Teaming Up

( 14 )

Overview

After spending most of her life buried in books and academia despite her NASCAR roots, scientist Kim Murphy is a complete success. But when she stumbles across an old list??Things To Do Before I Die??Kim realizes that she hasn't really lived. Now it's time for her to tackle the frivolous things in life: ?Play hooky.? ?Buy a push-up bra.? Next up?find a ?jock? to date!
Kim's unusual mix of beauty, braininess and humor seems tailor-made to get under NASCAR car chief Ward Abraham's...
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Overview

After spending most of her life buried in books and academia despite her NASCAR roots, scientist Kim Murphy is a complete success. But when she stumbles across an old list—”Things To Do Before I Die”—Kim realizes that she hasn't really lived. Now it's time for her to tackle the frivolous things in life: “Play hooky.” “Buy a push-up bra.” Next up…find a “jock” to date!
Kim's unusual mix of beauty, braininess and humor seems tailor-made to get under NASCAR car chief Ward Abraham's skin—so when she asks him out, Ward can't refuse. But when he offers to help her out with her “list” (and then some!) Kim is delighted… and terrified that Ward will discover the real reason for her list!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373217939
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 8/1/2008
  • Series: Harlequin NASCAR Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The history of Kim Murphy's life was stored in eight cardboard boxes in the garage of her condo in Charlotte.
With an increasing sense of unreality, Kim carried the heavy boxes into her living room, one by one. She shouldn't be doing this—she wouldn't be, if Dr. Peterson hadn't extracted a promise that she would acknowledge somehow, if only to herself, the seriousness of her condition. "Put your affairs in order," he'd said. His other suggestion—that she tell her father the latest prognosis—wasn't going to happen.
There's nothing to tell. Because for the first time in her life, Kim had chosen not to believe scientific evidence.
"I feel as healthy as a horse," she announced out loud, as she walked from the garage to the living room for the eighth time. She propped the last box against the doorway to steady herself. As healthy as a horse that had just run the Kentucky Derby. Twice. Okay, so she was breathing a little heavily as she set the box down on the cream-colored carpet…but that wasn't unexpected for a person whose major form of exercise was lifting a cup of coffee to her mouth.
Another pleasure those darned doctors were determined to deny her.
Kim pffed her irritation as she cut through the tape sealing a carton labeled High School/Correspondence. Thankfully, she was naturally well-organized, so Dr. Peterson's little face-up-to-reality exercise wouldn't prove as cathartic as he doubtless hoped.
Why should it? She might not have a medical degree, but she was a scientist, highly respected in the field of stem cell research. She was eminently qualified to analyze data and draw her own conclusions. Which just happened to differ fromthe medics'.
Before she could dig into the box, the cordless phone rang on the coffee table beside her. Her father's phone number showed on the display; Kim pressed to answer.
"I've been calling since yesterday, where have you been? What did the doctor say?" Hugo Murphy's gruff manner was off-putting to people who didn't know him well. But it wasn't personal, he just didn't express his feelings—affection in particular—very well. Kim was used to having to second-guess her dad's state of mind, though even after so many years it wasn't easy.
She sat back on her heels and ignored the question as to why she hadn't returned her father's call. "Dr. Peterson said, and I'm quoting him here, 'the disease is progressing as expected.'"
"That's all?"
"Pretty much." Half the truth, anyway.
"What are you doing now? It sounds mighty quiet there." Dad always acted as if he'd rather she was having a raucous party. Of course, if she was, he'd fret about her getting overtired. His protective instincts worked 24/7, and they never took a vacation.
"I'm tidying." She figured tidiness was a learned behavior, rather than genetic, because in this regard, she took after her adoptive father.
Hugo made an approving sound, then launched into a familiar refrain. "It's time you moved in with me. You're sick, you're alone, you need company."
"But, Dad, who would look after these hundred cats?" Kim tucked the phone under her ear so she could pull a folder from the carton in front of her.
"Huh?"
She put a smile in her voice. "You make me sound like one of those old ladies with piles of garbage around the house and cats everywhere."
Hugo barked a reluctant laugh. "Dammit, Kim, would you just let me look after you?"
"No." She didn't embellish her refusal with arguments; plain speaking worked best with her dad. She flicked through the folder, then set it aside to form the basis of her discard pile. No one would want a bunch of twelfth-grade exam papers from seventeen years ago.
"I'm worried about you."
He sounded almost pleading, which disconcerted her so much that before she could think better of it, she said, "I'm worried about me, too."
Silence. Uh-oh.
"That's it, you're moving in." Hugo's voice took on the implacability that commanded instant obedience from the mechanics and over-the-wall guys at Fulcrum Racing, where he was the team's top crew chief.
"I'm worried—" she backpedaled furiously "—that I don't have a date for the silver anniversary party at work next month, and Jerry will think I'm a loser."
Her father took the bait. "You're not seeing him anymore? What happened?"
"We just…broke up," she said vaguely, aware that her colleague hadn't given her much of a reason, and she hadn't pressed him.
Hugo harumphed. "Let me guess. He couldn't handle that you're so much smarter than he is."
"Dad," she protested, "Jerry's one of the brightest guys in the lab."
But there was a kernel of truth in Hugo's words. Though Kim never talked about her genius-level IQ, her inability to speak any language other than Science Geek when she was nervous—as she invariably was on a date—didn't make for a fabulous love life. Of course, she wouldn't have the job she loved if she wasn't smart…but momentarily, her mind drifted to the advantages of cute and funny over brainy.
"It won't take five minutes to move your things in here." Hugo renewed his attack on her independence. "I could come over now."
A tiny part of her was tempted to say yes. But the minute she moved in with Dad, he'd be scrutinizing her every move, pressuring her to do things his way. As stubborn as they both were, they'd be at loggerheads in forty-eight hours. And if arguing didn't finish them off, the deterioration in her health might. She'd resolved more years ago than she could remember that she would never be a burden to her father.
"I'm too busy," she said. "My place is much nearer my office—" Booth Laboratories was on the west side of Charlotte, just ten minutes from her condo "—and I need every minute I can get in the lab. I've already cut back my hours."
