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The Things She Says

By:Kat Cantrell

One

The only thing worse than being lost was being lost in Texas.

In August.

Kris Demetrious slumped against the back end of his borrowed, screaming-yellow Ferrari, peeled the shirt from his damp chest and flipped his phone vertical. With the new orientation, the lines on the map still didn’t resemble the concrete stretching out under the tires. Lesson for the day—internet maps only worked if they were accurate.

The Ferrari was no help with its MP3 player docking station but no internal GPS. Italian automotive engineers either never got lost or didn’t care where they were going.

Mountains enclosed the landscape in every direction, but unlike L.A., none of them were marked. No mansions, no Hollywood sign and no clues to use to correct his wrong turn.

He never got lost on the set. Give him a controlled, detached position behind the camera, and if the scene refused to come together, starting over was as simple as yelling, “Cut.”

So what had possessed him to drive to Dallas instead of fly?

A stall tactic, that’s what.

Dying in the desert wasn’t on his to-do list, but avoiding his destination was. If he could find food and water, he’d prefer to stay lost. Because as soon as he got to Dallas, he’d have to announce his engagement to America’s Sweetheart Kyla Monroe. And even though he’d agreed to her scheme, he’d rather trash six weeks’ worth of dailies than go through with it.

He pocketed the phone as bright afternoon sunshine beat down, a thousand times hotter than it might have been if he’d been wearing a color other than black. Heat shimmered across the road, blurring the horizon.

Just then, churning dust billowed up, the only movement he’d seen in at least fifteen minutes. A dull orange pickup truck, coated with rust, drove through the center of the dirt cloud and pulled off the highway, braking on the shoulder behind the Ferrari. Sand whipped against Kris in a gritty whirlwind. He swept his hair out of his face and went to greet his rescuer.

Really, once he ran out of gas, he could have been stuck here for days, fending off the vultures with nothing more than a smartphone and polarized sunglasses. He’d already spun the car around twice to head in the opposite direction and now he’d lost his bearings. The truck driver’s timing was awesome and, with any luck, he would be able to give Kris directions to the main highway.

After a beat, the truck’s door creaked open and light hit the faded logo stenciled on the orange paint. Big Bobby’s Garage Serving You Since 1956. Dusty, cracked boots appeared below the opened door and whoomped to the ground. Out of the settling dust, a small figure emerged. A girl. Barely of driving age and, odds are, not Big Bobby.

“Car problems, chief?” she drawled as she approached. Her Texas accent was as thick as the dust, but her voice rolled out musically. She slipped off her sunglasses, and the world skipped a beat. The unforgiving heat, lack of road signs and the problems waiting for him in Dallas slid away.

Clear blue eyes peered up at him out of a heart-shaped face and a riot of cinnamon-colored hair curled against porcelain cheeks. Not a glimmer of makeup graced her skin, unusual enough in itself to earn a second glance. The sun bathed her in its glow, a perfect key light. He wouldn’t even need a fill light to get the shot. She was fresh, innocent and breathtakingly beautiful. Like a living sunflower. He wanted to film her.

She eyed him. “Problema con el coche, señor?”

Kris closed his mouth and cleared his throat. “I’m Greek, not Hispanic.”

What a snappy response, and not entirely true—he’d renounced his Greek citizenship at sixteen and considered himself American through and through. How had such a small person shut down his brain in less than thirty seconds?

“Wow. Yes, you are, with a sexy accent and everything. Say something else,” she commanded and circled a finger. The blue of her eyes turned sultry. “Tell me your life is meaningless without me, and you’d give a thousand fortunes to make me yours.”

Somehow his mouth was open again. “Seriously?”

She laughed, a pure sound that trilled through his abdomen. A potent addition to the come-hither she radiated like perfume.

“Only if you mean it,” she said.

There was too much confidence in the set of her shoulders for her to be a teenager. Mid-twenties at least. But then, how worldly could a girl from Nowhere, Texas, be? Especially given her obvious fondness for romantic melodrama and her distinct lack of self-preservation. For all she knew, he might be the next Charles Manson instead of the next Scorsese.

With a grin, she jerked her chin. “I’ll cut you a break, Tonto. You can talk about whatever you want. We don’t see many fancy foreigners in these parts, but I’d be happy to check you out. I mean check it out.” She shook her head and shut her eyes for a blink. “The car. I’ll look at it for you. Might be an easy fix.”

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