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Authors: Laura Langston

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Last Ride

BOOK: Last Ride
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Last Ride

Laura Langston

orca soundings

ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS

Copyright © 2011 Laura Langston

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Langston, Laura
Last ride / Laura Langston.

(Orca soundings)

Issued also in electronic format.

ISBN 978-1-55469-417-4 (bound).--ISBN 978-1-55469-416-7 (pbk.)

I. Title. II. Series: Orca soundings
PS8573.A5832L38 2011     JC813'.54     C2010-908053-X

First published in the United States, 2011
Library of Congress Control Number:
2010942085

Summary:
Tom struggles to give up street racing
after killing his best friend in a race.

Orca Book Publishers is dedicated to preserving the environment and has printed
this book on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.

Cover design by Teresa Bubela
Cover photography by Getty Images

ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
PO
B
OX 5626, Stn. B
PO
B
OX 468
Victoria, BC Canada
Custer, WA USA
V8R 6S4
98240-0468

www.orcabook.com
Printed and bound in Canada.

14   13   12   11   •   4   3   2   1

For Barry

Every end is a new beginning.

—Proverb

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Acknowledgments

Chapter One

I killed my best friend. Thirteen months and six days ago.

Not on purpose. It was an accident. Even the cops wrote it up that way. But if I hadn't dared Logan to race, he'd still be alive.

Sometimes I swear I see him. Out of the corner of my eye. Just a glimpse. Like he's haunting me. Like he's royally pissed.

That accident…I think about it every day. And most nights too.

I'm in Ray's garage, flat-backing it under a 350Z and silently cursing because the hoist is taken, when I feel it. Breath on the side of my face.

I bolt up too fast and hit my head on the undercarriage.

“Whoa, man, I didn't mean to spook you.” Ray's beady squirrel eyes peer in at me. He's a paunchy middle-aged guy in greased-up coveralls. He has thinning hair and dirty mechanic's hands. “Get your ass out from under there. I need you to do a test drive.”

My heart's still racing as I wriggle out from under the 350Z, grab a rag from the floor and wipe my hands. Sweat trickles between my shoulder blades. I'm warm but I still shiver. I'm not sure if it's the cold air blasting through the open garage door or the idea of the test drive. Maybe it's a little of both.

Ray nods his head at the car waiting outside the service bay. “I've installed a new turbo in that baby. She's gonna fly.”

That means somebody somewhere is missing the turbo charger for his Lexus…or maybe his entire car is gone.

Ray drops the keys into my palm. “Go on. Take it around the block.”

I stare at the black IS300 Lexus. Logan died in his dad's brown one.

“Make sure you push it into the double digits.” Ray smirks. “You know you want to.”

Of course I want to. I haven't broken thirty since the accident. I think about racing all the time. The adrenaline rush, the power, the blur of speed. Followed by the screech of tires and the explosion of metal.

This must be how an addict feels. Craving something they know is deadly.

I toss my rag in the bin and head for the door. “I'll be back in fifteen minutes.”

“Take at least half an hour. And don't be a wimp. Remember what I said the other day: use it or lose it.”

Ray's trying to suck me back in. He wants me to race again. Ray's a slime-ball. And coming from me, that's saying something. Because, in spite of what my mom believes, I'm a badass.

The leather seat crackles when I slide behind the wheel. Was it this cold when Logan slid behind the wheel of his dad's Lexus thirteen months ago? I can't remember.

But it's cold in Kent now. In fact, the whole Pacific Northwest is having record lows for November. We even had snow the other day. I turn the key and the engine burbles to life. I flick on the heat, adjust the mirrors, switch on the wipers. When I pull out of the lot, the headlights sweep over my silver Acura. The one Ray and I just finished rebuilding. The one I'll be paying for forever.

Ray's garage is in a large ten-block industrial park on the edge of Kent. The surrounding buildings are dark, and the streets are deserted. No surprise for eight thirty on a Thursday night. It's the ideal time to put a car through its paces. I'm nervous at first, which is unusual for me behind the wheel. Driving is where I'm most at home. It's the steel shell I need between me and the world.

