All the rage, p.13
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       All the Rage, p.13

           T. M. Frazier
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  up to the ropes.

  “The way you’re built, you could have played any sport. Baseball. Football. Yet you chose hockey?” I asked.

  “What’s wrong with hockey?”

  “Nothing, but you don’t see how that’s funny? You live in Southwest Florida. A place where it never snows or barely ever gets below seventy degrees, yet you chose to play ice hockey?”

  Nolan laughed. “You have a point. I guess I never thought of it that way, though. My grandfather was originally from Michigan and grew up playing on the pond behind his house. He’s the one who drove me around from arena to arena to play. It wasn’t exactly ponds, but it did the trick.”

  “Goon!” Someone called out from the crowd. Nolan waved.

  “What kind of hockey name is goon?” I asked.

  “I was the enforcer.”

  I waited for him to elaborate. “Oh,” he said, “I guess you don’t know much about hockey.”

  “Guys with sticks. Missing teeth. Canada,” I stated, informing him of the extent of my hockey knowledge.

  “An enforcer is someone who the coach sends out to rough things up. Let the other team know when they fuck up and that we aren’t going to take any shit. It’s not an official position. It’s more like something you’re not supposed to do, but we all do anyway. It’s part of the fun. A goon is just another name for it. Never thought I’d get a scholarship, but they recognized that I could skate better than most so they called me up. I was all prepared to work for my uncle one day and the next I was off to college.”

  “Basically, you were a fighter on skates.”

  “I guess you can say that,” Nolan agreed, seemingly amused at my assessment.

  I bit my bottom lip. It suddenly felt a lot warmer than the eighty-four degrees the bank sign on the street had indicated. It made sense that Nolan was a fighter. He turned toward the ropes, giving me a glimpse of his expansive back and thick thighs.

  “Scotty!” Nolan shouted. A guy around Nolan’s age with a sunburnt face and a white sunglass tan lines around his eyes hopped down from one of the trucks and jogged over to us.

  “Nolan fucking Archer! Rumor had it that your ugly-ass face was around again. You come to see the ‘Yota tear shit up? She’s better than ever,” Scotty said, his bottom lip full of dip. He spit onto the ground then flashed us a lopsided smile, adjusting his blue baseball cap, which had the words SALT LIFE in white splashed across the brim.

  “You still got that piece of shit?” Nolan asked, jerking his chin to the truck Scotty had just come from.

  “Fuck yeah, man. Keeping her forever. First loves only come around once, you know.”

  “Scotty, this is Rage,” Nolan said, introducing me.

  “Rage?” Scotty asked, spitting again into the sand.

  “It’s short for Regina,” Nolan explained, telling Scotty my usual lie for me. Nolan shot me a sly wink and squeezed my hand.

  “Well Rage, you guys wanna sit on the deck for this, or you wanna come on up in the cab with me?” Scotty asked.

  Nolan’s answer was immediate. “Fuck yeah, we’re riding in the cab.”

  “Then get the fuck in here, Goon!” Scotty said, lifting up the rope so we could cross under it. “You ever been to a truck pull before?” he asked me.

  “No, but I’ve heard of them.”

  Scotty’s face lit up. “Then Darlin’, you’re in for a real treat,” he said, opening the passenger side door to one of the trucks in the center of the makeshift arena. I was about to climb up when Nolan’s huge hands grabbed me by my waist and lifted me into the cab. He climbed in after me and although he was no longer touching me, my skin tingled where his hands had just been.

  “I could have gotten in myself,” I told him.

  Nolan lowered his voice and leaned in close. “I know you could have, but I didn’t want you flashing what’s under that little dress to everyone, although I made sure to look.” He ran his nose across my jaw. “Those pink panties you’re wearing are making me rock fucking hard.”

  It was the last thing I expected him to say. His words sounded downright possessive. I didn’t have time to process all the thoughts running through my head because Scotty hopped up into the driver’s seat. Nolan put his arm around my shoulders, pulling me in closer and I didn’t know if he was trying to protect me from what was about to happen or if he didn’t want me touching Scotty.

  Scotty closed the door, revving the engine. “Ya’ll want a beer?” he asked, reaching behind the backseat and retrieving us two large cans of PBR from a cooler. He tossed us each one before cracking open his own and guzzling it, holding the can up high and pouring it into his mouth. When he was done he pounded a closed fist on his chest and let out a long belch.

