Open wheel star Brandon Burke is one bad boy, probably the most disruptive driver in the history of the Indy Racing League. Known for his cunning skills on the tack--and his carousing ways off--he's a public relations nightmare...and he's coming to NASCAR.
PR rep Vicky VanCleef is knocked for a loop when Knight Enterprises hires the wild child of racing to pilot a second car. She's been given the task of brining the star driver to heel. But there's no way Vicky could ever tame a man like Brandon. He's determined to keep things just the way they are, and he'll do that by attempting to seduce Vicky.
But Vicky didn't get to be one of the best in the business by letting drivers push her around, no matter how good looking they are. Brandon might make her pulse pound, but he'll crash and burn where she's concerned.
Two people determined to win. Two hearts who've red flagged relationships. Will either of them take the checkered flag on the way to finding love?
By: Rick Stevenson, Sports Editor
I seem to be missing something. Something called the silly season. Years ago, it used to be that drivers swapped rides late in the season. In one fell swoop—and over the course of a couple months—you knew who was taking over what rides and for how long.
No so any more.
Nowadays, drivers start talking contract negotiations before the season’s barely begun, never mind when race season’s drawing to a close. You could know in March that so-and-so won’t be renewing his contract in December, and then spend the rest of the year speculating where that driver will go. About the only driver whose fate I knew at the end of last season was Brandon Burke’s.
Now there’s someone I wish I didn’t know. Let’s recap his stellar career:
Wrecked the leader of the Indy 500.
On the last lap.
When Mr. Burke was twenty laps down.
Broken the cameras of numerous photographers. Rumor has it Indy 500 photographers took to carrying pepper spray. Rumor also has it that he punched out his father not long ago, and that the brawl had a lot to do with Brandon being booted out of the IRL.
One thing’s for sure, KEM Motorsports bringing Brandon Burke to NASCAR was about the silliest thing I saw done this past season. And I don’t know about you, but I suspect the silliness isn’t over.
“Some drivers thrive on winning races. Other love to cause trouble. It’s the later that gives racing a bad name. Brandon Burke is one of those drivers.”
Racer to Racer
There were, in Vicky’s opinion, three types of men: Those that made you go, “Eeuuu.” (As in, yuck, I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole and a pair of rubber gloves.) Those that made you think, “Hmm.” (As in, if I was tired, tipsy and just a little bit desperate, I might take him home.) And those that made you exclaim (softly, of course), “Oh, my.”
Brandon Burke was a solid oh my.
She’d known that. Of course she’d known that. The thing was, it didn’t make it any easier to approach him. So she hung back, peering around the edge of one of the many buildings located at the South Carolina race track, every once in a while walking forward only to stop suddenly and turn back, the large bag she’d slug over one shoulder hitting her in the spine.
Back to hiding.
You’re being ridiculous. He’s just a man.
It was a busy day at the drag race motorsports complex. People heavily laden with salty-scented sun block rushed past her, spectators, track officials and crewmen alike. The sweet smell of hot dogs and hamburgers hung in the air, as if everyone were at an outdoor barbeque rather than a drag strip. On the asphalt behind her, cars took off at regular intervals, their engines so loud, Vicky resisted the urge to cover her ears.
Come on, girl. Sooner or later you’ve got to do it.
She took another peek.
And her whole body just sort of went oomph.
Brandon leaned against the side of a big rig that hauled his drag bike from track to track, looking very…very…
She thought for a moment.
Gladiator-ish (if there was such a word). He was watching a mechanic work on his bike. Yellow DO NOT CROSS THIS LINE tape kept fans at bay. Above him someone had pulled a white awning out from the side of the rig. It cast a translucent glow over his darkly tanned skin—as if he stood beneath photographer’s umbrellas—and turned his black leather gear a shade of gray. She didn’t know how he stood to wear those leathers on a hot, sunny day like today, but she had to admit, he looked, um, hot in them.
She wiped a trickle of sweat off her own forehead. Go on, she silently urged, watching as he leaned forward and said something. But Vicky had never been aggressive where men were concerned. Out on the track, the deafening roar of a race car in the middle of a qualifying run filled the air yet again, but she could still hear the two of them laugh over the sound.
She readjusted the straps of her indigo bag, and headed for him.
He became more beautiful with each step. Race car drivers were not, as a rule, pretty…at least not in her experience. But this guy was gorgeous in the same way as a Calvin Klien. Razor stubble chin. Blonde sideburns in front of his ears. Michelangelo’s lips. Botticelli’s wide-armed physique, and the swept back, shoulder length blonde hair of Persius. (She’d minored in Art…a degree that wasn’t useful in her current job, but terrific for spur of the moment metaphors.)
She paused outside the tape, clenched her hands, then sternly told herself to stop being ridiculous. She’d graduated at the top of her class. With honors.
“Hi, Brandon,” she said.
Dizzyingly blue eyes—the same color as oceans south of the equator—gave her a puzzled stare.
