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by Christy Poff
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
Description: Derrick Manville feels the need for speed and races anything with a motor--his dream has always been the Indy 500. Shelby Howard became owner of her husband's race team after his on-track death but has had to fight for everything she's gotten. Now, someone wants to take it all away from her. Can Derrick help her hold onto her financial empire while winning Sunday money?
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: September 2009
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [257 KB]
Reading time: 156-219 min.
"Christy Poff's latest release SUNDAY MONEY will definitely get your engines revving and jumpstart your libido. Rick has a special zest for life that shows in the way he embraces every opportunity. Shelby's spent so long playing down her womanhood and concentrating on running her business that admitting to her needs is difficult. They make an ideal couple and their pleasures and businesses seem to blend effortlessly. Ms. Poff blends romance, suspense and the excitement of Indy class racing into one novel that holds your attention. What I really appreciate about this story is how the author takes such care in 'humanizing' the characters and demonstrating their strengths, fears and desires. SUNDAY MONEY is a wonderful story and gives me a new appreciation for the fine sport of race car driving--something I've been sadly lacking in recent years."_ from Chrissy at Romance Junkies--5 Ribbons!
At the Sun Coast Marina, several men worked on a fifty-three-foot racing yacht. When practicing for the upcoming race to Bimini, a piece of debris put a small hole into the ship's hull. While not major damage to most ships, it could present problems during a race, considering the high speeds they'd be attaining on the course through rough waters.
"We've got the time, so I want the job done right."
"Aye, aye, Captain."
Laughter filled the workshop where the yacht sat on a frame so they could work on her out of water. They'd been working on the damage for a short while after they did some preventative maintenance on the engine, needing everything to be one hundred percent or the owner of the yacht wouldn't be happy. The damage had put him in a foul mood until he found out the extent of it.
Sketching some quick ideas, he showed them to his crew, all agreeing the idea would legally work to give them a little more speed cutting through the water. Designing the piece which would fix where the repair needed to be made took no time at all. Installing it became a different story.
After spending the better part of the morning working on the repair, the crew went to other jobs in order to prepare for the upcoming race leaving their captain to put the finishing touches on the hull.
"I think you've got a visitor." * * * *
Shelby Holland found out how high the temperatures had soared and dressed accordingly. One thing she'd learned a long time ago--no stockings in south Florida at any time of the year. Choosing an off-the-shoulder peasant-styled blouse, she enjoyed the loose but flattering fit. Fire engine red, it contrasted with the white miniskirt and white stilettos. Liking what she saw in the mirror, she grabbed her handbag and left the plane.
A white Lincoln Town Car waited for her near where Tony had eased the Gulfstream, Shelby smiling. If only he knew how valuable he is...
Getting directions to the Sun Coast Marina, she drove from the private runway at Miami International heading east. Fortunately, not much had changed since her last visit when Carroll had raced in the Miami Grand Prix. Memories flooded back but she forced them out of her mind. Business came first.
Half an hour later, she parked the car near one of the shops, took a deep breath and, after putting her handbag under the seat, she got out and locked it. She went into the building, amazed at the highly polished floors and movie star look. What the hell am I doing here?
Remembering the biography she'd read along with the list of awards and certifications, she realized she more than likely would be wrong in her snap judgment of the man Ray Keenan had sent her to.
Taking a quick glance around the shop, she noticed three men eying her suspiciously while another's feet peeked out from beneath a frame holding a large boat.
"Hello?" she said, hoping the one word didn't reflect her nervousness.
"Rick," one of the guys called.
"Yo," a voice answered, obviously coming from under the boat.
"I think you have a visitor." * * * *
Rick heard a very feminine voice coming from somewhere above him. Underneath the keel of his racing yacht, he peered out to see a gorgeous set of long legs standing near his feet.
"Can I help you?" he asked, unable to get enough of the amazing view.
"I'm looking for Derrick Manville."
Derrick--Rick to his crew for simplicity's sake when they raced--slid out from underneath the yacht still lying on his creeper. His eyes followed the length of her magnificently long legs to the hem of the short white skirt--one hugging her hips and upper legs showing off an absolutely amazing body below the waist. He noticed how the soft fabric of her red blouse clung to her curves thanks to the ever-present humidity. Wow!
