Saving Mr. Carter
Beer spilled over the rim of the glass as I sidestepped a burly, tattooed man who’d stuck his foot out in hopes of getting my attention. He grimaced when I passed by unaffected, and I knew he was hoping I’d trip and eat shit. Sorry buddy, not this time. I steered myself through the rest of the tables, taking extra note of any idle limbs, and placed the glass on the furthest table to the right. This man, thin but a thousand times more dangerous, frowned.
“Half my beer’s gone.”
I shrugged. “Take it up with Dante.”
I turned to leave, but he grabbed my wrist. His eyes roamed over my body—the sweated through white button down, the red leather mini-skirt, the ketchup-stained high tops—and then back to my face. “Come on, Josie, baby. Just give me a refill. It ain’t my fault Dante’s got it out for ya.”
I snatched my wrist from his grasp. “It’s your fault you brought him here. Control your men, Tony. I ain’t gonna tell you twice.”
I knew he was scowling at me as I left, but I didn’t care. They couldn’t touch me. Not unless they wanted a knife to the gut. It was enough comfort to get me through my day. My year. My life.
I pushed through the swinging door of the kitchen, scouring the metal table for any orders ready to go out. None. Good. I leaned against the wall, and pulled out my phone. 9:24. Only 36 minutes to go.
“Jo!” a voice called, as the door swung open again. A short strawberry blonde stepped through, her hair falling in ringlets to where her arms were crossed over her ample chest, her face pouty. “Don’t you dare leave me stranded on the floor alone.”
I waved my phone at her. “Only checking the time, Ab.”
“Half an hour.”
Abby let out a long sigh, her hands falling to her hips. “If Mark touches me one more time, Jo, I’m done. Finito. On the next plane to Fuck-No-Ville.”
I suppressed a laugh, and laid my hand casually across her shoulders, pulling her into me. “Summer’s almost over, shorty. Trust me, the second school starts and we’re rolling in tips, we’ll be buying first class tickets to Fuck-No-Ville.”
Abby raised an eyebrow. “Thought we were going to New York.”
“We’ll be rich enough to do both.”
She huffed, looked down, and undid another button on her chest. Reaching into her shirt, she pulled up her breasts, accentuating her cleavage. “This better be worth it.”
I grinned. “It will be.”
She grabbed one of her orders off the table, swiveled on her heels, and pushed out the door. I stared after her for a second, before turning to Eddy, the massive chef who wore a hairnet despite having gone bald four years earlier.
“Table seven?” I asked.
“Almost ready,” he said, flipping fries onto a plate.
I sighed in relief. “Last one for today, Ed.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure ‘bout that, Ms. Parker.” He nodded towards the foggy glass window that faced the bar. The bar that, a minute ago, had been empty. Now, a figure sat on a stool, a menu propped up in his hands. Two massive shapes lurked behind him, and even through the fog, I could pick out Dante and Mark. Whoever the newcomer was, it was clear he wasn’t welcome.
I bit my lip, considering letting them take him out. One less customer to deal with. And maybe I would have, if Dante hadn’t tried to trip me.
“Be right back,” I said, and headed out the door.
The second I saw him, I stopped.
He was beautiful. Short golden-brown hair. Hazel eyes. Full lips. A body that rivaled Adonis. He wore jeans and a cotton blue t-shirt—common enough—but it was obvious, from the way he carried himself, that he wasn’t from around here. Townies knew never to step foot in a Slick bar. No wonder Dante was about to pounce. An image of that beautiful face bruised and bloodied flashed across my mind, and my stomach recoiled.
He looked up from his menu and saw me, standing shell-shocked by the kitchen door, and smiled. Smiled. Like he wasn’t three seconds away from death. I think I knew right then that he was going to change my life. I think he knew it too.
I composed myself, and strolled up to him. I should have told him to leave. I should have told him he was a new shiny toy in Dante’s playbox. I should have told him to stay far the fuck away from here.
I had better tools in my arsenal.
So I kissed him. Just a slight peck on the lips, right before pulling him into a hug, and whispering, “Don’t say a word.”
I could feel him wanting to push me away, confused, until he looked over my shoulder and saw the two men leering at him. He relaxed. He didn’t understand, not yet, but he was making a choice, and I was glad it was the right one. Lesser of two evils, he probably thought.
