Jason grinned with relief as he drove away from the coast. Luckily, Tiny’s earlier mention of his breaking curfew hadn’t been heard by the Chief and had either been ignored by Mark or stored away for later action. Jason didn’t care which, as long as he didn’t get caught in the act tonight.
It was barely dusk, the western sky lit with one of the striking sunsets the coast was known for. That was when the racers would meet, when the coastal streets of Central City would be clear enough for their favorite pastime: street racing.
The races were held every Thursday night and changed location as required. The police sometimes tried to infiltrate the group and if there was any sign that the police were going to raid, the location shifted. It had been a while since the last raid: they were due, so nerves were a little frazzled. Any newcomer was scrutinized with a fine toothed comb.
Jason had joined the group six months earlier, being introduced by Lucy Macgregor. Lucy was an endurance racer who had taken a chance two years earlier when she agreed to partner with a rookie driver several years her junior. She had been impressed with Jason, especially after they won, and had kept in touch, occasionally asking him to join her in a race. She’d told him about the street racers and he’d been sneaking out to race with them ever since.
As he pulled up in the civilian version of the G-2, he was surprised to see a tall blonde haired young woman talking to Lucy. She’d come several times the past few weeks and had worked her way up the line, just as he had. He couldn’t remember her name, but he could remember her car. It was sleek with clean lines, gold with red highlights.
Jason parked and got out, ignoring the yell from one of the men off to his left. He wanted to ask Lucy about a race called the Africa 9000. It was being advertised in one of his racing magazines and sounded intriguing.
“Hey, Jay, show me your hood,” the man yelled again and ran up to Jason’s side. Jason frowned in annoyance.
“No one sees under my hood unless they beat me,” he told him, having garnered Lucy’s attention. She waved and the blonde turned his way. Lucy was blonde, too, but Jason had learned a long time ago not to call her one. She found the tag degrading and would flatten anyone daring enough to use it in her presence.
“How are we supposed to beat you if we don’t know what you’ve got under the hood?” Jason turned his head just enough to scowl.
“Daly, get some real wheels. Otherwise, stop blowing hot air into my ear.” Catcalls, howls and whistles ensued from the gathered group. Jason ignored them and stopped beside Lucy.
“One of these days, you’re going to piss off the wrong person,” Lucy warned, brushing her shoulder length dark blonde hair back behind her ear. She was petite and just reached Jason’s shoulder.
“Then tell them to quit pissing me off,” he complained, stuffing his hands into his jeans pockets.
“They’ve learned you’ve got a temper and like to rile you up. They think it’ll get you off your game.”
He huffed indignantly. “In their dreams.”
“So, the only way for someone to see your engine is to beat you?” the tall blonde asked, smiling at him as if she were enjoying some private joke. Her hair fell down her back in gentle waves, her blue eyes bright and mischievous. She was in black leather form fitting pants and a red vest that barely covered her average chest. A choker with a thin silver cylinder about an inch long circled her neck.
“That’s right,” he told her.
Lucy began to grin. “Jay, Jerrah, Jerrah, Jay,” she said, knowing they had both forgotten the other’s name. Jason had asked Lucy to only call him Jay when they were with the street racers, wanting to make sure his ‘sponsor’ didn’t hear about his extra curricular activities.
“I want to race you,” Jerrah said bluntly, resting her hands on her shapely hips. Jason studied her a little more closely. He thought she was about his age, maybe a little older. He’d seen her drive and was impressed. He didn’t race just anyone. He didn’t want to waste his time.
“You think you can beat me?” he asked. The other drivers were starting to crowd around them, anticipating a major challenge.
“I know it. As a matter of fact, I know it so well I’m willing to make the End Bet.” Shocked surprise issued from the listeners as Jason’s eyebrows rose. “The loser hands his or her keys for their ride over to the winner.” Laughter and more catcalls sounded.
“That’s one way to find out what’s under your hood,” Daly chortled, slapping Jason on the back. With lightning speed, Jason reached back and had the older man by the collar of his shirt, pulling him up to his side.
“Don’t do that again,” he told him darkly, his eyes conveying his displeasure at the familiar touch.
Daly’s eyes bugged in alarm and he nodded vigorously. “No, no, won’t do it again,” he said and he backed away warily when Jason let him go.
