“I can understand that. But you know me, Uncle John. That’s not how I work.”
“Of course I know, and that’s why I wanted to get you here, so there’s nothing Pierce or Owen can do about it. I’m not having you miss out on your dream job because Carrick can’t keep it in his pants.”
“But…you’ve put me in an uncomfortable situation here, Uncle John. I appreciate why you did it, but I kind of don’t want to go in there and meet everyone now, considering what might happen.”
“Nothing will happen. Pierce isn’t here at the moment. He’s away at a meeting. And I’ll talk to him before you meet him. Don’t worry.” He puts an arm around my shoulder, giving me a squeeze. “It’s gonna be fine. Now, do you want a tour of the building or the garage first?”
“Garage. I might as well get the inevitable over with.”
I’m feeling less than excited now, knowing I’m going to be a shock to my new employers.
Come on, Andi. You can do this. So what if you get some stares and whispers? That’ll be nothing new. Pull your big-girl knickers on, and woman the hell up.
With a renewed sense of purpose, I follow Uncle John in the direction of the garage.
The moment he pushes the door open, I hear the sounds of machinery and engines revving and music playing on the radio along with the smell that can only come from cars, especially racing cars. And all my nerves disappear into thin air.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a Formula 1 garage.
Nostalgia sweeps over me, and I feel a lump in my throat.
“So, what do you think?” Uncle John asks from beside me.
“I think it’s amazing.” I push a smile onto my face.
“Come on. Let me introduce you to the people you’re going to be working with.”
I follow Uncle John over to one of the cars that a couple of guys are working on.
“Ben.” Uncle John touches his hand to the guy’s shoulder.
The guy lifts his head from the car, turning to us. He’s moderately attractive with light brown hair and green eyes, and he’s just a little taller than me. Not my type though.
“Andi, meet Ben. Ben is the head mechanic, so you’ll be working mostly with him. Ben, this is Andi Amaro.”
I see Ben’s eyes widen at the sight of me.
“Hi, Ben.” I step forward, holding my hand out to shake his. His hands are covered in oil, but that doesn’t bother me. “Nice to meet you. I’m guessing you’re one of the people Uncle John failed to tell that I’m a girl.”
Ben’s eyes flicker past me to Uncle John and then back to me. “He did.” Ben clears his throat. “But not that it’s a problem. Nice to meet you, too, Andi. I’m looking forward to working with you. John’s told me impressive things about your way with a car.” He wipes his hand on his overalls and shakes mine. “This here is Robbie.” He kicks a foot on the leg of a body underneath the car. “Robbie, get your arse out from under there, and come say hello to Andi.”
“He’s here?” The guy pushes out from under the car before getting to his feet. He looks at me and then glances around.
“This is Andi.” Ben gestures a hand to me.
“Hi. Nice to meet you.” I smile at Robbie and then offer my hand to him.
Robbie stares at my hand like it’s alien. Then, he looks back to my face, a little stunned, but there’s also harshness in his eyes.
Uncle John clears his throat behind me, snapping Robbie to his attention.
Robbie wipes his hand on his overalls and shakes mine. “Good to meet you…Andi.” Then, he turns to Ben. “I gotta go get that…thing. I’ll be back in a few.”
Then, he walks off.
Ben shakes his head. “Don’t mind him,” he says to me. “He lacks this thing called a personality. Great mechanic though.”
“So, it’s not just because I’m a girl then?” I grin.
Ben chuckles. “No. He’s like that with everyone. But when he sees that you’re just one of the boys, he’ll warm up in no time…or maybe not.” He laughs, again.
I like Ben more and more as the seconds go on. I think we’re going to get along just fine.
“John, you got a minute?”
I turn to the sound of the voice to see a man about the same age as Uncle John, I’d say, wearing a smart black suit. He’s very handsome in that older, distinguished way with short dark blond hair mixed with flecks of gray and piercing blue eyes.
“Owen, yeah, sure. Just let me introduce you to Andi first.”
Owen’s eyes land on me, fix, and then widen, and something settles into his expression that’s not altogether pleasant.
An uncomfortable knot forms in my stomach.
I follow Uncle John over to Owen. All the while, Owen’s eyes are watching me like a hawk.
“Owen Ryan, meet Andi Amaro, our new mechanic.” Uncle John says the word mechanic very pointedly.
Owen Ryan—this is Carrick’s dad.
Well, this is going to be interesting if the expression on his face is anything to go by.
“Hi, it’s really nice to meet you, Mr. Ryan,” I say, forcing confidence into my voice. I hold my hand out to shake his.
He just stares at my hand, like Robbie did, but with a more pissed off look on his face.
Ignoring me and my hand, which I awkwardly pull back, he turns to Uncle John. “This is Andi?” Owen points a finger at me. His accent is pure Irish.
I love the Irish accent, and I would normally be thrilled to hear it, but not when it’s coming from a man who clearly has an issue with me.