  “What exactly is going to happen?” I asked. Nolan only smiled, cracking open his beer and handing it to me before doing the same for his own. He took a long sip before setting it down on the seat between his knees.

  “You’ll find out. Hang on to me, baby,” Nolan said, wickedly. Excitement was all around us, flitting through the air like just lit sparklers. Nolan reached up, grabbing onto a sloppily welded handle above the window. With the other arm around my shoulders pulled me even closer, tethering my body to his. The heat in the air nothing compared to the heat radiating off of Nolan. His eyes were downright wild, as the anticipation of what was to happen grew and grew. Nolan’s gaze kept darting to the tops of my thighs where the hem of my dress had ridden up.

  Scotty cranked down the window. “Ya’ll pussies ready for the ‘Yota?” he called out. A wave of shouting voices called back with every profanity there ever was. “Yeah, they’re fucking ready,” Scotty said with a laugh, chugging the rest of his beer in a few large gulps and tossing the can backward out the window where it landed in the bed of the truck with a clank.

  A guy with a bullhorn appeared. “ONE, TWO, THREE, GOOOOOOO!” he shouted, followed by a long blast of the horn. He’d barely said three when Scotty shifted the truck into gear and pressed his foot down on the gas pedal, pushing it all the way down to the floor.

  “YEEE-FUCKING-HAW, motherfuckers!” Scotty yelled as the truck we were in only made it a few feet before being yanked backward. “Hang on to your vaginas, bitches!” he added. As the tires spun and we got nowhere fast, we began to spin around the arena, first slow and then faster and faster. Wet sand and mud slashed across every inch of the back windshield, making it impossible to see out of.

  Needing to know more, to see more, I sat up on my knees and turned around, leaning over the tiny backseat. I slid open the little back window. “What the fuck are you doing?” Nolan demanded, reaching out for me, holding on to my thighs before I could get too far.

  “I wanna see!” I shouted, but before I could slide the window open, the truck suddenly bolted forward before coming to a complete lopsided stop. I fell into Nolan’s lap. He caught me, stopping me from crashing onto the floorboard. His forearm around my midsection, the other around the back of my neck where he stroked my skin with his thumb causing tingles yet again, not only across my skin but down my spine. The crowd outside erupted in jeers and cheers. “What the fuck just happened?” I asked, looking up at Nolan and blowing my hair out of my face.

  “What just happened, Darlin’, is that we fucking lost!” Scotty said with a smile and laugh that made me think that he might just be the happiest loser ever or doesn’t understand what losing actually meant. The truck, now sitting askew, had us in a crooked almost launch position, with the nose of the truck in the air. Scotty had to stand on the seat and reach around my head to get to his cooler where he produced three more beers, tossing two of them our way. He reached up and opened the sunroof, standing with half of his body out of the when he shouted, “I need a motherfucking rematch, pussies! The Yota will rise again!” followed by the sound of him popping open his beer. He lifted himself out of the truck completely and fell to the sand where he ran around and opened the passenger side door, which I hadn’t realized had been latched over w
ith a metal bar after we’d gotten in.

  Nolan hopped down in one graceful leap, but I didn’t miss the wince when he landed on his injured leg.

  “How exactly did we lose?” I asked. Nolan was about to pull me down when Scotty jumped between us, picking me up and swung swinging me around. Behind us I heard Nolan growl.

  “Sorry, man!” Scotty said, although he sounded anything but sorry. “She’s a fucking hot one.” Nolan took me out of Scotty’s arms. He didn’t set me down, though. Instead, he cupped the backs of my thighs and wrapped my legs around his torso. My arms instinctively went around his neck and for a second I was lost, staring into hazel eyes that appeared greener in the dark of night.

  “We lost because of this,” Scotty said, tugging us out of the moment. Nolan turning me toward the back of truck where the entire fender and rear axel been ripped off. The winning truck was driving in circles, making several victory laps while dragging around the lost parts of Scotty’s truck.

  “Basically, we broke first,” Nolan said.

