Revved Up by Olivia T. Turner
“We’re not going to the Cheesecake Factory,” my cousin Tina says as we pull out of my aunt’s driveway.
I glance back at the safe-looking house with the soft lights and the comfy porch swing and hold back a sigh. This can’t be good.
My cousin pretends like she’s a goodie-goodie straight-A student, but I know the truth. Those straight-A’s come from either cheating or by paying someone online to do her homework for her. And the goodie-goodie part? Total fabrication. Last time she took me out to the ‘library’ we ended up in some dive bar where this fifty-year-old man named Cliff wouldn’t leave me alone. The ashes from his cigarette kept landing on my thigh and it burnt a hole in my favorite jeans.
I don’t even want to know where we’re headed now.
“You’re going to love this,” she says as she turns the corner and pulls the car over to the curb.
Clothes start flying. Her sweater comes off, revealing a tight belly shirt that’s more of a bikini top than a shirt. She lifts her butt up and starts wiggling her pants down her hips as she gestures to the glove compartment.
“Open it up,” she says. “There’s an outfit in there for you.”
I gulp as I reach for it, already knowing that if the outfit can fit in her crowded glove compartment, it’s not for me. I like being covered up, not completely exposed. Tina always calls me a prude. I like to think of it as having ‘old-fashioned values.’
I know it’s not the coolest thing to say, especially these days with the hook-up culture of Tinder that my friends are so obsessed with, but I don’t know… I’m just not really interested in all of that. I want to be with the guy who’s meant for me. Not whichever horny alpha-bro the algorithm chooses to serve up when I’m scrolling through the app. I’ve never swiped left once even though I’ve had the app for two years now.
I sigh as I open the glove compartment. Tight leather shorts that would barely cover my ass. The shirt is even skimpier and sluttier than I thought it’d be. It’s just mesh. See-through sheer mesh.
“Ummmm,” I say as I take the shirt out with two fingers like it’s venomous or something. “Where’s the rest of it?”
“It looks great with a sexy bra underneath,” Tina says as she grabs a tight mini-skirt from the backseat and starts pulling it on. “Or nothing, if you’re feeling extra daring.”
I’m feeling extra queasy.
“I think I’m fine like this,” I say as I stuff it back into the glove compartment and close it up.
She frowns as she looks me up and down. “You’re dressed for the Cheesecake Factory with your grandparents. Not where we’re going.”
I’m wearing a cute floral summer dress and maybe it’s not revealing, but it’s not that bad. Is it? I want to defend my outfit, but there’s a more pressing matter at hand.
“Where are we going exactly?” I ask with my stomach in knots.
Tina sits back in the seat now that she’s ready for a night of debauchery and throws the car into drive.
I gulp as we roll down the road, further and further from the safety of my aunt’s house. I’m staying with them for the weekend while our house gets fumigated. My parents went to Vegas for the weekend and I got stuck with Aunt Mindy, Uncle Joe, and my crazy cousin Tina. I thought we’d have a fun weekend of Scrabble, movies, and baking fun treats. I should have known. What the heck was I thinking?
“You’re going to love this place,” Tina says as she blows through a stop sign. A car honks from somewhere, but she pays it no attention. “Well, it’s not exactly a place. It’s more of an event.”
“On the first Saturday of every month,” she says, drawing out the suspense like I’m as excited as she is. “All kinds of hot guys with cool cars meet up.”
I’m already wishing we were going to the Cheesecake Factory. I could go for a piece of Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake. Extra large.
“It’s soooo cool,” she says as she blows through another stop sign. “It’s always in a different location. Super hush hush. They get together, show off their cars, and then…”
She turns to me, grinning as she builds up suspense. I think I’m going to be sick.
“A drag race!” she says with a squeal. “Doesn’t that sound awesome?!”
It sounds dangerous. And illegal. And not nearly as good as a quiet night with a large piece of Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake.
“A drag race?” I repeat, not knowing what else to say. I’m trying to build up some enthusiasm, but my voice comes out all flat and weary.
“Yes! It’s so thrilling! They speed through the back streets and then loop back around, finishing where everyone is and then there’s a huge party. It’s so fun. Well, until the cops come and break it up.”
“I don’t know…” I say as I glance at the side mirror, wondering if it’s too far to walk back to Aunt Mindy’s house.
