Full Throttle

Full Throttle by Wendy Etherington

Book: Full Throttle by Wendy Etherington Read Free Book Online
Authors: Wendy Etherington
distance over the past week and a half. They’d managed to work amicably. The Chase was within reach. Teamwork. Success. Peace.
    He hadn’t mentioned them again. He hadn’t flirted with her, touched her or really looked at her. It was what she’d wanted and needed. It was what the team needed even more, though it was clear nobody but James had a clue how fortunate they all were.
    Is he dating the blonde? Is he, even now, flirting with her, touching her?
    The very idea made her blood boil hotter than brake fluid at Richmond. And how ridiculous was that?
    â€œSomething going on with you and Kane?” her father asked, jerking her from her thoughts.
    â€œGoing on?” she echoed stupidly.
    Still tinkering under the hood, he said, “You act different.”
    â€œI do?”
    â€œYou’ve been tense. Jumpy.”
    Could she really fool her father? The man was more astute than Donald Trump in the middle of a real estate negotiation. “Nope. Not tense at all.”
    â€œYes, you are.”
    â€œI’m ready for Richmond. I’m pumped and excited about The Chase.”
    â€œYou’re only tense when Kane is around.”
    â€œAm I?”
    â€œYes.”
    â€œCan’t imagine why.”
    Her father straightened. He glanced around the race shop full of crew members—who were, thankfully, busy elsewhere—before directing his sharp, hazel gaze at hers. “I saw you through puberty, Lexie. Plus the first round with that boy. Now’s not the time for round two.”
    Realizing there was no point in pretense, she sighed. “It’s more complicated this time.”
    â€œYou bet it is. Before, you guys were kids, goofing around, having fun winning races. You, outsmarting the other crew chiefs. Him, outdriving the field. James, drumming up a thousands bucks from the local Dairy Queen to buy equipment for the next race.
    â€œ This is different. The fans document every race-day call on their Web sites. The media discusses Kane’s driving style, his mood and his image. Sonomic Oil gave Hollister Racing fifteen million dollars to sponsor this car. We can’t make a mistake. You heard Bob yesterday. We have to make the top ten.”
    Her heart heavy, she nodded. “Yes, sir, I know.”
    She’d known all this before, of course. But having her dad lay it out so plainly was a painful reminder that her life wasn’t just her own.
    â€œLet’s go outside,” her father said, cupping his hand beneath her elbow, setting his wrench aside on the way.
    They stopped on the octagonal-shaped wooden deck in back of the race shop where they sometimes had company picnics. Even though it was September, the air was still thick with summer humidity, the heat hanging on like a bad headache. She tried to envision the grass and the trees crystallized and frozen, as they would be when the season was over; when the championship trophy had been presented and the teams were anticipating the arrival of the holidays instead of another weekend on the road.
    But she couldn’t see anything beyond Saturday night. Make-or-break time. The knot in her stomach tightened.
    â€œI know the pressure I put on you,” her father said, leaning back against the deck railing. “I know how hard—how close to impossible—it is to have a personal life in this business. The pressure of winning and losing, the endless weeks on the road, the constant changes in rules, R&D advancements and team members all take their toll. Our jobs are all-consuming, and nobody outside our business can possibly relate.”
    â€œYou and Mom did it.”
    â€œWe were able to race as a family.”
    She crossed her arms over her chest. “It’s lousy, you know. I can’t date a colleague, but nobody who isn’t a colleague will understand what I do.”
    â€œHow about a nice accountant?”
    She laughed. “You’re reading my mind. Should I go for

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