"There's more to life than work."
Kim grinned. Her father devoted almost every waking hour to his job as a NASCAR crew chief. She stood, crossed her small living room to gaze out the window at the busy street below. "I also have a few social engagements coming up in this part of town."
Now that was an outright lie. But when Hugo's voice gladdened and he said, "That's nice, honey. I'm pleased you're seeing your friends," she ditched the guilt. Then he said abruptly, "I haven't heard from her."
Kim groaned inwardly. She'd steered her way through one minefield, only to be pitched into another. Her. Kim's mother. She said carefully, "I didn't expect you would."
"She would come back, if she knew you needed her," Hugo said stubbornly.
"I don't need her."
"She might be a match."
"She might not." Kim doubted Sylvie Ketchum would donate a dollar, let alone a kidney, to Kim.
"I'd give you both my kidneys, if it would do any good," Hugo said fiercely.
When he said things like that, she felt horrible for ever doubting his affection. But there was no escaping that when Sylvie left, he hadn't had a choice about looking after his adoptive daughter. And Hugo was not a man who shirked his responsibilities, no matter what his feelings.
"Thanks, Dad," she said.
"Will you be at the race this weekend?"
"You know I can never resist a trip to Indy." Kim seldom attended the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, even though she loved the intense action. NASCAR was her father's world, and her cousins', and whenever she went she was reminded that she didn't fit in. She watched the races on TV, from a distance.
But she never missed a race at Indianapolis. She loved the track for its history, as well as for the roller-coaster ninety-degree turns that made both drivers and spectators feel as if the cars might plow right into the grandstands.
"If Justin wants to win, he'll have to stop driving too hard into the turns," Hugo said. Kim's cousin Justin Murphy drove the No. 448 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car, and Hugo was his crew chief. "And Wade Abraham's going to have to stop feeding Justin ideas that don't fit with our setup."
It wasn't the first time Hugo has grumbled about Wade Abraham, Justin's new car chief. Kim hadn't met the guy, but she had a sneaking admiration for the way he'd reportedly withstood several run-ins with her father. Most men caved under Hugo's steely command.
"You tell him, Dad." Kim was smiling when she ended the call, and she finished emptying the first carton with more enthusiasm than the contents warranted.
Letters from a pen pal in New Zealand, a correspondence Kim had maintained diligently long after the letters coming the other way had ceased. A sheaf of straight-A school reports reflecting her accelerated progress through high school. She'd graduated at fifteen, moved on to Duke University. No prom photos, no pressed corsages, no love letters. She sighed, then gave herself a short, sharp shake. She'd never written a love letter so why should she regret not having received any?
Methodically, she progressed through several other boxes, all equally inoffensive.
As she worked, she was acutely aware of one carton that she'd instinctively placed a little apart from the others. The Mom Box. It held photos of herself as a toddler, then as a preschooler. Photos of Sylvie, and of Sylvie and Dad's wedding, at which Kim had been a flower girl. Kim gave the box a little shove with her foot. She didn't plan to open it.
The last three cartons held notes, folders, textbooks from her college studies. She didn't really need to go through them, but nostalgia had her opening one. She pulled out a binder of notes from her sophomore cellular biology class. This class had given her what she thought of as her calling—her fascination with the stem cells whose ability to regenerate tissue over a lifetime assured them of a vital role in treating medical conditions once deemed hopeless. The class had inspired her choice of postgraduate study, and her thesis had won her the job at prestigious Booth Laboratories.
Kim opened the binder and inspected her meticulously organized notes. In that sophomore year, she'd been seventeen going on thirty.
She flipped to the section on stem cell differentiation, the focus of her work today.
"What's this?" Her own voice startled her in the darkening room. She flicked on a lamp to examine her find. The section divider was decorated with hearts, flowers and elaborate curlicues, doodled in blue ink.
Kim grinned. Maybe not all those cellular biology lectures had been as fascinating as she remembered. She flipped to the other side of the divider. And found a list, which didn't look as if she could have written it, except the neat handwriting was undoubtedly hers.
Ten Things to Do Before I Die
She froze.
Saliva pooled in her mouth, metallic, bitter.
The list had nothing to do with her illness, she reminded herself. It wasn't the result of some presentiment or foreboding.
If it had been, she surely wouldn't have started with something as trivial as…
1. Play hooky
She skimmed the list in search of a more meaningful ambition. The seventh item arrested her gaze.
7. Date a jock
Relief spread through her, loosening knots of tension in her neck and back, and she found herself smiling. Now she remembered. There'd been a guy, the quarterback on the college football team. Kim had admired him from afar, woven intriguing fantasies in her head.
She'd written the list after she'd realized that if he ever registered her existence, it would be as the freakish kid who'd had more A-plus grades than anyone in the college's recent history. Guys like him, she remembered thinking, dated girls who, when they weren't playing hooky, sat at the back of the lecture hall. Girls who—Kim glanced at item number two on the list—buy a push-up bra.
Cheeks heated, she glanced around, as if someone might be witnessing this testimony to her teenage nerdiness.
"My thirty-something nerdiness," she corrected out loud. She'd capped off her flawless attendance record at college with a dedication to her job that saw her turning up at the laboratory most weekends. Until a few months ago, she'd never taken sick leave and had to be forced to take her vacations.
Nerd!
Kim unbuttoned the top of her blouse and peered inside. She still didn't own a push-up bra. Her white cotton sports bra did nothing for her figure, and the dialysis that had added a few pounds to the rest of her over the past month possessed its own sense of irony—it had left her chest the same unimpressive size it had always been.
She turned back to the list. Maybe somewhere on here she'd find a more noble intention—like curing cancer.
3. Get a tattoo
4. Get drunk
5. Be the life and soul of a wild party
6. Drive a stock car
7. Date a jock
8. Make out at the movies
9. Dump the jock
She snickered. She'd been smart enough to suspect the jock wouldn't hold her interest for long, but arrogant enough to think he wouldn't tire of her first.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 15 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2008

