Authors: Emily Stone
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.
One Crazy Ride @ 2014 by Emily Stone. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
A few hours of sleep had done wonders. All Sandy’s aches were gone, aside from a little bit of remaining beard rash that stung under the hot water of the shower. It was after nine before she was dressed and ready to face the day.
She skipped breakfast, rushing to get to her shop and get opened up for the day. Saturdays were busy, usually Towners with requests for small pieces or flash art. Nothing she couldn’t handle.
It wasn’t until she got everything organized that she thought to check her cell and see if Christian had called. There was a small twinge of disappointment when the screen showed no missed calls or messages.
Of course, her disappointment wasn’t reasonable. They’d been up late, and he opened his shop at eight on Saturdays. Since he was the only mechanic in town, there was little doubt he’d be busy today.
The bell over the outer door dinged, and she welcomed her first client of the day.
Pain pounded in Christian’s head, making him feel slightly nauseous.
he thought. Helmet had stayed on, which was good news.
Trying to take stock without moving too much, Christian carefully tested his arms and legs. Everything worked, but his right leg was messed up. Dislocated or broken, he couldn’t really tell. He didn’t think his neck or back were broken.
The smell of gasoline was making the nausea worse. The tank must be leaking. He couldn’t tell where the bike had landed without moving, and that was out of the question for the moment.
He tried to remember what the car that hit him had looked like. A sedan of some kind. Definitely not American. It was dark, either blue or black. It had come out of nowhere, and he’d been distracted.
He carefully moved his hands to the pocket of his jeans where he kept it, but it was gone. It must have fallen out when he was hit. Hoping it was on the ground, he felt around but it wasn’t within the reach of his arms.
His stomach heaved and he managed to roll onto his side, scared he’d choke on his own vomit. When his stomach was empty he rolled onto his back again. His head felt like it might split wide open.
He had to get a sense of how far from the road he was, and how long he’d been out. Maybe he could spot his cell close by. There was no choice; he had to sit up. Being as careful as possible, he planted his hands on the ground and pushed up. His head spun, but it was manageable.
Once he was mostly sitting upright, he looked down at his leg. It didn’t look broken, but his knee was swelling up. Dislocated then, not broken. He looked left and right. The road was about a hundred feet to his right. The bike was on his left, destroyed, gas tank leaking. It was far enough away that if it caught fire he could get away.
He didn’t see his cell phone anywhere, and the world was getting a little fuzzy around the edges. He tried to stay awake, but the pain took him under.
Sandy’s first client was done and gone. Wanting a simple set of roman numerals to commemorate the birth of his first child, the Towner had been chatty and obviously nervous. Sandy actually enjoyed the part of her job where she got to make first-timers comfortable. She enjoyed talking with her clients and getting to know a little bit about their lives. Of course, the real talent was doing all that without revealing anything about herself.
Her second client was a looksee. Spent a half an hour looking at flash, claiming to want ink but not finding anything that was—her. Sandy tried to feel her out, but got nothing. The woman liked the idea of being rebel enough to get a tattoo without actually wanting to get the tattoo. She’d go out tonight and tell her friends how she’d gone to a tattoo parlor, but hadn’t found anything unique enough to fit her personality.
She took a break after the woman left. The club was open, but there were barely any people hanging around because of the charity ride. Even Mariah was off today, her backup cook sitting bored behind the flattop reading a magazine.
Moving behind the counter, Sandy grabbed a glass and filled it with ice and sweet tea. Back in her shop she dug into her bag and pulled out her cell. Still nothing from Christian. What could it hurt to send a quick text? She typed, ‘Get any sleep?’ and hit send.
The pain in his head wasn’t getting any better. He’d managed to get his helmet off but it had taken every bit of energy he’d had. The nausea had returned, and he’d been breathing very slowly to get it under control. Each movement of his head brought waves of sickness.
It was close to eleven, according to his watch. He’d been out for a while, and that was scary. Every biker was aware of just how dangerous concussions could be. He needed to get closer to the road, try to flag down the first car he saw.
A familiar tone sounded off to his right.
It was the text message alert. It sounded again, and he could tell it was close. Carefully turning his head, he could see the silver case glint in the sun, less than four feet away. He rolled over onto his stomach and reached out, but it wasn’t enough. Raising his head up brought on intense dizziness, so he half army-crawled, half dragged himself a couple of feet, breathing hard as his fingertips touched the phone.
He had to close his eyes and lie still for a moment to be able to see clearly. Everything kept blurring together. The screen was broken, but he could make out the words. It was from Sandy. He clicked the bar to type. ‘Hit by car. Need help. Remember road to my house?’ He hit the send button and closed his eyes again. She’d figure it out. She was smart, his pretty girl.
Her phone beeped while she was talking to another walk-in client. Mostly they were just shooting the breeze, as he was another looksee. She left him checking out flash and considering his options while she excused herself to check her messages.
