Home > Set the Pace (The Detroit Love Duet #1)

Set the Pace (The Detroit Love Duet #1)
Kim Karr

A TEST DRIVE

Jasper

NO WORDS CAN properly describe the feeling.

Adrenaline races through my veins. My heart thumps in my chest. My pulse is out of control. The anticipation is almost as good as the experience. Almost. I pump a little harder. Align my body. Move my hips. Steady my gaze. Take a deep breath. And then plunge.

My foot slams down on the clutch and my hand grips the gearshift. Just like that, the engine screams to life. I stomp on the gas and my tires start to spin. Immediately, the car takes off and the speedometer reads 10, 20, 30, 40.

Not fast enough.

I engage the clutch again and put her in second gear.

The speedometer reads 50, 60, 70.

Easing around the first turn, the throaty horsepower comes alive from under the hood and the tires squeal as if on the edge of adhesion.

Still not fast enough.

Clutch.

Third gear.

The speedometer reads 80, 90.

Clutch.

Fourth gear.

Finally, I reach 100, and I still have so much grip on the track that I can barely contain my enthusiasm. Now that I’m at the speed I want to be, I can properly assess my position. I’m in last place.

Fuck!

But Will is only a couple of lengths ahead of me and I’m gaining on him.

“Speed it up,” I tell him, talking into the helmet microphone.

“She won’t go any faster!” Will is yelling.

“No passing. Max was clear on that—he said no passing,” Jake whines.

I don’t say another word as I fire past Will and then Jake.

“What the fuck?” It’s Jake again, and he’s not happy that I just slid in front of him.

I let out a high-pitched laugh. “Sorry, Pretty Boy, but since when do I listen to Max?”

Drew’s moving fast and showing no signs of slowing down.

Faster. I have to move faster.

Pushing it as far as I can, I quickly creep up on Drew’s bumper but can’t get the upper hand. We’re approaching the second bend. Jake is right behind me. Now he’s passing me. I swear he just flipped me the bird.

“Hey, Pretty Boy, that wasn’t nice,” I laugh.

“I’m not in a nice mood,” he grumbles.

“Guys, that’s enough.” It’s Max.

We’re all ignoring him. I stare straight ahead and son of a bitch, I see the tiniest, slimmest crack between Drew and Jake. No right-minded person would risk it. Only a suicidal maniac. Luckily, I have big balls and I go for it.

Maneuvering my way in, I slam on the brakes when I get a little too close to Drew on the turn. My car doesn’t slow in the way I’d like her to, but I ignore that fact for now. Max can fix the issue later. I wait to cover the turn and then push her to her limits, leaving Jake in the dust.

Soon enough I’m awash in that exhilarating sensation when the tires feel like they’re gripping nothing at all, and I go flying past Drew into first place.

“This isn’t a race, boys,” Max’s agitated voice booms in my ears.

“What the fuck are you doing, Jasper? I’m the pace car!” Drew’s voice crackles through my speaker with frustration.

Pace car.

Race car.

None of them are driving the Storm.

Only me.

“Just having a little fun.”

A throat clears. “Jasper, let’s try not to spin out today, okay?” Max warns me.

Hands gripping the leather around the wheel so tight my fingers are numb, I grin and say, “I’ll do my best.”

“Hey asshole, you do know that’s what happens when you engage both the brake and the steering wheel at the same time while going more than one hundred miles per hour?” This time it’s Will showing me the love. Usually he’s the cautious one, the calm one, the one who is reasonable at every turn. Today he’s in rare form, and his sarcasm only makes my grin wider.

Again, I laugh. “Yeah, I think I know that by now.”

The four of us aren’t really racecar drivers, we’re best friends who just so happen to share a love of cars. A ragtag mix of marketing major, accountant, business major, and automotive engineer, Will Fleming, Jake Crown, Drew Kates, and myself have wanted to quit our day jobs since we started them and build an automotive company from the ground up that would be able to compete with the likes of GM, Ford, and Dodge.

And today is day one of that dream becoming a reality. With the sale of the part I named “Pulse” to a large retail automotive parts chain, I am now in the position to fund this venture.

The Pulse is a really simple piece of metal that to gearheads will change their lives. It’s a very small supercharger that when attached to the engine block pressurizes air intake to above normal levels, hence allowing the car to move faster. It’s something I designed during college and have been perfecting ever since. I never planned on selling it as an aftermarket part. My plan was to use it on my own concept car, the Storm, but it was a means to getting Lightning Motors off the ground, so I went for it.

Max, my old boss and now our chief spec designer and engineer, is on the sidelines today. He has helped me over the past two years assemble my dream—a car of thrilling contradictions. A car that will be every man’s dream. The Storm is just one of the fleet of prototypes I have in mind to launch. It’s a sports car that moves fast like a car on the track, but doesn’t make the consumer compromise on comfort and roadworthy traits.

Uniting thrilling contradictions to create something better, stronger, and faster has been my dream since I was fifteen. And the Storm does just this. It is all soft curves and hard edges—unique and unmistakable. Fast and can stop on a dime. And with the start of Lightning Motors, it’s almost ready for the assembly line.

“I think it’s time to bring it in, boys,” Max says.

I can’t do that.

Not yet.

I ignore his suggestion and go faster. Faster still.

The other guys are pulling off the track like good little boys listening to Daddy.

“You need to bring it in.” It’s Max again and he’s talking to me. If I could see him, I’m sure he’d be running his hand through his gray hair.

But I can’t pull off. I need to see what she can do. That’s why I’m here. So why not push her? See how far she’ll take me.

“That’s enough, Jasper. We’ve got all the data we need for today.” Now Max sounds really annoyed.

I should listen to him.

Instead, I press farther down on the pedal.

Still not fast enough.

Screw it! I’m going to mash the throttle.

“Slow down, Jasper! Something isn’t right!” Max yells.

Feeling the exhilaration of the moment, I can’t stop, and I go around the next curve like vengeance itself. Again, I’m not slowing as I should, and somehow I slide off the track entirely, but manage to get back on it. That’s the beauty of the Storm—control that is made for both the track and the street.

Now I’m going even faster but when my car starts drifting, I can’t seem to get control over the wheel. I yank it to the left, and finally I rein it in.

When I hit the last curve, a bobby pin at 15—the sharpest turn on the course—I slam on my brakes, yanking the wheel to make the turn, but nothing happens. The brakes don’t engage and I can’t change gears. Before I know it, I start to spin and spin and spin.

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