Look Don't Touch

By: Tess Oliver

"Morris, I just got the message—"

"And why the fuck is that? You are working with multi-million dollar investment deals, but you can't answer your goddamn phone?"

I knew Morris Grant well enough to know that it was easier to let him vent than to interrupt or step in to defend myself. Not that there was anything to defend.

"When I hired you, you were a solid, no-nonsense young man. I know your dad, and I know you had a very strict upbringing. I was young once and I understand the whole sowing the wild oats thing. But you're out of control. You need to step back and reflect on your lifestyle, Nash."

"Yes, sir," I said, and thought back to the million times I'd had to say the same damn phrase to my dad. I never called him Dad. Ever. He would not have allowed it. "Don't forget, I'm the one who lured Rad Video to MG Enterprises. I'll make this right. I'm going to call—"

"I've already stepped in to try and fix this huge mistake. You have one more shot at this. George Stockton is in the desert at the Palm Desert Motorcycle Raceway. Apparently, even tech nerds like to race motorcycles. He said you could meet him out there to finish up the details. He'll be out there until noon, so you'd better hurry."

The traffic was moving at ten miles per hour, and Palm Desert was at least a hundred miles east. "I'm heading there right now." I was finished with the imbeciles tiptoeing through the light rain. I pushed my foot down on the pedal and slalomed through the maze of brake lights.


There was more activity than I expected at the raceway, which was basically a massive oval track lined by short stacks of spectator stands in front of a trailer selling hot dogs and drinks. At least a dozen multi-colored easy-ups dotted the grounds. Trucks and trailers of every shape and size were parked near the shade tents. Three riders were geared up and hauling ass around the track while others stood by watching and timing them. These weren't the big bikes, the chrome monsters that roared easily past two hundred, but the riders were racing at a respectable speed on their modified, tamer versions of the professional bikes.

I headed toward the shiny black trailer with the lime green stripe. They were the same colors as the Rad Video logo. Rather than scold myself and reflect, as Grant had suggested, I'd spent the long drive working on my sales pitch. I wasn't going to leave the raceway without the deal sealed. I'd fucked up, but I was damn good at smoothing out rough spots.

I reached the bright green easy-up in front of the trailer. A guy a few years younger than me, early twenties, with dyed black hair and snake tattoos running up both forearms, had his focus glued on his phone. Even under the goth hairstyle, I could see a resemblance to George Stockton, my main contact for Rad Video. It seemed I was looking at junior.

"Excuse me," I asked, finally drawing his attention away from the phone, "is George around?"

He pointed out to the track just as three riders raced past. One of the riders was wearing the Rad Video logo on the back of his helmet.

He blinked up at me. "Judging by that suit and tie, you must be that investor dude?" He turned his attention back to his phone.

"Yep, I'm the investor dude."

"They just started warming up, so he'll be out there for ten to thirty minutes." The snake on his right arm wriggled its tongue as the guy's thumb swiped across the screen.

"Ten to thirty? Great. I'll just follow the scent of those hot dogs. I'm sure they are awesome."

"Wouldn't know," he muttered. "I don't eat animal flesh."

I nodded. "Probably should have guessed that." I headed back to the trailer where the smoky aroma of charred animal flesh billowed out from the two serving windows. A splintered and scarred wooden picnic table was proudly wearing three hot women on its wobbly, half-rotted bench. One of the women, a blonde whose hair was shaved off on one side, was licking the mustard off her finger, a gesture that grabbed my attention for a moment. The other two women were sipping blue ice Slurpees. All three women turned back to give me a bold and greatly appreciated head to toe survey before returning to their drinks.

A tall woman with wide, bony shoulders leaned down into the open window to take my order.

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