“No, no, no, no!” I beat my steering wheel with the
heel of my hand. “No! You’ve got to be kidding me!” I pulled off the road, my
tire bumping along.
I put my car in park and climbed out to assess the damage.
My feet crunched on the gravel scattered alongside the road.
Immediately, the oily burnt smell of my peeling tire met me.
Calling this a flat tire didn’t do it justice. This was
complete and utter carnage.
I looked behind me, at the trail of tire pieces leading
straight to my car, like a path of breadcrumbs.
It was starting to get dark and this wasn’t exactly the
I was also a twenty-year-old girl, ripe for the picking.
I kicked the side of my car. “I don’t have time for this!”
I stalked around the back, to the trunk, lifting it and
looking for the necessary tools to change a tire.
Which was pointless because, unfortunately, I didn’t know
the first thing about changing a tire. My father had made sure that I only knew
how to do a woman’s work.
I slammed the trunk closed and stalked back to the driver’s
side, pulling at the ends of my hair. I glared at the offending nail, that had
to be four inches long, sticking out of the tire. How many nails did people
drive over a day and I was the one to get a flat freakin’ tire?
Not at all.
I opened the door and reached for my phone to call my
roommate to come pick me up.
The sky was darkening and I didn’t want to be stranded here.
I wrapped my lightweight jacket tighter around my body, as
the wind gusted around me, blowing leaves off of the nearby trees. I watched
the red, yellow, and orange leaves fall down and scatter over my car. One,
unfortunately, got caught in my hair. I reached up and pulled it out before
letting it drift to the ground.
Gravel crunched behind me. I turned quickly, to see a guy
getting out of a black car that looked like something old, but classic.
I hadn’t even heard him pullover.
I backed a step away, thinking he might be a murderer, or a
But when I got a look at his face I was stunned.
He was tall, with a lean body, but muscular. He had short,
dark brown, almost black, hair and the greenest eyes I had ever seen. Five o’
clock shadow covered his cheeks and chin. My eyes trailed down, over the white
t-shirt glued to his chest, and stopped there. I could see black ink underneath
the white shirt and licked my lips. The fact that he had tattoos only made him
hotter. To protect against the cold, he was wearing a long-sleeved plaid shirt.
“Uh—can I help you?” He asked, smiling pleasantly at me, and
putting my earlier fears about him being a murderer or rapist completely to
Help? With what? I needed help?
He grinned crookedly, tilting his head. “With your tire. Do
you need some help?”
He had the deepest, huskiest, voice I had ever heard. I
shivered at the sound. I was pretty sure I’d be happy for him to help me with a
lot of things, and none of them included my tire.
“Help would be great,” I blushed, ducking my head.
He chuckled. “You do have a spare, right?”
“Yeah, it’s in the trunk,” I pointed, like he didn’t know
where the trunk was.
He grabbed the spare, and all the necessary tools and sat
down, next to the ruined tire.
“I—uh—would’ve changed it myself, but—uh—my dad never taught
me,” I ran my fingers nervously through my wavy brown hair. “He said something
about it not being appropriate for a girl to do and if I ever got a flat tire,
I better hope Prince Charming came along. My dad’s very—uh—old fashioned,” I
He looked up at me. “Does that make me Prince Charming?” He
“Oh—uhm—Prince Charming is fictional, so I guess not, and
he-uh-usually rides a white horse or something… I think.”
Somebody, stamp AWKWARD across my forehead already.
The guy threw his head back and laughed. “I guess a shiny
black ’69 Camaro doesn’t count as a white horse. You watch a lot of Disney
movies or something?”
“No,” I blushed tomato red. “At least not anymore.”
“You’re funny,” he squinted up at me, shielding his eyes
from the orange glow of the setting sun.
“I hope that’s a good thing,” I muttered. Unfortunately, I
wasn’t trying to be funny.
“It’s a very good thing-” He paused, waiting for my name.
“Oh—uh—Olivia. Olivia Owens.”
“I’m Trace,” he reached a hand up to me and I took it. It
was warm and calloused, swallowing mine whole. “Trace Wentworth,” he grinned
when my hand jerked at his touch.