Home > Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(13)

Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(13)
Author: Carian Cole

“Wait here in the truck and I’ll go talk to Seth. He’s the mechanic.”

I nod okay and watch him go inside. After a few minutes, I get bored and open the glove compartment. Condoms, a bunch of guitar picks, a fork, gum, a tiny Maglite. And a black bra. Size big. I slam the little door shut, disgusted. Who leaves their bra in some guy’s glove compartment? Did she leave the truck braless with those things bouncing around? What kind of woman does that? The kind he likes, obviously. I open my purse and take out my tiny size hand sanitizer and squirt it all over my hands. Who knows what the hell was crawling around in there.

He opens the truck door and jumps in, but does a double take at me. “Is that germ gel?” he asks.

“Yes.”

He looks at me like I’ve lost my head. “You have germ gel with you?”

“Thankfully, yes. Can we talk about my car, please? Can I drive it home?”

He starts up the truck. “No, it’s fucked up in the front. Seth has to order some parts. It will take a few days.”

“Well, shit. How much is that going to cost? Should I give him my insurance paperwork?”

He shakes his head as he backs out of the parking lot. “No, I told him I’d take care of it.”

“Why? You can’t do that.”

“Um, because I want to, and yes, I can. My front end is fucked. I was gonna just get rid of it, but it kind of has sentimental value now, sooo... I’m gonna let him fix it.”

“Sentimental value?”

“Yeah. We spent two days in there. How can I get rid of it?”

“You’re crazy, Storm, ya know that?”

He just laughs at me. I realize I totally forgot to call Michael because I was too busy hounding around in Storm’s truck. I pull my cell phone out of my purse and turn it on. A few emails and text messages come through. Finally! A connection.

I have six text messages from Amy. And two from Michael. Just two?

The first one: Did you get there okay?

And the second one, hours later: Call me when you have a connection.

Storm pulls into the cafe parking lot. “Hang on,” I say. “I’m going to call Michael while I have reception.”

I dial our house number, but there’s no answer. Hm. I disconnect and dial his cell.

“Hello?”

“Hey, hon, it’s me!”

“Jesus, Evelyn, what happened?”

“I got lost. And the snow got really bad and you know my car is awful in the snow, and I went off the road into a ditch. Some guy came along and tried to give me a ride, but then this crazy deer ran out in front of us and caused us to crash again. It was totally crazy, Michael. I was scared out of my mind. So we were stuck in his truck for like two days and thank God, he had blankets and some food in his truck. It was fucking awful.”

Storm rolls his eyes, and I smack his arm and make a face at him.

“Well, at least you’re okay. How’s your car?”

“It’s kind of smashed up. It’s at the garage here, but he needs a few days to fix it.”

“All right. So how are you getting home?”

“You have to come get me. I’ll tell you where I am. I was nowhere near the Falls Inn. The GPS got me lost.”

“Evelyn, I can’t come get you. I was called to go to a sales meeting. I had to go out of town. I’m in South Carolina. I flew in last night and I won’t be home until tomorrow night.”

“Are you kidding? How am I supposed to get home?”

“Can you call Amy?”

“Amy isn’t going to want to drive up here to get me, you know that. Her car doesn’t even have four-wheel drive and the roads are still kind of snowy and icy up here.”

“Well, get a cab. It will cost a fortune, but you don’t have a choice.”

“Is Halo okay? You just left him? Did you feed him?” I start to panic realizing he has left my poor cat alone.

I hear him sigh on the other end. “He’s fine, Evelyn. I gave him a ton of food and water before I left. He hid upstairs the entire weekend.”

“Well, did he eat at all?” I know elderly cats can’t go very long without eating without starting to have liver or kidney problems. Especially, a cat his age.

“I think so, I don’t fucking know. I didn’t count the food.”

I feel tears well up in my eyes. If Halo is sick, I will never forgive myself.

“Okay, Evelyn, I gotta go type up this presentation for this meeting. Send me a text or call me when you’re home, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“All right, I will. I love you.”

“Love you, too.” He hangs up and I stare out the window. I won’t cry in front of Storm. I won’t cry in front of Storm.

“Hey? You okay?” His voice is laced with concern, void of his usual sarcasm. I wipe at my eyes and shove my phone into my purse. “Yes, I’m fine. Is there a taxi service up here?”

