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Authors: Evelyn Glass

Open Road

BOOK: Open Road
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, events, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.

 

Open Road copyright @ 2014 by Evelyn Glass. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

I've been a good girl all my life. For eighteen years I've done what everyone expects of me--Mama, Daddy, my teachers, my friends, my coach. I kept a near-perfect GPA all through high school, even with cheerleading and volunteer work. Tonight I walked across that stage with the road to my future paved and shining, just waiting for me to show up and drive.

 

But I just had to go off-roading.

 

Alejandro Rojas has wanted me since ninth grade biology. Cristina, my best friend, is also his cousin. She's been trying to keep me away from him for four years, but I was curious about him. So we've been talking, just a bit, in secret. He's like no one I've ever known. Alejandro is so smart, so talented, so interesting to talk to. He's also tall and gorgeous and just wrong enough to make me feel like I'm doing something bad without really breaking the rules. He got into Magnet with us because he's supposed to be some kind of math genius, and he played football all four years, but Mama would have a fit if I brought him around. He's not really one of us.

 

Which suits me just fine tonight.

 

We made plans to meet up at this party, so I made sure he saw me when he walked in. I pretended not to notice the way he stared, but his eyes burned me up. There are girls here tonight who've wanted a piece of Alejandro all year. There are even some girls here tonight who've had him, but no one's kept him.

 

I don't want to keep him, either. I don't want a boyfriend, not with my freedom so close I can taste it. In two and a half months and I'll be in College Station meeting hot, smart guys from all over the country. All I want tonight is to keep looking into those velvet eyes and letting him kiss me again. I want him to keep whispering sweet words as he touches me. If he goes too far I'll pretend I want him to stop, but what I really want is to wrap myself around that perfect body and touch him everywhere. I want to drive him crazy and I want to let myself be carried away.

 

I want to be reckless.

 

His breath is sweet and his lips on mine are gentle. I didn't expect his kisses to make me feel like my whole body might explode. "Ali," he whispers against my lips, "You're so beautiful." And I feel beautiful in a way I've never felt. I feel raw and powerful, as if I hold the key to some secret in the universe. I fit perfectly in his arms and I know if I ever let him make love to me that would be perfect, too.

 

But tonight his hands are respectful. Too respectful. I want him to touch me all over, but there's no way to do that without seeming slutty. I can tell that he's hard, but he doesn't pressure me in any way. Although deep down I'm glad of that, part of me wishes he would grab me and make me his. Just for tonight.

 

Suddenly my back's against the wall and I've got six feet of gorgeous guy pressed against me. Our mouths are fused, our bodies so close I can't tell where I stop and Alejandro starts. There's a whimpering noise in the background, and I realize it's coming from me. He's done this. Right now, with his hands in my hair and his body pinning me to a wall, I feel more alive than I've ever felt.

 

I feel invincible, irresistible, infinite.  

 

If this is what it's like to lose control, I love it.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

Ali Owens sighed as her phone chirped again. Without even looking at it, she knew it was another text from Bobby.
That's what I get for not calling him back the first time he texted
, she thought, glancing down at the screen. Her ex was well-known for his persistence. 

 

Call me
.

 

Their last dinner together a few weeks ago had been a disaster. She'd managed to avoid spending any time with him since his unforgivable behavior at Bistro Mia, but it hadn't stopped him from texting like clockwork every day.
Call me. I miss you. Come back to me.
The florist's delivery driver had practically worn a path to her back door.
I'm sorry
, said every card.
Please forgive me
.

 

She knew he meant it, that was the thing. He
was
sorry. He
did
love her. He
would
do anything to win her back.

 

She just wasn't sure she wanted to be won.

 

It wasn't just about Alejandro. At least, she didn't want it to be just about Alejandro. Her first love, the first man she'd ever given herself to, had re-appeared after ten years and plucked her heart from her chest as easily as a child plucking a dandelion. She hadn't stood a chance when she bumped into him looking gorgeous and dangerous and hungry for her. When he said the words she'd waited ten years to hear, she knew she'd never stopped loving him.

 

There were damned good reasons to end things with Bobby, anyway. He hated her job. She hated his mother. He wanted her on his arm for his political campaign. She wanted a quiet life with privacy. Marrying Bobby meant selling the ranch she'd inherited from her grandmother, the place where she'd practically grown up. Bobby's life of politics meant galas and campaign events and nights away from home. She didn't want their children raised by someone else. Her grandmother had essentially raised her, though her parents would never admit to that, and Bobby and his brother had a nanny growing up. Ali vowed that her kids would have something different. Something much, much better.

 

But if she was very honest with herself, she didn't think Alejandro could provide that, either.

 

Alejandro Rojas was the VP of the Padre Knights, an outlaw MC. He'd come back to Arroyo Flats with his club brothers for a brief assignment. Ali wasn't clear on all the details, but she knew it had something to do with smuggling illegals from around the world across the Mexican border to the US. If Bobby was to be believed, the Padre Knights MC was also involved in drug smuggling and selling stolen weapons.

