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Olivia


Loving Formula



England.

Present day.


‘Olivia Preston! Welcome to Mangalarga! We’re delighted to see you!’

Olivia smiled broadly at the tall exuberant presence of Philippa Cragg the head of marketing at, Mangalarga Auto Group, the newest and most rapidly ascending competitors in Formula One.

Olivia couldn’t help but absorb some of Philippa’s enthusiasm and she felt like her entire body was buzzing with excitement. Her heavy bag, laden with camera equipment felt light on her shoulder and she felt like skipping as Philippa led her to her new office. This was the gig of a lifetime, this is where it all began and she was so ready.

‘Here we are,’ said Philippa, showing Olivia to a light airy office with floor to ceiling glass looking out onto the smart stone courtyard and beyond at the fields of Northamptonshire.

The Mangalarga complex was state of the art and Olivia appreciated the expensive design features of the offices, the accommodation and leisure facilities. She’d already had the whistle-stop tour of the fifty meter pool and gym as well as the g-force swing trainer that taught the drivers to cope with the physical demands of Formula driving. She’d merely glanced at her new accommodation where she’d dumped her bags to unpack later, but what little she’d seen had been highly sophisticated.

‘What do you think?’ said Philippa, running her finger along Olivia’s new glass desk.

‘It’s beautiful,’ nodded Olivia, looking around at the neat space, she paused momentarily and then Philippa tipped her head back and laughed.

‘I’m being naughty,’ she chuckled, turning her back on Olivia she walked across the compact room and pushed open the adjoining double doors revealing a huge studio with tons of rigging for lights as well as the latest in backdrops and laser projectors for computerized editing software.

Olivia gaped as she took it all in. She placed her bag on the floor and took center stage in the perfectly white floor spinning with her arms open as if she were bathing in a waterfall of cash.

‘Oh, I’m so pleased you like it,’ said Philippa, clapping her hands. ‘Now then, we have a meeting in twenty-five minutes with the rest of the marketing team but first I want to pop by the CEO’s office and introduce you to some of the main people you’ll be working with.’

‘Oh,’ said Olivia, suddenly a little bit concerned about introductions and gate-crashing the CEO’s meeting.

‘You’ll be fine,’ said Philippa, reading her thoughts. ‘Come on,’ she promptly marched toward the door and Olivia followed, tidying her long loose hair as she went. She pulled the sleeves of her cardigan down and fastened a few buttons up in an attempt to look less casual. Philippa led the way down a long hallway and across a huge glass atrium which took them through a security barrier and then toward an attended door which the young man opened when he saw Philippa arrive.

The door opened slowly and Olivia held her breath as she realized it was a large meeting room and it was a very large meeting. Everyone was there. The team managers, drivers, designers, mechanical team and trainers, and they all looked at her as she followed Philippa into the room.

The CEO and owner of Mangalarga, Benjamin Rudder, stood to welcome them in and appeared to be ahead of the intrusion and smiled warmly. ‘You must be Olivia,’ he nodded.

‘Yes,’ said Olivia, trying not to let her lip quiver with nerves. ‘Pleased to meet you,’ she stepped forward to shake his hand. He was young she thought for such a high profile position, no more than forty and good-looking. The rest of the room’s occupants sat quietly watching the introduction unfold, until Philippa took over.

‘Everyone, this is Olivia Preston our new team photographer, this is her first day so we’re on a flying visit but we will be making proper acquaintances throughout the week. Anyway, let me do a quick introduction …’

Philippa went around the large table reeling off names and the roles of each person at such speed that Olivia’s mind was whirling. There was no way she would remember them all and she was doing her best to make eye contact and nod and smile at everyone. They were all men bar one female driver whose name she only just caught; Danielle. Olivia smiled at her and Danielle returned the greeting in kind unlike some of the others who appeared lukewarm at best.

‘And this,’ continued Philippa, as she introduced the man seated next to Danielle, ‘is Andy Briers …’

Olivia’s heart nearly stopped as she clapped eyes on Andy for the first time. He looked at her and the smile she had harbored suddenly diminished as she realized she was staring straight into the cool blue gaze of her one night stand from three months ago.

Oh shit! ‘Nice to meet you,’ said Olivia, doing her utmost to reapply the smile and cover her waver.

He continued to gaze at her and then a slight smile crossed his lips but his eyes were not convinced. ‘You too,’ he said.

Philippa rocketed around the table with the rest of the introductions and much to Olivia’s relief she and the CEO did all the talking until they were finally clear of the room and back in the hall where Olivia finally felt able to breath normally.


~



Oh my God. How the hell had she got through the first day alive?

Olivia had managed to do a little bit of work but her head was pounding by five p.m. She’d spent most of the day worrying about her introduction to the people in the CEO’s office that she was primarily going to be photographing, including Andy.

Damn that man; when she’d met him at the party months ago he’d told her he was a driver! She’d assumed he was a chauffeur or at the least a cab driver not a bloody Formula One ace! Urghhh, what was she going to do? What was he going to do? He really hadn’t looked pleased to see her which she couldn’t decide if it was a good sign or a bad sign. Would he tell everyone that they’d slept together? If he did it was seriously going to undermine her credibility straight off the starting blocks, and she needed a level playing field to prove herself. What should she do? Ideally she needed to have a quick word with him just to win him round and make sure they agreed to keep their one night stand quiet from everyone.


Where on earth was her other suitcase? Olivia glanced around the apartment floor where she’d dumped her bags earlier that morning. She hadn’t had time to inspect it properly but now she took the time to take it all in.

Like much of the Mangalarga complex it was designed tastefully using the most of natural light and state of the art technology. Olivia played with the voice command blinds and lighting and then commanded the TV on and off settling for some mellow music piped through the multi-room speaker system. She hadn’t noticed at first, but then she looked about at the personal items here and there and realized the apartment was inhabited and began to panic that she’d been shown to the wrong place.

