An orchestra musician, a private music teacher, and a homebody, Lily's a full-figured, quiet woman who lives a fairly simple and solitary life. Aside from music, she has one big passion: stock car racing. She's been a fan for as long as she can remember and makes the yearly pilgrimage to Daytona as often as she can. When she's offered a chance to get away to North Carolina and attend two weeks of races, she jumps at it. Little does she know what that chance has in store for her...
Cam Carter is one of the most successful young drivers in the top tier of the stock car racing circuit. All over the country, he's well known to racing fans, loved by some, respected by a few, and hated by others. He's arrogant, strong willed, and a consistent winner. What he doesn't have is balance...until he meets a pretty, very curvaceous, and unassuming fan named Lily.
Lily fears the difference in lifestyles, ages, and personalities while Cam in turn, embraces them. Can they find a way to cross the finish line and take the checkered flag together or will the obstacles push against them until they crash and burn?
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Loose Id, LLC
April 19, 2010
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Excerpt from Stick Shift by Lissa Matthews
Oh God. She was really there, staring at him, and he--bless his gorgeous face--he looked happy to see her. Looking at his smile, she suddenly felt out of her element again and for some reason not quite up to the dress code in her denim knee-length skirt and brown hoodie. Her pink painted toes curled under as she shifted her weight nervously from one foot to the other in the cute, sparkly flip-flops Alli had talked her into wearing. But there wasn't a dress code, given that he was in faded, threadbare jeans with holes in the knees and one of the back pockets ripped at the seams. His T-shirt was black with a washed-out logo she couldn't make out, and his sneakers had seen much better days. Still, she felt uncertain about how she looked to him standing there while they stared at each other. What was it about him that drew her and scared her all at the same time? Maybe it was his freshness, his youth, his smile that was flawless and bright and aimed at her.
He stopped in front of her. "You're here."
"Yes. I-I hope it's okay that I just showed up like this without calling first."
"Yep. I'm glad you're here. I can stop checking my phone every thirty seconds now."
Checking his phone? Was he serious? Surely not. "I-I'm sure you have things to do. I just wanted to..." Lily hated that she was stumbling all over herself and couldn't seem to get a string of words to come out in some semblance of order and make sense. The man had her all tongue-tied and she wished she hadn't had that particular thought, because she would love to be tongue-tied, naked, and wrapped around him.
Dammit. She really had to stop thinking things like that. If she could just stay focused on the fact that he was so much younger than her, she might actually get out of this awkward mess unscathed.
And he had to stop looking at her like he wanted to devour her.
"I have nothing else that I'm needed for until tomorrow, so that means I'm all yours tonight."
"Oh." She likely hadn't hidden the surprise at his choice of words, because he laughed. All hers? Yeah, right. In what universe was a man like Cam Carter ever going to be "all hers"?
"You like that idea."
The man was reading her mind again, just as he'd done at the autograph session. She had to learn not to be so transparent. Alli was forever telling her that everything she thought or felt could be seen in her eyes and in the expressions on her face.
"Well, yes, of course. How could I not?" She'd play along, though. How often did an average, ordinary music teacher and orchestra member get this kind of opportunity? "I'd be crazy to not want you all to myself."
"Great. Because that's how I want you." He stepped closer and lifted his hand, then traced the outline of her cheekbone, causing her breath to catch in her throat. "I want you all to myself."
He was going to kiss her. She knew it because he took off his sunglasses, because the pulse beat in his neck had kicked into high gear, because his lips actually brushed hers. Oh. My. God.
He's too young. He's too young. He's too young.
Her mind rattled off the litany. She promised herself she needed to remember it in the event she got carried away and gave serious consideration to spending any kind of time with him. But all of it flew away in the breeze when she let herself get swept up in the softness of his lips, the insistent tip of his tongue, the feel of his hand sliding into her hair, holding her mouth to his.
