“Okay,” I acquiesce, letting him move us to the music. But I’m feeling self-conscious and a little silly. I cast a glance at the restaurant across the way. “People are staring,” I whisper.
“So, let them stare. I don’t care because I’m not looking at them. I’m only looking at you.”
That brings my eyes to his. He’s looking at me like he always does—with such intensity that I feel it deep inside my heart, curling around the place where he’s already deeply embedded.
“What if someone recognizes you?” I ask just to try to keep myself grounded and not lose myself in him completely.
But then he goes and says, “Then, they’ll see me dancing with my girl, whom I’m crazy about.” He stops dancing, his eyes serious. “And I am, babe, completely fucking head over heels crazy about you.”
Any sense of grounding I had floats up to the stars along with my heart. Leaning in, I rest my forehead against his, closing my eyes against the depth of emotions I’m feeling. “I’m crazy about you, too.”
And I stay there dancing with him on that street in Budapest until the song fades, knowing that the time I have with him is quickly running out and not knowing how to stop it from happening.
I PRESS MY FINGERTIPS to the cool glass as I stare out of the window, looking out at the illuminated Marina Bay Street Circuit that Carrick will be racing on tomorrow.
It’s late. Carrick’s in bed sleeping, and I’m scared.
My fears have been growing exponentially with each race. For the days running up to each one, I struggle to sleep. My mind is all over the place. And I feel like I don’t get a break from the worry because the races come around so quick.
I’m exhausted, drained, and so very confused.
And here, in Singapore, I’m feeling the worst I ever have. I’m really struggling, and I don’t know if it’s because tomorrow’s race is at night—nine p.m., in fact. It’s not that Singapore has a bad track. It’s just darkness, even though illuminated, hinders visibility.
With the thought of Carrick climbing into his car and going out on the track tomorrow night…I feel sick to my stomach.
Carrick knows that, since we got together, I worry about the races. He knows I’m worried about this one. He just doesn’t know the extent.
He doesn’t know about the panic attacks.
And I don’t want to talk to him in detail about them or my fears because there’s nothing he can do or say to make me feel better. The only way I would feel better was if he weren’t racing, and that’s never going to happen.
One, because he can’t stop. Racing is who he is. And two, I would never ask that of him and not just because I know what his answer would be.
Racing is what makes Carrick. It’s in the air he breathes, the blood that runs through his veins.
And even though I know all of this, I know this is who he is, it doesn’t abate my fears.
It’s bleeding into everything I do. I’m beyond meticulous with checking his car, so much more than I used to be. Where I was vigorous with the safety checks on his car before, now, I’m obsessive. I’m checking everything three or four times. So painstakingly thorough about it that Ben is starting to notice.
Every time Carrick pulls out onto the track, I don’t breathe until he’s come back in safely.
Is this how my mum felt all the time when my dad was racing?
All those years with him, sick with the worry that one race could be his last.
Until it finally was.
I rest my forehead against the cool glass, trying to still my racing thoughts.
“What are you doing, babe?”
The sound of Carrick’s rough sleepy voice catches me off guard, freezing my muscles in place.
Forcing myself to relax, I turn to him. “I couldn’t sleep.”
He closes the distance between us. Sliding his warm hands up my arms, he cups my shoulders. “You’re worried about tomorrow’s race?”
“A little.” So much I can barely breathe. I can’t look into his face, fearing that he’ll see the truth in my eyes.
Taking my face in his hands, he tilts my head back, making me look at him. “It’s gonna be fine.” He drives the point with a solid stare. “I’ve driven this circuit tons of times. I’m gonna be fine.” He presses his reassuring soft lips to mine.
I feel a swell of tears. Swallowing them back, I wrap my arms around his neck, holding him.
“I’m sorry I woke you,” I murmur against his mouth.
He pulls back. “You didn’t. The cold empty space in bed where you should be was what woke me. I don’t like reaching out and you not being there.”
“I’m sorry. Go back to bed. You need your rest for tomorrow. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“No, what I need is you.” His hands slide down my back. Lifting my slip with rough fingers, his palms cup my bare bottom as he takes my mouth again, firmer this time.
I know what he wants. I want it, too. I always want him. More so lately with a desperation, fearing that each time I do have him might be the last.
Carrick’s body presses mine against the glass. As the kiss deepens, I feel his erection against my stomach, sending lightning bolts of desire shooting through me.
Breaking from my mouth, he pulls my slip off my body. Pressing me back up against the glass, it’s cold and unforgiving against my skin. He brushes his thumb over my nipple, making me gasp into his mouth.