Still the One
by Wendi Zwaduk
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78184-132-7
Print ISBN: 978-1-78184-539-4
She’ll be his salvation if he’s willing to switch.
Can Eric embrace her methods for stress relief or will her suggestion tear their fragile relationship apart?
Reader Advisory: This book contains the use of a crop, spanking, a little bondage, a little pegging, some toys and a woman who knows how to use a strap on to pleasure her man.
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For once I’d like things to go according to plan. Eric Trask gritted his teeth. If he kept up the nervous gesture, he’d break his teeth and bite clean through his jaw. He wiped his hands on his shop towel and measured the B-post on the race truck once more. The thing should’ve fit the templates. Damn. He glanced up at the flags hanging from the ceiling. Each flag highlighted a win for Blitz racing—the racing team he loved and worked for.
His phone buzzed in his pocket. Oh, fuck. Not another thing.
He flicked on the screen and set the call to speaker. “Trask.”
“I’m glad I caught you. Are you on your way to the airport? You do remember it’s Tuesday morning, don’t you?” Megan Poston, the team owner, asked from her end of the call. “You’re supposed to be here, helping to get the truck around for practice tomorrow.”
On his way? Practice? Eric glanced over his shoulder at the wall clock. Eleven-forty-five a.m. Shit. He should’ve been cleaned up and at the airport fifteen minutes ago. Hell. He’d just got back from Michigan.
“I’m still at the shop. The B-post on the Atlanta truck isn’t fitting the templates right. Give me another fifteen and I’ll be out the door.”
“It’s a quicker turnaround in your schedule, but this isn’t like you.” Megan went silent for a long moment. “Tucker wants to talk to you.”
The connection snapped and crackled as Megan handed the phone to Tucker. “Eric?”
“You called me.” Eric groaned. “I’m sorry, man. What’s up?”
“That’s what I wanted to ask you.” The line snapped again. “I had to get out of Megan’s earshot. She’s worried because you’re not here.”
“The B-post is fucked up. I don’t know how it was fabricated wrong, but it was.”
“Shit happens. Look, you’ve been freaking out about everything. You’re the calmest guy I know. Why are you chewing everyone out? I wouldn’t have nominated you for the crew chief position if I’d thought you couldn’t handle it.”
“I can handle it. There’s just a lot of crap happening and this quick run of races over the weekend. I got behind but I’ll get the rest of the way caught up.”
“Broken spark plugs on the backup truck. I’ve spent four hours going through the box. Half of them are screwed up. We never have that issue.”
“Have Delaney work on it. He’s in the engine shop for a reason.”
“I can’t figure out what the hell you stuffed in the radiator before you slammed into the wall in Pocono. It’s shit like that.”
“Okay, I’m going to get a little emo on you, but tough titties. You’re my best friend and like my brother. You’re going to have to chill out. Your blood pressure has to be through the roof and, yes, before you butt in with it, I know you’re healthy as a horse. Guess what? I don’t want my best friend to kick off because of hypertension.”
“Hypertension won’t kill me.”
“Uh-huh. How is your blood pressure?”
“I don’t have a monitor right here to check.”
“That’s what I thought. I had to talk to the powers that be today, too. Seems you’ve been swearing more than they deem necessary on the radios.”
“I can swear with the best of them. You and I both know that. But I don’t want you to have to suffer the freaking crazy fines I’ve had. Okay? You need to find a means for managing the stress.”
“I’m not going to an anger management class.”
Tucker groaned. “Seriously? It might help. Teach you ways to centre instead of giving in to the tension.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Good, and get your ass to the airport. We’ve got strategies to get done.” Tucker clicked off the line, leaving Eric in the chaotic clangs of tools and chatter from the guys working in the shop. A radio somewhere across the room blared a recent country music hit.
Eric closed his eyes and took a couple of deep breaths. He wasn’t going to go to an anger management class. No way, no how. His issues weren’t that bad. Not bad enough to go to a class.
He needed a release if he was going to deal with the insane amount of stress in his life. Something that had nothing to do with his number one stressor—racing. Janine worked wonders in the stress reduction department. Every time they made love, he saw stars. She made sex new and explosive. But she was part of the racing community. The team and team issues made it into their private moments from time to time.
He liked her, maybe even loved her, but he needed a change. What the change was—hell if he knew.
