1. Racing From Love Ch. 01-03byinspirixis1©
SPRING, FRESHMAN YEAR
Emma ran through her pre-race routine. She shook her hands, shrugged her shoulders and jumped quickly on her toes to calm her nerves. This was the part of racing that she both loved and hated the most, those awful moments before you stepped up to the start line. She puffed her cheeks to let out a deep breath and went over her race plan in her head. She was nervous. The 800 m was her best event, and she didn't want to stuff it up, not in her first NCAA national championship final.
The role call started, she heard her name and stepped forward and waved to the crowd. She knew her family was up there somewhere. Her mom had called after the semi-final to tell her how proud they all were, she kept on blabbering uncontrollably until her brother Sam had taken the phone off her and finally ended the call so Emma could go socialize with her friends on the team. Thank god for Sam.
Oh god, her nerves were so bad she felt like she was going to shit her pants. It was time. She stepped up to the line and a wave of calm washed over her. It was just her and the track. Nobody else. Nothing else. Just her and the track. The starting gun went off and she launched herself forward. She was hyperaware of her body, she could feel her legs pumping, the air rushing in and out of her lungs, the braids in her pony tail brushing against the back of her neck. She'd gotten a good start.
She rounded the last turn of the first lap in fourth or fifth place, she couldn't tell and she wasn't about to start looking around to try and figure it out. She was in a good position. You might not have known it from the number of girls in front of her but she felt good about it. She was in her rhythm.
She crossed the line, just one more lap to go. She was in the zone now, the only things that existed were her body and the track. She could feel the lactic acid building in her legs and the heat in her chest growing but she focused on her rhythm.
On the backstretch she picked up the pace, making her big move. The U-Penn girl was surprised by her early move and tried to go with her but Emma didn't even notice. Nothing could get in her way now, she was gearing up for a big finish.
She came around the last turn and knew that the line was close. Her whole body was screaming at her in the most intense pain, her chest was about to explode. She picked it up for the final sprint. God she felt awesome, she'd never been in so much pain and held her technique together like this before. She pushed it out as hard as she could to cross the line.
Her eyes went immediately to the scoreboard. A personal best time, she had known it before she saw it, but there was something else, her name was on the second line with a 2 beside it. That couldn't be right, she was just a freshman, she wasn't supposed to place at the Nationals. But there it was, second place.
She couldn't believe it. She put her hand over her mouth in shock.
She thanked and congratulated the other runners, walking on air, not believing what an amazing race she had just had. Someone was calling her name. She scanned the crowd and saw her family leaning over the railing of the stands to wave to her. She laughed at them, they were even more excited than she was.
She walked over to them and clasped their hands and took a rub on the head from her dad. Now she was glad they were here to celebrate with her. Her mom started blabbering again, the tears were flowing in full force and she couldn't stop saying "Em I'm so proud, I'm just so proud."
She caught Sam's bright blue eyes and rolled hers. He laughed, showing the entire set of pearly whites set in his strong square jaw. God it had been ages since she'd seen him, she'd missed that laugh.
She had to go warm down so she left them with the promise of dinner that night. Kirra joined her for her warm down jog. They had hit it off as friends because there was no problem with competition between them, Kirra was a hurdler and Emma couldn't jump for shit.
"Who were those people in the crowd?" Kirra asked.
"That's my mom and dad and brother," she replied. She was a little annoyed that Kirra wouldn't have put two and two together by now. They had been friends for almost a year, Kirra wasn't known for her brains though.
She turned around. Kirra had stopped dead in her tracks. "But they're white!"
"No shit Sherlock," was Emma's response.
Kirra started jogging again. "Do I need to point out the obvious?" she questioned. "Girl, you're black and your family are white?"
"I was adopted," Emma shrugged. She hated this conversation. She couldn't count the number of times she'd had it throughout her life. She loved her family, really she did, it just would have been so much easier if they were black, then she wouldn't have to explain anything.
Kirra surprised Emma by being totally accepting of this new revelation, "Your brother is hot! Can you introduce me?"
