“Damn my life. Even Bambi’s out to get me!”
Sarah Brandon held on to the steering wheel of her car, heart pounding in her chest, trying to pretend that she hadn’t just taken a nose dive into a ditch. If she admitted the reality of that, she would have to add in the regrettable detail of the ditch running alongside a dark and deserted back road. Once that became a fact, she would have to deal with the ominous-looking wall of trees that surrounded the scary, dark, and deserted back road. Anything could be hiding in those woods—wild animals, werewolves, Freddy Kruger—anything.
Who wanted to admit to landing in the plot of a bad horror movie? Considering it was well past midnight and she was by herself…not Sarah.
This isn’t happening.
She peeked out the driver’s-side window, checking for any serial killers who might be lurking, just waiting to pounce on her. At this angle, Sarah couldn’t see much of anything beyond the murky fronds of tall grass encircling her. Perfect hiding spot for a crazy killer.
Not that there were any psycho criminals in Madison Falls lately, but in this town, you never knew.
Sarah was still freaked out from nearly hitting the deer standing smack dab in the middle of the road. She’d swerved in time to miss it, just not quickly enough to miss the damned ditch. The buck hadn’t moved until the tail end of her Mini Cooper was ass-up at an odd angle. Sarah swore he gave her a “sucks to be you” toss of his antlers before turning and prancing off into the woods.
Bambi was right. It did, presently, suck to be her. Sarah’s door was jammed, and she refused to climb out the driver’s-side window without any shoes on. Lord knew what sort of muck would squish between her toes while she tried to hoof it out of there. In the daylight, she wouldn’t be so prissy. In the dead of night, it was another story. If she had to traipse through muck, Sarah wanted to see it first.
Where the hell did my shoes go?
Sarah remembered taking them off before getting in her car and heading home. For the life of her, she couldn’t remember where she’d put them. Her feet had been sore from doing a double shift and filling in for one of her bartenders. Not thinking she’d be standing that long, she’d made the unfortunate decision to wear high heels to work. Sarah’s Suds and Spuds was always crowded on Friday night and her business had been hopping.
Her aching feet were still paying for it.
She could practically hear her mom warning her to never drive barefoot and to always wear clean underwear in case of an accident. In her current predicament, Sarah understood the necessity of shoes. She still didn’t get the clean underwear thing. Of course she always wore it, but did the doctor actually check?
What would he say? “Sarah has sustained a few contusions, Mrs. Brandon. Not to worry, her prognosis is good. We’re pleased to report that for once, she followed your advice, and wore clean underwear.”
Sarah couldn’t really picture Dr. Anthony over at the Madison Falls Medical Center making that announcement to her mother. Even though the young doctor was kind of cute, she didn’t think he had any desire to check out her panties. Then again, no one had any desire to check out her panties lately. She shook off the thought. Sarah had more important things to worry about.
Her pulse slowed as she listened to the symphony of night sounds coming from the surrounding woods. They didn’t sound too threatening. Crickets, frogs, and the odd mosquito or two kept her company while Sarah tried to figure out her next move. She used the steering wheel as leverage to keep the seat belt from digging into her neck. At least her airbags hadn’t deployed and smooshed her into the driver’s seat. Good news for her unbroken nose, but shouldn’t they have gone off?
Twin headlights came over the rise in the road, lighting up the darkness like two beacons of hope. Thank God. She hadn’t had a chance to call anyone for help yet. Most normal people were asleep by now. Please let it be a Good Samaritan and not Leather Face. Whoever got out of the still rumbling truck was backlit in the wash of bright headlights, so she couldn’t tell who it was.
She strained to look out the back window through the reflection in the rearview mirror and made out the figure of a man…a big man. Although Sarah knew practically everyone in her small town, that didn’t stop her from holding the steering wheel one-handed while searching through her purse for her pepper spray.
She prayed it was someone with good intentions because he was making his way down the incline at a fast clip. Sarah didn’t think her breath spray, all she could find by feel, would do much damage. Maybe if the Binaca got in his eyes, it would sting a little. It would hardly incapacitate someone, though.
“Hey there, Sarah sunshine.”
An achingly familiar, deep baritone with a sexy southern drawl drifted through the window on her left. There was only one man who had ever called her “sunshine.” She didn’t want to turn her head and see Josh Logan attached to that voice. Sarah had known he’d come back a few months ago to work with his dad at the Madison Falls Garage. She’d been avoiding that establishment ever since she’d heard the news. As a matter of fact, Sarah made a point of driving the extra half hour to get her oil changed somewhere else.
Josh was a ghost from Sarah’s youthful past. He was her first failed attempt at love. He’d broken her heart when he’d left town the summer after graduation. After an entire school year of dating—dog years to a teenager—Josh hadn’t even said goodbye to her in person. She’d been left wondering what the hell happened to him. Sarah preferred thinking of him as having dropped off the face of the Earth. Reality and the man standing outside her car was telling her otherwise.
It was a bitter pill to swallow to realize that after over a decade later, and an ex-husband under her belt, her taste in men still hadn’t improved. Sarah didn’t need a blast from her past to remind her of it. Maybe I can fake deafness and he’ll go away?
That theory was shot to hell when he murmured, “Hey there, darlin’. You okay?”
Sarah snapped. “Do I look okay to you?”
In her frustration, she’d managed to turn her head to look at him. He was barely lit by the console lights. Still, the full impact of his blue-eyed gaze hit her like a slug to the chest. Oh. My. It was Josh all right.
He still had that same chiseled jawline that she used to love tracing with her lips. The bastard hadn’t even had the decency to go bald and fat. No, Josh had gone the opposite route. He was in better shape now than when they were in high school. The lean, rangy build of a teenager had morphed into the broad, muscular build of a very fit, very hot, grown man. From what Sarah could see, his tawny brown hair was still thick too.
Where’s the justice in that? Can’t karma at least give him a bad comb-over?
One More Sample!
“Don’t scream, sunshine. You’ll wake up the neighbors.” Josh was reclined on top of her covers, bare feet crossed one over the other and his hands tucked behind his head. His black T-shirt stood out starkly against the pastel colors of her quilt. His faded blue jeans were slung low and outlined his lower half to perfection.
Sarah didn’t know what had her heart pumping faster, getting startled by seeing a man in her bed or the actual sight of that sexy man reclining on her bed like he belonged there.
“Josh?” Sarah hissed. “What the hell are you doing in here? How did you get in? You better hope my mom didn’t hear you!”
He sat up and ran his fingers through the short layers of his tawny brown hair before rubbing the back of his neck. “Am I the only one here havin’ déjà vu?”
“How did you get in here?”
His grin was anything but innocent. “You should lock your window, darlin’. Anyone could climb on in here.”
“What if my mom heard you? You could have woken her up!”
“Why is that?”
“She’s not here.”
“She’s not?” So Sarah had been tiptoeing for nothing? “How do you know?”
“She’s still with my dad.”
“At this time of night?” Sarah felt ridiculous as soon as she asked the question.
“Yep. Guess they’re havin’ a slumber party.” He raised his eyebrows in innuendo. She ignored the images that volley brought forth.
“Then why didn’t you knock and come through the front door like a normal person?”
“I was feelin’ nostalgic.”
“You’ve never climbed in my bedroom window before.”
“I know. But I wanted to.”