Chapter 27: One Rule
“So, I got good news and bad news.” Jin glanced over at me as we jogged to the office. The wet hair on my head made me shiver, even though my insides were still on fire from Phoenix’s visit.
We really needed to talk this all out.
“Can we talk about them after the meeting?” I huffed when we rounded the corner into the paddock. We had five minutes until the meeting started, and the last thing I wanted was to be late after the trouble I caused over the last race.
The lack of comments from the team, or even Michael, surprised me, though some part of me knew that being who I was meant people wouldn’t dare crossing my paths. I still had yet to decide if I liked that or not.
Jin caught up with me as we passed the security check, waving our cards over the reader as he said, “Well, not the bad news because...”
“Oh, look who’s late.” The voice came from my left, and I whipped my head around instantly, already sensing the cheap gel in his hair.
“Drexler,” I muttered, glancing over at Jin to confirm my suspicions. This was the bad news he was talking about.
“Princess Nyx.” He grinned and took a sip of his e-cigarette, puffing out a cloud of smoke that smelled disgustingly sweet.
Was this... apple? Appletini?
“How’s the outcast?” His question let me regain my focus, and before I even knew what I was doing, I was right in front of him. Neither Jin nor Liam expected that move, since the blonde in front of me basically stumbled backward and into the wall.
I wasn’t a fan of dick-measuring contests, but since I didn’t have a dick, I didn’t mind showing this idiot not to mess with me. If it weren’t for my knowledge about Salim and Phoenix’s manager somehow causing this mess, I would’ve suspected Liam of being the asshole who did it.
Well, he still could’ve been. Nothing had been proven yet, even though Dad has been very intent on finding out what exactly happened. He didn’t think I’d notice, but even a man with an influence of his magnitude couldn’t hide things from me.
“Where are your tactical glasses, Liam? Left them at the ball pit?” I nodded to the kids’ area to our right, where about a dozen children fought their hearts out with colorful plastic balls.
Liam’s brows furrowed as I towered over him, certainly enjoying the height difference between us. I’d been bullied for being tall when I was younger, but now I just bathed in the fact that I could make this idiot feel as insignificant as he was.
“No, I uh...” Glancing around the area, he was clearly looking for someone to help him out. His gaze landed on Jin, who now tugged at my elbow, but didn’t verbally tell me to hurry. “I must’ve forgotten them in my car, we hotboxed the—”
“You know what? Changed my mind. I don’t want to know.” I shrugged, leaning back. The fact that he visibly relaxed made me smug as hell, and I caught myself grinning from ear to ear while stepping to the side. “Look for the grownups if you need help to find them. I’ll go to my meeting, as adults do.”
My feet already left the area and stepped through the trailer when his voice rang out again. “Do you even know who I am?”
“I do!” I yelled back out without turning around. “But in case you haven’t noticed yet, nobody gives a fuck!”
This was my last weekend. Might as well go out with a bang, right?
Friday’s Practice session had never made me nervous. Most of the time I’d been excited as hell, but Jin had been the main reason for that; There was no other day on which he’d let me work so much on the car as he did on Friday.
But as I stepped into the garage this very early morning, my nerves were shot. I wasn’t sure if it was the fact that this would be my last weekend as an intern, or that Jin specifically asked me to do certain jobs on Felipe’s car, but I knew my hands weren’t as steady as they usually were.
It was quiet, almost too quiet for a Formula 1 garage as I glanced at the AR4500, Lucien’s — well, for today, Phoenix’s — F1 car, which waited patiently for the mechanics and engineers. It almost spoke to me with its aggressive facade, even though it was missing the front wing for now. The engineers took it back to try a new configuration for the Dutch track. Zandvoort had a history of terrible accidents, and the team did their best to make the car as safe as it could be, considering they went 200 miles an hour most of the time.
The blue and red basically stared back at me, trying to intimidate me with the power that lay beneath that V6 turbo engine. It was a monster through and through, but I enjoyed the danger it emanated with every fiber of my being. It was what I lived for, after all. The gasoline running through my veins.
My fingers glided across the chassis, letting the carbon fibre dance beneath my fingertips as I studied every intricate detail of this magical existence. It almost looked feminine with the wide curves, all of which wear measured and tested in great detail to assure the best possible aerodynamics for the car. Just looking at this thing humbled me, in a way.
Footsteps echoed through the garage, and I didn’t even need to hear his voice to know who they belonged to. “She’s pretty, huh?” The smirk was evident through his words, yet I turned around to see it with my own eyes.