Emma snorted, as if Kirra needed introducing to anyone. She was gorgeous and she knew it, and she had the confidence to put it on display. She was lean but still managed to have huge boobs and a cute bubble butt, and she had the most fabulous dark chocolate skin. Her cheek bones were high and sharp, pointing to a perfect round mouth. The girl looked like some sort of African goddess.
Emma always felt like a wallflower beside Kirra, like a lanky little kid that had not fully matured. The problem wasn't just that Emma had the body of a skinny adolescent boy, it was also that she just couldn't get comfortable with the whole dress up and wear make up thing. She just felt so ridiculous and fake on the occasions that she did make the effort to dress up and go out to parties. Kirra certainly didn't have that problem, she wore makeup every time she left her room and her hair was always immaculate.
Kirra was a nice girl though, she wasn't the sharpest stick in the forest but she didn't have a mean bone in her body, there was no reason she shouldn't introduce her to Sam. She decided to invite her to dinner with them that night.
Her dad pulled into the hotel lot where Emma and Kirra were waiting, and the greetings and introductions were made. She hugged her mom and dad and turned to Sam.
'Hey Em' Sam pulled her into a bear hug, his huge upper body almost totally surrounding her. He had been a swimmer since she didn't know when. One of her first memories was of Sam refusing to get out of the pool when it was time to leave their tiny tots swimming class, their mom had to get the lifeguard to get in to chase him out. He was a natural, and had the shoulders, and a full ride scholarship at USC to prove it.
'Hey Sammy,' she managed to get out, her face smooshed up against his pectoral. When he released her she introduced them all to Kirra and they piled into the car headed for the restaurant.
It was crowded in the back seat. She had decided to take the middle and was squeezed in beside Sam's bulk on one side and Kirra's bustiness on the other. She let her legs rest sideways on Sam's and leaned into him. It felt nice to sit beside him again, she hadn't realized how much she had missed him. In the past nine months, since school began, she had only seen him on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then when she and her parents had made the trip to the NCAA swimming nationals to watch him compete.
Now that she was done with her racing season she wanted to go home. She wanted to have another summer like last year when they trained together and hung out, went camping, went riding, just bummed around. She missed him. Why did he have to go to school all the way down at USC?
Dinner was pleasant enough. The predictable conversation of how the Watsons came to adopt Emma was out of the way fairly early on due to Kirra's outgoing curiosity, then she turned her attention to Sam. Her flirtations were fairly obvious, but mild enough to be inoffensive. She asked him about his swimming, what his favorite stroke was, why he decided to move to USC instead of staying in Berkeley with the rest of the family, what his plans were for the summer. Kirra was making her move.
Emma didn't know why listening to the exchange was bothering her so much. She had watched countless girls try to chat Sam up before and it had never bothered her, he was a good looking guy and it came with the territory. Emma couldn't blame them, Sam was tall and tanned with dirty blonde hair, an easy smile and the deepest blue eyes, a really California surfer type, but not only that, he was actually a nice guy. It was no wonder, I mean they had grown up with the greatest dad of all time, he was bound to pick up some of his good traits.
'So Em, how does it feel to be done with your first college season?' Emma looked up from where she had just about picked a hole in the sleeve of her shirt. Ah, good old dad to the rescue. He was smiling at her, his kind eyes with the little crinkles around them reassuring her that she was home.
Emma smiled, 'I am so relieved! I just want to relax and lay about for days. I am going to sit down and watch every single day of the Giro and then the Tour while eating an obscene amount of popcorn and chocolate ice cream.'
Their dad had gotten Emma and Sam addicted to cycling races when they were little kids and every year since then they'd make a marathon of watching the Giro de Italia and Le Tour de France together. Their dad couldn't help but cheer when his man made a great maneuver, or cry out in distress when he was overtaken. It used to make Emma giggle to see her dad, who was usually so calm and controlled, get all excited over a bicycle race.
'Are you in Sam?' She asked.
He hesitated for a second, 'Sure Em, you know I wouldn't miss seeing Contador thrash Evans some more'.
'Oh, them be fighting words mister,' she laughed.
