I always thought I was a miserable, insufferable bastard before Elena. But life without Elena? It’s like living in the eye of a hurricane. It’s calm, quiet, but you’re painfully aware of destruction looming nearby.
Liam frowns at me from across my suite. “You look like shit. I wouldn’t have guessed you placed P1 for tomorrow’s race based on how depressed you’ve been.”
“I might not look it, but I’m thrilled for the season to be over tomorrow. I’m ready for a break.”
“For a break or for a binger?”
Besides my one moment of weakness the night of the Singapore Grand Prix, I haven’t touched a lick of alcohol since I broke up with Elena. Not even Jack can cure the Elena-sized hole in my chest, no matter how much I wish it did.
And you bet your arse I wish it did.
“A break. I want to spend time with my parents.” And I want to heal. I can’t do that when I’m living under Connor’s microscope and F1’s excessive demands.
“Will your new babysitter join you?”
Sam, my latest ankle monitor and constant reminder of how much I ruined my life, hangs out on the couches outside of my suite, giving me privacy for once all day.
“No. Connor trusts me to behave this time.” Probably because I won’t be a burden anymore.
“That’s shocking. I thought he’d be the first one to want you supervised after last time.”
“He doesn’t have a reason to worry anymore. I’m done with F1 after tomorrow.”
Liam stares at me with wide eyes. “What? Not a funny joke, asshole.”
“I’m not joking.”
“You’re quitting? What the fuck has gotten into you?” He scowls.
“I haven’t been fully honest with you.” I look away.
I take the deepest breath, hoping it gives me additional courage. These are the moments I wish I had a Xan. I let it all out, telling Liam about everything since my parents told me Mum had Huntington’s. The pills, the alcohol, the constant anxiety crippling me to the point of barely living. By the end of my story, we’re both silent and processing. Liam gets up from the other couch and sits next to me. He looks stunned.
“I’m all for our bromance, but I don’t need your tears.” I elbow him in the ribs.
Liam wraps his arm around my shoulder and tugs me into him in the manliest hug I’ve experienced. “You’re a stupid asshole for keeping this all to yourself. I would’ve been there for you if you had only asked.”
“I didn’t want to be a bother to anyone. Plus, you have Sophie now, and Noah has Maya.”
“We’d be the shittiest friends if we ignored you for our girlfriends when you needed us the most. And let’s be real, if there’s anything about me and Noah you’d expect, it’s that we never half-ass anything, friendships included.” He smacks me on the back and lets go. “You don’t need to face any of this alone. If you want to quit racing, we’ll stand by you the whole time. You deserve to do what makes you happy.”
“I don’t know if I’ll ever truly be happy.” A life without Elena, even if I live by myself near my parents’ house, sounds lonely as fuck.
“Bullshit. You only need to find what makes you feel that way. If it’s not racing, so be it. If it means moving back to London and moving on with life, then have at it. You have a big enough bank account to not work another day in your life.”
“The biggest.” I wink at him.
Liam laughs up to the ceiling. “All I know is I’m going to miss you. Please beat Noah’s ass tomorrow so you can leave F1 in style. I won’t accept anything less.”
Sweat drenches my back as my engine rumbles against my spine. The lights shut off in front of me. I press my foot to the pedal and take off, the sounds of screeching tires echoing behind me. My car makes it through the first corner before my earpiece buzzes with activity.
“Hey. Keep up the pace and mind your tires. And watch out for Noah because he wants to ride your ass.”
I monitor Noah the entire time I race, making sure not to give him many opportunities to pass me. Turn after turn we battle for the first-place spot. He takes the lead once, but I beat him back after a successful pit stop.
“You’re turning too wide at corner three,” an engineer speaks through the team radio.
My breathing grows heavier as I continue to push toward the finish line. Blurs of crowds pass me, screaming as the rushing cars fly by.
Noah inches up toward my rear wing, but I smash the accelerator, flying through another lap. With one last go around the track, I need to push my car to the limit.
Chris makes his presence known again. “Steady. Don’t screw this up in the last lap.”
I concentrate on the track in front of me while minding my mirrors as I push the race car to its breaking point. Turn after turn, I keep my lead, not giving Noah much space to pass me. With one last turn, I surge down the final straight of the Prix.