“Wait until you see the guys there,” she says as she turns a corner and rolls over the curb. “Then you’ll be thanking me!”
I highly doubt that. Tina and I are not exactly into the same kind of men. Her last boyfriend had neck tattoos. Not just one, several.
There’s nothing I can do now but hold my breath and hope for the best.
We arrive about twenty minutes later and it’s even worse than I thought.
There are suped-up muscle cars everywhere. It’s like the set of The Fast and The Furious with all of the open hoods and colorful lights shining under six-figure cars.
Hot people are strutting around everywhere. Shirtless guys with tattoos on every square inch of their bodies and girls in heels so high that walking in them must feel like walking on a tightrope.
My eyes are glued out the window as Tina finds a parking space. I’m feeling a little insecure here. A little vulnerable and uneasy. My throat is uncomfortably dry and my heart is racing.
I don’t want to be here. Maybe I can wait in the car.
“Let’s go!” Tina says as she turns off the car and bounces out of it.
I gulp as I run my fingers along the safety belt, not wanting to take it off. We’re in what looks like a forgotten part of town in a parking lot of some old abandoned warehouse with broken windows and boarded-up doors.
Tina taps her knuckles on my window and gives me a look. I take a deep breath, unclip my seatbelt, and step out of the car.
She looks me up and down with a disapproving gaze. “You’re not going to change?”
I can feel my cheeks going red. “I’m more comfortable like this.”
She rolls her eyes, leans into the car, grabs the shirt and shorts from the glove compartment, and shoves them into my purse. “Just keep them on you. You might want to change when you see all the hot guys.”
She keeps saying that like I’m going to find anyone I’m interested in around here. I have a better chance of finding a winning lottery ticket.
I keep the clothes in my purse since I don’t want to argue about it, and follow her into the crowd. There’s loud hip hop playing and people dancing on cars.
I suck in a breath when I walk by a girl with only a bra on lying on the hood of a crazing-looking car. A guy is pouring Whiskey into her belly button and slurping it up. She sees me watching her and then blows me a kiss. My cheeks flame as I turn away and walk a little faster.
The guys are checking out the cars, my cousin is checking out the guys, and I’m checking out the concrete. My eyes are locked on the ground, not wanting to make eye contact with any of these people so they won’t start talking to me.
“What about those two guys?” Tina says as she motions over to a shiny blue car with what looks like an airplane wing attached to the trunk. They’re two tatted-up guys who look like they could play Criminal Thug Number One and Criminal Thug Number Two in an action movie. “They’re hot.”
“They’re something,” I mutter under my breath.
“Fine,” she says as she rolls her eyes. “Not your type. Let’s keep looking.”
We approach a cheering crowd and I get a sense of uneasiness. The music is so loud I can feel the bass vibrating through my chest.
There’s a guy in the middle of the group blowing fireballs from his mouth. He takes a swig of Vodka from the bottle and blows it onto his lighter. A massive fireball explodes into the night sky and everyone cheers.
“This guy is always here,” Tina says into my ear. “He’s so cool!”
I look at him closely and realize he’s got no eyebrows. My cousin and I have very different ideas of what cool is. I like nice, witty, smart men, and she likes guys who burn off their eyebrows with fireballs. I don’t think double-dating is going to be in our future.
Silence settles over the crowd as a new car enters the area. It’s an old red muscle car with two white stripes along the hood and roof. The engine is obnoxiously loud, roaring like a beast as the car slowly parts the gawking crowd.
“That’s Dillon Sanders,” Tina yells in my ear over the loud music. “He’s won every race he’s been in.”
“Cool,” I say, not finding it cool at all.
“He’s amazing,” she continues like I care at all about a future convict. “He rebuilt that car himself and he’s soooo hot.”
I watch the car as it parks, but what I’m really thinking about is that Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake. I really wish my cousin wasn’t such a delinquent. I could be biting into one right now.
The driver parks in the middle of the crowd that’s growing larger now that he’s here.
Look at all the people! Okay, now I’m curious.
The door opens and he steps out.
This guy is better than cheesecake.
This guy is gorgeous.
A tingling energy crawls along every inch of my skin as I watch Dillon Sanders step out of his car. The buzz of the crowd amplifies, like a rockstar or an A-list celebrity just arrived.
