New Cover – Snippet Excuse
Scored a lovely new cover for Floored. It’s a good excuse to give you a snippet from one of my favourite scenes: The is this a car chase, not really, let’s go to McDonald’s scene.
She saw her bikie leave the house at a dead run. He noticed the big guy and didn’t like it. He came across the front yard making straight for them. She should put the car in reverse and back out. Leave them both here to sort out their differences.
Her bikie shouted. The other guy spun to face him. There was a blur of movement and the two of them were fighting. The giant had a knife. Her bikie was bleeding. He backed up and put the saddlebag down on the road behind him. He looked at her through the windshield. He was trying to tell her something—was it to run or to stay?
If she pulled out now she’d be safe, away from this mess. But blood was dripping down her bikie’s arm, soaking his black t-shirt. She popped the locks using the fob so the headlights flashed once. Both men moved fast. She revved the engine. Both went for the saddlebag. But her bikie faked the move. He spun back, grabbed the front door handle, wrenched the door open and flung himself inside.
She pressed the accelerator, but held the brake. “But…” The giant was standing in front of the car holding the saddlebag. He had an arm outstretched, two fingers in a vee pointing at them. Targeting them.
She let go the brake and the Statesman shot forward, the big guy stepping easily out of the way. He was laughing as though this was the most fun he’d had all day.
They were doing ninety K’s from a standing start, the engine roaring, down a suburban street. Fetch, if that’s what his name was, had taken off his leather vest and t-shirt. He was wrapping his wounded arm in the shirt. He barked, “Left,” and she took the turn.
“Are we in a car chase?” There was no bike behind them.
Fetch was watching the side mirror. “Nope.”
“Can I slow down?”
“We’re in a car chase.”
“Nope. We’re just being efficient.” He was military precision, with the way he was watching behind them.
“Can I be efficient at a slower speed?”
“In a mo. Go right.”
She took the turn. They were in a car chase no matter what he said. She was going to get arrested, and Justin would find her, and she’d go to jail. Like father like daughter, except she really was guilty. She gripped the wheel. She had to keep it together or she’d be a road statistic instead of a prison one. She focused and drove and tried not to watch the rear-view overly much. Eventually he said, “Slow up. There’s a McDonald’s at the next cross street.”
She glanced at him. Was he serious? She slowed up anyway.
“Pull in there. Get in the drive-through.”
He was serious. “You want a Big Mac now?”
He laughed. “No. I want you to have a chance to catch your breath. We’re not being chased. It’s okay.”
“How can it be okay? You got knifed. You’re a criminal and I’m a getaway driver.” There was a queue for the drive-thru. She pulled in and a carload of teenagers pulled in behind them.
He grunted. “I promise you I’m not a bad guy.”
“You’re a drug courier.”
He sighed. “It’s complicated.”
“That’s it? That’s all I get? It’s complicated.” She glared at him. “Get out of my car.”
“I wish I could. Believe me I wish I could.”
He was bloody and limping but much as she hated him she couldn’t dump him here. “Right, okay. I’ll get you to a hospital but that’s it for us.”
“You’re at the speaker box thing. Order something.”
They’d been creeping forward in the line. She could hear the squawk of a voice through the intercom. She opened her window. This was surreal. She’d just been an accomplice in a gang crime and now she was having fries with that. “What do you want?” She couldn’t believe she’d asked that question.
“Get me a flat white and an apple pie.”
“Can I help you?”
“Two flat whites and two apple pies please.”
“That’ll be eight dollars twenty. Drive through to the first window please.”
“Thanks,” he said.
“I assume we’re taking away.”
He laughed. “But only as far as a parking spot. We need to talk.”
“No. I need to get you to a hospital, forget what you look like and never let a blue-eyed bikie crawl in my back seat again.”
She glared again. This was a like a scene from a B-grade movie. Unbelievable.
“You noticed my eye colour.”
He’d lost his sunnies in the fight. He was looking at her funny with the stupid blue eyes in question. “What is your problem?” She sighed, that was such a stupid thing to say. He was a criminal, he’d had a bad day at work, and he was quite possibly bleeding to death. He had more than a few problems.
“Drive forward.” He had a twenty in his hand and held it out. She took it and handed it to the girl at the window, who handed her change and said, “Next window.” She put the coins in her coin holder and drove forward. He could shout this snack, and she was keeping the change. At the next window she took the cardboard holder with the two coffees and a bag with the pies from the hands of a young kid wearing a headset. The kid was busy taking another order while he doled hers out. He didn’t look at her, or notice the man bleeding out beside her.
The wanted criminal took the stuff out of her hands and she drove forward and parked. After all that she felt oddly composed. Her breathing had returned to normal, her hands weren’t shaking and that feeling of her blood speeding around her body had subsided. She looked at her criminal. Had he known this was what she needed? Something super normal, routinely boring.
