Chapter Twenty-four

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Nick's cell phone rang as Santiago-the makeup artiste, as the man called himself-was prepping him for the Calvin Klein photo shoot. He pulled it out, smiling when he saw Rosalind's name.

Then his smile faded-he couldn't answer her call now. She didn't know where he was or what he was doing. She didn't know Calvin Klein owned his ass, or that it was insured with Lloyd's of London for several million.

"Stop that." Santiago lifted Nick's chin, frowning as he dabbed more stuff on his face. "I'm never going to finish your face if you don't stop squirming. If you want to take your life into your hands and annoy Serge, fine, but it's your ass on the line."

"Literally," he said, amused by his own joke.

Santiago heaved a sigh, like he was incredibly put upon. "It is not easy being an artiste."

Especially one with an identity crisis, because Santiago had a Cockney accent.

"How's it coming along here?" Jon asked as he walked up. "Ready for the photo shoot?"

Santiago sighed again. "It's going terribly. This man cannot sit still."

"He's a race car driver. They move fast." Jon smiled winningly at Santiago, who sniffed indignantly and then turned around. His manager made a face at the man's back before facing Nick. "You ready for this?"

Nick shrugged. "I've got boxer briefs on under this robe, if that's what you mean."

"Most men would be excited about this opportunity."

Yes, well, he was over it. The fact that he couldn't tell Rosalind about any of it didn't make him any happier, either. "I need to talk to you about that, Jon."

"Not this again." His manager groaned. "Listen, Nick, why don't you take a couple weeks and go someplace warm where girls in bikinis bring you drinks? Relax, unwind, and then come back fresh to get ready for Australia. The team is counting on you to return."

"I'm not racing in Australia, and you aren't going to make me feel guilty for leaving the team. McGuire will be thrilled to drive in the limelight on his own, and that young kid David Jay has potential to back him." He winced as Santiago came at him with tweezers. "Is that necessary? They're going to be taking pictures from behind, not of my face."

"This is going to make it all worth it," Santiago said, plucking an eyebrow hair viciously.

"I was going to save this for later," Jon began, "but I'll give you the news now. Omega wants you for a comprehensive ad campaign."

He nodded. "I hope you haven't promised anything, because they're not going to be happy when they find out I'm not racing any longer."

"Nick, I wish you'd-" Jon frowned. "Wait. Are your toes pink?"

The sound of heels made them both look up. Summer waved at them as she avoided collision with a scurrying assistant. She wore her usual black uniform, but with Rosalind's scarf tied around her neck.

"Is that your sister?" Jon asked, smoothing his shirt.

"Stepsister," Nick corrected. "She's the devil's own."

"This is exciting, Nick," Summer said as she joined them. She kissed his cheek despite Santiago's warning growl. "I've always been curious about your photo shoots."

"This is the last one I'm going to do, so get your fill."

"Your last?" She shook her head. "I don't understand."

"I don't either," Jon chimed in. He held out his hand. "Jon Goody, from the Goody Talent and Media Group. I represent Nick."

"Not for long," he said.

His manager glared at him. "Stop talking that way."

"What way is he talking?" Summer asked, looking back and forth between them.

"He thinks he's going to give up racing." Jon held his hands out like the idea boggled his mind. "Talk some sense into him, will you? I need to go talk to the Calvin Klein rep."

Summer watched him walk away and then turned back to Nick. "Is that true?"

"Yes."

"Because of Mum?"

He thought about Tabitha. "She hated me racing."

"I know."

"But it's more than that. I want what I do to be permanent. I want to build something that lasts."

"Like what?"

Like a business. Like a family. "I'm working on that."

She paused, then asked, "Does Rosalind have something to do with this?"

"I was already thinking of leaving Formula One. Rosalind just came along at a time when I was open to the possibility of her." He glanced at Summer unhappily. "She doesn't know about today. Do you know why?"

His stepsister bit her lip, looking like she had when she'd been little and stolen candy from her mother's purse.

Nick shook his head. "Are you really going to pretend you don't know that I can't share details of my life with the woman I'm seriously interested in, because of you?"

"Nick-"

"Tell her, Summer." He took her hand. "She's going to find out. Wouldn't it be better that she found out from you?"

"Maybe." Summer pulled her hand from his and took a step back. "I'll think about it."

He sighed. "Will you? Because it's only a matter of time-"

"I said I'd think about it." She touched Rosalind's scarf as she checked her watch. "I need to go. I'll see you later, Nick."

Santiago spurted some gel into his hands and attacked Nick's hair. "Black doesn't go with her complexion."

No, but it went with her actions. He stared after his sister, hoping she came to her senses before she lost more than she realized.

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