Dedicated to my favorite avid reader, Rachel.
Accidents Will Happen
GRACE GRAYBURG CLUNG TO Corey like a cheap tattoo. What surprised Megan the most was that Corey didn’t seem to mind and appeared extremely comfortable with her. Am I missing something? She continued to watch them move together, and the more she watched, the more she worried. Megan couldn’t compete with a woman like Grace Grayburg. If they stood side-by-side, it would be easy to see that they were worlds apart.
"So, Kurt, what do you do for fun?" Megan asked, her voice almost booming.
He flashed a bright smile down at her. "I love old movies, music, and riding horses. Do you ride, Meg?"
"Yes, we own two horses. How long are you in town for?"
"There's a meeting tomorrow with Anna and Lisa, but I hadn't planned on going to it. I thought I'd hang out at the hotel. We fly out Sunday morning."
"Anytime you’re in town and want to go riding, let me know."
"Really? I just might take you up on that,” Kurt said, smiling, and then twirled Megan on the dance floor, moving them away from Corey and Grace.
"You're a terrific dancer."
"My mother made us take lessons whether we wanted to or not. Since we have the money, we must take advantage of learning as much as we can in case that rainy day threatens, and we lose it all. I guess when she was younger she aspired to be a ballerina, and since that didn't happen, she started taking ballroom dancing lessons. She fell in love with it and decided that we all had to learn how to dance."
"Wow. So, does this mean you can Tango?"
"Actually, I can. It's a great little dance. Very evocative, I’d even go so far as to say sophisticated. It's more like a game you play with your partner, both trying to keep up the intensity of the dance with the other. I love it."
Megan smiled up at him. She always thought the dance was very sexy, and watching people Tango on television kept her mesmerized. "You're very lucky."
"IS EVERYTHING ALL RIGHT? Grace asked. Corey could feel the heat on his face and stopped dancing.
"Sorry, can I get you anything to drink?" He needed one bad.
"Champagne would be nice."
Corey turned and marched off to the bar. "Whiskey straight up, and keep them coming," he mumbled.
The bartender placed a glass in front of him and he downed it in one big gulp, the liquid burning its way down his throat. He never liked the stuff, but it always took the edge off. Why can’t I just take Meg aside and talk to her? The bartender poured another glass, the beat of the music began to pick up, and conversations around him seemed to fade away as he thought back to that sizzling kiss in Megan's living room, being able to hold her.
"What are you doing?" Anna asked, irritated.
He picked up the second glass and downed that one too. "Nag, nag, nag. Don't you have something better to do?"
"You mean something better than saving you from yourself. Listen, I know it's hard, but it’s not a big deal. She works at the party, hangs with a cute guy for a couple of hours, nothing to worry about, my friend.” She grabbed his arm and stared up at him. “You’re brooding like a love-struck teenager and getting drunk will just lead to what? Oh, I know, you are being an idiot like last year and running to the first available bed instead of thinking about your future. You don’t want to sleep with Grace again."
Corey glared at Anna, and then noticed the shock on her face, her mouth agape and her green eyes wide with horror. He spun around and saw Megan standing six inches behind him, tears in her eyes. His heart clenched deep in his chest and he closed his eyes. He couldn't look at her, couldn't take the devastation he saw in her face.
Damn! Anna and her big mouth. Corey opened his eyes, looking at her, but the words he sought didn't come.
"I'm leaving. I'll see you Monday," Megan uttered, turned and raced out of the yard.
"Look what you did now," Corey said through clenched teeth, "you just couldn't leave it alone.” He pushed himself away from the bar and chased after Megan. He had to talk to her.
She already had the car started and in gear, the tires on the old car squealing when he reached the front of the house. He needed to straighten everything out with her, make her understand that it was just a mix-up, that he'd done nothing wrong.
At least he didn't believe he had. The one-night-stand with Grace was over a year ago and meant nothing to him, not that he imagined Megan saw it that way.
Corey followed Megan, determined to talk to her before the night was out. He kept a considerable distance between them, but now that she was close to the house, he sped up. He didn't want her to get into the house before he caught her. She'd never let him in, and he didn't want to frighten Dex's children. The sharp turn she took hard as the car began to spin out of control. Corey saw the car fishtail across the road, heading straight for the telephone pole. The red of the brake lights came on and stayed, but it was too late. The brakes screamed and then the sound of the crash, metal, and plastic crunching as it contacted with wood, brought the car to an abrupt halt.
Unable to do anything to prevent the accident, Corey watched in complete horror, his heart skipping beats. He threw the truck into park and flung the door open, rushing over the grass and into the ditch where her mangled car sat, the engine smoking, the smell of antifreeze burning his nose. Damn, her older vehicle didn't have any airbags to protect her. He yanked open the driver's door, expecting the worst, and bracing himself for what he was about to see.
"Meg? Are you all right?"
Unconscious, her head rested on the steering wheel and blood ran down her forehead to her delicate face. He grabbed her wrist and felt for a pulse, thankful that she had a slow and steady one. Corey rushed over to his truck and grabbed the cell phone. He'd always hated that thing, usually didn’t bother to turn it on, but tonight he was grateful it was with him. He punched in 911 and gave the operator his location, then rushed back to her.
Kneeling beside the open car door, running his hand up and down her back, trying to soothe her, he spoke in a strong, reassuring voice, "Meg, honey, can you hear me? The ambulance is on its way. You're going to be fine." He prayed she would be, needed her to be.
Megan moaned. Corey watched as she struggled to open her eyes, and seeing her pain made his heart clench.
