Love Me Like That

By: Marie James

I can see a steady trail of exhaust heat coming from the back of the car, and I hope that the people who were in it when it slid into the ditch were smart enough to have stayed inside.

I walk up to the driver’s side door and knock on the fogged up window. No answer. Just as I bend down to put my nose to the glass in an attempt to see if anyone’s inside the window slides down an inch.

“Yes?” asks a shaky feminine voice.

Seriously? Like you’re just out here hanging out? Like you’re answering the door after ordering a pizza?

“Need some help?” I respond.

The window rolls down further and a woman’s face, lit by the dash lights, comes into view. She has magnificent green eyes.

She just stares at me, assessing the situation.

“Can I help you?” Freezing my ass off here lady.

“Can you pull me out?” I can’t stop the laugh that rushes past my lips. She narrows her eyes at my reaction.

Fuck this is not how I saw my evening going. It’s the last thing I need considering how I was sure my night was going to end.

“No way to get this car out of the ditch until the storm passes and they can clear the roads a bit,” I inform her.

“Can you take me into town?” Her voice is pleading like I just signed her death certificate.

“We’d never make it. Come on. You can wait out the storm at the cabin,” I offer and attempt to open her door for her. It’s locked.

“Ummm,” she replies. She’s unsure about getting out of the car, but my patience is fragile seeing as I’ve been standing in the freezing downpour.

“Listen lady. I’m just trying to be nice here.” I glance inside at the dash. “You have less than an eighth of a tank of gas left. You’re lucky I showed up when I did. If you stay out here, you’ll be dead by morning.” I turn my back to her and begin to make my way across the street.

“Wait! Please!” I knew that little tidbit of information would get her ass out of that car.

“Kill the ignition but leave the hazards flashing,” I yell over my shoulder as I reach the still open gate. She walks toward me, her entire body shivering. “Jump in the truck while I get this gate closed.”

She doesn’t wait another second, leaving me to work the gate closed as she hops in the truck. Just what I need on my forced vacation, playing host to some woman I don’t even know. I need her out of here as soon as humanly possible. I’m an asshole on a good day, but there’s no way I would leave a stranger responsible when I off myself.

My anger over the change in plans assists in getting the gate closed easier than before. I climb up in the truck and spend a minute with my gloved hands held toward the warm air rushing from the vent.

“How’d you end up in the ditch?”

“Moose,” she says through her trembling lips.

“Elk,” I say.

“Huh?” she asks in confusion.

“It was likely an elk. Moose populations have been dwindling recently. Haven’t seen any around here.” I cut my eyes to her and watch her nod her head in acknowledgment. Like she has any damn interest in Montana wildlife trivia.

Once my fingers are warm enough to actually operate the truck I put it in gear and turn back toward the house. I watch as she pulls out her cell phone and looks at the screen.

“The storm is too thick right now, and reception out here is spotty on a good day,” I tell her. “I have a satellite phone at the cabin you’re more than welcome to use.”

She sighs and looks out the window. “I just need to call a tow truck.”

Who wouldn’t need to call a friend or family member after sliding into a ditch?

“You can do that, but they won’t be able to get to you any sooner. I can pull you out when it clears up enough.” The minute it’s even a possibility.

“Thank you,” she whispers softly and peers out the window again.

I wonder what she thinks because I know she does not see anything but a wall of white as we trudge slowly up the driveway. Not your concern, Kadin. I park with my side near the door.

“It’d probably be best if you slide over here and get out of my door.” She narrows her eyes at me skeptically. “So you don’t have to walk all the way around the truck.” She scoots a little closer to me but stops just short of our bodies touching. “Ready?” I ask as I turn off the ignition.

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