First Chapter of the Sound of Thunder
Dylan “Killer” McIntyre, NASCAR champion, made his way through the crowd of people at the little dirt track located near Heresy, Michigan. He had no intention of meeting a woman that day, or for that matter, falling in love. The one thing Dylan knew however, was that fate had a way of taking control when you least expected it to. Dylan was happy being single mostly, though he still dreamed of having a family. He had no intent of hooking up with anyone. He was there on business and had added a little pleasure by staying for the race. Regardless of what his plans were, love came knocking on his door anyhow.
A few people stopped him to ask for autographs but he was in his element here. Most of the pits were full of people who had either seen him before, knew him personally or had the respect not to bother him. He had come to negotiate the final offer to buy the little half-mile oval as his own. He had won his first race here years ago and the track held a special place in his heart.
Standing 5’10” and weighing in at just under two hundred pounds, Dylan certainly wasn’t in the shape he had been in when he had visited this track for the first time at age 19, but he wasn’t in bad shape either. The walking didn’t leave him out of breath, but it still felt like a workout. I’m getting lazy, he thought to himself and shook his head. Too much fast food on the road and too many hours sitting in cars and planes could do that to a person, he believed.
He could be himself when he visited a track like this and he smiled and said, “Hello”, as he worked his way towards the car he, himself, owned. He no longer raced dirt much, but it was often a joyous moment to watch his driver, Mike Ellis, bring home a win at a track he had won at many times. Dylan adjusted his worn out ball hat and then did the same with his Oakley glasses. There had been a time when coming here was his meal ticket and a feeling of nostalgia overtook him.
Dylan had grown up in poverty. His single mother had done everything she could to see him raised right and with morals. She sent him to church every Sunday, while she worked a second job and only because he was talented and lucky had he gotten where he was today. Now, his mother worked part-time for him and he was wealthy but coming to a track like this, always reminded him of his upbringing…
Angel Fox had come to the Heresy Motor Speedway on a day off that she knew she really couldn’t afford to take off but she had needed something like this. She wasn’t there looking for anyone special. In fact, at that point in her life, she liked being alone. Even though being by herself meant low income, she really didn’t want a boyfriend. Physical and emotional exhaustion had recently taken it’s toll and her friend, Bob had urged to just come. He had told her she would enjoy it and that he would pay for everything and so, feeling guilty, she had driven out there that night.
It didn’t take long for Angel to forget her guilty feelings though. Within a few minutes of finding Bob and his crew, she was laughing and smiling like Bob hadn’t seen her smile in over two years. Bob couldn’t believe how thin Angel had gotten. She looked good, but then, Bob had always thought she looked good. She had a way about her that made people stand back and stare and take a second look. It was like she had a light around her.
Standing 5’7” tall, Angel believed she was too tall. She had inherited her father’s long legs and her mother’s short torso. Looking at herself, Angel didn’t see a good body. Instead she saw herself as out of proportion. Bob didn’t see it that way though, and neither did most men.
Bob shook his head. He had hoped to hook her up with a friend soon, to get her mind off the accident and the death of her son and fiance’ but over the past few months, he had given up trying. She was lost in her grief and would have nothing of any solace he offered her. That was until today. She was grinning, with her dark eyes sparkling and he couldn’t get over how truly beautiful she looked with a hint of a tan and a little make-up on.
Her dark, bedroom eyes had always made Bob weak in the knees and that day was no exception. Long eyelashes framed them and her big smile only added to the effect she had on him. Sighing, he tried to concentrate on the job at hand.
It had been a long, hot day already when Dylan sat down in his folding chair to read his racing magazine. A bead of sweat had formed at his brow. It was a rare occasion for Dylan to be at a race track and have a moment to himself. In fact, recently his schedule had become so bogged down with sponsor appearances and NASCAR mandated media interviews, he rarely had time to think.
The dark, black hair under his hat was drenched. He was wiping the sweat off his forehead when he noticed her across the way. She was standing with a group of guys he knew well, laughing and talking and he found himself watching her. He tried to keep his mind on his ringing cell phone and the magazine he held, but it was to no avail. The girl had captured his attention.
