Courting Disaster

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What Demetri wants, Demetri gets…

Race car driver Demetri Lucas's life is comprised of two things: betting and winning. He lives hard and fast— and likes his women to match. But then Demetri runs up against the most stubborn woman he's ever met.…

And he wants her!

Squeaky-clean country singer Elizabeth Innis is part of the prestigious Preston clan, so when an outsider makes a bid to help Quest Stables, Elizabeth is furious. Even worse, when she finally meets the interloper, she's ridiculously attracted to him—and it's mutual! The only problem? They mix like oil and water.

But Demetri has a solution—a small wager. And his prize is Elizabeth.…

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The long driveway leading up to Quest Stables was nearly a mile and a quarter straightaway, a first-class temptation for a man who did his most memorable work in the fast lane. On some other day, Demetri Lucas would have shifted into sixth, pealed out and torn up the road with the eighteen-inch sport tires. All in the name of testing the drag coefficient his engineers swore was nearly zero, of course.

Today, however, wasn''t the time for testing drag coefficients. For one thing, his host''s guests were beginning to arrive for this weekend''s wedding--not for an exhibition in speed and mechanical prowess. Although Hugh Preston might have done the same when he was younger, the years had mellowed him, and he probably wouldn''t appreciate Demetri offering them a glimpse of such unique least not in the Preston backyard.

More than that, as difficult as it was for Demetri to believe, there were actually things on his mind that weighed heavier than drag coefficients, Formula Gold racing or even his upcoming race in Louisville. Things like Hugh''s financial straits. Not to mention Demetri''s own "Married Princess Incident"--otherwise known as the three weeks in Monte Carlo that the Sterling PR team had labeled "boneheaded and reckless."

Reckless was a label that seemed to follow him around like a black cloud. When he was seventeen, it had been fun and daring. Now that he was thirty-five, it seemed...sad.

Invariably, Demetri could feel his collar tighten, feel the high-velocity impulses kick up a notch, and in response, his foot floored the gas, gravel flying. The six-hundred-horsepower engine was street-legal--on the autobahn, not the horse country of Kentucky--and the answering roar was sweeter than music, better than sex.


Within seconds the main house tore into view, a sprawling redbrick that was home to the Preston family and Demetri''s current destination. As his foot moved over the clutch, he smoothly downshifted, the engine quieting to a more respectable purr. Someday he''d learn how to live a little slower, how to live a little safer, but today wasn''t it.

Parked cars lined the drive, including one sturdy tan Volvo that was trying to park--and doing a piss-poor job of it. Demetri didn''t have a lot of respect for cautious drivers as a matter of principle. They tended toward cars that were heavy tanks, built to withstand a nuclear blast, and all those safety features added weight. Pounds were a liability to a race-car driver who valued things like acceleration and whip-quick handling.

Demetri downshifted again, suspicious that this was the Fates'' way of making him pay for speeding down the drive. Maybe the Fates were expecting him to be grateful to the sensible tan Volvo standing between him and sixth gear. Maybe the Fates were wrong.

He watched--it was actually more of a penetrating glare-- as the sedan slowly reversed, inching to the right, braking, inching, braking, inching, ad infinitum. With the Volvo steering system and the driver''s conservative refusal to cut the wheel properly, they were going to be here for a long, long time.

It took six more tries, inching, braking, inching, braking, but at long last the Volvo eased into the space. Finally. There was the small matter of the tires ending four feet from where the lawn lined the drive. However, in the big scheme of things, four feet wasn''t awful. The rear end wasn''t out too far. In fact, it was almost...

Hell. Demetri took the shot.

Easily he slid his car in behind the other, wheels perfectly aligned along the edge of the lawn. Now that was how to park a car....

He was still smiling smugly to himself when the back-up lights of the Volvo flashed. Surely the Volvo would notice the car behind it. Surely the Volvo would stop. Surely...


The sound of slowly crunching metal was never a happy sound for a race-car driver. The specially designed aluminum chassis collapsed onto the honeycomb frame, pushing up into the middle of the car in slow motion. The aerospace-quality chassis made of autoclave carbon fiber might have had a drag coefficient of zero, but when rear-ended by rock-solid Volvo, the car was toast.

Demetri swore again, ripely, violently.

Of course, the Volvo escaped without a scratch.

Perfect. It seemed fitting, poetic justice even, and he rubbed his eyes. Fine. Round one goes to the Fates. Lesson. Learned.

He flung open the door, not happy, yet prepared to apologize, prepared to own up to his own impatience. It was the right thing to do. It was the responsible thing to do, but then he noticed the driver and stopped.

He couldn''t see her face, because she was leaning against the car, her hands at her temples, rubbing in circular motions. Instantly the anger disappeared. Was she about to pass out? He didn''t see any blood, and with a suspension system that could withstand an earthquake, no way the Volvo would give her whiplash....

"Are you all right?" he asked, rushing to her side, then stopping when she held out one hand. He stood there, staring at the palm hanging in midair in front of his face. His gaze dipped lower, watching her breasts rise and fall as she took deep breaths.

