Chapter 19: Oxymoron
When I stood by my hotel room, trying desperately to open that damn door, I really thought I did the unthinkable.
I kept my distance, even though everything within me wanted all of her.
But the more I swiped my card over that reader, the more impatient I grew, and the more sent me toward her room.
Could I have gone down to reception and asked them to open that door for me?
Should I have done that?
But the second my eyes left the door handle, they fell on room No 207. Florence’s room.
I didn’t even have a chance to convince my mind to do otherwise before my legs moved me in her direction, and my hands already curled into fists which then met the wooden door.
And now I was standing here, asking her to let me in. It was an absolute risk, one I definitely shouldn’t have taken this early into... whatever this was.
But I had no choice, and somehow, it felt like the big guy — or big girl — up there sent me a message.
Just win the damn race, Phoenix. That’s what you usually do.
Florence’s cheeks colored in a fiery red the longer she looked at me, and it was hard not to notice how hard she was trying to control her heaving chest. “Yeah. Come in,” she finally said breathlessly, though she didn’t move out of the way.
Fine by me.
I walked over the threshold and into her room, which forced her to take a few steps backward as well, so I could kick the door shut with the heel of my shoe. The click announcing our solitude surely didn’t help the itch in my fingers, the need to touch her again suddenly becoming hyper-vigilant.
Everything about her was so contradictory; She oozed pure and utter confidence, and her whole being burned with a fire I was so ready to step into. But somehow, a vulnerability lay between all of that. I couldn’t tell if I liked seeing it, considering the last time I recognized any uncertainty was when she involuntarily got hammered a few weeks back. It didn’t suit her and was so unlike everything she stood for that I couldn’t help but wish she didn’t feel that way with me around.
“You okay?” Something within me had to ask her.
She shook her head. “No.”
I watched how she ran a shaky hand through her hair, a motion that almost killed me earlier today. She looked so damn beautiful, it was hard to focus sometimes.
“No.” Again, she shook her head.
As she stepped toward me, I couldn’t help but notice how that sliver of uncertainty washed away, just like that. Right in front of me stood the woman that drove me insane with every little thing she did, and she knew it.
That would always be her advantage: She knew what she was doing, while all I did was trying to keep my head above water.
Florence stopped right in front of me, and I almost thought she was about to cage me in against that door like I’d been wanting to do all night. I watched her lips move, which would’ve been enough for me in itself, but the words that left her mouth were so unexpected that I couldn’t help but swallow.
“Because you haven’t kissed me yet.”
It took a moment for my brain to register what exactly she said, not that anything about her behavior would’ve suggested otherwise. Her aura was longing for me, that much I knew, and yet it was hard to read her sometimes.
Not right now, though.
“Well, if that’s the only issue...” I grabbed her by the hips with one hand, letting the other one entangle in her hair before I firmly pressed my lips against hers.
It was different this time; I could feel her rare need for me with every stroke of her tongue, with every finger she dug into my hair. She pushed me backward but I spun her around, leaving her straight against that dark door I’ve been dreaming about.
Her teeth grazed my bottom lip, probably protesting that display of power, but she’d have to be more vocal than that if she wanted to be in charge. I cupped her jaw with one hand and tightened my grasp on her hip with the other, securing her stance before I kissed her more deeply.
She tasted like orange juice and something spicy, and even through her cinnamon shampoo, I could smell the oil and gasoline from today’s work. It was the biggest turn-on ever — she was the impersonation of my passion, the sport that kept me going in life.
Her fingers dug beneath my shirt, and I almost flinched from the coldness of her hands, to which she responded with a hushed “Sorry!”
“What did you say earlier?” I broke the kiss for a split second. “You needed to be kept warm, huh?”
She chuckled against my lips before she pressed them right onto mine again, obviously not enjoying the break of tension.
And I didn’t know why, but something about the contrast of her cold fingers on my scorching hot skin made this entire spiel even more exhilarating, and so I let my hand wander down to her thigh. I squeezed it through her jeans, and she exhaled deeply, this time opening the distance herself.
“Fuck. Wait.” She pressed her hands against the door, and I instantly let go of her, bracing my hands next to her head. It was all the distance I could bear, really.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, “I didn’t want to—”
“No, no.” Flo shook her head before she ran a hand through my hair, a motion so gentle that it seemed comical from a woman as strong as her. “You didn’t do anything wrong, I just...” She exhaled a shaky breath. “I just needed to think. I can’t do that when you touch me.”
I cocked my head, furrowing my brows while asking, “Is that a good or a bad thing?”
Her hushed chuckle resonated around us before her hand wandered to my jaw, where she let her thumb brush over my skin. “I don’t know, yet.”
Not knowing what to say, I ended up staring at her for a long moment. It wasn’t a waste of time, given that just looking at her set my entire being on fire. I didn’t know how she did it, but she must have been bathing in the gasoline she was working with, that’s how igniting she was.
