“Your call has been forward to an automated—”
Before the obnoxious robotic system could taunt him any further, Sebastian Evans ends the call and opens his messages. One hand hung lazily on the steering wheel as he briefly slanted glances at the vacant road ahead, illuminated by the headlights of his car. Tall evergreen trees tower on either side of the road like skyscrapers.
He composed a new message to Sadie, his girlfriend of seven years. Ex-girlfriend, the annoying voice in the back of his mind corrects.
In the past hour alone, he had sent her twelve text messages and three voicemails after being forwarded six times. And still, no response.
God damn it, just pick up!
One thing Sebastian used to love most about Sadie was her iron will and dedication. Now? He just found it irritating. Why wouldn’t she pick up the damn phone? Text me back—yell at me even. He’d take anything just to hear her voice. To know she’d still spend her time conversing with him. Even if it were only to argue. At least it’d show she cared. Cared enough to stay and argue.
But she doesn’t, the annoying voice said again, after everything that’s happened, you should know this by now. He should...
Sebastian curses the voice in his head and sends the message. When he gazed up, he’s met with a pair of wide emeralds eyes. Not an animal. A girl! Sebastian slammed on the breaks and curved the wheel to steer past her. The phone fell to his lap and slid on the floor. The tires screeched on the road like banshees before coming to a sudden stop, jolting Sebastian forward with so much force he nearly bit the steering wheel.
“What the fuck...” Through the rearview mirror, he spotted her, the little culprit, standing in the middle of the road staring back at him. What the hell was she doing? Sebastian wondered as he unclipped the seatbelt and stepped out into the frigid night.
“Are you crazy?” Sebastian hollered, unable to conceal the sound of his irritation. “What are you doing standing in the middle of the road like that? You’re gonna get hit!” Did she have a death wish or something?
The girl cringed from the harshness of Sebastian’s tone, and he’s instantly struck with regret. Her small frame trembled like a leaf—no doubt terrified out of her mind. Sebastian’s attention quickly turned to her appearance, and he’s further struck with confusion as well. She had fair skin and bright emerald eyes framed by thick lashes. His gaze flickered over her lengthy hair, and over the gown that had grown damp in the humid night air, clinging to her lithe frame. A silver pendant hung from a small cable chain around her neck.
But what caught him most off guard was the fact that she was standing—in the middle of the road—with no shoes. Her bare feet wholly exposed and covered in dirt. Sebastian narrowed his gaze. Had she been walking in the woods like that?
Her small arms wrapped around her slim waist, visibly shivering. And all Sebastian’s irritation subsides. With his brows drawn in confusion, he absently starts toward her. His concern for her so deep his body’s first reaction was to help. Quickly, she staggers back, and Sebastian instantly freezes, fearful of scaring her off.
He raises his hands to show he won’t try anything, but still, she eyes him in that suspicious manner.
“Are you hurt?” Sebastian asks, genuinely concerned. “What are you doing out here?”—All alone, in the middle of nowhere? “Are you lost?”
Her wide eyes look in shock. And Sebastian was afraid she might faint.
Without a response, she turned and began walking toward the trees.
“Wait, hold up!” Sebastian hollered and quickly rushed after her. “ Are you alright?” He asked as he went to grab her arm, but she jerked away from his touch and stepped back cautiously. Sebastian holds his hands up again.
“Are you lost?” He asks again, much calmer this time. “I could give you a ride.”
Sebastian wouldn’t be able to live with himself knowing he left a girl alone in the middle of nowhere. What if something terrible happened to her. Or even worse, what if she ended up dead? That might be too much for Sebastian to cope with mentally.
She eyes his car and, for a moment, it seemed like she was contemplating if she should trust him. Sebastian can’t blame her. After all, he did almost hit her with his car and then yelled at her like a lunatic.
Wow, Sebastian, great first impression...
When she glances between him and the car, Sebastian finds himself worried she’d turn back to the woods and leave. If he tried to pursue her another time, it would only make him look like a psycho. He’d have to let her go. Out into the dangerous unknown.
Without a word, she pads to the car and gets in. Sebastian struggled to hide his shock. That was disturbingly easy...
He quickly composed himself, and tentatively followed. As he slid into the driver’s seat, he watched her stare at the interior in awe. Though Sebastian could understand her wonderment, he didn’t know to what extent. To him, this car wasn’t rather luxurious. In fact, out of all of his vehicles, the Audi was Sebastian’s least favorite.
She ran her hand across the dashboard and GPS navigator. Her pink lips parted.
Sebastian stifled a grin. “So... where are you heading?”
She reached up and pressed a button. The moonroof visor droned open. “Home,” she muttered in astonishment.
“Where do you live?” Sebastian asked as he picked up his phone from the floor mat and dropped it in the cupholder.
She turned to her door and fingered the switches. The door locked and unlocked, the window rolled halfway down before she flicked the switch again, sending it back up.
Without his way, she muttered, “Home,” under her breath.
Sebastian’s brows furrowed. “Okay... where is home?”
She didn’t answer this time. Only watched as the window droned up and down like it was her own personal show. Sebastian used his controller to roll the window up and locked it. She pouted, repeatedly flicking the switch to no effect.
“Hey,” Sebastian began, and she reluctantly faced him. “Where is your home?”
She stared at Sebastian vacantly for a long beat. Just when he thought she would give an answer—something other than a single syllable response—she blankly echoed, “home,” like a broken record.
Sebastian sighed heavily. “Okay...” Should’ve known that wasn’t going to work. “Well... We should at least get you cleaned up first. Then, try and figure out what to do with you next,” he muttered the last part to himself since she had already turned away and began fidgeting with the air conditioning, jumping in her seat from a sudden blast of cold air.