The door opened and in came Danielle, the woman she’d met at the CEO’s meeting.

‘Hi Olivia,’ said Danielle cheerfully. Her hair was wet and her cheeks were glowing from exercise.

‘Oh, hi Danielle,’ said Olivia surprised. ‘I er, I must be in the wrong place?’

‘No,’ Danielle shook her head. ‘We’re sharing I’m afraid. I’m not high enough up the food chain to warrant my own apartment, and I don’t earn enough yet to buy, so you’re stuck with me.’

‘Oh,’ said Olivia. She smiled even though she was a little bit disappointed that she wasn’t going to be on her own. She wasn’t good at sharing and at twenty-nine she felt a little bit too old to be roomies and hang out with the girls.

‘I’m not that bad,’ said Danielle, reading the look on Olivia’s face.

‘I’m so sorry,’ rushed Olivia, she was getting off to a terrible start on her first day. ‘I didn’t realize I was sharing, it’s great honestly. I could do with the company.’ Olivia was starting to run out of steam, it had been a long day and she knew she’d put her foot in it.

Danielle tipped her head back and laughed. ‘You’re very sweet Olivia. I’m sure we’ll get on fine. ‘Come on I’ll show you your bedroom, and then we’ll order pizza and I have a few beers in the fridge. We have three restaurants and two pubs on site, a dry cleaners, doctors and a supermarket of course.’ Danielle laughed at Olivia’s surprise. ‘A-ha, looks like you haven’t had the grand tour? I’ll show you the ropes Olivia but first let’s order those pizzas hmm?’


Olivia decided she really liked Danielle, she was twenty-two but mature beyond her years although she still had an innate playful nature.

They ordered pizza and managed to find only two small beers, so after Olivia had had time to shower and change from her work clothes into her trusty jeans and a slouch t-shirt they headed out to look around the Mangalarga complex.

Ironically there were no cars on site except in the visitor car park and way off in the distance at the track where the Mangalarga fleet was stored. Danielle drove a little electric buggy for them and they toured the flawless complex.

‘So, I’ve shown you all the offices, you know how to get to the training track and the main garages, you know about the different apartments and then there’s the ‘high street’ of course: doctors, supermarket, the gym. All that remains is the pub. Shall we?’

Olivia laughed, the buggy Danielle had selected was open top and she was sure that her hair was all over the place by now but she didn’t care, she felt elated as if on the adventure of a lifetime.

‘Of course,’ she said. It was nine p.m. on a Friday night, why wouldn’t she be at the pub? She walked with Danielle after they’d parked up and entered The Crown not expecting such a vibrant atmosphere.

‘Wow,’ said Olivia, surprised by the amount of people there. The traditional façade outside belied the contents inside as Olivia discovered it was super retro, and like the rest of Mangalarga, extremely high tech.

‘Where did all these people come from?’ Olivia looked around at the various customers trying to work out who they could be.

‘Well there’s four hundred employees, with about one hundred living on site. Most people drink here before heading home. Oh yeah,’ nodded Danielle, ‘Benjamin Rudder has thought of everything. He even pays for people to get home or there’s spare accommodation for those that have had a few too many.’

‘He certainly has,’ nodded Olivia, still taking in their surroundings.

‘Let’s get a booth and I’ll tell you the rest,’ said Danielle. She pointed Olivia in the direction of a red leather booth and left her alone while she went to order at the busy bar.


Olivia reflected on her busy day and wondered how she had got so lucky? She was sure it was purely down to chance, fate, or whatever you wanted to call it.

The studio she’d been working for in London had called her in a flap to say that their best photographer had had a nasty accident involving a pedestrian on his way to a gala dinner in Greenwich and could she fill in? It was a fundraiser for orphaned children with high profile guests so Olivia had to get it just right. It wouldn’t do to have pictures of guests knocking back Champagne and caviar; it wasn’t the right message to send. Instead Olivia had taken pictures of guests in reflective states, or deep in conversation. She’d used special effects and while the chairman was making his thank you speeches she’d hooked up her camera to the overhead projector which ran a slide show of her efforts behind him.

Despite being exhausted Olivia had stayed for a glass or two of wine by request from the chairman and that was when Philippa Cragg had sought her out. Philippa had been there representing Mangalarga of course and came to Olivia’s side to congratulate her on her unique style. Before Philippa dashed away, as she often did, she made sure she had Olivia’s full verbal resume as well as her contact details and salary aspirations. By eleven a.m. the following Monday morning Olivia had landed her dream job with a substantial salary, travel subsidies, and free accommodation. She knew the scale of what she was taking on, Philippa had been quite clear about the job role in terms of long working hours. Olivia however didn’t know a thing about Formula One!

Organic Olivia, she reminded herself, as an artist it was her job to bring Mangalarga to the general public as well as the die-hard fans of Formula so it was best she walked in as an outsider; another reason she felt sure why Philippa had chosen her. A woman’s vantage point might shake up the perspective of Formula, show it in a different light, make it accessible to people who would never have thought of loving Formula before.

She had arrived. Olivia Preston was here and she was going to make a difference.

Yes, it was safe to say that Olivia was glad her poor colleague had crashed out of the fundraiser that night. It had changed her life, she would never forget the moment Philippa approached her, and now she would never forget that a couple of hours later Andy Briers had also approached her and she had invited him home as her bonus for the evening. And, here he was now, approaching her booth with a flat expression on his face.


‘Hello?’ said Olivia, looking up into Andy’s cool blue gaze.

‘Hello,’ he said, he didn’t wait for her to offer but plonked himself down opposite her.

