Day One ~ Chapter One
“First class tickets to SAN and an SUV waiting for us at the arrival gate with a chauffeur? Is he trying to show off the perks of being famous and marrying a crazy rich woman?”
“Excuse me.” The supposed chauffeur looked through the rear view mirror. “I am not a chauffeur and if you must know, I’m a cousin of the crazy rich woman your friend’s marrying.”
“Don’t mind them.” Tyler smiled at the guy as he posted on his online website, reading along as he typed, “Just landed in San Diego and on my way to Oceanside! The guy beside me just confessed he’s a driver and not a chauffeur. I don’t know what the difference is.”
“Since we’re basically going to be living with each other for the next two weeks,” Jesse glanced at the two women next to him, then at Tyler in the passenger seat. “How about we get to know each other? There’s still a half an hour drive ahead of us.”
“Hi, I’m the chauffeur who lives in an SUV.” The guy driving raised his hand and said sarcastically. “No, wait, that’s wrong. I’m the usher at the wedding and guess what? I’m going to kick you out of the island or bury you in the sand.”
The girl sitting next to Jesse rolled her eyes. “I’m Hope Martin, the best woman.”
“Tyler Meller, groomsman number 2.”
Jesse laughed. “Tyler Meller? Wow, I’ve never heard a rhyming name in my life before. Oh, I’m Jesse Campbell, by the way. Groomsman number 1.”
Hope, Tyler and Jesse glanced at the fifth person in the car who seemed to be hugging the car door. The woman’s face was expressionless and her eyes were entirely focused on the perpetual ocean and the beach side restaurants.
“Latest mission: find the names of these two gloomy strangers.” Jesse smirked. “We have a long drive ahead of us.”
“Excuse me, what are you doing?”
A blonde woman looked up with fake lashes and a frown. “Can’t you see? I’m getting into my taxi. Now, shoo!”
“I’m sorry, but I booked this cab.”
“Are you saying that I’m a thief?”
“Hey, I’m sure there’s a misunderstanding –”
“This crazy woman’s stealing my cab!”
“Ow!” Ellie covered her face with her hands, and she was certain that her lip was bleeding. The blonde just threw her fist at her. “Whoa, hey! I’m sure there’s no need for you to throw punches like that –”
This time, Ellie saw her fist coming at her and ducked, glancing at the startled taxi driver. “Hey, tell her that I booked the taxi.”
He blinked before saying, “I’m not gonna let either of you bitches get in my car. Adios!”
Ellie’s jaw dropped as she watched the taxi drive away. She stood outside the San Diego Airport, trying to take in whatever just happened.
The woman suddenly grinned. “Was it good?”
What? Ellie tilted her head to find a guy among the small crowd holding a phone with a thumb up. “Wait, you deliberately got into a fight with me? For what, Instagram?”
“My god, E. You really don’t recognize me?”
The woman took off her blonde wig and grinned. “Recognize me now?”
Ellie’s jaw dropped again. “Paris? I should’ve known it.”
“It’s always easy to fool you, girl.”
“You didn’t have to really punch me, you know?”
Paris smirked and showed her the finger. “That was for sleeping with Dick MacQuoid, beyatch. Let’s go?”
As Paris’ actual car arrived, Ellie threw her fist back and punched her in the eye, as she squealed in surprise and pain. “Fake lashes don’t suit you. Let’s go, we’re already late.”
“So you both went to school with Vincent?”
Tyler nodded with a goofy grin. “We were like the three musketeers – me, Hope and Vince before we went off to college. Even back then, Hope and Vince were like Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, so I wasn’t surprised when he asked her to be his best woman at the wedding.” He turned up the volume and switched the stations back and forth.
“You two had a thing?”
Hope scoffed. “Vince and I? God no. He’s not really my type.”
“So this is not a reboot of My Best Friend’s Wedding?”
Jesse smirked and shifted in his seat, their legs brushing against each other. “So what kind of guys is your type? Or are you into women?”
Tyler cracked up as he moved to a kneeling position in his seat. “Knowing her all these years, I can assure you of two things — A, she’s purely heterosexual and B, she would rather go out with me than with dumb idiots like you.”
“Hey, you’ve known me for like what, seventeen minutes?”
Hope tried to change the subject and looked at Jesse. “So you met Vince in college?”
