Title: Eli’s Honor – Racing to Love #3
Author: Amy Gregory
Published Date: 7-10-13
Published by: self-pub
Genre: Contemporary Romance
How can you miss something you never had?
Retired pro motocross racer Eli Hunter had it all; at least that’s how he chose to look at things. His life revolved around the sport he loved and he had been catapulted to rock star status. Eli loved the feel of a bike under him as he raced, even…when it almost killed him.
After fighting back from a debilitating injury Eli has devoted his life to The Noland Racing Academy. As far as Eli was concerned that was all he’d ever need, that is until he sat across from Dallas, a young up and coming racer, and his widowed mother, Honor. It was then that Eli realized exactly what he had been missing.
The prospect of sending her son off to the Noland’s Racing Academy was daunting enough without being faced by the devil in a pair of blue jeans. When Honor held the door open for Eli Hunter she knew she was letting him walk right into her life, but she refused to let him into her heart.
Eli has never backed down from a challenge and he wasn’t about to stop now. Not when those long auburn curls and shy violet eyes were the answer to his unspoken prayers.
Excerpt #1: Airport
Eli paced. Checked the monitors for arrivals, looked at his watch and paced again.
The movements had been the same for over the last half-hour. The plane was due any minute, and Eli felt like a little child impatiently waiting on the word go to open a present. When he had spoken to Honor on the phone the previous night, she gave him no reason to think she’d back out, but a piece of him wasn’t going to be at ease until he saw her with his own eyes.
The anticipation of the plane’s arrivals was also uncommon. Most students that came to the academy came for a week. Most students that came were brought by their parents in an RV, hauling their bike or bikes, depending on their financial situation. Most students came with a need to improve on the basics or their parents had the money to send them because of the academy’s reputation.
Dallas Graham wasn’t…most students.
Once in a lifetime there was an exception to every rule, and Dallas was that exception.
So was his mother.
Eli grinned picturing the sweet shock that had swept across her face when he’d grabbed her hand. He’d fallen for the way her violet eyes went wide in surprise at his touch, the tilt of her chin waiting on his reason for holding her hand. Eli melted at the soft surrender he witnessed in her when he’d whispered the one word please. In that simple moment, she let out a faint sigh, a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth, and she gave a slight nod.
Even with Molly’s words in the back of his mind, he had gone to their home prepared to meet a mother who was going to beg him to help her son. Instead he stood begging her to come to him. Seeing the plane’s nose, he grinned to himself and his heart sped at the sight of the plane slowly lining up at the gate.
They finally arrived.
Suddenly his head went blank, he blinked several times and felt his palms go clammy. If he didn’t know better, he’d think he was having a heart attack, or at the very least a panic attack. He knew differently.
He was nervous.
Excited but nervous. About a girl. Actually a woman, but still, same damn effect. Cruising down the straightaway and getting closer every day to the big three-O, one would think he’d outgrown that by now, but as he watched Dallas come around the corner of the jet way, his pulse quickened with anticipation. Seeing Honor round it just behind him had Eli’s heart pounding double-time.
She looked beautiful. Her hair was down this time and his breath caught, seeing the long, loose waves that reached her lower back. She had worn very little makeup when he’d met her last week, looking very much the girl next door, but today she was anything but. She was in nothing more than a simple t-shirt and jeans, but her eyes were killer. She looked amazing.
Unfortunately for Eli, his wasn’t the only head that had turned. He watched as the man behind her tried several times to strike up a conversation just in the short time it took to walk up the jet way. Eli chuckled to himself watching her politely nod then ignore the man, getting more visibly frustrated with each passing moment.
Always one to help a lady out, Eli swooped in.
As she walked out of the secured area with the stranger still on her heels, Eli snaked his arm around her waist, pulled her close and kissed her cheek.
“Hi, honey. I’ve missed you so much. I’m so glad you’re home.” His voice was loud enough for the eavesdropper and laced with the promise of welcome-home sex.
He nuzzled against her, keeping eye contact with the stranger behind her. A little old-fashioned, but he claimed her publically for all to see. He had marked his territory.
Honor’s face went wide with surprise, but quickly relaxed. He assumed she’d caught on to his ploy. Eli nodded to the man not far behind her, tempting him to dare say another word to the woman he still had in his arms. Eli guessed Honor thought it was an act, but in reality he didn’t like the thought of another man around his woman.
