She'd told Carter she was going down to check out some of the places frequented by those involved in the street racing scene, looking for drivers just like he'd asked. There was a race tonight which she planned on hitting, see if she could find what she was looking for. Right now she was making the rounds of the garages, looking for anyone who could give her names and cars to look for. She didn't say who or why, letting the kids draw their own conclusions. Let them think she was a bored rich girl looking for someone to play with -- the phone numbers so eagerly handed over during the day weren't the ones she was after and she made sure to tear them up in the backseat in full view of Eduardo, her driver.
Carter hadn't sent along any of his dogs, as no doubt Eduardo was meant to be enough of a babysitter, keeping tabs on her and everyone she spoke to. He would detail it all for Verone later with careful attention to anything unexpected or unusual. She knew she had to be careful; she'd spent a lifetime being careful, this past year. Guarding her words and expressions had become second nature and so it was a surprise when she stepped into the garage and found herself staring.
It wasn't that she hadn't known this garage was where the girl racers hung out. Monica had heard of the driver and her all-girl team -- and how Suki had a reputation for being a real bitch on the street. Monica had no real intentions of inviting her to audition for Carter's job; Carter would take one look and laugh, send her on her way and give Monica grief for sending a girl to do a man's work.
But she was making the rounds and gathering intel, and anyone who was watching would think very little of her stopping here. It gave her a reason to track down the next name on her list, the one she wanted most. Inviting a friend of Suki's to the job would give anyone who cared an explanation for why Brian O'Conner showed up at Verone's place looking for a driving gig.
That had been her plan, then she'd walked into this place and the driver -- clearly it was Suki herself -- stood up from beside the car she'd been leaning over. Monica hesitated. Suki gave her a slow once-over.
"Girl, you're in the wrong part of town," she said, giving a slight shake of her head. Her eyes flickered down again, and Monica noticed how they took in her attire, from the $700 shoes she was wearing to the three thousand dollar bracelet on her wrist. Suki's expression was unimpressed; Monica didn't tell her she'd dressed down for this afternoon's excursion.
She didn't try to say that the shopping was an excuse, a way to get out of Carter's house; an indulgence Carter was amused by, raising none of his suspicions. But she suddenly found herself having to close her mouth over those words, and it surprised her. Almost as much as the smile on Suki's face as she continued to stare.
"You like cars? Or you just looking for the ladies washroom?" Suki tilted her head to the far corner of the garage where the bathroom must have been.
"I like cars, actually," Monica said, hauling in her composure as well as her cover, reminding herself why she was there. "But I like drivers more." She had it on her next breath to explain what she was looking for, then stopped as Suki took a slow but sure step forward. Monica knew that walk, she'd used it on Carter and a dozen men over, herself. She'd never seen it used on herself before and she wondered if she looked anything like this girl-panther, stalking her intended prey, when she did.
Suki was wearing heeled boots that made her taller than Monica; she almost took a step backward. Instead she held her ground, tilting her chin upward as Suki drew near. Suki smiled, suddenly, and bent her head to one side, her eyes flickering down once more. "Do you, now?"
Monica let herself smile back. Eduardo was outside; any stories that might filter back to Carter wouldn't exactly make him jealous. She could feel something loosen, dangerously so -- she had to stay undercover, stay in control. But for a moment, she could feel herself leaning forward and wanting to forget it all.
Her thoughts must have shown on her face or in her posture; one second Suki was standing there, challenging her. Then the next she was leaning ever so-slightly to one side, all fluid motion and the out-of-place stranger suddenly welcome. There was still the flavor of challenge, Monica had no doubt. A girl who drove a car like the one behind Suki was not a girl for soft roses and fine champagne and silly, pretty talk. All those things Carter liked that Monica was growing so tired of having to be.
"Any particular kind of driver you're looking for?" Suki asked, and Monica caught the scent of her perfume. It was light, the aroma somewhat like fruit without being obvious what it was. It reminded her strangely of junior high and girls pressed together in the hallways, laughing and painting pictures of their futures on their notebooks with silver inked pens and stickers.
She didn't answer. Her original reason was long gone, unnecessary since she knew where to find Brian, knew if she went to the street races she would probably see him. If he wasn't at the race then she could go to his place the next day, claiming to Carter that she'd heard he was one of the best.
But Brian could wait, and Carter would just damn well have to wait. Monica took a deep breath of engine oil and strawberries and Miami sea air. If anyone had been listening in, she would have teased; half a dozen phrases on the tip of her tongue, full of double-meanings and innuendo and careful but obvious codes.
She had to be back at Verone's place by five; he'd be expecting her at dinner and would expect her to wear the pale green dress he'd bought for her last week, and the green heels that made her feet hurt but matched the emerald earrings he'd bought the month before. She would look divine, the very picture of the well-pampered girlfriend and after they ate and drank wine and stood outside and spoke about whatever Carter decided was important -- they would go inside and Monica would continue to convince him she was his.
"Sí," was all she said, looking into Suki's eyes. She wasn't wearing very much make-up and Monica could see no jewelry to get caught on a car's engine as she worked. Her thin white t-shirt stopped midriff, but there was a smear of grease along the front where Suki had at one point wiped her hand.
She wanted to press her hand there, and she surprised herself again by doing so. Suki's stomach rose and fell with her breath and her skin was warm though the cotton of her shirt. Monica could feel the tease of the softness of her belly over muscle and the utter lack of flinching away from her hand.
Suki placed her hand on top of Monica's, and Monica looked up, mouth open to offer the polite but insincere apology Suki might have expected, or at least laugh off her daring. It was obvious to them both what she wanted, what she was doing here, standing in the garage staring at the girl before her. But there was wanting, and there was leaping forward past the hello, my name is and do you come here often to this..
But Suki was still smiling at her, and Monica was reminded that a street racer tends to be faster, more daring, and quicker to react than those who watch from the sidelines. Monica only had a few hours, and she had no guarantees that anything after today would be more than a fantasy. But outside, Eduardo would wait some time before coming in after to find her. He'd tuned into the fútbol game when she'd left him, and it would be awhile before he noticed she'd been gone.
So as Suki tugged at her hand and stepped backwards, and Monica, without another look back, followed.