She gripped the wheel, swearing softly to herself. There was a sheet of white outside. She couldn’t see much of anything. She had turned off the radio. For some reason, she always drove in a blinding snowstorm better when it was silent. The voice repeating in her head was not worried or kind. It was the horrid whine of her boyfriend stating “I told you to cancel your last class before the snow really started. You’re a nut.”
She hated when he was right. And yet, he would have been pissed if she had canceled class. That would have meant she couldn’t pick up the “package” from one of her students. And then he would be a day behind in delivering to his customers.
But she couldn’t worry about any of that right now. Now all she wanted was to drive the last 25 miles home safely and get the “package” out of her glove compartment. She was glad he had insisted on her driving the SUV today. At least she had 4-wheel drive. Of course, that didn’t mean she wouldn’t spin out of control and wind up in a ditch, unconscious and freezing to death. And even if she lived, if the state troopers checked the car, or if that package burst…
She shook her head, much too terrifying a thought as she was trying to get home safely. Besides, she didn’t want to be in a position where she needed help considering she hadn’t seen another car in about 10 minutes. A frightening reality on a main highway around 8pm at night in a terrible snow storm. Evidently everyone else was too intelligent to still be on the roads.
As soon as she finished the thought, a huge black torpedo sped by her. She shook her head. When would men realize 4-wheel drive did not mean one could drive like a fucking idiot in a snow storm? She shook her head again and tightened her grip on the wheel. She hoped he didn’t have an accident. And she wondered why she assumed it was a “he.” She smiled at the thought.
She would swear it was that smile that distracted her. Enough so that she didn’t see the overturned vehicle until it was much, much too late. She slammed into it, thanking God when the seatbelt held, thanking God when the airbag slammed out of its nest and into her chest, stinging her face. She could feel her SUV skidding out of control and then flipping over and over…
She had no idea how long she’d been unconscious. She’d been pulled from the car. There were lights flashing, men walking about, and a tall, caramel colored woman standing nearby speaking softly. The woman was dressed in a brown state trooper’s uniform. She closed her eyes for another minute and then cleared her throat. The people standing closest turned and knelt down around her.
“Ma’am. What’s your name, ma’am?”
“Victoria. Victoria Longman.” Her throat was scratchy, but she talked past it.
“Can you remember what happened?” The woman asked her the question this time.
“It was snowing. I couldn’t see. By the time I saw his car, I couldn’t avoid it. What happened? Is he okay?”
“Ma’am, he evidently lost control of his car.”
She ignored the pounding in her head, and the fact that they had ignored her last question, to look up into a pair of shockingly gray eyes. They seemed almost stormy, those eyes. It was the woman again. She watched her for a moment, her face serious, her lips formed into a tight line. Her hair, a thick dark mane, pulled back into a tidy bun.
“We’re waiting for an ambulance, ma’am. How do you feel?”
She felt a little achy, but nothing was screaming with pain other than her head. She was more uncomfortable being surrounded by a bunch of New Jersey state troopers than anything else. Especially given what was in her glove compartment…or hopefully still in her glove compartment. It took her a moment to realize all of the troopers were white, except the woman beside her. God knows, considering the latest news scandal about racial profiling practices in New Jersey, it wasn’t safe to be black in this state. She didn’t think they cared that her skin was a soft honeyed caramel instead of “black.” She didn’t think they spent much time looking into her amber colored eyes or noticing the dimples in her cheeks. They probably didn’t notice the short, tight curls framing her attractive face or the curves hidden beneath jeans and a thick black sweater. No. All they probably saw was a nigger. And she was certain they made tons of assumptions based on that.
She shook her head again and took a breath. Now she was being paranoid. It’s not like she was totally innocent. She glanced up at the woman still hovering over her. Her badge read “Gonzalez.”
“Officer Gonzalez? My Toyota?”
The woman glanced over her shoulder before turning back to answer, “probably totaled.”
Vicky nodded, shivering. She realized the cold was seeping into her and her coat was in the car, along with her wallet, the papers she was supposed to be grading, her cell phone and…shit. She didn’t want to think about it.
She watched with a little surprise as Officer Gonzalez shrugged out of her state issued leather bomber and hung it around canlı bahis şirketleri her shoulders. It was heavy, thick and warm. She could detect the faint smell of cologne on it. Was that men’s cologne?
