Home > Who I Am with You (Unexpected Heroes #1.5)(2)

Who I Am with You (Unexpected Heroes #1.5)(2)
Author: Melody Anne

To her mother’s credit, she’d taken Taylor to the Halloween store the next day and let her pick out her costume. Her mom had always been supportive of her daughter’s choices. Though Taylor knew that the career she’d chosen stressed her parents, they never tried to talk her out of it.

“Enough!” she snapped, done with her pity party.

Her doctor would be furious, but Taylor refused to call her brothers or her father. For the past three months she’d been cooped up in her parents’ house while she recovered from the wreck that could have easily taken her life. She’d had to give up her apartment in California that she’d been so proud of, and she was going stir-crazy being looked after.

She was through with being coddled, dammit.

A coyote howled in the trees behind her, far enough away that she knew it wasn’t watching, but the sound still sent a chill down her spine. She’d grown up in the wild lands of Montana, and knew she was safe right here—coyote attacks on humans were rare, and she’d never heard of one in Montana—but her head was still slightly fuzzy from the concussion she’d suffered three months earlier, and she wasn’t as rational and confident as she normally would be.

“You’re fine,” she told herself as she set the flashlight on the ground, facing the enemy tire before her. “Easy-peasy.”

She gripped the tire and began to work it free, her efforts making her shake. But the satisfaction she felt when the freaking thing popped off and landed on the ground at her feet was priceless.

Her body would pay in the morning, but Taylor didn’t care. She was proving to herself that she was still quite capable. She didn’t need to lean on anyone and . . . damn. Her euphoria died a quick but painful death when she realized the next step would be to take the spare that was hooked beneath the truck and lift it onto the wheel studs.

Pulling the old tire off had nearly wiped her out. How in the world was she going to lift another one up and then put this one onto the bed of the truck? “Slow and sure,” she said, not allowing anything to beat her tonight. This was a challenge, and though she knew it was ridiculous, she felt that if she couldn’t manage something as simple as changing a tire, she’d never get back on a dirt bike again.

Unacceptable. She’d devoted too many years to training, put too much time and love into her career. Though her doctor had sounded pessimistic when she’d asked about returning to racing, she would prove the man wrong.

It was absolutely absurd that she needed a release from the doctor before the powers that be would allow her to race again. Wasn’t it up to her what she could or couldn’t do? Apparently not. Well, the first step was changing a tire. The next was getting back on her bike.

It again took too long to get the spare tire down from the bottom of the truck, and she felt close to passing out, but with a few good swearwords and a lot of expended energy, she finally managed to get the tire free from where it had been sitting since her dad had bought the truck last year.

Rolling the stupid thing toward the back of the truck, she attempted to lift it up, but the agony in her sides was too much. She collapsed to the ground with pain shooting through her body, and dragged huge gulps of air into her lungs as she fought desperately to not cave in to the blackness that was offering her blessed relief.

This couldn’t be happening. She’d almost rather sit there on the cold asphalt of this quiet Montana road than call for help. But ten minutes later, when she made her second attempt to lift the tire, she knew it wasn’t happening.

Her body was still too beat up to do something so simple as to lift a tire onto the bolts that were sticking out and waiting for it. The last thing she wanted was to call her brothers, but she didn’t seem to have any other choice.

Still, she did nothing but pull out her cell phone and look at the face of it, not wanting to dial a number, not wanting to admit she was too weak to finish the task she had begun.

When a few minutes later headlights appeared down the road, Taylor didn’t know whether she was relieved or upset that someone would find her like this. She knew without a doubt that whoever was heading toward her would stop.

That’s just the kind of place she’d grown up in. A place where a neighbor would never pass by a vehicle stuck on the side of the road. When the oncoming truck slowed and then pulled in front of hers, blinding her with its bright lights and breaking the quiet of night with the soft purr of its diesel engine, Taylor held up a hand to shield her eyes from the beams and squinted to see who it was. Without a worry in the world that she’d be face-to-face with a stranger—there were no strangers in Sterling, Montana—she stood up, though slowly, not wanting to be seen sitting in defeat on the ground.

The door to the truck opened and a shadow emerged. With the headlights in her eyes she couldn’t identify the driver, but it was a man’s silhouette walking slowly toward her. And then the figure spoke.

“Looks like you’re having some difficulty.”

Taylor froze as everything in her tried to deny that voice, deny who was approaching her. She stiffened her spine and spoke as if she’d never met the man before. “I’m fine. You can be on your way.” Her tone was acid, sure to dissolve him.

Or not. To her distinct displeasure, the man continued walking forward until he was in the light with her and she could see his face all too clearly.

“Doesn’t look like you’re fine, Taylor. Don’t I get a hello hug? It’s been a few years.”

“And as far as I’m concerned, it can be a hell of a lot more years, Travis Montclave!”

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