“You don’t have to do this. Not yet. Not if it feels too soon.”
He looks at me. “Time is creeping up on me. It’s the middle of December now. I need to be back in the cockpit in a few weeks, a month max, or I’ll never race again. I have to be able to drive a standard car before getting into a race car. I’m sick of being a mental cripple, India. I have to do this.” He gives me a stare that screams desperation and determination.
The desperation concerns me. “I just don’t want you to rush yourself, Leandro, and set yourself back weeks. You’ve been making excellent progress.”
“And that progress needs to speed up now—rapidly. It’s now or never, India.”
“Okay.” I nod, accepting his wishes. “Just take deep breaths. Might feel the need to rush, but you don’t need to rush this particular moment. And remember, I’m here with you. You’re not alone.”
He gives me an appreciative soft smile, and then he fixes his eyes on his hands gripping the steering wheel.
We’re in my car, which I got back fixed and working better than before, even though it cost me a pretty penny. Leandro is adamant about wanting to drive it. As he was my last appointment of the day, I drove us to a large car park that I knew would be quiet at this time of day. I thought it would be safer here, in case he froze up at the wheel.
“I can do this.”
“You can do this,” I assure him. “You’ve driven cars that go speeds I can’t even imagine. You lived through a crash that could have been fatal. You’re a survivor. You can do this.”
I touch his arm to reassure him, ignoring the pang of energy I feel at the contact with him.
“I can do this,” he repeats.
Eyes focused on the windshield, he grits his teeth and blows out a breath between them. Then, he slips the gearstick into first, and we start to slowly move forward.
I don’t say anything. I just leave him to it. He knows I’m here, if he needs me, but this is something he needs to do himself.
Then, he’s moving a bit faster, moving up through the gears. I intently watch him, seeing the tension leaving his body.
“You’re doing it,” I say softly.
“I’m doing it.” I can hear the tremor of relief in his voice.
“How are you feeling?”
“Good.” He exhales, a smile in his voice. “I’m feeling…really fucking good.”
After a few minutes of him easing us around the car park, I ask him, “Do you think you could go out into traffic and drive?”
He glances at me. There’s no apprehension on his face. “Yes.”
“Why don’t you drive yourself home then? Save me from driving you there.” I smile.
“Only if you will come in for a drink with me, to celebrate me finally getting back behind the wheel.”
His eyes are on the road as he pulls out of the car park and onto the street.
I stare at his side profile. “I probably shouldn’t.”
“That ethical line again, huh? So, it is against the rules for a therapist to toast a big success with her patient?”
“When you put it that way, then no, I guess not. But only one drink, and a small one. I have to drive myself home.”
“One small drink it is.”
I feel him pressing down on the gas, propelling us forward into the thick of traffic.
Leandro drives us into Mayfair. He pulls my car into a parking space in front of an integral garage to a gorgeous-looking house. He turns the engine off and looks at me. There’s a light in his eyes.
“You did it.” I smile at him.
“Yes, I did it.”
I feel the sudden urge to hug him in this momentous moment, and I guess he’s thinking the same thing because he’s suddenly leaning over the console and wrapping his arms around me, pulling me to him.
Shock freezes me in place. That, and his smell. God, he smells good.
“Thank you,” he whispers into my hair.
The feel of his breath brushing through my strands, whispering onto my skin, has my arms sliding around him, hugging him back.
“It was all you.” Is that my voice that sounds all breathy?
He pulls back a touch but doesn’t let go. He’s staring into my eyes, and I feel a tremble deep inside me.
“No.” He softly shakes his head. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
I can’t speak. His eyes are moving over my face, settling on my mouth.
I think he’s going to kiss me.
I want him to kiss me.
With gargantuan strength, I pull out of his hold and clear my throat. “So, is this your house?” I gesture to the house through the windshield, my eyes pinned on it.
I can’t look at him. I don’t dare look at him.
“It is.” His voice sounds rougher than normal.
I hear the click of his door opening, pushing me into action. I climb out of my car. He’s waiting for me at his side of the car. I walk to him on unsteady legs. My heart is beating a mile a minute.
Using the remote sensor, he locks my car and hands me the keys. His fingers graze over mine, making me shiver.
What am I thinking? I’m his therapist.
He’s just grateful for me helping him. He’s confusing that with wanting me.
Clenching my keys in my fist, I drop them in my bag.
“Thanks for trusting me to drive your car.” He smiles at me as he walks to his front door.