“Nice,” I comment.
“Loaner.” He shrugs. “The dealers like to give me cars when I’m here for races.”
“Must be awesome being you.” I let out a little dreamy sigh as my fingers run over the shiny paintwork of the car.
“It has its benefits.” He grins. “You wanna drive?” He holds up the key.
I feel a frisson of excitement, and then my face drops. “I don’t know where we’re going.”
“Ah, yeah, right. You can just drive back then.”
That lifts my smile right up.
I climb in the car, buckle in, and drop my sunglasses over my eyes. Carrick turns the engine on, the car filling with the sound of Clean Bandit’s “Real Love.” He puts his shades on and drives us out of the garage into the gorgeous sunny day.
“You want to go karting?” I stare up at the sign above the entrance, my hands going to my hips.
We’re standing outside the Sepang Kart Circuit, which is adjacent to the track he’ll be racing on in a few days.
“Yep,” he says from beside me.
“But you race for a living.”
“Okay, so you want me to race against you, the previous karting and current Formula One champion of the world. Well, I guess at least I won’t feel too bad when I lose.”
“If it makes you feel better, I’ll let you win.”
“Ugh, a pity win? No, that’s even worse.” I nudge my shoulder into his, ignoring the pang of attraction I feel at the contact.
“Actually, should you be doing this? What if you get hurt?” Disconcerted, I look at him.
If he hurts himself and can’t race and Owen and Pierce find out I was with him, my head will be on the chopping block.
He gives me an insulted look. “You know who you’re talking to, right? I’m Carrick Ryan, god of the tracks.”
“Ha!” I laugh. “Should I bow at your feet, oh godly one?”
“Not necessary, young grasshopper.”
He pats me on the head with his hand, and I bat him away, causing him to laugh.
Then, his face sobers. “But…what I do need from you is your silence.”
“Silence?” I cock my head in confusion.
“Mmhmm. My dad doesn’t know I’m here, for the prior mentioned reason, so to save me a month of earache from him about my irresponsible behavior, it’d be great if you kept this little karting thing a secret.”
“Ah.” I fold my arms. “So, I’m your dirty little secret.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but you can be my dirty secret if you want to be. You only have to say the word.”
Tutting, I shake my head in mock disgust, which earns me a filthy sounding chuckle. I pretend not to feel it in every part of me.
“So, what you’re actually asking is for me to keep this a secret from your dad, who coincidentally scares the crap out of me?” I say, diverting back to the original subject matter.
“You’re scared of my dad? Why?” He looks surprised.
“Because he dislikes me.”
“He doesn’t dislike you.” He brushes me off.
“He thinks I’m a distraction.”
“A distraction for whom?”
“You. And the rest of the guys, of course.”
“Oh. Right. Well then, you’re the perfect person to keep my secret ’cause you’re scared of my dad, so you’ll never give me up to him.” He smirks as he starts walking toward the building.
“Hey, now, hang on there. Because your dad scares the crap out of me is the exact reason that this is gonna cost you.”
Stopping, he turns back. With his head tilted to the side, he gives me an assessing look. “Interesting. Go on.” He gestures his hand at me.
“Well, if you do get your godly arse hurt here today”—that comment earns me an eye roll—“then I’m out of a job because your dad would have me fired quicker than I could say stop.”
He stares at me for a long moment, the tip of his tongue pressed up against his teeth.
He has a nice tongue. Can someone have a nice tongue?
I bet it kisses well. Among other things.
Now, I’m imagining me sucking on his tongue and then Carrick using his tongue on me and—
For God’s sake, Andi. Sort yourself out.
I snap myself out of my dirty daydream.
“So, you’re bribing me for your silence?”
I can’t get a read on his tone. He sounds too even, and now, I’m starting to worry that I might have said the wrong thing. Sure, I was joking, and he usually gets my humor, but he might not be getting it this time.
“Sort of,” I falter.
“Well, you either are, or you aren’t. Which is it, Andressa?”
“Are...” I give a lame toothy grin.
He stares at me for the longest moment. Then, I see a flicker of amused admiration in his eyes. “Blackmail. I’m impressed.” He grins as he puts his fist up and fist-bumps me.
I let out the breath I was holding.
“So, what’s this gonna cost me then?” He starts moving backward toward the door, so he’s still facing me.
“Hmm.” Pressing my lips together, I tap my finger on them. “I don’t know.”
“Sex? I can be your sex slave for a week. Hell, you don’t even have to blackmail me to get that. I’ll do it for free.”