I shouldn't do this, I thought. It's stupid. I don't even know his name. It's amazingly, mind-numbingly idiotic. He could be anything, this man. A f**king stalker. A serial killer.
And yet, as I sat back against the passenger seat, a feeling of calmness washed over me.
What the hell was I doing?
I was driving my 1969 Mustang GT convertible home to West Bend - that's what I was doing. It was my f**king baby, the thing in life that mattered more than anything in the world to me. And she was in it, this girl whose name I didn’t even f**king know.
I was driving out of Vegas, like this was a normal f**king road trip. Except I just had just stolen a photographer's camera, punched him in the f**king face, and had a girl in the passenger seat who was the most breathtaking thing I'd ever seen in my life.
So, all in all, it was a normal day in the life.
Obviously, she was someone important, some kind of star or politician's daughter or someone in the limelight. I had no f**king clue who she was.
She had to think I was such a dumb shit.
I mentally began to index the movies I've seen, tried to remember the last thing I saw. Was she a movie star? Maybe she was on TV. I couldn’t remember the last time I actually watched a movie.
I'd been focused on other shit.
Like my leg. Running again, working out. Getting my shit together.
I stole a glance in her direction. Her face was forward, her hair messy, the strands blowing back in the wind, nearly vertical. I wondered why she cut it all off.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the kiss. I was hung over as hell, my mind sluggish, weighed down by the booze from last night. But I couldn’t think about anything except my skin against hers.
She turned, and I jerked my head away, my eyes on the road, casual like I did this every f**king day, whisked some chick away in my convertible when she was being assaulted by the paparazzi. Whoever she was, she was out of my league.
League, shit. We weren’t on the same f**king planet, me and her.
I would drop her off somewhere, probably wherever her limo was going to pick her up, and be done with her. Then I was going to go about my regular f**king business, go home to West Bend, and deal with all of my bullshit.
She didn’t belong in my car.
And she sure as hell didn't belong with me.
We were on a road, a smaller road on the way out of town where the wind wasn’t so bad, when she looked at me. "What?" she yelled, over the white noise of the air blowing past our faces.
"What?" I repeated her question back. The wind whipped by me, my words probably caught on it.
“You’re staring,” she said.
“Sorry.” But I looked at her again anyway, then just as quickly, back at the road. I didn’t say anything else until we were out of town. I had been glancing in my rearview mirror, checking to see if we’d been followed, but it looked like the photographer was the only one interested in her, and I was sure my friends took care of him.
Not in the sleeps with the fishes kind of way, just in the significantly detoured him kind of way.
I pulled over in the parking lot of a diner outside of town, and I finally turned toward her. “You want me to take you somewhere else? You have a car back at the hotel?”
She was silent, looking straight ahead. When she finally spoke, her voice was soft. “I don’t have anything to go back to,” she said. “Not right now, anyway.”
Why the hell was I so happy to hear that? It practically warmed my f**king heart. I nodded. "Well, I don't know what your story is, but I guess you're running from something."
She grinned. "You don't know who I am? Like, really?"
Her eyes were this hazel color with flecks of gold or something in them, almost like a cat. I felt like I should know who she was, this girl with eyes like that, this girl I kissed, who had me so turned on I couldn’t think straight.
"No idea," I said, and shrugged, the gesture more nonchalant than I actually felt. She had me feeling self-conscious, and I didn’t get self-conscious. Even with my f**king leg. I just wasn’t that kind of guy. But this girl was making me antsy.
She laughed. "River," she said. Like it was supposed to mean something to me. What the hell kind of name was River, anyway?
“Sorry,” I said, giving her a blank look. “Doesn’t really ring any bells.”
I couldn't tell if she was offended or pleased. “I’m an actress.”
"Yeah?" I said. "I never would have guessed, what with the photographer chasing you."
"Hey, you're the one who doesn't know who I am."
"Full of yourself, much?" I asked. "What, are you, like a Kardashian or something? Cause if you are, I'm going to have to kick your ass out of the car right now."
River shrugged. "No," she said. "But I know them."
I rolled my eyes. "Close enough. Get out of the car."
"They're actually pretty nice," she said, grinning.
"I'm not kidding at all," I said. "You can get out and wait on the side of the road until some nice trucker named Bubba picks you up."