“So, Jay, are we on?” Jerrah asked. Jason turned to look at her car. He knew what alterations she could have made and had watched her races closely for anything he might be able to use himself. She had a fast car, but he knew he was faster. She had no idea she didn’t have a chance. But did he want to take her ride from her? If he didn’t agree, the other racers would see it as a sign he thought she’d beat him and he didn’t want to lose his ride. He wasn’t going to show any weakness to them. On the side, he’d just make a deal to get the car back to her. It’s not like he needed it.
“Okay. You’re on.”
“You heard it,” Lucy yelled to the surrounding group. “A challenge has been made and accepted. The prize is the ride. Do you agree?” she pointedly asked Jerrah.
It was part of the ritual and the young woman responded with a twinkle in her eye. “Agreed,” she said loudly.
“Do you agree?” Lucy asked Jason. He smirked.
“We are the witnesses,” Lucy continued. “Any attempt not to pay up will be met with expulsion from this group and any other we can get word to.” A loud chorus of ’witnessed’ issued from the group. “You’ve got five minutes. The course is the same as the last two weeks. Agreed?”
“Agreed,” Jason and Jerrah said unison.
The crowd began to break up, voices loud as bets began to be made. Jason pulled his racing gloves out of his back pocket and started to put them on.
“I’d watch it if I were you,” Lucy cautioned as she watched Jerrah walk over to her car. “She knows what she’s doing.”
“So do I.” Jason patted her shoulder and walked over to the G-2.
Five minutes later, both cars were pulled up to a white line painted across the road. Some drivers revved their engines as they waited for the scarf to fall, but Jason saw no need. His ego didn’t need it to impress anyone. Jerrah seemed to feel the same way. She looked over at him, smiled, and saluted. Lucy walked up between the two cars and positioned herself about ten feet in front of them, raising her arm with her red scarf in her hand.
“Drivers ready?” she shouted. Both Jason and Jerrah nodded. “The first one back to this spot wins the other’s ride.” Cheers and jeers issued and Lucy let the scarf fall.
Jason pressed the gas, clutched and shifted gears as fast as the car would allow, peeling rubber as he took off. A glance to his right showed Jerrah right beside him, the look on her face one of complete concentration. So far she was keeping up, but the first turn was on his side. The whole race would take about ten minutes, through sharp turns and long straight-aways that wove through the city. Jason prided himself on taking the turns without squealing tires, which usually attracted attention and resulted in the police being called. He wanted a clean race.
He took the turn at over one hundred and was impressed that Jerrah took it smoothly as well, not falling much behind. The next turn was on her side, so she’d get a chance to make up the distance, only she didn’t need it. Jason was surprised to see her back beside him again.
“Damn. She’s good,” he said under his breath, trying to cut her off to make the turn. He barely managed to do so and they came within inches of rubbing fenders. The Chief would love that: red paint on his dark blue fender.
The first straightaway gave way to speeds of nearly two hundred. At this speed, anyone who happened to cross their paths would be Swiss cheese, so he kept his eyes peeled along the side roads. He didn’t want anyone getting hurt.
Jerrah kept up with him, falling back only a little as they approached an elevated part of the road. Jason roared up the on ramp and was satisfied to see Jerrah’s car bottom out on the connector with a flash of sparks, only to find her coming up alongside him fast. He raised his eyebrows and speeded up further.
At this rate, they’d beat the track record of nine minutes fifty-two seconds.
They descended on the third exit ramp and took an immediate sharp left. Jerrah’s car bottomed out again, but she didn’t seem to care. In seconds, she was along side him. Suddenly, Lucy’s warning reverberated in Jason’s mind.
“Like hell,” he muttered and speeded up again. The engine was purring, as if it loved the high speeds and as Jason listened to it, he had to resist the urge to yell out in sheer exultation. He glanced at Jerrah and saw she looked as energized as he felt. A compatriot. Another person with a need for speed.
Before they reached the next intersection, a blaring siren suddenly sounded, followed by white and blue marked cars topped with blinking blue lights emerging from both sides of the intersection.
“Shit!” Jason veered to the left to miss the police car coming out on that side while Jerrah veered to miss the one coming out on her side. Their cars came within inches of rubbing doors as they avoided collisions and continued, the police cars coming out behind them.
