By Mahalia Levey (Guest Blogger)
[I'm delighted to welcome Mahalia Levey to Beyond Romance today, with a hot excerpt from her upcoming release The Price of Defiance. Mahalia asked me to mention that this excerpt hasn't yet been finalized by her editor. ~ Lisabet]
America Patterson loves living on the edge. The intelligent Car Model engages in illegal street racing, knowing she's one of the best. Underneath her flawless facade lies a young woman in turmoil. When her new found hobby lands her in hot water, she finds she may be in over her head.
When Alejandro Escovedo is summoned home after his Mixed Martial Arts fight to find his best friend's sister in jail, he knows he must intervene. Their explosive past gives him all rights where she’s concerned. He’s determined to end her dare-devil ways by finding the trigger to her self-destructive behavior.
America ran her fingers over her baby—a white gloss GTO with black stripes. She had an hour to get to the site. Smoothing her hands over her car, she smiled and checked both the headlights and tail lights before she climbed in. Her pressure gauge ensured her tires were filled for optimum use. America’s mouth watered, thinking about the naughty game she played behind her family’s and employer’s backs. Nothing compared to winning over peers who’d raced innumerable times against her.
Her engine purred as she sat in the car, thinking about the winning bounty. Paying the twenty-large entry fee wouldn’t break her, not with what she made for modeling. The one hundred grand purse would enable her to buy more parts for her babies than she could alone on her salary. Her phone flashed. 2253 Industrial Highway warehouse district two. After responding, she flipped the switch on her BOSE stereo system and iPod to scroll down her playlist to pick a song. Damn, between Rap and Metal, she couldn’t decide. Thrumming her fingers on the wheel, she gave up and hit random. The sound of Disturbed filled the compact space. Amy slipped into her racing harness and eased her baby out of the private garage.
Twenty minutes later, she pulled up into the unsavory warehouse district, parked, and got out of her car. A quick scan of the crowd gave her an estimate of around two hundred-plus waiting for the event to start. Not everyone could race since it was by invite only. Reputation didn’t matter. The winner always received a summons back again to prove they could hold the title.
America knew she was well known for her modeling and her talent with her special babies. Her car housed the best NOS system and engine money could buy. And that took cold cash and haggling, two things America learned by years of experience. A signed original photo or two and a promise of tickets to her premiere shows gained her entry everywhere.
Jessica and Mandy waited by their cars. The trio of models traveled and played well together in and outside of the law. America grinned and made her way to her friends, her hips swaying in the itty bitty, micro, black and white plaid skirt with a black G-string underneath it. She knew the underside of her ass showed, but more than that, the combination of her tan displayed by six-inch stilettos made her legs look good. She adjusted her midriff top and linked her arm with Mandy.
“You prepared to lose again?” Amy teased.
“Like we’d race against you—we stopped losing to you months ago.” Jessica looked over Amy’s shoulder at the other drivers.
“We’ll bet on you.” Mandy elbowed Jessica in the ribs. “Pay attention.” She let her eyes fall on Amy’s choice of ride. Sweet! You brought the Mustang.”
“Like I was going to bring the Saleen.” Amy agreed that her baby was the perfect choice to race.
“Amy, you have what, like seventeen cars, right?” Jessica craned her neck around to catch a glimpse of one of the guys they ran with. Just then, Jayshaun approached them.
“Sweetness.” Jayshaun raked his eyes over her. “I need your entry fee.”
“My face is up here.” Amy ignored his lecherous gaze honed in on her breasts and slammed the money in his palm. “When’s the race?”
“Your heat is first. Afterward we’ll let the youngsters in.” He placed the money in a locked box and walked off.
America crossed her arms and winked at her girls. “Wish me good luck.” She got a kiss on the cheek from both girls and turned, sashaying to her car.
The deafening noise made it hard to concentrate. On the sidelines, the various ages of participants, family, and cliques all stood by with cameras, cell phones, and digital camcorders. She waved to the crowd of her peers, intent on publicizing the event via an underground link.
Amy kissed the hood of her car and raised it. She completed a quick check over her wires and engine. “My baby, let’s go win that green.” She shut the hood and tugged down her micro-mini skirt. The drag was a mile long with a two-barrel turnaround, the first one back to the starting point. If she took first place, she would run in a second race later in the day. Since she’d won the last four races straight, bookies bet on her being the sure winner.
Cars bumped everything from TI to Petey Pablo and Daddy Yankee. With a smirk on her face, America had to be different. She fired up and flipped on her system, which blared Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name Of.” As usual, she flipped off the driver next to her and brought her car to the starting point. The deafening crowd screamed and taunted in an effort to punk out the competition. She ignored them all and ran her hands over her special steering wheel, checking the NOS chambers. Full, the way she liked it. Her choice of song gained her the attention she aimed for. Who the fuck played metal at a showdown?