Fireworks go off as I pass the checkered flag. The sounds of roaring crowds pull a smile from me as I run through the track for a cool down lap.
“You fucking did it. Damn, you’re a two-time World Champion. Good work, Kingston!” Chris yells.
I throw my fist in the air, enjoying the last lap of my career.
My eyes are deceiving me. There’s no other explanation for the apparition standing to the side of the podium, watching me.
Elena motherfucking Gonzalez, in the flesh. She smiles at me and waves, rocking a McCoy T-shirt with my number on it. Liam, Sophie, Maya, and Elías stand next her, cheering us on.
What the hell is she doing here? But more importantly, why is she smiling at me like I hung the fucking moon for her?
I attempt to ignore her as Noah pours champagne all over me, but my eyes find hers every time. When they hand me my trophy, I smile at her before lifting it in the air. The crowd goes wild as Noah and Santiago spray champagne on screaming fans.
The announcers call for the end of the celebration, and I exit the stage. I take a look at her. A good long look, wondering how the hell I deserved her visiting my final Prix despite everything I’ve done. I stroll toward her, soaking her in like the earth in the middle of a rainstorm after a year-long drought.
“Hey.” She offers me a small, nervous smile.
“What are you doing here?” I fight my smile and fail.
“I wanted to see what a World Champion looked like up close and personal. Figured it was worth checking out if the final podium meets the hype.”
“Did it meet your standards?”
“Not really. I expected better fireworks to be honest.”
I shake my head at her. What the fuck is she doing here?
She grabs my hand and tugs me away from my friends. A zing of energy courses up my arm at our contact. I’m tempted to pull away, but I allow myself the moment of torture.
Although I’m happy she came—elated even—I can’t exactly express it. I’m on standby as she pulls me through the crowds before leading me toward a dark motorhome.
“You don’t have to look conflicted about having me here.” She places her palm against my cheek.
I lean into it, craving her touch like the fucked-up man I am. What’s the harm in a few minutes of her attention, even though I know it will devastate me once she leaves? “I’m happy you’re here. Honest fucking truth.”
“Well, that’s a relief. I wasn’t sure if you’d ignore me or kiss me.”
I remain silent because I’m afraid my words will betray how I truly feel about her. As much as I wished for her to be here, it’s not what should happen.
Elena sighs. “I might as well get this over with.” She rubs her thumb across my stubble before pulling away. “First off, you’re the most frustrating man I have ever met. You pushed me away on purpose and if you ever do that to me again, I will threaten bodily harm.”
“I don’t know wha—”
She presses a finger against my lips, shutting me up. “Save the bullshit for anyone but me. I know, Jax. I know about it all.” Her voice becomes somber as she stares at me with tears reflecting off her eyes.
“What do you mean?” my voice croaks.
“I know you didn’t get the news you wanted. I know you said every terrible thing to get me to run away. That you somehow got Connor to pay my entire year salary despite being fired, and how Bandini hired me because of your connection. You tried your best to make sure I was okay without you, even though I most definitely wasn’t. You don’t need to pretend anymore that you’re okay. I don’t want you to. I want the good and the bad, and everything in between with you.”
I lean my forehead against hers and let out a deep breath. “Who told you?”
“Does it matter who? That’s not the point.”
“No, but is that the reason you came here? Because of me helping you?”
“No.” She lets out an agitated breath. “I came here because you deserve the whole goddamn world and every snow-globe moment. And I’m selfish because I want all those moments to be with me.”
I shut my eyes, shielding the yearning. “I should walk away. Permanently.”
She scoffs. “I’d like to see you try. I don’t care about any of it. Nothing about your diagnosis scares me. You could start having symptoms tomorrow, and I’d want to be there for you every single day after. I’ve been through drastic losses in my life and the last thing I want is to lose the person I love because he would rather be alone than with me.” Her voice breaks.
I grip her neck and force her to look up at me. “You don’t know what you’re asking for.”
“Who said anything about asking? I’m taking our future into my own hands.”
“What about kids?”
“What about them? There are other ways to have children. Sperm donors, adoption—the options are endless. I don’t care about the details as long as I can have you.”