The shrieking of an arriving ambulance startled her a bit. The attendants worked on her first before they made their way over to what appeared to be a body covered with a blanket. She shivered again. It wasn’t the cold this time. She regretted losing her cell phone. And her students would kill her when she told them they had to reproduce their term papers. And she didn’t want to think about what Dylan would say if the “package” was gone.
She hadn’t realized Officer Gonzalez was nearby. She nodded, then shrugged her shoulders.
“I need to call home. My cell was in the car.”
“Here,” the tall woman handed her a compact cell. Vicky looked up at her in thanks, but Officer Gonzalez had already walked away to speak with some of her fellow officers. She glanced over at her vehicle. The glove compartment was still closed and there wasn’t a bunch of white powder all over the seats. That brought a sense of relief, albeit short-lived. She dialed her home number with trembling fingers. Dylan was probably going nuts by now. She let the phone ring, and ring, and ring. The machine was not picking up, which meant Dylan was on the phone and ignoring the beep of call waiting. The number would be unfamiliar so Dylan would not answer the call. She sighed and wondered for the first time how she would get home. And, of course, where her car would be towed and whether or not they would search it.
She stood from the back of the ambulance, brushing off her jeans and slipping her arms into the sleeves of the leather coat. She inhaled deeply, not bothering to wonder why she was enjoying a strange woman’s scent. She glanced down at her hands, willing them to stop trembling.
She looked in the direction of her car again, her body tensing at the sight of the crumpled metal. Good ‘ol Toyota…it was the reason she was standing here, trembling, instead of covered with a blanket. She realized a tow truck was loading the car. Where were they taking it? Her brain began to process the details. Dylan would freak when she arrived home empty handed. She knew after his initial relief that she was okay he would be annoyed beyond belief. She’d have no answers about where the car was being towed and whether or not the package was still there. Then she wondered how long it would take to get the insurance money for another car. She wondered if the man lying beneath the blanket had a family waiting for him at home. She realized she was staring at his covered body and forced herself to turn away. Her eyes focused directly on a rather well-endowed chest covered in state trooper brown. She forced herself to look up quickly, glad for her honey-colored skin which would hide the blush she knew was rising to her cheeks.
“Any luck getting someone at home?”
Vicky swallowed, “no. I don’t know how I’m going to get home.”
“Where do you live?”
She responded to the husky question without hesitation, “Brodheadsville. It’s about 20 minutes past the Water Gap.”
“I pass it on the way home. I’ll drop you off.”
It wasn’t a question and so Vicky didn’t respond. She wondered, once again, what Dylan would think when she was escorted home by a cop.
They didn’t leave the scene for another two hours. She tried calling Dylan again, but he didn’t pick up. Once settled in the close confines of Officer Gonzalez’s car, snuggled beneath the warmth of the heavy bomber even as the artificial heat began to warm the car, her mind worked a mile a minute. At the top of her worries? That damn package.
“What happens to my car now?”
“The tow guy gave you a card, right?”
“Yea, so I just call him?”
“Call your insurance company. They’ll send someone out to look at the car.”
She nodded, “oh.” Would she be able to get anything from the car?
She was silent for a moment, wondering how to ask her next question.
“Do the cops need the car for anything?”
The tall woman turned to look at her for a moment.
“What do you mean?”
“Uh…I-I mean do c-cars in this situation get ph-photographed as evidence…or, um…or, uh, s-searched f-for, you know, like, mechanical problems?”
She was stuttering and sounded nervous to her own ears. She hoped Officer Gonzalez didn’t notice.
The woman didn’t answer right away so Vicky had a chance to take her in as she waited. She was amazed, first, by how plain the officer was to her. A broad forehead, creased with worry lines, a thick, pudgy nose, full thick lips, all placed together in an ordinary fashion and covered in smooth, caramel-colored skin. Plain…and yet there was something about those stormy, intense gray eyes, framed by thick lashes. Something about the deep, raspy voice and the sheer strength the woman’s sizeable frame exuded. She probably drew a lot of attention that had nothing to do with canlı kaçak iddaa her looks.
She realized she was staring and turned to look out of the passenger side window. She also realized Officer Gonzalez had not yet answered her question.