I’m certainly feeling his pull. My heart is lodged in my throat and beating like crazy.
“He’s soooo hot,” Tina says as she pulls out her phone and starts recording him.
Jealousy flares through me and I have a strong urge to knock that phone out of her hands. I don’t know where that insane urge came from, but it doesn’t seem to be leaving my body. I’m jealous of everyone who knows him, including his hot lucky girlfriend who must be somewhere in this crowd. I’m even jealous of Tina for getting that recording. I’ll have to get her to send me a copy later.
I swallow hard as I turn back to him and stare. He’s insanely hot.
His outfit is simple enough—faded blue jeans, trendy sneakers, a white t-shirt—but the way he wears it… It’s anything but simple.
The night is either getting warmer, or this man is getting me all hot and fluttery. I fan my hand over my face as Dillon slaps hands with two guys.
That smile… Wow…
He has a shaved head that I would kill to run my tingling fingers over and a smile that hits me right in the core. I’m feeling all the feels as I stare at his gorgeous face.
What would it be like to spend a night with him? To gaze at those green eyes over candlelight… To kiss that sexy mouth… To have those strong hands on me… Sliding down my ribs… Reaching under my skirt…
“Lara!” Tina shouts in my ear. I jump so high that I nearly smack her in the nose with my forehead. She leans back and looks at me funny. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I say as I glance back at Dillon’s mouth. I can tell by his lips that he’s a good kisser. It’s a statement I’d love to be able to prove. “I’m just a little warm.”
A few hot girls strut up to him, but he doesn’t seem interested even though they’re laying it on thick with flicks of their hair and thrust-out chests. He’s polite but doesn’t seem to care about their short skirts and big tits. He turns away from them and speaks a few words to a large guy in a hoodie.
It looks like everyone is either friends with him or wants to be friends with him.
Who the hell is this guy?
“They’re going to start the race soon,” she says as she grabs my arm and starts pulling. “I know just the place to watch from.”
My eyes flit back to Dillon as she pulls me through the crowd. I can’t take my eyes off him. His chest is big and muscular, his arms too. He has a tattoo sleeve running along his left arm, and although I’m not a big fan of the tattoos on all the other guys, on him they’re sexy as hell.
People start surrounding his car, checking it out and taking selfies with it. He doesn’t seem to mind. Some of the other guys are territorial around their cars and take a fit if you dare to breathe near their precious babies, but Dillon is calm and cool, looking like he doesn’t have a care in the world.
Maybe it’s because he’s the true alpha in the place and everyone knows not to push the boundary around him, or maybe he’s just a chill guy.
“Tina!” I snap as she pulls me through the crowd. I’m a little bit short (okay, a lot short) and I start to get all frustrated and irritable now that I can’t see him anymore. “Where are we going?”
“Over by the starting line,” she says as I desperately look around for my new crush.
We’re walking by a few suped-up cars on display, and I finally catch myself when I see a bright green car with yellow lights all over it. It looks ridiculous. Like something Pee Wee Herman would drive.
This is not your world, I remind myself. None of these guys are for you.
But still… I can’t help but look around for Dillon. Meant for me or not, he’s my crush now.
It hits me that I’ve never had a crush before. All of my friends growing up did, but I didn’t. No one ever caught my eye like that, which is making this all the more strange. Why would my heart choose now of all times to have an unrealistic, ridiculous crush? Why here? Why him?
“That’s where they start,” Tina says as she points to a white line spray-painted on the concrete. Three cars are already lined up and ready to go. One spot remains. “Come quickly, I want to be the flag girl.”
Of course she does.
She has an iron grip on my wrist and I have to run to keep up with her long legs.
“Hey, Steve!” Tina says as she pulls me up to a guy smoking the biggest joint I’ve ever seen. She finally lets go of me and kisses his cheeks. “Need a flag girl?”
He shakes his head as he looks at her like she’s not quite right for the job. How can Tina not be right for the job? She’s an absolute stunner.
“It was you last month,” he says between tokes of his joint.
“Yeah, and the guys loved it!”
He frowns. “Gotta switch it up. Can’t have the same booty on the starting line every race. Variety is the spice of life, ya know.”
