Was it yesterday or the day before that my parents had packed me into a limo and sent me off to Heathrow Airport in London? I’d popped two sleeping pills the minute my head hit the business class pillow and had only woken during the descent into San Francisco Airport.
I looked towards the trees again. If one ignored the charred bits and focused on the lake beyond, it was an impressive landscape – wild. Not at all like England.
A horn blared, and when I looked forward, a truck was coming straight at me on the wrong side of the road.
“Oh no – hell – no!” I yelled and fought the urge to clamp my eyes shut. The truck veered onto the shoulder of the road, but it couldn’t get completely out of my way. My scrambled brain screamed, do something! But my limbs would neither hit the brakes nor yank the steering wheel.
The truck loomed as large as a locomotive. Bloody hell! In all my life in England, I’d never seen a pick-up truck this size. I could see the whites of the petrified eyes of the other driver; his knuckles on the steering wheel equally pale as a cloud of dust and dirt sprang up from under his vehicle. This was it; I was going to die in a car crash on my first day in America. What the hell. It is what it is.
There was a deafening screech of tires and, as if by magic, the Tesla I was in veered to the right side of the road – the side I was supposed to be driving on. The vehicles missed each other by a whisker, and the Tesla stopped. I wasn’t sure whether it was my doing, or if the car had decided it had had enough of my driving.
The seatbelt was as tight as a straitjacket across my pounding heart and chest. I blinked repeatedly to make sure I was still alive. The other driver gave me a one-finger salute and shouted a string of obscenities, before roaring off.
I, in turn, cursed my cousin Gabe who had asked me to take the car to the garage in town. What was he thinking? This was my first day in the US, and yes, technically I had a license, but I hadn’t driven a car in years. No one drives themselves in London – we use Ubers and black cabs.
I set off at a crawl, keeping my eyes glued to the right-hand side of the road for the remaining three-mile trip into Clydesdale Village.
Clydesdale had barely registered in my consciousness when we’d passed through it the previous afternoon on our way to my aunt Isabella’s home from the airport. But now, mid-morning, I had to admit the little village had a certain charm. It reminded me of the frontier towns I had seen in western movies. The houses and shops clung to the main road along the lake’s edge like a motley collection of charms that a child might have strung together in a necklace.
I passed the Great Escape Holiday Cabins, a general dealer, a bright yellow community hall where worshippers of all faiths were welcome, a clinic that looked like a doll’s house, and a low-slung saloon – an honest-to-God saloon! I smiled. I would have to send my sister a picture of it.
I found Clydesdale Garage & Auto Repair at the far end of town and parked the Tesla among a collection of wrecks and soon-to-bes. Two fuel dispensers crouched under a sagging canopy; just as well that the Tesla didn’t need petrol – I wouldn’t trust whatever came out of those museum-ready pumps.
There was no reception, so I made my way to the open door of the workshop. I cleared my throat, “Excuse me. I’m looking for Ewan…Ewan Driscoll?”
A man emerged from the shadows and said, “I’m Ewan.”
I did a double-take and involuntarily took a step back to look up at him. Wow! I hadn’t thought that such a fabulous male specimen existed anywhere outside of the movies – or my fantasies. Ewan had a perfectly proportioned face, a strong jawline, and the kind of healthy outdoor complexion you would rarely see in London. His tousled brown hair touched the nape of his neck.
I was half expecting him to say, “Prince Valiant, Knight of the Round Table, at your service, sire.” I used to devour Prince Valiant comics.
This random thought made me want to chuckle, but one look at Ewan’s piercing green eyes caused me to keep my mouth shut. He looked like he took life very seriously; hell, with shoulders like his, he could carry half the world’s burdens. He probably had a picture-perfect wife, three kids and a host of other responsibilities.
Focus! I chided myself.
I managed to stutter something about the Tesla needing repairs, but all the while my eyes were glued to Ewan’s muscular, tattoo-covered arms. His t-shirt fit so tightly it might as well have been body paint, and his low-slung jeans hugged his narrow hips in the most delectable way.
I licked my lips and felt his stern gaze on me. Oh, shit – could this superman read my thoughts? He was probably a Class A homophobe and would pulverize me if he suspected that my eyes had lingered on his package.
He reached out to me, and I jumped back in alarm. Suddenly, there was a loud noise and around me, people were shouting. I was cornered and, for the second time that day, I froze in panic.
Then Ewan’s arm, hard as metal, swept me aside and knocked the wind out of my lungs. He pressed a button behind me, and the awful noise stopped. A stunned silence filled the workshop.