By the time they paid the bill and piled back in the car Emma was so tired she fell asleep on the way back to the hotel. She woke up because some ass, Sam as it turned out, was jabbing her in the ribs, telling her to get her butt out of the car and up to the hotel room.
Sam stood under the shower in the hotel room he was sharing with his parents. The water felt good on his body, flowing over his broad shoulders and down his muscular back. He wasn't so sure this whole going home for the summer thing was a good idea, but he couldn't see how he could get out of it without being excommunicated from the whole family.
Things had started to feel weird with Emma near the end of last summer. At first he couldn't quite put his finger on it, for some reason she was really annoying him. He had started snapping at her for no reason, and it made him feel bad, it wasn't her fault he was feeling so tense. He started training longer and tiring himself out so thoroughly that all he wanted to do when he was home was eat or sleep. He used the excuse of preparing for his first season at USC, and nobody really seemed to notice that there was anything wrong.
Then one day it dawned on him. Emma was going to run stadium stairs and he had taken her up on the offer to join her. He liked running stadiums with her because she was fucking fast! He could usually keep up for the first 10 no problem, but there were 23 sections in the stadium and by the end of it he was always totally licked. This time though all of the extra training he had been putting in was helping, they were past half way and he was still right behind her. He was used to looking at the back of her legs when they ran stadiums, but for some reason this day his eyes kept on straying up to where her little running shorts where hugging her ass.
Holy crap, it felt like he'd stuck his finger into an electrical outlet! He realized that Emma had a nice ass. No, not a nice ass, a really nice ass. It was so firm and perfectly rounded, and it bounced just the tiniest bit with each step, he wanted to reach out and grab it. He felt a twitch in his cock. The realization made him stumble on the stairs.
Sensing that Sam was slowing behind her, Emma picked up the pace, 'Ha, I knew you couldn't keep up with me pretty boy!' she teased, and turned to taunt him but the look of shock on his face threw her off. She stopped. 'Sam?' She tested, 'What's wrong?'
It took a second for him to make his brain catch up to the present, 'Um, I just realized something.'
'What?' Her golden brown skin was flushed from exertion, she was puffing lightly.
Shit, what was he supposed to say now? 'Um, well, I think I forgot to sign up for a class that my advisor told me to take.' He hoped that would do it.
'Really? Are you shitting me? You look like you just saw a ghost.'
'Well, I've just been so preoccupied with all of this extra training that I kind of let setting up classes fall away, mom is going to be so pissed if she finds out that I screwed up the first semester, you know what a nut she is about academics.' Thank god she bought it. He had to get out of there and quick, 'I'm going to run home and sort it out right away.'
God, what the hell was wrong with him? Emma was his sister, well not genetically, but in every other sense she was his sister. Okay, he had to calm down. There was a logical explanation. He had just been so stressed out about training and starting up college this fall that he hadn't been out with his friends in ages. Yeah, that was it, his friends were always crapping on about girls and what they wanted to do with them, and seeing that he hadn't had that outlet lately he was projecting that onto Emma. He resolved to hang out with his friends more and Emma less. There were only two weeks left before he'd be leaving for USC anyway. Then he would be free and he could find a nice girlfriend to have a normal relationship with. Yes, that sounded good.
He did manage to avoid Emma for almost the entire school year and he had pretty much convinced himself that the stadium incident was just his imagination playing tricks on him, but there was still that seed of doubt.
Honestly, he didn't know what was wrong with him, everything had gone fine today. He'd seen her race, he'd been happy for her with her second place, he was okay with it when she leaned against him in the car and even when she'd fallen asleep with her head resting on his shoulder on the way home all he'd felt was the usual brotherly protectiveness. Still, he thought, it would be easier if I found a girlfriend to hang out with.
It had never been difficult for Sam to find interested girls, it was always that Sam found it difficult to stay interested in them. Maybe he should take Kirra out, she seemed like a nice girl. Still, he had an uneasy feeling about this summer.
'Contador is so going to win the Tour this year,' Sam boasted. It was his first day home for the summer and he had given in to Emma's insistence on a Giro de Italia marathon.