Olivia was grateful that the bar was so busy and loud and hoped no one would notice that her cheeks had turned the same color as the red leather upholstery. She shifted uncomfortably and abandoned the text she’d been about to send her mother. She looked at him as if trying to gage his thoughts but he only appeared impassive.

‘How are you?’ she said at last. She couldn’t help but cast her mind back to the wild night after the gala that had continued into the early hours of the morning. Knowing that she would never see him again she had thrown herself at, Andy the cab driver, and had abandoned all modesty and taken what she wanted that night. The bottle of wine she had consumed had obviously helped, but now, as she remembered some of the finer details she decided he hadn’t been as drunk as her. When she awoke at six a.m. he was gone, never to be seen again.

‘I’m fine thank you, how are you?’

‘Great thanks.’ She could see from the look on his face that she was going to have to do the talking and she suddenly felt that her first day was about to be ruined. ‘I, er, it’s nice to see you again Andy, obviously I didn’t know that you worked here or I would …’

‘You thought I was a cab driver,’ he said, with the hint of a smile, ‘so obviously you didn’t think you’d bump into me again. I get it, it’s fine. I just came over to ask you not to say anything about what happened that night, if you don’t mind?’

‘Of course,’ said Olivia, slightly taken aback by his clear directive. ‘I won’t say anything. I hope …’

Andy nodded cutting her off and got up and walked back to the bar to join some of his friends.

Olivia watched him go miffed by his rude departure. She watched as his friends exchanged glances with each other checking over Andy’s shoulder in her direction. What was he saying about her? The group laughed at something Andy said and Olivia felt her cheeks get even hotter through anger more than embarrassment.

‘Do you know him?’ said Danielle, returning with a pitcher of beer and two glasses.

‘No,’ said Olivia quickly, ‘not at all.’ Liar. ‘He was asking when I’d like to take his picture that’s all.’

Who Andy?’ frowned Danielle. ‘Andy’s not the exhibitionist that’s usually Brad Rudder, Benjamin Rudder’s hopeless cousin. Andy’s alright she continued. I can’t imagine he’d choose to have his photo taken though, it must have been a chat up line gone wrong?’

Olivia laughed. ‘No. No, it was definitely not a chat up line.’ She poured their drinks and held up her glass. ‘Cheers Danielle.’

‘Cheers Olivia. Welcome to Mangalarga.’



~



Olivia spent the weekend getting her bearings, the complex was enormous and so she ended up popping down to the atrium to pick up a visitors map then made her way on foot around the places she would be working. Her security clearance hadn’t come through yet so she couldn’t access the g-force swing trainer, the garages or race track. Instead she went to her studio and spent a productive few hours adjusting the lights, and then with the help of the twenty-four hour handyman, some of the rigging too. On Sunday she popped down to the multi storey car park and went offsite to get some bits and pieces at the supermarket a few miles down the road, the complex supermarket was on a very small scale and lacking in some of her favorite ingredients. On Sunday evening she made a chicken curry from scratch for her and Danielle. They were getting on well which wasn’t a surprise as Danielle was extremely likable and her little observations of other people had Olivia in hysterics.

They wrapped up the evening over a bottle of wine on the veranda talking about some of the things that Danielle had learned about the cogs of the Formula One industry.

Olivia learned that Danielle was in a class of her own and reading between her humble lines that Danielle was as up and coming a driver as there could be. She was blazing a trail so to speak for her age and even more so as a woman. By the time they’d finished their tipple Olivia had a sworn promise from Danielle to be her first project.

‘So,’ said Danielle, ‘you’re going to be busy.’

‘I hope so,’ nodded Olivia, she appeared suddenly subdued.

‘What did I say?’ said Danielle, checking Olivia’s expression.

‘No, nothing,’ Olivia shook her head. ‘I like to stay busy that’s all.’

‘Oh,’ said Danielle, ‘I know that look, this is about a guy huh?’

‘Sort of,’ nodded Olivia, smiling at Danielle’s intuition. ‘I had a very long term relationship which I got out of about six months ago. I’m over him really, it’s just life has changed you know? I was supposed to be married last weekend but,’ she paused and studied the last dregs of her wine, ‘to be honest I’m much happier that I’m sitting here.’

‘Poor you,’ consoled Danielle, ‘it’ll be for the best no doubt. Stuff it, let’s open another bottle eh? I don’t start training until next week so let’s celebrate you getting your dream job and me being the future Formula One champion of the world huh?’

Olivia laughed, even if her world had turned upside down recently she still felt lucky to have landed where she had. She looked doubtfully at her glass and then at Danielle.

‘Thanks Danielle, but I think I will say cheers with an empty glass if you don’t mind, it’s the start of my first week here and I want to make a good impression.’

‘No problem,’ said Danielle. ‘I think I might have a shower and an early night anyway. Good night Olivia, sleep tight.’ She hugged Olivia and Olivia couldn’t help but hold back the tears even though she hadn’t thought of Jack all week. She was touched by Danielle’s good grace and relieved that her photography career had a second chance.

Danielle went to her room and Olivia leaned over the balcony admiring the view of fields and sunset in the distance. She decided to head down to the complex and walk by the little lake before retiring for the night. She took her camera too, it would be a shame to waste the summer’s evening light and she snapped a few angles of the building outside as she headed toward the lake.

She sat on a bench near the water and watched the busy little coots overtaking the serene ducks and snapped a few more photos. There were a few joggers about and she wondered who they were. Everyone said hello as they ran past on the pristine white path. It was calm and peaceful and she wondered how different it would be when the sound of roaring cars practicing on the track carried over.

She looked up her attention captured as a fit looking jogger came into view along the path. Oh God. It was Andy and he’d seen her. She didn’t know where to look, she couldn’t look away they’d already recognized each other and she felt uncomfortable staring at him as he strode athletically toward her his running vest highlighting his toned physique. She sat still and waited until he neared determined not to let him see that she was thrown off guard.

