Dangerous Rush(2)

By: S.C. Stephens

I had a huge bag full of toys for Antonia strapped to my back, the focal point of which was one of those American Girl dolls. I swear the thing cost as much as Felicia’s ring. Thank God I was making decent money street-racing for Hookup. He’d turned Felicia and me onto it before we’d even been old enough to drive. That fact had never concerned me though. Since all of it was illegal, being underage had hardly seemed worth worrying about.

God, I loved racing, and I was good at it—damn good at it; I hardly ever lost. Beating someone to the line…it ignited something in me, something thorny and dangerous. Hope. Hope and dreams. And the more I competed, the more I began to believe that maybe one day I could race motorcycles for a living—legitimately. I couldn’t think of a better life for me, and there was certainly nothing I wanted to do more. Felicia could probably race professionally, too, since she was top-notch. Yeah, the two of us racing for a team together…it sounded perfect.

Hookup caught up to me at Izzy’s door. Banging on the hard wood once, I turned the knob and walked right in. Warmth and laughter greeted us as we stepped inside, and the first thing that drew my eye was seeing my girl, standing by a window, drenched in sunshine, smiling at me. Fuck, she was gorgeous. Long, dark brown curls cascaded down her back; huge, deep brown eyes glinted with playful mischief; full, pouty lips that I could suck on for days. God, just thinking about kissing her was exciting me. How long did we have to stay here before we could quietly slip away for the night? Because I’d really love to end this birthday with those arms and legs wrapped around me.

“Hey, babe,” I said, sliding up to her side.

“Hi Hayden,” she purred in return. “Happy Birthday.” There was a gleam in her eyes that told me she wanted to end the night the same way I did, and from the heat I saw boiling in the dark depths, she was going to do things to me that were going to leave me walking funny in the morning. Sweet Jesus. We were leaving after cake.

Just as I thanked her for the acknowledgement, a tiny pair of arms wrapped around my waist. “Unckey Haydey!”

Felicia laughed in amusement. “Haydey…I like it. I’m using it.”

I gave her a frown before bending down to scoop up Antonia; she was limp in my arms, almost weightless. Antonia looked just like her mom and Hookup, her biological uncle. She had their tan, Hispanic skin, tiny frame, and their dark eyes and dark hair, but right now, Antonia was pale, with deep circles under her eyes. She looked like she was about to drop from exhaustion at any minute. Squeezing her tight, I kissed her head of thick hair. “Hey, kiddo. Happy Birthday.”

She sighed contentedly, snuggled into my arms, then didn’t move. It took me a minute to realize she’d fallen asleep. Icy fear tightened my chest, but I shoved it aside. Izzy had taken her to the park this morning, and she was just tired from the long day. I’m sure it was close to her naptime anyway. It was nothing to worry about.

Looking around for Izzy, I spotted her standing next to the cake table with Hookup. She looked irritated, and I wondered if Hookup had told her about the ring. I knew she was excited about the idea of Felicia and me getting married, so that wasn’t the problem, but Izzy hated Hookup’s…extracurricular activities, and was probably ticked that the ring was hot property. She’d get over it, though. Izzy forgave Hookup a lot.

“Hey, Iz,” I said, walking over. “Someone’s done for the day.”

Izzy swung her head my way, and, for the millionth time, I was taken aback by how young she looked. No matter how hard I tried to see her any other way, she always looked twelve to me. Probably always would. It made the instinct to protect her that much stronger. Blood or not, Izzy was my sister.

She frowned as she stared at her passed-out daughter. “I don’t get it. She shouldn’t be that tired. She didn’t even go on the playground, she just wanted to cuddle…”

Her eyes watered with worry, and I tossed her an untroubled smile that I hoped looked believable. “She’s fine, Iz. Just sleepy.”

Looking a little comforted, Izzy held out her hands. “Guess I’ll put her to bed.”

Hookup frowned as I transferred Antonia to her mom. “No, wake her up, Iz. I want her to see what I got her.” He rubbed his hands together and grinned like he was about to win an award for best gift-giving.

With a subtle glare, Izzy shook her head. “She’ll open it later, Tony. Right now, she needs rest.”

Hookup grunted, clearly annoyed, but he didn’t say anything else. Felicia twined her fingers with mine as we watched Izzy disappear with her daughter. “I hope she’s okay,” Felicia whispered, leaning into my side. She smelled like her favorite Jasmine perfume, something that normally would have ignited my senses, but her words cooled my jets.