Secret Sacrifices [Douglas Family Series Book 2]
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by Jannifer Hoffman
Description: Driver Jamie LeCorre, competing in the male dominated Stock Car Racing field, needs a tape that will exonerate her from a deadly crash. Weary of dealing with domineering, chauvinistic males, she is suddenly attracted to just such a man. A man who can get her tape. Quint Douglas has sworn off high profile, overly intelligent women. He discovers the blond bimbo of his dreams trying to change a flat on a pink BMW. Offering help, he uses a bit too much attitude and is shot down. Yet, Quint still tries to win her over in spite of his deep-seated fear of speed. Together they enter the tight knit Stock Car Racing world to investigate an old murder, a new body, and a highway collision-all tied together with too many suspects. Quint tries to keep Jamie from being the next victim even as she races around the track at 180 miles an hour, pursued by those who would like to see her eliminated, in more ways than one
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: December 2008
17 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [470 KB]
Reading time: 287-402 min.
Keeping a wary eye on her rear view mirror, Jamie eased off on the accelerator, hoping the flashing red lights would pass her by. The merciless patrol car stuck to her bumper like a pain-in-the butt hemorrhoid, and when the siren howled she muttered a curse and pulled over. Jamie's fingers did an impatient tap dance on the steering wheel as the officer got out of his car and ambled toward her, his no-nonsense expression anything but cozy. When she pushed the lever to slide her window open, the sweet scent of fresh mown hay awakened her senses. At any other time she'd have paused to take pleasure in the earthy country smell.
"Good afternoon, ma'am, I'm Officer Gentry." His voice wasn't too cozy either as he eyed her bright pink BMW like a pretty bug that needed squashing. "Do you know how fast you were going, young lady?"
"Yeah. A hundred and ten--just give me my ticket and let me be on my way."
Officer Gentry's bushy brows rose. "Would you remove your sunglasses, please."
She glared up at his reflective glasses. "I will if you will."
His brows went up another notch. "Fair enough." He took off his glasses, and tucked them into his breast pocket.
His compliance surprised her, but didn't lighten her sour mood. She took off her Stussys and flipped them onto the padded dash.
The officer leaned down to allow his gaze to sweep the inside of her car, from the suitcase in the back seat, to the plastic covered medieval costume hanging over the far window, to the crutches and oversized purse laying on the seat beside her.
With a quick glance at her bandaged left knee, he straightened back up. "Actually, you were only going ninety-five."
"Whatever. The sooner you write my ticket, the sooner you'll be rid of me."
He gave her a curious frown. "Lady, if you have an ax to grind, the Wisconsin Interstate is not the place to do it."
Jamie looked away and stared through the windshield into the low hanging August sun. At the most it had forty-five minutes of life remaining, and she was already two hours late. This stop was just another bad card in the miserable deck of her life.
"May I see your license please?"
Jamie reached into her purse, dug out her license and handed it to him.
Officer Gentry grunted, took a few steps toward his patrol car, stopped, and came back. For an uncomfortable moment he studied her face and short-cropped, blond curls. Then he looked straight into her amber eyes.
"You're Jamie LeCorre, the NASCAR driver."
"And I suppose you're a dedicated fan," Jamie shot back.
Gentry glanced at her bandaged knee. "As a matter of fact I am. I happen to be one of the few people who think you got a bum rap being blamed for that pileup in Indianapolis. I've watched you drive for the last eighteen months--you've placed in the top ten in all but thirteen races. No way you'd make a mistake like that in the last lap. I, for one, believe you would have won that race."
Jamie looked up at Gentry with an appreciative shrug. She was impressed he knew her statistics. "Thanks for the vote, but as you said, you're in the minority. Unless I can prove it wasn't my fault, the association will expect an apology." Jamie stared back into the sun. Her hands gripped the steering wheel, her jaw clenching. "They're not going to get it."
Gentry grinned. "Good for you. Hang tough. Tell those good old boys to stuff it."
