Jilted Groom(6)

By: Mia Carson

“I know I haven’t made things easy,” he told her, his head hanging, “but I really am finished with all of that this time. I swear it. I know you might not trust me, that it might take a long-ass time, but I’ll prove to you that you can trust me again.”

“I do trust you.” She hesitated. “But I don’t want to lose my brother again.”

“You won’t, I swear it.”

She smiled and made a mental note to thank Grams later for riding her ass so hard. Honestly, she was lucky she hadn’t followed Dennis and taken up drugs or worse. He let go of her hand, and she picked up the menu again, ready to enjoy a lunch with her big brother when her work phone dinged in her pocket. She didn’t move to answer it at first, but Dennis set his menu down and eyed her.

“You can’t afford not to take the call,” he said. “It’s fine.”

She frowned as she pulled out her cell to answer the call. The man’s voice broke up on the other end. “What? I’m sorry, where did you say you are?”

“Route 25 or something? No, turned… that… farther south…”

Kris stuck her other finger in her ear to try and hear better. “What’s close by? Can you see anything?”

“…sign for…”

“Say that again?” she grumbled. Damn tourists. What the hell is he doing all the way out here?

“Green Valley?” he muttered. “Yeah, Green Valley.”

Kris turned around and glared out the diner window. “Did you mean to come to the middle of nowhere? Sir?” She waited, but he didn’t reply. “Right, well if you can hear me, there’s a tow truck on the way, twenty minutes.”

“Who was that?” Dennis asked after she hung up.

“Some idiot lost on the back roads again. Rain check on lunch?”

“Want me to get you something for later?”

Kris was going to say no, but her stomach growled and he chuckled at the sound. “Guess I haven’t eaten all day. Just get me a burger and fries.”

“Extra bacon?”

“Who are you talking to?” she teased. On impulse, she rushed around to the other side of the table and hugged her brother close. No words passed between them, but there didn’t have to be. She hurried out of the diner and hopped into the tow truck she was paying off slowly, just like the garage she was only able to get because of Grams.

Once on the road, she attached her cell to the dash and tried to call the guy back, but he didn’t answer. She tapped her fingers anxiously on the steering wheel. If the guy could see the Green Valley sign that resided outside town, he couldn’t be that far away. She had no idea what made him come this far off the interstate, but she figured she’d find out if she ever tracked the guy down. The AC clunked and whined in the truck, and Kris smacked her hand on the dash.

“Come on, baby,” she grunted. “Not today. It’s pushing a hundred.”

The truck didn’t care, and after the air let out one last icy breath, it shut off completely. Cursing and hoping this guy could go without AC for an hour, she rolled down the windows and drove a little faster. There were only four cops in Green Valley, and they never patrolled the roads far out of town. The truck barreled down a hill and around a turn when she spotted smoke drifting up from the side of the road, ten miles out of town. She turned on her yellow flashing lights and beeped the horn to get the man’s attention. A head popped around the propped-up hood, and he waved a hand over his head.

“Well now, you’re not from around here,” she whispered as she threw the truck in park. The man in question was dressed too nicely to be stuck on the side of the road. His shirtsleeves were rolled up, and as she climbed out of the tow truck, her attention shifted from the man with his mussed-up hair to the car. “Holy shit. You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Are you the woman I spoke to on the phone?” he asked, walking towards the rear of his car.

“Yeah, I am. Kristen Rivers,” she said and held out her hand. He glanced at it before shaking it firmly. “Looks like you got yourself some car troubles.”

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