Fuel To The Fire (New Adult Contemporary Romance)

BOOK: Fuel To The Fire (New Adult Contemporary Romance)
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FUEL TO THE FIRE

by Brynn O'Connor

 

A Hearts Collective Production

Copyright © 2013 Hearts Collective

All rights reserved. This document may not be reproduced in any way
without the expressed written consent of the author. The ideas, characters, and
situations presented in this story are strictly fictional and any unintentional
likeness to real people or real situations is completely coincidental.

Dedication

To my boys
Diego and Ethan, and my good friend Dan.

Copyright ©
2013 Brynn O'Connor

All rights
reserved. This document may not be reproduced in any way without the expressed
written consent of the author. The ideas, characters, and situations presented
in this story are strictly fictional and any unintentional likeness to real
people or real situations is completely coincidental.

Other Books by Hearts
Collective:

Broken Strings (New
Adult Rock Star Romance) by Brynn O'Connor

Damaged But Not
Broken
(New Adult Rockers) by W.H. Vega

Wounded But Not
Scarred (New Adult Rockers 2) by W.H. Vega

Falling Harder
(New Adult Romance) by W.H. Vega

Faster Harder
(Take Me...#1) by Colleen Masters

 

Special Thanks to
L.J. Anderson

for the beautiful
professional cover art.

Mayhem Cover
Creations

www.mayhemcovercreations.com

 

Chapter One
The
Bojangles Southern 500

 


If everything seems
under control, you're just not going fast enough...
”   Mario Andretti

 

Marco

Present
Day 2013...

There’s
nothing in the world quite like the earsplitting shriek of shredding, rending
metal against a concrete wall.

Thousands
of fans are assaulted by the sound as cars begin to pile up on the track.
Raging fireballs scorch the air, dangerously close to where the faithful
devotees of NASCAR look on. Within seconds ,the entire south end of the oval
track is one huge, rapidly expanding conflagration of billowing oily smoke.

Fans
leap to their feet, craning their sun-baked necks. Race officials skip the
yellow flag entirely and bring the race to a grinding halt, waving the red flag
furiously. Expressions go from excited to uncertain and finally to somber as
the crowd begins to realize that this is more than just a routine wreck.

Teams
scramble in the pits, trying to contact their drivers. Rescue vehicles steak
across the raceway, heading for the southernmost end of the oval track. The
Bojangles Southern 500 has been terminated after a mere 43 laps.

Moments
Earlier...

“I see
ya got yer first Darlington Stripe,” Harvey growls, “Now git off that wall,
Panada!”

Okay I
deserved that one. My spotter, Harvey, loves to play with words. In Spanish,
nada
means nothing. When I’m screwing
up, Harvey likes to call me Pa
nada,
instead
of Pa
nata,
which is
my actual last name. In fact, he calls me Marco Panada whenever he feels I’m
not living up to my family name, which is pretty often.

My car’s
running loose. The tires lose traction and the back end slides out. I find
myself scraping the fence, earning myself another
Darlington Stripe
. I’m gonna hear all about it on
the next pit. I manage to recover just in time to finish the turn-off the
fence, and I’m in a good position to make up some lost ground. My father’s in
the front of the pack as usual. I know this because my spotter is only too
happy to tell me every chance he gets.

With
little time to spare, I slide right up to the ass end of Kyle Baker’s number 17
Best Buy car. I might have a chance to slingshot around him and move up to
third. That extra fuel saved drafting will allow me to lay on the gas as I go
around without redlining the engine and blowing up yet another $40,000 piece of
precision machinery. Well, that’s the plan at least. Just before it’s time for
my little maneuver I decide to give Harvey a heads-up.

“Watch
this, Harvey!” I give him the finger, then grab the wheel with both hands and
drop down low to make my move. I slingshot around Kyle in a perfectly executed
move. I give him the finger as I fly by but it’s a wasted gesture. His
attention is drawn to something else entirely—a cloud of black smoke ahead.

Without
warning all hell breaks loose. I know you’re supposed to be relaxed when you’re
about to crash, but I can’t help it. I maintain an iron grip on the wheel as I
plow into a big number 8 on the door of Ariel Bronwyn’s Maxim International
car. Ariel is NASCAR’s sweetheart and soul female driver. There’s gonna be hell
to pay for this one.

I jam my
foot down on the brake pedal and abruptly my world is all about shrieking
metal, screeching tires, and inky black smoke, so thick I can’t see a thing.
The initial impact hardly seems to slow me down as my car begins to spin out.
Even with the HANS device firmly connecting my race helmet to my shoulders my
head feels like one of those bobble head dolls I used to collect of all my
favorite racers when I was a kid. Just when I think I may have spun clear of a
majority of the wreckage something in front of me catches my attention. A sudden
steel mass hurtles through the air and right at my windshield. Instinctively my
hands fly off the wheel in a useless effort to protect my face.

My world
goes black.

Carrie

Inside
the Team Panata Pit Box…

“We’re
up, Carrie!” shouts a familiar voice.

That
would be me, Carrie Zane, trauma nurse for Team Panata’s patriarchal driver
Adriano Panata. Calling me is my colleague Rachael Moore, who also happens to
be my best friend and confidant. I jump up from my seat and sprint across the
pit area to the waiting ambulance. If we’re called up, that means our spotter
has eyes on Adriano Panata’s number 11 Best Buy car.