That thought would have scared the shit out of him years ago. Hell, even a few months ago. Just like Carter and Molly, then Jesse and Emery, it was the right person at the right time. Eli thought about Honor for days, processed his feelings, and came to the conclusion with absolute certainty. Honor was his. He was pretty sure that she was entirely unaware of the fact, but he had a month to convince her. A month to make her fall in love with him. A month to persuade her to stay in Pennsylvania.
Suddenly the confidence he had in his plan wavered. A month didn’t seem like near enough time.
“I missed you too, Eli.” Her voice was quiet and sweet, not nearly as embellished as Eli’s had been.
His stomach clinched at her admission, reading way more into that she probably meant, but it was music to his ears.
With her back to the stranger, the other man couldn’t see the deep red in her cheeks, but it made Eli’s heart soar. Something about the flush and the embarrassed smile made her seem innocent and young. Poor Dallas had turned his back to keep from laughing, and Eli took a long minute to take in Honor’s presence. The gaze proved to be too much for her. She grinned and broke the eye contact.
Eli smiled, taking Honor’s hand to pull her along behind him, looking for a corner of privacy.
“Careful with her, Hunter,” James said with a wicked laugh. “She’s a tad um…inebriated, son.”
“Good. Just the way I like her. She’s a talker when she’s drunk,” he replied with a twinkle in his eye.
Finding quiet in his office at the front of the house, he left the overhead light off so as not to draw attention to them. The room was darkened, but the light spilling in from the kitchen and living room was enough to see each other. Walking further in, Eli turned and leaned up against the dark cherry desk with his legs outstretched in front of him. Threading his fingers through the belt loops of her tight jeans, he pulled her in close to settle between his legs.
She wore shorts or jeans every day, and this was by far his favorite pair. Just tight enough in all the right places and one knee was ripped. Something about seeing that hint of skin peeking through the denim was tortuous to him. The simple fitted white T and long auburn curls made her the quintessential girl next door.
It was those violet eyes that got him though, especially when her worries weren’t clouding her beautiful face. Big, sparkling, and full of love.
“I can’t believe you did all this for me,” he said and released one hand to rest it on her lower back, easing her closer.
At the contact, he inhaled sharply.
Maybe it was too close. She was looking at him, her eyes wide and fixed on his. He was willing himself to behave, but the involuntary twitch was just that…involuntary. Judging by her rapid blinking, she felt it too.
Expecting her to jump back three paces, he watched her intently, and she held still. The hollow of her neck betrayed her racing pulse, and her shallow breathing was just barely audible.
She might be fighting the direction they were headed, but there was no denying that she wanted him just as badly as he wanted her. His gaze dropped from her eyes to her lips at the very moment the tip of her tongue darted out to touch her top lip. Nerves or preparation…he wasn’t sure, but he was damned sure he was going to find out.
“Thank you so much for putting this all together, sweetheart.”
“I had a tremendous amount of help. Especially since, until last night, I didn’t even know that your birthday is today. I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.”
Her voice was quiet, and her smile was shy and timid.
“Well, um…sorry?” He shrugged with an impish grin.
“Oh, sell that line to someone else, mister.” Honor giggled and swayed.
“Whoa, baby. So…how much did you have anyway?” He bit his lip to keep from laughing.
It wasn’t fair to use her alcohol consumption against her, but he learned the first week she was with him, it dramatically lowered her walls. She would tell him things and show him her true feelings, the ones she kept hidden so she wouldn’t get hurt. Eli figured out she was slow to trust, so he had worked overtime to earn that. Her marriage burned her badly, and Eli was willing to pay the price for the sins of her late husband.
Tuesday was closing in on him like doomsday, the pit in his stomach churning brutally at the thought of her boarding that damned plane. They hadn’t discussed it, not even mentioned in passing since she first arrived at the airport almost four weeks earlier. It was a subject he just wanted to blissfully ignore, and hopefully, she’d forget.
Forget to go home? Who the fuck was he kidding?
The beautiful, sweet, and very fragile, underneath her steel exterior, woman—standing excruciatingly close to his crotch—was his. But they hadn’t discussed the future. He didn’t want to bring it up for fear of what her answer would be, and instead he stayed content in his bubble where she was by his side. He dropped any mention of the contract and ignored hints from James, Carter, and Brody.
