“Thanks for today, the karting and the food,” I say as we walk back out into the early evening sunshine.
We walk back through the market and to the car. When we reach it, Carrick tosses me the keys.
I grin like the cat that got the cream.
“Back to the hotel?” I check, climbing in the driver’s side.
“Yeah, but take the long way.”
I put my seat belt on and turn the engine. She purrs like a kitten. The stereo comes to life with the pumping sound of Philip George’s “Wish You Were Mine.”
“You ready for the ride of your life?” I tap my hand on the steering wheel as I turn my face to him, and I find he’s already looking at me, his expression unreadable.
“Yeah, I’m ready.”
Something in his tone makes my heart bump against my chest.
I slide the car in gear. Checking my mirrors, I pull onto the street. Pressing the pedal to the metal, I drive us out of there.
“SO, WHAT DID YOU THINK?”
Carrick and I are in the living room of his hotel suite, and we’ve just watch Cars. I finally talked him into it. I’m sprawled out on the sofa, feet up on the coffee table. Carrick’s at the other end of the sofa, and there’s a huge bowl of half-eaten ice cream between us. It was the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. It reminded me of the mound of ice cream that Macaulay Culkin had in Home Alone.
Clearly, Carrick is on a hiatus from his health kick. But I’m giving him a pass tonight because it was race day, and he came in third. It’s unusual for him. He’s usually first or second. Rarely third. He said the car was understeering. Ben and I checked it, but we couldn’t find anything wrong, so I don’t know what happened out there.
But Carrick has understandably been in a shitty mood about it ever since. He’s competitive, and he doesn’t like losing.
When he said he wasn’t up for going out, I said I’d stay and hang out with him while Petra and the guys went out.
I don’t mind since we all leave for Bahrain tomorrow, but Carrick has to stay on for some press and sponsor things, and he has to film an advertisement. I won’t see him for a few days until he joins us there, so I’m happy to spend this time with him before I leave.
We ordered a mix of food along with the ice cream from room service, and we’ve had a fun night.
But then, every night I spend with Carrick is fun. It’s fair to say that we’ve grown closer recently. A lot closer. I see him most days, and if I don’t see him, we text or call.
He’s fast becoming the best friend I’ve ever had.
“It was okay,” he muses.
“Just okay?” I give him a look of mock disgust.
He spent a good majority of the film laughing. I even saw him get misty-eyed at one point.
“Yeah, just okay.”
“You lie.” Sitting up, I remove my legs from the coffee table and curl them under me, facing his side. “You loved it. Admit it.”
“I said, it was just okay.” He frowns.
His mood is still off. I thought the film might help, but the edge is still there.
I need to make him laugh.
“Tell the truth. Say you loved Cars, and it was the best film you’ve ever seen, or you’re gonna get it.”
“I’m gonna get it?” That raises his brow.
“And how exactly how am I gonna get it?”
I eye the bowl of ice cream and then grab it. Lifting the bowl up to chest level, I pull the dripping spoon from the ice cream, letting it drip back into the bowl. “Admit that Cars was the best film you’ve ever seen, or you’re getting creamed.” I give him a cocky look.
His brow lifts higher. Feet off the coffee table, he sits up, eyes alert, turning his body toward me. “That so, Amaro? You do realize that I can move really fast. I’ll have the bowl out of your hands, and I’ll be covering you in ice cream before you even get a chance to flick that spoon in my direction.”
“That so?” I raise a brow. “That’s a bold statement to make.”
He gets up on his knees on the sofa, facing me. “Not bold. Fact.”
“Are you challenging me, Ryan?”
He tilts his head to the side. “Yeah. Why? You chicken, Amaro?”
“Ha! Not likely. Challenge accepted.”
Then, it all kind of happens pretty quickly. I scoop up some ice cream, lifting my hand to flick it at him. Fuck, he can move quick. He wasn’t kidding. I just manage to get a small splatter of ice cream on his shirt before I find myself flat on my back and the bowl out of my hand, gone somewhere on the floor, with a smirking Carrick pinning my hands above my head, plucking the spoon from my fingers.
“What were you saying?” he says cockily from above me, holding the spoon tauntingly over my face.
“Aargh!” I squeal, closing my eyes, anticipating the ice cream drip.
“Do you give?” His voice is deep.
It causes a ripple in my lower belly.
I open my eyes, staring into his. “Never. I’d rather get covered in ice cream than submit.”
Something flashes in his eyes at my last word choice.
“Just do your worst, and get it over with.” Scrunching my eyes up, I ready myself for the ice cream covering.
Then, I feel it—something very large and very significant pressing against my thigh.
My breath catches, and my eyes open to meet his.
His face is much closer to mine than it was a moment ago.