“Anything but a mechanic. I think she secretly wanted me to be a model, like she was.”
“Your mother was a model?”
“Mmhmm.” I probably shouldn’t have told him that. It wouldn’t take a genius to link my mother to my father with the help of Google, not that I think Carrick is going to go Googling my mother or me.
“You know it’s funny. The first time I saw you, I had you down for being a model.”
I roll my eyes at him.
“So, is your mother anyone I would have heard of?”
“Probably not. She gave up modeling after she had me. She was incredibly beautiful though, still is.”
“I can imagine.”
“Here. I have a picture of her.” I get my phone from my bag and hand it to him, showing him the screen saver picture I have of my mother and me. I took it just before I left Brazil.
“That’s your mother? Fucking hell, you look like sisters. She’s a definite MILF.”
“Ew!” Reaching over the table, I grab my phone from his hand. “That’s gross! You can’t perv on my mother!”
He’s laughing now. “Sorry. I’m not saying I would like to…erm, you know your mother, but I can imagine that some men would like to you know her—a lot.”
“Jesus, Carrick. You’re making this worse.” I drop my head into my hands.
“Sorry.” He chuckles.
I lift my head, shaking it at him. “Moving on. I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a while. Do you have any ritual things you do before a race?”
My dad did. He always had to wear black boxer shorts and socks. Before every race, he would also have a plain egg omelet for breakfast. I never did learn why.
I wait, but he doesn’t expand.
“Well…are you gonna tell me what it is?”
Arms on the table, he leans forward. “Okay.” He lets out a breath. “I have to eat a bar of Galaxy chocolate before each race.”
“Really?” I smile. “Why?”
Eyes on me, he rests back in his seat, keeping his hands on the table. “After we first moved to England, I don’t know if it was the pressure or being in a different country or what, but I wasn’t winning races. I was coming in fourth at best. I was panicking because Dad had given up so much by moving us to England, and I was getting frustrated because I knew I was capable of more.
“Anyway, on this particular day, I was hungry because I’d forgotten to eat, and my dad was all, ‘You will lose this race on an empty stomach.’ So, he went off to get me something to eat. Anyway, he came back, telling me there was only this shitty vending machine. Then, he held out a bar of Galaxy chocolate, and I was like, ‘What the hell is that? I’m not eating that. It’s women’s chocolate. Men don’t eat Galaxy. They eat Yorkie.’ You remember the adverts?”
“I do.” I laugh, loving the way he’s telling the story.
He’s so animated with his eyes all lit up.
“So, my dad got pissed off and said, ‘Well, they haven’t got any men’s chocolate, so eat the bloody women’s chocolate, and shut the hell up!’”
I snort out a laugh. “So, what did you do?”
“Sulked for about a minute, and then I ate the fucking bar of Galaxy, and it was the best chocolate I’d ever tasted—not that I admitted that to my dad at the time. Then, I got in my kart and won my first ever race in England.”
He smiles fondly, and I can see the memory in his eyes.
“And since then, before every race, my dad buys me a bar of Galaxy from a vending machine, and I eat it. It’s my one weird thing.”
“But what if there isn’t any Galaxy chocolate in a vending machine? Or worse, there isn’t a vending machine?”
He leans forward, a sexy-arse smile on his face. “There’s always a vending machine, Andressa, and there’s always a bar of Galaxy in it.”
“Ah.” The power of being Carrick Ryan.
Guntur appears at our table with a huge tray in his hands, laden with food. He starts placing the plates in front of us. Then, another waiter puts down a green leaf before me.
“Banana leaf,” Carrick tells me when he sees me looking at it. “It’s instead of a plate.”
“Oh, right. Cool.”
After all the food is laid out, I stare at the rices, meats, vegetables, and other things I don’t even know how to describe, and Guntur tells us to enjoy our meal.
Looking up, I say to Carrick, “So much for your healthy eating.” I smile, so he knows I’m teasing.
“You see any overweight Malaysian people around here?”
I give a glance at the few people seated in here. “Nope.”
“Well, there you go then.” He grins.
“Okay, Jabba,” I tease. “So, what should I try first?”
He gives me a look and then muses over the dishes. He picks up a rice dish. “Try this.”
We have a great time over dinner, eating and talking. We chat about school, friends, and random stuff, like favorite music and books—just everything and anything.
We’re there for hours, the time just disappearing. It’s one of the best days I’ve ever had with someone.
When we’re done, Carrick pays, again refusing to let me pay or even go half. And I don’t bother arguing, saving myself the how-much-did-you-earn-last-year speech.