How wrong he was.
I pulled away and smiled. “You’re here! Thought you couldn’t make it tonight.” He opened his mouth to respond, and I shook my head with a tight smile. No.
“You know this Townie, Josie?” Mark asked, his arms crossed.
I slid my fingers through the man’s hand, and turned to Mark with an eye roll. “He’s not a Townie. He’s my boyfriend.”
The man beside me raised his eyebrows in surprise. So did Dante. “Your father know ‘bout this?”
“Of course he knows,” I snapped. “Just like he’ll know you damn near gave me a concussion today if either of you try to give us a hard time.”
Fear flashed across Dante’s eyes and he receded. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “We didn’t know.”
Mark narrowed his eyes, looking the man up and down. “What’s his name?”
“Carter,” the man beside me said, squeezing my hand.
I squeezed his hand back, my smile tightening as I turned to him. “I told you I’d deal with this, babe.”
“I have a voice.” A nice one, I thought. “Babe,” he added with a teasing smirk.
Mark looked smug. “He’s right. He does have a voice. Tell us, Chanel, how’d you meet our Josie?”
“We were up at the lake—“ I started.
“I asked him.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Watch it, big guy.”
“It’s ok, babe,” Carter said. “I can tell him.”
My heart pounded in my chest. Why Josie? Why didn’t you just let them kill him? If this gets back to your father… “I don’t think you can.”
He tugged on my hand, pulling me in close, his hand weaving around my waist, as he said, “Trust me. I can.” The sultry edge to his voice made me curious enough to stop arguing. He cleared his throat. “As she was saying,” he started, “we met at the lake. I’m from Chicago, and my friends and I decided to visit some cities along the shore. Nothing exciting. She came up to me, looking like an angel, asking for directions—“
“I did not—“
“Did too.” He grinned down at me, and I bit my lip. “Anyway, I asked her out for some ice cream. She said yes. Rest is history.”
“Hmm,” Mark said, clearly disappointed. “Whatever, Josie. You screw whoever you wanna screw.”
“And you can go screw yourself, Mark,” I spat, before turning around to Carter. “Come with me.”
I led him outside the doors, past the Dill’s sign with the missing L, and into the parking lot. Crossing my arms, I said, “You are either the dumbest person I’ve ever met or you’re new here.”
The corners of his lips turned up. “Just moved.”
I sighed. “For future reference, Townies don’t come to the south side. It ain’t safe.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “Townies?”
“People from the north side.”
“But I’m not—“
“Where do you live?”
“Just up Madison—“
I chuckled. “Can’t get more Townie than that.”
“Where do you live?”
I smirked. “Why? You planning on coming over?” A blush reddened his cheeks. “Tell you what, Carter. My shift ends in—“ I checked my phone, “—twenty minutes. If you can manage to stay alive until then, I’ll take you somewhere no-one cares what side of Ole South you’re from.”
I felt the soft caress of wings in my stomach when he smiled, and I knew right then that I was digging my own grave. Don’t fall in love, Josie. Don’t fall in love with older guys, Josie. Don’t fall in love in Oakes Falls, Josie. I repeated my mantra over and over again, telling myself I had nothing to worry about, knowing all the while that I was the worst damned liar I’d ever met.
I let Abby take my bike back home, and climbed into the passenger seat of Carter’s shiny silver coupe. I led him through the shanty south side homes, wondering why he ever thought it was a good idea to come here in the first place, and past the boundaries of Ole South towards the nightclub we called Switz. It was the only place in town that didn’t care whether you were a Townie or a Slick.
We drove around the outskirts of Oakes Falls, until we found the sole neon-lit building that bordered the forest. Techno music filled the car as we approached, and from the way Carter’s face twisted, I could tell it wasn’t his scene.
“I hate it too,” I said. “The music. But it ain’t that bad when you’re drunk out of your mind.”
He shot me a sideways glance. “How old are you?”
“Twenty-one,” I lied. The guys at Switz didn’t care how old I was, because they knew dealing with my father was worse than dealing with the cops, but Carter looked like the kind of guy who wouldn’t be caught dead serving alcohol to minors.
He smirked like he didn’t believe me, but said nothing else. He parked his car, and I turned to him. “And you?” I asked. “How old are you?”
“Twenty-four.” Older, but not too much older. Twenty-four. I grinned. I liked twenty-four.
