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“Oh my God!”
The woman on the corrugated aluminum bleacher several rows in front of Sloan turned with wide eyes when Sloan shouted. She caught Sloan’s stare on the sexy cover of her erotic romance novel and flipped it closed—cover side down—discretely.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.” Sloan smiled. “I know how it is when you’re lost in a good book. And that book is fan-fucking-tastic! I love Mari Carr. Her stories are smoking hot. Especially the ménages. Yum.”
The woman grinned and nodded. “I’ve read almost all of hers. My reading group back in the US mailed me this one. It arrived last night and I’m halfway done already. I tried to ration it out—a chapter a day—but it’s impossible.”
“Thank God for ebook readers, huh? I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have access to all the new releases from this side of the globe.” Sloan stepped into the stands then picked her way down the incline, closer to the woman, careful not to slip in her three-inch heels.
At least she’d worn jeans to the race site today instead of her usual skirted suit. “I hear that. It can get lonely being a foreigner in a country where you don’t speak the language. Especially one as difficult to pick up as Mandarin or Cantonese. Reading keeps me from getting too homesick, though it leads to other… complications.”
When the woman laughed, her entire face brightened. Around Sloan’s age, close to forty, she seemed carefree and infectiously happy. “I know what you mean. Or, at least I used to. Now I have a young stud to keep me occupied when I get revved up. I’m engaged to Sebastian Fiori. The driver for—”
“Oh! Don’t worry, I know who he is. Sexy as sin and a four-time world champion rally car racer to boot. So you must be Lynn Madison, you bitch.”
The humongous diamond flashing on the woman’s finger had confirmed Sloan’s suspicions.
Talk of Bastian and the alluring cougar who’d tamed him had run rampant this season. Scores of young sex goddesses mourned their loss. Many had tried for years to snag him or his luscious navigator Mark Rossi, but none had succeeded in tempting either guy into more than a one-night stand.
Until Sebastian fell head over heels in love on first sight last season. Everyone agreed he’d never performed better. Lynn must be good for the man.
What was good for the driver was good for the sport.
And that was good for Sloan.
“It’s true.” Lynn sighed and her eyes took on a faraway look. “I’m the luckiest woman alive.”
“I’m Sloan Desai, by the way.” She held out her hand, but Lynn hugged her instead of shaking it.
“Sorry, but after two minutes I feel like I’ve known you forever. Have a seat.” Lynn gestured with the spine of her novel toward the racetrack, which snaked past the base of the stadium they sat in. “You know, Bastian’s mentioned you before. I think we might’ve even talked on the phone once when you scheduled some of his interviews. You’re the publicist for the league, right?”
“Yep. That’s me.” Sloan winked. “In charge of keeping the boys out of trouble with the media, managing their images and bringing fans in by the truckload.”
“Seems like you’re doing a great job. I heard the first couple days of the exhibition are sold out.”
“They are. Thanks.”
“So how do you like China so far?”
The event would take place in Guangdong province, about a half-hour outside Guangzhou, in a few weeks—a great chance for the teams to tune up or experiment in the off-season. The crews had arrived early to acclimate, which meant Sloan had to be on-site to defuse any…situations…that could cause trouble with the local hosts.
Full of testosterone and daring, the guys in the league sometimes crossed the line.
“I haven’t been able to do much sightseeing. I have to stick fairly close-by.” Sloan shrugged.
“Yeah, I know what you mean.” Lynn grimaced. “The teams do tend to get rowdy on occasion. Maybe you can take a day trip or two with me. I write travel guides for a living, so I like to check out as much as I can in the areas we visit. Sebastian gets nervous when I’m out on my own though. Especially in locations a little more exotic.”
“You don’t seem like the kind of woman to sit around and wait for a man simply to ease his mind. A woman after my own heart, by the way.”
“You’re right, I’m no shrinking violet.” Lynn grinned. “But I worry that if he’s worried, he’ll be distracted. The sport is dangerous enough as it is. Plus, I miss him if I stray too far.”
“I hope ‘him’ is me.” A deep growl sounded from behind their spot on the bench. Sitting side by side, neither woman had heard the soft soles of Sebastian’s racing sneakers on the concrete as he approached. “Or I’ll have to kick some ass and those days are supposed to be behind me.”
Sloan swallowed hard at the jibe from the other guy who strode toward them—Mark Rossi. It was either that or moan aloud at his spectacular build. Thick muscles filled out his racing jumpsuit to perfection. She wished she’d seen him going instead of coming so she could check out his killer ass, but the bulge at his crotch and the humor in his warm eyes made for scrumptious consolation prizes.
She’d spied him from across the room at events she’d arranged, but usually she had a job to do while in attendance. Of course she’d found herself staring at promo shots of him on more occasions than she cared to admit, but never before had she been able to take her time and study his legendary features in person—bold cheekbones, olive skin and glossy, sandy hair.
And, shit, now she was staring.
Maybe her imagination played tricks on her, but it seemed as if he might be gawking in return.