Having reached the half way point of my next book, a yet untitled mountain bike racing romance, I wanted to take a moment to share chapter one with you. I hope to have it finished by the summer, so stay tuned for more details soon.
Also, I am excited to announce that my lesfic best seller “Love By Design” will become an audio book and is due out June 20, 2017. Those of you who have been asking, the wait is nearly over.
Thank you all for you support and I hope you’re as excited for what’s to come as I am.
Reckless abandon was always preceded by a moment of serenity, at least for Sierra Cody. Whether she was throwing her body or her heart off a cliff, she was all-in from the start and let the results fall where they may. So far, her heart hadn’t fared so well. Nevertheless, she was on the rise professionally, living it up as her dream of riding the professional women’s downhill circuit had finally come true last season.
She stared down the mountain, excited for the ride ahead. Mountain biking filled her soul full of things she could never explain—wonderful, powerful things that made her smile stretch from one end of the horizon to the other. It was a shame some people would never experience such joy.
In moments like these, she felt sorry for the masses who never stepped foot outside of their safety zone, who never pushed for more, never challenged their abilities. They were the living dead, merely breathing air, taking up space, but doing nothing worthwhile with the gift of life they had been given.
That would never be her.
Whether it was music, sport, love, or something else that drives a person, what was the point in taking a breath if they weren’t going to go full throttle to the end? Call her crazy, and they have more times than she could count, but this right here, was what being “alive” was all about.
Straddling her bike inside the starting gate, Sierra basked in the majestic view atop an eight-thousand-foot mountain. The practiced rhythm of her breathing and her trusted friend, a Scott Gambler downhill bike, were her only company. Their shared mission to conquer the mountain was steadfast and unwavering. Every race, every course, was a new puzzle to be finished as fast as possible—
A challenge that never ended. When the buzzer sounds, there will be no more peace, only a finite number of hair-raising minutes until this ride ends and Sierra begins to crave her next fix.
The seconds ticked down. Soon, the frenzy would begin again, but until then, pleasurable silence. Her eyelids drifted shut, hiding the open blue skies interrupted by jagged peaks, whose landscapes were dotted with giant green cedars. Mother Nature’s beauty faded into the background until there was only the course and every detail of her journey ahead visualized to perfection.
The steep slope out the gate led into the high banking of the first turn. The wicked rock garden awaited approximately thirty seconds down. She would have to dial back her speed through there. Then, a tight switchback the left turn before the drop off. It was vital to maintain a good speed through that section to avoid disaster on her landing. After that, it was smooth sailing as fast as wheels would allow to the finish.
The countdown had begun, bringing her back to the present.
With one deep breath of crisp, clean air, she gripped the handlebars tight.
Another breath, as she steadied her right foot atop the pedal. Every muscle tensed in anticipation of their imminent explosion.
Her eyes snapped open, locking in on their target—the first turn of the winding singletrack ahead.
Silence engulfed her mind. There were no more thoughts. Her mind and body became one, ready to react to whatever the track had in store.
Powerful quads exploded into action sending her rocketing down the mountainside. Dirt, rock, and roots passed in a blur, pushing the limits of how fast wheels could spin. Two knobby tires mounted to a frame of aluminum moved as an extension of her being, obeying every command with delicate precision. The bike shuddered with vibrations from the earth below, reverberating through her bones. Foam and plastic were all that protected her body, yet she fearlessly carved through turns, over rocks and off jumps without concern, loving every nail-biting moment.
Never one to settle for second, Sierra pressed even harder. Eagle-like focus read the terrain ahead. Black and red painted finger nails dug into their grips. A thunderous heartbeat silenced the whistling of fans perched along the trail that had been singing through her ears. Every muscle worked the bike to keep as much speed as possible through every obstacle encountered—a tenth of a second here, a thousandth there—they all added up.
Brakes were not an option. Not today.
Wisps of jet black hair mingled with fiery red strands blew wildly from under her helmet as wind whipped against her face. This was what Sierra Cody lived for—this “controlled chaos.” She thrived on the thrill of adrenaline and the challenge of claiming the podium. It was a good run. She could feel it.