He sat up, finally noticing the blonde-haired beauty he could see more clearly now. Yes, you are ... His mind raced with thoughts of what he wished he could do to and with her. To have those legs wrapped around me ... His cock fought for the momentary freedom it would have before it found itself embedded in her beautiful body. Calm down, man.
"What can I do for you?" he asked after taking a deep breath which did not help at all. I need some cold water.
"I need your help."
A gorgeous damsel in distress...
Easily standing up and hoping she didn't see his reaction to her merely standing inches away from him, he wiped his hand off, extending it to her. She took it, both jolting away from each other. What the hell ... Quickly recovering--or so he hoped--he said one word.
Derrick noticed her reaction--she'd felt it, too. He watched her trying to mask her emotions, albeit very unsuccessful in her attempts. Inwardly, he smiled.
"I've been told you're very good at what you do."
"Depends," he said honestly. "What..."
"Early yesterday morning," she began, then going into detail about everything she knew.
"And you have proof of the sabotage?"
"Ray said his man saw it. I trust Ray and he trusts his men."
"If someone did tamper with the fire extinguishing system, you've got a saboteur who'll do it again--whether for his own pleasure or someone else's. Who do you suspect?"
"I hadn't really considered that. It's honestly been happening too fast to sit down and concentrate on corporate enemies."
"Take a few minutes and think while I go get cleaned up. Josh will show you to the lounge where you'll be more comfortable."
"Thank you," she said.
"Josh, take Mrs. Holland to the lounge."
"Sure, Rick," Josh said. "Mrs. Holland--this way, please..."
Derrick watched her follow Josh to the lounge before he went into the office area where he took a quick shower and changed into a light yellow polo and khakis. Sliding his feet into Docksiders, he combed his hair then spent a few moments trying to make sure he had some control over his body.
Picking up the phone, he quickly dialed a number and waited.
"Stella, my love, how are you?"
"Fine, Rick," Stella Conrad said. "How's the race going?"
"We took some damage to the keel but it's fixable. I'm going to try something to see if she'll cut through the water faster."
"Legal, I hope?" she asked with a hint of amusement in her voice.
"Of course," he answered with mock indignation.
"Whatcha need, boss?"
"I need complete files on Shelby Holland, Holland International, Holland Transport and anything on the current explosive event at the Columbia, South Carolina hub."
"Okay, when do you need this?"
"Yesterday," he answered. "She's in the lounge waiting for me. She flew down here to personally ask for my help in this."
"If I remember right, she's Carroll Holland's widow."
"Then add him to the list. I need to know everything."
"You got it. I'll fax what I can and overnight the rest."
"Good," he said. "I'll let you know if I'm on the move though I expect to remain here until after the race."
"I'll do what I can."
Derrick Manville hung up, grinning. When it came to secretary/personal assistants, Stella Conrad rated number one. Where would I be without her?
Taking a deep breath, he left the office and crossed the workshop to where the lounge had been set up. Nothing major, it boasted several leather couches, a table with some chairs and a small kitchenette. Seeing Shelby's blonde hair made his body react again, Derrick cursing to himself. What the hell is it about her?
"Why don't we go get something to eat? You can tell me more about you and..."
"Are you going to take this job or not?" she asked impatiently.
"Look, I need certain information before I can get started. You may have told me everything you think I need to know but I can guarantee you've missed something that could be vital to this operation."
"You'll have to excuse me if I seem impatient but I'm seeing a huge mess ahead of me--one rumored to be the work of a saboteur. I'm sure you can understand my position."
"And that's what your enemy wants. The more he has you off-kilter, the easier it will be for you to make mistakes which will give him the upper hand if not the opening he's looking for in order to take your businesses away from you."
Derrick watched her emotions, ones she desperately wanted and maybe needed to hide from him. He saw a woman who'd spent her life or at least the last few years of it, putting up a strong front so she could keep her husband's company from being taken over by the sharks. If only you'd realize I'm not the enemy...
He could see her trying to figure out what she should do. Obviously, she wanted to run but refused to allow anyone to see any vulnerability. Thoughts of what he'd like to open her up to threatened to overtake him, Derrick pushing them to the side to concentrate on the gorgeous woman who came to ask for his help--my damsel in distress.