“I don’t like it when I can’t think,” she said, and I nodded. “But I also don’t like it when you don’t touch me.”
A grin spread on my lips. “I don’t like that either.”
And even though she smiled with me, I saw that sliver of uncertainty in her eyes again, the one I really did not want to see. It was too unlike her.
“You know what I want?”
“I want to lie down. I want to talk. I want to think... I want to touch you.”
Of course, Florence Nyx wouldn’t ask for things. She just demanded them.
And who was I to deny her a simple wish like that? So I grabbed her hand and pulled her further into the room, kicking off my shoes before I sat down on her bed.
“What are you doing?” she asked with a laugh, but also leaned down to untie her boots.
“Lying down. Talking. Thinking...” I watched how she got out of her boots and then looked back up at me, eyes wide and mischievous as I reached for her hand. With disheveled hair and cheeks full of heat she looked exactly how I wanted her: wild and untamed. And so I pulled her closer, letting her climb onto my lap before I spun her around and lay her on her back beneath me. “Touching...” I finished my message with a quick kiss on her neck.
“That’s a great idea.” She sighed and looked at me, cautiously gauging my next move. I moved up the bed, and she followed patting the side left to her. “I’m sleeping on the right side. Sorry, not sorry.”
Rolling my eyes, I lied down next to her and crossed my arms behind my head. “You really are rude,” I muttered.
“Shut up,” she said, propping herself up on her left arm before looking at me.
Our gazes locked and we ended up staying like that for a long moment, diving deep into each other’s beings. Usually, I didn’t care much about what people said or didn’t say. I didn’t spend much time trying to figure people out.
It was the action itself that showed who you truly were on the inside, but with Florence, it was different. I knew she said what she meant, and as we already established, she was a terrible liar. I liked that about her.
My whole life consisted of games and intrigues and strategies. Having someone around who you knew told the truth, was a nice change.
“Are you okay?” she asked and placed a hand on my chest, letting her fingers draw circles on my shirt.
“I am now.”
She rolled her eyes. “That’s not what I asked.”
“It is, though.”
“No, it’s not, and you know that.” Her voice was firm, but her touch still gentle as she continued to draw patterns on my chest. “You know talking involves asking and answering questions, right?”
I shrugged. “You asked if I was okay, I answered I was. Because I am.”
We stared at each other for another long moment until she bit her lip, which caused my gaze to wander. I knew she did it out of frustration, but the way her lips filled with a dark red color as soon as she released them, made me want to taste her again. Without thinking much of it, I reached over and brushed my thumb over her lip, watching it travel over her mouth.
“Why do you care?” I asked, suddenly just wanting to see her lips move.
But instead, silence filled the room. I glanced back up at her eyes to see them study me intently before she finally responded, “I honestly don’t know. I just know that I do.”
For some weird reason, that response made sense to me. “Yeah. I get it.” Because the two of us weren’t logical or normal. The amount of chaotic factors playing into me being in this bed is astronomical, and still has my head spinning.
“Will you tell me what happened back in Italy, and at the beginning of our stay here?”
My eyes widened at her question. “You really don’t talk about the bush, do you?”
“You don’t answer any of my questions when I do, so no.”
I couldn’t help but grin. “Touché.”
“So, will you?” Florence had no issue staring me down, not even trying to avoid my gaze. She was intent on finding out more, and I didn’t know what to think of that.
Obviously, I couldn’t tell her about all of it. She’d get the wrong impression and probably punch me straight in the face, which, from what I saw with Sebastian Williams, was something she knew how to do.
“How do you even know?”
She raised an eyebrow at me. “I’m not dumb, Phoenix. And I’m good at reading people. Especially those who don’t want to talk.”
Somehow, I didn’t even doubt that. And yet, I had a hard time just opening my mouth to tell her about these things. I didn’t like to talk in general, and I much less liked to open up about things that bothered me.
But then I remembered our talk about Liam and what he said about my mom, and how Florence surprised me with how neutrally she reacted to the news about her dad’s rival living with my mother. I expected her to flip, but she either knew how to hide her emotions, or she knew how to read between the lines.
“My mother agreed to let Sebastian Williams move into our home,” I blurted out. “That’s why I stayed in Imola.”
The patterns she traced on my chest stopped, and I glanced over to find her looking at me with wide eyes. “Oh... That explains it. I wouldn’t want to live with that asshole either.”
“Yup. So I’ll stay on the road for now.” I shrugged.
She got quiet, but slowly moved her fingers up to my temple, where she ran a gentle hand through my hair.
“You need a home, though.”
“Why? You must know best what it’s like as a race driver. If I wanted to, I’d never have to set camp anywhere.”
It’s the truth - even if I didn’t get the F1 spot, there were endless opportunities to keep racing. NASCAR, Moto GP, Indycar... They all were looking for retired Formula drivers. And as much as I fucked up my reputation by doing what I did, people knew I was good. Great, even. I already had the offers, but that wasn’t what my heart wanted.