Last turn up ahead, a little gravel with a high banking. Easy peasy. Been done a million times before. She was dialed in. Could victory be within grasp?
Hitting the banking full steam, the aggressive entry threw her weight forward just enough to set the back tire into a slide. Fast as lightning, well-trained reflexes kicked in, adjusting the bike seamlessly back on course. The top of a boulder exposed from previous rides, however, refused to be denied. The front wheel caught, bringing the Gambler to an abrupt halt. Headfirst, Sierra punched her ticket to a one-way flight over the handle bars.
Every inch of ground passed in slow motion as she rapidly approached her destination—the three-foot-wide trunk of a century old western red cedar. On instinct, she threw up her shoulder and rotated her torso, hoping to strike something less vital than her head. A loud thud echoed through her ears accompanied by a sharp pain piercing in her left shoulder upon impact, forcing the air from her lungs. Sierra’s limp body bounced off the trunk and crashed in a heap at its base. There was ringing and gasping, so much gasping, as she fought to recover her breath, and her wits.
“Son of a…”
Every inch of her body spoke to her. Some parts hummed with a numbing tingle, while others screamed. Nothing responded to her command to move as she laid in the dirt for several long seconds. Finally, the haze cleared, but the stinging pain lingered.
How bad is it?
A moment of paralyzing fear struck as Sierra considered the real possibilities that might lie ahead. Never one to sugar coat things, it was time to take stock of body parts. First things first, she looked at the upside.
I’m alive, so that’s a win.
Okay…neck? She very carefully flexed, then rolled her neck. It was sore, but seemed fine. Arms? “Owww, shit!” The left one was angry as hell. Finally, legs? Their lack of immediate response to her command sent her into a panic, but seconds later, they were good to go.
Thank god! It could have been worse—much, much worse.
As she struggled to sit up, the medics arrived. A hand to her sternum kept her still as they quickly began their own assessment. This was the part no rider ever wanted to deal with and Sierra Cody was known to be more cantankerous than the rest.
“Really guys, I’m fine. Nothing I haven’t done before. Just a little separated left shoulder, I think.”
Again, she attempted to get to her feet, but they were having none of it. A clean cut, dark-haired medic named Derrick pulled out his penlight and checked for equal and reactive pupils, while an older bald medic, Joe, asked questions. “What’s your name? Can you tell me where you are?”
Casting a sideways glance and a deep frown, she gruffly answered, “I’m Sierra Cody. This is the Bend stop of the Genesis Pro Downhill Series. And that, my friend, was an epic fail.”
The medics laughed and carefully helped Sierra to her feet. Derrick smiled. “Glad you’re all right, but you know we have to take you to the care facility for a full check-up.” He held up his hand as she opened her mouth. “And before you say it, Sierra, we know how you are, but it’s the rules. So, please don’t give us a hard time. Okay?”
With a defeated sigh, she nodded and made her way slowly to the truck with the injured left arm tucked into her side. The crowd cheered and she threw them a wave to let them know she was fine. As they all piled into the truck for a ride down to the med center, Sierra cursed herself for being reckless.
That should have ended so much better, but I screwed up. Again.
“Damn, that was a ballsy ride, girl! One hell of an endo, too. You must have caught at least six feet of air to reach that tree,” Joe gushed. He was as much in awe of the crash as the ride.
“I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you had Ronni at that last split.” Derrick laughed and gave her a pat on the back.
The only thing Sierra hated more than losing was being on the receiving end of a sympathy pat. Ronni Demartini may have been her roommate and best friend since childhood, but they had one hell of an intense rivalry. “Yeah, I guess she takes this round. I’ll get her next time though,” she grumbled, sinking into the corner of the backseat.
Over and over, the fateful error replayed. The rock had been unavoidable in the tight line she had chosen, but had she listened to Ronni…The high line would have taken a split second longer, but she would have finished her ride instead of getting a personal escort to the care center.
“Dumbass.” Sierra muttered to herself. Dejected, she leaned forward, perching elbows on knees, and pressed her face into gloved hands.
Why did I always have to be so damned stubborn?
Thank you for reading. What did you think?