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DescriptionSeventeen-year-old Lexa Tate isn’t having a great night. Her sister’s constant yammering sends her outside to get some peace and quiet, but her walk isn’t all that peaceful, or quiet, when a car tries to run her over. If the seriously cute Brennan Ward hadn’t been there, she would have been road kill.
With the ability to relive her own memories in full-color, Lexa replays the attempted hit-and-run and realizes something that shocks her more than almost being run over: the car didn’t have a driver.
Reluctantly, she shares what she knows with Brennan, but he doesn’t sound surprised. He actually believes her and knows why. But that’s one secret he’s not sharing.
Reader Rating: Not rated (0 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating: Not rated
The streets were mostly deserted. Stores were closed and the sidewalks were bare. Things were peaceful. Relaxing.
And peace was something I very much needed at the moment.
My parents were out of town for two weeks to celebrate their nineteenth anniversary (in the freaking Bahamas!). Unfortunately, when you were one-half of a set of twins, it left an almost-empty house still very full.
I loved my sister, really, I did, but sometimes she was just too much. Way, way too much. Like tonight.
I wanted one hour of peace and Kailee—my annoying other half—was too busy yapping on the phone to give it to me. So I’d grabbed my iPod, stuffed the ear buds into my ears, and relinquished the house to her. It’d been over an hour since I’d left, so hopefully when I got back, she’d be off the phone and I could go hide in my room until tomorrow.
With Nickleback blasting in my ears, I stopped at the side of the road and looked both ways. I spotted headlights down the street, but after a minute of waiting, I realized the car they were coming from must’ve been parked, so I shrugged and started to cross.
“Watch out!” I heard when I made it to the middle of the road.
I turned to see who was being yelled at and who had yelled. The glare of headlights shone in my eyes, nearly blinding me, and I realized the warning was meant for me. My eyes went wide.
I heard the words, but I couldn’t tell if they were from another source or inside my own head. Either way, my legs wouldn’t follow the simple command. The car got closer and closer, and I could’ve sworn that, instead of slowing down, the car actually accelerated.
Something slammed into me from the side and then I was flying. I landed hard, with the upper half of my body sprawled awkwardly on the sidewalk and the lower half on the road. My breath whooshed out in a painful exhale, and my chest hurt, like a team of football players had trampled me on their way to a goalpost.
There was an insane buzzing in my head.
I took a shaky breath that burned my lungs. I lay there, unmoving, eyes closed, trying to gulp in air. Everything hurt. I was afraid to move, afraid to try since I could feel something wet creeping down my arm and leg.
“Are you okay?” a panicked, male voice said from above me. At least, I assumed it came from above (I still hadn’t risked opening my eyes yet).
I nodded once. Slowly, I moved one of my arms, and then the other, trying to gauge if anything was broken. “I—yeah. Maybe?” I questioned it because I wasn’t really sure. All I knew with any kind of certainty was that I was alive.
Being dead couldn’t hurt so much.
“Can you open your eyes?” At the same time I heard the voice, I felt a hand touch my face, then the back of my head.
I opened one eye to a squint. Immediately I regretted the decision, groaned, and re-closed it as the world began to spin. Nausea churned in my stomach like the craziness of white water rapids, and my head hurt something fierce. Had I hit it?
I had a hard time telling what hurt—or rather, what didn’t hurt. The head made the list, along with my right arm and leg, and an unknown number of ribs.
“I’m not sure what doesn’t,” I replied. My tone was something between a whisper and a croak. Taking a deep breath, I released it slowly and opened both of my eyes. A face swam into view and I tried focusing on it instead of the various parts of my body that ached. Hazel, concern-filled eyes stared back at me.
The guy chuckled and I tried to glare, though just narrowing my eyes hurt my head. “Mind keeping it down? I think the ground hurt me.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I groaned at their stupidity. I think the ground hurt me? Really? Geesh. I shook my head for the half-second it took me to remember doing that hurt. “Ignore that.”
The chuckle sounded again, but as requested, this time it was much lower. “Sorry about that,” the guy said quietly. He turned, looked at…something. I couldn’t see what with his body blocking my view, but when he turned back, his eyes seemed darker. Dangerous. “It was either tackle you or let you get run over. I figured you’d prefer not being hit.”
Whatever he’d seen had made him angry. Even if I hadn’t caught the look in his eyes, I caught the tone of his voice. There was a hardened edge to it. “What is it?” I asked.
“Hmm?” He peered down at me with a quizzical look. “Oh, nothing.”
I looked down the street. I still didn’t see anything that might’ve made him angry. Frowning, I shot a look at my tackler.
The almost-frown vanished and an easy smile appeared in its place. “Think you can move yet?”