She did. The gun went off, and the filming began as she spun her tires and hit the accelerator, adrenalin flowing through her veins. Cool and collected, she shot down the strip toe-to-toe with the last driver that had almost tied her for a win. After coming close to tying, she’d modified her car by calling on favors. She didn’t stop to wonder if they’d made any. Glancing to her left to see who was next to her, she hit the accelerator again: 60, 90, 120 of pure metal. Slamming on the clutch, she shifted gears and passed two of her competitors and flew past the marker turning…drifting to head back in first place, hitting the NOS at the perfect time when only fifty yards remained. The finish line was closing in on her.
The steering wheel faltered when she lost traction. The cloud of smoke from burning rubber blinded her. America steered her car back and noticed two other GTO’s and a Honda coupe gaining on her.
Come on, baby, only a bit more to go.
Sparks ignited fear in her. The Mustang spun out of control. One tire flew off the car in the direction of the crowd. Amy would have screamed, but she knew her car was made for impact. There was no time to look for an alternate route. Her choice was to hit the building or run down the pedestrians and other cars. She aimed the car for the warehouse glass doors and slammed on the brakes.
The jarring collision shook her to the core. While the harness held her in place, the windshield caved in as the car crumbled, sealing her in as she slid farther into the building. Dust rained down with siding and broken wood until the car skidded to a halt. Blood trickled, leaving a wet trail down the side of her face and neck. The driver window splintered, spewing pieces of glass over her. In reflex she protected her face with her hands, trying to ignore the pain radiating through her body.
In the distance, she heard the up close wail of an ambulance or police. Either way, she knew she was screwed. The number one rule to racing—in the event of an accident—was to scatter like the wind and call 9-1-1. No doubt YouTube was already busy with the wreckage. Moaning, she wished she’d told her brother where she was going. Pain heightened to a blinding migraine. She touched her forehead and felt blood and a knot form. She looked down, saw glass over her, and smelled gas either from the car or from the building.
“Fuck me!” Darkness descended.
Antiseptic…sterile…death…the smells assailed her as she woke up. Amy raised her hand to feel her head and felt the tight pinch of handcuffs on her right hand. “Where am I?” She focused her blurry eyes until her vision cleared and saw a police officer sitting next to her.
“In the hospital for observation,” the uniformed officer answered.
“Why am I handcuffed?” she asked. Confusion clouded her judgment.
“You’ve been under doctor care for twenty-four hours. The EMT’s were able to rouse you while en route here. I read you your rights while transporting you in the ambulance. Do you remember why you were arrested?”
“No.” She paused to gather her thoughts. “My head hurts.”
“My name is Officer Blake. Do you know your name?” Officer Blake took out his pen and pad to take notes.
“America Patterson,” she answered.
“That’s not what the driver’s license identification card in your purse says. We’ll print you when we book you,” the officer stated and pulled out his radio.
“I’m going to jail?”
“Normally, people who vandalize private property, drive with reckless abandon, race illegally, and possess a fake identification card go to jail.”
America cringed. “Where’s my car?”
“Don’t you want to know if you harmed anyone?” he asked.
“I know I didn’t. I drove into the warehouse because I knew it was abandoned.” His rude tone annoyed her. She put her free hand to her head. “It hurts.”
“What’s left of your car is impounded for evidence. Lady—whatever your real name is—is there anyone you can call?”
“No…yes,” she said.
“Which is it, no or yes? You’ll need to be bailed out.”
“Where are my clothes?”
“What clothes? You had to be cut out of your car with the jaws of life. Your shredded clothing and broken heels are bagged for evidence, along with your purse.” He reached over and unlocked the cuff to free her hand then gave her his personal cell. “You’re damn lucky to be alive and relatively unharmed. Make the call. We’re leaving as soon as the Doc clears you.”
Amy heard the lecture in his voice. She took a deep breath and gulped back the fear of being escorted to a jail cell. She dialed her brother, Saint Vincent’s number.
“Hello,” a worried voice answered.
“Hi.” Amy sniffled.
“America, where are you?”
“Saint, I’m in big trouble.” Amy gripped the cell tightly to her ear. “I’m at Truman Memorial Hospital, about to be taken to jail.” She started to sob when reality dawned on her.
“Thank God, you’re alive. I’ve been going out of my mind since the link to the wreck was sent to my cell phone. Sit tight. We’ve been fielding police and the media, trying to protect your professional name. Sis—Alejandro demanded to be the one to handle the situation.”
“I’m sorry for scaring you.” Her brother and his team of misfits were all she had while growing up. Being named after their country of conception and locked in just how zany her family was, Saint Vincent got his name chopped in half to Saint. “Is this going to hurt your business?” She winced at the thought of seeing Alejandro again after so long. “No. Alejandro will make sure you have a smooth transaction. I’m forwarding him your info now. Sit still and relax. Can’t have the baby of the family locked up and forgotten.”