"Maybe, I've made a mistake coming here. I should have stayed..."
"The worst thing you can do right now is second-guess any of your actions. Coming here shows you trust your management to handle things for you while you meet with someone who can help you deal with it."
"Somehow, I know you're right but it's so damned overwhelming."
"And I will do everything I can to assist you with this but, in order to be successful, you have to be smart."
"Tell me what you want to know." * * * *
Shelby accepted the cold iced tea Josh offered her, grateful for the relief. Her mouth dry, nerves took over. Why now? She hated this one part of her personality because she wanted to project confidence, especially in the male-dominated world of business. Knowing her competition wanted to see her fail angered her and drove her to want to succeed in their world more. Things like Columbia made it hard and now, she found herself doing exactly what they wanted--she turned to a man for help though Derrick Manville struck her as being different. Can I trust him? Unfortunately, I have to--for now...
Waiting for him to get cleaned up, she slowly drank her iced tea and looked at the framed pictures hanging on the wall around the lounge. Derrick Manville seemed to excel at everything he did. I wonder about the bedroom ... Catching herself reddening, the heat in her cheeks feeling oddly good, Shelby tried to regain her composure. Get a grip, girl. Besides, you didn't come here for sex...
She heard footsteps crossing the floor of the workshop and looked up to see Manville walking toward her. Heat coursed through her giving her a firsthand experience with the warm and fuzzies. What is it about this guy?
"Why don't we go get something to eat? You can tell me more about you and..."
"Are you going to take this job or not?" she asked impatiently, knowing she said the wrong thing.
While Derrick read her the well-deserved riot act, she listened to him absently, busy studying the man standing in front of her. Remembering his bio, she wondered why a man with a Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering raced boats and played the field.
Shelby gazed at him, realizing he knew what he talked about. To go running back like a crying child would undermine everything she'd worked for while damaging any kind of business relationship she had with the men her husband had trusted--the same men she did now.
Relenting, she agreed to dinner and surprisingly enough, she enjoyed being with Manville. They shared a table overlooking the ocean and talked for hours. Near eleven, he checked his watch.
"We'd better be getting back. I've got an early call in the morning for time trials before the race."
"Damn, I didn't think about tonight. I figured I'd be back in Columbia."
"Here, take my keys and stay at my place. I'll spend the night at the shop so I can get some last-minute things done on the boat to make it seaworthy."
"I insist," he said as he slid the keys across the table to her, their fingers lightly touching. Again, the charge between them caused her to quickly pull back. Derrick noticed but didn't say anything. "I'll drop you off then pick you up on my way to the marina."
"I had hoped you'd come cheer me on."
"I don't have anything to wear to..."
"There's a shop open all night long around the corner, if you'd like to..."
"I don't think so," she said. "I can't be enjoying some frivolous race while I have a disaster to contend with. I'm sorry to have taken up your time."
"You're running away, aren't you?"
"What?" she asked.
"You're running away rather than facing what might be happening between us. I know you've felt it but you're so determined to keep up appearances as the hard businesswoman, you've forgotten how to have fun and to take a man's generosity as honest and not with some underlying motive."
"I think you've overstepped here," she stated, her face flushed though Derrick couldn't be sure whether anger or true feelings caused it.
"Maybe I have but I can tell you this--you run and you'll never know. Plus, you'll be walking out on the one person who can help you."
"Arrogant as well, I see," she said.
"Could be but Ray Keenan wouldn't have sent you to me if he didn't think I could handle the job. Obviously, he suspects the worst and my reputation does speak for itself--I will find out what's going on and you will retain ownership and control of your company."
"I've read your file and I have to say, I'm impressed but from where I sit right now, I see someone who cares more about his silly race than getting anything done. Excuse my apprehension..."
"Noted save one thing--while we have been sitting here enjoying a wonderful dinner, I've had my people getting me more information so I know what the hell I'm getting into. I cannot just walk into the site of the explosion and act like I should be there. I might not go there at all though I will have what information I need and only because I don't want to tip your hand. The last thing you need is for whoever is behind this to know of my involvement. As to my frivolous race, I've had several college interns working on that boat to finish their Master's Programs. The money won from the race will go straight to my alma mater for their engineering school so, no, lady, it's not frivolous and I resent you implying as much."