Formula 1 has always been the dream, and as long as I hadn’t done everything I could to achieve it, I wouldn’t stop pursuing it.
“Is that what you want?” she asked, regaining focus of the conversation.
“I don’t know. There are a lot of things I want.” My fingers moved on their own when they traced the contours of her collarbone. The wild concoction of exhilaration and peace as I touched her was addictive, and I had a hard time staying away as I continued, “But I know it’s hard to have it all.”
“I don’t think so,” she retorted with a smile. “I know you can have it all one day. The life you dreamt of. It’s there, and as much as you keep working hard, you’ll get it.”
There wasn’t much I could say to optimism as pure as hers. She truly believed in life giving her what she wants, or maybe she just believed in herself enough so that she knew she could do it all... Either way, I didn’t know how that felt.
I believed in myself, yeah. But I knew life was a cruel, manipulative asshole, and usually, things didn’t turn out the way you expected them to.
“If you say so,” was all I knew to say.
It wasn’t hard to believe her, considering her entire being oozed confidence and pride. She knew what she was doing, and if anyone would be able to get it all, it sure was Florence Nyx.
The question was, what were we doing here? Not only was it dumb, but also utterly hypocritic to let myself anywhere near her. I was the rookie without financial backup, and she was the queen bee herself, ruling the industry like that’s what she was born to do.
Well, she kind of was, but still.
My heart tumbled when Flo suddenly scooted closer to me, letting her temple rest on my chest as she continued to draw circles on my shirt. I moved my arm so she could lie comfortably, and suppressed the wild urge to kiss her again, which, honestly, was all I wanted to do.
“I have a question,” she whispered, and I glanced down to meet her gaze, watching her green-blue eyes sparkle with intrigue.
With a nod, I motioned for her to continue. I did a hell of a lot of talking these days anyway.
“If you hate Sebastian Williams so much, then why wouldn’t you let me punch him? I’m sure it would’ve been fun. And satisfying.”
Great question. I’ve asked myself that multiple times over the past few hours. It wasn’t my business what she did and didn’t do, and yet somehow it felt like it was.
“I don’t know,” I conceded. “He just...” My brain took a second to form a coherent thought. “He didn’t deserve that you ruin your career for him. Also, I don’t know if you’ve ever punched someone, but that shit hurts.”
The laugh that fled her lips sent a strand of hair down her face, and I moved to tuck it back behind her ear.
“Yeah,” she said, “I know.”
“You do?” I raised an eyebrow.
“You don’t believe I ever punched someone?”
I was the one chuckling now. “Yeah, fair. I should’ve known.”
She smiled, but the look in her eyes grew thoughtful as she gazed straight into my own. I could tell there was more on her mind, but before she could even continue her thought, I interjected, “So, what is it that you want?”
The smile on her lips broadened again, and she leaned back a little before she said, “I’m an open book, am I not?”
She was, mostly. There’s no use denying that. “Yeah, but still. Use your words. That’s what you usually do, right?”
“Right...” The dim moonlight shone onto her being, and I couldn’t look away from the beauty lying in my arms, suddenly.
Nights have always been my favorite time of day; Life just felt different when the world was asleep, and I had a feeling Florence knew to appreciate that, too.
Her eyes glimmered when she scooted closer to me, letting one hand rest on my cheek. The feeling of her soft fingertips on my scratchy five-o’clock-shadow seeped straight into my bones, and when she suddenly moved and straddled my lap, my heart almost stopped from the mere sight of her.
Wild hair and blushed cheeks greeted me as she leaned over, her hands now steadying herself next to my head as she said, “Right now I just want to kiss you.”
Fuck. That must’ve been the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard.
“So you’re stealing my moves,” I quipped, hinting that she herself didn’t thoroughly answer my question this time.
She grinned. “Do you mind?”
“No, not at all.”
“Good.” A sigh fled her lips as she inched closer, and I felt them move when she whispered, “Because I’m pretty sure I can stop thinking now.”
And for the third time today, we shared a kiss that was nothing like what I expected. This wasn’t urgent, needy, or consuming. It was the calmest of storms, that somehow still let my heart thunder in my chest.
That must’ve just been who she was: A stunning, complex, and so damn addictive oxymoron that I had all intent on finding out.
With every brush of our lips and every breath we shared, I felt closer to her, closer to the mystery right in front of me. As much as I doubted this, whatever it is, I knew it was too late.
I wanted her. More than I should.
Hey, two in two days! Yay!
Hope you enjoy this one - I know I did. Felt like we needed some proper #Flonix time, huh? ;)
So, what do we think? Should Phoenix tell her everything or is he going the right way? Also, what does the rest of the team have planned? 🧐
Hope you’re all doing well ❤️