She has only one weakness . . .
Isabel Turner knows how perilous the professional racing world can be -- on and off the track. As a PR executive representing NASCAR's top drivers, she spent years proving her worth. Now, as she's about to take over her uncle's high-powered position at the firm, Isabel stands to lose her reputation, job and her uncle's respect -- just to have racer Cade Garrison in her bed once more.
There's no denying the combustible yet forbidden attraction between the two. Cade is more than tempted, but the last thing the bad boy of the Garrison family racing team needs is another scandal jeopardizing his career. Are they foolish enough to risk it all?
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October 31, 2007
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Excerpt from No Holding Back by Liz Allison
"CADE, JOHN HEPNER'S ON the phone!"
Involuntarily, Cade Garrison's hand jerked, causing his Sharpie marker to smear a jet-black line across the publicity photo he was autographing. Great. NASCAR's chief cop calling? "I haven't done anything," he called back to his sister.
Lately, anyway. "He didn't say you did. I think he wants to congratulate you on Saturday's win."
Wary, Cade capped the marker and walked across his office, where he was spending the afternoon autographing fan memorabilia. He peeked around the edge of the door, eyeing his sister, Rachel, at her desk as she typed on her PC. "You sure?"
"I think," she said, flicking him an annoyed glance.
"Mmm." He didn't think he could take seeing his name attached to a violation of NASCAR rule 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) or hear the "you need us a lot more than we need you" speech again. It had been rumored that a continuous betting pool circulated the racing body's offices in both Daytona Beach and Charlotte, with everyone plotting and profiting on the next time he'd face disciplinary action.
"Don't be such a chicken," Rachel said. "What can he do to you that he hasn't done already?"
"I'm not chicken." He'd marched back across the office and had picked up the phone before he realized she'd easily goaded him into answering. What had ever possessed him to hire his sister as his manager?
She's saved your butt a million times and still loves you.
Oh, yeah. There was that. "John, how are you?" he said into the phone with false cheer.
"I'm good, Cade. I just wanted to congratulate you on your big win Saturday."
Unaware until that moment that he'd been holding his breath, Cade dropped into a chair with a sigh of relief. "Thank you, sir. It was a team effort."
"And the press conference went well, I hear."
"You were there, sir?" Cade asked, his voice rising.
"No, but I heard."
Of course he had. A driver couldn't sneeze in the garage without somebody noticing it, and--if the driver was him, anyway--reporting it. He used to laugh off the scrutiny, but that was before his fall from grace. In the aftermath, he was all too aware of every move, gesture and comment he made. "My sponsor was pleased," he said neutrally. "And we all know how important that is, don't we?" Refusing to give in to the disappointment that flowed through him, he rolled his shoulder. He'd made a mistake. One he'd definitely paid for. "Yes, sir."
"Good luck at Nashville."
"Thank you, sir."
Almost immediately after he set the receiver in the cradle, and before he could wipe the bead of sweat rolling down his face, his sister called to him again. "Some woman named Mandy is on the phone!"
"Brunette. Five-seven, a curvy one-fifteen."
He darted to the doorway and glanced around the meticulously neat office. No curvy brunette. Other than his sister, anyway. "She's here or on the phone?"
"Then how do you know what she looks like? I don't even know who she is."
"Neither did I, so I asked."
"And she told you..."
"Brunette. Five-seven, a curvy one-fifteen." He searched his memory for Saturday at Dover. After his amazing win--his first in eighteen months--he'd slid out of his only slightly banged-up Go! Energy Drink Chevrolet, stood on the window frame and was showered with soda and Busch beer by his team. TV interviews, hug from Dad, hug from Rachel and crew chief, more beer, some of which might have reached his mouth. Press conferences one and two followed, then some champagne...
Back to his motor coach in the driver's compound. Remote control car racing? More champagne? The details were fuzzy for some reason.
He'd woken up with a headache on Sunday morn-ing--how had that happened? He'd bummed around his motor coach, gone to the garage, then watched the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race from the Budweiser suite. Everybody was full of congratulations, and with the beer company being the sponsor of the entire series he raced for, he'd had to toast them with a bottle of Busch beer. Or two. But surely he'd switched to ginger ale at some point.
"I'm drawing a blank," he said finally.
"Your brain's just having a hard time seeing through all the champagne bubbles." She paused, her fingers stilling on the keyboard. "Or maybe it's the suds."
"Cute. I talked to a lot of people this weekend, but a curvy brunette wasn't one of them. Though, there might have been a blonde...."
"I thought you'd sworn off women after that weird chick chased your golf cart through the infield at Charlotte."
He waved his hand. "That was last week, Rach." Still, with John Hepner sending spies to his press conferences, it might be wise to lay low the next couple of weeks. He needed to concentrate on building momentum from the win. No one ever said getting back into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series was going to be easy and without sacrifice. "I should probably pass on Mandy."
Rachel raised her eyebrows. "You think?" Ignoring her sarcasm, he scowled. "Why don't you try using the intercom instead of yelling every time I have a call?"
She grinned. "I like seeing you run to the doorway." "Well, I'm not doing it again." "Right." "And tell Mandy I'm busy." "Whatever you say, boss."
He was halfway across the room before he spun and darted back. He peeked around the door just as Rachel picked up the phone receiver. "But get her number just in case."
Satisfied he'd done his virtuous deed for the day, he lost interest in signing publicity photos. Who'd want them, anyway? (Other than Mandy and possibly that blonde who was pleasantly fuzzy in his memory.) He was the black sheep. The outcast to his perfect, three-generations-of-successful-andupstanding-racing family.
Somehow, no matter what he did, he was sure he'd never measure up to their successes. He'd sure never get the attention his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion older brother, Bryan, did. And he'd been retired for more than two years.
But then brilliant, responsible, stalwart Bryan had never punched out his primary sponsor's son on pit road, been severely punished by NASCAR--goodbye fifty championship points--lost his bid to make the Chase and the top ten in final championship point standings, lost his sponsor, nearly been fired by his father, then been given a gracious reprieve by driving the Garrison Racing NASCAR Busch Series car.