Uncle John frowns. Through tight lips, he says, “Yeah, this is Andi.”
“And she’s female,” Owen says through gritted teeth.
Am I invisible?
“And,” he growls, “she looks like that.” He wafts a hand up and down in my direction.
I look like what?
“Careful, Owen. You’re close to crossing a line.”
“I am? You hire a mechanic who looks like a fucking supermodel, and I’m crossing a line? Fucking brilliant, John. Has Pierce seen her yet? Even worse, has Carrick seen her?”
Uncle John’s voice cracks out like a whip as he says, “Knock it off. You and me, out there. Now.” Uncle John jerks his head to the door behind them.
With a face like thunder, Owen storms through the door with a furious Uncle John right behind him. It slams shut. Then, I hear the low rumble of angry voices coming from the other side.
Well, that went well.
I’m standing here, like a bloody lemon, feeling the most uncomfortable that I’ve ever felt in my life.
What is the problem here? Sure, I’m female, and no one clearly knew that. But what is Carrick? A dog in heat with uncontrollable urges?
Aside from sleeping with his mechanic’s girlfriend, I’m sure he can keep himself in check around me.
But now, I’m having visions of a horny Carrick Ryan, dry-humping my leg, and I start laughing to myself.
My laughter promptly stops when the door opens, and Owen reemerges with a red-faced Uncle John behind him.
Owen comes over to me. I tense, not sure what to expect. Maybe my marching orders.
“Andi,” Owen says gently, his voice a hell of a lot different than it was a few minutes ago, “I’m sorry about before. I spoke out of turn. You were just a surprise to me.” He takes a deep breath. “Things have been a little…tense here for a while. But that doesn’t excuse my behavior. Please accept my apologies.”
“Accepted.” I smile lightly.
Relief flickers across his countenance. But his eyes say something entirely different. They’re lined with suspicion. And I know this apology isn’t for my benefit, and I also know that I’m not going to have an easy time with Owen Ryan.
“From your resume, I saw that you’re very experienced for such a young age.”
“Mmhmm, I grew up with my head under the hood of a car.”
“And you have a degree in mechanical engineering?”
“That’s right. After I graduated I took a job working for a stock-car racing team back home.”
“Of course, you worked for Ingo Serra’s team.”
My answers are guarded, because if I’ve learned anything in this business and about people like Owen Ryan, give them just enough, but not enough to hang me with.
“I’ve seen Serra race. He’s incredibly talented.”
“Yes, he is.” I give a genuine smile at the thought of my old boss. Ingo was such a nice guy. “I enjoyed working for Ingo very much.”
“Fabulous.” Owen nods, smiling through tight lips. “Well, John speaks highly of you, and I’m sure you’ll fit in here, no problem.”
He doesn’t mean that. He’s worried that I’m going to shag his son. But it’s nice he said it I suppose.
“I’m looking forward to getting started.”
“Great. Well, I must get on, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to steal John for ten minutes.”
“Will you be okay on your own?” Uncle John asks me, moving closer.
“Fine.” I smile softly at him.
Uncle John stares at me for a moment. Owen is by the door, holding it open for him now.
“Go on ahead, and I’ll be there in a minute,” he says to Owen.
On a nod, Owen lets the door close.
Once Uncle John’s sure he’s gone, he says quietly, “Not that I’m excusing Owen’s behavior, but with what happened with Rich and Charlotte, it all fell on him. He’s Carrick’s manager. He’s been left to clean up the mess that Carrick created. Pierce was seriously pissed, and the sponsors didn’t like the bad press. It was a nightmare all around. The last thing they want is another scandal. That’s why he reacted like he did when he saw you.”
“And that’s why you should have told them that I’m a woman.” I give him a disapproving look.
“If I had, you wouldn’t be standing here right now. And I’m glad you’re here.”
I smile at that. “Yeah, me, too, barring insta-hate from one of the bosses.”
“Owen’s fine. And he doesn’t hate you. He just has concerns. But once he gets to know you and sees that Carrick is the last thing you’re interested in, he’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Anyway, go. You’re needed, remember?” I shoo him away with my hands.
“You sure you’ll be fine?” he says, taking a step back.
“I’m sure. I’m just going to take a look around here.”
“Okay. I’ll see you in ten minutes or so, and then I’ll show you the rest of the place.”
I watch Uncle John leave through the door, and then I turn around to the car that Ben and Robbie were working on, but Ben is no longer there.
The engine cover is still up on the car so I decide to go take a look, see what I’m going to be working with.
As I wander over to the car, David Guetta’s “Dangerous” starts to play on the radio. Humming along to the song, I take my jacket off, laying it over the cockpit. I run my fingertips over the blue-and-silver paintwork as I walk toward the back end. Bending over, I start poking around, taking a look at the engine.