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. I 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.