Beautiful Distraction(10)

By: J.C. Reed


“Be careful!” Mandy shouts after me.

I nod my head, even though she probably can’t see it, and wrap my jacket tighter around me.

The rain soaks my clothes almost instantly, and a cold sensation creeps up on me before I’ve even taken a few steps. I suppress the urge to open the umbrella, knowing it wouldn’t help much against the freezing wind that makes walking difficult.

Big drops of water are cascading down my face and into my eyes. I blink against what seems like a bottomless well pouring down on me and spin in a slow circle as I try to regain any sense of orientation. The road is barely wider than a path, with what looks like fields to either side, but that’s about all I can see. The headlights are illuminating the ditch we hit, but did we spin to the left or to the right? I can’t remember, and any tire tracks have already been washed away by the water. Basically, I have no idea which direction we came from, and the pitch black isn’t helping. The main road could be anywhere.

Dammit.

Suddenly, my emergency plan doesn’t seem so appealing after all.

We can’t be too far from the main road, so I decide to make it a brisk ten-minute walk and then turn around and head the other way.

“I can do this,” I mutter to myself in a weak attempt at a pep talk and start walking down the path. After only a few paces, I realize the ground conditions make it harder than I anticipated. The slippery mud around my shoes and jeans weighs me down, and my pulse begins to race from the effort of lifting my knees up high. It seems as though I’ve walked for miles, which can’t be because I still see the headlights of our car shining in the distance.

My groan is swallowed by the relentless rain.

That’s when I see the light in the distance. It looks like the beam of a flashlight. I should be getting back to Mandy to tell her about it, but I fear if I return to the car, whoever’s holding it might disappear and I’ll never find out whether rescue awaits us at the other end of it.

“Help,” I scream, but the light ahead doesn’t shift.

As I head closer, I realize it’s not a flashlight but a bulb hanging from a string, which stirs in the wind, and there’s a whole house behind it. The pain from plodding around in knee-deep mud forgotten, I quicken my pace and reach the porch in a heartbeat, then slam my palms against the doorframe so hard the sound could wake the dead.

Thump.

My fist hammers harder against the wood.

“Hey! We’re stuck out here and need help,” I yell, just in case my thudding is mistaken for an oncoming hurricane.

The few seconds that pass seem like an eternity. Eventually, a bolt slides. The door is pried open, and I find myself staring at the six-foot-two figure of a guy.

My jaw drops open.

He seems oddly familiar.

His hair’s dark and curled at the tips; his strong jaw is shadowed, as though he forgot to shave this morning, the dark stubble accentuating his full lips. He’s wearing nothing but tight jeans with the upper button undone, but that’s not what makes it impossible to pry my eyes off of his half-clad body to meet his questioning gaze. It’s his familiar face, the green eyes that are now narrowed in surprise.

“You!” he states. His voice, deep and sexy, sends a shudder down my spine. Something about his tone rings a bell. Where do I know that accent from?

It takes me a few seconds before the penny drops.

My heart skids to a halt as I swear all heat is draining from my body.

Holy. Pearls.

It can’t be. And yet, I know it’s him. Or someone who looks just like him: the rich guy with the expensive car who offered me a handout in exchange for some implied fun between the sheets. The one I brushed off.

What are the odds?

Even though he’s dressed more casually and his hair is a bit longer—past the need for a cut, and styled in a casual mess that demands you run your fingers through it—I see the resemblance straight away. My gaze brushes over his chest.

The same muscular build.

The same features and hard body, all shrouded in a layer of mystery, that have been haunting my dreams ever since he bumped his Lamborghini into my Ford and then offered me a shitload of money because he felt sorry for me.

Club 69.

That’s where we met three months ago.

And that certainly explains his palpable disdain for me.

He can’t take rejection.

For the first two weeks, I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I even started skipping through the gossip pages of various magazines in case he might be someone rich and famous.

Needless to say, I didn’t find his picture, so I forced myself to push him out of my system—Mandy made that part almost impossible.

Of all the places in the world, I had to meet him here—in the middle of nowhere, with no escape route.