“Ha, I wish. He plays sports and I hack systems. We met at his first game in Dallas; Texas Rangers! I’m still not sure how the conversation began, but we instantly became guy buddies. It was awesome.”
“I was there at almost every game of his. Wait; were you the guy satirizing ‘Rougie’?
His eyes lit up like fireworks. “Yeah! You saw me?”
Hope glanced at Tyler and they both laughed. “He was the bearded man with the crooked smile?”
She nodded and smirked at Jesse. “You hit on me three years ago, dumbass.”
He shrugged. “Now I got a five o’clock shadow and a sexy smile. I can hit on you and this time, it’ll work.”
“Hey, could you drive any faster?” Tyler yelled at the guy in the driver’s seat as he continued switching stations and adjusting the volume.
“I’m going at 80 miles per hour. And stop reviewing on my driving skills.”
Hope smiled nervously at the annoyed man. “Tyler is an online reviewer and a blogger; he critiques everything. But I agree with him, you’re going a tad slow.”
“Tad.” Jesse emphasized with his thumb and index finger.
“Alright, kids. Buckle up.” He pushed the accelerator with his right foot and the car raced forward all of a sudden.
Jesse rolled the window down and leaned against the window, his light brown hair blowing madly in the wind. “It feels like the fast and furious. Do we have a turbocharger?”
The guy didn’t answer. He repeatedly pressed on the brake pedal and a frown was etched on his face.
“All okay, man?”
He didn’t answer and continued hitting the pedal with his feet. “We have brake trouble.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Do I look like someone who cracks jokes?”
It was eerily silent in the car for ten seconds before they went hysterical and blathered to themselves in their minds.
“What were you thinking, Jesse? This is not F&F! What if we actually had a turbo? You’d be flying off to the moon, eh? He was driving within speed limit to avoid situations like this. Tad slow, it was fine. Now look what happened. You’re going to die, JC. Let’s just take one last whoosh of air.” His head was out of the window as Hope dug her fingers in the front car seats, murmuring to herself.
“I’m not going to die like this, am I? I’m a virgin at so many things. I didn’t go to Saturn, haven’t jumped off a plane naked, swim with the sea turtles and never tried root beer! I’m 31 who runs an art museum, unmarried with no kids or pets. I haven’t been to a proper date in months and didn’t have sex in five weeks. God, am I horny? Am I going to fall forward and hit the windshield? Kill me, kill me now!”
Tyler was typing rapidly on his phone. “Fun fact: I told a guy to accelerate and now I’m dying. How absurd is that? But it’s happening right now, the car’s out of control and I’m sure his foot’s aching. He’s going to die anyway, so I guess feet don’t matter right now. And I just met a guy named Jesse; he’s so cool, I wish you guys had a chance to meet him. You can still come see him at his funeral. And mine. Also, there’s a blonde behind me whom I think I’m imagining because she looks like a robot – straight face and barely moving while I can’t sit in the passenger seat in one posture for more than fifteen seconds. I appreciate the guy driving though, he seems pretty calm. And he’s still hitting the brakes. I feel sorry for him.”
“You did this.” Jesse wrapped his hands around Tyler’s neck from behind and scowled. “You couldn’t keep your mouth shut and let him drive his way.”
“Who was feeling like he was Vin Diesel and asking for turbo, huh?”
“Oh, so it’s my fault?”
“No, it’s mine. I never should’ve got into this death ride. It’s better to walk.”
“Then jump through the windshield and walk, Hope. Or swim to the island. At least I’m enjoying my last moments.”
The guy driving joined their bickering. “I’m trying to focus here, so if you imbeciles just shut the fuck up!”
“Let go of the steering wheel, chauffeur. We’re taking you along.”
“I already did, because I lost control of the wheel, too.” He said coolly. “I am in the driver’s seat, so it’s quite obvious I’m going to die for sure even if you guys survive. But do not call me a chauffeur. My name’s Xander.”
“Yay, I got one name.” Jesse pumped his fist in triumph and went back to enjoying his last whoosh of air. “Wait, you lost control of the steering?”
As if to answer his question, the car started doing the ‘cupid shuffle’ and Jesse held the first thing he found – Hope. He clung to her, squeezing the air out of her lungs and screaming in her hair like he’s in a haunted house. “Is this your dead uncle’s car?”