“Can and want are two different things,” I muttered. Moving sounded like a very bad idea and I’d hoped to procrastinate a while longer before I actually had to try. Moving my arms had been bad enough. “Give me an hour, and then I’ll let you know.”
He grinned again and my breath caught. It was still semi-painful, but at least this time it had nothing to do with being mowed down.
He held out a hand for me, obviously not taking my statement seriously.
“Fine, I will if I have to.” With a preemptive wince (because I was sure there’d be more pain), I pushed myself to a sitting position. As expected, everything protested at the movement. I really hoped that was the most I’d have to move for at least another five minutes.
“Come on,” he said, bursting my small, naïve bubble of hope. “You can’t be comfortable.”
I wanted to argue but didn’t. He was right—the ground wasn’t comfortable and I couldn’t see that changing. I let out a loud sigh and brushed the hair from my face. “Okay.”
Taking my hands in his, he pulled me to my feet. My right arm stung and ached and my ribs screamed in renewed agony.
I shook my head. “No.”
After a second, he released his hold and backed up. Gingerly, I took a step forward. My leg gave way.
With quick hands, Tackler grabbed me and kept me from falling again. Although ‘falling again’ probably wasn’t the most accurate term since I’d been tackled the first time. Not that I was complaining. I definitely preferred that to being run over.
That definitely wasn’t on tonight’s to-do list. Cleaning, laundry, reading, Kai avoiding. Those were on the list.
Death by vehicle was not.
“Thanks,” I told him. My voice came out as shaky as my legs felt. I looked down the street, frowned. We were the only people in sight. I opened my mouth half a dozen times to say something, but no sound ever came out. I couldn’t think of what to say.
I glanced back at him and looked into his eyes. They were the prettiest color I’d ever seen. They weren’t quite hazel like I’d thought at first, more of a teal. I gave a mental headshake and cleared my throat. “Excuse me?”
“My name.” One side of his mouth raised in a partial smile. “Brennan Ward.”
“Oh.” Heat crept up my cheeks and I struggled not to blush at my own idiocy. “I’m Lexa. Lexa Tate”
“You sure you’re okay?”
I nodded. “I will be.” Probably. “I’m just a little banged up.” I finally looked at him—somewhere other than his eyes, anyway. He was tall, I realized dimly. At least four or five inches taller than me, and I was five-six. His hair was black and spiked. My gaze traveled down his arms. My earlier thought of being trampled by a football team hadn’t been far off—he looked like he played, or at least could. Defense or something. “Thanks, by the way.”
He—Brennan—had risked his life to save mine and all I could think to say was thanks? Well, wasn’t that great. Silently, I wondered if one of the card companies made Thanks for saving my life! cards or balloons.
His dark eyebrows drew together. “For?”
“You know—the little part you played in saving my life.”
He stuffed his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels, looking almost as uncomfortable as I felt. “It was no big deal.”
Nice hair, nice smile, and humble too. My very own knight in shining armor.
“I mean it. What you did was really brave. You could have been hurt.”
I glanced up and down the road, sighed. “I really don’t know what happened. The car was parked before I started to cross the street. It was clear—or so I’d thought.”
“I’m just glad you’re okay.”
He nodded, then after a moment, smiled and said, “I’d say it’s nice to meet you, but...”
“It’s nice to meet you too, and can I just say I’m glad you were around?” I crossed my arms over my chest. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be standing here. A shudder racked my body.
“Are you cold?” Even as he said it, he was already pulling his hoodie over his head. His shirt rode up, showing off his stomach and abs before he pushed it back down.
Forcing my gaze back to his face, I shook my head. “Not really.”
Brennan raised an eyebrow and gave me a funny look. “You’re shivering.”
“Oh?” I looked down and sure enough, I was shivering. I hadn’t noticed. “Well, huh.”
He pushed the shirt at me but I shook my head. “I don’t want to mess it up.”
He tossed it to me. “Don’t worry about it. Just take it.”
Obediently, I pulled the hoodie over my head—which was still warm from his body—and got a whiff of his scent. I didn’t exactly go around sniffing guys, but most of the ones I’d known wore enough cologne or body spray that it’d make you gag from miles away.
But not Brennan. His scent was more subtle and sort of ashy or smoky, like from a wood fire. It was nice.
“Thanks,” I said again, for what felt like the umpteenth time. I pulled the sleeve over my arm to try to keep blood from staining his shirt.
His gaze followed the movement. One hand grabbed my arm and the other balled into a fist at his side. His expression darkened, hardened. “Damn.”
The change in his tone and attitude confused me. “What?”
“I should’ve been more careful.” The grip on my arm tightened a fraction.