  Scotty pulled of his baseball cap and ran a hand over his hair, setting it back on his head. “I’ll get those shit heads next time,” he said, throwing a beer can at the other truck as it made yet another victory lap. The can clanked off the windshield and was met with cheers and whooping from both the crowd and the occupants of the other truck. Scotty ran off, chasing the truck and leaping up into the bed joining several other bystanders who had already done the same thing. He unzipped his fly and while holding on to the round lights on top of the cab he pissed all over the back windshield of the truck. The crowd went crazy. Laughing and holding up their beers. Cheering for the ‘Yota man’.

  “Let’s go before they run us over,” Nolan said, still carrying me as he ducked under the rope.

  “You can put me down, you know,” I said.

  “I know I can,” Nolan acknowledged, giving the backs of my thighs a squeeze. “Did you like it?”

  “It was incredible!” I exclaimed. “Although I take back what I said about hockey before. Truck pulling is an even odder sport. It’s got to be a lot of work to put the truck back together each time and then destroy it again, but yeah, it was great, totally great.”

  “I thought you’d like it,” Nolan said with a chuckle. His fingers dug deeper into my flesh, massaging up the backs of my legs to the crease of my ass, holding me even closer against his large frame. I felt his ab muscles flex under his tight shirt rubbing against the inside of my thighs. The adrenaline coursing through my system was a mixture of excitement over the truck pull and wondering what would happen if Nolan kept touching me. If his hands wondered even higher.

  The rush was more intoxicating than any job I’d ever done.

  Nolan looked around me, where several other guys were watching us, or more specifically me. He shot them a look that had them all turning back around. Slowly, he released me, sliding me down his body until my feet hit the floor. I felt the vibration of his throaty groan which pulsed through me. There was a glint of something wicked in his eye, a look of something to come which sent shivers down my back.

  Whispers and laughter caught my attention and I began to notice and then pretend I didn’t notice, the other girls around us. The ones who kept eyeing Nolan and waving, smiling coyly before they turned their attentions to me, looking me over with hatred-filled eyes. The crowd was growing thicker but between the throngs of people I caught a glimpse of the girl I’d ran off at Nolan’s house weeks earlier.

  Nolan set my unopened beer in a cooler filled with ice and filled two red cups from the keg. Nolan handed me a cup and I took a sip, the icy cold beer a much welcomed contrast to the muggy night. Nolan led us back over to the roped and we watched as another pair of trucks lined up and got ready for their turn. “All the people I’ve ever known treat their rides like an extension of themselves.” I said, thinking of Smoke and the love he had for his bike and me with my scooter. Nolan’s bike was being protected under tarps so I knew he would understand where I was going with this. “Some treat their bikes or cars better than their own families, and yet these people…” I waved my arm to where Scotty was now sitting on the roof of the other truck, chugging another beer as the winning vehicle continued its victory tour outside of the arena, driving right up to the waters edge and kicking up a spray of mud. I paused, unsure of how to describe the reckless way they let their trucks be torn apart, but loving it nonetheless. “These people are just—”

  “bat shit crazy? Yeah, they are, but they’re having a lot of fucking fun.” Scotty’s screams of ‘YOTA FOREVER!’ trailed off as the truck drove further down the beach until it disappeared in the distance. “But I get what you’re saying. Rides are sacred and these guys get a thrill out of beating the shit out of theirs. Funny thing is that truck isn’t just a toy, it’s Scotty’s fucking ride to work,” Nolan said, followed by a deep burst of laughter.

  “No fucking way!” I said, taking another sip. Nolan grabbed my free hand and again linked his fingers with mine, tugging me closer so that my bare leg was brushing up against his jean clad thigh. “Why do you always hold my hand?” I asked, looking down at our intertwined fingers.

  “ ’Cause I want to,” Nolan said with a shrug. He dipped his head down and tugged me against him. “You’ll learn that when it comes to you, I’m going to do what I want to, and more than that…” He paused, sucking on his bottom lip. He was so close, his lips almost touching mine as we breathed the same air. “You’re gonna love what I want to do to you. Soon,” he added. There was no time to react or think about what was happening, he closed the space between us, and for the briefest second, his lips barely touched mine when a voice called out, breaking through our connection, prying us apart.