“You wanna tell me what’s in the car?”
Vicky turned back to her with surprise. Damn, was she that obvious?
“Wh-what do you mean? I was j-just w-wondering if any of my stuff might be missing. I mean, I have my purse, my cell—”
“You wanna tell me what’s in the car or not?”
The woman silenced her. She couldn’t think of an answer. She didn’t know if she could trust her. Was she talking to Officer Gonzalez, who was a cop, or the nice woman who’d kept an eye on her all evening and was kind enough to drive her home? Were they one in the same?
“N-nothing’s in the car. I w-was just worried about it.”
The woman nodded her head. It was the last thing either of them said. She hated lying to the woman, but she was a cop for god’s sake.
She did manage to give her some directions once they arrived in Brodheadsville, and five minutes later she was stepping from the car and hurrying up the porch steps to her front door. Dylan wrenched the door open before she could reach for the doorbell. He pulled her into a fierce hug and she clung to his wire thin frame for a moment. When she looked up into his handsomely chiseled face, she noticed he was looking at the cop car and the tall woman standing beside it.
“Shit! I was worried shitless! Are you okay? What happened?”
“I tried to call—”
“Damn, that was you? I didn’t recognize the number! I was calling all over the place trying to find you! There’s like a hundred messages on your cell!”
“It’s in the car and the car is totaled.”
She could feel Officer Gonzalez’s intense gray eyes on them, watching closely.
“Totaled! What happened?!”
“Ms. Longman, I’m gonna get going.”
She turned to that deep voice and watched as she folded her tall frame back into the vehicle. She left Dylan’s side to hurry to the driver’s side of the car. The officer rolled down the window.
“Thanks so much, Officer—”
“Taegan. Call me Tae.”
She smiled a little, “thanks Tae.”
“Yea, I’ll see you.”
Tae watched her for a moment longer, those stormy eyes piercing right through her, before she drove off. She didn’t know why she was feeling shamed and a little angry because she’d been forced to lie. She was also feeling a little…she didn’t know what.
“Jesus Vi, where the fuck is it?”
She turned back to Dylan, shaking her head to clear it as she made her way into the house.
“I don’t have it Dylan. It’s in the car and they towed the car.”
“I don’t know.”
He seemed almost dumbfounded by the response.
“You’re carrying a pound of uncut, Columbian coke and you don’t know where the fuck it is?”
She dug the card out of the leather bomber’s deep pocket, suddenly realizing she still wore Tae’s coat. She shoved the card at him.
“Here. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m fucking whipped after almost being killed and thrown in jail. I’m going to bed.”
She ignored him, heading up the stairs to the master bedroom. Thirty minutes later, after a very hot shower, she was curled up in bed, her back to him. She was still processing how annoyed she was with him as she fell into a deep, exhausted sleep.
Two days later, after many attempts to get access to her vehicle without any success, she sat on a hard, cold chair in a police station in New Jersey. She had canceled her classes for the rest of the week, had soaked her aching body for hours on end the day before, had faced chastisement from her insurance company about defensive driving…and now she sat here, a little anxious, the leather bomber draped across her lap, waiting to see Officer Gonzalez…Tae.
The woman had been on her mind for the last two days. She wasn’t sure why. Probably because she’d been so nice at the scene? Probably because the lie was still stuck in her throat? She didn’t know. But she couldn’t hold on to the woman’s jacket forever, so here she was…waiting. It had only been 15 minutes and she was ready to bolt! She laughed at herself silently.
She stood and approached the woman sitting behind the front desk.
The woman barely looked up at her. “Down the hall, turn right, fourth room on the left.”
She nodded, making her way down a rather poorly lit corridor. She always imagined a police station would be busier, but then it was pretty late in the evening. She couldn’t drag her beleaguered body out of bed any earlier and it was amazing she’d made it at all. Dylan had refused to drive her, loaning her his car instead. It had taken almost an hour and a half to drive the 30 miles to the station, her hands shaking the entire way. Friends told her the reaction was normal, post traumatic stress or something of the sort. It would pass, they assured canlı kaçak bahis her. She hoped so.
Anyway, it turned out Officer Gonzalez worked the night shift tonight anyway. So, although it was 9pm, Tae had only been on duty for two hours. And luckily she hadn’t left the station yet.