    A winner

    Part of the famous Murphy NASCAR family, Kim became a highly regarded research scientist working at Booth Labs. However, her doctor tells her she has kidney problems that she must not ignore.. Feeling healthier than the horse that won the Derby, she plans to do nothing until she finds her list of 10 things to do before she dies in her family¿s Charlotte home.------------- Kim decides to complete the list which includes dating and dumping a jock. She chooses NASCAR Crew chief Wade Abraham to help her complete those items. He is more than willing to accommodate her. As they fall in love, he remains in the dark as does her family as to why she implemented her dying list of ten.------------ In spite of her family and his job, NASCAR plays a minor support role in this angst laden contemporary romance as Kim facing death decides to complete her list with Wade being her chosen one. The story line is driven totally around the oval by Kim as she engages the audience who pray that a compatible kidney is found in time. Abby Gaines provides a deep tale starring a young brilliant woman living her life to the fullest as begins counting down.-------- Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2008

    Racing at it's best

    This was a book you couldn't put down because you wanted to know how it turns out. It was a lot of fun reading about two people who did not want to be in love. And how your world can be turned upside down at a moments notice.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Teaming Up by Abby Gaines Harlequin NASCAR Library Secrets And L

    Teaming Up by Abby Gaines
    Harlequin NASCAR Library
    Secrets And Legends Series Book 10
    Kim Murphy, adopted daughter of crew chief Hugo Murphy, has a kidney disease and needs a transplant. Unfortunately she has a rare blood type that maybe her mother would be a match, but she took off thirty years ago and never returned. While getting her life in order Kim finds an old list of ten things to do before she dies. What does she have to lose if she’s on her last few laps anyways? More than she ever bargained for.




    Car Chief Wade Abraham is somewhat intrigued by the beauty who has asked him out. His ego takes a hit when he finds out he was just a jock on her list but her her dad, his boss, wants Wade to find out how sick his daughter really is. So what if he’s using her? Since she’s using him as well. What he doesn’t expect is to actually enjoy his time with her.




    A secondary story is Isabel Rogers, part owner of Justin’s team, and Clay Mortimer who is the main sponsor of Justin Murphy’s car. Isabel will do almost anything to convince Clay to not pull his sponsorship. There are still several people missing who have been mentioned in this series, Sylvie Ketchum, Isabel’s mother, and Hilton Branch is still on the lamb, too. Sophia Grosso seems to be more accepted by Hugo Murphy and his gang but the feud is still alive and well. The series continues with Terri Whalen from the Branch team in Tailspin.

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