“I’m Vicky,” she said, ducking beneath the yellow tape. “Vicky VanCleef.”
Brandon glanced at his mechanic, gave him a don’t-worry-I’ll-handle-this look, albeit one tinged with amusement, and pushed away from the side of the semi.
“Can I help you?” he asked, those eyes of his sweeping her up and down.
Not much to see, I’m afraid. “You don’t recognize the name, do you?”
“No,” he said, his drawl more pronounced when it was oozing male sensuality. “Should I?” he asked suggestively.
Whoo-wee, the man should come with a WARNING: SMILE MAY CAUSE ELECTRIC SHOCK. She felt that sexy grin all the way down to her toenails. And it figured he didn’t recognize her. She’d only worked for SSI, Sports Services Inc., for a couple of months.
“We’ve actually talked on the phone a few times,” she said. “I work for SSI.”
“SSI?” he asked, as if he didn’t recognize that name, either. But of course he did. They might be new to representing him, but they weren’t that new.
“SSI,” she repeated, shifting the bag to the other shoulder so she could lift the wide flap and pull out a business card. “Sports Services, Inc. I’m Scott Preston’s assistant.”
He glanced at the card, recognition dawning. Again, the eyes scanned her, and for the first time Vicky found herself wishing for a six-foot-one frame, voluptuous cleavage and sexy, pouty lips. Alas, she was five-foot-four, average looking, and with hair as light brown and wispy straight as an Afghan hound’s.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
All amusement had fled. There was no longer any hint of a smile. No word of greeting. Just the steely-eyed glare of a man who wasn’t happy to see her. Well, she’d expected that. After all, he’d been ducking her calls for days.
“Actually, Mr. Knight requested that I come. Well, Mr. Knight wanted my boss Scott to come. But he’s too busy. One of his star football players broke his leg. Terrible thing. End of his career. Scott went down to, um—” tell the player SSI was through with him, too. But she couldn’t tell Brandon that. He might suddenly comprehend what a complete and utter jerk of an agent Scott was, and so she said, “console him.”
“What does Mr. Knight want with me?” he asked, one of his dark brown eyebrows lifting. He crossed his arms in front of him, something that made his shoulders appear twice as wide.
He knew. He had to know. Mr. Knight owned the car Brandon drove and he’d have to be stupid not to know what his team owner wanted, but if he wanted to play dumb… “Well, he thought, and Scott thought so, too, that maybe you’d forgotten that you’re not supposed to race any type of vehicle other than stock cars.” She put on her best but-we-all-make-mistakes smile. “It’s in your contract,” she added, patting her square bag where a copy of said contract rested. “Although it appears as if you didn’t see that particular clause.”
He smirked, and it was one of those not quite a grin looks that wasn’t really an attempt at a smile. (She hated when people did that.)
Another drop of sweat trickled down her back. “Ahem. So,” she said, resisting the urge to wipe her hands on the front of her pants, and having to raise her voice to be heard above the sudden roar of yet another engine. “I know this is kind of bad timing, but I’m afraid you can’t race today. Not if you don’t want to violate your contract with Mr. Knight.”
“Tell Mr. Knight to go blow.”
He’d started to unzip his leathers. Vicky felt her mouth go dry. The black material slid off his shoulders, exposing a white cotton tank beneath. Arms so sculpted they belonged on the cover of a fitness magazine flexed as he shrugged out of the material.
“Mr. Burke,” she quickly added when it became clear that he wasn’t undressing because he’d taken her warning to heart—or to make her mind go blank. Which it did. Momentarily. “I understand your reluctance to pack up and leave, but obviously I can’t tell Mr. Knight to, um, go blow. We only just signed with him and so I don’t think it’d be wise to go against his wishes.”
All Brandon did was shrug before he turned away. She watched him cross to an orange and white cooler where he pulled out some sort of purple-colored drink. When he turned back, he almost seemed surprised to see her still standing there.
“I’m not giving up my drag bike,” he said after cracking the lid. “I told Scott that same thing. He said we’d work it out.”
And why wasn’t Vicky surprised?
“If we can’t,” Brandon said, “then I’m not interested in driving for Mr. Knight.”
Her mouth hung open for a moment. He made it seem as if they could just rip up the thirty page contract in her bag. “You can’t just arbitrarily decide not to work for KEM.”
“I can do whatever I want.” He walked away.
“Mr. Burke, please,” she said, trying not to panic as she moved to catch up to him. “This is obviously some kind of misunderstanding, and until we have it all sorted out, I think we should at least talk it over with Mr. Knight.”
He turned back to her, tipped the mini-jug back, then proceeded to down half the bottle it in a few loud gulps. Vicky watched his Adam’s Apple bob with every swallow. He had a muscular neck, thick cords running up the side of it, she wondered what they’d feel like beneath her fingers….
