Tailpipe: "... His Touch Sending Her Senses Into Overdrive"

We recently discovered the incredible phenomenon of NASCAR-themed romance fiction, stories filled with passion and grease and beautiful people being driven swiftly to ecstasy and Victory Lane alike. What follows is a brief selection from one such tale.

From Raising the Stakes, by Wendy Etherington:

Evie Winters banged her screwdriver against the metal plate covering her bike's chain. "A bike made for at-home exercising should be at-home friendly."

How she could understand the Theory of Relativity, Gödel's Theorem, all aspects of trigonometry, geometry and calculus and not understand a thing about simple mechanics was a mystery she fully intended to find the solution to.

As long as she could located the X and Y axes.

At the moment, she simply needed a short-handled screwdriver — and possibly a wrench — so she could take off the bike's plate and figure out why the pedals wouldn't turn. How hard could that be?

Thankfully, someone rang the doorbell before she could humiliate herself by contemplating that problem.

As she swung open the door, she instantly recognized the tall, dark-haired man on her doorstep. Swallowing unexpected nerves, she smiled. "Hey, Jared."

He yanked her into his arms. "Hey, brainy."

She had a moment to resent the old nickname while still appreciating his wide chest and muscled arms, as well as the scent of his forest-laden cologne, before he leaned back, holding her at arm's length.

"You look good." His light blue eyes sparkled as his gaze roved over her from head to toe. "Really good."

She pressed her lips together. He looked amazing. As always.

In fact, the grown-up, filled-out Jared packed even more of a punch to her senses than the teenage version had. He had a man's shoulders and broad chest, though his waist was still narrow, his legs long and trim. Stubble from a dark beard shadowed his sculpted jawline, enhancing his good looks, adding a touch of careless danger.

They'd kept in touch via e-mail and phone calls, but she'd seen him pretty infrequently over the last seventeen years. She'd needed the distance. Seeing her first — and unrequited — love on a regular basis wasn't exactly an ego boost for the former Geek of the County.

"You, too," she managed to say, noting he was looking at her as if geekdom had never been an issue.

He cupped his hand beneath her jaw, his touch sending her senses into overdrive. The old vulnerability climbed into her throat. He'd been the center of her teenage world, but he'd broken her heart, and she'd promised herself she'd never be that vulnerable to a man again.

But having this man staring at her as if he couldn't take his eyes off her was a heady experience.

"You've become a stunning woman, Evie."

"The braces helped," she said lightly, unsure what to make of the sensual speculation in his eyes and feeling awkward in her T-shirt and sweatpants.

Be sure to tune in for the next steamy installment of Tailpipe — your smutty NASCAR romance story hour!