“Is your name Fetch?” That was another stupid question. It proved she wasn’t entirely recovered. She didn’t want to know his name. She didn’t want to know anything about him, except his blood type so when she dropped him off at the hospital comatose she could be helpful.
He hesitated. He handed her a coffee with the lid removed. Maybe they shared a love of Macca’s apple pie, along with the idea this was better kept anonymous. He sounded reluctant when he said, “Yeah.”
“Drink up, Fetch. You’re not welcome in my car anymore.”
“Is it your car?”
“I’m driving it, what does it matter?”
“Is it your car or do you drive it for someone?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“Well, I think I owe the owner of this Statesman an apology for bleeding on their fine leather upholstery.”
“Yes, it’s my car. Apology accepted. Happy?”
“Here, have your pie.” He held it out.
“I don’t want the damn pie.”
“It’s good. You could do with the sugar. Round about now you’re going to start feeling incredibly tired as the adrenaline crashes out. Eat the pie.”
“What kind of criminal knows about adrenaline crashes?”
He laughed. “You’re funny.”
“I’m not trying to be funny. I’m terrified.”
“You’ve very calm for someone who’s terrified. You drove like a pro.”
“I don’t need your approval.”
“No. You don’t. But you do need my protection.”
She sighed. “If I wasn’t terrified before, I am now. I just want to drive away from all this. I didn’t see anything. I don’t know anything. I don’t want any trouble.”
“Do you? How can you possibly understand?”
“And so we’re back to that. You know what, you seem okay for a guy who might bleed to death. Get out of my car.”
“I wish I could, Driver. About that protection idea.”
“I don’t want your protection. I want to be alone.”
“Yeah, see that’s not a good idea.”
“I thought you said we weren’t being chased. That means whatever happened is over.”
“Can you sit there and listen to me for a minute without interrupting?” He sounded gruff. He must be in pain. He put a hand up. “Ah, don’t tell me to fuck off, just listen for a minute. I have a proposition for you.”
She sipped her coffee and looked away from him, out the driver’s side window. Maybe if she let him talk he’d leave.
“I need to do some travelling.”
She turned back, opened her mouth to tell him exactly where he could stick his travel plans. He held out the pie. “Eat the pie, Driver.” She took the pie in its cardboard wrapper from him. She’d eat the damn pie. Maybe he was right about the sugar crash.
“How would you feel about letting me hire you for ten days? Don’t answer. Eat the pie. It would accommodate my travel plans, and see to my deepest desire to keep you off the streets for a little while.”
“Off the streets? Am I in danger?”
“You’ll be in danger of falling asleep at the wheel if you don’t eat the pie.”
“Are you saying I’m not in danger?”
“Forget the danger thing. Do you want to drive for me for a week? Double the day rate I paid today.”
“Will we be chased?”
“We weren’t chased today.”
“Sure, that’s why you told me to floor it.”
He shook his head. “Eat the pie and think about it.”
Caitlyn closed her eyes. She was suddenly extraordinarily tired, as though all her energy had drained out through her kneecaps. She took a bite of the pie. Not too hot, just right. She wasn’t too tired to add up though, and fourteen thousand dollars was a lot of money. A lot more than she could earn in a well-booked week. Money that would make life much easier.
“Okay, I’m thinking about it. What’s the catch? I won’t do anything illegal.”
“Nothing illegal about it. I need to get to Perth by the end of the month.”
“You haven’t heard of Jetstar?”
“I’m scared of flying.”
God, he was a liar. This was a man with nerves of whatever the hell substance was harder than steel. He was serenely bleeding to death while he ate an apple pie and did his sales pitch. He was not a bloke who was frightened of a little time in a tin can in the clouds.
“You’d have to pay my way back to Sydney.”
“Another week, that’s twenty-one grand. That’s ridiculous. You could buy your own car and drive yourself for that amount of money. You could put a deposit on your own jet. Anyway, where would you get that sort of money from? You lost your bag.”
“You didn’t see any bag. I’ve got the money. The money isn’t your issue. I’ll pay you up half upfront, now. You can put it straight in the bank.”
“Right, what bag?” She looked away from him. “It is my issue if it’s drug money.” Of course it was drug money. But twenty-one grand… And no one said she had to come back to Sydney. This was a chance to move states, get further outside Justin’s reach and be paid a fortune for it. In drug money. She sighed. She obviously couldn’t do it. “You’d have to pay all expenses. Petrol, accommodation, meals.”
“That’d be part of the deal.”
She turned to him. “You’re not serious?”
“I am deadly serious. Let’s call it twenty-five grand serious.”
Her throat was so dry. No more coffee left. Twenty-five grand. That was close to half her expected annual salary for two weeks of driving and the hire of her Statesman. Could she spend two weeks with Australia’s Most Wanted? Of course not. Why did this kind of thing keep happening to her? This was beyond ridiculous.
“I want you out of my car right now.”