Happy Monday, friends! The countdown is over and it’s release day for Start Your Engines!
How about a little teaser on this fine morning? This is from Chapter One, when Gabrielle and Brad meet for the first time after ten years.
Back in the present, adrenaline surged through Brad’s veins like it had on the trip down the ravine twenty years before. He forced himself to keep still on the elevator ride to the suite.
As they walked down the carpeted hall decorated with portraits of past Tampa Grand Prix champions, names of potential drivers popped into his head—Stewart, Mann, Graham—all accomplished young drivers who had excelled on the junior circuit and could, with his guidance, take the step to the next level.
“And here we are.” Barbara swiped a key card in front of a door handle. “Don’t forget your pledge.”
He followed her into the suite. His new driver rose from the couch and extended her hand to shake. Her combination of ice-blue eyes and copper skin were unforgettable. At some point over the years, she’d added some gentle curls to her jet-black hair. There were a few more curves to her figure, too. The years had been kind to Gabrielle. No doubt about that.
Brad stopped, unable to move, much less talk. He had a long history with this driver. As teens, they’d been friends, brought together by their mutual goal of reaching the top of the open wheel racing mountain. Shoot, she was one of the few friends he’d had, thanks to his reserved demeanor. His life changed in too many ways to count, both good and bad, after they met.
In fact, she was the one who spun Brad’s life around one hundred eighty degrees.
She was the one who’d taken away his dream of becoming a championship race-car driver. Since the day that dream died, thanks to her recklessness, his top priorities, both for his team and for himself, were safety and predictability. The more predictable a driver was, the safer it became for everyone on the track.
Those priorities had also kept Brad safe away from the job. He’d suffered enough heartache. This new driver would only add more.
Gabrielle Marquez glanced at her hand hanging in the air and slipped it into her back pocket. Judging by the frigid stare Brad was giving her, he wasn’t a believer in forgiving and forgetting.
“Hello, Brad. It’s good to see you again.”
“It’s been a long time.” His jaw clenched as he crossed his arms.
Barbara cleared her throat. “I’m going to make some drinks. Brad, why don’t you and Gabrielle take seats outside, and I’ll join you shortly?”
With trembling fingers, Gabrielle opened the sliding glass door and stepped from the cool air-conditioning into the Florida humidity. From the frying pan into the fire. She had to make this reunion with Brad work. The crash hadn’t been her fault. She’d cut a tire. It happened.
But a driver had still died.
And another’s career was cut short. Now, here she was, ten long years later, seated next to the man who, from the looks of things, still blamed her for his injuries and his best friend’s death. How was she supposed to rebuild a relationship with a man who’d turned his back on her when she tried to make amends? Well, she’d come too far to give up now.
“You look good.” Actually, he looked fantastic. His brown hair was cut short, which was a much better look than the shaggy style he’d sported when he was behind the wheel. He’d added some muscle to his frame and looked like he’d fit right in on a hockey team. It was quite the change from the rail-thin man of their youth.
God, they’d had such good times the two seasons they’d raced together as teens on the junior circuit. Brad had been so accepting and kind from the first time they met. Not all the drivers had treated her like he did. As an equal. As a friend. How could she not fall for him?
And then the crash happened. She pushed the frightening image from her mind. The life-changing nightmare happened ten years ago. Today it was all about focusing on the present, not dwelling on the past.
I hope that got your attention. Start Your Engines is available in your favorite ebook format. You can purchase your copy by going here. Thanks so much, and until next time, wishing you smooth roads and sunny skies!