‘Hello,’ she said politely, as he ran past.

‘Hello,’ he replied, with the slightest incline of his head. He kept running and Olivia tried not to look at his rear view as he pounded down the path and out of sight.

Phew, he was gone. She couldn’t help but smirk to herself as she suddenly remembered with clarity, as if the sight of him in his close fitting shorts and vest had prompted a flashback to their single night together. She remembered his thighs that was for sure and his tight behind.

‘Hello?’ the voice behind her snapped her back to the present.

‘Hello,’ said Olivia, turning to find Brad Rudder standing smiling behind her.

‘I’m Brad,’ he said kindly.

‘Hi Brad, I’m Olivia,’ she shifted so that he had room to sit on the bench next to her. He seemed very pleasant and she recognized him from the CEO’s meeting as one of the drivers but also as Benjamin Rudder’s cousin of course.

‘Oh, I know who you are Olivia,’ smiled Brad. He wore jeans and a t-shirt and he too looked like he had just come from an off-site activity, laden with designer bags of clothing. ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, I saw you sitting on your own and thought I’d just introduce myself properly. I hope you’ll like it here.’

‘I’m sure I will,’ smiled Olivia.

‘And don’t worry about Danielle,’ confided Brad, ‘she’s excitable but she knows when to draw the line. You probably could have done with sharing with someone else but never mind eh?’

‘Oh no, she’s really lovely,’ said Olivia puzzled. She felt like she had to defend Danielle even though she’d only just met her.

‘Hmmm,’ nodded Brad. ‘Look Olivia I have to dash but I do hope I see you during the week and you’ll usually find some of us in The Crown on a Friday night, so anytime you want some company you know where to find me.’

Olivia nodded and smiled. ‘Very kind of you,’ she said as he waved goodbye. She blanched slightly as she saw Andy coming back the other way. He acknowledged Brad and continued on. This time she looked away and fiddled with her camera as if it needed urgent attention. She couldn’t help but watch the rear end of him again as he ran in the other direction the rapidly setting sun highlighting his pert behind. Without thinking she whipped up her camera and photographed him, perfectly formed and gloriously bathed in sunset.



~



Monday had gone ok but Tuesday and Wednesday were a nightmare reflected Olivia. She’d finally got her security clearance on Tuesday morning and spent a couple of hours photographing some of the offices and staff to update their website and brochures. She’d then taken it upon herself to head down to the track making the garage her first point of call. The security card had let her in the side entrance when she’d been unable to find any other way in and no one around. She opened several doors until she arrived at the main garage and before she knew what was happening she was being shouted at by several angry men who were working with lifts and machinery. She didn’t know what to do so she stood still declining to follow opposing instructions. One of the men, a short rotund, bald man and the angriest one there came over to her and grabbed her wrist dragging her behind him down the side of the garage to relative safety on the forecourt. He demanded that she stay put until he was finished and he turned away leaving Olivia beetroot in front of a small audience of trainers, mechanics and drivers, including Danielle and Andy.

She couldn’t understand the fuss but took her punishment and stayed rooted on the spot with a little sympathetic smile from Danielle and a complete blank from Andy and most of the others.

After a little while it seemed that they’d forgotten about her so she slowly reached for her camera and began to discreetly take photos of the crew and the cars. She remained where she was though still too scared to move until the angry man had finished talking and examining the underneath of a car and returned his attention to her.

She recognized him as the racing manager, in charge of overseeing everything from mechanics to cards to drivers and now her, only he wasn’t impressed and the look on his face said it all.

‘You!’ he snapped. ‘You head back to wherever you came from and I’ll deal with you later. Out!’

Olivia couldn’t help but look terrified. She was a foot taller than him but his physical presence aside, his aggressive manner left her shaking inside and it was all she could do to make her legs move off the forecourt. She didn’t know which way to go having been lost on the way in so she stuck to the path which ran alongside the track until it ran out. Oh God, what was she going to do now? She was penned in by a twenty foot mesh fence and there was no way she was going to go all the way back to the garage to be let out. No way she was going to go past Andy and Brad and Mr Angry again. She was almost at the end of the track anyway and hallelujah she could see a double gate leading to the road that would take her back to the complex. She could just cut across this bit of track and then she’d be able to open the gates with her new security clearance, pop back to see Philippa and get this whole situation cleared up.

She’d taken no more than five steps when she nearly got the shock of her life as a siren sounded like an air raid all the way around the track. She hadn’t even noticed the speakers before, standing tall on poles around the entire track and most probably blaring because she was walking on a race track where cars traveled at two-hundred and thirty miles per hour.

Oh God almighty, could it get any worse? The four by four coming toward her suggested that it could. She made her way back to the path and waited until it drew level with her and Andy rolled down the window.

‘Get in,’ he said calmly, barely acknowledging her.

She climbed in and sat quietly unable to speak lest she burst into tears. She was going to have to toughen up, and quickly. She noticed that although Andy had raced up to get her he trundled back toward the garage and she wondered why.

‘George is pretty pissed,’ he said, at last referencing the bald chunky boss that had screamed at her earlier.

‘So am I,’ she snapped, trying to regain some control of the situation. It seemed that anger lately was getting her through the tough times and if that was what she needed to tap into then so be it.

‘He’ll not take any shit Olivia, it’s best you just apologize and keep on his right side.’

Olivia sighed. What else could she do? Day two of her future career had fallen woefully short of her expectations.

They arrived back at the garage but George was nowhere to be found. Someone had killed the alarm and the mechanics and drivers had dispersed so Olivia’s humiliation was short lived.

Danielle opened the door for her and Olivia dropped down. ‘It’s fine,’ assured Danielle kindly. ‘I got bollocked my first day here, you’ve probably made George’s day to be honest.’