“Elena…” I look away, nervous to meet her gaze. “Are you sure about this? Because if you claim you want it all, then I get to do the same.”
Her small fingers clutch my chin and force me to face her. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. Live a messy life with me, Jax Kingston. I want chaos. I want darkness. I want sunshine and rainstorms with you. But most of all, I want you any way I can have you because I love you.”
Her words sink into my skin, etching themselves like the ink that covers my body. I didn’t realize how much I needed her until I let her go.
“I love you too. Even when I tried my hardest not to.” My hand tightens around the back of her neck and I tug her lips to mine. I kiss her with every ounce of love I feel, hoping I can express every apology I wanted to say to her. To remind her of every moment I missed her, craved her, wanted to crawl back to her.
She sighs and I take advantage, running my tongue along the seam of her lips before having a taste. With Elena, one kiss is never enough. It’ll never be enough, in all the days of my life, from here on out. Despite my desire to continue, I pull away.
She protests with a groan. I chuckle as I clutch onto her hand and drag her toward McCoy’s motorhome. Fans call my name out and I nod, barely paying attention because I’m on a mission.
My dick throbs in anticipation as we make it back to my private suite. I pull her in for another kiss, making quick work of removing her clothes. She tugs on the zipper of my race suit, and I help, ridding myself of the sweaty, champagne-soaked clothes.
“Fuck. I’ve missed you.” I take her in, loving every curve on her body.
“Me too.” She sighs as my lips find her neck and suck.
“If I were a good guy, I’d take you back to my hotel and give you a reunion you deserve.”
“I’m not here to date the good guy.” She cups my erection and rubs her thumb across the slit.
I drop my head back and groan. “Then be prepared for all the bad.”
She laughs. “I look forward to it.”
I push her toward the couch. Elena lies down, taking up the entire length of it. She looks up at me like a present I don’t fucking deserve but can’t help keeping.
“It’s okay to be happy.” She smiles.
I grab her legs and pull her toward the side of the couch, lifting her ass up over the armrest. My knees hit the floor as my mouth ravages her. The taste of her is fucking addictive, reminding me of everything I was stupid to let go of.
I kiss, lick, and appreciate her with each stroke of my tongue. Her moans are a symphony to my ears. She gasps when my lips wrap around her clit. I pump a finger, and then another into her, prepping her for me.
She moans my name before she detonates around me. I can’t pull away, wanting to consume everything she has to offer me.
“Shit.” She sighs. “I’ve missed you so much.”
She follows my command, moving so her entire body covers the couch again. I grab a condom from my gym bag and put it on before crawling over her body.
“I’ve missed you more than I can begin to explain. I’m sorry for everything, Elena. I’m sorry for hurting you and for making you feel like you weren’t good enough for me. The truth is you’ll always be too good for me. But damn, I can’t give you up ever again.”
“Keep me forever.” She pushes onto her elbows and kisses me. Her hands go to my dick, touching me before guiding me toward her entrance.
I push into her, groaning as she tugs on my hair. “Fuck.”
She gasps when I move. I keep a slow pace, wanting to enjoy the moment with her. Steady, tantalizing strokes prompt her to tug on my hair harder.
“As much as I love slow sex, this is torture.”
“The best kind. Always the best with you.” I kiss her neck as I increase my tempo and strength, hitting the spot that makes her scratch at my back. The moan leaving her mouth excites me. My pace grows erratic as she clutches onto my back, chanting my name in my ear.
With a few more pumps, she explodes around my dick. My movements grow relentless and desperate as I chase the high only Elena provides. A warmth trails down my spine as my release closes in. I come, pounding into her, devouring her sighs with my lips.
I collapse on top of her, hugging her close to my body. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Her voice cracks.
I lift my head from her neck, brushing away a tear from her cheek with the pad of my thumb. “Sex that good?”
“The greatest. But I’m scared you’ll change your mind if things get hard.”
“For all the days of my life, I promise you I won’t push you away. When life gets hard, I’ll lean on you. When you need me, you can count on me to do the same. I want our kind of love story.” I kiss her softly.
“No take backs?”
I smile at her with every ounce of love I feel. “No take backs.”
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