The space in here suddenly feels a hell of a lot smaller.
I take a deep breath, trying to be unaffected, but it doesn’t work.
I’m totally aware of him next to me. All I can smell is his sexy-as-sin aftershave, and it’s making my head feel dizzy. I’m starting to burn up.
What the hell is wrong with me?
I fix my eyes on the digits, watching the numbers climb. I need to get out of this elevator and soon, but the counter seems to be slowing down to a snail’s pace.
Carrick exhales. It’s a soft sound, but I feel like he’s blowing in my ear.
I shudder. I actually fucking shudder.
I wrap my arms around myself, trying to take control of my raging hormones, but I somehow manage to knock my arm with his this time.
Well done, Andi.
Now, all I’ve succeeded in doing is to set off the lick of heat again, and it’s quickly heading south.
I can feel Carrick’s eyes on me, but I don’t dare look at him. And I definitely don’t dare to speak, for fear of saying something stupid, so I pretend not to notice that I just touched his arm.
Instead, I press my thighs together and beg to the gods to get me out of this elevator fast.
What the hell is going on with me? And is this elevator ever going to reach my fucking floor?
Come on…come on…
It reaches my floor with a ping, like the timer on an oven, and like the chicken, I’m done.
“This is me.” My voice sounds unnaturally high. I slip out the door before it even has a chance to fully open. “Thanks for walking with me,” I say, backing away.
He steps outside the elevator, hand holding the door. “Anytime. Good night, Andressa.” His voice sounds different—deeper, husky.
“Good night, Carrick.” I turn on the spot and walk as fast as I can to my room. My heart is beating up a storm in my chest while my head is wondering what the hell that was all about.
TODAY IS RACE DAY. The garage is a hub of activity. And I’m beyond excited. I’ve been on countless tracks for races, especially when I was working in stock cars back home. But being here, being part of the Prix, is amazing.
The noise of the engines revving, the smell of the cars, and people all around prepping for the race, it carries like a buzz of energy in the air. There’s nothing quite like race day.
It’s electric, and I feel privileged to be a part of it.
I’m slingshotted back to when I was a kid, and I would come to watch my dad race.
I did wonder if this first race would feel strange for me. I guess it does a little, but I’m more focused on the excitement of Carrick’s upcoming race, and all the work that needs to be done beforehand is keeping me busy. And it’s not like I haven’t been to the Prix since my dad died.
But being here in the midst of it all…totally different feeling from standing on the sidelines watching. It’s amazing.
I spy Nico Tresler coming into the garage. I haven’t seen him at all during practice sessions. If he’s been here, it’s when I haven’t been.
Right, this is it. I’m going to stop being a wimp, and I’m going to go over and introduce myself.
I cross the small distance over to Nico’s side of the garage. Coming up behind him, I shift to the side, so he can see me in his peripheral.
He’s currently talking to Damon, his chief mechanic. When Nico notices me, he stops his conversation and turns his head to me. “Can I help you?”
“Hi, Mr. Tresler. Sorry to interrupt. My name is Andi Amaro. I’m Carrick’s new mechanic, and I just wanted to come over and introduce myself. I’m a huge fan.” It’s not a total lie. I prefer other drivers over Tresler, but buttering up a driver is always the best way to go.
He turns to face me, so he’s giving me his full attention. “Oh, yes. Ryan’s new mechanic. I’ve heard all about you.” His eyes rake over me in a less than comfortable way.
I shift on the spot.
“Not surprising that he gave you the job.”
He didn’t actually. “I was hired by John, not Carrick.” I keep my tone even, professional, and definitely nonconfrontational.
Drivers can be difficult at times, especially on race day. They’re tense and stressed, so it’s best not to stoke the fire. Keep it courteous. He might be acting like a bit of a tool, but he’s a driver, and I need to respect that.
“Of course you were,” he says dismissively. Then, he leans in close. “You might be naive enough to think that Ryan hired you based on your skill set. He didn’t. He hired you because of your bra size. The guy has no class and treats this profession like a joke. He’s a selfish bastard who doesn’t give a fuck about anyone but himself.”
I flicker a glance at Damon, who gives me a look of sympathy before turning away.
“I wouldn’t say that—” I start to defend Carrick.
“Everything okay here?” Carrick cuts me off.
I spin around to him. His stare is on Nico. Carrick’s face is perfectly blank, but in his eyes is a world of anger.
“Everything’s fine.” Nico smiles, baring teeth at Carrick. “I was just letting Andi know what she’s gotten herself into, working for you.”
Carrick lets out a sardonic laugh. “I’m sure you were. Andressa, do you have a minute?” His fingers press against my upper arm.
Even through my coveralls, I feel his touch, like it was on my bare skin.