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Cover to Cover - Chapter One

Man rescues woman, then drives away.

Chapter 1

The rain was relentless, coming down in sheets that my wipers could barely keep up with. I had slowed to less than 40 miles per hour because the visibility was so bad. I guess it was a fitting end to a gloomy weekend. I had driven 200 miles to see my estranged wife in the hopes that I could convince her to come home and bring our family back together. Not only did she turn me down but she also introduced me to her new boyfriend. I left feeling humiliated and depressed.

She had taken the kids and moved to a city half-a-days drive away. I resented her for that, but I missed my son and daughter terribly. My life had centered on them for the past 5 or 6 years. I could not stand the thought of not being around them, but I did not know what to do. I had made a desperate effort to reconcile with Sally but she was like ice.

I can't blame her completely. It was primarily my own fault, although what I had done was not intentional. It all started so innocently. Me and a couple of buddies had gone to Vegas for a weekend. I had been lucky at the tables and was up a couple of thousand dollars. I was having fun and the drinks were free. I have a vague memory of a very attractive woman sitting next to me and coaxing me on and cheering when I won. As the drinks began to cloud my judgment she became friendlier and friendlier, and more attractive. I don't remember how exactly, but we ended up in my bed. She was a pro and took 1000 as payment for her services. What those services were I have no idea. The only thing I remember clearly is my wife showing up to surprise me the next morning and finding me in bed with a professional hooker. I tried to explain but she refused to believe my story. By the time I got home she had already packed her things and moved into her girl friend's apartment. A few days later she took the kids and moved into her parent’s house up north.

A week later I received a letter from her lawyer, which made it clear she was not going to take me back.

That was two months ago. I was gradually getting adjusted to being a bachelor, but I could not get used to not being around my kids.

The rain slowed to a drizzle and I began to pick up speed. My thoughts were on my kids and how often I was going to see them when I saw a car stopped on the side of the road about a mile ahead. The emergency lights were flashing so I slowed a little to see if they needed any help. As I got closer I could see a woman standing beside the driver’s door looking in my direction. I decided to just stop and see if she had been able to call for help. As I pulled up behind her I saw she was driving a late model Honda. I assumed she must have AAA or some other roadside assistance.

I noticed from the expression on her face that was not happy. Maybe she had already called for help and did not want anyone stopping. I decided to just check quickly and get moving.

She stood there unmoving with her arms crossed over her breasts. Her hair was wet and she looked a bit of a mess. I got out of the car and began to walk toward her. The wind was blowing and her dress was flying high up her thighs, but she just stared at me with that same expression. I couldn’t help looking at her legs and they looked incredible. She seemed oblivious.

“Hi”, I said, “have you called for help?”

“M...my cell phone is dead, can I b...borrow y...yours to call for help?” She was shivering so bad it was causing her to stutter.

I looked at her car and saw that her left front tire was flat.

“Is it just a flat tire? If you have a spare I can change it for you.”

“I don’t have a spare, that’s the problem,” she said.

I looked at the tire and saw that it had a nail in it. Probably easy to fix.

“Look,” I said, “road side assistance can change your tire, but they are not equipped to fix flats. I can take your tire off and take it into town and get it fixed. You probably don’t want to leave your car here but at the same time I don’t know how safe you are out here. I’m sure you’ve been concerned about that yourself. I think your car will be safe. Without a tire no one can steal it and it’s unlikely anyone would try to strip it right here. “

As I was talking I reached inside the driver’s door and popped the trunk open. I looked inside and found her jack and pulled it out. I got down on my knees and positioned the jack under the car and began to jack the car up.

“It’s your call”, I said, “I’ll take your tire in and get it fixed while you wait here if you prefer.”

