I listen to Carrick rattle off what sounds like an awful lot of food while I take a sip of my water.
Guntur scribbles down the order and then disappears off into the kitchen.
“So, I can’t believe I’ve never asked you this before, but whereabouts in Ireland did you grow up?”
“Houth. It’s an old fishing village not far from Dublin.”
“Does it have any beaches?”
“Nah.” He laughs. “Off the harbor is a scrap of rocks you can just about stand on to get near the water. Nothing like what you have in Brazil.”
“I didn’t always have those beaches, remember? I was born in the UK.”
“Yeah, of course,” he says. “Whereabouts in England are you from?”
“And why did you move to Brazil?”
I take a sip of water, preparing myself for my response. “My dad died when I was ten.”
“Jesus, Andressa. I didn’t know that. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. You didn’t kill him.”
He stares at me for a moment, looking uncomfortable.
“Sorry. Poorly timed joke.”
I wave it off, and his face relaxes. I just wanted the look of pity on his face gone. I can take it from anyone, but on him…it bothers me.
“Anyway, my mother didn’t have any family in England, but she has a lot in Brazil. We were alone in England, so she took me back to Brazil to live.”
“Must have been hard—losing your dad and moving halfway around the world.”
“I managed.” Just barely. “And I have loads of cousins and aunts and uncles, so it was nice to be around family.”
“How did your dad die? If you don’t mind me asking.”
“In an accident.”
“What kind of accident?”
“The worst kind.” My voice is harsh, and I instantly feel bad, so I try to lighten the subject by changing it. “So, how did you end up becoming a Formula One driver?”
“My dad was a mechanic—”
“I didn’t know that.” I lean forward with interest.
“Yeah, I grew up around cars. My granddad—my dad’s dad—was a mechanic, too, so I guess cars are in my blood. When I was seven, my dad took me and a few of my friends go-karting for my birthday, and from that moment on, I was hooked. I was karting on a regular basis, entering competitions. I loved it. Couldn’t get enough. My dad quickly realized how serious I was about it, and of course, he saw how good I was, especially since I was winning all my races.” He gives a cheeky smile.
“So, he started dedicating a lot of his time to my dream. With all the races I was entering, it was hard for him with work, so he ended up having to reduce his day hours and take on more nighttime off-the-book jobs to earn money.
“Then, when I was thirteen, my granddad passed away, and he left everything to Dad—his house and a good bit of money he’d saved over the years. Karting was good in Ireland, and the races were decent, but I wanted more. Dad saw that there were more opportunities with karting in England and the possibility to progress to Formula One. So, he sold Granddad’s house and our house, and he moved us to England. He rented a place and took on jobs when he could. He used the money from Granddad and the house sales to keep us afloat.
“I entered into Intercontinental A when I was fourteen, which I think is now called KF-two. Then, the year after, I progressed up to Formula A. The next year up, I was up to Formula Super A. I moved up through F-three, F-two, and then to F-one by the time I was twenty.”
“Wow. That’s quite some story. Your dad did a lot for you to help get you where you are,” I say, starting to see the reason for Owen’s protectiveness over Carrick’s career.
“Yeah, he did. He’s great. The best dad a guy could ask for.”
That brings a lump in my throat. “What about your mum?”
His eyes darken. “She’s not around. Hasn’t been for a long time.”
“When I was two. Apparently, she wasn’t mother material.”
“Oh, Carrick…I’m sorry.”
I can’t imagine anyone leaving a child. My mum would never have left me, and my dad…no way. The only way he left me was in death. And to leave someone like Carrick…I can’t imagine. He just shines so much.
Reaching over the table, I touch my hand to his, curling my fingers around it. “She missed out big, Carrick. Really big.”
His eyes flicker to my hand, lingering there a moment, and then they lift to my face.
My heart starts to pump in my chest.
I slide my fingers away. Picking my drink up, I take a nervous sip.
“What’s your favorite car?” he asks out of the blue, assumably to fill the awkwardness I just created with my little hand-holding moment.
“Oh, that’s easy. Jaguar XK-one twenty.”
It was the car my father drove, his pride and joy. He had it until the day he died. I haven’t seen that car since. When my dad died, my mother got rid of his cars at auction and gave all the money to charity. I was angry for a long time about that.
“What about you?”
“Usually the one I’m driving. I’m fickle like that.”
He grins, and I laugh.
“How did you know you wanted to be a mechanic?” he asks.
“Same as how you knew you wanted to be a driver. I grew up around cars. It was a natural progression. My mother probably wished I had done something else with my life though.”