“Santos. It’s in São Paulo, on the coast.”
“Yeah, I know Santos. Beautiful beaches.”
“I spent a lot of time on those beaches.” I smile fondly at the memory of spending time at the beach with my mum. “I lived in central São Paulo for a while, too.”
“I went to the university, lived on campus, saved traveling back and forth. My mum wasn’t so keen on me living away from home though.” I laugh lightly, remembering how stressed she was about me moving out that first time.
“You ever go to watch the Prix back home?”
“A few times. Uncle John got me tickets.”
“You saw me race?”
“I did.” I smile. “And you were awesome, especially that year when you beat Leandro Silva taking that corner on the Bico de Pato. It was outstanding.”
Staring at me, he blinks. “How did I never meet you before a few weeks ago?”
“Because Uncle John probably didn’t trust you around me.” I give him a knowing grin.
“Yeah, good point—not that I can be trusted much nowadays either. Kidding.” He holds his hands up, laughing. “We’re best friends, and I don’t shag my best friend.”
“You really need to stop saying that.”
“What? That we’re best friends?”
“Because it makes you sound weird, like you’re a five-year-old boy.”
“I’m definitely no boy. And I was going more for charming than weird. Clearly, that’s not working.”
I laugh at the mirth in his eyes.
“So, John’s not your real uncle, right? But you call him Uncle John?”
I instantly tense at the question, worried about the direction it might take. “Yeah.” I swallow down. “He’s a close family friend. He’s known me since I was a baby. He’s my godfather.”
I think Carrick senses my discomfort because he changes course. “So, what did you study at university?”
“Figures.” He smiles warmly. “I never went to university.”
“Too busy racing?”
“Yeah. I think I would have liked it though.”
“Hmm…yeah, the student life would definitely have suited you,” I tease. “Parties, women, and booze.”
He laughs lightly. “I’m not as bad as the press makes me out to be, you know.”
“But you’re not far off…”
He gives me a sobering look. “Not too far, no.”
Looking up, I see that we’ve reached the hotel.
Carrick holds the door open for me, letting me in first. We walk through the lobby and get into a waiting elevator. I press the button for my floor, noticing that Carrick doesn’t press the button to his floor.
“Which floor?” I ask him.
I press the button for the penthouse and then move back to stand beside him.
We’re silent as the lift starts to ascend, the tinny elevator music playing in the background.
Carrick shifts his stance and pushes his hands in his pockets, his arm knocking against mine. “Sorry,” he murmurs.
“It’s okay,” I reply. God knows how I managed to get the words out because I’m feeling all kinds of weird and wired due to this intense blaze of heat now licking its way across my skin from where his arm just touched mine.
The space in here suddenly feels a hell of a lot smaller.
I take a deep breath, trying to be unaffected, but it doesn’t work.
I’m totally aware of him next to me. All I can smell is his sexy-as-sin aftershave, and it’s making my head feel dizzy. I’m starting to burn up.
What the hell is wrong with me?
I fix my eyes on the digits, watching the numbers climb. I need to get out of this elevator and soon, but the counter seems to be slowing down to a snail’s pace.
Carrick exhales. It’s a soft sound, but I feel like he’s blowing in my ear.
I shudder. I actually fucking shudder.
I wrap my arms around myself, trying to take control of my raging hormones, but I somehow manage to knock my arm with his this time.
Well done, Andi.
Now, all I’ve succeeded in doing is to set off the lick of heat again, and it’s quickly heading south.
I can feel Carrick’s eyes on me, but I don’t dare look at him. And I definitely don’t dare to speak, for fear of saying something stupid, so I pretend not to notice that I just touched his arm.
Instead, I press my thighs together and beg to the gods to get me out of this elevator fast.
What the hell is going on with me? And is this elevator ever going to reach my fucking floor?
Come on…come on…
It reaches my floor with a ping, like the timer on an oven, and like the chicken, I’m done.
“This is me.” My voice sounds unnaturally high. I slip out the door before it even has a chance to fully open. “Thanks for walking with me,” I say, backing away.
He steps outside the elevator, hand holding the door. “Anytime. Good night, Andressa.” His voice sounds different—deeper, husky.
“Good night, Carrick.” I turn on the spot and walk as fast as I can to my room. My heart is beating up a storm in my chest while my head is wondering what the hell that was all about.
TODAY IS RACE DAY. The garage is a hub of activity. And I’m beyond excited. I’ve been on countless tracks for races, especially when I was working in stock cars back home. But being here, being part of the Prix, is amazing.