“Shut up.” Xander went back to his hopeless attempts of trying to get control of the car. “This is a nightmare.”
“Damn right, it is.” Jesse shouted and squeezed his eyes. “Wake up, you dimwit! None of this is real, except for holding a hot chick.”
“Shut up, Jesse.” Hope nudged her elbow against his abdomen, trying to make him loosen his grip. “I don’t want to die from lack of air.”
“I meant it’s a nightmare to die with people like you.”
Tyler’s jaw dropped. “What do you mean, people like us? My fellow readers, Xander aka the chauffeur is acting like a dick. Avenge my death if he survives. Okay, the car’s dancing now.”
Xander rolled his eyes for the hundredth time and threw his hands up in exasperation. “What are you people, 8? Even two year olds wouldn’t be this scared.”
The four of them started arguing until they heard a crunching sound. The robotic woman was eating a pretzel with the same expressionless face.
“Is she even human?”
“I’m seriously starting to think she’s imaginary.”
“Maybe she’s just a foodie who believes in dying with contentment.”
She picked up a smoothie cup from the holder and took a noisy slurp of her shake when the car screeched to an abrupt stop. The sudden impact caused Jesse’s nose to slam into the back of the headrest and the milkshake spilled on Hope’s dress. Her favorite white floral mini dress now had a dark pink stain. She hates pink.
“Whoa, you actually stopped the car.” Tyler blinked at Xander, who was taking deep breaths. How was he so calm all this time? “Did God possess you or something?”
“My cherry vanilla.”
The four of them stared at the woman looking down at her empty paper cup, eyebrows furrowed. “She speaks.”
“Guys, is that a flat tire?” Jesse stuck his head out of the car window. “I think we got a flat tire.”
“No, this is worse than speeding and brake trouble.” Xander got out of the car and crossed his fingers. “Don’t let it be a flat tire. Don’t let it be – damn, it’s a flat tire.”
Jesse slammed open the car door and retched up a thin stream of vomit. Tyler, who opened the car door as well locked it and turned around to look at the two girls. “I’m going to stay five feet apart from this guy.”
Jesse wiped his mouth as Hope handed him a water bottle. “Maybe I inhaled too much air.”
“Do you have a spare?” Tyler looked at Xander with a desperate look. “Tell me you have a spare.”
“You are a reckless chauffeur.”
“For the last time, I am not a chauffeur. And I have no idea how we’re going to go from here. Oh man, I feel like I’m in a desert.”
Just then, a cab stopped right next to their car. “Casey?”
A ghost of a smile was playing on the mysterious woman’s face. “Paris, Ellie. Are you coming from the airport too?”
Jesse rubbed his eyes and glanced at Tyler. “Am I dead or did she just smile?”
The two brunettes in the car nodded. “Car trouble? Get in with us.”
“There are four others with me and a trunk full of luggage.”
“Okay, I guess we can tow the car.”
Casey looked over her shoulder at the quartet. “Is that okay with you guys?”
Jesse blinked. “Are you actually talking to us?”
“Is that a yes or no?”
“Fine by me.” Xander went to help the driver tow the vehicle. Jesse’s jaw dropped as he noticed the person taking out the tow bar. “Kaleb?”
“Woah, hey man!” Kaleb hugged Jesse and glanced at Hope and Tyler. “Been a long time, huh?”
“Kaleb, hey!” Hope and Tyler bumped fists with him. “Did Vincent send you to pick them up?”
“Wait, how do you guys know our cab driver?” One of the brunettes asked.
“He is Vincent’s only cousin. I guess he sent him to the airport to pick you up girls.”
“Yep, that’s exactly what happened.” Kaleb nodded and gestured for them to get in the car. Casey joined Paris and Ellie while the other four hopped back in the SUV. Tyler stared at Jesse smiling from ear to ear. “What the hell are you smiling about? We almost died.”
“I got her name; Casey. Mission accomplished.” He said with a lopsided grin. “I wouldn’t care if I die now.”
A/N: There’s the first chapter of the first book. I hope it was worth the wait.
What are your first impressions of the characters – Hope, Tyler, Jesse, Xander, Casey, Paris, Ellie and Kaleb? There’s more in the next chapter. We have not meet Vincent yet and the crazy rich woman he’s marrying.
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LOL, Katherine :)