Her polite smiles were an answer that hurt too much to question. So…he didn’t.
Eli rubbed her back, keeping her close, feeling the heat from her hips burn his thighs, as her hands lightly braced her against his chest.
He wanted this, wanted her, more than he wanted his next breath.
After he’d woken in her bed early this morning, wanting her was all he could think about—her body next to his, her skin against his, and how much he wanted that for the rest of his life.
“Thank you so much, Honor. This party means so much to me.”
“I just wish I’d had the time to get you a gift. I feel awful, especially after how much you’ve done for Dallas, and…um…well. Just how much you’ve done for…us.”
“I don’t need a gift, sweetheart.”
This was the best birthday ever as far as Eli was concerned. He hadn’t been to an arcade since he was a kid, and sharing that with Dallas had been a hoot. They laughed and threatened each other and then took turns aiming for high scores. But it was knowing that Honor was at home waiting for him that was the best feeling in the world. Walking in and seeing the party she’d coordinated was beyond anything he could have asked for.
“It’s your birthday, everyone should have a gift on their birthday.”
A better man wouldn’t do what he was about to, but that man wasn’t standing where he was, holding the woman he wanted.
“Tell you what.” He winked. “I know what you can give me for my birthday.”
The palm on her back urged her closer yet. Her dizzy state made her hands slip and she fell closer, her chest against his.
She swallowed. He could feel the staccato of her breath come across his face.
“What…can I give…you..?” she asked, the dawning and hesitation in her voice.
Eli released the tight hold he still had with one hand on her belt loop and slowly ran his palm up her side, gliding across her shoulder to her face. Running a thumb across the satin of her cheek, he cradled her neck, and let his lips hover over hers.
“Kiss me.” His voice was low and laced with need.
She wasn’t drunk enough to be oblivious and out of control. But he knew she wasn’t sober enough to fight the attraction. That hint of alcohol was just enough to give her the courage to want what he could give her. She deserved to be taken care of, to be protected, and loved. He could do that. He would give her everything if she would just give him a chance.
“For…your…birthday.” She whispered against his mouth.
“No…because you want to, Honor.”
Eli felt her take a deep breath, felt it across his lips as she slowly released it, and then when he fully expected her to pull away, she melted into him. Her lips pressed against his.
He met her halfway and then took over.
A wave of need rushed through him, and he lost all thoughts of where they were or the party going on around them. With his hand at the back of her head, he tilted her for more access. His tongue tasted her lips and at the last second, she parted them. Immediately his tongue swept inside, tasting the remnants of the citrus that afforded him this kiss. Honor laced her arms around his neck, and he took it deeper, pulling her between his legs and possessing her.
The need he lived with every waking moment surged to the surface. He tried to keep the need tamped down to prevent scaring her away, but this woman was everything he wanted and more.
He broke away from her lips, kissed his way across her jaw, and down her neck. Burying his face in her neck, Eli breathed in deeply, taking a long dizzying pull of her sweet perfume. The light scent would be engrained forever in his memory.
Without moving, he spoke against the soft skin of her neck. “God, you mean the world to me.” Straightening, he gently brushed the hair out of her eyes. “I hope you know that, Honor. I’d do anything for you.”
Her eyes dropped to the collar on his t-shirt, her hands slid back down from his neck to rest on his chest.
Tipping her chin back up with his finger, he forced her gaze back on his. “Sweetheart…you do know that, don’t you?” Eli asked quietly, his stomach lurching.
When asked ‘when do you have time to write’, Amy Gregory simply laughs. The real answer is, “in bits and pieces”. She and her husband live in Kansas City with their three fantastic kids that keep them running in three very different directions. Because she sits so much, she always carries a notebook with her at all times.
She has an off the wall, snarky, off the cuff sense of humor that often shocks even those who’ve known her for years. And she loves that her children have all been blessed that ability to make others laugh as well. At least she’s grateful most of the time! Her husband often teases her about how she “makes this stuff up” when he’s reading a piece of her work. … The answer—“it just comes to me when I’m typing”. Scary thought, huh!
Other Books in this series:
1 eCopy of Eli’s Honor
1 Paperback of Eli’s Honor