She rushed out of her house into her beat up old sedan, the car everyone around her declared unfit for the road. Lindsay had to admit she sort of agreed, but when you were barely hanging on, a new car wasn’t an option.
She cranked up the car, saying a silent prayer of thanks when it turned over, and backed out of the driveway. She didn’t have far to go, just a few blocks, but then they had an hour to go. She hated living in the middle of nowhere, but there was something that kept her there, even if she didn’t always know what it was.
The house was in sight, just another minute and she’d be there, ready to go, an not as late as usual. Knowing her mom, she’d planned for Lindsay’s lateness anyway.
The unmistakeable sound of metal collapsing and the jolt of her car coming to a sudden stop flung Lindsay into the steering wheel. Her forehead hit, instantly splitting her head with a blinding headache. She bounced, her head slamming into the headrest that normally sat a few inches from the back of her head.
Lindsay was vaguely aware of the car still running and her foot on the gas pedal, not that it helped. A metallic taste filled her mouth. She ran her tongue over her lips, sucking in a breath when she felt a gash on her lip. The pain brought clarity and Lindsay applied the brake and shifted into park, still trying to understand what happened.
A knock on her window startled her. She looked up into a concerned face, dark brown eyes, floppy caramel colored hair, and a chiseled jaw that even her foggy state couldn’t deny.
“Are you okay?” he asked through the closed window.
Lindsay glanced over herself, checking to see if anything else appeared to be hurt. “I think so,” she whispered.
“What?” he asked, a touch of panic reaching her ears.
Lindsay turned the car off and reached for the door. It didn’t budge, which instantly made her panic. The man outside looked equally scared and started yanking on the door as Lindsay pushed all her weight into the inside. Finally the old door creaked and eased open, slowly letting in fresh air and another scent that Lindsay didn’t know, but was drawn to.
Once the door was open the man crouched before her, still blocking her exit. “Are you okay?” he asked again.
“I think so,” Lindsay said, her head swimming in the scent of him, the same one she noticed as the door was opening. Like fresh cut wood and fresh cut grass mixed together. Lindsay tried to get out of the car, but couldn’t for some reason. Something had her trapped.
“Here, let me help,” he said, his deep, rich voice tickling her ear as he spoke, leaning in closer. Her breath caught when she realized he was going to kiss her. Her eyes slipped closed as she waited for his lips to touch hers, the first brush of them coming together.
“Oh, shit,” he muttered, the panic slipping back into his voice. “Don’t pass out on me.”
A clock registered in her mind then she was being lifted, like she was floating, but different. She was surrounded by his scent, strong arms around her. She reached up to loop her arms around his neck… and found air.
Lindsay’s eyes fluttered open, confusion taking the place of excitement when she found him carrying her toward the grass. “What are you doing? I’m not going to sleep with you out here!”
The man looked down at her, his confusion mirroring hers. “You passed out. I wanted to get you out of the car.”
“I thought you were trying to kiss me,” Lindsay said, her voice small and thoughtful.
“You still had your seatbelt on. You passed out when I was trying to unbuckle it.”
Lindsay groaned. Of all the crazy things she’d done, trying to make out with a stranger who was only helping her was pretty close to the top of the list. She shook her head and the pain came back in a flash, reminding her of why they were in the situation to begin with.
“Did I hit you?” She was still in his arms, draped over him like a passed out toddler. He made no move to set her down. Their faces were close, a breath away, close enough to smell the minty freshness of his breath and see the ring of green around the inside of his eyes.
He shook his head. “A dog ran out in front of me. I swerved without thinking and hit the front corner of your car.”
Lindsay groaned. She knew her car couldn’t take a hit. Neither could her insurance. “My mom’s gonna kill me.”
“Is that your mom’s car?”
Lindsay shook her head. “No, but I’m late. Her house is right there and I’m supposed to be taking her to the doctor.”
The man spun the way Lindsay nodded and looked up at the brick ranch set back from the road. His jaw ticked with something Lindsay couldn’t understand. Still, she held on to him, as though being in his arms was the most natural thing in the world. At that moment, Lindsay thought it was.
“I’ll take you. And her. I’ll drive you to the doctor.”
Of all the things he could have said, that wasn’t anywhere on the list of possibilities. He couldn’t possibly drive them an hour to the office. Lindsay struggled to get out of his arms, his scent and closeness making her dizzy all over again. He let her go, which disappointed her more than she cared to admit. As soon as her feet his the ground she spun, or the ground did, either way, Lindsay was on her ass.
His strong arms wrapped around her again and lifted her effortlessly. “That’s it,” he growled. “I’m taking you both to the doctor. And you’re not going to argue.”