I removed the lug nuts and pulled the tire off and replaced the lug nuts loosely. I carried the tire back and put it in the trunk of my Volvo. I looked up as I closed the trunk lid and she was looking in her car. It was clear that she was trying to decide what to do. I just stood beside my car, waiting for her to decide and saying nothing. Finally she reached in and took the keys out of the car and locked it. She took one last hesitant look at me and began walking towards my car. I got in and unlocked the doors and shortly she was putting on the seat belt as I pulled out onto the freeway.

“If you don’t mind my asking, how did you happen to be without a spare?”

“I’m lucky I guess,” she said, “I just had a flat a couple of days ago and I left the tire at a gas station to be fixed. I was in a hurry and couldn’t wait, so I was going to pick it up on my way home.”

“Well,” I said, “you are lucky. My name is Nick by the way.”

“Alexandra”, she said without looking at me.

“Nice to meet you Alexandra,” I said, reached out my hand.

She looked at my hand and then reached out and shook it.

“Nice to meet you Nick,” she said, finally smiling.

I was taken with her smile and was beginning to realize that her face was attractive. I also realized that her clothes were soaked and she was still shivering. I turned up the heat and closed the vents on my side of the car.

The town was about 5 miles away and I pulled into the nearest gas station that had a garage.

“Wait here,” I said, and I left the car running as I got out so the heater would stay on. I walked into the garage and asked if they fixed flat tires. They did so I came back and took the tire out of my trunk. The attendant began to work on the tire right away so I got back into the car to wait.

“Why are you doing this for me?” she asked. “I’m a perfect stranger and you are going way out of your way to help me. Why?”

“I don’t know, maybe I’m atoning for my sins. Anyway, I am not in a hurry and I couldn’t just drive by and leave you there.”

“You have no idea how many people did just that,” she said. “I really appreciate your help.”

“It’s no big deal,” I said.

“So what do you do for a living,” I asked, “if you don’t mind my asking?”

“I’m teaching Fashion Design at Santa Monica City College while I work on my master’s degree in business. I only have a couple of classes and it doesn’t pay enough to cover expenses, so I also do a little part time modeling. I work half as much modeling but earn twice as much as teaching,” she said. “Go figure. I spend 4 years getting a bachelors degree, then find out I can earn far more modeling bathing suits without any education.”

“How did you get into modeling, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“My mother was a model and she had contacts, you know how that goes. That’s what influenced me to study Fashion Design. I’ve been around the industry all my life and have always felt that I could design clothes better than what I saw on the runways. I make most of my own clothes. I made the dress I’m wearing, although I’m sure it doesn’t look that great right now.”

“Well if you are working on a master’s degree then I assume you don’t plan to become a full time model,” I said.

“No, I’m not the super model type so the really big bucks are not in my modeling future. Besides, any air head can be a model, I want to run my own business.”

“What do you do for a living Nick,” she asked.

I noticed her expression had relaxed, that she was no longer afraid of what my intentions might be. It changed how she appeared in a very positive way. Her dark hair was wet and stringy but her face reminded me of a China doll. She had high cheekbones, dark almond eyes and full lips. It was slowly dawning on me that she must be far more attractive than she appeared.

“I’m an architect,” I said. “I work primarily in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Pacific Palisades. These days most of my work involves renovations but I do get an occasional new home.”

“Wow,” she said, “I’m impressed. So you are the architect for the rich and famous.”

“Ha ha, I would not say that. I have plenty of competition, but I’m doing ok.

I paid for the tire, tossed it in the trunk and headed back up the road to Alexandra’s car. Once there I put the tire back on and replaced her jack.

“You’re all set,” I said, “assuming everything else is working ok you should be good to go.”

“I owe you big time Nick, you really pulled me out of a jam. If you have a business card I can mention your name around. I meet some well-to-do people in my work.”

I pulled out a card and handed it to her.

“If you get me a decent referral I’ll end up owing you,” I said.

She looked at the name on my card and saw my name, Nicholas Connors.

She thanked me again and we shook hands. I walked back to my car and followed her back onto the road. She was apparently in a hurry because she quickly left me behind.

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