By: Marie Kelly

Chapter One

The rain poured down heavily on Mia Drake as she hunched down, desperately trying to budge the nut which seemed welded to the wheel. With a small scream of frustration she stood once more, wiping away the water which now flowed unstopped down her face and over her clothes, clinging to her body like a second skin. The rain, now unable to soak into the fabric any further, moved down her in rivulets, Mia shivering with the cold.

When her tire had blown she was driving down the lonely road to the village she had grown up in, her mind already in turmoil over her return. She had long ago vowed never to set foot back in the village and the tire blowing seemed to be an omen that she should turn around and stick to her original vow. Pulling out her mobile, she was unable to pick up a signal and with gritted teeth she once more retrieved the jack she had thrown to the side of the road in her frustration, turning back to her impossible task.

Dressed only in jeans and a jumper, which now was stretched halfway down her hands, she was cold and miserable and completely unable to budge the offending nut to make the change. Still she kept trying, nervous on the lonely dark stretch of road.

Paul James sighed, feeling tired from the long day. Nothing seemed to go right, and he was a man who did not like delays, grimacing as the rain lashed down on his car, his windscreen wipers moving ferociously to allow him to see the road ahead. From a distance he spotted the small abandoned car by the side of the road, not remembering it being there earlier. Slowing slightly he concentrated on the windows, checking to see if anybody was seeking shelter inside the vehicle. Passing the car, with a small smile he decided that the driver had no doubt been rescued long ago. Only the sudden movement at the corner of his eye sent his look flying to the rear-view mirror, surprised to see a small shape rising from the larger shadowy bulk of the car.

As she saw the headlights appear in front of her, part of Mia felt an overwhelming sense of relief to see them, the first in over an hour. Standing up, she was in time to see as the car, a large Jaguar, moved past her. She could hardly believe that anybody would drive past somebody so obviously in need of help and she swore loudly at the driver, before returning to the task of the wheel, tears rushing to her eyes. However, the sound of a reversing engine had her looking around once more, as she blinked away the water, standing again. Slowly the door of the car opened and a tall handsome man stepped out, holding a large umbrella over himself.

“Do you need help?”, the strong masculine voice cried out, Mia feeling instant relief as she nodded her head furiously, feeling as the water sprayed from her, she was so wet. “Yes please”, she returned, her voice uneven as her teeth chattered.

Returning to his car the man retrieved something from the back seat before moving over to where she stood. “Here, put this on before you catch your death”, he said abruptly, handing her a long trench coat which she pulled on thankfully, instantly appreciating the heat it offered, even though it swamped her. As she lifted her head to thank him he had gone, already looking thoughtfully at the car, bending down to the tire before trying the jack himself.

“Your tire needs a special tool”, he finally declared, “Do you have it?” Shaking her head she explained that she was only borrowing the car and had only been able to find the tools currently lying on the roadside in the small trunk, her voice shaky as her teeth chattered. With a small grimace he then moved back over to her looking down into her hair-splattered face before with a decisive action taking her by the arm, moving her over to his car.

“You can’t stay here, I’ll call a truck to retrieve your car”, he said, opening the passenger door and depositing her in the seat. “Do you have any luggage?”, he asked, moving over to retrieve it as she nodded.

Mia sat quietly, aware of the small puddle forming on the mat at her feet as the water gathered. “Thank you”, she whispered softly, “If you could take me into town, I’ll get a hotel room”

Looking at her with a soft sigh the stranger started the engine of his car. “Not at this time of night you won’t”, he replied, looking thoughtfully over at her. “Do you have family in the area?” Mia shook her head gently, “No…Not anymore”

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