“I don’t know. Why don’t you go see him and find out?”
He lets out a sigh and starts backing up. His eyes are still on me. “We’re all going out, the team and a few of my friends, for birthday drinks tonight. You should come.”
“Oh.” I’m taken aback. “Thank you, Mr. Ryan, but—”
“Carrick. Actually, call me Carr. That’s what my friends call me.”
“Carr. Original,” I deadpan. I can’t seem to help it. He naturally brings the snark out of me.
He grins. It’s a real panty-dropping grin. “Yes, you are.”
Oh, he’s good. But I’m better. “I’ll stick with Carrick. Thanks. And I appreciate the invitation, but I already have plans for tonight.”
His brow furrows. “With?”
Rude much? My new bed, if he must know.
“Me,” Uncle John imparts with a fatherly tone in his voice.
Carrick’s eyes flicker between the two of us, settling on Uncle John. “What are you doing?”
Guess I’m going to dinner tonight with Uncle John.
“Well, you can come for a drink after. It’ll give me a chance to get to know my new mechanic better.” He gives me a pointed look. “I’ll see you tonight.”
I watch as he walks away, his confident stride moving through the garage.
“So, that’s Carrick,” Uncle John says, letting out a huff of air.
“He’s a good kid. Smart as shit and one hell of a driver, like nothing I’ve seen since your, erm—” My dad. He breaks off and clears his throat. “Anyway, unfortunately, Carrick’s pretty much led by his dick.” Realizing what he said, Uncle John goes bright red in the face. “Shit. Sorry, Andi.”
I laugh. “Uncle John, I’m a grown woman, and I work around men all the time. I’ve heard worse words than dick.”
“Sure, sure.” His cheeks flush red again. “So, was Carrick okay with you? I heard him say—”
“Yeah. No problem at all.” I brush him off.
I decide against telling him that Carrick was very much trying his luck with me. I handled it, so no need to worry Uncle John with it.
I suddenly feel a wave of tiredness and have to stifle a yawn.
“You sure you’re gonna be okay for tonight? You don’t have to go, you know.”
“No. I’m fine.” A yawn escapes. “It’ll be a good way to get to know my new coworkers. But would it be okay if you take me to the apartment now? I can get a shower and some shut-eye. Then, I’ll be fine for tonight.”
Another yawn escapes me, and Uncle John chuckles.
“Come on, sleepyhead. Let’s get you to your new home.”
“WE DON’T HAVE TO STAY LONG. An hour max, and then I’ll get you home.”
“Okay.” I smile at Uncle John and then climb out of his car.
We had dinner at this nice Italian restaurant, and now, we’ve arrived at the pub where Carrick’s birthday party is going on, but I’m already starting to lag a bit.
When Uncle John took me to my new apartment, I barely looked around. He got me settled, and I fell facedown on my bed. I woke up hours later with only thirty minutes to spare before Uncle John was coming back to pick me up.
It was a quick shower and hair wash. With a halfhearted attempt at blow-drying my hair, after I dug the dryer out of my suitcase, I ended up putting it up into a messy bun. I rarely wear my hair down.
I threw on a clean pair of skinny jeans, and a long-sleeved emerald-green sweater with some little diamantes along the neckline. My mum bought it for me. After putting on my ballet flats and slicking on some lip gloss, Uncle John was knocking at my door.
I follow Uncle John into the pub, weaving through the throng of people. A lot of people are here, but then I guess Carrick’s a popular guy.
“Hey, you made it. I’ll get you both a drink,” Ben says as we approach him at the bar.
“Don’t worry. I’ll get them,” Uncle John tells him. “Beer?” he checks with Ben.
“Yep.” He lifts his bottle, draining the last of it.
Uncle John turns to me.
“I’ll have a beer, too, please,” I say.
Uncle John leans up against the bar, waiting to be served.
“Did you have a nice dinner?” Ben asks me, pulling my attention to him.
“Yeah, it was good. Thanks. Nice to catch up with Uncle John.”
“How long have you known John?”
“All my life.”
“Cool.” He smiles. “So, how are you finding England? I heard you’re from Brazil.”
“Yeah. Good.” I decide not to regale the fact that I was born and lived here for ten years. “How long have you worked for Rybell?” I ask him.
“You like it?”
“Love it. It’s long-arse hours and shitty hotel rooms, but I get to see the world, and nothing beats the buzz of race day.”
“I hear you.” I smile.
“Here you go.” Uncle John hands my beer over to me and then gives one to Ben.
“Well, welcome to Rybell.” Ben lifts his bottle to mine, so I chink it against his.
“Thanks.” I take a swig of beer.
Perfect. Just what I needed to pick me up.
“You want me to introduce you to some more of the staff?” Ben asks me. “The rest of the pit crew guys are here and some of Nico’s team along with the front-of-house girls.”
“Yeah, that’d be great.”