Some secrets aren't ever forgotten...
Since the early days of NASCAR, the Murphy and Grosso families haven't been exactly friends. In fact, "bitter enemies" might be more accurate, with tales of deception, cheating and even suspected murder. But driver Kent Grosso--who's still hearing about his grandfather's decades-old grudge--has a few closeted skeletons of his own....
Professional photographer Tanya Wells thought she knew Kent pretty well, but it turns out Kent's been hiding a few details from her. To make matters worse, Kent's been getting anonymous e-mails from someone who's a little too familiar with the Grosso family history...and isn't above a little blackmail!
Now the past is coming up fast in Kent's rearview mirror. Question is, can he swerve in time to avoid a deadly collision?
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January 31, 2008
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Excerpt from In High Gear by Gina Wilkins
He had to be the luckiest man on earth, Kent Grosso mused as he straightened the knot in an expensive red silk tie he wore with a crisp white shirt and an immaculately tailored dark suit. He had the career of his dreams, his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship trophy, a wonderfully close and supportive family and an amazing girlfriend. Some people had suggested that Kent led a charmed life, and he was inclined to agree.
Stepping back, he gave a last cursory check to his appearance in the mirror on his dressing room wall. Brown hair neatly combed, face closely shaved, suit pressed and lint-free. He should pass muster at the party later that evening. There seemed to be a never-ending string of social events during the three months between race seasons. Especially now, just over a week before the new season began.
As defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Kent had a dizzying number of professional obligations lined up for the next weeks, but he wasn't complaining. This was what he'd worked for since he'd been little more than a toddler following in his father's footsteps. His only regret was that his dad hadn't yet won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Still a competitive driver at almost forty-nine, Dean Grosso had never finished a season number-one in points, though he'd come heartbreakingly close a time or two. This year's top finisher would be given the title of NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, and Dean was determined to win that honor.
Pushing his dad's racing history to the back of his mind, Kent walked to the dresser in his brown-and-black decorated bedroom and opened a top drawer. He pulled out a small royal blue velvet box and held it in his palm without opening it. He didn't have to see the diamond-and-platinum ring to visualize it; he'd studied it often enough, trying to decide exactly when to present it to Tanya.
He'd had his share of girlfriends during his thirty years, but this was the first time he'd actually considered asking someone to marry him. He'd never felt as strong about any of those women who had come before her. He'd never envisioned himself giving up his bachelor-hood for them, or raising a family with them, or growing old with them.
He pictured all of those things when he thought of Tanya Wells.
Slipping the ring box into the inner pocket of his jacket, he swallowed hard as he decided that tonight could be the night. He was getting tired of waiting for just the right moment. He wanted to see that diamond glittering on her left hand. He'd be the proudest man in the world to call her his wife, he thought with a smile that just might look sappy had anyone been around to see it.
He was ready too early. Restless, he paced through his townhouse apartment, too aware of the silence in the spacious rooms. Though many of the other drivers lived in spacious mansions, he'd kept his luxury apartment because he hadn't been home enough to make a house seem worth the effort just for himself. It would be different after he was married.
He and Tanya would have to start talking about a house once they were engaged, he thought. Maybe she'd like to have one designed and built to her specifications. Lakefront and golf-course homes were popular with the other drivers, though he'd always thought a mountain retreat would be nice for himself for those very few weekends he had free.
He still had fifteen minutes before he needed to leave, he noted with an impatient glance at his watch. To kill time, he sat at his computer and logged on to his e-mail account. Might as well check to see if there were any messages he needed to respond to before he headed out.
TANYA WAS BARELY READY in time for her date with Kent. She'd had a long day of meetings and paperwork, and an appointment with her hairdresser, who'd been running behind schedule that afternoon. She glanced at her watch as she slid her feet into fashionably uncomfortable heels. Five minutes to spare before he was due to pick her up. She congratulated herself even as she checked a full-length mirror to make sure she hadn't donned her black and silver pants outfit backward or anything in her haste to get dressed.
Heavens, she was tired. It had been a very long day, after a late night the evening before.
This was the third party she had attended with Kent since Christmas, including a big New Year's Eve bash.
She'd thought her socialite mother attended a lot of parties, but that was before Tanya had gotten involved with a NASCAR racing champion.
Funny, she thought, applying a finishing touch of silver-red lip gloss to her mouth. She hadn't known much about NASCAR before she'd met Kent, though her brothers had been casual fans for years. If she'd thought about it before, she would have assumed a driver's only responsibility was to sit behind the wheel of a race car and try to beat all the other drivers to the finish line each week. Now she knew how much more there was to the job, especially these days.