Read Taking Chase Online

Authors: Lauren Dane

Tags: #Contemporary Romance

Taking Chase

BOOK: Taking Chase
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Chapter One
For the first time in years Cassie Gambol felt as if she wasn’t being watched. She couldn’t remember the last time that had been true. But as she drove down Main Street in tiny, way off the map, Petal, Georgia, her muscles relaxed just a bit.
It was Friday night yet most of the businesses along the street were closed but for the restaurants and what looked to be a bar or tavern. The place was pretty quaint. Definitely not Los Angeles. But that was okay. It was off the beaten path and that’s where she needed to be.
The last thing she needed or wanted was for Terry to find her. Ever. She planned to keep her head down and get on with her life. Because she
was
alive and that wasn’t something she’d take for granted ever again.
While she was stopped at a red light, she looked down to check the address she’d written down. She had no clue that the giant Cadillac was heading right for her until it rear-ended her, slamming her car into the intersection.
Muzzy but rising back toward full consciousness, Cassie did a mental inventory of her body. Everything seemed to be in working order. She could move her fingers and her toes. Great, teach her to relax her muscles.
The airbag deploying kept her from getting her head split open by the steering wheel, a good thing because she was pretty sure her skull had taken all it possibly could. Still, as she began to regain her senses, she knew she’d be bruised and sore as hell in the morning.
Cassie opened her eyes. The bag lost air and she was able to turn her body enough to see the group of people running from the bar toward the intersection. Oh,
special.
One of them was a cop. She hoped like hell those new documents Brian had given her a week before would hold up. The social security card and driver’s license were legit but the rental documents and that kind of stuff were based on faked information.
Get yourself together, Cassie, you’ve dealt with cops before. Just keep it simple.
She gave herself a mini pep talk as she took in the freakishly tiny woman with the huge hair standing next to the car wringing her hands.
“Oh my lands! Honey, are you all right?” Cassie blinked several times to see if she was hallucinating or not but the woman was apparently real.
“Momma! Damn it, I told you a hundred times to stop putting on makeup while you drive,” the cop, a very big man, hissed at the tiny woman with giant hair and four inch heels.
“Shane, we can deal with that later.” One of the other bystanders, clearly related to the cop, peered into the car, opening the door carefully. “Miss? Are you all right?”
Could the situation be any more ridiculous? Twenty seconds after she’d driven into town and she got rear-ended by a pixie with aspirations to drive NASCAR. Of course the tiny woman in the giant car had to be related to the giant cop. And the giant cop was droolingly sexy. Yes, her libido which had died years ago chose to come back to life at that very moment. A strange giggle tried to escape her belly.
The guy standing at her car door smiled at her as he looked her over carefully. “I’m Matt Chase, a firefighter and paramedic here in town. I’m just going to look you over to check for injuries, all right?”
Blinking slowly, she licked her lips and nodded. Gentle hands felt her head and neck, flexed her fingers and arms. He turned her toward him and checked over her legs and ankles. The experience was far from unfamiliar and the old fear began to well up. She hoped he took her trembling hands as shock from the accident.
“I’m all right. Just a bit shaken up.” He looked up, as though startled by her voice. “Can you stand?”
“Let’s see.” She took the hand he offered and stood, unsteadily at first but it wasn’t very long until she was much stronger and didn’t need to lean on the car. “Yeah, apparently so.”
“Do you know your name?” Her old one and her new one. “Yes, I’m Cassie Gambol.”
“I’m glad you’re okay, Cassie. I’m afraid your car isn’t so all right. I called a tow truck to take it to Art’s. He’s the mechanic here in Petal. He’ll get to you first thing.”
“No thanks to Mario Andretti there.” Cassie turned her gaze toward the tiny woman. “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. It’s totally my fault.” The woman at least had the decency to really look upset about it. The giant groaned. “Ms. Gambol, can I get a statement and your insurance information for my report, please?” “For cripe’s sake, Shane. Let’s at least get her into The Pumphouse so she can sit down and get a drink of water.” Matt rolled his eyes. “Why aren’t you asking Crash there for her insurance info?” Cassie motioned at big hair. “Believe me, miss, I know her information.” The giant heaved a put upon sigh. The tow truck arrived.
“Can we get anything out of your car for you?” Cassie turned to find a smiling redhead. “I’m Maggie Chase.” She pointed at the hottie firefighter and the giant. “Their sister-in-law.”
“I’m supposed to meet my new landlord in about ten minutes. I need my purse and that bag on the floorboard on the front seat. Oh and I have a few suitcases in the trunk and my overnight case.”
Maggie turned and waved at the assembled men. “Get to it. Put it all in my car. I’ll run her where she needs to go.” She looked back to Cassie. “Well, isn’t this a wonderful welcome to Petal. Where’re you meeting your landlord? I’ll get you there in time if he’s here in town.”
“I uh…” Cassie leafed through the papers in the bag someone handed her. “It’s 1427 Riverwalk Drive. He said it was a fourplex just off Main Street.”
“It is.” Matt turned to Maggie momentarily. “It’s my place, you know where to go.” That bright, white smile moved back to Cassie. “You’re going to be my neighbor. I live in apartment C. Chuck said he had a new tenant moving in to A. He’s a good guy.”
