I briefly contemplated burning it all to the ground, going as far as picking a leaf off a nearby tree to test how dry it was and how fast it would burn when the ground beneath me rattled, little bits of foliage and loose chunks of dirt jumped around my knees.
I’d lived in Florida my entire life, and we’d never had an earthquake before.
Was an earthquake even possible?
A rumbling sound started in the distance and I stood up in a panic, preparing myself for the earth to shift. The rumble grew louder and louder and my heart beat faster and faster, every muscle in my body tensed as the seconds ticked by, slowly filling the silence.
It was a sound you felt before you heard. A rumble that grew louder and vibrated in your bones.
An earthquake on two wheels.
A motorcycle. And from the sound of it, maybe more than one.
He’d come for me.
Don’t be stupid, Thia. Millions of people ride motorcycles besides him, it’s not him.
But it could be the MC.
An explosion so loud my hair blew into the wind like a bomb had gone off.
A burst of bright orange light flew into the night followed by the contrast of billowing grey smoke against the cloudless black sky.
I was running toward the explosion before I could talk myself out of it, reaching the road in less than a minute.
The mangled wreckage of metal was strewn about both sides of the road. I wasn’t sure if it was one bike or two until I saw two bodies strewn across the road, lying at lifeless unnatural angles. I ran to the first body and my heart started to race out of control. The man’s arms covered in so much blood I couldn’t make out any of his features or tattoos.
In a panic I knelt down and used all my strength to try and turn the man over but he didn’t budge. Then I pictured the face of the man I didn’t want it to be and I needed to know if it was him. I tried again, using all the strength I didn’t know I had. I wasn’t successful at turning him completely over, but had managed to get him on his side. The second I saw the rounded face and short brown hair I breathed a sigh of relief.
When I came upon the wreckage I was positive it was a crash, an accident. I was sure that there were two dead bodies lying in the road who’d died on impact.
I was wrong.
I ran to the next man who was lying face up, with his head turned to the side, his eyes and mouth were wide open.
A bullet hole in his cheek.
I gasped. Standing up, I backed up into the grove from where I came, like for some reason I had to keep my eyes on the wreckage and the bodies or they would pop back up and come after me.
That’s when I realized that my panic that one of the bodies would be Bear was for no reason. Both the dead men were wearing Beach Bastard cuts.
They’d come for me.
I knew he wouldn’t, but I still couldn’t help but feel disappointed and afraid all at the same time.
There could be more of them on their way.
Slowly I backed up until the trees had almost swallowed me entirely. Crickets chirped all around me. Frogs croaked and the bug zapper on the front porch could be heard zapping all the way from the porch, which was a good half mile away. Further and further I stepped until I backed right up into something big and hard that definitely wasn’t a tree. Chills shot up my spine as a hand came around my waist and another covered my mouth, muffling my scream.
“Ti, stop, it’s me,” Bear growled in my ear as I struggled against him.
He had come for me.
Bear loosened his grip and I spun around in his arms. The moon was big and bright, acting like a spotlight right above our heads. He was shirtless and covered in dirt. His normally blond hair and beard were streaked with dark mud. His jeans were torn at the knee. “How busy is this road?” he asked suddenly.
“Not busy. There is one other farm, but it’s back up the other way. We stop on a dead end.”
“Anyone scheduled to come up this way? Mailman, deliveries of any kind. I need you to think.”
“No, nothing. Mail goes to the box in town and the grove has been out of business for a while.”
There were no hoses anywhere, no running water since the water company turned off the supply when we couldn’t pay the bill.
THUD. Bear spun around. “What the fuck was that?” he asked.
“Oranges. They sound like that when they fall from the trees,” I said. With his back turned to me I saw the source of the dripping.
It was coming from Bear.
Streams of bright blood that appeared black under the light of the moon dripped from the back of his shoulder, merging onto his belt, then falling onto the soft ground. “You’re hurt,” I said, pointing out the obvious.
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