Rachael’s
already in the driver’s seat and starting the engine when I open the passenger
door and climb in. This is bad. Really bad. We’re heading for the southernmost
end of the track, and from what I can see from here it looks like a war zone.
The entire curve is a sea of twisted metal punctuated by billowing flames and
thick black smoke. How our spotter was able to pick Adriano out of that mess I’ll
never know.

“You
ready for this one?” Rachael asks without taking her eyes off the carnage.

“Of
course I am!” I claim, with far more confidence than I feel.

After my
fiancé Danny Franchetti died in a crash at Daytona, I had to take some time
off. A year after putting him in the ground, I was still swearing I would never
work another race as long as I lived. But once racing gets in your blood it’s
there to stay. As a little girl, I dreamed of being a doctor and the first
female race car driver to win the Daytona 500. Well, I didn’t become either,
but I came pretty close. My first job was as a trauma nurse for Danny’s
Havoline Racing Team. He was their premier driver, breaking records left and
right. It seemed there was nothing he couldn’t overcome and nothing he couldn’t
accomplish once he set his mind to it. Until, that is, it came to a previously
undiagnosed seizure disorder. He was told to take off his helmet and gloves and
retire for good.

But he
just couldn’t give up racing. He got a shady doctor to give him the necessary
medical release to race again. Not three months later he had another seizure
during the Daytona 500 and hit the wall at 190 mph. He was taken to the track
hospital where he was pronounced dead. It really left me devastated. I was supposed
to be grieving my dead fiancé, but I was bitterly angry with him for cheating
the system so he could continue racing. I was also terribly angry at myself for
not making Danny quit and for not telling NASCAR authorities what he was up to.
To say that was a confusing time for me is an understatement.

Working
on the Panata racing team is my first real job back since Danny died. I did
work at a hospital and a doctor’s office just because I needed the money, but
my heart wasn’t in it. I love racing and I love being a trauma nurse. Nothing
can compare to the adrenaline rush that both those provide for me. In
retrospect, I’m surprised it took me nearly a year to find my way back to the
track. But I did. And now were pulling up on what is probably the most horrific
crash scene I have ever witnessed.

Our
team’s spotter directs us to Mr. Panata’s car. I let out an involuntary gasp
when I first see the car. What used to be a shiny green and yellow race car is
now a burned-out wreck. I jump out, go around to the back of the ambulance, and
throw open the doors. I grab the trauma kit, secure it to the gurney, and pull
it out of the ambulance. I tow it up to the Panata car, unfasten the jump kit
and join Rachael at the car’s door. The moment I lean in the window I jerk back
involuntarily. The stench of burned flesh assaults my nostrils.

“Carrie,
are you okay? You better pull yourself together. Look who’s coming.”

I look
over to where her eyes are fixed. Three race officials are approaching. One is
carrying a camera and a video recorder. They’re here to launch the
investigation just in case there was any foul play involved. Its standard
procedure, really. Most crashes are just driver or mechanical error and not
foul play. But still...

“Carrie,
Rachael!” a paramedic from the tracks rescue services calls, waving us over.
“We could use your help!” he says as we approach, “Follow me.”

May as
well lend a hand. There’s nothing we can do to help our own driver. This one’s
going to rock the racing world. Adriano Panata, Patriarch of the Panata racing
dynasty...dead.

We make
our way past several other torched cars, over to another one that’s surrounded
by fire personnel. They’ve got the Jaws of Life out, but are waiting on us
before they get started. Judging from the look of the car, it’s hard to believe
anyone could still be alive in there.

“Look,”
the paramedic begins, “We need you to crawl in there with your jump kit and
start working him up. Our guys are too big to squeeze in there. Once you’re in
place, we’ll cover you and start pulling this wreck apart.”

I walk
around to the passenger side of the car and look in. The driver moans and
starts to move about.

“Hold
still, Marco!” I shout above the cacophony surrounding us.

I shove
my trauma kit in first then belly crawl after it. This is not gonna be easy.
First things first. Get his helmet off and administer oxygen.

“Marco,
I’m taking off your helmet. I’m gonna need you to be still. I know you’re in
pain but you gotta keep that head of yours still. You got it?”

I hear a
muffled reply but I’m not sure he is actually conscious. It sounds more like
he’s just responding to my voice and not what I’m actually saying.

“I’ll
take that as a yes then,” I say anyway.

After I
take off his helmet, I see up close just how handsome Marco really is. We’ve
never been formally introduced, since I am attached to his father’s medical
team. I have seen him in passing from a distance and I never really paid him
any attention. He races well enough, or so I am told, but there are rumors.
Some say the only reason he races is because of his father Adriano. With his
father’s passing today, only time will tell.

There’s
a fine sheen of sweat covering Marco’s features. I open one eye and shine my
light in, then try the other. They react normally, but let me tell you, he has
the most beautiful teal eyes I have ever seen. They’re like a pair of priceless
emeralds that you can’t take your eyes off of. His shock of black hair is
matted down and going in all directions. His strong regal jaw sports several
days’ growth of whiskers, but it only adds to his rugged good looks. How can a
sweaty, barely-conscious man with helmet hair be so damn attractive to me? I
must be getting really desperate.

BOOK: Fuel To The Fire (New Adult Contemporary Romance)
2.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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