“Fuck that. I’ll drive you home.”

I shake my head. “No, Storm. You’ve done enough for me already. Please, just help me get a taxi.

“Evelyn, stop. Let’s have breakfast, and I’ll take you home, okay?”

I look down at my lap. I can’t believe Michael isn’t even home. It’s like he wasn’t even worried about me. He just left the state. He could have told his boss what happened to me and asked to not have to go. I fight back the tears that are threatening to fall.

“He’s a douchenozzle,” Storm announces.

“Storm, don’t.” My voice quivers. I don’t need him pointing out all the things I’m thinking right now.

“Fuck this. Stay here.”

He slams the door and disappears into the cafe. I sit there and try not to cry. I don’t know if I’m more worried about Halo or more pissed at Michael right now. How could he leave like that? I could never just leave if I didn’t know he was okay.

A few minutes later, Storm comes back with two coffees and a white bag.

“White mocha?” He hands it to me. Oh, my God, he remembered. I smile weakly at him.

“I can’t believe you remembered.” He winks at me and hands me the bag.

“Cinnamon bagel with cream cheese. I guessed on that one. It seemed like a girly bagel.

“Thank you. That’s perfect. Very girly.” I smile at him because sometimes he can just be really cute.

“I figured we could eat on the way to your house since there’s no way you were going to sit through breakfast while you’re worried about your cat.”

I take a bite of my bagel and nod. “Thank you,” is all I can say.

“I don’t think I’m ever going to get rid of your ass,” he teases as he pulls out onto the main road.

Chapter Seven

Storm is familiar with the area so I don’t need to give him detailed directions all the way to my house, which I am grateful for because I really don’t feel like talking at all. Maybe I shouldn’t be upset about Michael, and I am just being overly sensitive. After all, it’s his job. It’s not like he purposely made plans so he wouldn’t be around when I finally got home from my adventure.

I slowly sip on my white mocha, which is one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s creamy, sweet¸ and smooth. If the cafe weren’t so damn far away, I wouldn’t mind the drive up there every Saturday just to have one of these lattes. I wonder if Storm eats breakfast there on the weekends.

Storm is puffing on a cigarette and fiddling with the radio. I don’t recall seeing him smoke at his house, which is kind of odd. Maybe it’s his non-smoking zone.

“A quiet Evelyn is a scary Evelyn,” he says with a sideways glance at me.

I continue to stare out the passenger side window and ignore him. He’s like an exotic animal in a zoo—as much as you want to enjoy its beauty, and pet its gorgeous fur, you can’t make eye contact without worrying it might jump on you.

“How’s your mocha thing?”

“It’s really good, actually.”

He takes a final drag on his cigarette and then throws it out the window.

“Does this sort of thing happen a lot, Evelyn?”

I chew on my lip. I don’t want to talk to him, and I especially don’t want to talk about Michael. I think all I really want to do is go home, make sure Halo is okay, and go to bed. For about a week.

“Evelyn? Why aren’t you talking to me?”

An aggravated sigh escapes me before I can stop it. “Storm, I don’t want to talk about this.”

“Maybe you’ll feel better if you do.”

Leaning my head back against the seat, I shake my head. “No, I really won’t.”

He leaves it alone and we don’t talk anymore until we are near my condo. “Turn left here,” I tell him. “It’s the last one on the right.”

He parks in what is my parking spot. “Can I come inside with you for a few minutes?”

I wasn’t planning on him actually coming into my house. It feels too strange to me to have a man who I basically fooled around with in the home I share with Michael. Slut.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea...”

“I’d like to meet Halo and make sure he’s okay before I leave. You’re here without a car. What if he’s sick or something? You’re stuck here.”

Oh, wow. I hadn’t even thought of that. I’m going to be stuck here until Michael comes home tomorrow.

I give in, but only because I want to make sure my cat is okay before I let him go, and it would be rude to make him stay in the car after he let me stay at his gorgeous place.

“All right, you can come inside for a few minutes.”

He grabs my bag and looks around the parking lot before opening his door and coming around to my side to open the door for me. I’m impressed by this gesture. A bit of chivalry at an unexpected time can make a girl really happy. Take note, men!

I feel a bit embarrassed when we go inside. Our condo is small, a bit outdated and rather cluttered. And I have no idea what sort of mess Michael has left behind without me here to clean up after him.

   
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