Maggie nodded and grabbed her purse from another bystander. “Okay, Shane you can come by in half an hour and take her statement then. We can’t have her be late.”
The cop scowled but moved to the side to let them pass. “Fine. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He crossed his arms over his chest, looking imposing and suddenly, Cassie found him far less attractive and a lot more scary.
“Don’t mind him. His bark is worse than his bite.” Maggie ushered Cassie to a sedan across the street.
On the quick ride over Cassie was aware that Maggie Chase was sizing her up. It annoyed her but she supposed it wasn’t unusual. After all she was a stranger in town, it would be natural to be curious. Still, it made her nervous.
“I apologize for my mother-in-law. I hope you don’t think poorly of her. She’s really a very good person. She’s just a terrible driver and she gets distracted. I think it’s all the hairspray she uses to keep her helmet hair lacquered. Anyway, I just wanted you to know she’ll make it right. Heck, if I know her, she’s already working on making you enough food to last you until Christmas.”
Cassie just wanted the ride to be over so she could be alone again. She needed a shower, a cry and then a lot of sleep. “That isn’t necessary. She doesn’t need to do anything but be sure her insurance takes care of any repairs for my car.”
“If it doesn’t, she’ll deal with the difference. So, where are you from? What brings you to Petal?” Maggie pulled her car into a driveway in front of a well kept fourplex with a big oak in the front and brightly colored flowers in beds that hugged the walk.
“This is nice,” Cassie murmured, avoiding Maggie’s questions. The place felt friendly, open. “Matt lives in the top apartment on the left. You’re next to him on the right. Oh, there’s Chuck.” Maggie waved.
Thank goodness the woman was as ADD as her mother-in-law. Cassie knew she’d have to deal with the questions sooner or later but after the last two months, hell, after the last year, she was exhausted. It was hard for her to be rude but it was self preservation at that point. If she didn’t get rid of them and get some privacy, she’d lose her shit in front of her new neighbors. “Uh, thank you, Maggie. It’s very nice of you to have brought me here.”
“Oh no problem. I’ll wait here for you. Kyle and Shane will be here and they can help you move your bags in.”
Cassie couldn’t figure out if Maggie was being purposely obtuse or was just really nice. “That’s not necessary. I can move my own bags. It’s not a big deal. Really.” Cassie got out before Maggie could reply.
Not that that stopped the redhead from getting out. “Chuck! This is Cassie, your new tenant. Polly rear-ended her right in front of The Pumphouse. She’s had a rough night.”
Cassie ground her teeth and tried to remember that Maggie meant well. But she’d had enough being managed. Stepping forward she held out her hand to the man walking toward her with a sympathetic smile. She’d had enough of those too.
“I’m Cassie Gambol, it’s nice to meet you.”
“I wish it was under better circumstances. That Polly.” He chuckled and shook her hand. “Come on up. Your furniture was delivered earlier today. I didn’t know where you wanted everything but I had them do the hump work and bring it upstairs.” He led her up those very stairs as he spoke.
When he opened the door, Cassie knew immediately she’d be okay. The apartment was right. It felt safe. Second floor. One entrance. She’d put on all the window alarms after everyone left.
“You just let me know when and where you want this stuff moved, okay? You surely don’t need to be hefting anything heavy after a car accident.” He dropped a set of keys into her hand and pulled out an envelope. “Here’s a copy of the lease you sent me last week. Rent is due the fifteenth. But as you paid the first two months, you’re good until September.”
She walked through the place in a daze. Her muscles were sore and she wanted everyone to leave her alone so she could shower and sleep for about twenty hours. He showed her the various highlights, where the circuit breaker was, the air conditioner and heating controls.
When they walked back into the living room Shane and Kyle entered with Matt and each carried one of her bags. “Do you want these in the bedroom?”
Numb, she just nodded. The giant looked at her with suspicious concern but took the big suitcase into the other room as she got rid of Chuck. Only four more to go.
Telling herself to just hold on a bit longer, she thrust her new insurance card and driver’s license at Shane when he came back into the room. “I was at the light. Stopped. Because it was
red
. Your mother hit me and knocked me into the intersection. My airbag went off. She wasn’t going super fast but fast enough.” Her recital of events was delivered in a flat voice.
“Would you like to go to the hospital?” Maggie looked concerned. “I’m fine. I’m just exhausted, so if you’re done, you can all go and I’ll sleep.” Her nails dug into her palms, trying to stave off the shakes.
“You could have a concussion. You should go in just to be checked,” Shane said, his voice rumbling along her spine, eyes flicking over her body.
She wanted to scream and shove them all out the door. If any woman knew what a concussion felt like it was her. Terry had given them to her more than once.
“I said I’m fine. Honestly. Now, are we done? Because I’m dead on my feet. I need a shower and to sleep. I’ve been driving for three days.”
Shane looked the lush, raven-haired beauty over carefully. His mental alarm was blaring. There was something off about Cassie Gambol. He didn’t like it when people hid things from him. Petal was his town, it made him nervous to wonder what sort of secrets this woman was bringing in to it. And she was hiding something. He was sure of that much. Her hands shook and her voice trembled here and there.
BOOK: Taking Chase
7.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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