Olivia appreciated Danielle’s humor and she looked around to thank Andy for getting her but he’d already started to head off.

‘Come on,’ said Danielle. ‘I’ll show you the proper way in and out of here.’


Olivia had seen the funny side eventually after much ribbing from Danielle but that was before Wednesday happened. With assurances from Philippa that she had every right to be in the garage or down by the track Olivia had tried again, certain that the old, get back on the horse, idiom was the best way to go.

She’d taken one of the buggies down to the garage this time and seeing the gates open to the track had driven cautiously in parking up next to the main entrance alongside the other buggies. She checked her camera equipment and retied her boots then went in search of activity. There was one mechanic and he acknowledged her, ‘they’re on the track,’ he nodded, returning to his work.

‘Thanks,’ said Olivia. ‘How can I watch?’

‘You can’t,’ he said, ‘you need to head out with the crew and clear it with George in future.’

‘Ok thanks.’ Olivia was disappointed that she hadn’t had the chance to apologize to George and get herself back in his good books.

‘Can I take some photos from here?’ said Olivia, pointing to the massive concrete barrier that stood some fifty yards away protecting the forecourt of the garage.

‘Sure,’ he turned back to his work and Olivia made her way to the barrier setting up a tripod to balance her heavy camera on. It was a bad spot and on the straight so the photos were going to be a bit unadventurous but she was determined to stay out of trouble and at least it gave the crew an idea that she was about and hopefully in a few weeks’ time she’d be like part of the furniture.

A car roared past while Olivia was still setting up and she was in awe of the sound it made as it went speeding past. She watched its progress around the track and it whizzed past her again. It was truly amazing and she felt privileged to be trackside when they were training. She got her camera up and running and took a couple of hundred stills, doing the best she could from her limiting position. A sound came across the tannoy like an all clear and sure enough the crew who had been operating on the far side of the track walked back across it returning to the garage. The car she’d been photographing came back to the garage and the engine cut. Andy climbed out and went into the garage seemingly oblivious to her presence. Olivia ignored him too and snapped away as the crew walked companionably back to base. She stepped backward keeping them in the frame and catching some great shots. She’d forgotten about the car behind her and tripped backward over it her bottom flying into the cockpit and her heavy camera crashing over the bonnet making a huge dent in the metalwork before landing in separate pieces on the floor.

Olivia yelped and then realized she was stuck her feet pointing skywards as she doubled in two. There was laughter followed by abrupt admonishment by George when they realized the car was damaged. Olivia was man-handled out of the car and she quietly picked up her separate camera pieces while several heads leaned over examining the dent in the bonnet.

‘You again,’ said George. He wasn’t quite as angry as he’d been on Tuesday but the look on his face said it all. He thought Olivia and Olivia’s role was tiresome and he didn’t have time for her. He looked about as if trying to decide what to do by which time Andy had returned to look for himself at the damage she’d done.

‘Andy,’ said George taking him to the side. The two men conferred while Olivia stood quietly by waiting to be dealt with yet again.

‘Come on,’ said Andy, approaching her. ‘You’re coming with me.’ He led her to an office above the garage and offered her water.

She sat down, as he instructed, and took the water feeling like she was beginning to get the migraine from hell.

‘I’ve been tasked with giving you the safety tour,’ he said. Something in his eyes twinkled and Olivia couldn’t help but cast her mind back to the fumbling of condoms that had gone on that night and decided that he was obviously thinking it too. She wasn’t in the mood for humor however so she played dumb and kept a mute expression.

‘Fine,’ she said, refusing to apologize or explain her earlier mistakes. She knew Andy didn’t have anything to do with her mistakes but she couldn’t help but feel he was enjoying watching her fail and it was probably all to do with her reaction that night. He’d be right in thinking that at the time she didn’t want to see him again because she’d thought he was merely a cab driver, but that wasn’t the whole reason. At the time she’d been three months without Jack and pretty much had a low opinion of men, and unfortunately Andy had been the collateral of a messy break-up and that was all.

Andy took his duty imposed by George seriously and showed her a health and safety video for the track. He then took her around and introduced her properly to each of the mechanics explaining a bit about what they did and where in the workshop she was allowed to go and so on. He then drove her around the track, pointing out the various safety features and demonstrating the tannoy warnings.

By the time they got back to the garage George had emerged again and he spoke to Olivia separately telling her she was welcome to take photos but she had to schedule it in and come to the meetings in the morning if she was planning on being trackside that day.

Olivia was glad things were finally going smoothly and she went to thank Andy, but once again he’d left suddenly. She went back to her buggy to head up to the complex and as she rounded the corner she saw Andy holding Danielle in his embrace. She stopped and began to reverse to give them privacy in what seemed like a taut moment. Andy looked up just in time to see her discreetly stepping back and he eyed her cautiously as if he didn’t trust her for some reason.

Olivia made herself scare for a couple of minutes and when she popped her head back out they were both gone. Danielle and Andy? Why hadn’t she seen that earlier?



~



‘I’ll be gone for the weekend, I hope you don’t mind?’ said Danielle. This was the earliest heads up she’d given Olivia at six p.m. on a Friday and Olivia had learned about Danielle to know that this was how she rolled on most things.

‘Of course not,’ said Olivia. She smiled and resumed her book. ‘Are you going anywhere nice?’

‘Just my Mum’s house. I’ll be back by Sunday night. Who will you hang with while I’m gone?’

‘Oh probably just myself. I’ll watch a bit of TV.’

‘Ok, you sure you’ll be ok?’

‘Perfectly. Thank you. Hope you have a nice time,’ said Olivia, bouncing to her feet and giving Danielle a hug.