She arrived at the door indicated by the woman out front and was surprised to see Tae sitting at a small, rectangular table. A chair was set up across from her. It looked like an interrogation room, with the huge mirror and everything. She swallowed…had they found “it”? Had she raised the officer’s suspicion enough to warrant a search of the car? She hesitated, wondering if she had time to flee. She couldn’t go to prison. It would ruin her career. They would never allow her to teach at a college again. And she’d been lucky to get the job considering she only had her Master’s in Social Work. Not to mention she simply did not have the money for a lawyer. Dylan had money, stashed “someplace safe” he always told her…but he never told her where and he’d never told her how to access it. Would he bail her out? Pay for a lawyer? God, what was she doing with him anyway? What kind of person would ask their partner to carry drugs across state lines? And enough drugs to get her sentenced as a dealer?
She swallowed hard, deciding to enter the room and simply face what waited for her. When she entered, Tae stood.
“Oh, hey. I was just catching up on some paperwork. It’s quieter in here. What did you need to see me about?”
She felt the tension ease from her body…and a different type of feeling replace it. A feeling that came from being in a small room with this woman, a room made even smaller by her overwhelming presence. A room that allowed her to smell that cologne, encouraged her to be aware of Tae’s every move…a different feeling indeed.
“I, uh, um…I-I wanted to return this.”
She held out the jacket. Tae raised a brow.
“You could have just left it up front. Thanks. I have something for you anyway, wait here.”
She watched the tall woman leave the room and exhaled. Okay, she wasn’t going to prison. That was a relief. And she didn’t have to think about Tae being so close, smelling so nice, if she wasn’t in the room, so that was also a relief. She would sign whatever paperwork Tae needed her to sign and be on her way. And she’d never have to see this strange woman again…which was a good thing. Right?
The door to the small room opened again and she stepped aside as Tae re-entered. Then she felt her heart plummet down into her loafers as she noticed the bag in Tae’s hand. The paisley make-up bag from her car…her glove compartment to be exact. The make-up bag with the “package.”
Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. The words just kept circling inside her head. She was frozen to the spot. Should she deny she knew what it was? Was this a set up? If she took it, would they slap the cuffs on her? Oh my god, oh my god…
She watched as Tae closed the door before turning to face her. They stared at one another for a moment in silence. Then Tae closed the distance between them, standing directly in front of her. She didn’t know what Tae was thinking. She wasn’t sure what she was thinking. She only knew it felt like she was going to have a stroke as she stared up into those penetrating, gray eyes.
“Look,” Tae started, “I didn’t look in this bag. I’m not sure I want to.” She sighed, “but if this is what I think it is,” she took hold of Vicky’s chin between two strong fingers, “you can not be this stupid. You’re going to get caught and you’re going to get a lot of time for it. The laws are unforgiving right now. And—”
Vicky simply stared up at her. Her entire body was shaking. There were tears in her eyes, wetting her lashes, blinding her. She could barely comprehend the words coming out of Tae’ mouth. She realized Tae had stopped speaking and was simply staring at her, but she couldn’t formulate a thought much less a coherent sentence.
Tae muttered a soft oath, hesitated a second, and then bent her head and ever so slowly covered Vicky’s lips with her own. Vicky could feel her chest tighten as a barrage of sensations swept through her. The surprise of feeling those silky lips against her own…her breath caught and she faltered. Even though it took her brain a moment to catch up to what was happening, her body couldn’t ignore the sweet yet powerful fluid heat that started in her tummy and spread rapidly. Tae ended the kiss abruptly and waited until Vicky opened her eyes. Vicky fell into those gray pools, her heart racing, her body tensed with anticipation. When Tae leaned down again, her lips was less polite, less hesitant. Vicky froze for a moment, confusing thoughts swirling around in her head, before she felt her lips give just a little, inviting the woman to take more. She’d never kissed a woman before…it was nice. It was…very nice. There was a spark, some kind of energy, a force that was oh so wonderfully delicious, sending electric pulses through her. When Tae pulled away from her for the second time, Vicky took a step back, more than just a little unsteady. She heard the woman swear under her breath again, watched her shake her head, and then Tae left, leaving the bag on the table as she closed the door between them.