Here's my inspiration photo for Kai, Jessie's love interest:
So sexy! He was named by one of my readers, by the way, a kind, lovely woman named Anita, who lives in Australia. I now refer to her as Kai's godmother. :)
Kai and Jessie start out as enemies. They're rival street racers, and Jessie blames Kai (who he knows only by his racing name, Trigger, at first) for playing dirty and wrecking Jessie's car in a head-to-head drag race. Kai sees things very differently. In the following scene from The Distance, the spark ignites between our two main characters:
Trigger was dressed in a tight, black tank top and worn-out jeans, and was washing his hands in an industrial sink when I came in. The shop’s interior was spotless and well-maintained, in sharp contrast to the outside. His Mustang and two black, late sixties Impalas were lined up on the far side of the concrete floor. The Stang’s hood was up, and an empty paper coffee cup and a greasy shop rag decorated its fender.
To say he was surprised to see me was a major understatement. Trigger’s brown eyes went wide and he blurted, “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“I want an apology. I also want a rematch, but first we have to find a track with a concrete barrier down the center to keep you from coming at me again.”
He raised an eyebrow. “If you think I’m capable of purposely trying to wreck your car, why would you come here? I mean, according to you, I’m guilty of attempted murder. I also must have the reflexes of a cobra, since I managed to hit your careening car in the split second that your tire blew out. Yet here you are, strolling into the lair of someone who’d have to be a complete sociopath, given your accusations.”
“I don’t think you meant to hurt me. You’re a dick, not a psycho. You probably just wanted to knock my car out of commission. But that’s still incredibly dangerous and a really shitty thing to do to someone, so would it kill you to say you’re sorry? Just once? Would those words make you shrivel up and die, right here on the concrete?”
His voice rose as he exclaimed, “Why would I apologize when you hit me?”
“Oh yeah. I swerved right, hit you, and then my car went flying off to the left, where it rolled half a dozen times. Because physics works like that!”
“Sure it does, when we’re talking about your little Fisher Price car ricocheting off a solid metal object!” He stormed over to his Mustang, picked up the paper coffee cup and said, “Here’s a demonstration so you can understand this once and for all. This cup will stand in for your toy car, since they weigh about the same. My Mustang will be playing herself in this reenactment. I’m driving along, minding my own business, but then your tire explodes and oh, look!” He threw the cup at the Ford’s fender, and it bounced off and rolled across the floor. “See that? That’s exactly what happened! Cause and effect. You hit me, you bounced off, and the stupid embankment on the side of the road acted like a ramp, so you went airborne and then you rolled. I’m sure that sucked, I’m sure it was scary as shit, but what it wasn’t was my fucking fault.”
“Thank you for that brilliant reenactment, and your point would have been made spectacularly, except for the fact that I was actually driving something made by Mazda and not by fucking Dixie.”
“Whatever. My car weighed twice as much as yours, so the result was the same.”
“Except that here’s what actually happened,” I said, marching over to the coffee cup. “You hit me, and my car did this.” I stomped on the cup and flattened it. “And yet, somehow, saying you’re sorry is just asking way the hell too much from you!”
Trigger’s voice rose again. “Fine. I’m sorry you hit me. I am, actually. It sucks that you got hurt, and that you wrecked your shitty toy car. But you were what caused all of that!”
“Fucking stop blaming me!”
“No, because you’re to blame!”
Trigger threw his hands in the air and yelled, “You refuse to see this from anything but your own misguided perspective!”
“So do you!”
“Get the fuck out of my shop. I’m so sick of you and your kind!”
“My kind!” I narrowed my eyes at him. “Don’t tell me you’re also a homophobe, as if just being a regular asshole wasn’t enough!”
“Well, how was I supposed to know that? It’s not like you’re wearing a sign around your neck.”
I said flatly, “No, just three beaded necklaces.”
He waved his hand dismissively and said, “That doesn’t mean anything.” Okay, he had a point there.
I asked, “So, if you didn’t mean gay people when you said ‘my kind’, what label were you trying to stick to me?”
“Spoiled brats who fix up their cars on mommy and daddy’s dime. Was your Civic a high school graduation present?”
I stared at him and said, “Dude, I’m twenty-four.”
“Oh, come on! There’s no way we’re the same age.”
“Are you ever right about anything? I mean anything at all?”
“It’s impossible that you’re twenty-four. You barely look old enough to shave!”
I rolled my eyes and pulled my driver’s license from my wallet, then went up to him and held it in front of his face. “Satisfied?”
Trigger grinned and said, “That’s the worst fake ID I’ve ever seen.”
“Based on what?”
“You called yourself Jessie James, and spelled Jessie with an i-e.”
“Granted, I’ve regretted that last name, and I’ll probably change it again, but the ID’s not fake.”
“What do you mean, change it again?”
“I legally changed my name a few years ago, because the one my parents gave me completely sucked.”
“What could possibly be worse than Jessie-with-an-i-e James?”
“None of your damn business,” I said as I shoved the license back in my wallet and returned it to my pocket. “Neither is this, but James was my middle name. That’s why I used it. It wasn’t because I have a great love of bank-robbing outlaws.”
He chuckled and said, “Wow, you’re kind of insane.”
“And you’re an asshole. Which is worse?”
“Oh, okay. I’m an asshole because I won’t buy in to your delusions and tell you what you want to hear.”
“No, you’re an asshole because you’re an asshole.”
Trigger knit his dark brows. “That’s enough name-calling for one night. Go home, Jessie James.”
“Sure,” I said, my stubbornness flaring, “just as soon as you apologize for ramming my car and making me crash last year and for running a dirty race tonight!”
His voice rose again, and so did the color in his cheeks. “It’s not unusual for cars to swerve at those speeds when they’re in the straight-away, and sometimes they bump into each other! If you can’t understand those basic facts, you have no business racing!”
“Oh no. Do not try to explain racing to me! I’ve been doing this most of my life! That’s how I know the difference between an unintentional drift and the crap you pull when you’re on the track!”
“You don’t know shit, and I told you to get out.”
“Not until you fucking apologize!” He grabbed my upper arm and started to tow me to the side door, and I yelled, “Let go of me!”
He went right on pulling me across the shop. “No matter what I say, you just won’t listen. You think you know everything! You think you know me, but you don’t have a fucking clue!”
“I said let go of me!” I tried to yank my arm from his grasp and hip-checked him fairly hard in the process. That threw him off balance, and he fell over and pulled me down with him. Trigger rolled over so he was straddling me, and I swore at him and almost slapped him as I flailed around and tried to free myself.
He caught my wrists and pinned them to the floor on either side of my head as he exclaimed, “Just calm down!” When I finally stopped struggling, we stared at each other for a long moment as I caught my breath and my heart raced.
Without warning, lust shot through me like a jolt from a defibrillator. When Trigger let go of my wrists, I grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him to me. In the next instant, we were kissing wildly. I rolled over so I was on top of him and devoured his mouth, and he ran his hands down my back and grabbed my ass. I had absolutely no explanation for what was happening. None at all. I went with it anyway.
Ahhhh I love those two! From that rough beginning, they went on to be the sweetest couple, and later a family.
Next up in the series is Take a Chance on Me. It's Quinn's story (who we met in the last book in the series, All I Ever Wanted). It should be out in late September/early October, exact release date TBA.
Thanks for reading!