Jason looked over at Jerrah, expecting to see her freaking, but instead she gave him a ‘let’s rock’ look.
“There’s got to be more up ahead!” she yelled at him through their open windows. “We can’t get caught!”
“You got that right!” Jason yelled back.
“I’ve got sanctuary! Follow me!” Jason was about to tell her ‘fat chance in hell’ when another police car suddenly appeared on his right from the next intersection. He didn’t want to let her ahead of him in case she decided to pull a fast one and go for the win, but his senses were telling him she was a straight shooter. Besides, his sanctuary was miles off shore under one hundred feet of water.
“Lead the way!” he yelled back, slowing just enough for her to get in front of him. She immediately shocked the hell out of the police car coming out in front of them by turning the way it had come out. Jason followed without hesitation, watching in his rear view mirror with some amusement as the cars behind them veered to miss the one pulling out and all ended up having to turn around in the middle of the intersection to pursue them.
They speeded through the city, making many turns, within minutes getting so far ahead there was no hope for the police cars to figure where they had gone. Jason’s only worry was that the officers had sent word out to their brethren and every other officer in the area was looking for them. He also hoped those at the rendezvous point had managed to scatter at the first sign of the raid. He didn’t want to hear it from Lucy if she got caught and had her car impounded.
Jerrah began to slow down as they came to a series of high rise apartment buildings and turned down an alley between two of them. Jason continued to follow, beginning to wonder just who Jerrah was. These weren’t low income housing. Millionaires lived in these buildings.
Jerrah stopped and a garage door at the end of the alley opened. She drove in and it was plain there was plenty of room. Jason drove in after her.
And there was plenty of room. The garage was large and empty, probably capable of parking at least fifteen cars. Jerrah just stopped in the center of it and killed her engine. Jason pulled up beside her and turned his off as well. He watched as she got out, using her hands to pull her wind swept hair back out of her face. She walked over to his side and leaned down to look in.
“That was fun,” she commented, slightly out of breath. “Though I still want to race you.”
“I guess we’ll have to have a raid check.” She chuckled at his humor.
“Want to come in for a while? It’ll be safe enough in a few hours. I can help you dirty up the car so they won’t recognize it.” Jason looked at his bracelet and read the LED for the time. It was the time of year when it got dark early, so he figured he had a few hours before he had to get back. The sub crew had said they’d wanted time to have some fun and wouldn’t be heading back to Center Neptune until eleven. That would get him back by one; plenty of time for sleep before the scheduled nine AM training session.
“Sure.” She moved back enough for him to get out and led the way to the far wall, where there was an elevator door. She used a key to activate it and after they were in, hit the button for the penthouse. Jason’s eyebrows rose.
“So racing is just a rich kid pastime, huh?” he asked, hoping her family wouldn’t be present. He didn’t want a ’meet the parents’ situation when he didn’t even know her.
“You could call it that.” After a minute, the elevator opened and Jason had to admit being rich had its perks. Even from the elevator, he could see the wall of windows directly ahead that gave a spectacular view of the city. He followed her out and heard the elevator doors close behind him as she began to turn on lights. The lights dulled the view but showed the interior of the penthouse.
“Want a drink?” she called over her shoulder as she moved to the right. Jason pulled his eyes from the deep burgundy leather furniture in what appeared to be the living room to the direction she was headed. The room was massive, subdivided by elaborately carved columns into the living room, a dining room with a large rectangular dark wood table with eight heavily wooded chairs with tapestry style cushions and another area with a huge white grand piano.
Jason continued to follow her around a wall into another huge room. A gourmet kitchen with everything a well appointed chef in the White House would want. Jerrah opened the door of a built-in refrigerator and pulled out a dark colored bottle.
“Beer okay?” she asked. Jason nodded.
“Whatever you have.” She reached in for a second and shoved the door closed with her elbow. She walked to him and handed him a bottle. He liked that she didn’t ask his age; she either assumed he was old enough or didn‘t care. He looked older than he was, but was legal nonetheless. Now Mark…he always got carded when they went out.
“Nice place you got,” Jason commented as he twisted the cap off the bottle. She did the same. “There’s a lot of space. You live here alone?” She shook her head and went passed him to return to the living room.
