Last Ride

Orca Book Publishers -

Amazon Barnes and Noble Indigo Indie Bound

Sixteen-year-old Tom Shields is struggling with guilt and a ghost. He killed his best friend, Logan, in a street-racing accident a year ago. As he tries to make amends to Logan’s girlfriend and keep his promise to never race again, Tom is haunted by his dead friend. He thinks Logan is trying to tell him something. Not only that, since he faces huge medical bills from the accident and may have to give up his car, the pressure to race is almost unbearable.

What People Are Saying

A page-turner with a surprise decision . . . highly recommended.
– CM Magazine

Quick and well-paced without losing the complexity of a solid story.
– Keen Readers

Langston piles on the narrative stresses with chapter-by-chapter efficiency. A satisfying ride.
– Booklist

There is much to this slim novel . . . enough to warrant even a second reading.
– Resource Links


I killed my best friend. Thirteen months and six days ago.

Not on purpose. It was an accident. Even the cops wrote it up that way. But if I hadn’t dared Logan to race he’d still be alive.

Sometimes I swear I see him. Out of the corner of my eye. Just a glimpse. Like he’s haunting me. Like he’s royally pissed.

That accident . . . I think about it every day. And most nights too.

I’m in Ray’s garage, flat-backing it under a 350Z and silently cursing because the hoist is taken, when I feel it. Breath on the side of my face.

I bolt up too fast and hit my head on the undercarriage.

“Whoa, man, I didn’t mean to spook you.” Ray’s beady squirrel eyes peer in at me. He’s a paunchy middle-aged guy in greased up coveralls with thinning hair and dirty mechanics hands. “Get your ass out from under there. I need you to do a test drive.”

My heart’s still racing as I wriggle out from under the 350Z, grab a rag from the floor and wipe my hands. Sweat trickles between my shoulder blades. I’m warm but I still shiver. I’m not sure if it’s the cold air blasting through the open garage door or the idea of the test drive. Maybe it’s a little of both.

Ray inclines his head to the car waiting outside the service bay. “I’ve installed a new turbo in that baby. She’s gonna fly.”

That means somebody somewhere is missing the turbo charger for his Lexus . . . or maybe his entire car.

Ray drops the keys into my palm. “Go on. Take it around the block.”

I stare at the black IS300 Lexus. Logan died in his dad’s brown one.

“Make sure you push it into the double digits.” Ray smirks. “You know you want to.”

Of course I want to. I haven’t broken 30 since the accident. I think about racing all the time. The adrenalin rush, the power, the blur of speed. Followed by the screech of tires and the explosion of metal.

This must be how an addict feels. Craving something they know is deadly.

I toss my rag in the bin and head for the door. “I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”

“Take at least half an hour. And don’t be a wimp. Remember what I said the other day. Use it or lose it.”

Ray’s trying to suck me back in. He wants me to race again. Ray’s a slime ball. And coming from me, that’s saying something. Because, in spite of what my mom believes, I’m a bad ass.

The leather seat crackles when I slide behind the wheel. Was it this cold when Logan slid behind the wheel of his dad’s Lexus thirteen months ago? I can’t remember.

But it’s cold in Kent now. I turn the key and the engine burbles to life. In fact, the whole Pacific Northwest is having record lows for November. We even had snow the other day. I flick on the heat, adjust the mirrors, turn on the wipers. When I pull out of the lot, the headlights sweep over my silver Acura. The one Ray and I just finished rebuilding. The one I’ll be paying for forever.

Ray’s garage is in a large ten-block industrial park on the edge of Kent. The surrounding buildings are dark; the streets are deserted. No surprise for 8:30 on a Thursday night. It’s the ideal time to put a car through its paces. I’m nervous at first, which is unusual for me behind the wheel. Driving is where I’m most at home. It’s the steel shell I need between me and the world.

After about five minutes of driving up and down the blocks, I relax. I let the engine creep to sixty, then seventy, then eighty. Buildings rush by. I’m one with the car, loving the feel of the wheel under my hands, the slick sound of the tires slapping the wet pavement.

Suddenly I feel it. The tiny prickle at the back of my neck that makes me think Logan is watching. My heart leaps. I take my foot off the gas, hit the brakes. I can’t do this again. Can’t. Do. This. Speed killed Logan. I killed Logan.

And I won’t ever let myself forget it.