I pushed myself out of the car, not waiting for him to follow, and made my way to the club. I knew he was watching me, and I knew he liked what he saw. Most guys did. I pulled my hair out of its ponytail, letting the dark chestnut waves fall over my creamy white shoulders and down my back. I’d changed from my work clothes into the slinky black tube top and form fitting jeans I’d had on earlier, and they hugged the curves of my willowy body as I swayed suggestively from side to side.
I glanced back to make sure he was coming, and sure enough, he was standing by his car, watching me. I winked through dark gray eyes, and called, “You coming?”
He blinked, startling himself out of whatever trance he was in, and nodded. I chuckled.
I pulled out my fake ID, striding up to a bouncer I’d never seen before. His eyes narrowed as he took in my face—I really didn’t look a day over 18—but when he saw the name on the ID, he handed it back without question. He’d probably gotten the memo. Don’t mess with the Parker kid.
I stepped inside the club, blinking as I was assaulted by the pulsing strobe lights, and made my way to the bar. I didn’t have to look back to know that Carter was following me. I felt it, through every nerve ending in my body, that the boy whose lips had felt like velvet was behind me. I saddled up to the counter, leaning my elbows strategically so that they enhanced what little cleavage I had, and shot a smile to the bartender, a handsome blonde I’d hooked up with a few times.
“JoJo,” he said, siding up to me. “Long time no see.”
“How you doing, Sam?” I leaned in to peck his cheek, and he turned around quick enough to catch the corner of my lips. He wagged his eyebrows at me with a mischievous grin. I rolled my eyes.
“What can I get you today?”
He cocked an eyebrow. “Double fisting?”
“Nah, I’m here with a friend.”
“Abby?” he asked, looking over my shoulder with interest.
“You ever seen that girl go anywhere after work that ain’t her bed?”
He smirked. “My bed.”
I pulled the towel from his shoulder and slapped him with it. “Naughty, Sam. You been two-timin’ me?”
He leaned over the counter so our noses were inches away from touching. “You know you’re my favorite girl, JoJo. Just say the word, and I’m yours.”
I scrunched my nose. “Only thing I want from you are those damned beers.”
He laughed, and bent below the counter, pulling out two Coors. “You want these on your tab?”
“Put them on my dad’s,” I said, grabbing the bottles and turning to find Carter. I saw him leaning against a mirrored column, his arms crossed casually across his muscular chest, his eyes on me. I raised the beers in his direction, and he grinned. Gorgeous.
I pushed my way past a group of Townie girls in suede skirts, ignoring the dirty looks they shot at the sneakers I still wore. They didn’t care that I was a Slick here. They just cared that I wasn’t one of them. I didn’t have to dress up to look good, I looked damn fine in jeans and sneakers and I knew it. It’s a funny thing about girls. They tell you all the time how pretty you are, how much they love your hair or your clothes or your cute button nose, but the second you own it, the second you tell them you know you look damn good, they look at you like you just told them you had a kid at fifteen. Like they don’t know what to say, but they certainly don’t approve.
But, you know, it’s not my fault my father mail-ordered a hot Russian bride and knocked her up. Not my fault she died and all I got to keep was her face.
Not that I’m complaining, of course.
I shoved a beer into Carter’s hand, clinking the glass with my own, before taking a long, well-deserved sip. It was a long day’s work, waitressing at Dill’s. I mean, I had it better than Abby because all the Slicks there knew they couldn’t do a damn thing to me, but they liked to make up for it by working me extra hard. I didn’t mind so much. I liked the exercise, the rush—kept me on my toes, kept my mind from wandering—but by the end of the day, I had about enough energy left in me to bike back home and pass out. Unless, of course, a handsome stranger walked in and recharged me with a sultry grin. The kind of grin you wanted to take to bed and kiss well into the morning. The kind of grin you wanted to form around a deep moaning of your name. The king of grin I didn’t think he realized he kept giving me.
“Why Oakes Falls?” I asked, as I watched him take a sip, unconsciously licking the stray droplets off of his lips.
“First place that offered me a job.” He didn’t elaborate because he wanted me to ask, so I didn’t.
I should have.
“You really from Chicago?”
“Born and raised.”
“City or suburbs?”
“Lived in the suburbs. Went to school in the city.”
I appraised him. “You’re smart then.”