Olivia waved from the balcony as Danielle dragged her suitcase along behind her. She waited until she was out of sight and then turned to start her quiet evening but something caught her eye, or someone, hurrying across the plaza in the same direction as Danielle with his holdall in hand and dressed in smart trousers and shirt. Andy looked very handsome even from where she stood gazing down at the back of his head, his brown curls lifting as he strode.

Ah, thought Olivia, Danielle had kept that quiet, a weekend away with Andy? Maybe he’d told her about their night together and Danielle didn’t want Olivia to know they were dating? She could imagine sweet Danielle wouldn’t want to say or do anything that would make Olivia feel uncomfortable. Maybe it was a new relationship and they needed some privacy to see where it was going?

She knew it was ridiculous but all of a sudden Olivia actually felt lonelier than in that first month after Jack had left her. It was not as if she and Andy had been an item they’d barely known each other’s names so why did she feel this way?

Olivia decided to stop dwelling and she grabbed some cash and trotted down to the supermarket heading up the wine aisle to consolidate her evening’s TV.


‘Hi Olivia. You on your own tonight?’

‘What? Ah, hi Brad,’ said Olivia, turning to see Brad closing in on her. He wore black jeans and a t-shirt and his hair was spiked slightly off center. He looked good and his eyes crinkled as he smiled at her.

‘It’s Friday night Olivia. Come out with me and some of the boys tonight yeah?’

Olivia could smell Brad’s cologne and she couldn’t help but check out the muscles in his arms. She cursed herself for looking and Brad shifted his stance his head tipped enquiringly as if he’d fully noticed her subtle recon.

‘Come on Olivia,’ he said teasingly, ‘don’t be an old maid.’

She laughed and replaced the bottle of wine on the shelf. ‘Come on then.’


The drinks came fast and furious. Olivia had run out of money but Brad and his mates from various Mangalarga departments barely noticed as they knocked a few back before heading out to town in search of fun.

It was getting on for ten p.m. when the boys left and Olivia headed up to her apartment. She’d had an exhausting week and Brad and his mates were exactly the tonic she’d needed to lift her spirits. She was almost back at her apartment when she heard Brad calling her name. She turned to see him walking up with a bottle of wine in his hand.

‘Good idea?’ he said, pointing at the bottle.

Olivia was certain it was a bad idea, but it had been quite a week and she was merry on several glasses of wine anyway. Oh what the hell.


They made it to the bedroom but only just with Olivia helping Brad undress and vice versa. He was down to his boxers and she her panties and bra. The apartment was dimly lit with mood lighting and they knelt on the bed, then Brad grabbed her and pulled her to him his hand boldly dipping into her panties. He then grabbed her hand and pushed it into his boxers, his kissing becoming passionate and frenzied.

Olivia was taken by surprise but she went with it pushing away from him momentarily to shrug her bra off. She pressed herself up against Brad’s smooth chest and he lay back taking her with him and nearly clashing heads which made them laugh. Brad arranged Olivia’s legs so that she straddled him.

‘You are amazing,’ said Brad, as he ran his hands over her breasts and down to her hips. She shivered slightly at his light touch and arched her back.

‘Come here,’ groaned Brad, as he pulled her toward him. He held the back of her neck and pushed his lips to her then brought her hand back down to massage his erection which pulsated back and forth vying for attention under the cotton material. He wriggled free of his boxers and guided her hand back there again, his own hand on top of hers so she couldn’t let go demanding her to squeeze up and down. When he was ready he pulled her vigorously man-handling her until she was sitting atop him, and then he began to thrust.



~



Olivia groaned as she checked her alarm clock. Eleven a.m. and her bed next to her was empty. Oh God, what had she done? Too much wine and too much persuasion and Brad was the master of persuasion she’d discovered after last night. Oh why had she done it?

Damn it! She was a free agent she could do what she wanted, sleep with who she wanted and go where she wanted, which is exactly what she was going to do. She jumped in the shower and washed her hair opting for a white t-shirt and light camel chinos. She ate a slice of toast her delicate stomach unable to manage much more than that.

Saturday, she needed some things for her studio so she would take the day to head into town and see what she could find. She chucked her sunglasses on and strode out into the sunlight across the plaza.

‘Hey! Olivia I’ve been looking for you.’ It was Brad coming toward her looking significantly fresher than she felt.

‘Hi,’ squeaked Olivia.

‘Hey you,’ said Brad, coming right up to her and planting a kiss on her lips.

Olivia pulled away and tried to shrug off the moment by patting him on the arm. ‘Hi there Brad.’

Brad pulled back his cheerful expression diminished and he raised his eyebrows. ‘Not ok?’

‘Erm,’ Olivia had to think fast. ‘Maybe we can think about it.’

‘Right, I get it,’ said Brad.

Olivia couldn’t tell either way what Brad was thinking was he annoyed or upset? Surely it was a one night stand and that was that? He was nice enough and good-looking too but during daylight hours and one week into her new job she didn’t think it was a good idea.

‘Olivia!’

Olivia spun around to see Andy approaching her. Not only was she surprised to see him back so soon after his and Danielle’s quick departure last night but she also realized that he must have seen Brad kiss her and for some reason at that moment, he was the last person she wanted to see her kissing.

‘Andy,’ said Olivia, trying to stay cool. ‘How are you?’

‘Fine,’ he said shortly. He came up to them and nodded at Brad.

It was the first time that Olivia had noticed there was something less than team-like about these two, and why hadn’t she noticed it before, she’d spent most of the week around the drivers and crew, or was it because of the kiss Andy had just witnessed?

There was a long and awkward pause and Olivia couldn’t help but assess the look on Andy’s face; he was angry, very angry.

‘Brad,’ said Andy slowly, ‘you’re wanted at the garage.’ He waited until Brad left which was quickly and without further conversation with Andy’s six foot bulk towering over him.