The text came up and her stomach flipped sickly. “Tom, I’m very sorry to cut this short, but there’s been an emergency and I have to leave. If you come back another time I will give you a discount on whatever you pick, okay?”
She didn’t really hear Tom’s reply. Her heart was pounding as she grabbed her bag and her helmet. She could barely get the door locked, her hands were shaking so badly.
No, she wasn’t sure where he lived but she knew it was off of the county road that lead to the pond. She’d take that road and keep her eyes peeled for anything familiar. Driving like a maniac attracted the attention of a local cop and she didn’t bother pulling over, just waved for him to follow. If he arrested her, so be it.
The road curved to the left and right so she slowed slightly, finally remembering that they’d followed the curve left. A hundred feet from the curve there were skid marks on the road. She pulled off on the shoulder and immediately saw Christian lying still on the ground. She pulled off the helmet and ran, screaming for the cop to help her. Sliding in the loose, dry soil she got to him in seconds, dropping to her knees beside him.
“Christian?” She reached out and touched his pale face. Behind her the cop was on his radio calling for an ambulance. Christian’s eyes opened, but couldn’t focus on her. “Hey there, hot stuff.”
“I knew you’d find me, pretty girl.” He managed a small smile.
“Miss, you’re going to have to step back and let me check him out.” The cop was young and looked a little nervous.
Sandy stepped back and tried not to let fear eat her alive. He was so pale, and there was blood all over the back of his head. The bike was in pieces several feet away, the back wheel completely demolished. The young cop had pulled on gloves and was gently inspecting Christian’s head wound, checking his pulse and asking him what had happened all at the same time. His replies were so quiet that she couldn’t make out what he said.
The ambulance came around the curve and pulled off the road near her bike. She waved her arms, knowing they’d already seen them but needing to feel like she was doing something, anything.
It was a blur after that. They worked on him for a few minutes before putting a collar on him and lifting him onto the gurney. He looked so helpless strapped down, head immobilized. One of the EMT’s motioned her over and she ran to his side. “We’re going to St. Mark’s. We can’t let you in the ambulance, but you’re welcome to follow.”
Sandy nodded and squeezed Christian’s hand, leaning over so she could see into his eyes. “I’m right behind you. Just have to straighten up a thing with the police, then I’ll be there. Promise.”
He couldn’t nod, but he gave her that cocky smile and squeezed her hand back. They loaded him in the ambulance and she turned away, tears already starting to gather in her eyes. The young policeman was waiting, so she rubbed her eyes clear and walked to him, ready to get the cuffs slapped on. She’d have to call her Daddy to come get her out of jail, but it didn’t matter. Christian was going to be okay. He had to be okay.
To her surprise, the young officer hadn’t arrested her. Hadn’t even given her a ticket. He’d escorted her to the hospital, told her he hoped Christian was okay, and would send someone by later to take a statement from him so they could investigate the accident. She’d been so overwhelmed and grateful that she’d hugged him, making him blush dark red around his neck.
The escort had been unnecessary, because they wouldn’t let her back to see Christian. She wasn’t family. She didn’t even know if he had any family that she should be calling. She knew next to nothing about his life aside from general knowledge and what he’d told her that day in her shop.
The plastic chairs in the waiting area were amazingly uncomfortable, and the TV was tuned to some annoying reality show with loud-mouthed women fighting over a disturbingly orange colored man. She thought about stepping out to call Mariah, but what if Christian needed her?
Unable to just sit there, Sandy got up and paced the small room. He’d been here almost two hours now, and there’d been no news. At least, nothing they’d tell her. All she ever got was they were taking care of him and that he was in stable condition. Good thing she wasn’t more like her Daddy, or that nice officer would be back to put her in handcuffs for sure.
“Miss Rivers?” A petite nurse with jet black hair came around the corner and Sandy practically ran to her. “Mr. Belz is asking for you. He’s been given some pretty heavy pain medication, so you won’t be able to stay long.”
Sandy nodded, suddenly nervous. She followed the petite nurse down the hall and around the corner. “He’s down in room 311, on the left.”
She didn’t know what she’d expected, but Christian with his head shaved and bandaged wasn’t it. He was still so pale, and his eyes had dark rings around them. “Well, aren’t you a sight?”
“Downright gorgeous.” He reached out a hand, wanting her closer.
She didn’t hesitate, pulling a chair close to his bed and taking his hand. “I hear you’re on some good drugs.”
“Feeling no pain right this second.” He waggled his eyebrows at her, smiling. “I have to tell you… you’re my very own Wonder Woman.”
“Wow, Wonder Woman. I’m flattered.” She smoothed her hand down his cheek, his eyes already starting to droop. “I hope this isn’t a ploy to get me in some spanky pants and a bustier.”
“Damn, you found me out.” His words were a little slurred. “I need to remember to tell you thank you. For finding me.”
“I’ll remind you when you’re less drugged.” She smiled as he faded out, his chest rising and falling steadily.