just take her to the store and hand her over the clerk.”
“That’s all anyone ever does with her- hand her over. No wonder the kid is seeking validation online.” He flagged down a passing waiter. “Can I get another Jack and Coke?” He peeled two twenties out of his pocket. “And a vodka tonic for the lady.”
It would never have occurred to Harley to have the waiter fetch and carry for her. It was an open bar, which to her meant drinks were delightfully free, but you got it yourself. But she wasn’t a rich and famous driver, who had staff, and clearly he expected that if he wanted a drink, he didn’t have to stand up. For a minute Harley was distracted by the thought of what life would be like if she were rich. If Prince Charming really swept her away to a world she no longer had to be concerned that the sum total of her net worth was seven dollars the day before payday.
“Thanks, man,” Cooper told the waiter with a smile. “I appreciate it.”
Harley appreciated it too. In fact, that drink couldn’t arrive fast enough. This was surreal and bizarre.
When it did she sucked her vodka tonic down in record time, though not as fast as Cooper made his whiskey disappear.
He was leaning forward, forearms on his thighs, his knees bumping hers. A casual observer might think they were having an intimate conversation.
Which maybe they were, just not the kind of intimacy Harley was looking for.
“Where do you live?” he asked suddenly.
“And you’re a nanny?” he asked, a little longingly.
Oh, no, she saw where this was going. “Yes. I work for a cardiologist and a therapist. They have two boys, two and four.”
“I don’t suppose you’re looking for a new position?”
He gave her a charming smile, one that made her want to kiss him repeatedly and give him everything he asked for. Except for that. There was no way she was going to quit a job she loved to monitor the Internet activity of his tween sister and go on maxi-pad runs when puberty well and truly hit.
Trying to channel her sister and the fact that Charity would direct the conversation to where she wanted it to go, Harley gave him a smile and went for an innuendo. “It depends on the position. Some I like more than others.”
That was pretty damn good for her.
But Cooper didn’t pick up on the flirt, probably because she sucked at it.
He just frowned. “Technically, I guess it would be considered a nanny position. I know that sounds odd since she’s twelve and that’s a little old for a nanny, but that’s really what she- and I- need.”
Sigh. She tried to give herself a mental pep talk. He was distraught. Possibly drunk. It wasn’t that she had a complete lack of sexual appeal. “No, I’m sorry. I’m quite happy there and I couldn’t leave the boys.”
“Damn. You seem like you’d be great at it.”
Under other circumstances it would be nice to be appreciated for a job well done. Right now, unless that job involved her riding him like the bull down at the Buckle bar, she didn’t need a compliment. She didn’t need polite and professional respect. She wanted to be seen as a sexual feast he couldn’t wait to take a bite of.
“You seem very maternal and stable.”
Yeah. What every twenty-eight year old woman in a cocktail dress wants to hear.
Suddenly Harley felt monstrously depressed.
It was the same old story. She was a scullery maid in the eyes of every man under fifty.
Even the fact that he was good looking wasn’t making up for the fact that her ass was going numb from sitting in the chair on the edge of the dance floor stiffly or that her stomach was growling from hunger, her lips chapped. She desperately needed to use the restroom as well since she’d sucked down the two vodka tonics he’d gotten her, but wasn’t sure how to interrupt him without sounding like a jerk or like she was trying to ditch him.
Which was just the most hilarious of ironies. Her trying to ditch Cooper Brickman? Not how she imagined the evening going if she ever had his hotness all to herself. But even his muscles couldn’t alter the fact that her bladder was going to burst, and she felt about as desirable as Mrs. Doubtfire. She just wanted to pee then hit the dessert table for some sugary comfort.
When “Single Ladies” came blaring out from the speakers and the DJ announced the bride was about to throw her bouquet, Harley lifted her head. If she knew her sister, she would be out there knocking down every bridesmaid she could for the honor of having a random man feel up her leg for the garter deposit. Charity had no interest in the men or marriage, she just wanted to win. Plus possibly prove that catching a bouquet in no way guaranteed a proposal.
As Imogen, slim and elegant in her lace gown, moved to the front of the stage area, Harley’s sister didn’t let her down, appearing out of nowhere and grabbing her.
“Come on! Single ladies, front and center. That means you, Harley!”
As she tugged her arm and Harley stood with an apologetic look at Cooper, her sister realized who she was talking to. “Oh. Hello. Are you going to be vying for the garter, handsome?”
Cooper, who had been earnest and serious, suddenly looked like a rooster let loose in the hen house. He gave Charity a sly smile. “I hadn’t planned on it, but if you catch the bouquet I may have to rethink that.”
Seriously? Harley got him telling her about his concern over his sister’s impending puberty, and Charity got flirty Cooper? What the hell was fair about that? They looked exactly the same. They were identical twins.
She clearly had no sex appeal. Zero. Less than zero. Negative sex appeal.
Annoyed, she didn’t even try to catch the bouquet, preferring to stay a bit clear of the melee, sneaking side glances at Cooper, who was watching Charity. Unfortunately, watching Cooper meant she wasn’t watching the bouquet.
It hit her in the head.
Then bounced off and fell right into her twin’s hands, who let out a whoop of triumph.
Damn it all anyway.

About the Author 

USA Today and New York Times Bestselling author Erin McCarthy sold her first book in 2002 and has gone on to pen more than 38 novels and novellas in the paranormal, contemporary romance, and young adult genres.  A RITA award finalist and an American Library Association winner of the Reluctant Young Reader award, Erin is a member of Romance Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, and Ohioana.

You can find Erin on her website and on her facebook page, she loves to hear from her fans.

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Release Date 
(October 7, 2014)

My Rating 

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