That forced a laugh from Jamie. "I guess I could use a few more fans like you. Sorry for coming off like such a smart ass."
Gentry handed back her license. "No problem. It sounds to me like you're into a little male-bashing right now, and maybe you're entitled, but try to keep your aggressions on the speedways and off the freeways. Trust me--Wisconsin is not the state you want to be caught speeding in."
Jamie tucked her license away, giving him a genuine smile. "Thanks for the warning. I guess I'd better hold it down for another sixty miles until I get to the Minnesota border.''
Gentry's grin broadened into a belly laugh. "Heck no, don't be giving them any money. Where you headed anyway?"
"Sunset Bay, a small town in rural Minnesota. I'm singing in a wedding for my college roommate. The ceremony is tomorrow, and I was supposed to be there for a five o'clock rehearsal."
Gentry glanced at his watch. "It's past seven. I'd say you're going to be a little late. Pretty tough to make up that kind of time by speeding."
"That's not why I was--" She really didn't want to admit that she was speeding because she was bitter at the world. "I called her earlier, and I already have my costume, so I didn't need to be there."
"Costume? Sounds like an interesting wedding."
Jamie laughed. "Very interesting. All of the wedding party and most of the guests will be wearing Renaissance attire. Nicole, the bride, is a costume designer."
Gentry whistled through his teeth. "Sounds like men in tights. Her future hubby must be one brave man."
"I haven't met him yet, but according to her, he's a regular knight in shining armor so he should feel right at home in tights."
Laughing heartily, Gentry gave her a two-finger salute. "You take care now, and keep your wings tucked in." For a brief moment he gave her a hesitant look. "Sorry about your brother," he said. "I was one of T-Roy's fans too."
For three miles, Jamie managed to concentrate on the rolling green hills dotted with dairy cows, and avoid thinking about T-Roy. A year and a half and the memories still hurt. T-Roy had been the light of her existence, her beacon. One slip, one mistake, and his life was snuffed out forever.
She was left with an abrasive father who'd virtually ignored her from the time she was dumped on his doorstep after her mother's death.
It wasn't Jamie's fault Katherine deserted Buster LeCorre and four-year-old T-Roy, without telling Buster she was pregnant. At five years old, Jamie not only had to deal with her mother's death, but with a father who flew into a rage anytime Katherine's name was mentioned.
Jamie recalled vividly the day Buster came home with the results of the paternity tests he had done on both her and T-Roy. They must have proven she was his daughter because, though he swore so loud the windows rattled, he kept her with him. Unfortunately, all his love and dreams were reserved for T-Roy, leaving Jamie to feel like excess baggage. If T-Roy had not taken her under his wing, loving her and caring for her, protecting her from her father's lack of sensitivity, she didn't know how she would have survived.
They grew up in the NASCAR pits where their father graduated to crew chief. It was a dream come true for Buster LeCorre when T-Roy joined the racing crew. Those dreams were shattered when Thomas Leroy LeCorre was killed on a qualifying run at Bristol after four years on the track. He had never won a race.
Jamie was suddenly, against her father's wishes, shoved into a car and told to race, while her brother lay dying in the hospital. Up to that point Buster LeCorre had ignored her while she secured a license, driving under T-Roy's tutelage in the Busch races. Since she went in as a substitute driver, she had to start in the twenty-sixth position. She surprised herself by finishing eighth. At the end of the four-hour race, T-Roy was dead, the crew chief detested her, and their sponsor threatened to drop them if Jamie didn't continue to drive.
Pink Mink International, the sponsor, published notorious men's magazines, sold risqué outfits for women, and were reportedly involved in a number of other illicit activities that kept them regular visitors in court. They insisted on supplying her with a BMW in the Pink Mink signature color, along with a full line of outrageous clothing and magnetic decals to display on her car. Jamie flatly refused to be seen in public wearing anything they made, and the decals found a permanent home in her trunk.