"I think this meeting is over. I'm..."
"The offer for my place is still on the table."
"My God, you're insufferable," she exclaimed.
"I know and deep down, you know I'm right." * * * *
Taking Derrick Manville up on his offer, Shelby followed him into his condo--one with a magnificent view of the ocean. She couldn't help gasping at the amazing home he'd made in the center of one of the country's major playgrounds.
"Make yourself at home," he said. "The guestroom is upstairs and to your right."
"Thanks," she said as she watched him take her backpack up the grand staircase of his huge multilevel home. He returned moments later, Shelby seeing he'd left the light on for her.
"The kitchen's stocked and I've got coffee if you need the morning caffeine fix."
"I drink hot tea."
"Got that, too. Mom hates coffee and I guess I never got out of the habit of keeping it on hand."
"She and Dad travel a lot and I don't see her as much as I'd like."
"Thanks," he said as he gazed at a framed picture on the bookshelf.
An uneasy silence filled the room, neither knowing what to say next. What could be said--Death and separation did that. People still had trouble dealing with her and it had been two years since Carroll's death at New Hampshire. Some of their oldest friends hadn't said a word to her since the day of his funeral.
Derrick broke it by walking over to the phone on the counter between the kitchen and the dining area.
"If you need me, press one and it'll automatically dial the shop. Any phone in the condo can do this."
"I appreciate this but I plan to fly back early. I think I've been away too long," she heard herself say, ruing the cowardice creeping into her personality while knowing Derrick had been right about running but being in the same room with him made her resolve go to hell.
"I'd still like to see you at the race tomorrow," he said.
"I hope you reconsider," Derrick said, putting his keys on the counter next to the phone. He walked toward the door, Shelby watching his every move. "Good night."
Moments later, he left closing the door behind him, Shelby feeling a strange sensation course through her.
She walked around the first floor of Derrick Manville's home, stopping in front of the bookshelf Derrick had stood by a few minutes before. She figured the one of Derrick with an older couple had been taken some time before and she saw where the man got his looks from.
Looking at her watch, she figured midnight might be too late to contact her pilot, Shelby not even sure she wanted to leave. Manville had hit one too many nerves when he made his character assessment of her earlier and she had to admit, it not only hurt but piqued her curiosity about him. The heat between them had not been a fluke or a mistake--she felt something lingering between them. Do I want to open myself up to him?
The fact he knew her as well as he did after only a few hours scared her while intriguing her at the same time. She gazed at other photos then realized she'd walked into his den where various trophies sat on display along with his diplomas from Virginia Tech. A plaque hanging with his diplomas caught her attention, Shelby remembering what he'd said earlier about giving back to the school. Commemorating his endowment to the engineering school, she learned about another side of his fascinating personality not in his official bio--he never forgot his roots.
She took a closer look at the trophies seeing not only boating championships but from auto racing, skiing and other activities as well. Impressed, she regretted acting the way she had with him but her flawed defense mechanisms had kicked in and she edged close to losing the help of the one man who could, in fact, do something for her and the company. Then there are the damned feelings...
Reconsidering her decision to return to Columbia, she went to the phone on the desk, her hand hovering over it. Unsure if she really wanted to accept his invitation, she pulled back and walked out of the room.
"This is ridiculous," she said to no one. "Derrick's right--you're running away from your emotions."
In the last two years, she'd made her mark in the business world, especially being one of the few female owners in the Indy Racing League. Success had followed her though some of it had been hard won, to say the least. She could deal with sponsors, knowing the exact time when the feminine touch would work while being a tigress during negotiations. Why can't I handle this--a simple phone call, for God's sake?
Making her decision, she found another one of the extensions and picked up the phone dialing one as Derrick had instructed. Her heart pounded while she waited what felt like an eternity for him to answer. Maybe he's underneath the boat again...
"Hey, Shelby, what's up?" a sleepy voice asked.
"Did I wake you?"
"I'd just dozed off. Josh and the others put her in the water while we enjoyed dinner so there's nothing to do but chill until we go over to the course for the time trials."
"Oh, I see," she said, beginning to lose her courage.
"Shelby, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," she said. "I thought I'd call to tell you I'd like to go tom--I mean, later to the race."
"Outstanding," he said, sounding a bit more awake. "I'll pick you up around seven thirty."
