Denise settled in the limo and opened a strawberry-flavored water and took a sip. She capped the bottle and pulled a Brandilyn Collins novel from her bag. She stared at a slip of paper stuffed next to her bookmark. Someone had written, “What’s wrong with your car?” in red ink.
“Miss Tyler’s inside,” she heard Luke say. The statement whisked away the fog and brandished reality. She quickly crumpled the paper and let it fall between her left leg and the door and fixed her eyes on the book. The door on the passenger’s side opened.
Denise gasped when she saw the face. She relished the sight of his handsome features and athletic physique. Flushed, she lowered the book. Her left thumb held her place. The thrill of having him next to her tied a bow around her heart. She felt every pulse of the carotid artery in her neck. Her throat felt dry.
“You must be Miss Tyler.”
That did it. His voice soothed her aching heart, although its rhythm increased in intensity. She uttered a yes.
“I’m Daniel.” She watched his eyes shift to her lap and back up. They locked on hers. “Good book?”
“The paperback you have there. Interesting?”
She nodded but said, “Not anymore.”
The limo pulled away from the curb. A left turn tossed Denise rightward. She threw out her hand to brace on the seat. Her fingers brushed against Daniel’s arm. Her mind advised her to latch the seat belt, yet her hand stayed planted on the leather seat cushion. A strange feeling swirled up her arm and filled her chest. Daniel searched the seat for the buckle to secure his restraint. Denise followed his lead and latched hers. Luke slowed the limo as they approached Maryville Pike.
The sound of crushing metal and breaking glass blasted their eardrums at the intersection of Maryville Pike and Woodson Drive. The front of the striking pickup careened off the left front of the limo. The truck’s engine revved. Tires squealed. The stench of burned rubber filled the limo. The engine noise faded in the distance. The entire incident was over in less than two seconds. For Denise, it seemed like time changed from a flash to a prolonged horror.
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