Brake Trouble & Cherry Vanilla
DAY ONE: CHAPTER ONE
“First class tickets to ACY for all of us and an SUV waiting at the arrival gate with a chauffeur? My crazy rich friend is showing off the perks of being famous.”
“Excuse me.” The supposed chauffeur looked at the rear view mirror. “I am not a chauffeur and if you must know, I’m a cousin of the woman your ‘crazy rich’ famous friend is marrying.”
“Don’t mind him.” Tyler smiled at him and read along as he types, “Just landed in Atlantic City and on my way to Bluestone! Also, the guy beside me rectified that he’s a driver and not a chauffeur. I don’t know what the difference is. If you do, enlighten me!”
“I’m neither a driver nor a chauffeur.” His hands tightened their grip on the steering, clearly annoyed. “I’m just a guy behind the wheel, transferring guests from the airport to the island.”
Everyone seemed to ignore him. “Since we’re going to live 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 man driving raised his hand and said mockingly. “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 shingles.”
The girl sitting next to Jesse rolled her eyes and shook his hand. “I’m Hope Martin, the best woman. And this is -”
“Tyler Meller, groomsman number 1.”
Jesse laughed. “Tyler Meller? Wow, I’ve never heard a name in my life that rhymes. Oh, I’m Jesse Campbell, by the way. Groomsman number 2.”
Hope, Tyler and Jesse glanced at the fifth person in the car who seemed to be hugging the car door and her eyes were entirely focused on the perpetual ocean.
“Latest mission, people: find the names of these two gloomy strangers.” Jesse grinned. “Twenty seven minutes is more than enough.”
“Excuse me, what are you doing?”
A blonde woman with fake lashes and a frown looked at her. “Can’t you see? I’m getting into my cab. Now, shoo!”
“I’m sorry, but I booked this cab.”
“Are you saying that I’m stealing your cab?”
“Wha – of course not. All I’m saying is that –”
“This crazy woman’s calling me a bandit!”
A bandit? What the - “Ow!” Ellie covered her face with her hands, and she was certain that her lip was bleeding. The woman just hit her out of nowhere. “Whoa, there’s no need to throw punches! I’ll just get another –”
This time, Ellie saw her fist coming at her and ducked, glancing at the startled cab driver. “Hey, tell her that I booked it.”
He blinked before saying, “I’m not gonna let you crazy bitches in my car. Adios!”
Ellie’s jaw dropped as she watched him drive away. She stood outside the Atlantic City Airport, wondering what just happened.
The woman suddenly grinned at something over her shoulder. “Was it good?”
What? Ellie tilted her head to find a teenager among the small crowd, holding a phone and a thumb up. “Wait, you deliberately got into a fight with me? For what, Instagram views?”
“My god, E. You really don’t recognize me?”
Ellie’s jaw hung open for a second time. “Paris?”
The woman took off her blonde wig and grinned. “It’s always easy to fool you, girl.”
“You didn’t really have to punch me, you know?”
“I know.” Paris smirked. “That was for sleeping with Dick MacQuoid in junior prom.”
As a car arrived, Ellie threw her fist back and punched her in the eye. Paris squealed in surprise and pain as Ellie grinned with satisfaction. “Fake lashes don’t suit you, P. Shall we go now?”
“So you both went to school with Vincent?”
Tyler nodded with a goofy grin. “We were like the three musketeers – me, Hope and Vincent, before we went off to college. Even back then, Vincent & Hope were like Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, so I wasn’t surprised when he asked her to be his best woman at his wedding.” He turned up the volume and switched the stations back and forth, ignoring the annoyed look from the person in the driver’s seat.
“You two had a thing?”
Hope scoffed. “Vince and I? God, no. He’s the last person on the planet I’d date.”
“So this is not a reboot of My Best Friend’s Wedding?”
“Not sure where you’re getting at, but, no.”
Jesse smirked and shifted in his seat, his leg brushing against Hope’s. “So what kind of a man would you date? Or are you into women? Both? Ooh, I like the idea of both.”
Tyler cracked up as he kneeled in his seat so his body was angled to the back seat. “Knowing Hope all my life, I can assure you of two things — A, she’s 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? Don’t call me dumb.”
Hope looked at Jesse, trying to change the subject. “So you met Vincent 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 Frodo and Sam. I’m Samwise the Brave, of course.”
“I was there at every single game of his.” Hope tapped her chin. “Wait, were you the guy satirizing ‘Rougie’?
His eyes lit up like fireworks. “Yeah! You saw me?”
Hope glanced at Tyler and he laughed, like he understood some inside joke. “He was the bearded man with the crooked smile?”
She nodded and smirked at Jesse. “You hit on me three years ago, dumbass.”
