Trashed Read online
“…And if you’ll look over to the right you’ll see the old fort. It’s the highlight of the island, really, situated on the bluff the way it is. Built in 1780 by the British, it was intended to replace the older wooden structure of Fort Michilimackinac, which was built by the French around 1715. ”
The driver of the horse-drawn carriage pauses to cluck at the two huge Percherons, encouraging them up the hill, and then he continues, “The British commander thought Michilimackinac would be too difficult to defend, so he began construction of a new fort here on the island, using the plentiful natural limestone as the primary material. The fort was used to control the Straits during the Revolutionary War and, despite the terms of the treaty, the British didn’t relinquish control of the fort until 1796. ”
My co-star, Rose Garret, lounges on the bench beside me, a half-empty bottle of water in one hand, and her phone in the other. She’s as bored as I am. The driver tugs on the reins; the carriage swings around a corner and we’re approaching the main thoroughfare. It’s a hot day, and even the shade of the carriage roof isn’t enough to cool us off.
The director, Gareth Thomas, as well as the two executive producers and some of the supporting cast, are sitting ahead of us. We’re all hot and bored, and ready to go back to the hotel, but the carriage ride will last over an hour and a half, taking us all the way around the island. I’ve heard the tour is supposed to be a lot of fun, but so far—less than ten minutes in—I’m bored, hungry, irritable, and restless. It’s nearing dinner time, and I can be a dick when I’m hungry.
I tap my fingers on my knees, my gaze roving from one side of the carriage to the other, tuning out the constant drone of the tour guide and driver. No one is paying attention; we’d all rather be back at the Grand Hotel. I know I would. That place is the shit. A little fancier than I usually like, but there aren’t many hotels like it, even among the five-star places I’ve stayed at on location shoots.
We’re on Mackinac Island for the weekend, doing a huge fundraiser gala for charity. It’s a publicity event, the kind of over-the-top Hollywood affair I hate attending, but don’t have any way out of. I’m really not looking forward to the dinner. It’s a swanky black tie deal, the kind of thing where you need a date and a jacket with tails, where you have to use the right cutlery and your inside voice. It’s going to be stiff and formal and awkward, and I hate wearing suits, tuxedos even more so.
Worst of all, the only appropriate date I could get to go with me is my ex-girlfriend, Emma Hayes. I’d rather stab myself in the fucking face than see that bitch again after what she did to me, but I don’t have much choice. You can’t bring just anyone to these things. The paps will be there, cameras flashing, which is just all the more reason to not be seen with Em, because then the tabloids will start howling that I took the cheating skank back.
I’m lost in thought, trying to figure out how the hell I’m going to get through an entire gala with Em and remain civil. I’m not paying attention to anything, ignoring both the sweat trickling down my nose and Rose as she yammers into her cell. I’m doing my best to ignore everything while praying for this sightseeing tour to be over.
And then I see her.
All I see is her hair. Fuck, her hair. Must be damn near waist-length, a river of black locks. She’s facing away and has her head tipped backward, her hair loose and cascading down her back in a glimmering, glinting black waterfall. Her hair is like a raven’s wing, so black it’s almost blue, catching the sun as she shakes it out. She pulls a hair tie from off her wrist, and then pulls her hair back into a ponytail, which then gets twisted up into a loose bun at the nape of her neck. My sister Lizzy would call it a chignon. I don’t know how I know that, but that’s the word that pops into my head when I see it.
And god, her neck. When she tilts her head back, her neck is a delicate curve, baring her throat to the sun. It’s the kind of throat a man could spend hours kissing.
She lifts her bun with one hand, wipes her palm across the back of her neck and rolls her shoulders. She pivots and she is turned toward me.
I’m mesmerized. Caught. Trapped. I can’t blink, can’t look away.
Her skin is tan, not olive, just naturally tan and made darker by hours in the sun, and her eyes, they’re huge, wide and dark brown like pools of chocolate. I’m less than ten feet away from her as the carriage passes her by, and she looks right at me, pausing with one hand on the back of her neck, her eyes finding mine and widening when she realizes who I am.
I’m not even aware of moving, but the next thing I know I’m hopping off the carriage and jogging back to meet the girl. Rose just rolls her eyes at me and Gareth is leaning out the side of the carriage shouting, “ADAM! What the hell are you doing? Adam?”
The girl grabs something she had propped against her legs, and then turns swiftly away from me, starting to walk as if afraid, or embarrassed. Or both; I’ve been told chicks get intimidated around me sometimes.
I catch up and slow to walk beside her. “Hey,” I say.
She ducks her head and keeps walking, not looking at me. “Hi. ” Her voice is pitched low; as if she’s not sure she should even be talking to me. Which is stupid, since I approached her.
I take a long step to get in front of her, then turn to walk backward, ducking my head to try and get those big brown eyes to look at me. “I’m Adam. ”
“No shit. ”
Not the response I was expecting. I laugh. “All right then, I guess you know my name. ” I wait, walking backward in front of her. “Gonna tell me yours?”
She shakes her head and brushes past me, swerves to one side, and uses a little broom to sweep an empty, crumpled water bottle into a handheld dustpan, and then she moves on, not looking back at me. For the first time, I realize what she’s wearing: a one-piece jumpsuit, light gray with green trim running down the sleeves and down the sides of the legs. She’s wearing scuffed black combat boots, and the front of the jumpsuit is unzipped to just above her navel, revealing a white wife beater-style tank top.
Shit, is that a hot look.
And that’s when I realize how tall this chick is. I’m six-three, and she’s not much shorter than me—three and half inches, four at the most. And she’s fucking stacked. I mean, even with the fairly shapeless jumpsuit disguising her frame, it’s clear the girl has curves for days.
“What are you doing?” I ask. Not my most intelligent question ever, I’ll admit.
She pauses in the act of sweeping a stray napkin into the dustpan, gives me a look that says “what are you, stupid?” And then, deliberately, each motion screaming sarcasm, she finishes sweeping up the napkin.
“You work on the island, then?” I’m not usually this slow, but I’m scrambling for some way to get this girl to interact with me.
She rolls her eyes at me. “Well, this is an island, I’m pretty sure, and…yep! I’m working. So it would seem that, yes, I do in fact work on the island. ”
She keeps walking until she reaches a rolling trashcan, then dumps her dustpan into it. She pushes the trashcan with one hand, holding the broom and dustpan in the other. I stand and watch her walk away, realizing how stupid I sounded. Shaking my head at myself, I glance across the street. There’s a fudge shop, and I can make out the shape of a glass-door beverage refrigerator. An idea strikes me, and I head across the street and into the fudge shop. Or shoppe, as they seem to all be called here. I buy a pound of fudge in three different flavors and two bottles of water, trying my damnedest to act casual, keeping my head down and hoping no one notices me.
The clerk girl behind the counter, however, gasps when I set a fifty-dollar