The Artifact (Book 2, Time Trilogy)

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Chapter Twelve: Adrenaline Rush

July 2023
University of Richmond
Richmond City, Virginia

}}}-----> MORGAN <-----{{{

“Wanna go for a spin?!” Morgan says more flirty-sounding than she’d intended. Her original intention simply being to make the idea of taking a ride in her car fun versus scary, as she assumes Wahya would feel about it - at least she thought SHE would be scared in his shoes.

Another part of her wanted to tease the big strong man, who was eyeing her cute black Jeep Renegade as if it were a souped up sports car - while it had some get-up-and-go, in her eyes it was as fierce as a kitten.

When he returns her smile with his own even more flirtatious and daring smile, she knows she’s in trouble. There was absolutely no fear of driving or cars coming from him - no, it was pure adrenaline instead, and oh, did it look sexy on him!

“Wow! I guess it doesn’t matter what time period they’re from, men will get turned on by an engine! Thank God I don’t have a muscle car or something really sporty, because if he thinks my car’s all that, what would he do...?” Her imagination takes over momentarily, giving her a nice visual of making out with him in the backseat of a hot rod. “Oh, I don’t even want to know what he’d do!”

With a loud exhale, she quickly pushes these thoughts away, and laughs nervously. “We’ll see just how much you like my car when you find out we’re taking it to go clothes shopping!”

After finding the gorget, James had called his wife, Samantha, to let her know they would be having company - “Morgan and a friend” - for dinner, and that he’d bring home carryout for everyone to eat. Morgan volunteered to get Wahya some more clothes, not knowing what they were going to do about him yet, and the two of them plan to bring Samantha up to speed on the situation this evening. In the meantime, with no more classes scheduled for today, James would see if he could find out more about Wahya’s language, taking Morgan’s notebook with him.

Morgan opens the passenger door of her compact Jeep SUV and waits for the extra tall brave to get in, taking every detail in as he does so. Once seated, he runs his hands over the seats and dashboard, examining the materials as she carefully closes his door for him.

Running to the other side and hopping into the driver’s seat, Morgan starts the push-button ignition and the car’s engine comes to life, prompting Wahya’s eyes to sparkle, she notes with an inward smile. She buckles up, putting the gear into Drive and looks at Wahya. “Ready?!”

Suddenly realizing that she’d forgotten his seat belt, she puts the car back in Park. “Oh, hold on. You have to buckle up! It’s kind of a rule here, for safety and all,” she explains.

Motioning towards the seat belt on his other side, Morgan tugs on her own to show him what she’s talking about. He finds the belt easy enough but doesn’t understand that he has to pull out from the metal latch, then down to get the belt to extend properly. Morgan tries to explain, yet he isn’t getting it and she doesn’t necessarily want to reach over and do it for him. So, unbuckling her own belt, Morgan shows him how it’s done with hers. Wahya almost gets it this time, mirroring her actions when it catches halfway across his body. It’s apparent that he doesn’t want to pull too hard, fearing that he’ll break something, so Morgan leans towards him and takes the belt from his hand.

“Here, let me help you,” she says, pulling on it only to find that it really is stuck for some reason. “Hmm, that’s strange,” she murmurs. Further pulling doesn’t work and Wahya turns in his seat to study the belt in an attempt to figure out what’s going on. “Sometimes they can get twisted or something. I think my nephew was the last one to ride there, and he messes around with stuff like that...” She can’t help but chatter nervously, the close proximity to his body getting the better of her.

Needing a better view and to get at the belt from a different angle, she moves to put her knee on the driver’s seat, her head nearly touching the roof. She knows it’d probably make more sense at this point to get out and fix it from his side of the door, but she doesn’t want to take the time - surely the belt will free itself shortly.

She leans over further, bracing herself on the center console in deep concentration, now able to see the twisted belt caught in the narrow slot the belt is supposed to retract into. “Yeah, it’s, uh, twisted. Can you...?”

Frustration takes over as she doesn’t know how to explain the issue to him in her impatience to fix the problem. Focusing her attention on pulling the belt just so, she fails to realize that Wahya can easily see the problem she’s referring to, no words needed.

“Here, let me help,” Wahya tells her in Tsalagi, trying to be useful. But of course, not knowing what he’s said to her, Morgan doesn’t let him help. So, when he reaches across to untwist the belt at the source, he unintentionally loosens the belt just as she yanks on it - hard.

Losing her balance, as the belt unwinds rapidly, Morgan hurtles forward, her knee slipping on the black leather seat.

She cries out in surprise, twisting and curling her body towards Wahya so as to not hit her head on the passenger side door. Evading a head injury, but close to a heart attack, she ends up sprawled across the brave’s torso, his right arm solidly catching her. With calm reserve, Wahya grasps her shoulders firmly with both hands, helping her up slowly, as she nervously and awkwardly tries to upright herself. Embarrassment and butterflies confuse themselves frustratingly in the pit of her stomach.

Managing to get her knee re-planted on the driver’s seat again, with Wahya’s gentle but immensely strong arm, she pushes her left hand off his bare leg, and her eyes meet his. “I’m sorry. I... uh... should have...”

Wahya regards her seriously for a moment as she pauses close enough to feel his breath on her lips. She feels like such an idiot and yet her heart is racing from the chance to be so close to him. She wonders what he’s thinking, as he stares into her eyes for the second time today and breathes in deeply, his dark ebony eyes pulling her in as she swallows heavily.

Then, to her surprise, he smirks softly, shaking his head slightly, and says sweetly under his breath, “Walela.”

What did it mean, she wonders, at the seemingly meaningful word. But before she can think on it further, he helps her upright herself the remainder of the way, while his smirk broadens into a handsomely sexy smile. Flustered, she sinks into the driver’s seat grasping the steering wheel for moral support. Her face is flushed and her insides a jumbled mess as she tries to collect herself.

She glances over just in time to see him take the now-untwisted seat belt and pull it across his lap, successfully latching it into the buckle like a pro.

“Show off!” Morgan mutters teasingly, still red in the face with embarrassment, though a hint of a smile paints her lips as she tries to unsuccessfully scowl.

She knows the whole thing was her fault, yet his cool attitude while she’d struggled with the contraption from her own time, fans her attitude, and she’s determined not to let him get the better of her nervous system. Just to show him up, she looks around to be sure pedestrians and school security aren’t in view as she pulls out of her parking spot. Peeling out onto the street, Wahya’s head hits the headrest and his body is pressed against the seat from the sudden force of gravity. The look on his face is priceless as he grabs the center console with one hand, putting his other on the ceiling to brace himself.

“Yaaweee!” The adrenaline and apparent enthusiasm for the unexpected rush in his stomach seems to be beckoned from his very soul as he lets out what Morgan would only describe as a war-cry.

Morgan isn’t one to drive super-fast or crazy on a regular basis and can’t help but feel caught up in the moment, a loud laugh emanating from within as she feels her own burst of adrenaline from the speed, along with Wahya’s enthusiasm and mere presence.

“Woohooo!” She hollers and laughs unreservedly, only maintaining the pedal-to-the-metal speed for a few seconds, before allowing the car to slow down drastically to the speed limit, not wanting to introduce Wahya to the local police anytime soon. Her laughter quickly subsides to a simple smile, and she glances over to Wahya who smiles broadly back at her, before going back to taking in everything outside and inside the car, obviously enjoying himself.

Relaxing in her seat, Morgan can’t believe how unexpected this day has turned out to be. She aims the car to a nice little discount department store near the University where she knows the crowds will be minimal during Summer Semester and prices decent.

“Alright, ready to go shopping?!” She smirks. “This should be fun!”

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