Probably watching more than he should, all things considered, but at least he knew she wasn''t about to pass out anymore. From what he could see, her breathing was great.

Then the hand dropped, and she turned to look at him, her face flushed, eyes shooting fire.

"When the heck did you zoom in behind me?" she demanded.

"Obviously while you weren''t looking in the mirror," he said, happy to see that she wasn''t going to faint on him. Anger was much better. Especially since anger looked on this woman. A cute, trim blonde with nice curves...standing in front of his crumpled car, because he had been reckless.

Oh, the Fates were killing him today. He made himself stop noticing her curves.

"Couldn''t you see I was parking? What did you do? Descend from the sky? And why? Why on earth would you do a stupid thing like that?" She waggled a finger at him. "You should have waited. It''s that sort of reckless maneuvering that will get you in trouble."

He laughed, mildly amused. Demetri crashed on an almost monthly basis, and he''d never had anyone lecture him before. It was refreshing. Arousing. He was noticing the curves again, because in the tight, faded blue jeans, it was impossible not to. The denim jacket was old, as well, with some froufrou fringe around the chest that drew attention back to her...

Not looking.

"Are you listening to me?"

"Absolutely," he said, eyes firmly on her face.

She drew in a breath, her mouth twisting as if she were going to argue. Then she took a step away from her car, looking back toward the front of his. The mouth twisted more. "Oh, heck," she whispered, the denim-clad shoulders sagging. "Are you all right?" she asked.

Her voice was a rich Kentucky drawl that slid down his throat much smoother than bourbon ever had. He had always had a thing for blondes, but lately they''d been tending toward the icy cold of professionally done platinum rather than the warm taste of golden amber. Still, professionally done platinum had bought him a world of trouble, so maybe it was time for golden amber....


Bad actions. Bad consequences. Lesson learned.

"I''m fine," he told her. "How are you?" he asked, looking her over, ostensibly checking for injuries. The narrow glance she shot him told him better than words that she didn''t buy the act for a minute. "You looked like you were going to faint."

"Mister, the only thing dented on me is my pride," she said, meeting his gaze before shaking her head sadly and turning her attention back to his car--what was left of his car. "Good God almighty, I can''t believe this. Look at that thing. Folded like a cheap lawn chair. I''ve never even had an accident, and my first one has to be some European whoop-de-do that would crunch up if you hit it with a cotton ball."

"European wh--"

"That could have been you. That is exactly what I''m talking about. Why do something so stupid in a flimsy little car like that? Do you want to end up all smashed like your car?"

Demetri swallowed, then took an involuntary step backward. "I''m fine. In fact, I''m more than capable of handling that machine," he began. "You''re the one--"

"Who doesn''t have a crunched-up car," she said, pointing to the bumper of her Volvo, which had escaped completely unscathed. "Barely a scratch." Then she looked at his vehicle. "I don''t know why carmakers make cars like tin cans. You''d think they''d make them sturdy."

"That makes them slow," Demetri explained, feeling strangely compelled to defend his car, possibly due to the way the fender was dragging the ground like a broken leg, and the hood was folded up into the windshield. The pain was like his own. An Italian work of art was not designed to withstand the impact of a Volvo. It seemed...ignoble, somehow.

Her head lifted, the bright eyes capturing his imagination in ways she probably wouldn''t appreciate. "You got a problem with slow?" she challenged.

"Some people like to drive fast," he pointed out, not really wanting to argue with her, but he did like the way she talked, even if he didn''t completely like the things she said. And he couldn''t kiss her, and an argument kept her
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Additional Information

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Published on
Sep 1, 2008
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Fiction / Romance / Contemporary
Fiction / Romance / General
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Content Protection
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Editorial Reviews

"Helen has weaved a delicately balanced story of intrigue, secrets and passion, which practically melts the pages." -Bare Naked Words

"The love story between Talon and Jade continues in Obsession. An apt title to be sure, because everyone is obsessed. Dear Ms. Helen Hardt, I toss many profanities your way for making me wait. Though I give you my deepest gratitude for building the anticipation of what I’m sure will be an epic culmination to an amazing series. " -Heroes and Heartbreakers

"Talon and Jade's chemistry sizzles and the love scenes will melt your heart and your Kindle." -The Book Sirens

"I am loving this series so freaking much… The story line is one that will have you completely engrossed…" -Wicked Babes Blog

"Helen left my head spinning and my mind racing a mile a minute. I need to know what the secrets are... " -The Book Fairy Reviews


Jade Roberts is in love with Talon Steel but no longer welcome in his home. While she resolves to move on, she still longs for the passion she and Talon shared…and when her boss asks her to dig up information on the Steels, she’s only too happy to comply. Talon and his brothers are hiding something, and Jade is determined to find out what it is.

The moment Talon saw Jade he wanted her, ached for her, craved her…and now his desire has become his obsession. He knows she deserves better than his broken soul, but he can’t stay away from her, and he finally confesses his love. If he and Jade are to have a future, he knows he must make peace with the dark shadows and horrors of his past.

But as Talon begins his journey of healing, Jade uncovers some startling secrets…

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