  “Hey, pretty boy!” The deep voice boomed. We turned around. A guy wearing a black band shirt and jeans stood up from the deck. He was just about as tall as Nolan and although he was large, his mass was rounded and bulky where Nolan was muscular and sculpted. “Too bad about your leg. Looks like you’re stuck in this town with all us nobodies after all,” the man said and although his words were an apology, his voice was anything but apologetic.

  Nolan’s hand tightened around mine. He pushed me behind him as the guy approached. “Nobody. That’s fitting. Accurate description of you actually.”

  I stepped back out from behind his body, needing to see what was going on and why this guy was calling Nolan out.

  “You have fun up there, pretending to be someone you’re not? Your uncle must be real proud you fucked him over for a fucking hockey puck and a helmet. Must be real shitty knowing what a fucking pussy you turned into, Goon.”

  Nolan’s jaw went tight. The muscles in his arms tensed and a thick vein over his bicep pulsed. I recognized his reaction as easily as I’d recognize my own. I could smell his anger as he said, “Shit happens, Griff. I’m back. That’s fucking that, you want to start with me you’re gonna have to wait for another time, I’m kind of busy right now,” he said, taking a sip of his beer in an attempt to hide his emerging anger. I watched both men in quiet fascination, although if Griff kept pushing Nolan, I didn’t know how much longer I’d be able to hold off my own anger that had already started to burn and was threatening to turn into an inferno I wouldn’t be able to control.

  “Yeah, I’d almost forgotten about your gimpy leg,” Griff said, stepping forward. “And here I was, thinking you was back in town because you saw me on Instagram, pounding my cock into the back of your girl’s throat.”

  Nolan huffed. “Jessica? Not my girl. Never was. You can fucking have the bitch,” Nolan spat, narrowing his eyes as Griff stepped down off the makeshift bleachers, the dilapidated old stairs creaking under his feet, announcing each heavy step as he made his way down to the sand until he was right in front of us. He flipped his black baseball cap so the brim was backward.

  “Oh, I did fucking have her.” Griff said, smacking his lips, egging Nolan on. “Many many times. She was fun to pass around. Guess she got tired
of you up there playing hockey and pretending to be the all-American jock when we all know you’re just plain white trash.”

  Nolan muttered something under his breath and clenched his fists. He held me tighter and turned to leave, pulling me beside him as he led our way back into the dark. My pulse picked up as we walked away. A full body heat took over and I struggled to even out my breaths. Nolan was right to walk away. We needed to get far from that situation as quickly as possible because I was seconds away from losing it completely.

  Griff called to us as we left, his hatred of Nolan evident in his voice, poking at me and provoking me with every sharp word. “While you’re pretending to be so preppy and polite, the all American fucking JOKE, you can pass over blondie now, and I can introduce her to the same good face fucking I gave Jessica. Don’t worry, dude. I’ll totally give her back when I’m done coming down her throat and making her choke on my cock.” A few of Griff’s friends chuckled.

  Nolan stopped and completely stilled. He gnashed his teeth together and then slowly, he turned back around, dropping my hand.

  In a few running strides, Nolan ascended on Griff, his fist cracking over his rounded face while his head was still thrown back in laughter. I stood there wide-eyed, amazed by the power behind Nolan’s punch, behind Nolan. Griff sailed backward into the sand. Seeing Nolan so in control caused my anger to fade slightly. He handled it. We could go. If we left right now, I could keep the burn under wraps. “Come on, let’s go,” I said softly. Nolan turned back toward me, cracking the knuckles of the hand he’d just used to set Griff straight when two of the guys Griff had been sitting with jumped down off the deck onto Nolan’s back, pushing him down into the sand. One held him down while the other’s fists flew.

  That was it.

  From that moment there was no more reining it in.

  The familiar heat spread through my entire body like an out of control wild fire. My vision shifted from white to red…to black.

  I’d lost any control I thought I had, and in the process I showed every person there that Rage was most definitely not short for Regina.

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  Nolan

  I barely had time to register what was happening when Oben and Ward, two of Griff’s friends who completed the juvenile delinquent trio, jumped onto my back like the cowards they were. After holding me down and getting in a few punches of their own, Griff stood and shook off the sand. “You’re gonna fucking pay for that, you prick,” he spat, wiping at the blood dripping from the corner of his nose.
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