Authors: Cambria Hebert
These drivers got #swag…
Racing is in her DNA.
Right alongside money and power.
When you’re the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the country,
you have to work harder for success.
Joey Gamble’s a girl on a male-dominated track.
With a daddy who can buy whatever she wants.
But she doesn’t
anything… except to EARN her reputation.
Racing is his passion.
Trouble follows him everywhere. Some even say he invites it.
When you’re nipping at the taillights of the best driver in the new NRR,
you have to fight and claw for each and every success.
It’s never been easy for Lorhaven.
That’s why he doesn’t play by the rules.
He’s a man with a serious chip on his shoulder against the pro racing circuit.
want to know what’s up with that.
We’ve also been hearing rumblings…
of a pro who wants to go indie.
We’ve invited racing royalty
the driver from the wrong side of the tracks to sit down and talk to us about a possible crossover.
We expected sparks to fly when Joey and Lorhaven crossed paths.
Will those sparks ignite into a full-on inferno?
Read the full feature article inside…
#SWAG Copyright © 2016 CAMBRIA HEBERT
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form without written permission except for the use of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Published by: Cambria Hebert
Interior design and typesetting by Sharon Kay of Amber Leaf Publishing
Cover design by MAE I DESIGN
Edited by Cassie McCown
Copyright 2016 by Cambria Hebert
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,
business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
eBook ISBN: 978-1-938857-90-4
Special thanks to Adrienne Ambrose
for all the racing talk, time spent reading, and brainstorming!
“Having swag isn’t about what you wear or your hairstyle, but about being confident in yourself.”
My father always told me I could be whatever I wanted when I grew up.
So I became a woman in a man’s world.
Turns out I had bigger balls than a lot of the men. They didn’t take too kindly to that. Add on I also happened to be the daughter of the most powerful man in the entire state—well, let’s just say I wasn’t winning any popularity contests.
I didn’t care, though. I wasn’t here to win prom queen. I was here for respect, which I thought would be a lot easier to earn than it was.
Thing was, if I had a dick between my legs and a lot less money in my bank account, I’d likely be the most popular asshole on this track.
But I wasn’t packing that particular anatomy (even though my name suggested otherwise) and my pockets weren’t empty at all.
I was an asshole, though. Experience taught me that trait. Survival gave it practice. Being the only female pro racecar driver on this side of the country required a lot of endurance. Sometimes my endurance came down to a lot of cussing and refusing to take anyone’s shit.
So I settled for grudging acceptance from my peers and satisfaction that regardless of what anyone thought I deserved to be here.
I proved it. Time and time again.
It was also another reason I was like a piece of meat stuck between these guys’ teeth.
You’d think a bunch of macho, athletic, and driven men would be more secure with themselves that having a “girl” on the track with them wouldn’t be such a ball buster.
But it was.
I once suggested perhaps it was the length of what was in their pants that made them so insecure… It got me a couple lewd offers to see for myself (barf) and earned me exactly zero points toward the respect I thought I deserved.
I learned a long time ago you don’t always get what you deserve.
You get what you earn.
I earned my spot on the racetrack, and it had nothing to do with Daddy’s money.
End of story.
At least I wished it was. The hard truth was there would be no end to this story until I hung up my car keys, which I had no plans to do in the near future.
I would have to fight and claw for every victory, every shred of opportunity, and each drop of success.
Despite what most people thought, I was determined to make my career without my father’s influence. Maybe some kids with successful, wealthy parents were happy to take anything that was handed to them. Hell, I’d actually seen reality shows on TV based on the concept.
I wasn’t one of those kids.
My father wanted a boy, something he’d never been shy about letting me know. The reason my name Josephine was shortened to Joey from almost the second I was born.
Maybe it was some kind of male successor thing. You know, he wanted a man he could hand over the reins to his empire one day. Maybe he’d been married enough times to know he didn’t want to deal with a daughter (God forbid she turn out like any one of his three ex-wives!), because a child wasn’t someone he could divorce.
Or maybe, and this was a thought I seldom allowed myself to have, he just thought women were weak.
Regardless of what his reasons were (I’d never asked), he’d gotten a daughter. His only child. I turned out a lot more like him than anyone ever thought. It’s likely the reason my mother (ex-wife number three) took off with a hefty divorce settlement, moved into his penthouse in Paris, and never called, visited, or wrote.
Ironic really, my father hadn’t wanted a girl because I might turn out like my mother, and my mother ultimately left because I was too much like my father.
A therapist would have a field day with my family.
I would say one thing about Ron Gamble. He didn’t leave when the going got tough. In fact, he seemed to thrive on a challenge. And he loved me. I might not have been what he originally planned, but unlike all the other men around me, I’d earned his respect.
I’d like to think, after twenty-two years, if asked, my father would say he was glad he’d gotten me instead of a son.
Maybe it was that which made me so incredibly driven.
Wanting to prove to him I was just as valuable, if not more so, as a son would be.
Or maybe I was just stubborn.
Defeat on any level wasn’t something I would ever submit to. My father knew this, yet still, sometimes he tried. Well, not necessarily to defeat me. More like sway me. Change my mind.
It rarely happened… me changing my mind.
It wasn’t going to happen now, with this. I could guarantee it.
Still, here I was. Sitting in my father’s study after being summoned to what I knew was going to be yet another attempt at swaying my decision.
Balancing a clear, rounded tumbler in my palm, full of top-shelf scotch, I waited for my father to finish his phone call. The leather club chair was soft and supportive against my back. I relaxed into it and sipped at the amber liquid. I liked the warm trail it left as it slid down my throat. It was comforting somehow. Familiar.
Most people would be nervous as hell being beckoned by Ron Gamble. They definitely wouldn’t be relaxing in a chair and watching him with open interest bordering on boredom as he finished up some mundane but necessary business call.