Olivia had never felt so awkward in all her life. There was obviously some unspoken agenda between Andy and Brad and she was currently in the middle of it. Maybe she’d made it worse and the last thing she needed right now was for team ructions. If George caught wind of it she’d be banished to her studio that was for sure.

‘Andy,’ said Olivia, ‘I was just on my way …’

‘Not anymore you’re not,’ said Andy flatly. ‘Philippa called, there’s a chopper on its way with our main investor. We’re going to the track to accommodate him. I’m glad I caught you.’

‘You are?’ said Olivia, inadvertently focusing on his last words.

‘Yeah.’ Andy shuffled from foot to foot and fixed Olivia with a piercing blue gaze. He still looked angry and then his expression softened and whatever he was planning on saying he decided against. ‘Come on, I’ll help you carry your stuff.’

‘Andy? What did you want to say?’ said Olivia softly. She’d learned enough in the past week to know that there was more to Andy Briers than met the eye and if she had to categorize his latest mood she’d say it was jealousy, so had she got it wrong, were his and Danielle’s Friday night jaunt two separate things?

‘Nothing,’ said Andy, ‘nothing at all. If you don’t need any help I’ll meet you trackside and try not to talk to the investor, he’s married and always on the prowl. You’d be exactly his type.’

He walked off and Olivia gaped at his direct warning. Who did he think he was? He wasn’t in charge of her and if he meant that the investor was after the slutty type then the thing with Brad had been a one off. But then so had the thing with Andy.


Seven weeks passed and Olivia finally got into the swing of things. She was a hit with Benjamin Rudder and he loved her work. Philippa couldn’t stop singing her praises and she loved that she was able to go large on projects which seemed to be funded by an unending stream of cash.

Sunday was going to be her first ever Grand Prix and she was nervous as hell but not as nervous as Danielle. Olivia had noticed how much more she jabbered on if that was possible. She was on a high and her excitement bubbled over to Olivia. The boys were much calmer, with most of them being seasoned Grand Prix drivers. Danielle and Brad were the least experienced and bottom of the Mangalarga league table but they both showed promise, especially Danielle. She’d put in the hours and she deserved to move up the ranks. Alcohol and late nights had been suspended and she was up with the lark training down the gym every day. A few times Olivia had come back to the apartment to find Andy and Danielle screaming at the TV at pre-recorded races where Andy was offering as much feedback as he could for his self-appointed protégé.

Olivia couldn’t help but smile when the two of them were shouting their heads off, it was like watching two peas in a pod. Olivia soon realized that there was nothing going on between Andy and Danielle, they were more like brother and sister and anyway Olivia had her suspicions that Danielle was seeing one of the team mechanics although obviously they were trying to keep it quiet and off George’s radar.

Olivia packed her holdall and made her way to the helipad for her first ride in a helicopter. She sat next to Brad who smiled and winked at her. He’d been ok with her since their single night together and didn’t seem to mind that she wasn’t interested. Olivia discovered that he had been interested in Danielle but that Andy had had to intervene when he wouldn’t stop pestering her hence the lack of rapport between them.

Olivia confessed to Danielle what had happened and Danielle had advised her to keep him at bay. As the CEO’s cousin he seemed to think he had privileges that the others did not and could be a bit of a pain at times. Olivia took her advice and everything appeared to be going smoothly.

The helicopter ride was exciting enough and upon their arrival at the exclusive Solis Hotel in Monaco Olivia was practically bursting with delight. Her private suite with lounge and en-suite was exquisitely decorated and lavishly furnished and she wasted no time ordering room service and jumping in the shower to freshen up.

She met Danielle downstairs in the foyer and they waited until the rest of the crew joined them which totaled twenty altogether. Some of the crew including George were already trackside and they boarded a private coach to take them there too.

She was last on the bus and she had to sit next to Andy. He was in a good mood and he played tour guide talking her through the local attractions as they went. It was nice to talk about something other than the track or strategy for a change and Olivia noticed how content he appeared. They’d certainly moved on in the last few weeks from their rickety start.

Someone threw something from the back of the bus which landed in Olivia’s hair, she reached up and retrieved the object which was a wrapped condom. Her eyes widened and she turned to see who was being childish. Brad sat, pretending to look out of the window while the others looked either embarrassed or annoyed on her behalf. Andy snatched the package from her and held it up, ‘extra small,’ he announced to much laughter from the others. ‘Brad you’ve lost something.’

Olivia turned to see Brad with a benign look on his face. He took the humor well but to her there was a subtle undercurrent that he looked to be harboring.

They arrived at the track and George called a meeting which Olivia sat in on. The Grand Prix track was up and running and the drivers had a busy practice schedule ahead starting on Monday and finishing on Saturday with the big race on Sunday.

Olivia spent the late afternoon getting her bearings and hiking around the strenuous pedestrian routes by the track. She had dibs on any vantage point she required and all she had to do was put in a request and the race organizers would erect a platform for her. She had chosen her spot away from some of the main photographers and close enough for her to run to the finish if Andy, Danielle, Brad or one of the others won. She waited for two hours for the scaffolding team to arrive and they were just finishing when Andy arrived. He looked fresh in white shorts and t-shirt, his sunglasses still necessary in the evening sun.

‘Hi,’ he said, glancing up and down at her.

Olivia wondered if he was unaware that she could see his eyes behind the shade because that had been a definite recon of her body. She smiled and said hi back.

‘Are you just about done?’ he asked.

‘Yeah, I’m ready for home,’ said Olivia tiredly.

‘Me too,’ nodded Andy. ‘I thought I’d come and find you. I’m afraid the others have gone, we didn’t know where you were.’

‘Oh damn. Sorry. I should have let George know. Have we missed the bus?’

‘‘fraid so, but we’ll get a cab.’