Over the top of his magazine, he noticed her long, curly, highlighted brown hair reached to the middle of her shoulders. He realized she wasn’t model pretty but there was something about her that made her beautiful. She wasn’t too skinny but wasn’t fat either. She had long legs and big breasts from what he could see of her. He decided it was the way she smiled and the way she threw her head back when she laughed that caught his eye.
The guys were enjoying her attention and appeared to be explaining some details to her about their late model stock car. She didn’t appear to be the type to spend hours in front of the mirror, though she didn’t need to either. She was wearing a pair of blue jeans that fit snugly around the waist but was loose around her behind and a nice v-neck T-shirt that showed off her breasts. He couldn’t quite put words to what drew him to her but there was definitely something about her…
Angel noticed him watching her almost immediately out of the corner of her eye, but pretended he wasn’t there. She had recognized him immediately as Dylan McIntyre, NASCAR champion and racing legend, and it made her wonder why he would stare at her like that. He had dark sunglasses on under his ball cap but she could still his eyes watching her. It made her a little paranoid as she tried to forget he was even there. She had been a fan of his for many years. During the years of her divorce and the good years with Mark, she had collected a lot of memorabilia. Besides, she had always thought he was rather handsome.
One of the guys made a wise crack and she returned her attention to her friend, Bob. She’d known Bob for at least fifteen years and he was the reason she had come out to the track in Heresy to begin with. She had loved racing since she was a little girl but recent events in her life had stopped her from going. Besides, she never had any money these days and every penny was food in her mouth and most importantly, her daughter, Victoria’s.
She had asked Bob to explain the springs in the rear when he finally approached them. She turned around and looked up at him and that’s when his eyes caught her. He had removed his sunglasses and she found herself staring into the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen in her life. His long, dark eyelashes only added to the soulful affect of his puppy dog brown eyes. She was mesmerized to say the least.
He smiled at her then, his lips turning up at the end to turn into a grin. “Hi there!”
She had been thinking about what she would say to him if he talked to her, but suddenly, she was speechless. She felt her hands go clammy and her heart start to race. She wondered what he was thinking as he looked down on her with those dreamy eyes. He made her nervous, but most of all, for the first time in years, she could feel the butterflies in her stomach.
He looked over at Bob and said, “Hey Bub, you going to introduce your friend here or what?”
Bob stopped what he was doing, and said, “Yeah. Angel this is Dylan. Dylan this is Angel. How was that dillhole?”
Dylan flushed with embarrassment at the use of his childhood nickname. The red in his face matched Angel’s however and he quickly grabbed her hand and shook it. “Nice to meet ya…”
After being introduced to Angel, Dylan spent about ten minutes talking dirt track with the guys standing there and that’s when Angel had excused herself to go to the bathroom. The second Dylan had looked into her eyes, he had felt like he was falling. He had never seen eyes like hers before. They seemed full of pain and showed every emotion like a television set to her soul.
Dylan wondered out loud to Bob, “Is she single?”
Laughing out loud, knowing what Dylan was thinking, Bob responded, “As single as they get Bub. She’s a good lady too. She’s had some hard times though. Her old man and her son were killed by a semi about two years ago. I’m afraid she’s damaged goods.”
Shocked by the news, Dylan shook his head. He thought to himself, that explains the sad look in her eyes. She truly did look haunted. He couldn’t imagine the pain she must have went through. “Think she would look twice at a guy like myself?”
Bob laughed. “She’s still in mourning but you could give it a crack. She certainly warmed up quick when you came over.”
Suddenly, she was standing right next to him and after a few moments of small talk, he found himself asking her to sit with him for the race. He explained to her how he intended to buy Heresy Motor Speedway in the next few months and within a few hours, they had chatted about just about everything….
In her entire life, Angel had never met anyone like the race car driver, Dylan McIntyre. He asked her questions that she normally would have trouble responding too, but within minutes of the start of their conversations, she was completely comfortable sharing almost everything. She told him that yes, she had been married for six years but it had ended in divorce. She told him that the divorce was because they were just too different and couldn’t get along. She told him about her 16 year daughter and finally shared with him that her fiance`, Mark, and her son, Anthony had been killed in a car accident two years before. She explained how she had been hospitalized afterwards for an emotional breakdown. They talked and they talked and when the night ended, she was sad to see it end.