He uncoupled the bottle from his lips with a suctioned pop, released the breath he’d been holding, and looked over at her once again. “Out of the question. Don’t have time to talk to anyone right now.”
“You mean you’re going to race anyway?”
She forgot how good-looking he was at that moment. Forgot that just a second ago she’d been fantasizing about swiping the sideburns that hugged the shell of his ear. Forgot everything in the wake of the realization that Brandon Burke was an ass.
“And I’m here to tell you that you can’t,” she said, trying hard to keep it professional.
What a jerk.
What did you expect, Vicky? He has Scott as an agent. Like attracts like. And Scott is the king of jerks.
“Actually,” he said, taking a step toward her. “I doubt you’re in a position to tell me anything.”
His ploy almost succeeded—the one he’d no doubt used to keep women in line. He tried to discombobulate her with his good looks. Five minutes ago it would have worked. Five minutes ago she would have oozed down his legs in a pool of cherry-flavored body oil. Five minutes ago she might have completely forgotten what she wanted to say in the wake of his tangy, masculine scent, one she caught a whiff of as he tipped away from her.
But that was before he questioned her authority.
She reached inside her briefcase once more. Inside were glasses which were—for the most part—for show, but for some Fruedian reason they always seemed to give her self-confidence.
She slipped them on.
Next she pulled out the copy of his contract. She tipped her head down so she peered over the top of the glasses. “According to paragraph twenty-five, article B, if you do not listen to me you will,” she flipped through pages, found the aforementioned paragraph and read, “invalidate your contract with KEM, otherwise known as Knight Enterprises Motorsports, should you race, ride or otherwise endorse any other vehicle other than ones owned by KEM. Such acts will be deemed in direct violation of Driver’s contract.” She looked back up at him, “Said driver being you.”
Good, Vicky. That’s the spirit. Keep him on his toes. Put your degree in law to use. Nothing like a bit of legalese to put a man in his place.
“Oh, yeah?” he asked, somehow scooting even closer. “And what will Article B do to stop me?” His leather race gear creaked as he leaned toward her.
“It will,” she swallowed. “I mean, we will do whatever we deem necessary to get you to stop,” she said, holding his gaze with an effort that damn near exhausted her.
“Really?” he asked softly, drawing the syllables. “Then I guess you’re going to have to do your worse, Miss VanCleef, because I am very definitely racing this bike.”
He turned away.
Vicky felt like a balloon suddenly cut from its tether. “Hey,” she called.
He ignored her.
Damn it. Now what did she do? Should she follow him inside the truck/big rig/car transport…thing?
Brandon slipped between two glass doors. He closed them with a bang.
Brandon’s mechanic gave her a look. Vicky realized she stood in front of his toolbox, one he evidentially needed to get into.
“Sorry,” she muttered, stepping away.
Okay. So. Obviously reasoning with Mr. Burke was not an option, and so that meant she’d have to resort to Plan B.
If only she had a Plan B.
The mechanic opened a long, narrow drawer, rooted around, then slammed the thing closed with a grunt of disgust. He brushed by her without a second glance, leaving her and the bike all alone as he followed in Brandon’s wake.
And an idea began to germinate.
It wasn’t a particular good plan. In fact, it was very definitely one of those desperate-times-call-for-desperate-measures ideas that she’d likely regret the next morning.
But Vicky didn’t care.
She’d spent months trying to get hired by SSI, and while it wasn’t her first choice of agencies to work for, it would do. For now. A foot in the door, she’d called it. Sooner or later she’d go to work for a real agency, one with agents who had ethics and clients she didn’t want to kill.
Brandon Burke would not stand in her way.
Oh, no. He would learn that she wasn’t the type of woman to bow down to any man, even if he was spine-tingling handsome.
"This story about bad boy Brandon, introduced in Britton's previous NASCAR stories, will not disappoint fans and should win the author new ones. The appearance of familiar faces lends consistency to the tale, but the complex characters and strong emotions allow it to stand alone. It's a lovely, heartwarming romance as well as an exciting visit to the NASCAR races." - RT BOOKclub
Whether you live for NASCAR or only hear about it on television, ON THE MOVE is a great read this month. - Carolyn Crisher,
Romance Reviews Today
ON THE MOVE is a sharp, fast-paced, entertaining ride around the many racing tracks of NASCAR. Pamela Britton’s characters are fleshed out and likeable, and the story is witty, poignant, romantic, and sexy. - ReaderToReader.com
ON THE MOVE is a great romance, one that is sure to appeal to fans of racing as well as everyone else. Ms. Britton has a way of taking a story and adding just the right spark to make it an unforgettable story. I highly recommend ON THE MOVE. Wendy Keel, The Romance Reader Connection
Author Pamela Britton has a real feel for the NASCAR-themed novels she writes. Venturing beyond the track she looks deep into the souls of her characters to find their true motivation. Her books have an emotional depth that makes her a favorite of romance readers. ON The Move lives up to our expectations and more. Paula, A Romance Review