Olivia watched Andy although she pretended she was reading as he walked slowly up and down the forecourt awaiting their taxi. There were crew members from the other teams still milling about and various media personnel doing the same as she had been doing earlier and setting up for the big race. Olivia couldn’t help but notice that she wasn’t the only one watching Andy, several women had their eye on him too. She didn’t blame them, he was pure muscle and very handsome but unlike Brad who owned it Andy seemed to be unaware of his own appeal.

The taxi arrived and they went back to the hotel.

‘There’s a really nice restaurant up here on the left,’ said Andy, his tour of Monaco unfinished, ‘if you like traditional French food of course.’

‘I love it,’ enthused Olivia. ‘My nan was French.’

‘Hmmm,’ nodded Andy, ‘that must be where you get your good taste from.’

‘Er?’ Olivia smiled, looking down at the togs she usually wore for work, her blouse was tidy enough but her chinos and boots?

Andy smiled, ‘I’ve seen you wear nice things, and this,’ he waved at her outfit ‘you make it look chic.’

Olivia burst out laughing and Andy accepted his gaffe and smiled broadly. ‘Fair enough,’ he said and without hesitation added; ‘would you like to go to that restaurant tonight? With me?’

‘Oh,’ said Olivia, reining in her laughter, ‘that would nice.’



~



They met in the hotel foyer. Olivia had had to brush off a dinner date with Danielle and Danielle knew straight away from Olivia’s tone what was going on. Olivia wondered if Danielle had given Andy the nudge to ask her out and she secretly thanked her friend. It had been unexpected and even though she and Andy had been getting on well over the last few weeks she still felt as if there were the unspoken events that neither one of them wanted to bring up, like the one night stand they had, as well as the one she’d had with Brad.

Andy turned as she arrived and drew breath, her long black hair hung in ringlets over her shoulder and she’d gone for a simple but elegant black lace dress with a scooped neck. She smiled as she made her way toward him and he noticed her svelte silhouette and it almost chilled him as he remembered clearly their one night together many months ago.


Brad had stayed up fancying his chances with the flock of women that had landed in Monaco except he’d timed it badly and people were still out so the quiet hotel bar wasn’t all that busy. He hung on to try his luck. He usually worked better alone although some of his party pals would be joining him, and they really set the town on fire, after the race was over. For some reason this particular race sent shivers down Brad’s spine, not anything to do with the track, he loved Monaco, more to do with his position on the track and even more so the position within his team. Brad felt like the other Mangalarga drivers were biased toward Danielle over him and he really didn’t like that and he didn’t know how to deal with it. Danielle was good but she was still quite young and was she really as good as him? He’d had to speak to his cousin about it to get him to intervene and make sure the other drivers didn’t protect her on the track and give her opportunities over him, and if they did that on Sunday and she moved up instead of him he wasn’t sure if he had a future career with Mangalarga CEO’s cousin or not.

Brad looked up just as Andy and Olivia came into the foyer, he saw them confer with each other and then they went to the bar to order drinks. He watched from the corner of the room where he sat their attention well and truly on each other rather than the handful of other guests. They finished their drinks and got up to leave with Andy lightly touching the small of Olivia’s back as he chaperoned her from the bar.

Brad mused to himself, first rejected by Danielle as if she had the right and then Olivia. Neither one of them knew how lucky they were working for Mangalarga a company his grandfather had founded. Still, what did he care about those two, he had his pick of gorgeous models if they took his fancy. No, none of that really mattered just now what he wanted more was the championship and he deserved it, he’d been racing since he was a teen but he just couldn’t seem to get a break, women like Danielle and Olivia were very distracting too.

If he truly wanted a lead in the Monaco Grand Prix he was going to have to resort to unlawful tactics and he had a way of getting rid of hose two tarts at the same time. At the end of the day all was fair in love and war.



~



Olivia had had the best night with Andy. She hadn’t really known what to expect and apart from their one night several months ago they’d never really spoken at length before. She felt a bit embarrassed at first as she asked him questions that she’d already asked on that particular night which she couldn’t remember the answer to. He joked about it and was gracious about repeating himself. After that the conversation had flowed easily and Andy had opened up for the first time since they’d met. He was funny and a bit like Danielle with his little astute observations of people. They had laughed a lot and Olivia couldn’t believe this was the same guy she’d struggled to connect with in the earlier days at Mangalarga.

Their suites were on the same floor and they exited the lift shortly behind Barney who had cleaned up and was walking a few yards ahead of them. He carried a bunch of flowers and a bottle of wine and Andy and Olivia held back discreetly as he went to Danielle’s door and knocked. He was dragged into the room and Olivia and Andy laughed.

‘Confirmed,’ said Andy, laughing with her.

‘They’re trying to be discreet bless them,’ she nodded. Without warning Andy grabbed her around the waist and gently pulled her toward him, his nose gently touched hers and he breathed her in. ‘Do you think, do you think we should be discreet?’

Olivia was delighted and she nodded, a smile creeping across her lips. ‘Definitely.’

Andy held on a while as if overwhelmed by the closeness and then she took the lead and opened the door to her suite.

He held her hand and she led him through the door.

‘I, Olivia are you sure?’

Olivia looked up at him and smiled. ‘I’m sure,’ she said gently. ‘Are you?’

Andy smiled and said slowly, ‘I have wanted you since the night I met you. You are amazing. It’s been torture being so close to you but so far away.’

As far as Olivia was concerned it was a done deal and she grabbed his shirt collar and pulled him roughly toward her. They locked lips and Olivia stood on tiptoe to reach him. He held her face as if he were finally quenching his thirst for her.

They moved in tandem back toward the bed and then fell together their lips never parting. Andy came up for air first and studied her carefully, ‘you’re beautiful Olivia, I’ve been aching for you every day since you walked into that meeting. I couldn’t believe my luck.’


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