After about five minutes of driving up and down the blocks, I relax. I let the engine creep to sixty, then seventy, then eighty. Buildings rush by. I'm one with the car, loving the feel of the wheel under my hands, the slick sound of the tires slapping the wet pavement.

Suddenly I feel it. The tiny prickle at the back of my neck that makes me think Logan is watching. My heart leaps. I take my foot off the gas, hit the brakes. I can't do this again. Can't. Do. This. Speed killed Logan. I killed Logan.

And I won't ever let myself forget it.

I've only been gone fifteen minutes, and Ray will give me a hard time if I return too soon, so I head a few miles east, away from the industrial park, toward Mulligan's Ravine. I pass a run-down strip mall, a performance garage that's Ray's biggest competition, and a Dairy Queen. When my cell phone vibrates, I pull over to read the text.

It's Aisha.
Where R U?
I read.
We're
at Drew's. U coming?

Maybe in a while
, I text back. But I'm not going to the party. Hannah will be there. Probably with Cole. And seeing Hannah is too damned hard. I slap the phone shut, shove it in my pocket and head for Ray's.

That's another reason I'm a badass. I have the hots for my dead buddy's girl. How disgusting is that?

The light ahead flashes amber, then red. I gear down, coast to a stop at the intersection and adjust my wipers. The rain has turned to a mean, sleety drizzle. It suits my mood. Hannah's been spending too much time with Cole. And I've been spending too much time thinking about her.

I turn on the radio, punch the buttons, search for some mind-numbing rock. A car pulls up beside me. I'm too busy channel surfing to care.

Until I hear the rev of an engine.

Until I hear the signal.

I glance to the left, see two guys in a silver Nissan.

The driver smirks and revs the engine a second time.

Sweat blooms on my palms.

If he knew about Logan, would he still want to race?

Probably.

Hell,
I
still want to race.

But I won't.

I pull my gaze away, punch button number three on the radio and crank the volume.

The guy revs his engine again. This time his passenger yells something.

My head snaps up just in time to hear the second insult. “Wuss.”

My spine stiffens. I might be an ass but I'm no wuss.

I don't look at them. Forcing my shoulders into a slouch, I pretend not to care. But my foot is poised, my eye is on the light.

The second I sense the green, I floor it, launching away from the intersection a good car length ahead of them. There's no time for doubt, just the exhilarating blur of the world flying by, the amazing sense of control as I weave the IS300 effortlessly around an suv like it's a piece of trash in the middle of the road. Blood roars in my ears, makes me lightheaded, giddy with power.

The past, the future—they fall away. Nothing matters but this. I'm in the zone. At one with my steel shell. Focused on the here and now. More focused than I've been in a long time.

I'm back where I belong.

And then I catch a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. It's a guy and a dog, heading for a side street. I do a double take. It's Logan. Staring right at me.

And the smell of cherry Twizzlers floods the car.

My foot falls off the gas. The two jerks in the Nissan shoot past, waving their hands out their open window. I'm shaking too much to care.

Logan is haunting me. Either that or I'm crazy.

Chapter Two

I'm not crazy. I'm imagining things. I turn down the side street to follow the guy and the dog. The guy looked just like Logan.

But there's nobody there. All I see is a lone dog sniffing the base of a tree. The same dog I saw a minute ago.

The same dog Logan was standing beside.

My shaking kicks into high gear. The smell of the Twizzlers Logan loved threatens to choke me. Slowly I cruise down the block past the dog. Sleet hits the windshield with tiny
pings
, making it hard to see. I turn the wipers up to high and peer into the darkness. I'm searching for a body. Signs of life.

Nothing.

After about three blocks, my shaking stops and the smell of the Twizzlers fades. I turn the car in the direction of the garage.

Mom says I'm overly sensitive. I've picked up on other people's feelings since I was a kid. Only it's gotten worse since the accident. She calls it being an empath. That's just a fancy word for feeling too much.

But the only thing I'm feeling right now is scared. I saw Logan. At least I
think
I saw Logan. Maybe it was a trick of light? Or maybe I'm just tired? I haven't been sleeping a lot lately.

Punching down my fear, I focus on the other thing that's bugging me. How could I let myself be conned into racing again?

Because racing is what you do
, my badass self says.
It's who you are.

BOOK: Last Ride
9.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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