Phoenix leaned against the doorway with his arms crossed, wearing a navy racing suit that complimented his piercing green eyes. I caught myself taking him in and concluded that Phoenix McCoy should never wear anything else but this. He looked dangerously handsome.
“She is,” I finally replied, glancing back at the car.
I heard his footsteps before he appeared behind me, his arms circling around my stomach. Interlacing my fingers with his own, we both just stood like that, looking at the beast he’d have to tame today. It felt good being like this for a change, without the adrenaline of hiding away or the concept of time hanging above our heads.
Granted, it still did so now, considering we had barely gotten a word in with each other since he came to see me, but this was different.
It felt like time stood still, for once.
“What are you doing here?” Phoenix broke the silence, his lips brushing over my neck.
I sighed from feeling him on my skin, waking me up the best way possible. “Couldn’t sleep,” I mumbled, closing my eyes as his lips moved further down and grazed my collarbone. “You?”
“Same...” His breath was hot on my skin as he trailed kisses up my neck, pressing another one at the sensitive spot behind my ear. “And I couldn’t find you in your room. Figured you’d be here.”
A smile spread across my lips. “You figured?”
I could feel his smirk on my skin as he brushed a kiss on my cheek, tightening his embrace around me. “Yeah. The garage is like your second home, isn’t it?”
“It’s my only home out here,” I corrected him.
Hotel rooms didn’t feel homely to me. The familiarity of the car, the tools in my hands, and the rush that came over me when I finally found that one piece of the puzzle to get the car going again... That was what was where I felt most comfortable.
That, and with him. But I wasn’t ready to admit that yet.
“Exactly.” He went quiet again, stopped his feverish hike on my body.
My skin was still burning when he grabbed my hands and intertwined them with his own before he circled them around me, pressing me tightly against his chest. There was little to no space between us now, just our scorching bodies becoming one as he heaved a heavy sigh.
It felt exceptional to be held like that, with strong arms ready to catch me, not that I needed them to. I just wanted to know I could let myself go if I wanted to.
And even though I tried very hard to deny it, I was well aware that part of me already lost itself in him. It shouldn’t have happened, and somehow I knew this wasn’t going to end well for me, but I didn’t want it to stop.
I wanted him.
All of him.
With the excitement of my last weekend coursing through my veins, this Friday basically flew past me. Connor and I spent most of the time together in the garage, sharing memories and helping the others where we could.
I hadn’t seen much more of Phoenix, not that I expected him to. Besides, with Felipe crashing into the barriers — not hurting himself, just damaging the car — I barely had the time to sleep with the repairs being done overnight.
Before I knew it, Qualifying rolled around, and Jin and I high-fived the team for finishing up Felipe’s car to get it on the grid today.
It looked good for him, too. Both our cars made it into the third round of Qualifying, meaning they fought for their spot in the top ten, alongside my dad. And even though I adored everything about Felipe, I couldn’t help but internally cheer Phoenix and Dad on, seeing them speed past those corners like their lives depended on it.
Watching him race was fascinating, and even though he just jumped in for Lucien today... It seemed like he was one with this car. He raced his heart out, and I could already tell he’d be Azure Racing’s next star, even though he might not have known it yet.
“Fuck... He’s good,” Connor muttered, watching the screen closely next to me as Phoenix hit the fastest lap of this round. It didn’t mean he’d get the pole, considering there were 7 more minutes left and the track conditions improved the closer we got to the end, but it meant he showed what he was capable of. Pushing this car to the limit.
I glanced over at Connor, smirking at the dumbfounded expression on his face. “No... He’s brilliant.”
But just as the world left my lips, it happened.
Phoenix came out of the last corner, aiming for the pit lane to stop his car, when a driver from the rival team nudged him in the bottom left tire. It wasn’t hard and probably not on purpose, and the driver himself continued to race like he didn’t do anything, but Phoenix, driving 120 miles per hour, spun around furiously.
He lost his rear left tire, which caused him to spin even faster. This all happened within seconds, but watching him crash into the wall at that speed felt like hours.
“No...” I muttered with wide eyes, watching the screen while my heart pounded in my chest. “Get out, Phoenix... Get the fuck out of the car.”
It was the one rule.
My father had a fair share of accidents in his career, but he always managed to step out of the car. It didn’t matter that my heart broke every single time he crashed into those barriers — it healed the second we got his muttered “I’m okay” over the radio, followed by him getting out of that car.
My head snapped around to Juan, who was Phoenix’s temporary race engineer. I had to talk to him. I had to know.
