Dammit, he was alive. And his blue eyes were sparkling, instead of glazed with pain. He was alive. Standing. Walking slowly toward him.
“It’s good to be back in the real world.”
They hugged fiercely for much longer than was necessary.
“It’s so good to see you,” Remy said in a voice choked with raw emotion.
“No appointments?” Pierre-Louis teased. “No exceptions, your fierce little secretary said.”
“I’m late to meet my mother and an old friend for lunch, or I’d suggest we go out. But you’re always welcome—here or at the château. But then, you know that.”
He studied the dark circles under Pierre-Louis’s eyes. Maybe they weren’t quite as dark as they’d been three months ago when he’d last seen him at the rehab hospital. He was standing, walking apparently. Remy tried not to think about the amputated leg that the doctors had worked so hard to save.
“You look good,” Remy whispered.
“Thanks to titanium we’ll probably be jogging together in six months. Hey, but what about you? I wasn’t the only one who hit a rough patch. I’m glad you’re back. At last. Wonderful news in the papers last week!”
“The newspapers want me charged. Hell, did you see the editorial two days ago where the writer said men like me make him want to bring back the guillotine?”
“They’ll forget. But more importantly, you should forget.”
Remy stared out his window at the brick facade of the office building across the street, which blocked the sun and made him feel trapped in its long shadow. “Maybe I should have stayed in London.”
“No. Don’t look back. Just concentrate on the future. I’ve recently taken a job with Taylor’s team.”
“Driving?” Remy asked, hoping his alarm didn’t show.
Pierre-Louis shook his head. “Administration. That’s why I’m here. Taylor asked me to look you up. Have you given any thought to what you’re going to do now that you have these obnoxious legalities behind you?”
“Work for my family.”
“You became a driver because that wasn’t enough for you. And not just a driver—the best damn driver there ever was.”
“A lot has changed.”
“But have you changed?”
“Too much.” Remy paused. “So what do you want?”
“You. Taylor wants you on our team.”
“I told you before that I retired a year ago. For good.”
“We don’t want you in a car. Taylor wants your brains, your administrative and organizational skills. He’s not getting any younger, but he’s got the ambitions of a young man. He says we need men with your kind of dedication, brilliance and energy at the highest level if we’re going to keep Formula One a global television spectacular. As the technology improves, you can help us make the sport safer and better. You can save lives, Remy.”
“Taylor’s a bastard to send you. You’re the one person I hate saying no to.”
“Good. Then maybe soon I’ll convince you to say yes. If ever there was a born mogul of the pit lane and paddock, it’s you, Remy.”
“Thanks,” Remy said, but his voice was cold.
“But no thanks?”
“Formula One is a murderous sport. Like I told you before, I don’t want to have a hand in killing anybody else.”
“It wasn’t your fault that the steering jammed.”
“Look, I’ve rerun that race a thousand times in my head. I could have taken that curve more slowly. I should have. I was reckless, out of control.”
“We were all pushing the edge that day. That’s what drivers get paid to do.”
“I can’t go back. Not ever.”
“Just think about it.”
Remy shook his head.
“You know, you’re the last man I’d ever peg for a quitter.”
“Hey, thanks. I know what you’re trying to do.” Remy hesitated. “I’ve got to go now. But it was good to see you. I’ll call you.”
“You haven’t heard the last of me. You were there for me during the worst time. I won’t forget that. On a different subject—how long has your cute secretary worked for you?”
“Is she married? Children?”
“Divorced. One little girl. And she doesn’t date.”
“Maybe the right man hasn’t asked her.”
“Marie-Elise is sensible and sensitive. She’s been hurt—badly.”
“Marie-Elise. Pretty name. Very pretty.” His eyes were warm. His smile was as big as his heart.