"Okay," she said. "Derrick?"
"What should I wear?" * * * *
Derrick left his condo heading directly to the shop where he expected to have hours of work and little if any sleep ahead of him. Walking in, a sick feeling overtook him when he saw the shop empty and the Manville 3 gone.
Moments later, Josh walked in and laughed seeing his boss' face.
"Relax, Rick, she's in the water."
"About an hour ago. I kept an eye on the keel like you wanted and we felt she could go in without a problem."
"Good, I'm glad it worked."
"Now to see if it does us any good."
"If it doesn't, we keep trying until it does. You know me..."
"True," Josh said before laughing.
Everyone close to Derrick Manville knew that once he sank his teeth into something, he didn't let go until satisfied he'd succeeded in completing his project or accepted the impossible after exhausting every possible chance--a rare occurrence.
"Then go home and get some sleep."
"I'd say the same to you."
"Mrs. Holland is spending the night at the condo while I bunk here."
"What's this--Derrick Manville swearing off the opposite sex? Will wonders never cease?"
"No, this one scares me. She's got some issues plus I feel something with her I've never felt before."
"Then do as you always do and find out."
"That's just it--there's heat between us but I don't want to push her. I can sense she's fragile now. I don't want to push her over the edge."
"Why did she come here in the first place?"
Derrick explained the reason to his friend then waited for his reaction.
"I saw it on the news. Latest reports state half the depot's been leveled."
"I'm waiting for Stella to get me what she can on all the particulars."
"Good move. I heard the fax earlier--maybe, she's sent something already."
"Get going," Derrick said. "I'll see you in a few hours."
Once Josh had left, Derrick crossed the empty shop and went into his office. Considering its location, he'd made it into a small yet spacious suite of rooms--office, bedroom, bath--everything he needed when he didn't want to leave a project or he forgot time.
As Josh had said, numerous documents waited for him--all from Stella. One thing he appreciated about her--her meticulous attention to detail. On many occasions, her thoroughness had given him the advantage he'd needed in order to make or break a deal. No matter the corporate headquarters for Manville Industries had been located in Fairfax, Virginia because his father had wanted to be close to what happened in the nation's capital, Stella and Derrick worked together as if no distance existed.
Settling on the leather couch with late night movies on for sound, he went over each and every piece of paper she'd faxed to him. By the time he'd finished, he knew a great deal about the Hollands, their business and those who might have a grudge against them for one reason or another. On one file, he'd found a Post-it note with one comment--most likely to want for the current affair in SC. Trusting her intuition, he read the file on Dean Ovelman and made some notes.
Near one in the morning, he dozed off until the phone ringing woke him. Seeing the call's origin, he tried to wake up before he answered it.
"Shelby, what's up?"
Hearing her voice made the rest of his body go on alert--at this point, not a good thing. He knew she felt the heat between them but she chose to pull away instead of facing it head on. Thank God I came here. His cock throbbed impatiently as soon as she told him she wanted to go to the race later in the day but her next question threw him.
"What should I wear?" she asked quietly as if she felt a little ashamed. "I have things on the plane but..."
"A cool dress would work and you might want a hat--the sun off the water can be a real scorcher. I also suggest a bathing suit underneath it. It tends to get wet because one of the losers invariably soaks the winner--a salute to the victor, so to speak."
"I didn't bring anything like that--I've got evening, business and..."
"In the room you're staying in..." he began. "Go in the closet and see if my sister left anything. Since she and her husband bought a house down in the Gables, she rarely stays with me."
"Trust me, she won't mind. If I remember right, you are both about the same size although she doesn't have legs nearly as gorgeous or as long as yours."
Her silence led him to envision her face reddening from the compliment, Derrick grinning. I will break through the damned wall you've built around yourself.
"I'm here," she answered. "I guess I'll see you at..."
After saying good-night and hanging up, Derrick Manville reread the file on Shelby Holland. Looking at her photo, he felt a slight charge even though the FAX copy didn't have the clarity of the original. Something about her sent his emotions skyrocketing and his body demanded satisfaction.
Needing sleep, he set everything aside, took a shower and went to bed. Falling into a sound sleep, he dreamt of the long-legged blonde beauty he intended to get to know better--in every way. * * * *