"What happened?" she uttered.
"You've been in an accident."
"Yes, honey, I'm here. Don't move. The paramedics are on their way and they'll take care of you."
Her eyes fluttered open and she looked at him.
"You followed me."
Damn, she'd remembered already, and now she would blame him for causing this accident. "Yes, baby, don't talk now, we can do that later. Just try not to move until they get here." She looked so small and weak. He stroked her hair back out of her face, seeing the sadness in her hazel eyes. If anything happened to her, he'd never forgive himself. She just had to be all right. He heard the sirens in the distance and could take a steadying breath for the first time in what seemed like an hour. "You hear that? They're almost here, just hang on, honey."
"Dex," Megan started.
"I'll call him."
"No, don't call Dex, call Anna," she whispered as if it took great effort and then her eyes closed.
His chest tightened again, the pain as sharp as a knife. If he’d been standing, it would have brought him to his knees. Why doesn’t she want me to call Dex? This doesn't make any sense. Of all people, why would she want Anna, especially since Anna was the one with the big mouth? As much as he dreaded the thought of calling her, he would do it. He'd do anything for Megan, even if it meant not chewing out his best friend for the moment.
The paramedics arrived and pushed Corey out of the way, put a neck brace on Meg, and removed her from the wreckage. He stood aside, watching every move and when her face contorted with pain, he felt it as if it were happening to him. They were ready to load her up in the ambulance when the first officer arrived on the scene. Corey wanted to go to the hospital with her but realized he would have to waste a few precious minutes answering questions. Red lights flashed all around the accident site. Neighbors had arrived to see if they could help, so now a small crowd had gathered across the street. Corey drowned the sound of their voices out, even the shouts of the paramedics, as he stood on the grass in a complete daze. How did this happen? He wished it were all a dream, that somehow, he could go back in time and catch Meg before she got behind the wheel.
"Mr. Brady. What can you tell me about the accident?" Officer Sweet asked.
Corey ran a hand through his hair, not wanting to relive it. "Megan took the turn and the car started to spin and hit the telephone pole." He could still hear the screeching tires, the ripping of plastic, metal, and wood from the intense impact of the car. His stomach churned, and he had to take a deep breath to suppress the bile that started to rise his throat.
"So, Miss Evans was speeding?"
Corey scowled and shook his head. "I don't believe so." Now I did it, I put my foot in my big mouth. He needed to come up with something fast. "I think that she swerved to avoid something in the road."
"A deer?" Officer Sweet offered.
That sounded plausible, so he'd go with it. "I was at least twenty feet behind her, so I couldn't swear to it, but that's what it looked like to me."
"If we have any more questions we'll contact you."
Corey needed to get to the hospital and make sure she was all right. He grabbed the cell phone and made two quick calls, the first call to Dex, and the second to Anna. Megan couldn't hate him any more than she already did, so calling Dex wouldn't matter. She needed her family and friends around her right now.
As he drove down the two-lane road, he found it hard to control his speed. He hoped that he'd arrive before Dex and Anna so that he could at least have a quick moment with Megan. He'd answered the officer's questions, leaving out the fact that he'd been drinking and couldn't say for sure if Meg had any alcohol in her system. He also hadn't mentioned that he'd been following Megan home. He knew that they'd take him down to the station, probably put him in jail thinking he was chasing her and caused the accident. He needed to be with her, to make her understand once she was well.
COREY WALKED INTO THE hospital where a mob of people, all dressed to the nines waited. He couldn't believe that so many people from the launch party had rushed right over when they heard what had happened to Megan. He shouldn't have been surprised. He'd never get near her with all these people here. For one brief second, he entertained thoughts of turning around and leaving, but he couldn't do it, could not walk away.
"Corey!" Anna exclaimed as all eyes turned to him. She rushed over to him and threw her arms around his neck. "Thank God you're all right."
He held her close for a moment, even though he wanted to strangle her. "How is she? Have you seen her?"
Anna stepped back and looked up at him, her forefinger running over the bloodstains on his shirt. "No. She's in x-ray."
"What happened?" Nolan asked coming up to them.
"I was following her home; I needed to talk to her. I don't know if she realized I was behind her, or if she was just too upset to drive, but she took the turn way too fast and the car started fishtailing and went into a telephone pole," he said, his chest tightening again.
Nolan reached out and squeezed his shoulder. "She'll be fine. It was a good thing you were there. She got medical attention right away and that's all that matters right now."
He hoped everyone would see it that way.
"Who's here for Megan Evans?" The doctor inquired looking out at the sea of people.
Dex stepped forward, Karen at his side. "I'm her brother. How is she?"
"Banged up, some cuts and bruises, and she does have a concussion. I'd like to keep her overnight as a precaution," Dr. Sweet said.
Corey remembered him from school and the resemblance to his older brother, who he just spoke to at the accident scene made him thankful that this was a small town.
"When can I see her?"
"She's just been moved to her room." The doctor looked down at the chart in his hand. "She's asking for Anna."
Dex looked over his shoulder and rolled his eyes, the animosity toward Anna would never let up.
Anna stepped forward. "I'm here."
"Only a few minutes, then you can go in Mr. Evans, but that's it for tonight. She needs to rest."
"Thank you, Dr. Sweet," Dex said.
Karen put her arm around his waist. "Everything will be fine."
"She doesn't want to see me," Dex muttered, the bitterness all directed toward one person.
"You don't know that."
Corey never understood why his two best friends hated one another, but he hoped that they would let it go for Meg’s sake.