I was his daughter, and the chair I was sitting in had been in this room since I was born. The man sitting behind the desk, admittedly intimidating, wasn’t just a powerful man to me. He was the man I spent every Christmas morning with, unwrapping gifts and drinking hot chocolate.
A lot of people didn’t know it, but Ron Gamble wasn’t just all about business.
He might have always wanted a son, but he never treated me with any kind of disdain or disappointment. I knew he loved me from the time I was born. He never acted like I was a chore or even a bother.
was the one who felt the need to prove I was worthy of the love he’d already given me.
Another round of scotch slipped across my tongue as he hung up the phone. Anticipation had me sitting up a little straighter. I wasn’t nervous to talk to him, but I knew I was likely in for yet another fight.
He wasn’t just my father. He was my sponsor. It was his company, his money, that paid for my racecar and entry fees into the big pro races. I was part of the racing team he built. So technically, he was my boss.
Did I mention I wasn’t too great with authority?
It led to some shouting matches over the years.
My newest decision was the conduit for the most recent ones.
I wasn’t up for it tonight, the arguing. But I would do it, because letting anyone see I was tired wasn’t an option. Instead, I took another gulp of the alcohol and sharpened my gaze.
Dad was still dressed for the office, even though it was almost eight o’clock at night. He’d been home a few hours, but he’d come directly in here to work. I hadn’t been home when he first arrived, but I didn’t have to be. I was familiar with his routines.
His suit jacket was draped over the back of his chair, the tie around his neck long gone, and the white sleeves of his dress shirt were pushed up. A glass that looked just like the one in my hand was at his elbow, empty.
Papers covered his desk, but not in an unorganized way. I knew without asking he could likely recite every single document in front of him, and he knew exactly where each sheet of paper belonged.
“Need a refill?” I asked, gesturing to his glass. The salt-and-pepper look in his full head of dark hair didn’t make him look any older than his fifty-five years; it just made him seem more distinguished.
“Wouldn’t say no.” He pushed the glass toward me with one finger.
I abandoned my own glass to a nearby table and crossed for the bottle of scotch. “Long day?” I asked when it was full and already at his lips.
“Even dreams take work, kid,” he replied.
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard that sentiment from his lips; it wouldn’t be the last. I never really understood it until I started racing. A dream is just that. A wistful thought, a want. Sure, dreams come true… but in most cases, they did so because it was something that was worked toward.
Gamble wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was born to his parents (my grandparents), who struggled their entire lives to make ends meet. His father worked two jobs, sometimes more, to feed his family, and his mother cleaned homes for other people.
Everything he had today was a result of his own effort and belief in himself.
“There’s a plate of dinner in the kitchen for you. Want me to go heat it up?” I asked, moving toward the door.
He shook his head and waved me back. “Later. Let’s talk.”
I crossed back to my chair and dropped down. Dark curls fell into my eyes, and I shoved them back. My hair always got in the way.
called,” he announced.
I blinked. This wasn’t what I was expecting. “Okay…” I hedged, not really sure what this had to do with me.
”—he began, emphasis on the last word—“are finding their way into the press.”
Aaand, there it was.
I sighed. “They aren’t rumors, Dad. You know I’m serious about going indie.”
He studied me over the rim of his glass. He had a penetrating stare, the kind that could make even the most rock solid a little squeamish. “We talked about this.” The glass made a firm thud on the top of the desk when he set it aside.
“No,” I said with restrained annoyance. “You told me no, and I told you I wasn’t your puppet.”
“I pay for that car you race.”
I rolled my eyes. “You want to throw that in my face? I already told you I’ll get another sponsor. You know I could.” It would be hard… Turns out it wasn’t just the drivers who didn’t like women in racing, but the sponsors as well.
Having a female injured or possibly killed in a racing accident would apparently be more hazardous for business than a male driver. This was one of the reasons my father sponsored me. I hadn’t wanted him to at first, but just like with a lot of things, sometimes it was all about who you knew.
The minute my father put up money to sponsor me, several other smaller businesses did, too.
And besides that, I trusted my father and the team of people he employed. I could trust them with my car.
“You’re under contract.” He reminded me, as if I needed a reminder.
I lifted the scotch to my lips. “I’m well aware, which is why I didn’t enter any preliminaries for the NRR. It’s why I’m sitting on the sidelines for the first season.”
We’d had this conversation more than once. It was always the same. I said I wanted to go indie, and he told me no. I didn’t know why, but me switching from pro to indie wasn’t something my father wanted me to do.
I sighed when he just watched me. “You know all my contracts are up for renewal this winter. All of them but yours. You could easily transfer it to the indie side. Hell, you own the division.”
“Not all of it,” he corrected.
I waved off his words. “You know what I mean.”
My father started the NRR (New Revolution Racing), but it quickly grew so large it needed more than just him heading it up. Now there were three big owners of the corporation, with a lot of sponsors and employees under them. My father was one of the three, but since he was the man who started it all, he had the most pull.
“I already have a driver in the NRR.”
My back teeth clenched, and I forced them to relax. “And Drew’s the best. If he keeps going the way he is, he’ll bring you the championship trophy at the end of the season. But you can have more than one driver, just like you do on the pro side.”
He moved like he wanted to say something, but I cut him off.
“Plus, I’m part of the reason Drew’s so good. I did help train him.”
“I wonder what Drew would say to that?” He pondered.
“He’d probably tell me to shove it,” I said, amusement making me forget some of the irritation this conversation caused.
Drew was just another reason I wanted to switch to the indie side. Having a real friend on the track was something I’d never had before. Trent, too. He might not be driving, but he was in the pit, and I knew he was an ally.