This time I’m sticking with my story from last week. This section is actually the beginning of the story, where last weeks was probably around Chapter 2.
The story is still unnamed, but a few ideas are being batted around for a good Independence Day themed title 🙂 (Suggestions are welcome, though…I’m stumped)
Remember, this is a meme with many contributing authors, so make sure to click the link at the bottom of the image to take you to see more!
Anyhow, as always this is un-edited mostly, so forgive any errors. :
“No, not here.” Amanda whined. The car sputtered and spurted. It barely made it to the shoulder before dying. She hit the steering wheel hard, like that would do her any good, and dropped her forehead to the wheel.
Tears she’d managed to keep at bay since Pennsylvania welled up again. She had no idea where she was, other than New York. The last few signs had said something about Rochester, but she’d left the city behind.
She lifted her head, wiping the tears from her eyes so she could see. The road sign ahead read ‘Lake Point. 1 mile’. A groan escaped and she dropped her head to the steering wheel. A solid thump resonated through her already pounding head, taking the decibel level of her headache to near migraine levels. “What am I going to do?”
There was nowhere left to go. She’d had no destination in mind, and should’ve been grateful the car had taken her this far from Illinois.
A shuddering breath racked her lungs and a sob tore from her gut. For three days she’d driven all over the place. She didn’t want to follow a straight line, and half the time had felt lost.
Who was she kidding, all she felt was lost. Her location no longer mattered.
A sharp knock on the window startled a shriek out of her.
“Ma’am? Y’all right in there? Do you need a hand?” Another tap on her window drew her toward the window and the—the fricking cowboy standing outside.
A cowboy? Her hands shook too hard to move, and she imagined she looked frightful. The way his eyes widened didn’t lessen that belief. She pressed down her lock and nodded. “I’m fine. Go away. I’ll call someone.”
“Sorry I startled you, miss.” A smile broke on the disturbingly handsome face. “Name’s Clay. It’s right smart of you not to open up. You got someone to call?”
No she didn’t. Worse, the pay-as-you-go phone she’d bought was dead after her last call to Grace. At this point in time she had no one to call. No one but the man outside her window, but she wasn’t about to get out and hitch a ride with a perfect stranger.
“How about I call Calvin? He’s a sheriff. And I’ll call for a tow and have the car taken to my garage.” Clay apparently took her silence for an acknowledgement that she didn’t know what to do. He turned on his phone and started dialing.
All she could do was nod rapidly, even after he’d turned away. She had no idea what else would work. Her voice didn’t want to work, the world had crashed in when the car died. The reality of what she’d done, and how alone she was now dug at the dark hole in her soul until her lip trembled again.
Thankfully the cowboy backed off and went back to his truck. It left her free to try to gather herself together. She turned the rear view mirror toward herself and let out a bitter laugh. Red splotched her face, the damn dark circles under her eyes a deep purple now that the makeup had been cried and wiped away.
She sniffled and wiped at her cheeks to remove the last salty vestiges of the ‘hysterical woman’ she’d so often been accused of being. At this point maybe she should have felt relief, but she felt more scared than ever.
Flashing lights came into view at the edge of her mirror and she shifted it back to get a better view. A cop car had pulled up behind Clay and the sheriff now stood shaking the cowboy’s hand. So he wasn’t a homicidal maniac, or if he was he was a damn good one.
A strangled laugh choked out and she cleared her throat. After a long exhale and a shake to remove the last of her nerves, she unlocked the door again. By the time the cop got to her car she felt somewhat composed, even if she looked like hell.
“Everything all right, miss?” The short man stood at the ready, one hand on his holster just in case she was the homicidal maniac. Not that she blamed him after the show she’d just put on. No wonder Tony always said she was too emotional.
The mere thought brought up a whimper so fast she couldn’t stop it. Luckily it wasn’t a full on sob, and she was able to nod. “My car broke down. I’ve got no one to call. I’m just…”
“It’s okay. Clay’s already called a tow for you. If anyone can fix this, he can.” The man reeked of doubt when he took in the car. It was a heap of junk, and she knew it. “How about I give you a ride to the garage? You can wait for it there.”
There wasn’t anything else to do. Short of finding another heap of junk that would wipe her out of the last bit of money she had. If there was a higher power, it was telling her to stop where she was. With a long sigh she shrugged. “I suppose. So he’s okay?”
Sheriff Calvin glanced back to the truck and snorted. “Clay? He’s harmless. Don’t bit or nothing. Damn good with cars, too. Don’t let the cowboy thing freak you out. We try not to.”
She allowed an uneasy laugh and grabbed her purse. Once she stepped out, she took a deep breath. “Thank you.”
“No problem. I’m Sheriff Calvin, most people just call me Calvin. And this here is Clay Ryley.” Calvin gestured to the cowboy.
Clay tipped his hat. “Sorry again about startling you, Miss. I saw you stall out and thought I’d try to help.”
“I appreciate it. Sorry for, well, this.” She gestured to her face. “It’s been a long drive.”
“No problem. You go on with Calvin, I’ll wait for the truck.”
She nodded and let the sheriff lead her toward his car. Before she got in, she chanced another glance at the cowboy. Figures on the one day in her life she met a hot cowboy she was a total wreck. Death warmed over probably looked better.
With a sigh, she slid into the car and pulled her purse tight against her chest.
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