He was mad because I’d been hurt? He hadn’t done anything wrong, not by a long shot. I’d rather have some scratches and bruises than be broken or dead.
Battered was definitely a compromise I was willing to accept.
I scoffed. “Please. I’ve had worse brushing my hair,” I said, trying to make him laugh. It wasn’t a complete lie, either. I had managed to pull a muscle once brushing my hair.
I caught a glimpse of his hand as he ran it through his hair. It was torn up and bloody. “Did you get hurt?” I started to reach for his hand to see for myself, but he doubled over and started laughing. I tilted my head to the side. “Did I say something funny?” The crack about brushing my hair could’ve been considered amusing, but it didn’t warrant this deep, rich laugh. Plus, no one usually found my jokes all that funny.
Still bent at the waist, Brennan glanced up at me. “You were almost run over by a car and you’re worried if I’m hurt? That’s priceless.” And the round of laughter began again.
I threw—okay, carefully placed—my hands on my hips. “Your hands are torn up.” I pointed at them.
He barely glanced at them before shrugging. “I’ve had worse rescuing other girls.”
I snorted. “Well, as long as it’s a habit and not a one-time deal, then I guess I’m guilt-free.”
He grinned. “Oh, it is. I’ve got nothing better to do on a Sunday night—er, I guess it’s technically Monday, since it’s…” He glanced down at his watch. “Five past midnight. Either way, I usually go out looking for girls to rescue.” He gave a shrug. “Small town and all—we get our kicks where we can.”
I shook my head. “I’ll be sure to keep that in mind if I’m ever looking for something to do.” I sighed. “I guess I should head home.”
I felt somewhat foolish just standing on a street corner (which opened me up to so many different jokes) with a guy I didn’t know. And the foolish feeling turned to awkwardness with blood still dripping down my arm and running down my leg.
“Do you live close?” he asked.
“Pretty close. Down on Judge Street.”
“Cool. I’m on Harris. Straight down from here.” He pointed down the street. “Want some company?”
I smiled. “Sure, thanks. I’d like that.” Especially in case another insane car tries to run me down.
He motioned for me to lead the way, so I started walking—with only a slight limp.
After a minute of silence, he eyed me. “You’re not from around here, are you? I don’t recognize you from school and I think I would have remembered you.”
Heat rushed to my cheeks and I looked away for a moment. Get a grip—he meant it in a friendly kind of way. He’s not flirting. “We moved here about six months ago.” I shrugged. “We graduated early—before we moved—since neither of us wanted to enroll in a new school for only a few months.”
“Me and my sister—Kailee. My twin, actually.” The annoying one. The chattity, yappity one who lived with a phone glued to her head. And the reason my iPod and I were out here in the first place. I’d just wanted an hour of peace, away from the noise and the gossip. How someone could make enough friends to gossip with in only a few months was amazing.
“Yeah. I’m older by six minutes.”
He’d stopped walking, I realized, so I stopped too. “Something wrong?” Even in the dark, I could see some color had drained from his face. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah. Sorry.” He ran a hand through his hair again. “That’s just, uh, coincidental. I have a twin. Fraternal.”
“Mine too. Thankfully. Otherwise, I’m sure our mom would’ve dressed us alike and given us similar names. I think since we’re so different and look nothing alike, she couldn’t do that,” I said with a chuckle.
“Yeah. No one believes me and my brother are twins.”
“Same here. Or we get the ‘what’s it like to be a twin’ question. I hate that.”
He nodded. “We get that too. We usually just ask people what it’s like to be a single.”
I laughed. “That’s good. I’ll have to remember that one.”
“I’d understand the question more—almost—if we were identical.”
“It’d still piss me off.” I shrugged. “As soon as I say twin, people assume we’re identical, and then they ask how often we switch, you know? That annoys me to absolutely no end.”
He nodded his agreement and we started walking again.
This had been a very strange night. I went out to avoid being annoyed and almost got run over by a car instead. I’d definitely had better nights. Of course, it could have been a lot worse. Instead of almost being run over, I could have been run over. Brennan could have been calling for an ambulance instead of walking me home.
“The car didn’t stop.” I blurted it out and stopped walking. Frowning, I shot him a look. “Would it sound really paranoid if I said the car actually sped up instead of slowing down?”
I’d seen it parked down the block before I’d ever started to cross the road. Still, the question seemed stupid and I’d almost decided against asking. And if it was a stupid question, then I could blame it on a concussion or something (not that I knew I had one, but whatever—I could and would claim it).
His jaw clenched and he glanced down the street. After a second, his eyes, slightly narrowed, met mine. “You aren’t paranoid,” he said darkly.
Twin TiedBy: Lanie Jordan