“No. I share it with my sister.”
“I take it she’s not home.” Jason took a swig of his beer and followed her. She plopped down on the couch, looking tired. Jason went for one of the over-sized chairs closest to her and sat down.
“Apparently. She doesn’t like it when I street race. It makes her nervous,” Jerrah offered, taking a drink from her bottle. “What about you?” she asked, regarding him. She rested her right arm on the arm rest. The angle gaped her vest just enough to give him a tantalizing view.
“I keep it to myself,” he told her, not wanting to go into too much detail. “The rest of my family doesn’t understand.” She nodded in understanding and turned to look out the window at the brightly lit city.
“It’s only dangerous if you make it so. By the way, I do expect a rematch.” She drank more and then turned to stare at him pointedly. “I want your car.” Jason had to grin, swinging the bottle by its neck from between his forefinger and middle finger.
“You will be when I’m hauling your car home behind mine.” She pushed herself up and walked into the kitchen. Jason heard a door open and the clang of glass against something hard. The door closed and Jerrah reappeared, empty handed.
“I’ll be right back,” she told him and walked across the room to another hallway. Jason watched, liking the view, but suddenly feeling the hair on the back of his neck stand up. She had said her sister wasn’t home, but Jason extended his enhanced hearing, trying to detect anything other than her movements in what he presumed was her bedroom.
He rose and walked over to the window, using the lights’ reflection off the glass like a mirror to confirm he was alone, but the feeling just wouldn’t go away.
A clicking noise that he recognized all too well caught his attention. He sat his bottle down quietly on the nearest end table and headed the way Jerrah had gone, silent. He stuck to the walls and worked his way closer until he could see into the bedroom through the open door.
He could see a white wrought iron bed, queen sized, the comforter patterned with what looked like rain forest vegetation. The headboard rose several feet, a circular frame hanging from the ceiling just above it draped with white flowing see-through fabric that could have been decorative mosquito netting. The vest Jerrah had been wearing was laying on the bed.
Jason stepped closer. Jerrah was suddenly in his view, walking across the floor at the end of the bed, only in black bikini underwear. What caught his attention wasn’t her nakedness: it was the gun in her hand.
Jason wasn’t about to wait and find out what she planned to do with it. He leaped at her when she was directly in front of the door, his momentum throwing them on top of the bed. He pinned her down with his body and the hand holding the gun to the bed with his hand.
“What the hell?!” she yelled, her blue eyes shooting daggers at him. “What are you doing?”
“What are you doing?” he asked, pressing down on her even harder. She squirmed and tried to buck him off, but her legs were hanging over the edge of the bed and she couldn’t get a good angle.
“With a gun?” She bucked again, raising up enough to brush her bare breasts against his chest. Jason pushed her back down.
“Get off me.” She accentuated each word, her lips a thin line of fury.
“Not until you tell me about the gun.” Jason squeezed her wrist hard enough that she couldn’t maintain her hold on it. It fell out of her hand.
“I was moving it to a safe place,” she spat, her chest heaving with her anger.
“Because I keep it under my pillow and I didn’t want any accidents.”
“Why would there be an accident?” Her lips curved into a smirk as she raised up again, more slowly, until their faces were only inches away from each other, her breasts pressed lightly against his chest.
“I like to squirm.” She pressed her lips to his and kissed him and squirmed her hips against him.
Jason was surprised by the move but didn’t pull away. She was a good kisser, but he didn‘t kiss her back. She laid back down and continued to smirk at him.
“Are you going to let me go, or are you into bondage?” Jason frowned and then could feel his face reddening at the idea. He slowly released her and moved off the bed, but took the gun with him. Jerrah stayed on the bed, pulling her legs up to help get to a sitting position. She then rose to stand against the front of his body. “That’s why you came up here, isn’t it?” she asked, reaching up to pull his head down to kiss him again.
The hair on the back of his neck wasn’t standing up anymore, but something else was threatening to. Jason pulled back a step, putting a little distance between them. “What are you doing?” he asked dumbly. She smiled and stepped up against him again, pressing her hands to his chest. She moved them down and tugged on the sides of his T-shirt to get it out of his pants. Jason watched, not trying to stop her. Once she had worked his shirt out of his pants, she pulled it up over his head. He still had the gun in his hand.