It was a brief kiss, just a taste of him, but it was enough to whet her appetite for more. The little devil inside her head laughed. As if she needed her appetite whetted. She had thought of little else in the last six days, and she'd never wrestled with anything more. Should she or shouldn't she? Should she call or just show up?
More than once, she'd picked up the phone and dialed his number but never let the call go through. What if he hadn't remembered her by just her name and voice alone? What if he put her off or changed his mind or hadn't meant for her to take the date and time on the picture seriously?
She'd been so uncertain that Alli had actually followed her to the race shop and waited while she got out of her car and sat down on the bench. As soon as Alli left, Lily had entertained the same notion, but then Cam walked out, and she couldn't walk away without trying. Trying what, she didn't know, but there was definitely something between them, some chemistry even she couldn't deny.
"Just as sweet as I knew you'd be."
Lily smiled, unsure what to say. You are just as hot as I remembered, and I want to see how hot you are naked in bed.
"What do you want to do? Dinner? A movie? A concert? A club? Whatever you want to do, we will do."
"Yes. What did you think this was?"
"I don't know. I didn't know you wanted to go out with me. On a date. In public."
Cam looked at her curiously, his smile faltering, his eyes hooded and unreadable. "Was I being presumptuous in thinking that you might like to?"
"I... No. No, not at all. "
The light returned to his face and it took her breath away. Again. Damn. The effect the man had on her... Cam Carter wanted her, wanted to spend time with her, go out on a date with her. She wasn't strong enough to deny him or herself. He was offering her a chance few women ever got. Why not make the most of it?
"Just so we're clear here, I want more than one date, Lily."
Well, she wasn't expecting that. She swallowed hard. "More than one date?"
"Oh yes. A lot more than one."
"What do you mean?"
Cam smiled at her and bent to kiss her again, short and sweet, just a meeting of lips. "We'll talk about it later. What do you say we go have dinner? I'm starving, and a steak sounds great."
"Do you mind if we take my truck?"
"Truck? You drive a truck?"
"Yeah. What were you thinking I drove?"
"Honestly, I don't know, maybe a sports car, but a truck never entered my mind."
"My family lives for trucks." His grin was megawatt as he slid his sunglasses back on.
"I can drive my own car."
"I know, but I'd rather us take one car. Like a proper date. Besides, this way I know we'll get to where we're going together, and you won't run on me."
Lily laughed. "Yes, but you'll have to bring me back here to pick up my car."
"I don't care. Just gives me a little more time with you. C'mon."
He didn't give her time to say anything else, because he took her hand and pulled her along behind him. And the view was amazing. Her "good girl" side was admonishing her for staring so blatantly at Cam's ass, while her "devil girl" side was rooting her on with fist pumps in the air.
The man had a fabulous set of buns in denim, and she wondered if he was a boxers or briefs kinda guy.
"You can find that out for yourself later if you really want to know."
Oh God. She'd said that out loud? Humiliation stopped her in her tracks, and she covered her face with her free hand. She was so embarrassed. What the hell had gotten into her? She couldn't look at him, even when he tried lifting her chin with his fingers.
"Oh Cam. I am so sorry. I..."
"Why are you sorry? I'm flattered that you want to know. I am more than flattered." He waggled his eyebrows at her, and she could barely contain her smile. "I am eager for you to know. I can't wait for you to find out. So don't be embarrassed. Besides, I want to know what kind you wear too."
"Yes, I want you like that. I want to take you out on dates, and I want to take you to bed."
"I don't know what to say." And she didn't.
"Don't say anything other than yes. Don't think anything other than yes."
Yes. Yes. Yes.
She repeated the word inside her head as he tugged her along behind him again.
* * *
She was going to be the death of him before he had the pleasure of being with her. Her sweet, warm scent, the softness of her breathing, the way she fidgeted with her hands in her lap, all wrapped around him. She was so different than the other women he'd dated in his life and most especially since he'd been on the racing circuit. He was so much in the public eye. Women threw themselves at him. He didn't trust any of them to be genuine, and he hadn't pursued a woman on his own in years. He hadn't had the inclination or interest.