 

What Bobby and the law didn't see was the way the club took care of their own, making sure the parents who raised them and the communities they'd come from had what they needed. Just last weekend one of the guys had shown up with Alejandro to repair her downstairs faucet, which had plagued her for months. They'd spent half the time they'd been in town over on the South Side fixing fences and painting houses and Lord knew what else.

 

The good outweighed the bad, she argued with herself whenever she got to worrying about Alejandro's criminal actions. You couldn't argue with an old lady getting a ramp put over her front steps because she could no longer take the stairs. Or the rec center getting a big donation so the pee-wee football team could buy new helmets. Though Arroyo Flats had plenty of wealthy residents, that wealth did not flow downhill. Those at the bottom--the ones who cleaned the houses and fixed the cars and tended the gardens of their wealthier neighbors--scraped to get by. So in the grand scheme of things, did it really matter if a few illegal aliens took a shortcut into the country if it meant some hardworking people in Arroyo Flats were taken care of by the club?

 

Ali didn't think so.

 

But she also knew it wasn't all black and white. A Robin Hood approach was very romantic, but the fact was Alejandro broke the law for a living. That meant the constant threat of prison or death.  Alejandro was still healing from a gunshot wound he'd taken a couple weeks back when a hand-off had gone wrong. Every time he took his shirt off, the angry red line on his arm reminded her that she could lose him in a heartbeat.

 

She couldn't raise children like that, either. She couldn't worry every time he was out of her sight that she'd never see him again, or that the next time she saw him he'd be dying in a hospital bed. She didn't want her children to grow up without a father, or worse, visiting their father in prison every week, saying "I love you, Daddy!" through the Plexiglass.

 

Ali had listened to her head her whole life because she'd been afraid of following her heart. But all that went out the window every time Alejandro wrapped his arms around her and looked into her eyes. She'd been bewitched since their first kiss ten years ago, and even now, his lips on hers released butterflies in her stomach and made her weak in the knees. Making love to Alejandro was like being reawakened to the beauty of the universe, every touch and taste and sound brand new and miraculous. He'd left her three hours ago and her skin still ached with the memory of him.

 

That was what came of following one's heart. She'd traded one set of problems for another. She'd given up a future of security with Bobby for a game of Russian Roulette with Alejandro.

 

She took a deep breath, picked up her phone, and called Bobby.

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

Ali had been delighted when her phone rang in the middle of dialing Bobby. Cristina's impromptu lunch invitation couldn't have come at a better time. She was in the mood for some female company, and spending time out with her closest friend was next to impossible given their respective schedules. Now, sitting across from Cristina, she sensed an agenda behind the invitation and braced herself for the worst. 

 

"So let's have a little conversation about my cousin," Cristina began. She took a dainty sip of her iced tea and looked Ali straight in the eyes.

 

Ali groaned and looked away. "Please, Cristina, I don't think I can do this today."

 

"Oh?" Cristina said sharply. "Do you have more important things to discuss with me than your future?"

 

She hated how quickly Cristina could cut a conversation to the bone. Over the years she'd teased her friend about what she dubbed "giving me my medicine," but she had to admit that Cristina was always right.

 

Ali often felt that ladylike, responsible Cristina was the daughter her parents wished they'd had. Cristina had studied hard all through high school, taking the most challenging classes and earning scholarship money by competing in beauty pageants. With her scholarships and summer job savings, she attended Texas A&M with Ali. Cristina settled down almost immediately with a man whom Ali's mother called "a very good catch," elevating herself from her humble beginnings to a doctor's wife, Junior Leaguer, and mother of two beautiful children. She was a living testament to the power of discipline, a poor girl from the wrong side of town who'd worked and married her way to a better life.

 

Cristina and Ali couldn't have been more opposite, but somehow their friendship worked. Ali’s serious, studious, dark-haired friend had always taken her side in a pinch but wasn't afraid to tell her when she was screwing up. And right now, the look in Cristina’s eyes told Ali exactly how badly she was screwing up. 

 

"You've been seeing him how often?" she prompted.

 

"A few times a week."

 

She pursed her lips. "Does Bobby know?"

 

Ali sighed. "I think so, but we're not talking about it. I don't want him to think that's the reason he and I split up."

 

Cristina raised her perfectly arched eyebrows over her glass.

 

"What? Alejandro has nothing to do with Bobby and me," Ali insisted.

 

"Correction," Cristina said. "He may not be the reason you and Bobby split up. But he is very much the reason you and Bobby haven't worked things out yet."

 

Ali's face burned. "It's not worth fixing," she insisted. "Of course I still love him, but Bobby is never going to give up politics, not with his Daddy riding him so hard. I can't live that life. And not only that..." She sighed as she thought of Alejandro's touch, the way his slightest kiss burned in her veins the way Bobby's never had. "It's not the same with Bobby as it is with Alejandro."

 

"Alaine." Cristina's voice was patient but firm. "You are thinking with this," she gestured toward her lap, "instead of with this." She pointed a manicured finger to her temple. "Do you even know what it is you want?"

 

"Yes," Ali insisted. "I do know. I want to finish getting the program up and running. I want to keep the ranch. I want to be happy. I want kids. I want..." she trailed off and looked Cristina straight in the eyes. "I want to feel
loved
."

BOOK: Open Road
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