“I like to think so.” He gave me a cocky grin. “And you?”
“Am I smart? Not that great with books, honestly, but I can calculate a mean derivative.”
He laughed. “No, I mean, what college do you go to?”
Did this man really think I was 21? “I don’t. Go to college. Dropped out after freshman year.”
“Any particular reason?”
“Yeah. It fuckin’ sucked.”
I admit then that part of the reason I had saved this man from the clutches of the Goliath Twins was because he had walked into a Slick bar looking like a Townie, and that meant he didn’t know the rules. It meant he didn’t know me. Josette Parker was nothing but the name of a pretty girl who flirted with him at a bar. It wasn’t a name whispered in passing between Townies looking for a drug hook up, or Slicks telling stories about a girl they couldn’t mess with, or Vipers who revered it like it belonged to a long forgotten God.
So I lied. I lied because I could. I became 21-year-old Josie who dropped out of college because she had better things to do with her life than read a bunch of books written by fossils. This Josie didn’t want to go to college. This Josie liked it just fine in Oakes Falls, thank you very much.
I could tell he was into that, the whole vibe I was giving off— bad girl, rides a motorcycle, doesn’t give a damn what society expects, makes her own way through life. Guys like him, the smart ones who lived their whole lives under their parents’ thumbs, they liked that. They looked at me like I was some sort of manic pixie dream girl, put in their path just so that they could get off on the fantasy of me.
I knew some older Townies, guys who didn’t go to school with me, who looked at me and saw the same thing. A respite, an adventure, a thing to conquer. Some girls would’ve cared, would’ve fought tooth and nail to rid them of the notion, but I wasn’t one of them. I fed into it. Thrived on it. The truth is, I didn’t care what people thought of me, didn’t care if it was true or not, as long as it got me what I wanted. And right then, as I watched Carter’s eyes light up at all the lies I spun from his own imagination, I had no doubt I would be going home that night with everything I wanted right in the palm of my hand.
“You wanna dance?” I asked, chugging the last of my beer and chucking it on the bar.
“I don’t really—“
“That wasn’t the kind of question you say no to, Carter.” I slid my fingers through his. “You don’t really get a choice with me.”
His eyebrows shot up, and a smile tugged at his lips. “I’m beginning to realize that.”
I shot him a grin and led him through the burgeoning crowd until we were hidden in middle of the dance floor. Bodies pressed up against our backs, everyone lost in their own world, their own lives, their own vices, and even though we were surrounded by people on all sides, we were completely alone, free to do whatever we wished.
I threw my arms around his neck, pressing my body against his, collapsing our tiny space even further. My hips moved against his body, side to side, keeping in tune to the music, and he lowered his hands to my waist. I stood on my tip-toes, and brought my lips to his ears.
“Carter,” I whispered, my voice heavy, sultry. “Tell me something.”
I wrapped a finger around a small strand of his golden-brown hair, twirling it as he said, “Yes?”
“Your new job, is it at a convent?”
He hesitated. “No…?”
“Are you a priest, Carter? Are you a man of the cloth? A faithful servant to the Lord Almighty?”
“I mean—” I tugged on the string of hair. “No,” he said. “I don’t really believe—“
“Then tell me, Carter, why are your hands around my waist when I have it on good authority that my ass feels far better?”
The air around him seemed to stop. I thought he would protest, goody-two shoes boy that he seemed, but in no time at all, the hands around my waist had disappeared, and my ass was being significantly, significantly, cupped. Jesus, his hands.
I bit my lip. “Much better, wouldn’t you agree?”
“What are you trying to do to me, girl?”
I cocked my head at him. Blinked innocently. “What is it you want me to do to you, Carter?”
I think he growled. I couldn’t hear it. Not through the music. But I felt it, vibrating deep inside him, through to the very core of me. “You don’t know me. Not at all. Not enough.”
My hands fell from around his neck, and I trailed my fingers along his jaw, his neck, his shoulders. “I beg to differ. I think I know just enough.”
His hands pulled me closer—sudden, so sudden—and a gasp escaped my lips. “I made a mistake,” he said. “Walking into that bar.”
“Obviously. I told you already, you’re too much of a—”
“No,” he said, cutting me off with a shake of his head. “I made a mistake, because you—Hell, I don’t know you, Josie, but I have the most peculiar feeling that you are going to be the death of me.”