“Oh, come on!” she says as she stomps her foot. “No one can drop a flag like me!”
No one can drop a flag like me? What the hell does that even mean?
“What about her?” Steve says, looking right at me.
I freeze. My whole body thumps with warning.
“Not her,” Tina says with a roll of her eyes. “She’s not dressed for it.”
Steve looks me up and down while he rubs his jaw. “I don’t know… I’m digging the girl-next-door vibe. Lots of guys like that.”
“Oh, come on, Steve!” Tina says, stomping her foot even harder. I’ve seen her use that move since she was three years old. It usually works about half the time. “I want Dillon to notice me.”
“You and every other honey here,” he says with a laugh. “I’ll tell you what I tell all of them—good fucking luck. The dude is interested in his car and that’s it.”
Dillon’s red car comes rolling over, parting the crowd as it approaches. I get goosebumps all over when I hear that rumbling engine.
Knowing he’s behind those dark-tinted windows is getting me all flustered. The heat flowing through my body begins to settle between my legs. I squeeze my thighs and realize how inappropriately wet I am right now. This is crazy.
He lines his car up beside the other three and revs the engine. The crowd cheers.
“Please, Steve!” Tina says, hitting maximum whine.
Steve isn’t having any of it. “Sorry, honey. Girl-next-door, you in?”
He offers me the flag.
Tina rolls her eyes. “Let’s go, Lara. This is bullshit.”
“I’m in,” I say as I grab the flag.
“What?!” she screeches. “Lara!”
“What do I have to do?” I ask Steve, ignoring my pouting cousin.
“When I give you the signal,” he says as he puffs on his joint. “You raise the flag, count to ten slowly, and then drop it and hope you don’t get run over.”
This is insane. This is crazy. This is so not like me.
At the beginning of the night, I was thinking the most exciting thing this night would have is a large piece of cheesecake. Now, I’m about to start an illegal street race surrounded by hundreds of cheering people.
It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done. I know why I’m doing it. It’s for him. For Dillon.
I want him to notice me. I want him to see me. Really see me.
With the four car engines roaring, I push down the fluttering in my belly and walk to the front with the flag.
My eyes are on Dillon’s car the entire time, even though I can’t see a thing through his tinted windows.
The headlights of the first car light me up as I walk to the spot where Steve told me to stand. There are so many people here. My chest tightens. A heaviness hits my stomach.
People are placing bets in the crowd. The energy is as revved up as these cars.
The headlights of the second car hit me, then the third, and then finally, Dillon’s too. The spotlight is on me. I’m all shaky with nerves, but knowing that my new crush is here watching somehow makes it easier.
All eyes are on me as I get the signal from Steve and raise the flag.
It’s crushingly silent except for the idling of the four powerful engines.
This is my last chance for a look.
I glance at the windshield of the red car and gasp when I see the intense way Dillon is staring at me. His eyes are wide like he’s staring at me in shock, but really he’s just totally focused on the flag, probably not wanting to lose a second by starting late.
I watch him as I count down in my head, knowing this is the last time he’ll ever look at me like this again. He’s staring at the flag in stunned silence, but I can pretend for a few seconds that he’s looking this way at me, can’t I?
I catch myself and realize that it’s probably been more than ten seconds. I lost count.
With a flourish, I yank the flag down and squeeze my eyes shut. I have to fight back a scream as the four muscle cars come roaring past me.
That was terrifying.
But when I open my eyes, there’s still one left.
Dillon’s eyes are still focused intensely on me as his car idles.
We make eye contact and something passes between us. Something hot and unforgettable. I’ll always remember this moment. Always. When I’m an old lady waiting for Bingo to begin, I’ll think back to this moment when I was young and reckless for a night, and smile.
“What’s he doing?” I hear someone from the crowd shout. Probably someone who bet on him.
The crowd starts murmuring and getting all agitated with every long second that passes. This man never takes his eyes off me.
“Go,” I mouth to him.
It snaps him back to reality and he throws his car into gear. He flies past me so fast that I can feel the ground vibrating.
I spin and stare at the back of his red car with my heart beating from excitement, from adrenaline, from him.
He moves so fast that it’s not long before he flies down the deserted road and disappears around the abandoned factory.
And all I can think about is how much I want him to come back.
|September 25, 2022
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