Body Shot(3)

By: Kelly Jamieson

The gorgeous stranger glanced at his watch, a chunky leather and chrome one that looked expensive. And out of place with the rolled-up T-shirt sleeves; ripped, faded jeans; and tattoos. “It’s twenty to two.”

“Ack! I’m late for a meeting, dammit. I have to go.”

He nodded and stepped back. “Sure. Maybe get some ice on your shoulder—”

“Right. Thanks. And uh, thanks for, uh, catching me.”

“No problem. Wouldn’t want a beautiful lady to end up lying on the sidewalk.”

Her heart missed a beat when he called her beautiful. She gave herself a mental slap to focus. He was clearly a smooth talker, because she was okay-looking, but not beautiful. “Thank you again. I appreciate it.”

She hurried away, aware of his gaze following her as she scurried down the sidewalk in her ballet flats.

How was she going to get a new phone when the rest of her afternoon was booked with meetings? She was going to have to figure something out.

Hayden drove the short distance to the Carroll Canyon facilities of Vanguard Corp, rushed to her office, grabbed her tablet, and hurried to the meeting room, where Kim and Richard were waiting for her.

“Hi, sorry I’m late.” She took a seat at the round table. “Had a little accident on the way back from lunch.”

“You took a lunch break?” Kim gaped at her.

“Yeah.” Hayden grimaced and rubbed her shoulder. “I met my friend Carrie.”

“Carrie Garner?” Richard perked up. “The model?”

Hayden hid her smile and nodded. “Yes, Carrie the model.”

Richard sighed. “She’s so hot.”

“Yes. Yes she is.”

“What kind of accident?” Kim asked, forehead creased with concern. “A car crash? Are you okay?”

“It was nothing. I was checking emails on my phone as I was walking back to my car and I ran into a post.”

Kim quickly covered her smile with her hand and asked again, “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I think so. My pride is probably more bruised than my shoulder. Some guy kept me from falling, but I dropped my phone and it’s broken, dammit.”

“Oh no.”

“Let’s get to business,” Hayden said, pushing aside her embarrassment and frustration. “We need to review these materials for the grant proposal. I think we’ve got enough information to address their questions and concerns, but let’s make sure.”

Beck watched the woman bolt down the sidewalk. Kind of a mousy little thing, though she appeared to have a nice rack beneath that white button-down shirt. The blouse and skirt were pretty basic. Not something he’d usually take notice of. But her legs were ridiculous, from what he could see beneath the hem of a knee-length black skirt.

He shrugged and turned to continue walking down Miramar toward the Speed Bowl. Hopefully she was being honest when she said she hadn’t hit her head, because she’d definitely looked dazed and confused.

He dismissed her as he walked into the Speed Bowl, prepared for a couple of hours of racing go-karts on the track.

“Hey, man, you’re here.” His buddy and business partner Marco Solis greeted him in the lobby. At the far end of it were a bunch of arcade games. A snack bar lined one long wall, and opposite that, windows overlooked the track.

“Yeah, sorry. Traffic was nuts and then some chick just about knocked herself out by walking into a sign while texting. Or something.”

Marco huffed. “Jesus.”

“Where’s Cade?”

“Boys’ room.”

“Ah.” Beck rubbed his hands together. “You ready to get your ass kicked?”

Marco snorted. “As if. You can’t drive your way out of a paper bag.”

“What does that even mean, dumbass?”

Marco shrugged.

Beck wasn’t worried about who would win their races. He was the one who’d excelled in Advanced Driving Skills in their SEAL training. Also, there was a reason Cade’s nickname/call sign was “Crash.” There was no question that Beck was the best driver.

Not that he was competitive or anything.

Every couple of weeks, they all got away from the bar and did something fun. Since they were adrenaline junkies who needed a fix now that they’d left their Navy SEAL days behind them, they’d found a variety of activities that satisfied their needs—rock climbing, hang gliding, go-kart racing, paintballing, mountain biking…well, not mountain biking lately. Not Cade, anyway. Cade hadn’t been back on a bike since his epic wipeout a few months ago, no matter how much they tried to use that horse-and-saddle analogy on him.

Beck couldn’t blame Cade. He still winced with sympathetic pain at the injuries Cade had sustained to a sensitive area. In fact, it was such a sensitive area they couldn’t even talk about it.