“No. Every morning for the rest of forever.” He takes a deep breath. “India, I’m making this season my last. I’m retiring from Formula One.”
“What?” I exclaim, turning to face him, causing him to fall out of me.
“I think we’ve made a mess of the bedsheets.” He chuckles, gesturing at the wet spot caused by my sudden movement.
“You’re retiring?” I ignore his humor. “Is this because I lost my job because we’re together, and you feel guilty because of that? Because, if it is, then, no, you can’t do it. I won’t let you.”
He takes my face in his hands, brushing my hair from my face with his thumbs. “No. It’s not because of that. I was already considering retiring before any of that happened. I hated being away from you when I was in Belgium. My contract is up this year. I came back and achieved what I had wanted to achieve. I fought my demons and got back on the track. But racing just doesn’t give me the same feeling as it used to. I want to start my life with you and Jett. I don’t want to be away from either of you for most of the year.”
I feel a sense of warmth rush through me. “You’re sure this is what you want?” I ask in a soft voice.
“Yes. One day soon, I’m going to marry you and fill your belly with lots of Silva babies.”
“Lots?” I sputter.
He chuckles, eyes twinkling. “Of course. I’m thinking three, maybe four.” He lifts his shoulder, nonchalant.
A strangled laugh escapes me, my eyes widening. “Three, maybe four? Slow down there, Mr. Virility. How do you know I even want more children?”
I do want more children. I couldn’t think of anything better than having a baby with Leandro. Probably not four though. But I do love teasing him.
The expression on his face freezes. Then, as quickly as it froze, his expression relaxes. “Then, I would be fine as we are. Jett is mine, so—”
“What?” My breath catches in my throat.
“I said, Jett is mine.” His voice softens, his fingertips running down my cheek. “As far as I am concerned, Jett is my son. I’m not trying to step on Kit’s toes. I know he has raised Jett as his own. But I want to be Jett’s dad, so long as he wants me to be.”
My lips tremble, my eyes watering. “I’m pretty sure Jett would be okay with that. Kit, too.”
He smiles, one corner of his lips lifting. “Good.”
God, I love him. So much.
“And I do want to have more kids, just so you know.” I smile gently.
He kisses me again. “We can get started making baby number one as soon as the season is over. We will just get in plenty of practice beforehand.”
I press my hand to his chest, over his heart. “How did I get so lucky to have you love me, Leandro Silva?”
“I am the lucky one, babe. Believe me. My life was on a downward spiral to hell before I met you. You saved me in more ways than one. Loving you saved me.” Covering my hand with his, he kisses me again, slow and deep, until he’s moving inside me, making good on the baby-making practice he has planned for us.
WHEN I STARTED RACING, I knew this day would come, but I didn’t think I would feel the way I do right now or finishing for the reason I am. I thought I would be racing until I was forced to stop by age, or death. Not leaving because it was simply time, and so I can begin my life with the woman I am in love with and her son, who I love equally as much. He is not just India’s son. He is mine, too. The more time I spend with Jett, the further that kid burrows deeper into my heart, right along with his mom.
If someone had told me a few years ago that this right here would now be my life—in love with a beautiful woman and me now having a twelve-year-old son—I would have laughed in their face.
Now, I am beyond happy. I have found my place in the world. A place I didn’t even know I was looking for until I found it.
Even knowing this is my final race and although traced with a little sadness, I’m just ready for it to be done, so I can get my family home and start the next chapter of my life with them.
Helmet on my head, I say the words I haven’t uttered since right before the accident that changed everything. The race that I thought had almost ended my life, but instead, it led me straight to the best thing in my life, India.
“Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose,” I whisper under my breath.
With one last look at India—with Jett on one side, my mother on her other—I mouth to her, I love you.
A stunning smile spreads across her face, and then she mouths the words right back to me, leaving my heart feeling full.
I climb into the cockpit. Time to go.
I run through the tire warm-up. Then, we are at the starting line. I’m on pole position from qualifying first yesterday. Now, I just need to win this race.
I’m not going to win the Prix. Carrick is just a little more up on points than me. But if I’m retiring, then I’m going out with a win.
The usual flicker of anxiety grips my chest. But I control it and then dispel it.
My car starts off, rapidly gaining speed, until I’m flying around the track. The voices in my ear are drowned out by my own focus on winning this race and getting back to my family.
“Yes!” I pump my fist into the air as I cross the finish line, coming in first.