Finally . . . a man who doesn't care who her family is
NASCAR photographer Annie Jenner is used to men falling over themselves to get close to her -- and her legendary racing family. But not Jared MacNeil. The picture-perfect tycoon and NASCAR sponsor loves Annie for herself. So why can't she quite believe it?
Maybe because Annie's twin brother is Jared's team's rival. And now with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup on the line, her outraged sibling is saying anything to sabotage Annie's fledging relationship with Jared.
Jared knows he can't help who he's fallen in love with, and he wants to trust Annie. But when team rivalry turns ugly, will she really turn her back on the Jenner legacy?
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Legends And Lies by Katherine Garbera
Annie Jenner tried not to think about where she was or how long it had been since she'd been here. Daytona. Since she was a little girl it had been the start of the year for her family. Everyone else celebrated the New Year in January but for NASCAR racing fans it really started in Daytona in February.
The daughter of legendary driver Brandon Jenner and the sister of up-and-coming driver Dave Jenner, she knew the tracks better than she knew the towns that surrounded them. She'd grown up in this world and after three long years away when she'd followed her faithless husband through Europe, she was glad to be home.
She'd made a name for herself as a professional sports photographer. Her reputation had netted her a permanent job with Sports Illustrated but she'd taken a leave of absence to chronicle her brother this year for a book that the NASCAR publishing division was doing--The Jenner Legend--as well as any extra photos of NASCAR wanted. She was flattered that they asked her to take the pictures of her brother and his team.
The flag dropped. The race was on. Annie stared through the lens of her Nikon watching for the stock cars to come speeding by. She took pictures quickly, not thinking too much about the shots, confident that she knew how to get the best angle with the cars traveling at speeds of 180 miles an hour.
Suddenly, she heard a roar from the crowd. People were shouting. It was then she became aware that they were responding to a crash. She had been so busy shooting, she wasn't focusing on the reality of the action.
The crash reverberated around turn four. Shooting the event through the lens of her Nikon Annie didn't notice the car numbers at first. She was focused on the watched the cars spin sideways, bouncing off one another. Annie captured it all in a stop motion, her shutter clicking and her finger moving minutely.
When the cars stopped and the ones behind them had all maneuvered through the wreckage, she lifted her head and finally the number sank in. Number 153. Dave's car. Her brother had been involved in the crash.
Annie couldn't breathe as she waited for the medics to arrive. She'd always believed even as a little girl that nothing bad could happen to the men she loved while she watched them on the track. She felt that there would be some kind of warning signal, something deep in her gut that would let her know if her twin brother was mortally wounded.
Her hands were trembling as she dropped her camera and let the strap around her neck hold it up. Her eyes burned and she shook her head, determined not to cry. It was crisp and cool on this February Sunday. Though the sun was warm a chill moved over her.
She refused to take her eyes off his car, as if her watching him would make everything okay. The entire race track had gone quiet. Everything was blurring and she struggled to remember to breathe.
The ambulance arrived. Voices of the paramedics and firemen carried on the wind. The smell of oil and burning rubber filled the air.
There was no fire, but the firefighters all stood there just the same, ready for anything that might happen.
What was with all this waiting? It felt as if time had slowed and each second was an hour. Her breath froze in her lungs until she saw the medics arrive at his car. Dave lifted his arms and she was close enough to the track to hear his voice. It was raised and he was cursing--but using words that wouldn't get him fined.
She felt faint as relief starting flowing through her. Dave was alive and that's what mattered. She swayed a little and couldn't catch her breath. It sawed in and out as if she was having an asthma attack, except she knew she didn't have asthma.
Oh, God, she was hyperventilating.
She felt a strong hand grip her shoulder, pushing her head down toward her knees.
"Breathe," the voice said.
She did as he directed and stayed there for a minute before standing up. She glanced over her shoulder into eyes that were darker than midnight. He had thick lashes and a strong face. Not really classically handsome. Not like her ex-husband's, but this face was memorable.
Annie shook her head to clear it. "Thanks." "No problem. You know the driver?" "Dave's my brother." She really looked at the man and realized he was dressed in a pair of casual slacks that easily cost more than her entire outfit--she just wasn't a clotheshorse. He had on hand-sewn Italian leather shoes and a thick fleece jacket with the collar turned up. There was a discretely embroidered logo on the pocket--JM's Coffee House.
Immediately she knew who he was. Jared MacNeil--founder and owner of JM's Coffee House, a national coffee chain, as well as owner of the Number 186 car driven by Tucker Aldridge. She'd seen him, Jared, on one of the sports channels. He was intelligent and well-spoken when she'd seen him on television, but right now none of that really mattered