Until her. Until Lily.
He found her nervousness touching, knowing she was as attracted to him as he was to her, but still, she was unsure. He didn't think it was a self-conscious thing or even an insecurity thing, just that she wasn't quite certain what to make of his intentions. And he could understand that. She wasn't flashy, wasn't a size 4, wasn't the same kind of woman who held the arms of his friends and fellow drivers. Maybe that's what drew him to her. He was different, and so was she.
"I didn't ask if you like steak. Would you rather have something else?"
"No. Steak is fine."
Her voice was soft as she spoke, and she stared out the window. He wanted to touch her, to reach over and hold her hand, and before he could think about it anymore, he did it. Her surprised "oh" made him smile. He liked that, doing the unexpected. If things continued the way they had been since he'd met her, he'd be doing a lot of things she didn't expect.
Pulling her hand over to rest on the bench seat between them, he twined his fingers with hers, squeezing lightly before loosening his grip. She looked over at their hands, then up at his face, and he winked at her behind his sunglasses.
The smile on her face caused his heart to trip, and she flexed her fingers against the back of his hand. She was beginning to relax.
"Won't people recognize you?"
"They might. Not everyone is a race fan, so if they're not, they won't know me at all."
"But if there are race fans in there, won't they talk if you walk into a restaurant with me?"
"You don't care about the things they'll say?"
"Nope. No reason to. What I do in my personal life is my business. That includes who I choose to date." He slid a glance in her direction. "Do you care?"
She visibly swallowed again, and he had the urge to kiss the hollow of her throat. It would have to wait, though, until he wasn't driving.
"Well...this is all new to me. I'm not sure what to think or do."
"Just be you. They'll say what they'll say."
The parking lot to the steak house he loved was still fairly empty, as it wasn't yet five thirty during the workweek. He kissed her hand. "Stay right there."
Cam got out of the truck, walked around to her side. He opened the door and reached in for her hand to help her out. She started to move away once she was on the ground, but he held her hand tighter. "Don't worry about being seen with me. Please."
"I don't want it to cause gossip for you."
"It won't." Unless, like he'd said before, there were race fans inside. He was a sports name and face, somewhat a celebrity, and anytime a celebrity of any kind walked around with a woman, especially an unknown woman, there was always press and speculation, suspicion. He had a feeling deep down inside that Lily was worth weathering a few bumpy storms for. He wasn't going to tell her that, though. Given her nervousness, she'd walk away to protect him. He wasn't interested in being protected. He could take care of himself, and he'd do his damnedest to protect her from the vultures in the process.
Inside the low-lit building, the manager met them at the door. Greetings and pleasantries were exchanged before the hostess led them to a booth in the back. Of the dozen or so patrons, only a few looked up as they walked by, and only a handful seemed to even realize who he was. For Lily's sake, he was thankful.
Once settled, he looked at her, or rather, stared at her. Openly. Without shame. He wanted her pixie face, her full yet compact body, her smile, her laugh, her complete attention. He wanted her with an incredible lust he'd never felt for anyone before, and he wasn't quite sure what to make of it.
She was glancing over the menu and then lifted her eyes to his. A sudden and mischievous smile lit her face. She leaned across the table toward him. "So which is it?"
"Which is what?"
"Boxers or briefs?" she whispered.
He laughed. Of all the things he had imagined she might say, that wasn't one of them. She just grinned. For all his thought earlier about surprising her, he had a feeling she would be doing quite a bit of surprising herself, keeping him on his toes. She wasn't going to fit into any preconceived box.
He leaned closer to her, and when their noses were nearly touching, he whispered back, "Right now? Neither."
Her eyes widened, and he licked her still-smiling lips.
"Do y'all need a minute?"