The bus stop was empty as they came right after the bus left and they had twenty minutes to the next one. There was no one around to hear them, at least not right now, which is why Martin was free to finish his story. His heart trembled with anticipation as to what Ami thought about his current relationship with Steve. Martin really appreciated her opinion and advice. In no time, Ami became his truly close friend and confidant.
"Want to know what I think?" Ami asked.
"Of course!" Martin assured. She didn't have to ask that!
"I think he really likes you. I think he really, really likes you. He may run away from you and his feelings and he may deny them, but they are there. "
"I think so too," admitted Martin. "Sometimes I think I'm fooling myself, but Steve… I really feel that I am not indifferent to him. But what he went through with Hannah's accident ... Do you think he'll ever be able to change his attitude and accept his feelings? "
"If you don't give it up, I think so."
Martin sighed again, but with relief this time. He even smiled hopefully.
Yes, as long as there is hope, as long as he sees at least a shadow of a chance, he is not going to give up Steve. Sooner or later his sincerity will reach Steve's heart and convince him that it is worth loving.
Two adult men sitting at a table in a pub drinking bottled water was like a profanation. The pub offered at least twenty types of domestic and foreign beer, but these two ordered water. More than a drink, it seemed, they needed a place to talk.
"I think you realize how much Martin likes you," Jack began the conversation.
"I think so," Paxton admitted.
"I have no idea what's in that twisted head of yours, but everyone can clearly see that you like him."
"What do you mean 'everyone'?" Steve looked concerned.
"Calm down. I don't think people would guess what exactly you have in common, but the truth is, it is impossible not to see that you like each other, let's say… like buddies. It's really nothing suspicious. It's normal to like one friend more than another. "
Steve blushed. Had the entire stable noticed that Martin had a special meaning to him? He could only thank God that no one saw anything more between them than camaraderie.
"And? How is that supposed to help Martin get back to us? " He asked.
"Steve, Steve, Steve…" Jack shook his head. "You don't appreciate your position in this stable. One word of yours is enough to hire the kid again. "
"I think you are overestimating me."
"Really? Okay, let me explain this to you, I don't think you understand our stable policy. You've only been here for a year, and you've never had a close relationship with people, but we're here like family. This stable was created out of love for racing. We don't care about money, but about pure, beautiful sport. Otherwise we wouldn't have had financial troubles. "
"And?" Steve didn't understand what Jack was getting at.
"Do I really have to say this?" Lambert muttered under his breath. "Steve, you're a great driver, so when you say you want Martin working on your machine after winning your first grand prix, do you think Karl will refuse you?"
Paxton thought for a moment. In fact, if Steve had asked Karl for anything, Karl would not have refused him, although for reasons slightly different than those Jack had thought of. Steve, however, had no right to use their friendship like that. It was unfair to Karl. It was also unfair to Martin, who deserved a place at the Fergus Stables, not because someone got him the job for acquaintances, but because he was a really good and dedicated mechanic.
"I don't want Martin to get hired for nepotism," he announced shaking his head.
"So there's another possibility. The truth is that a new mechanic would come in handy in the stable. Unfortunately, we don't have enough money. Get us a sponsor. "
"It might be easy for you," Steve scratched the back of his head. "I don't have such abilities."
"Get them then," suggested Lambert. "Don't treat people as your enemies. It's hard for me to say it again, but you're a good-looking guy. Sexy. Manly. Do you know how many products you could advertise? Do you know how much is earned from advertising? "
"I am the driver. I can't pose for photos or smile at the camera. "
"Then learn it. Do you think that an adult does only what he likes or what he wants in life? Wake up, we all make austerities. Do you want this kid to come back to us? Win your first grand prix and several companies will apply to you. Instead of chasing their representatives away, start talking to them or leave it to Karl. If you bring a sponsor, you will have the right to hire your man. Martin is the number one candidate for employment, I know this because I spoke to Allen. Only…"
"Only it is not known if Martin will want to come back to us?" Jack sighed.
Steve's heart skipped a beat.
"Why wouldn't he want it?" he asked surprised. "It's such a great career opportunity! Anyway, we all know that Martin really loves the sport and working with sports cars! "
"You really don't know?" Lambert shook his head. "And would it be easy for you to meet someone you love every day and know that you will never be together? Do you think it's pleasure or rather torture? "
Steve swallowed hard. There was a heavy, hard lump in his throat.
He was never in love. He liked several people, he dated them, but could not talk about love. Hannah's accident followed, and Steve shut his heart completely. He couldn't respond to Jack's question. The only love he knew was Hannah's mother's painful love for her daughter. Love without hope was torture.
This was the kind of torture Steve gave Martin.
The equipment and technical support went to the competition today. After all, they had to prepare everything for the arrival of drivers who decided to join tomorrow. The competition wasn't taking place on the other side of the world, so they were free to spend another night in their own beds. Even so, instead of resting, Steve Paxton found himself wandering aimlessly around the city streets.
His heart was heavy and anxious. Tomorrow, for the first time this season, he had to face the competition. These were supposed to be qualifications, but qualifications are an important part of race. In fact, the starts were never a problem for him. When he got into the car, Steve left all his problems behind him and only focused on one thing - to do his best. He left behind the burden of guilt and a heavy feeling of loneliness. He would get in and drive, and a world of adrenaline and roar of engines made Paxton feel somewhat happy and free. When he was behind the wheel, he had no right to think about anything else. He had no right to be distracted. The track was his whole world.
But lately it hasn't been that easy, and it's getting even more difficult. There was Hannah, but there was also Martin.
A person is able to get used to weak pain to the point that it hardly bothers him. Sometimes he even forgets about it. You can live a normal life with such pain. That's what happened with Hannah. Within days of the shock of her accident, Paxton learned to eat and sleep. He slept badly and ate without appetite, but his survival instinct kept him alive. He got used to the pain. In time, he even started to ride like a devil and found himself on a straight path to the championship. This season he turned out to be a dark horse, this year he started from the position of one of the favorites.
Martin's appearance only helped him. Jack was right, it was a pleasure to get in and out of the car knowing that his enthusiastic eyes were watching him. Seeing a fan's hot and loving eyes watching him, Paxton gave more than ever.
But now Hannah was gone, and Martin was gone. Steve lost two people who had such a significant impact on his life in a very short time. With Hannah gone, Martin kept Paxton's heart from plunging into despair and emptiness. But who will stop his heart from these emotions after Martin leaves?
It's not that Steve loved him, but the young mechanic became part of his daily routine, a tiny ray of light that broke through the darkness and slowly grew stronger. Who knows, maybe one day it would actually illuminate his whole heart?
But Martin also left.
Paxton wandered the streets aimlessly until he saw a familiar figure leaving the restaurant. It was Martin? The boy was in someone's company. He talked to this person, he laughed. He looked pleased. Steve checked who Martin was talking to and jealousy tightened in his heart. It was a young, very pretty woman, maybe not a beauty, but enough to catch the eye. They looked like they were having a great time.
Woman? Did they eat dinner together? Was it a date?
Martin has a girlfriend?!
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