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Slingshot Moves Mass Market Paperback – April 29, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 2 ratings

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About the Author

 

 

Three times a finalist for RWA RITA; finalist and winner of RT Reader's Choice; Holt Medallion Award of Merit finalist and winner in 2000 Rising Star contest; semi-finalist Nicholl Screenwriting Award; author of 40+ novels + five works of non-fiction; website
www.booksbyanna.com; lives in Wisconsin and Florida.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

"Heidi, guess what?"

Heidi Kramer glanced up from escorting her last patient of the day—a Siamese cat—and its owner out the back door to the parking area and smiled. Steve Grosso—all six feet of him topped with a mop of sun-streaked hair and the bluest eyes this side of a clear summer sky—was standing in the middle of the waiting room of the Ridgemont Animal Clinic.

Heidi took note of the blooming cactus he was holding and grinned. "You've decided to take up gardening?" she joked as she came back toward the reception area, passing the examining room and collecting the chart for the Siamese from the door bin on her way. She made a couple of notes and went behind the front desk to refile the chart.

Steve leaned across the counter, placing the cactus on the desk in front of her. "Better," he hinted.

"You got accepted into the MBA program at the university?" she guessed, her eyes widening with pride. Steve had been talking about going back to school for his master's in business. His job as spotter for his cousin, Kent Grosso, the hottest driver in NASCAR, was more of a freelance position—not one designed to provide long-term financial security. He'd been thinking the higher degree would enhance his chances of getting a more secure job.

"Better," he said again. "Think you and me. Long-term."

"I give up." She laughed, seeing the excitement in his eyes. "Just tell me."

"I got a full-time position with Maximus Motorsports— salary, full benefits, even an office." Everyone in the area knew that Maximus Motorsports was one of the most successful organizations around at producing teams—and drivers—that topped the charts and created some of NASCAR's most recognized names, including that of Kent Grosso.

"Wow," Heidi said. "This is huge news." She put down her files and came around the desk to hug him. "It's terrific news." Her mind raced with the advantages this offered—for both of them. He'd be working right here in town. They could start seriously planning a future together, one they'd talked about off and on— mostly on—for months. "But wait, you love spotting races."

"I can still be a spotter. In fact that's part of the deal."

Heidi squealed with delight and tightened her hold on him. "This is amazing. This is fantastic. This is perfect," she said, punctuating each statement with a kiss. "Congratulations, honey. I am so proud of you."

Two years earlier, they'd met at a computer seminar at the local business college, gone for coffee after class and talked until the clerk in the coffeehouse started mopping the floor and turning out the lights. That night Steve had begun her induction into the world of stock car racing by explaining his role as a spotter.

"Spotters are positioned on the roof above the track with binoculars and a two-way radio to the driver and pit crew," he'd explained.

"Why?"

She'd never forgotten the shocked look on Steve's face. "Because…I've never been asked that before."

"I mean, you get in a car, you've got sideview and rearview mirrors," she'd said and Steve had laughed.

"You've never gotten up close and personal with a race car, have you?" Then he'd explained about the absence of mirrors and presence of safety features that significantly limited the driver's visual field. "The spotter's job is to guide the driver through anything that happens on the track—a crash, debris on the track, working his way through a pack of cars to the front."

"And you get paid for this?"

He'd grinned. "Not all that much. It's a freelance thing. I get paid by the race."

"So don't quit your day job, right?" she'd said.

Steve had shrugged. "I make enough to get by."

But once they began to dance around the idea of taking things to the next level, Steve had talked a lot about the need to get into something more secure. And now it had practically dropped into his lap. He reached over and retrieved the cactus in its hand-painted clay pot and placed one hand over his heart. "So will you please come to Phoenix," he sang. "You can fly on Kent's jet with me," Steve added, fudging the words to suit his purpose. He flashed the dimpled smile that in all the time they'd been together had never failed to send Heidi's heart into overdrive.

"Phoenix? What about the Talledega race this coming weekend?"

"Front-office job means front work for the team," Steve said, still grinning. He set the cactus on the counter and lifted her in a hug, swinging her around in the open reception area. "Oh, babe, do you know what this means?"

"You're on the payroll?" She returned his hug.

"Big-time," he assured her.

"But this is so out of nowhere—I mean, you didn't say anything about a position opening up."

"That's just it. It's a whole new position," he said, his blue eyes sparkling with excitement.

"Put me down and tell me what happened," she said, taking his hand and leading the way down the hall to her small office. She was well aware that she was buying time while she digested what this news might mean for the two of them. She was also aware that she was refusing to acknowledge niggling doubts that muttered "red flag" and "caution." A salaried position meant they could afford to talk seriously about a life together— marriage, a family. Wasn't that what they'd both been wanting?

