From Rescued By That New Guy in Town
by J. L. Salter
In this excerpt from Chapter Five, Kristen Prima (still in her “Sexy Witch” costume) and Ryan Hazzard (still dressed as a pirate) have talked their way out of being arrested, though each has a citation to appear in court the following Wednesday. The officer has brought them back where he found them — and she’s still stranded without her keys.
The cop simply dropped us both in the chilling breeze of the forlorn, dark parking lot of the huge ex-armory complex and then drove away. My brain shrieked: “You can’t just leave me out here with this guy!” But my only sounds were the muted chattering of my teeth. October 30 can be quite intemperate in the outskirts of Verdeville... especially for idiots in skimpy costumes.
In the tinted halogen light of a nearby metal pole, Hazzard peered at his citation; then folded it twice and stuffed it in his back pocket. I surely wished I was wearing jeans with pockets. Captain Blood seemed calm enough: he had his vehicle keys.
I looked toward the armory building and wished I’d just remained asleep, locked in that wooden cage, until the county workers found me on Monday morning. No, that would actually be worse, but stranded and freezing out here wasn’t a whole lot better.
“Here’s my truck.” Hazzard stomped his feet lightly, as though it would make him warmer. “What are you driving?”
Only one other vehicle in the entire lot, about sixty feet away near that gi-normous, scary tree. “That Mini Cooper over there.” I looked toward the armory door. “Wish I could get back inside and grab my purse. And keys.”
Hazzard didn’t avert his gaze from the top of my bustier. “Uh, are you wanting a ride somewhere... or something?” He made it sound like I hoped he would donate a kidney.
Actually, I hesitated. Momma told me never to get in a truck with a pirate in the middle of the night. Well, her advice was never quite that specific, but surely this particular circumstance was included in her frequent admonitions. However, my body’s shivering trumped my brain’s dim recollections. “If you wouldn’t mind too much.”
He turned quickly and began walking. Evidently, in rude man-language, that meant: “Certainly, I’d be pleased to take you wherever you need to go.” So I trotted after him, as my heels made spooky hollow sounds on the expansive black-top.
He got into his side of a Dodge Ram 1500 pick-up probably about three or four years old —plates from Shelby County.
When he unlocked the passenger door, I started climbing up. This Ram didn’t have a jacked-up suspension but it was way high off the ground. Could be tricky in the short skirt of my costume. No time to be a lady now. I just hiked it up and jumped on in. Settled in the seat, I squirmed a bit and tugged on the hem, but it still revealed a considerable expanse of my thighs.
Captain Blood watched every movement. Probably why Momma warned me so
fervently. Guys can’t keep their eyes to themselves. Especially strangers.
“There’s a jacket in the back if you’d like to, uh, cover up.” Since he’d studied my goose bumps so intently, he already knew my answer.
“Yeah... sure.” His face was very close to mine as he reached back between the front seats for the jacket. With the effort to retrieve the jacket, he grunted a bit and his breath was an unfortunate mix of stale spiked punch and black coffee. Dude, get a Tic-Tac.
Hazzard held out his jacket — faded denim, un-lined. It smelled slightly musty like the truck’s interior, but also had that very discernable odor of a man’s working body. Not the acrid stink of dried sweat. Just the earthy aroma which clings to men who don’t wear cologne.
My cold hands automatically went to the pockets. Found some lint, a paper clip, and a bent nail thingy with two sharp ends.
He started the engine. “Where to?”
“Uh, into town on the highway. Shortly after it becomes Main Street, turn north on Adams.” I watched his face as he exited the lot. Hmm. There might be a semi-handsome
face under that greasepaint. He’d need to find a comb somewhere, though. I remembered that electricity when his hands first touched my forearm as he groped for the latch. After I got over being startled, it felt kind of good. Good? Not strong enough. It felt nice. Hmm. I’d need a thesaurus to describe how it really felt. I just know it was pleasant — the touch of a man who wasn’t Wally the Weasel.
As he drove down the highway toward town, Hazzard checked his mirrors a lot... unusual for late at night with hardly any other traffic on the road. Who was he checking for?
My stomach grumbled loudly.
“Uh, you want to stop anywhere?” When he asked, his hand opened... palm up.
“What do you mean ‘stop’?”
“Well, you know. Grab a coffee... or something to eat.”
I couldn’t believe my stomach gurgle transmitted that far. Despite my hunger, instinct —and all of Momma’s warning lectures — kicked in. “No, thanks. Just want to get home and get out of these shoes... and this...” I looked down toward the same expanse he’d been surveying.
“Okay. Just checking.” Slight smile on his lips. Nicely shaped lips... as best could be discerned in the darkness. “I’ve kinda worked up an appetite.”
As we reached the city limits, I wondered what he did for a living. No clues in the truck, unless being messy was a profession somewhere. “Adams is just up there.” I pointed.
Hazzard nodded. “How far up Adams?”
Fact is, I didn’t really want him to know. “Little over half a mile. Turn left on Fleming Lane.”
I wondered what he’d look like when dressed and groomed normally. Wondered, very briefly, what the etiquette was for saying good night to the guy who kind of rescued you but kind of frightened you the entire time you’d been together... then kind of drove you home. Hmm. Definitely not a kiss.
Hazzard turned on Fleming Lane. “Which place?”
It was a spacious subdivision from the 1980s — the trees just reaching serene maturity. “All the way to the end, at the tip of the cul-de-sac.”
He chuckled softly. “I had you figured for an apartment somewhere.”
Lots of people figured me for an apartment. What is it about a single woman that just screams “apartment” to most folks? Good grief. “I’m renting... it was affordable.”
He looked around, though not much was visible around two a.m. “I wouldn’t figure this neighborhood for affordable.”
“Well, I don’t have the entire house.”
That shut him up. I didn’t need to explain that my landlord kept his stuff in the garage and in two of the three bedrooms.
Hazzard pulled up to my address but kept the engine running. “Seems like a nice area... real settled. You know, for you and your housemate.”
Oh, he was fishing for more info on me.
[I hope you like this seventh sequential sample. The sixth was in my Apr. 20thblog. The fifth and fourth (respectively) were in my Mar. 23rd and Mar. 16th blogs ... the first three were in November last year [scroll back or click on the archives].