Some relationships need expert handling! NASCAR spotter Steve Grosso and veterinarian Heidi Kramer are...well, perfect together. But Heidi wants something she can't have with Steve--stability. Joining Steve on the NASCAR circuit will mean abandoning her career and the chance to open her own clinic. So Heidi faces a decision with no easy answers....But Steve makes his living by seeing spaces and maneuvering room where others see none. If he works with his family--who have been part of the NASCAR lifestyle for generations--maybe he can convince Heidi that home isn't one static place on the map. Because sometimes the only way to get ahead is to gamble--and risk everything for that one perfect opportunity....
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April 30, 2008
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Excerpt from Slingshot Moves by Anna Schmidt
"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.
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.