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Driving Her Crazy(9)

By:Kira Archer

“Damn. I was hoping it wouldn’t be an issue for you. It isn’t too bad for us yet, but Mom is freaking out. If it hasn’t blown over by tomorrow morning, I think she’ll have a serious breakdown. How soon can you get up here?”

“I don’t know. There aren’t any more flights until tomorrow at the earliest.”

“But that’s the day of the wedding!”

“I’m aware of that.”

“You’re going to have to drive. Rent a car.”

The room spun a little at the thought. “You want me to rent a car and drive? All the way to New York? You’re joking, right?”

She hated driving. With a bright purple polka-dotted passion. She drove around town, to school and back, to the store, that sort of thing. But she avoided it at all costs if the weather was bad, which, apparently, it would be. Plus, she’d never driven long distance before. In fact, she couldn’t remember ever being in a car for longer than it took to get from New York City to her parents’ place in the Hamptons, and she’d never made the drive herself. Hell, she’d gotten lost once going to the library four miles from her apartment and that was with GPS. She’d never make it 1,000 miles.

The laughter on the other end of the phone made it clear her brother was thinking the same thing. “You still there?”

“Yes. I’m just…processing.” And possibly hyperventilating.

More laughter. “Look, Cher-Bear, I know driving freaks you out, but you don’t really have another choice. You can do this. It’s only like twelve hours. If you start now, you’d be here before midnight. That’s not too bad. You wouldn’t even have to get a hotel or anything. And you’ll probably beat the worst of the storm.”

Cherice stamped down the rising panic and looked up to find Mr. Hot, Blond and Married a few feet away, leaning against the counter at the car rental place, staring at her with a weird little half smile on his unbelievably full lips. She frowned at him and turned around so she couldn’t see him.

“Maybe you’re right. But it’s raining. I can barely drive when the weather is perfect.”

“You can do this, Cher-Bear. Just get a car, put on some tunes, and haul ass up here.”

“Yeah. Okay. Guess I don’t have much of a choice.”

Elliot snorted. “Not unless you want to deal with the Momster.”

Cherice repressed an actual shudder. “No, thanks. Ugh, fine, I’ll rent a car. Hopefully, I don’t kill myself on the way up.”

“You’ll be fine, I promise.”

“We’ll see,” Cherice said, dread filling her at the thought of twelve hours alone in a car, driving unfamiliar roads. “Let’s just hope the damn thing has GPS.”

Elliot snorted. “Like that’ll help. I’ll send out a rescue crew if you aren’t here by morning, I promise. Love you, sis.”

“Love you, too, Smelliot.”

She hung up to the sound of his laughter. Her smile faded quickly though when she realized she now had to go rent a car.

“Pull it together, Cherice,” she muttered to herself. “It’s a car, not an assault tank.”

She marched to the counter before her courage failed her. Wannabe Rhett Butler stood a bit to the side filling out some papers, so he’d obviously already been helped. Cherice decided it wouldn’t be too big a faux pas to butt her way in while he was busy.

“Hi, I need to rent a car. I don’t know what kind of a selection you have, but I definitely need something with GPS. And as much insurance as you can give me and whatever other extras are available. And do your cars have really good tires? Something that won’t slide around on wet roads?”

Cherice gave the startled woman a faint smile and then glanced over to the man who stared at her with a what-the hell-was-that look that was mirrored on the face of Car Rental Lady.

“I’m sorry. Jennifer?” Cherice added, glancing at the woman’s name tag. “I’m just in a bit of a rush, and I’m crazy nervous about driving in the rain.”

“Oh, no, that’s okay…it’s just that we are out of cars.”

Cherice’s stomach churned. “What do you mean you are out of cars? How can you be out?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. But with flights being canceled we were cleaned out. He got the last one,” she said, nodding at the man next to her.

“Hi,” he said.

Cherice just stared at him, panic overriding her brain until there was not a single, solitary thought left in her head.

She opened her mouth to say something and promptly shut it again, her throat growing tight with the sudden urge to cry. This could not be happening.