Waltzing over there, I saw him talk to the intercom, and so I shut up, trying my hardest to hear him properly. “Phoenix, are you okay?”
“Phoenix, I repeat, are you okay?”
I could only stare at Juan, who finally sighed in relief, raising his thumb in the air. “Thank fucking god, mate. You scared me there, not gonna lie.”
A row of “Thank god!” and “fucking shit...” rolled around the garage as my eyes flew to the screen to my right, where we now saw Phoenix get out of his car, shaking his head vigorously. He leaned against the halo of his ride, giving it a pat on the cooling system at the top of the cockpit.
He opened his visor, and his eyes instantly shot to the camera focused on him. It was just a subtle nod of his head, but I knew what it meant.
Phoenix was telling me he’s okay.
I studied the screen closely, watching how he jumped into the red Mercedes that would bring him into the medical center, but even though I saw him up and running... I couldn’t fucking move my legs. Them taking him to the medical center meant the system picked up that the impact was too hard to let it pass without medical inspection. That, or Phoenix had asked for a consultation.
God knew what that could mean...
“Go, Flo.” It was Michael who zapped me out of my spell. “We’re good without you for today. Go check up on him.”
That was all I needed to hear.
With a nod of my head I walked, no, sprinted down the pit lane, heading for the tent all the way down the paddock. Why the fuck was this thing so far away?
I didn’t know how long it took until I got there, but I was out of breath by the time I arrived at the front door. A security guard shot me a weird look, but I simply pointed at my badge, gesticulating wildly. “He... My... Driver...”
The security guard glanced at the ID with furrowed brows. “Miss... I—”
“I’m Florence Nyx. Let me... In.”
I never used my name. Never fucking ever.
The guard’s eyes widened, and he scanned my ID once more. “Oh, yeah, okay. Come on in, please. He’s in room 3.”
And even though my legs already ached from the sprint I just delivered, I once again rushed through the halls, looking for that damn number on the doors.
“There it is...” I didn’t even knock, I just threw the door open, revealing Phoenix with a woman in a white coat right next to him.
She stared at me wide-eyed. “Excuse me, who—”
“Let her,” Phoenix interrupted her, hand stretched out to me.
I disregarded the fact that he was shirtless and bruised already, his shoulder now showing yellow-purple marks on his skin, and just threw myself at him. He caught me with ease, though I didn’t miss the hiss from his lips as he hugged me back. “I’m fine, Flo.”
I nodded in response, but kept my face hidden in his neck as he rubbed my back.
Just one minute. One minute before I’d get my big girl panties back on.
“Could you leave us alone for a second?” Phoenix sounded uncharacteristically humane, maybe that’s why I heard the door close soon after.
Alright. Minute over.
“Are you okay?” I cleared my throat and leaned back, letting my fingers run across his skin to scan for bruises.
Adrenaline was still coursing through me, and I could practically hear the blood being pumped through my veins until Phoenix captured my chin with his index and thumb.
“I’m fine. Promise. She even said I could leave soon.”
“No more scans?” I asked, running my fingers through his hair to check his head.
“No scans at all.” His response made me furrow my brows, but he answered my question before I could even ask. “They took me here because my shoulder was sore. It’s just a bruise, though, nothing major. I can still drive.”
I nodded in response, but my gaze was still fixed on his own, trying to find the lie within his words. I couldn’t find one, though, and so I heaved a sigh that did nothing to remove the weight on my chest. “Okay. Good. Can you leave now?”
His chuckle seeped straight into my heart, and it soared even more when he cupped my face with his hands and pressed his lips against my own. “Probably,” he whispered into the kiss, “I’ll still have to talk to the team, though. Juan will want to know how I’m doing...”
“I know. You should. They’re all worried,” I replied as we broke apart.
“Really?” He raised a brow. “Not what I expected, given my reputation and all.”
A laugh fled my lips from his admission, but he just cocked his head at me, muttering a quiet “fuck” from the sudden movement.
“You’re not as unlikeable as you think you are, Mr. Lone Wolf,” I joked, but winced at his obvious discomfort. “Now come on. Talk to everyone and then it’s time for rest.”
Had I known that talking to everyone would take so damn long, I would’ve just stolen him from that damn medical center and carried him up into the hotel room. But just as much as it was my job to check up on Dad and make sure he got through Qualifying unscathed — he qualified 9th, leaving him in front of Phoenix who lost his positions due to the crash —, it was Phoenix’s job to inform everyone about his condition, and they all agreed to give him the afternoon off to reset. It still took hours until we finally got some clothes from Phoenix’s suite and then arrived in my room.