Her voice dropped an octave. “Can’t you come? I haven’t seen him since—”
“Ms., we’re ready to transport you to the police department,” Officer Blake interrupted.
“I gotta go.” Amy snapped the phone shut and handed it back to the officer. He was kind enough to leave, allowing her to change into the jumpsuit they’d sent for. She rapped and opened the door after toeing into the slip-on canvas shoes. “I’m ready.” Head dropped low; she allowed them to escort her to the jailhouse that was a ten-minute ride away.
Being booked took longer than she’d expected, and it mortified her. A nifty machine imprinted her fingerprints electronically after they took her mug shot. The issue with her identification became clear once she had a chance to speak and separate her professional identity from her personal one. When they finished processing her fingerprints and mug shot, she followed them to general population and looked at all the criminals. The door buzzed and opened, and she was ushered in. She cast a glance at the officer, who shook his head, locked the door, and turned his back.
I’m not a criminal.
An hour later, her savior appeared. Escorted by the correction officer, Alejandro Escovedo approached her. Her eyes locked on his bulging arms, the tattooed sleeves covering his tan flesh. She shivered, remembering how his skin felt under her fingers when she tricked him into fucking her. The clinking of the door opening snapped her out of her reverie. When she snuck a look his way, anger rolled off him in waves and had her backing up. Only when the officer took hold of her arm, propelling her out of the closed cell, did she make baby steps in leaving.
“Me vuelves loca.” Alejandro handed her clothes. He gave her a few moments to change, and then followed the officer to the door leading them out of the building, using a secret passage to avoid the reporters out to get the top story of the week.
“Alejandro,” Amy spoke softly. The last time she’d seen the pissed off expression on his face was when he woke from a drunken night to find her in his bed. Best friends don’t sleep with their best friend’s baby sister. She remembered him screaming at her before he left for training.
He raised his hand up, forestalling her from speaking.
“No! You’ve been on your own too long.” Amy stepped into his embrace and wound her arms around his waist and then up his muscle-defined arms. “I didn’t mean to make you crazy. She slipped her palms up the inside of his shirt, splaying them over his chest, tracing his numerous tattoos like a blind man who read Braille.
Alejandro put his hand over hers and lowered his head down to her ear. “You play with fire.” He wove his fingers into her hair. “No doubt you’re remembering my cock taking away your gift, the feel of my fingers spearing into your pussy, bringing you pleasure.”
He nipped her lobe. “Do you remember how many times you came that night for me? I do—every single one, and how your tongue felt as it darted across my heated skin licking and tracing the lion tattoo across my back, the military one on my chest, and your mouth on my pierced cock.” He traced a finger across her lower lip and held her trembling body.
“You’ve avoided me since that night,” she accused and looked around the empty parking lot.
“Hmm, I’ve been out of the country working. You wanted attention; you got it. Not the way I would’ve liked.”
Alejandro took advantage of her parted mouth and speared his tongue into her mouth. Amy moaned, opening for his assault. She’d wanted this for the past year, ached for him to come home, and make her his again. Her senses spun. He tasted of darkness and danger. Heat pooled between her thighs to get them throbbing. She pressed closer, slid her arms from under his shirt up to his face, and cupped his cheeks in her hands.
When he stepped back with a sudden move, pinning her against his SUV, she shivered from the penetrating gaze. His jaw clenched as he smoothed down his shirt. She licked her bottom lip and laid her hands on his chest. “Want more?” He took her hand in his and pressed her palm to his erection. Amy treaded lightly with the trick question. If she said no, she’d be a liar, but if she said yes, he might very well fuck the wits out of her in his black tinted-window vehicle. “Yes.” She decided honesty was the best policy.
“Too bad. Bad girls don’t get fucked. Get in the vehicle. We’re going home, querida.”
The unspoken way he regarded her gave her insight: he’d come home to stay, and she’d have to work her way into his good graces. She schooled her features and scurried to her side of the vehicle. She’d find a way to appease his anger and fuel their need for one another.
Being smart and sassy with a great sense of humor comes easily for Mahalia Levey. An avid reader of books, she found herself enchanted with disappearing completely into the worlds authors created. One day she vowed to herself she'd be one of them. Then family life came, and college right after. Swayed from her childhood course of action, it took many years for her to get back to that place she held dear as a child. Now she is running full steam ahead to keep up with the many ideas flowing freely. She plans on taking her work to higher levels and expanding her genres. Her main focus is giving her readers variety. Her works in progress include paranormal, fantasy and mainstream romance. Taking characters and watching them grow past what she’s imagined is her true passion.