“Yeah, that’s what this is about—my bruised fucking ego,” he snaps.
“I just…I don’t understand you!” The anger bursts from me. I’m practically tearing my hair out here. “You sleep with women all the time. Why are you making such a big deal out of this?”
Something in his expression changes, and that’s when I see his eyes close down, shutting me out. “I’m not. Whatever, Andressa. We’re done here.” Turning, he walks away from me and over to the window.
“Done?” Panic slaps me in the face. “Carrick, I can’t lose my job over this.” The words are out before I can stop them, and I know it’s the wrong thing to say, but it’s too late now.
I don’t even know why that was the first thing out of my mouth, why I interpreted his words that way, because what I’m more afraid of is losing him from my life. That takes precedence over anything.
He turns back to me, his expression hardened. And I feel sick to my stomach.
“Wow…” A bitter laugh escapes him. “I didn’t realize you thought that low of me.”
“I don’t. I just…I mean—” I trip over my words, trying to correct my error.
He lifts his hand, stopping me. “You still have your job. Contrary to popular belief, I do actually have some fucking integrity.” He turns away from me, giving me his back. “Shut the door on your way out.”
“Carrick…” I take a step toward him. “I wasn’t trying to be a bitch. It’s just you know…Amy and Charlotte—they both lost their jobs because they slept with you.” Why can’t I stop talking? I know I’m making it worse, but the words just keep spilling.
I see his back stiffen. Slowly turning to me, the look on his face hits me like a blast of liquid nitrogen turning me to ice.
The way he’s looking at me…it’s like he actually hates me.
I feel winded.
His jaw is clenched so tightly that it looks like it might shatter. “Get the fuck out, Andressa. Now.” The low warning in his voice is worse than any words he could have yelled at me.
Biting my lip to stop from crying, I turn to the door. Curling my trembling hand around the handle, I yank it open. Slipping out into the hall, I shut the door behind me and fall against the wall beside it.
My body is shaking, my heart racing.
Oh God. I think I just made a huge mistake.
My stomach bottoms out. I clutch a hand to it as a sob rises in my throat, but I catch it in time, covering my mouth with my hand. But I can’t stop the tears from falling. I swipe at them with the back of my hand.
I can’t believe I said those things to him. I need to fix this, but I know, there’s no way he’ll listen to me at the moment. He’s too angry, and I’d probably end up saying even more dumb stuff.
Blinking rapidly and taking calming breaths, I shove my emotions down under a steel trap door for me to deal with later.
I’ll let Carrick calm down, and then I’ll talk to him after the race. It’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.
Right now, I have a job to do, and I can be a better friend to him by making sure his car is running perfectly for the race. That’s what’s important right now.
Taking a deep breath, I square my shoulders and make my way back downstairs to the garage.
When it comes to race time, Carrick comes down to the garage, but he doesn’t look my way, and I don’t try to talk to him. Now is not the time, not before his race.
He exits the garage and heads to the track to talk to the press.
When his interviews are done, a gaggle of stunning models and grid girls are fawning all over him, and he’s lapping up the attention. They’re all beautiful girls wearing next-to-nothing hot pants and T-shirts with advertisements splashed across their ample chests.
Seeing him with those girls stings. One particularly beautiful blonde girl sidles in close to him, claiming his space from the others. She presses her body against his side and puts her hand on his chest, getting his undivided attention.
I feel a flash of jealousy so strong that it shocks me to the core.
It takes me a while to realize that my hands are actually flexing restlessly at my sides.
I try to breathe through the hurt, to look away from them, but I can’t. I can’t take my eyes from the scene unfolding before me.
He’s flirting with her, placing his hand on her shoulder and twisting her hair around his finger, while she talks to him.
I close my eyes on a long blink. When I open them, Carrick is staring straight at me.
The look he gives me is empty, almost as if he’s seeing straight through me. It’s like I no longer exist to him.
It hurts, more than I could have ever anticipated. My heart feels like it’s actually being crushed.
Then, dismissing me with his eyes, he stares down at the girl, giving her that flirty grin of his, as she speaks to him. Brushing her hair aside, he leans in and says something in her ear.
I can only imagine what he’s saying—actually, I take that back. I don’t want to imagine.
She gives him a coy smile, and the hand that was on his chest slides lower.
My stomach knots painfully. I press a hand to it, trying to hold myself together.
And when I catch the movement of his hand going down to cup her behind, I know I’ve seen enough.
Tearing my eyes from the scene, I mumble to Uncle John that I’m heading to the restroom, and then I all but run there, holding my breath and the tears that want to spill.