He groaned as he took a seat on the bed, removing his racing suit layer by layer.
“I need a hot shower,” he said, clenching his teeth together as he removed the bottom of his suit so that he was left in just the fireproof underwear that clung to his toned body. I knew I should’ve taken my eyes off him, should’ve given him privacy, but a part of me still feared he was missing a limb with every layer of clothing he removed. “Oh, shit.” He must’ve seen me staring. “Sorry, I—”
“Shut up.” I walked over to where he was standing next to the bed, letting my hands wander up his naked back.
Phoenix’s hands found my hips, holding them tightly as he muttered, “Flo...” The warning was audible in his voice, but I didn’t care.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” I blurted out.
He blinked a few times, obviously reading me, before a smile tugged at his lips, which he then pressed against my own, letting them linger for an excruciatingly long moment. “I am too.”
My hands worked on their own as they wandered up his chest, brushing over his neck until they finally found grip in his hair, and brought him closer. I deepened the kiss, bathed in the urgency of his tongue as he pushed me closer against him. His skin was hot beneath my fingertips, and when he moved his arm up my back, crashing my chest against his own, I couldn’t help the moan from my lips.
“Phoenix,” I breathed out, but then deepened the kiss once more. Every part of me wanted more of him, more of the scorching flame he lit every damn time we touched. My insides burned from pleasure the longer his tongue caressed my own, and I found it harder and harder to keep standing upright.
He held me, though. Just like I knew he would.
“You’re literally driving me crazy, Flo...” he whispered against my lips, slowly pulling back. His forehead rested against my own, and my heavy breathing matched his own, trying to catch up with the hurricane of adrenaline between us. “And I should really take that shower now.”
I nodded, knowing he was right. We needed to get distance between us. Now.
“Yeah. You should.”
Grabbing the change of clothes from the bed, he pressed a swift kiss on my cheek and disappeared into the bathroom.
“Fuck...” I groaned as I laid down on the bed, giving my legs a break. A heavy breath escaped my lips while I ran my hands over my face, trying to sort my mind. It raced at a hundred miles per hour, though, and all I could feel were the sparks in my fingertips, the emotions running through my veins.
The shower started running, and I propped myself on my elbows to glance at the closed bathroom door, thinking of what the fuck I should do next.
I craved him. Not just sexually, but in the way that it physically pained me to be apart from him, even for this damn shower. It’d been a while since I’d seen anyone I loved crash into the wall like that, and adrenaline was still coursing through my veins, begging to be washed off.
Fuck. It felt like I was on fire.
My burning body must’ve been what made me get up from the bed, aiming straight for the door. Heat transferred through the wood as I lifted my fingers to knock, but they stopped an inch away from the door, giving me a second to think.
What the fuck was I doing?
Taking what I wanted, I guess...
And so that’s what I did. I pushed the door open, letting the steam roll out of the room and reveal Phoenix standing beneath the rain showerhead, his hands braced against the black tiles. The glass wall that covered half of the shower was fogged from the steam, and so I could only see his silhouette as I silently shut the door behind me.
My brain literally went haywire the second I knew what I was about to do.
I wasn’t afraid to show myself, and all my body wanted was to feel his now, to make sure he was actually still here.
Stepping out of my clothes, I watched his silhouette move behind the glass pane. My overall fell to the ground, the noise making Phoenix’s head shoot up. I was left in my underwear when he leaned over, peeking through the gap between the glass and the tiled wall.
“Flo? What—” He stopped talking the second his eyes found mine. They widened upon further inspection of my body, and I hid the smirk that threatened to break on my lips as I stepped closer.
“Mind if I join you?”
Okay so I’m already laughing at your comments, knowing y’all will hate me for leaving you like this. :D But the chapter would’ve become too long to handle if I didn’t end it here, and the next one will be out tomorrow morning. Pinky promise.
It should be 2 or 3 more chapters before the time jump now (that’s what my very specific calculations have told me at least) and honestly, I can’t wait.
This chapter, as well as the next one, took ages to write. And I mean ages because I was actually diving deep into my writing suitcase to figure out how I wanted this to be done, both stylistically and plot-wise. I hope you don’t hate me as much as I do myself lol.
That being said, I started my teaching rotation, and since now I have two jobs (teaching for uni and teaching as my part time job), time is a rare good that I’m trying so hard to dig up. As promised, I’ll try to write as much as I can, but I won’t give you a schedule since I have no idea how much work lies ahead of me. I know you’re all patient, though, so that helps.
Hope you’re all having a great day! Stay safe.
Lots of love as always