He had wanted to give some of his old Berkeley friends a call but she had given him the puppy dog eyes and so he'd given in and settled on the couch for the day. It actually felt nice to just hang out with her again, it was giving him confidence that the stadium incident had really just been a one off and it wasn't anything to worry about.
She rolled her eyes, 'No way, he is totally doping, it's just a matter of time before he's caught.'
'He's just a really good climber, not everyone who's good at something is on drugs you know. You just want sexy-eyes Evans to win because you think he's good looking.'
'What ever!' She threw a cushion at him, 'You're the one with a hard on for Contador.' She put on her most girlish voice, held her hand limply to the side and fluttered her eye lashes, 'Oh Alberto, look at your strong legs, you're such a big real man. Come here and I'll be your little Samantha.'
He lurched for her, but she was too quick. She leapt over the back of the couch and crouched, watching him to see which way to move.
They had played this game a million times before and Sam knew that if he could catch her he could over power her. Catching her was the tough part, she had reflexes like a jungle cat.
A sly grin settled on her face, her almond-shaped eyes lit up with mischief, 'What's the matter Samantha, too shy to come out of the closet?'
Sam considered his options for a moment. Trying to catch her by surprise, he vaulted over the couch to tackle her, but she was too quick. She sprinted out of the living room and down the hall towards the back door with Sam hot on her tail. She would have easily out run him if it were not for the fact that she had to open the door, but that little break gave Sam the time he needed to catch up. She was just a step ahead of him, he jumped the three stairs that led to the back yard and tackled her onto the grass.
'Ow!' she complained, but he could tell she wasn't serious.
He had her pinned laying face down in the grass. He laughed as he twisted her arm behind her back while he straddled her hips. He held her there, knowing that he wasn't hurting her, but that he could cause momentary pain if he just put a little more pressure on her arm.
'Saaamm,' she whined, 'get off me.'
He could hear the air catch in her throat as she laughed and feel the vibrations through her back. 'Not until you admit that I'm right,' he insisted in a superior tone.
'Never!' she replied defiantly.
He twisted her arm further, past it's natural extent.
'Ow, ow, ow!' she gasped, still shaking with laughter.
'Go on, admit it!' he demanded.
He eased the pressure off her arm, waiting for her submission.
'... you're right, Contador will probably win the Tour this year...'
Sam let go of her arm and rolled off her so that he was sitting in the grass.
Emma rolled over onto her back. 'Only because he's good at cheating, though.'
She always had to have the last word, didn't she? Sam shook his head as he looked at her profile, her familiar features eliciting a feeling of security in him. Emma had always been his best friend, sure they had fought like siblings do, but their fights were always quickly forgotten. He had missed her over the past year, they'd never spent so much time apart, and he'd been guarded with her because of the stadium incident.
Now that he was hanging out with her and she was just the same old Emma he felt stupid for worrying so much about that little twitch of desire he'd had last summer. Emma was gorgeous, that's all he had noticed. He looked at her now without feeling anything sexual.
She was so exotic looking. Her birth mother had been African American, they knew that much from their parents, but her father was a mystery. He'd always wondered what combination of genes could produce Emma's looks, her skin was a deep honey brown, and while her hair was thick and curly it wasn't the characteristic 'afro' curls that most black women have, but more relaxed spirals that were nevertheless untamable. She had dark brown eyes that were cloaked by long thick lashes and big soft lips that always seemed to be spread wide smiling around her naturally straight teeth.
'It's a nice day,' she was gazing up at the sky, 'want to go down to the beach?'
'Okay, check for fog first though,' he replied.
He watched as Emma got up and jogged to the big redwood at the back of the yard and expertly climbed it, her bare feet curling around and gripping the bark as she pulled and swung herself up the trunk with her arms. She quickly scaled up to the lookout branch, where she would have a view of the entire neighborhood and beyond.
When they were kids they'd wait up there to catch the first glimpses of their grandparents' car on the main road when they came to visit. They'd swing down to the ground and tear through the house to the front lawn where they would jump up and down and wave to Nanna and Poppa as they'd pull up to the house for a visit.