South Beach - Coast Road 7:30 PM
The first kick landed squarely on the door. Beth Stanfield fought for purchase, found it, almost slipped and fell down the hill into the bay with the second kick. She'd hydroplaned, run off the pavement and dug herself even deeper trying to get back on the road. And she'd dropped her cell. It was lying somewhere down there in the rocks and the heavy surf, and if she didn't rein in her temper, she'd be down there with it.
Half a dozen cars sloshed by. Nobody would stop in this storm. She could walk. She could walk in high heels for over a mile and hope she didn't get hit by someone else who had driven too fast. She could sit in the car and contemplate large issues like life and regret and infidelity and what it had done to her husband and what he had done, which was nothing. She could wipe down the dashboard and hang her bra out the window and wave at the storm. She could ask herself why she was here when she'd sworn she would cut him loose. He wanted to meet. It was impossible to deny him. She would drive through a storm, drive off the road, walk a mile in heels, do anything to try to make up for she'd done if she could have one more chance.
Trying to come up with something else, something that didn't involve walking, a car finally pulled up and stopped behind her, wipers batting furiously at the water, powerful engine shutting down. And against all hope and expectation, Rafe slammed the door, stepped out into mud, swore and yelled. "What the hell are you doing out here?"
Defensive, prickly and wet, she stepped up toward the road and considered her best friend's annoying husband and threw it back at him. "I'm meeting Cooper and don't start on me about it. I ran off the road. And I could ask you the same thing."
She expected him to crawl up her back about meeting Coop when they were supposed to be separated, were separated, take any opportunity to growl at her about giving the man another chance for some Rafe-defined rule infraction. He didn't. He hit her with the kids instead. "I'm on my way home, and that's what you should be doing. You left your kids there alone in this storm?"
The passenger door opened and a tall man wearing a long leather coat eased out, hunching against the onslaught of rain and wind. Rafe conferred with him briefly and then together they stared at the car stuck in the ditch. He glanced at her, straightened, gave her an obvious thorough second look and grinned. "Beth Stanfield..."
Irritated and even more defensive, she bit back a retort; she didn't have to explain herself to Rafe. The other man...at first she didn't recognize him, and, when she finally realized who he was, it wasn't some wonderful happy moment. Superstar frontman for the band Flight: Alex Ferguson AKA Blade. Another arrogant musician. "Hi, Blade."
"My car didn't show; Rafe's giving me a ride," he offered as if he expected her to be overcome with astonishment and concern, and he was still smiling. Bright blue eyes, thick brown hair and a sprinkle of freckles that didn't quite jibe with the name Blade; the freckles reminded her of everything she should never think about again, the other man. What was it with these bad ass men and freckles?
"How nice for you," she tossed in his general direction and turned her agitated attention back to Rafe. "Rafe, I have to make it to The Iron Gate and I'm really late. Can you get me out of the ditch?"
He took his time, letting the seconds play out in the raindrops. "Alex, give me a hand over here."
"I hear you and Coop split up. His loss..."
Was he, inconceivably, trying to chat her up in the middle of a storm? "Cut the shit," Rafe ordered him, hunching his shoulders against the wind. "We've got a fucking car to move, you going to help me or sing a song?"
'Blade' finally put his shoulder to the rear fender, and together they rocked the car until it moved forward out of the mud and back onto pavement. She watched, waiting for him to slip and fall face first in the mud, but he grinned at her and put as much muscle into it as Rafe, well almost as much.
Rafe slapped his hands on his muddy jeans, muttered another expletive, and turned back to her. "Turn this piece of crap around and go home. Your kids need you more than Stanfield does; he's probably not going to make it in this weather anyway. You know what I think and I'm not saying one more damned thing about it. Go home."
Taking a couple of careful steps toward her, water running off the black leather coat, probably ruining it, Blade smiled down at her, "If you need anything, give me a call. I've got a place right up the road, I bought it last week, I'll be there the rest of the month, maybe longer."
Rafe glanced up at the sky, strode around the front of the car, his attention already obviously elsewhere probably on the bridge to Bay View, then finally ripped a glance at Alex Ferguson. "Jesus man, drop it. She doesn't need anything you've got. You want a ride, get in the damned car."
He shoved into his car, started the engine, and together they sliced through and vanished behind the wall of pounding water. She was wet and cold. Lightning hissed and struck, but if she hadn't been bitten by that electric snake yet, either it couldn't find her or no longer cared.