Zoe Akio is a professional dirt bike racer who decides to ride her motorcycle across the country and think about a future post motocross racing. Her manager hires two bodyguards, Deke and Nathan, to travel with her. The three weeks with the three of them in close quarters changes all of their lives as a new, unexpected road opens up.
“Malcolm, I don’t need anyone to go with me. I’ve got three weeks between races, and I just want to ride. I can make it from Cali to the East Coast in that time with no problem.” Zoe knew she was whining, but she really didn’t care. It didn’t matter that she was talking so loud people on the other side of the bar could hear her. But, Mal wasn’t listening to what she was saying. Typical.
“It’s not safe for you to be on the road by yourself, Zoe. I need you to get to the next races on time and in one piece. I’m sending some riders with you. And that’s final.” Mal’s tone brooked no argument.
She grunted at him and took a long pull off her beer. She was tired of listening to him yap. Soon she’d be on the road riding her bike for fun. Not for work. God, when had her passion turned into work?
If she didn’t argue with him, maybe he would just shut up and go away. Being her manager didn’t give him license to constantly tell her what to do, where to go or how to live . He was worse than owning a little yappy dog, always dogging her heels.
She could see the disgusted look on Mal’s face and the tightening of his mouth as he looked around the rundown bar. She didn’t care about his discomfort at being in a place like this. The bar was old, dirty, and smelly. But she’d been coming here since she could legally drink. She was comfortable here, and the bartenders knew her name.
Plus she was surrounded by other bikers. They gave her respect and space. Being a motocross rider had some pull with the patrons in this bar.
Dressed in faded Levis that looked almost broken down and her motorcycle boots, all scuffed and worn, she fit right in. At least in the way she dressed she fit in with the guys. Most of the girls were biker sluts, wearing short skirts and too much makeup. Zoe kept her face relatively free of face paint, and her hair was all teased out but hanging in soft curls down her back.
At Mama’s, she was more like a guy than a girl. She liked that. She liked that most of the people in this bar liked to ride for fun. She needed that energy now more than ever. She was just so damn tired of competing. It had become all about the money and not about the ride.
“Look Mal, you get my rigs to Pennsylvania and I’ll show up to ride,” she declared. “You send people with me, it’ll take planning and shit, and I’m trying to avoid that. I need this ride.”
“I’m not telling you not to make the drive, Zoe,” he spoke slowly. “I’m just asking you not to ride alone. In fact, I won’t let you.”
“Whatever.” She slid her thumbnail down the side of the beer bottle, making a screeching noise.
She heard the door open and two of the best-looking men she had seen in a long time walked in. They were like a matched set. Dark vs. light. Damn. She felt her body perk up in interest.
They scanned the bar. As soon as they spotted her and Malcolm, they kept their gazes focused. She couldn’t help it, she stared right back. Malcolm hadn’t noticed them yet, warily keeping an eye on everyone around him. Almost everyone around him had better things to do, so while Mal was hyper-aware of them, they were all ignoring him.
Malcolm had been her manager since was sixteen and started riding in the circuits. He’d been almost like a surrogate father. They’d both enjoyed her success over the years. Lately though, she’d gotten tired of the overprotective father routine. And her success hadn’t brought her joy in a long while.
Tall, dark, and handsome along with tall, blond, and smoking hot walked toward them. Not a straight line because there were people and tables in the way. But their destination was pretty clear. They stopped off at the end of the bar and picked up two beers and then continued to walk toward her and Mal.
She and Malcolm were tucked into a back corner at one of the tall barroom tables. She had deliberately chosen the spot because it gave her a clear line of sight to the door. Besides, this table was close to one end of the bar.
Malcolm finally noticed the two of them, moving like she imagined gladiators would—purposeful and deadly, bearing down on them. Instead of being more paranoid and skittish that two fairly large men were making a beeline for them, Malcolm broke into a grin. He seemed pleased. Which made Zoe suspicious.
“Deke, Nathan, so glad you guys could show up,” Malcolm greeted them both.
Her suspicion firmed. If Malcolm arranged this, then it was going to mean something she didn’t want. Probably.
The heat inside her was doused. No matter how yummalicious these two looked, if they knew Malcolm well enough that he was glad they were here, she wasn’t going to be so glad.
She kept her mouth shut. But she couldn’t keep her eyes closed. And she looked her fill.
Tall and Dark was taller. Now that she could see him closer, she noticed that he had an ugly scar running close to his hairline on the right side of his face. It didn’t detract from his looks, just added a dangerous quality to them. Without the scar, he would have almost been pretty. Short black hair framed the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. He was thick. Not fat. The jeans and shirt stretching over his body told even the clueless that he was built. Not just muscular, but solid.
Almost as Tall, Blond, and Hot was just a few inches shorter. He didn’t have any scars. But he looked just as dangerous. Nothing Zoe could see indicated why—her brain just screamed it. Her intuition was pretty good, so she went with it. Blondie had long hair, tied back. It was thick if the circumference of the ponytail was any indication. But it looked soft. Other than his lips, his hair seemed to be the only soft thing on Blondie. Unusually for a blond, he had chocolate brown eyes. But even those looked hard. She wondered if they ever got all melty like real chocolate. He was built as well but slightly leaner than Tall and Dark.
“Malcolm,” the blond said.
“You’re paying us. We show up,” Tall and Dark added.
Note: Open Road was released first in the Hot Rods, Hot Bods anthology in July, 2013. It is not currently available as an individual download. Links to the anthology can be found below.