I swallowed. He wasn’t what I was expecting. He wasn’t like the rest of them. He was… dangerous. A plague on my unsuspecting heart. I stepped away from him, trying not to take note of the way my skin went cold at the loss of his touch. “If you want me to leave, Carter, I can go.” I tried to take another step back, to disappear in the ocean of revelers around me, but he grabbed my wrist.
“Don’t,” he said.
I glanced down at his hand on mine, that feeling, that touch, shooting through me stronger than it had when our bodies were pressed together. “I think it’s best if I just—“
He shook his head. “Please. I—I’m not going to force you. I just—I want to know you. Not here. Not in this hellhole of sweat and desperation, but—“
“That’s the problem, Carter. I don’t think you want to know me in the way that I want to know you. And what you want,” I said, regretting every word, “it’s not something I think I can give.”
He opened his mouth to respond, but I shook my hand out of his grasp and turned around before he could. I had to get out of here, find someone who could take me home. I’d walk home if I had to. But I couldn’t stay here, not if this man kept looking at me like that, kept talking to me like that.
Sex—Sex was easy. Simple. Fun. I liked having sex with older men, much to my father’s dismay, because they never expected things from you. They knew you were young, knew you still had life to live and that being with you would tie you both down. Guys my age, they made plans. They were dumb and naive and stupid, but they dreamed of futures. Of fantasies. They hadn’t yet been torn down by the world, hadn’t yet learned that life beyond Oakes Falls wasn’t perfect. They thought they could hold me in a box and clip my wings and keep me from flying. No. I had life to live. I had places to go. I had a heart to protect, to keep hidden and safe and far from anyone who dared to harm it.
And this man, this practical stranger, could very much be the one to break it.
I stumbled through the crowd, searching for a familiar face. Couples making out. Mascara-streaked face. Townie girls sporting scorns. Slick girls sporting deep-inked V’s. A familiar young face on a massive linebacker body.
I plastered a sweet grin on my face and sauntered up to him. He sat on a couple of couches with his brother and some Townies I’d never met, probably older ones back from college. He saw me as I approached, taking in first my body, his eyes twinkling in appraisal, and then my face. A scowl of recognition.
“Hey, Cope,” I said, saddling up to where he sat.
“Parker,” he said, a nod his only acknowledgement.
His friends, the ones I didn’t know, seemed to be trying to read the exchange. Deduce the relationship. Hot girl + Unhappy scowl = ????
“I need your help,” I said to Cope before he decided to ignore me completely. The thing about Cope was, he didn’t have anything against us Slicks. In fact, he loved us. Needed us. He’d be lost without the Viper’s connections, and being Josie Parker, heir to Viper fortune, he had no choice but to respect me. He didn’t have a problem with it before, until the day he got a little too handsy with me and ran face first into Mark’s fist. The crooked nose he still sports is a constant reminder to steer clear.
“Um,” he looked around for help, but his friends seemed at a loss. “We were just leaving.”
I grinned. “Perfect. I need you to take me home.”
He paled. “Home? Like south side home?”
“No.” I rolled my eyes. “Didn’t you hear? I bought a mansion in Hawk Hills with all that coke money you gave me.”
“Fuck, Parker—” he growled, putting a hand over my mouth, his eyes wide. “Don’t say shit like that.”
“I’m kidding,” I mumbled against his hand. He removed it warily. “Seriously though, can you? I missed my ride.”
He clenched his jaw. Considered. “Fine. But you owe me, Parker. And I intend to collect.”
I stifled a laugh. “You’ve been spending way too much time with my dad’s friends, Copey. Or should I say, Cok—“
The hand flew to my mouth again, but I slapped it away. “Try that again, and I will leave you here with no regrets.”
“Sheesh,” I said, pursing my lips. “Can’t take a joke, can you? You know who can’t either? Our dear friend Mark. He really wouldn’t find it all too funny if I got left here all by my lonesome.”
I was fucking with him, I knew it, but I couldn’t help myself. Making men squirm was the highlight of my life. And, just as intended, Cope flinched at the mention. He turned to his friends. “We’re leaving.”
Some of them cheered him on, their one-track minds registering only one outcome of Cope leaving with a vagina-sporting-human, but his brother caught his arm.
