Seduced by Mr. Right(3)

By: Pamela Yaye

“Pay the bill, and fire those idiots at Monroe Accounting ASAP.”

“We can’t. It isn’t feasible right now.”

“Why not?”

“Because the bulk of your fortune is tied up in real estate and long-term investments, and if you liquidate your stocks, you’ll lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

It took a moment for Antwan’s words to sink in. They hadn’t talked about his finances in months, not since the last time they’d argued about Emilio’s spending.

“Am I broke?”

“No, but if you pay the IRS you’ll only have a million dollars left in your bank account.”

“I can live off of that money for years.”

Antwan scoffed. “Not if you continue supporting Francesca and your other relatives. You’ll be lucky if that money lasts three months.”

His manager was right. His kid sister was always asking him for money, begging and pleading for short-term loans she never paid back. But Emilio didn’t mind. He enjoyed spoiling her, figured it was the least he could do after what had happened to Lucca. His family meant the world to him, and he wasn’t going to stop helping them because his stingy business manager had a problem with it. “Like I said, that’s plenty. If I need more funds, I’ll let you know.”

“Or you can come out of retirement and make more money. You could compete in the World Series Racing All-Star Race in August. A win would catapult you back to the top, where you belong.”

“It’s not going to happen, so save your breath.”

“Why not?” he pressed, his eyebrows raised. “If you get back in racing shape you can compete for another five or six years. That’s a ton of cash and championships.”

Emilio didn’t respond. Staring out the window, he watched birds soar across the clear blue sky. He hadn’t been outside in weeks—not since his run-in with that crazed photographer on his estate. He considered going for a jog once Antwan finally left. But when his manager started talking business, there was just no stopping him, and Emilio feared he’d badger him about coming out of retirement for the rest of the day.

“Don’t you want to see if you still got it? If you still have what it takes to compete at the highest level, with the best competitors in the world?”

“No. I’m content here, and I don’t want to return to the track.” It was a lie, one he’d been repeating for the past two years. But he couldn’t tell Antwan the truth—not without feeling ashamed. So he shut his mouth and dodged his manager’s gaze.

“I’m worried about you.”

“Don’t be. I can take care of myself.”

“Don’t you think you’ve punished yourself long enough?” Antwan gave him a stern look. “It’s time to quit moping around the house and rejoin the land of the living.”

Emilio strangled a groan. This wasn’t the first time Antwan had talked to him about his future, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. Deep down, he missed working on his beloved race car, traveling the globe with his pit crew and meeting the die-hard World Series Racing fans who followed him from one city to the next. But his devotion to the sport had cost him Lucca, and he’d never forgive himself for what had happened to his nephew. I don’t deserve to be happy. Not after causing the death of such a fantastic kid.

“I have a surefire plan to rejuvenate your career,” Antwan insisted. “And it starts with the All-Star race. To get the ball rolling, I’ve arranged a meeting with Ferrari next month, and they’re pretty stoked about seeing you again.”

Curiosity got the best of him. “They are?”

“Of course they are! You’re one of the greatest World Series Racing drivers of all time, and your old sponsors are desperate to have you back.”

Emilio balked, told himself he didn’t care. He couldn’t do it, wouldn’t do it, and there was nothing his manager could say to change his mind. He was sick of his family and friends giving him unsolicited advice, and he wished everyone would leave him the hell alone. Annoyed, he considered asking Antwan to leave, but he wisely bit his tongue. His manager had been in his corner for almost a decade, and without his steadfast support Emilio wouldn’t be a three-time champion, or one of the most recognized athletes in the world.

“Have you given any thought to the TV interview with Italia Sports?” Antwan asked. “If I don’t give them an answer by four o’clock today the deal is off the table.”

“Tell them no dice.”

“But they doubled their offer.”

“Am I supposed to be impressed?”

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