“Did I? I hit on so many people, I forget.” He shrugged. “Now I got a five o’clock shadow and a sexy smile. I can hit on you and this time, I guarantee it’ll work.”
“Hey, could you drive any faster?” Tyler yelled as he continued switching stations and turning the volume.
“I’m going at 80 miles per hour.” The guy driving replied. “And stop reviewing my driving skills.”
Hope smiled nervously at the irritated man. “Tyler is a blogger and an online reviewer; he critiques everything. But I have to agree with him, you’re going a tad slow.”
“Tad.” Jesse emphasized with his thumb and index finger.
“Alright, kids. Buckle up.” He pressed the gas pedal with his right foot and the car raced forward like a space rocket. Tyler cheered in excitement and encouraged him to speed up.
Jesse stuck his head out the window, his light brown hair blowing 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.
“Hey, it’s okay if we don’t have turbo. There’s no need to get upset.”
Tyler noticed that something was wrong. “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?”
The car was eerily quiet for ten seconds before they went hysterical and blathered to themselves in low voices.
“What were you thinking, Jesse? This is not the fast and furious! What if we actually had a turbo? You’d be flying off to the black hole, eh? He was driving slowly to avoid a situation like this. Tad slow was fine; at least you would’ve not been thrown in a death experience. Now, you’re going to die, JC. Let’s just take one last whoosh of air.” His head was out of the window, taking long breaths as Hope dug her fingers under her car seat, murmuring to herself.
“I’m not going to die like this, am I? I’m a virgin at so many things. I haven’t been to Ancient Rome yet, jump off a plane naked, swim with the sea turtles and or try root beer! I’m a twenty eight year old who runs an art museum, single with no kids or pets. I haven’t been to a proper date in months and haven’t had sex in five weeks, five weeks! That’s more than a month. God, am I horny? Am I going to fall forward and slam my head to the windshield? Kill me, kill me now!”
Tyler was typing rapidly on his phone. “Fun fact: I told a guy to drive fast and now I’m dying. How absurd is that? But it’s happening right now, the car is out of control and I’m sure his foot’s aching from pressing the gas pedal. 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 got this robot – like face and she’s barely moving while I can’t sit in the passenger seat in a single posture for more than thirty 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 the passenger seat and Tyler from behind and scowled. “You just couldn’t keep your mouth shut and let him drive his way.”
“You’re blaming me now? Who was feeling like he was Paul Walker and asked for turbo, huh?”
“So, it’s my fault?”
“It’s neither of your faults, it’s mine. I never should’ve got into this death ride with you two guys. I’d rather walk.”
“Then jump through the windshield and walk, Hope!” Jesse yelled. “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 F up!”
“Let go of the steering wheel, chauffeur. We’re taking you with us.”
“Oh, I already did, because I lost control of the wheel, too.” He said coolly. “And 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 ever again. My name is 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 complete control of the car?”
As if to answer his question, the car started swaying side to side 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 just saw a ghost. “Is this your dead uncle’s car? Why is it doing the cupid shuffle?”
“Shut up.” Xander went back to his hopeless attempts of trying to get control of the wheel. “This is a nightmare.”
“Damn right, it is.” Jesse shouted and squeezed his eyes, talking to himself. “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.”
Xander added, “I meant it’s a nightmare to die with people like you.”
“What do you mean, people like us?” Tyler asked as he furiously typed, “My fellow readers, Xander aka the chauffeur is acting like a rotten egg. 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 continued 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 a full stomach.”
She picked up a smoothie from the holder and slurped noisily 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? “I think your dead uncle really possessed the car.”
“My cherry vanilla.”
The quartet gaped at the woman looking down at her empty paper cup, eyebrows furrowed. “I’m hearing voices in my head.”
“Wow, 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 brake trouble and cherry vanilla.” 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 was about to open his side of the door 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.”
“Call me a chauffeur one more time and I’ll throw you in the ocean. And I have no idea how we’re going to go from here. Oh man, I feel like I’m in a desert.”
As if on cue, a cab stopped right next to their car. “Casey?”
A ghost of a smile made its way on the woman’s face. “Paris, Ellie. Are you coming from the airport too?”
Jesse rubbed his eyes and glanced at Tyler. “Am I in the afterlife 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. “Is that okay with you?”
Jesse blinked. “Are you actually talking to us?”
“Yes or no?”
“Fine by me.” Xander went to help the driver and 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 cousin. I guess he was sent to the airport to pick you girls up.”
“Yep, that’s exactly what happened. Wait, did you call me a cab driver?” 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 watched Jesse smiling fully. “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 on the characters – Hope, Tyler, Jesse, Xander and Casey? The car trouble didn’t end just yet.
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LOL, Katherine :)