Home > Rett (Custom Culture #4)

Rett (Custom Culture #4)
Tess Oliver

Chapter 1

Rett

A slim hand slapped my bare chest, and I opened my eyes into the darkness. The girl attached to the hand was still fast asleep, snoring softly against her pillow. My fingers wrapped completely around her wrist as I gently lifted her hand off of me. Without a sound, I rolled toward the edge of the bed and moved to lower my feet to the ground. Something held my leg. A cold metal cuff was locked around my ankle. I pulled and twisted my foot but it was no use. I was trapped in the bed. I struggled against the shackle. A shadowy figure sat up on the bed, and a pretty blonde girl stared down at me. Her eyes nearly glowed with rage as she lifted a gleaming knife above my chest. Her cackle echoed off the unfamiliar walls, and I writhed against my restraints. Her mouth opened into a wicked smile to expose long, yellow teeth. I sat up with a yell.

I sucked in a deep breath. Morning light poked through the slats of the blinds covering my bedroom windows. I looked around to assure myself that it had been a bad dream. My crap was littered all over the room, and Taylor’s laughter skittered down the hall.

I combed back my hair with my fingers and swung my feet to the floor. I was free. No crazy woman had bound me to her bed, but the whole nightmare hadn’t been all that far-fetched. Scotlyn would blame the bad dream on karma, but I was pretty sure it had been the jalapeños on my burrito. Still, Scottie was right. She always teased me that one day I’d meet a girl that would be too hard to walk out on. And maybe she was right, or maybe I never wanted to stick around long enough to find that girl. Sometimes escape was just easier. But I really needed to stop my endless parade of one night stands.

I pulled on my jeans and walked to the kitchen. Taylor was sitting at the table picking the sesame seeds off a bagel, and Jimmy was leaning into the refrigerator.

Taylor’s plump, pink lips were fighting a grin. “What were you up to this morning, Rett? Sounded like you found a monster under your bed.”

“No monsters, Tater Tot.” I pointed questioningly toward the bag of bagels, and she nodded her consent.

Jimmy straightened with a carton of milk in his hand. “Rough night?”

I patted my stomach. “Too much spicy food before bed, that’s all.” I sat at the table and pulled a bagel from the bag.

Jimmy pulled up a chair and sat across from me. His big feet kicked the table as he stretched out his long legs. Ever since I could remember, my brother had had a hard time fitting at any regular table. “Hey, if you’ve got nothing to do today, we’re driving down toward the beach. Some guy is selling a 1970 GSX and I’m going to check it out.”

“Sounds great but I’m going to try a little motocross action up at Lake Piru. Cole will be here in a few minutes to pick me up.” I took a big bite of bagel.

“Motocross? But you don’t have any gear, or any bike, for that matter.”

“Cole has everything I need.”

Jimmy shook his giant blond head and it was obvious an unwanted nugget of brotherly advice was coming next. “Rett, I don’t know if it is such a good idea to get so chummy with the owner’s son. If something comes between you two then you’re out of a job. And this has been the first steady job you’ve ever held.”

“You worry too much. Besides, now that Dray is back together with Cassie, I’ve got no one to hang out with. Cole and I have a lot in common.”

Taylor laughed. “Like what— sleeping with every girl you meet? That’s probably why this guy, Cole, is so glad to have Rett, the chick magnet, around. Or maybe it’s the opposites attract thing. He’s mega rich and you’re mega poor.”

I reached for the milk. “First of all, Cole needs no help from me with girls, and, secondly, Tater Tot, you and Scottie have this insane notion that I’m just jumping from bed to bed every night, sleeping with every female member of the human race I meet.”

“That about sums it up.” Jimmy lifted the carton, tossed back the rest of the milk and swallowed with a sigh. “It’s got to be the girls. Why else would this rich guy want to hang out with you.”

“And fuck you too, Jimmy. People like to hang out with me. You’re the Mason with the asshole reputation. Not me.”

Taylor plucked off some more sesame seeds. “He has a point.”

Jimmy lifted a brow at her, but she went on defacing the bagel. “Taylor, why the hell didn’t you just take the plain bagel?”

“I like the sesame ones.” She tore off a piece and brought it to her lips.

Taylor was the kind of girl who could sweep through a room and render all the guys silent. But the only guy she’d ever had eyes for was my brother, Jimmy, or Clutch as everyone else called him. Taylor had had her sights set on my brother since she was sixteen, and everyone knew they’d end up together. Jimmy’s best friend, Nix, had found his true love with Scotlyn, a girl whose picture he’d carried in his wallet for a year before he’d even met her. Their love had been strangely predestined. And there had only ever been one girl for Dray, a guy who I’d always considered to be my best friend. Cassie was the one person who could keep Dray grounded. I had never found my match, and sometimes I wondered if I would even allow myself to find her.

“Well, always a pleasure having breakfast with you two.” I pushed back my chair. “I’ve got to get ready. You two have a safe drive to the beach, and I’ll see you later.”

“Take it easy out there. I’m not paying for any broken fucking bones,” Jimmy called as I left the kitchen.

***

A flash of red passed me, and as Cole raced by, he kicked his bike sideways. A hurricane of dirt and gravel flew at my face, pinging off the lens of my goggles. The helmet fit snugly around my chin and face, but the bitter, salty taste of the dirt found its way into my mouth. I squeezed the throttle and raced after Cole.

We’d only been at the track for a few hours and I’d barely ridden ten laps around, but every muscle in my body ached. I squinted through the hazy goggles and focused on the Honda ahead of me. Cole was skilled, and I was a complete novice. The only thing I had on my side was what Jimmy referred to as my ‘complete disregard for mortality’. Growing up the youngest of five boys, and with parents who hardly paid attention to anything I did, had made me stupidly fearless.

With the faint reminder from my brother not to break any bones drifting through my head, I poured it on just as I hit a jump. My front tire lifted and the bike got some respectable air, or at least in my mind it had. I managed to stay upright, but just barely, as my tires slammed back down to the ground. The jarring sensation sent pain through my tired hands and shaky arms. I leaned down farther over the handlebars and twisted the throttle. Just as my front tire reached Cole’s back tire, his bike flew into the air and he pulled away from me. I was spent, and my arms and legs twitched with fatigue. The exit gate was around the next curve. I rode off the track and headed back to the truck, defeated and dead tired.

A long line of trucks and vans bordered the fence along the track. Dust burned my eyes as I yanked off the goggles and pulled my helmet and gloves off. The loud, almost irritating, buzz of the bike motors mixed with the loud music roaring from the speakers on the truck next to us. Cole came off the track and his bike vibrated as he rolled toward the truck.

I reached into the ice chest, pulled out two bottles of water and plunked down hard on the fold-out chair. Cole took off his helmet and gear and sat in the chair across from me. He rubbed his hand through his hair, and sweat and dirt caused it to stand straight up on his head.

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