“Drew,” he said. “What are you doing?” He eyed me suspiciously. I’d heard stories about Cope’s brother. Ben Copeland. Used to be a track star before the alcohol hit him and he got sent to rehab in California. Addiction ran in the blood, apparently. I guess he must have been cured, since he was back in Oakes Falls with an untouched drink in his hand.
“Nothing, bro. I’ll see you at home.”
I gave Ben a wide grin. “I promise I won’t deflower your baby brother.”
One of his friends howled with laughter, but Ben only narrowed his eyes at me further. Before he got a chance to say anything, Cope grabbed my shoulder and led me out.
“That mouth is going to get you in trouble one day,” Cope grunted as we exited the club. I said nothing, because telling him I liked trouble seemed to be exactly the kind of thing you’d say right before you get struck by lightning. Right before you get yourself into the kind of trouble you can’t get yourself out of.
A sleek black BMW. That’s the kind of car Cope drove. I mean, I wouldn’t trade my bike for it, but sheesh, the kid was 17. As we walked to it, I caught sight of the silver coupe that had brought me here. Carter was still here? Why in all the world—
“Josie,” a voice called. I turned, and Carter appeared from behind his car, leaning on the hood, his arms crossed.
“Who’s the dude?” Cope asked, observing.
I shrugged. “I don’t really know.” I bit my lip. “Will you give me a second?”
He groaned. “I’m not your driver, Parker. I’m doing you a favor.”
“We both know it ain’t a favor if you’re expecting to get something in return, Cope.”
He grunted. “One second, or I’m leaving.” Clenching his jaw, he strode to his car.
Sighing, I eyed Carter, still watching silently from the sidelines. He looked like sin, licking his lips, his eyes roaming over my body. A part of me knew going to him was trouble. Knew resisting a man like that would take more of me than I’d care to admit. Another part of me didn’t care.
“What do you want?” I asked, approaching him. I crossed my arms, but we both knew that my eyes were betraying everything I was thinking. Everything I was wanting.
“I want you,” he said. Anger rose inside of me.
“You can’t have me,” I spat at him.
He nodded. Slowly. Calmly. Still observing. “I know.” He looked behind me. “That your boyfriend?”
I scoffed. “The only boyfriend I’ve ever had was you, for the two seconds you walked into my bar and almost got yourself killed.”
A ghost of a smile crossed his lips. “You saying I’m your first?”
“I’m saying you have a tendency to be a dumbass.”
He nodded. “I know that too. What I said—“ He shook his head. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
My cold heart thawed a bit. He didn’t even know what it was he’d said. To any other girl, it would have been the right thing. He would have had said all the right things. The problem wasn’t him. It was me. “Don’t do that,” I said.
“Whatever it is you’re doing. I don’t like it. Don’t do it.”
His eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “Josie—“
“Parker! Are you coming or not?” Cope yelled from his car. “I wasn’t kidding about leaving you.”
I sighed. Stuck out my hand. “It was nice to meet you, Carter. Try not to die.”
He looked at my hand. Placed his hand in mine. Then, suddenly, he pulled it, turning me around and pining me against the hood of his car. I gasped. “Carter, what the—“
His lips shut me up. There were a million things I wanted to say, to argue, to fight, but I didn’t. I let him kiss me. This stranger who could very well be the one to destroy me. This stranger with the softest hair I’d ever run my fingers through. I weaved my fingers tighter through his hair, pulling his face to mine. His hands roamed down my back, lower and lower, until they reached my ass, and my pelvis rose in response, meeting his halfway. I felt him through the thick material of his jeans, and moved to grind against him in appreciation.
At that, he pulled apart. “It was nice to meet you too, Josie.”
I blinked. “What? Why did you stop?”
“If I can’t have you, what makes you think you can have me?” Stepping back, he released me.
This man. “Carter—“
“Your friend is waiting for you.” He moved around me, opening the door to his car. “You should probably go, lest he come kill me for keeping you hostage. I’m trying to stay alive, remember?”
I opened my mouth to say something, then bit my tongue. HE didn’t deserve a response. I simply huffed, threw my hair over my shoulders, and strode over to Cope’s car, slamming the door behind me. He complained, but I ignored him. As we pulled out, all I could do was keep myself from staring down the hazel eyes that wouldn’t stop grinning at me from behind the windows of a silver coupe.