"It was totally out of nowhere," he said happily as he shut the door and plopped onto the small sofa in the corner, pulling her down to sit next to him. "Okay. I get this call from Dawson to stop by the office." Dawson Ritter was the owner of Maximus Motorsports, and because Kent drove for Maximus, technically Dawson had always been Steve's boss as well as Kent's. "And when I arrive, Kent is there with Dawson, grinning at me like the cat that swallowed the canary, but saying nothing."

"You had no idea why they wanted to see you?"

"None. Dawson gets that look he has like the world's falling in around him and tells me he's concerned about how the season is going so far, especially for Kent."

"Well, yeah. Dawson wants Kent to repeat as champ."

"Exactly." Steve stood and started imitating Dawson's habit of pacing. "Then he says, 'Grosso?' I figured he was talking to Kent, but he was looking at me. 'Kent's got this idea that we need a go-between.'"

"Go between what?" Heidi asked.

"That's what I said," Steve replied, shaking his head. "Answer? He's created a new position—team liaison to coordinate things between the front office and the team."

"Wow," Heidi said.

"But that's just part of the position. Dawson wants someone to take on some of the advance work with Kent's public relations rep, Amy Barber."

"She works for Motor Media Group?"

"Yeah. Dawson wants his own person on-site getting things set up at various venues—races, public appearances, hobnobbing with sponsors—whatever. My role is to help Amy work out any problems before he and the team get there. And I'll get to continue as Kent's spotter."

"So he's sending you to Phoenix for how long? And what about Talledega?"

"I'm heading to Phoenix tomorrow. Kent's scheduled to do the keynote speech for the national meeting of sales reps for Vittle Farms." Vittle Farms, the national leader in the production of organic foods, was Kent's primary sponsor. Their corporate headquarters were located not five miles from Heidi's clinic. "From there Kent and I will go on to 'Bama."

Heidi couldn't help mentally counting the days that he would be away. "That's almost a week," she said softly.

Steve sat back down and took her hands. "Hey, I thought you'd be happy about this. This is what I've—we've—been hoping for. It's the kind of job—and financial security—we can build a future on."

"It's wonderful news," Heidi said, her enthusiasm sounding forced in spite of her best attempts to hide her doubts.

Steve frowned. "But?"

"It sounds like you'll be on the road a lot," she admitted.

"So, come with me," Steve said softly. "It's Phoenix."

Heidi was sorely tempted to chuck her responsibilities and surrender to Steve's plea. They both loved the desert. When they had been in Phoenix the previous November, she and Steve had hiked in the mountains and enjoyed the city with its fascinating mix of Old West and sophisticated contemporary culture. And there on a mountaintop less than a year after first meeting, they had declared their love for each other and started to entertain the idea of marriage and a family.

"I'll even go horseback riding," Steve joked, reminding her of the day they had rented horses in Phoenix. Heidi had been incredulous that this man who grew up around horses was not only nervous, he was terrified of sitting atop a live animal. Heidi, a seasoned rider, had still been laughing about that as they shared a picnic supper and watched the sunset from atop Saddleback Mountain. And then he had said the words she had been longing to hear.

He repeated them now. "Hey, I love you and I want us to build a life together. That life can start today."

"Say it again—that first part," Heidi said as she had that day on the mountain.

Steve leaned in to kiss her. "I love you," he whispered as he kissed the lobe of her ear. "Love you," he said as he trailed kisses along the curve of her neck. "Love you higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, forever and a day—"

She kissed him back—once, twice, a dozen times. She lost count.

"So is that a yes?" Steve said when they came up for air.

"It would be wonderful, but you know I can't come," she said, forcing herself back to the reality of her responsibilities. "Clare's out of town and somebody has to mind the office."

Dr. Clare Wilson owned the clinic. Heidi had worked for her for the two and a half years since she'd gotten her license in veterinary medicine. In addition to being her boss and former professor, Clare was also Heidi's mentor, the closest female friend she'd ever had.

"Maybe Clare should stop running around the country organizing protest marches and take care of her business," Steve said, getting up and moving to the other side of Heidi's desk.

Clare was a nationall...

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harlequin Nascar; Original edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0373217889
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0373217885
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 4.22 x 0.67 x 6.61 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 2 ratings

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I have been writing most of my life and my ‘day’ jobs have all contributed to the creative process: marketing and communications for two international corporations; teaching at the college level; and running a Mom-and-Pop adult daycare business with my husband. During those years I also published four books on eldercare as well as co-writing PARKINSON’S DISEASE FOR DUMMIES under my maiden name of Jo Horne.

Now retired and focused ONLY on writing, I split my time between Wisconsin and Florida. Having been raised in the hills of Appalachia in a town that is often not even a dot on the map, I went from being that small town country kid to being a big city adult — loving the noise and chaos and diversity of city life. But that small town girl is alive and well and has a tendency to show up in one character or another in my stories.

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* Anna's website at https://booksbyanna.com

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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 6, 2014