“Let me take care of that.” She took the gun. He let her, no longer worried about her intentions. She moved over to a tall, five drawer chest against the wall and laid the gun on top of it, beside a picture of a man, woman, and two blonde haired girls. He wasn’t close enough to get a good look at it.
Jason was going to ask her if that was her family, but when she returned, she turned them around so that Jason’s back was to the bed. She gently pushed him backwards until he had no choice but to fall on it just as she had when he’d tackled her. He maneuvered backwards until his head was on one of the pillows. She crawled up after him and straddled his hips, reaching down to unbuckle his belt.
Alarm bells went off again in his head, but this time for a different reason.
“Hold it,” he told her, seizing her hands and pulling them away from his belt. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea.” Her blonde brows rose in shock.
“What?” Jason took a shuddering breath.
“I didn’t plan on this,” he protested lightly. Her shock turned to a seductive smile as she leaned down to kiss him.
“I didn’t either,” she whispered against his lips.
“Which is exactly why we shouldn’t do this.” Jason heard himself and couldn’t believe he was saying it. A beautiful young woman obviously wanted to have sex with him, but he wasn’t prepared. He didn’t want to be a father. The only way to ensure that was not to have sex. He’d heard too many stories from his racing friends of the groupies lying about being on the pill and he didn’t know Jerrah. He didn’t know if he could trust her in any way.
Contrary to what his teammates thought, he wasn’t into casual sex. He talked a lot, but so what? He wasn’t a virgin and that one time had produced a scare bad enough to have invoked his rule. As far as he was concerned, even condoms weren’t enough. He could just imagine what the Chief’s reaction would have been to the conversation. ‘Hi Chief. Remember Christine, the intern in Engineering? We’re going to have a kid.’
Besides, the idea of having a child that would be endangered because Galactor wanted to hurt him terrified him. As long as there was a war, he’d never take the chance of being a father.
“Come on, you know you want me.” She began to work her lips down his jaw to his neck. Jason closed his eyes and groaned with frustration as he kept his hold on her hands, even though she was trying to pull them out of his grip.
“I’m not saying I don’t,” he protested weakly, his body responding to her.
“Then what’s the problem?” She moved her kisses down to his chest and began to work lower.
Jason felt his bracelet vibrate and jumped. Jerrah raised up enough to look up at his startled look and made a deep sound of appreciation in her throat, thinking he was reacting to what she was doing.
“I’ve got to go,” he said, releasing her hands so he could pull himself out from under her, serendipitously looking at his bracelet to see the G-Force symbol blinking on the faceplate. She stayed on his hips, sitting up, frowning at him.
“You’ve got to go?” she asked in disbelief. He nodded and grabbed her hips, easily lifting her off him.
“Yeah. My beeper just went off.”
“You have a beeper?” She crossed her arms under her bare breasts, clearly irritated.
“Yeah, I have a beeper.” Jason scooted off the bed and reached for his shirt.
“That is the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard in my life,” she said as he pulled his T-shirt on and stuffed it back into his pants.
“I’m sorry.” He turned to face her and had to stay calm. She was beautiful and sitting on her bed in only the black lace bikini’s with the beginnings of a pout on her face was very sexy. “I didn’t come up here to have sex.”
“I didn’t invite you up to have sex. You’re cute and I just thought…” She shrugged her shoulders. “You really have to go?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“I still want your car.” Now Jason grinned, but his bracelet vibrated again.
“Another time.” She suddenly got to her feet.
“We need to dirty up your car,” she said, thinking of the police who were probably still patrolling, looking for them. Jason shook his head.
“No need. I’ll switch plates.” Her eyebrows rose in appreciative surprise.
“Prepared. I like that.”
“I’ve really got to go. Next time.”
“Yeah. Next time.”
Jason didn’t wait for her to show him out. He quickly left, taking the elevator down to the garage.
Once in the G-2 and on his way out of the garage after flipping his license plates, he acknowledged the summons, having to admit he was on the mainland in order to have the Phoenix pick him up. Five minutes of lectures later, he transmuted and waited impatiently for the Phoenix. The Chief had said the alert was real. He was finally going to get a chance to enact some revenge. Finally.