She couldn’t help but ask how he got his nickname and his eyes twinkled with that little boy look when he replied, “It’s my off color remarks I suppose. I get myself into a lot of trouble with my big mouth. My crew chief Doc actually pinned it on me when I ran the Busch Series. He was always telling me, “You kill me.” The media picked up and the next thing I knew I had been labeled Killer.” He shook his head laughing. “I can’t wait for you to meet Doc, you two would hit it off right away.”
A big smile came across her face as she blushed. “You mean you want to see me again?” She asked, feeling a bit self-conscious.
“Of course I do. Really, Angel, you are a great lady. It’s been a long time since a woman interested me.” He flushed then.
It had been over two years since she had opened up like that to a man. The sound of his voice, so deep, made her heart beat faster and the way he looked at her when she talked made her feel like the whole world had disappeared other than the two of them. She had gazed into his beautiful eyes and felt like nothing else mattered but him. She hadn’t even thought of Mark that whole night…
Watching Angel leave in her silver Mercury Sable, Dylan realized the day had sped by faster than he had expected. He had not wanted her to go, he admitted to himself. Not since Tiffany, almost ten years ago had any woman touched his soul like this. There was something about this girl that opened doors in his heart. He knew this was one he didn’t want to get away.
He had hugged her when she left and finally kissed her softly on the lips. She had shied away but he had felt the spark between them nonetheless. Somehow, he had managed to get her cell phone number and realized, he couldn’t wait to call her.
He stared up at the stars in the summer sky and smiled to himself. He was elated and the fresh air made him feel almost inebriated. He found himself whistling “Night Moves” by Bob Seger as he headed for his truck. He had about an hour and a half drive home to Fort Wayne, but he didn’t mind. She had somehow found a way into his heart and it felt good to be infatuated.
Dylan had spent much of the last five years running through women like there was a never-ending supply. He knew many of them had fallen in love with him, but he had never found one that touched him the way Tiff had so many years ago. For a long time, he really wondered if there was anyone out there, but today had changed his mind. When he had touched his lips to hers, she had made him feel like a high school kid again trying for that first kiss. She made him nervous, he realized, as he watched the yellow lines on the highway. She also made him grin from ear to ear.
Suddenly, he wanted to tell the whole world about her, but then he got a grip on himself. The trouble with being famous was telling the whole world could destroy any relationship he hoped to obtain with this girl. The media always had a hay day over the latest girl in any driver’s life and the fans were downright crude. Sometimes, being in the spotlight wasn’t an easy place to be.
He sighed to himself as he thought about her. Would she be able to handle the pressure of his high stress career? Did she have any idea of what a crazy schedule he had to keep? Was she even attracted to him to begin with? Did he even have time to spend with her?
He remembered how he had handled the attention the media gave him. More than once, he had found himself spouting off. Then there were the fans, who thought they could control his life and spent hours sending him outrageous email about any woman he was ever even seen with. There were forums with people who spent their whole lives analyzing every move he made. He sighed again. The Chase was coming up soon and he knew that he wouldn’t have much time for himself, let alone her. He wondered if this was bad timing…
Angel couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t for the usual reasons though. Normally, she would lay awake at night and think about her son and Mark. The pain would course through her every night until finally, in the early hours before dawn, she would cry herself to sleep. Many nights, she would hug his pillow to herself and would miss him so immensely that the agony would make her vomit. She still felt it was her fault the accident had happened in the first place and two years of counseling hadn’t done a bit of good.
Tonight was different though. She was feeling wonderful for a change. Her guilt-ridden mind wasn’t spinning with memories. Instead, he had taken their place. Over and over, she thought about the kiss and the way it had felt to look into his eyes. Instead of tears, a smile was on her face and she was happy. Yes, happy, she thought to herself. Had love finally happened to her again? Was an attractive man like Dylan McIntyre really interested in her? She felt herself blush thinking about the way he had looked at her all night. He brought forth emotions in her shattered heart that only a day before would have been unthinkable. She actually longed to have his arms around her.
She fell into a deep sleep about three in the morning. There were no nightmares that night, only dreams of a famous race car driver smiling at her….