“Hey, you! There you are.” Janine’s perfume fluttered into the shop as the sound of her high heels tapped on the floor. “You’re late.”
Eric opened his eyes and turned towards her voice. “I know,” he bit out. “I’m perpetually late.”
She brushed a lock of her honey blonde hair behind her ear. Her crimson lips parted. “Eric?”
“Sorry.” He worked his gaze down her body. From the top of her head to those legs. He stifled a groan. She had killer legs and knew how to use them. A fleeting visual of her riding him came to him. He pressed his thighs together to hopefully hide the erection. God, she had stilettos on. He dropped his hands in front of his crotch. “I’m distracted.”
“Nice way to cover.” She took the rag from his hands and stepped in close. “I visually grope you every time I see you.” She cleared her throat and took a step back. She straightened the scarf draped about the column of her neck. “Delaney is working on getting replacement spark plugs. Hanlon and Grau have the B-post situation in hand. They found the issue with the radiator—chunk of rubber the size of a golf ball was clogging it.”
Hell. He’d been working on the damned radiator for more than a day. “How do you know this information when I work with them? I should know this stuff.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Her green eyes glittered.
“I will worry. I get paid to run the team, not end up out of the loop.”
“There’s no crime in asking for help. You were bogged down and that’s what we pay them for—to work.” She tugged on his arm. “I will drag you out of here if I have to. I got us a ride with the Twenty-Seven team. They had some seats open on the Challenger.”
“Fine, but let me change. I’m filthy.” He strode past her to the locker rooms. She wouldn’t follow him in there and God knew he needed the momentary breather. His brain buzzed with information. The year before he’d worked as a car chief—taking care of the cars and letting Bob handle the crew. When Bob had retired, the crew chief position had opened up. Eric groaned. He could handle the job most days. Today wasn’t one of them.
He unbuttoned his work shirt as he crossed the space. The scents of sweat, motor oil and dirt wafted through the room in a pungent aroma. He crinkled his nose and stripped out of his shirt. The five minutes away from Janine gave him time to plan out what he’d say. I really like you, but it’s not you—it’s me. Wow, that sounded lame and stupid. I want to fuck without talking about racing. Direct, but it didn’t give him the change he wanted. Can we see other people? That hurt. He didn’t like the idea of her seeing someone else. She met every one of his needs and more. I’ve got more on my mind than my brain can process Ever have those weekends? God, he was screwed.
“Megan said I never wanted to come in here. From the smell of it, she’s right. Do you boys ever use the showers, or are they for decoration?” Janine inched around the corner. “All silliness aside, Tucker didn’t call you to piss you off.”
“The door does say men’s locker room.” He shoved his work pants to his ankles. “You aren’t a man.” Although he did have those fantasies concerning her and a strap-on… He’d keep his mouth shut for the time being.
“Yeah, but I was never one to follow the rules.” She crept closer to him and held her hand in front of her nose. “He feels like crap for having to bring that stuff up. Sweet merciful heaven, it is ripe in here.”
“Why did he tell you? You’re not involved in this.” He groaned. His response sounded like shit.
“I’m involved with you and you’re the one with the issue here.” She folded her arms and squared her shoulders. “I’m going to ignore your tone because I want to help you.”
He rolled his eyes. “Yes, I need help. I’m a stressed-out man with too much on my mind and no way to get rid of it. Oh, and I have all these friends who are so worried.” He grabbed a pair of jeans from the locker. “What’s your grand plan?”
“For starters, I want you to take the flight to Bristol as a cooling-off period.” She sat down next to him on the bench. “Think about what Tucker said, but don’t overthink it. He’s trying to be a friend. We all want the best for you.” She rubbed his shoulder. “Damn. Now I sound like a greetings card. Sorry.”
Eric yanked the fresh pullover shirt over his head and stared at her. He wanted to be irked with her for taking charge and turning his afternoon of chaos into order, but he couldn’t. Seeing her sort through the upheaval with poise and calm turned him on—more than he’d expected. If she wanted to help him, fine, but he wasn’t going to make it easy. “How do you suggest you help me?”
“First of all, I’m not going to let you get snippy with me. If you do, I won’t help and I will punish you in ways you can’t imagine.” She stepped into his personal space. “Second, I’ve got a proposition.”
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