The noise of the engines revving, the smell of the cars, and people all around prepping for the race, it carries like a buzz of energy in the air. There’s nothing quite like race day.
It’s electric, and I feel privileged to be a part of it.
I’m slingshotted back to when I was a kid, and I would come to watch my dad race.
I did wonder if this first race would feel strange for me. I guess it does a little, but I’m more focused on the excitement of Carrick’s upcoming race, and all the work that needs to be done beforehand is keeping me busy. And it’s not like I haven’t been to the Prix since my dad died.
But being here in the midst of it all…totally different feeling from standing on the sidelines watching. It’s amazing.
I spy Nico Tresler coming into the garage. I haven’t seen him at all during practice sessions. If he’s been here, it’s when I haven’t been.
Right, this is it. I’m going to stop being a wimp, and I’m going to go over and introduce myself.
I cross the small distance over to Nico’s side of the garage. Coming up behind him, I shift to the side, so he can see me in his peripheral.
He’s currently talking to Damon, his chief mechanic. When Nico notices me, he stops his conversation and turns his head to me. “Can I help you?”
“Hi, Mr. Tresler. Sorry to interrupt. My name is Andi Amaro. I’m Carrick’s new mechanic, and I just wanted to come over and introduce myself. I’m a huge fan.” It’s not a total lie. I prefer other drivers over Tresler, but buttering up a driver is always the best way to go.
He turns to face me, so he’s giving me his full attention. “Oh, yes. Ryan’s new mechanic. I’ve heard all about you.” His eyes rake over me in a less than comfortable way.
I shift on the spot.
“Not surprising that he gave you the job.”
He didn’t actually. “I was hired by John, not Carrick.” I keep my tone even, professional, and definitely nonconfrontational.
Drivers can be difficult at times, especially on race day. They’re tense and stressed, so it’s best not to stoke the fire. Keep it courteous. He might be acting like a bit of a tool, but he’s a driver, and I need to respect that.
“Of course you were,” he says dismissively. Then, he leans in close. “You might be naive enough to think that Ryan hired you based on your skill set. He didn’t. He hired you because of your bra size. The guy has no class and treats this profession like a joke. He’s a selfish bastard who doesn’t give a fuck about anyone but himself.”
I flicker a glance at Damon, who gives me a look of sympathy before turning away.
“I wouldn’t say that—” I start to defend Carrick.
“Everything okay here?” Carrick cuts me off.
I spin around to him. His stare is on Nico. Carrick’s face is perfectly blank, but in his eyes is a world of anger.
“Everything’s fine.” Nico smiles, baring teeth at Carrick. “I was just letting Andi know what she’s gotten herself into, working for you.”
Carrick lets out a sardonic laugh. “I’m sure you were. Andressa, do you have a minute?” His fingers press against my upper arm.
Even through my coveralls, I feel his touch, like it was on my bare skin.
“Yes, of course.” Feeling a little deflated, I follow Carrick as Nico turns away from us.
When we’ve reached Carrick’s side of the garage, I stop and ask, “So, what do you need me for?”
“Nothing. Just getting you away from Nico. He’s a pompous prick with a massive chip on his shoulder.”
I cover a laugh.
I want to agree, but I don’t want to be seen dissing a driver, especially of Nico’s caliber. It would be unprofessional of me.
“He’s definitely interesting,” I say, choosing my words carefully.
“He’s a twat. And I can guarantee whatever he said about me was probably only about sixty percent true. He just hates me because I won more races in my first two years than he has in his whole career. Fucking tosser.”
I laugh. I can’t stop this one.
I’ve noticed that Carrick does that a lot—makes me laugh.
I like it.
“My advice, don’t talk to Nico unless you absolutely have to.”
“Okay. Got it, boss.” Grinning cheekily, I give him a salute.
I see a light flicker in his eyes. “Boss? Hmm…I like that.”
He turns at the sound of his dad’s voice, who looks a little less than pleased when he sees Carrick is talking to me.
“Coming.” He lifts a hand to Owen. Looking back at me, Carrick says, “Catch you before the race, yeah?”
He gives me one of his heart-stopping smiles, leaving me feeling a little breathless, and then he turns to go with his dad.
I don’t really get a chance to talk to Carrick when he comes back down as we’re all busy as hell getting his car ready, and he goes straight outside, having photos taken, meeting people—sponsors most likely—and doing interviews. I notice how he laps up the attention of the grid girls and brolly dollies.
But I’m…whatever. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
When Carrick finally comes back in, it’s time for him to get in his car. I have my helmet on as do all the mechanics since we’re in the pit. But somehow, he manages to lock eyes with me.
He gives me a cheeky wink and then grabs his helmet, pulling it on over his fireproof balaclava. He climbs in the cockpit and gets strapped in. Ben fits his steering wheel, and Carrick’s good to go.