This is an unedited preview of The Trail Rules, book 2 in The Rules Series.
The Trail Rules
“Mike, you’ve got this!” Evan’s waiting at the bottom of the trail. I can’t actually see him, but I know he’s there because I watched him ease his mountain bike down the path barely wide enough to fit his body like he was strolling down the sidewalk in front of his house. I adjust my grip on the handlebars. My arms are too stiff—he’s told me that a hundred times—but you try to relax when you’re facing a twenty degree incline with nothing but a plastic helmet and a few scraps of spandex to break your fall. With one final squeeze I take a deep breath and let gravity carry me down the trail.
A girlish shriek pierces the air. I’d be embarrassed except I AM a girl—Mike is short for Mikalya—and I’m more worried about staying upright and not decapitating myself on a tree branch to worry about anything as silly as my pride.
My front tire winds its way down the path and I focus on staying upright. On staying on the path, where the trees are sort of cleared away. A rock catches my back tire and my center of gravity shifts, but I’m moving fast enough that it doesn’t topple me over.
Deep breath. You’ve got this.
The dirt on the next turn is mushy—Evan keeps telling me it’s called [loose dirt], but whatever—and I tighten my grip. The ground hardens as the path straightens, but the danger isn’t over yet. A root snakes into the clearing up ahead and if my wheel isn’t perfectly straight I’ll be up close and personal with that cypress in two seconds. I squeeze the brakes as the root nears and yank up on the handlebars like Evan taught me. The wheel hops over the root and a smile breaks over my face.
“Yes!” Evan shouts from the bottom of the trail. “You show that root who’s boss!”
A giggle escapes me but I don’t look up. Wiping out at the bottom is not an option. I guide the bike through the final turn and come to a shuddering stop next to Evan. My arms and legs are rubbery and I collapse against the handlebars.
“That was your best run yet.” Evan’s voice is close to my ear. I turn my head and startle for the millionth time at how bright his green eyes are and how beautifully they contrast with his dark skin. A smear of dirt of his cheek only makes him look better. He’s half a head taller than me and I fit perfectly into the space beneath his arm—when I’m not wearing a helmet.
I push a loose piece of hair out of my eyes and look up at Evan. “I don’t know how I let you talk me into this.”
“Because you can’t resist me.” His lips curl into a smile that lights up his eyes, but rather than kissing me like I deserve after tackling that hill, he tucks my hair under the strap of my helmet. “Ready to go again? We can fit a couple more sessions before it gets too dark.”
I glance up the trail and scowl at the root that almost jacked my run. Part of me wants to be done and relax on the tailgate of Evan’s SUV while the sun sets, but another part—a newer part that I’m still learning to appreciate—wants to get this right. “One more.”
“Two.” It’s neither question nor command. More like a challenge. Like he can sense the old Mike battling with this new girl who stands up for herself and doesn’t take crap from anyone.
Well, I’m still working on that part.
“One and a half?” I flutter my eyelashes at him and he closes his eyes in an attempt to resist my charms, a smile playing on his lips.
It doesn’t work.
His dark eyes open and lock onto mine. “One it is.”
I stand on tip-toes to press a quick kiss against his full lips, then fling my leg over my bike and give him a nod.