“So… we meet again.”
Blake’s face was blank and his eyes were shielded behind mirrored lenses, so all Andie could see was her own face, pink with heat and embarrassment, reflected back at her. She wanted to punch him. Why had she thought this was a good idea? Blake obviously hadn’t changed at all.
“I guess. I always knew this was going to happen, though I didn’t expect it to be in the parking lot of a Chick-fil-A,” she said and attempted a laugh that died off quickly when Blake didn’t join in. Andie fought the urge to roll her eyes. For the thousandth time since his vehicle pulled into the parking lot of the strip mall, Andie cursed herself for going against her better judgement and not calling Sarah for help. Sarah may have given her the Disappointed Look, but at least it would be better than this blank nothingness.
Andie looked down at the water puddling around her neon high tops from the rapidly melting bag of ice sitting on the blacktop. What a mess. She’d just wanted to stop off real quick and get a couple things – a bag of ice, some drinks. What she didn’t want was for some freaking asshole to steal her piece of shit Mazda while she was in the store. She didn’t even care about the car, but all her clothes, her computer? That was the shit that pissed her off.
Andie tried to shift most of her weight to her good leg without Blake noticing. Between hauling ass across the country in four days and the blazing heat radiating up off the blacktop, her knee was throbbing perfectly in time with the headache she could feel behind her temple. The thick smell of fried fast food wasn’t helping any either.
Judging by the way Blake’s mirrored gaze zeroed in on her bad leg, her shifting wasn’t as subtle as she’d hoped. “Have you called the police about your car?”
“Not yet. Can you just take me to the apartment, and I’ll call them from there? It’s not like they’re going to get much from here anyway. I locked it, ran inside for 15 minutes, and when I came out someone was taking off in the old piece of shit. God, I hope it dies on them and leaves them stranded somewhere.”
Andie wanted nothing more than to get to the MSA Artist-In-Residence apartment Blake had arranged, put her leg up with some ice, and deal with the rest of this shit tomorrow.
Blake nodded and put a guiding hand near Andie’s lower back, close but not quite touching, as he gestured to his vehicle with his other hand.
“Wait! What about my ice?”
Blake looked down at the bag that was now more water than ice. “Leave it.”
Andie’s fingers tightened on the loop of the plastic store bag holding her bottled waters and iced tea. The thought of not being able to ice her leg, the only bright spot in this whole damn debacle of a day, was just too much to even consider. “No,” she said.
God, he was so snooty. That hadn’t changed either. How were he and Chase even rela-? She cut off that line of thought as quickly as it formed. Not going there. Comparing her new boss to her ex-boyfriend was a surefire way to fuck this up and she needed this gig.
“Give me a minute. I’ll dump out what’s melted, and it’ll be fine.”
“If you dump it out, there will be nothing left. Leave it.”
“I’m not leaving without my ice, Blake,” Andie said as she crossed her arms.
Blake started at her for a second before turning his face skyward.
“Are you counting to ten?”
“Yes,” he replied through gritted teeth.
Jesus, this was a bad idea. Sure, she needed a gig. A real paying gig while she rehabbed and Blake’s emailed offer out of the blue for an MSA Artist-in-Residence had seemed like a godsend at the time. The salary, even low like it was, was offset by the perks of a furnished apartment and all the after-hours studio time she wanted. But now? How could she have forgotten how aggravating he was?
He thrust his hand at her, the car keys dangling at the end of his finger. “Just get in the car, Andie. I’ll be right there.”
“Not without – “
“In the car.”
Andie really did roll her eyes this time before snatching the keys and stalking off. She sat gingerly in the passenger’s seat and adjusted the vents to max the cold air from the A/C blowing her way. She just settled back with her head against the headrest while she waited for His Highness to appear when she was startled by the soft rap on the window next to her head.
“You’re back,” she said as she opened the door.
“Swing your leg out,” Blake said.
“Do you have to question everything? Just swing your leg out.”
“Fine,” Andie replied and swung sideways in the seat. Blake dug around in the drugstore bag and pulled out a container. Andie watched as he undid the wrap that was inside the container. She gasped at the unexpected feeling of the cool material on her knee.
“It’s a cold wrap,” he said as he deftly wrapped up her injured knee. “It should help alleviate some of the discomfort you’re experiencing.”
“Thanks,” Andie said as she examined his wrap job.
“Does it pass inspection?” Blake’s lips were quirked in a small smile.
“I’ve seen better, but it’ll do.”
“Right.” This time it was Blake rolling his eyes. She just knew it. He grabbed the shopping bag and opened the back door, tossing the other bag on the backseat. “I also got you a reusable ice pack for the freezer, and yes, another bag of ice as well as some baggies to put the ice in.”
“Did you get limes too?”
“For the margaritas, duh. What did you think I wanted the ice for?”
Blake paused while buckling his seat belt. He looked to her wrapped knee before looking back up to her face. “Well, for your, I mean…I assumed that it was for – “
“God, your face right now. You look like you’ve swallowed a bug!” Andie laughed. “I’m just messing with you. The ice was totally for my knee.”
“I knew that.”
“You so did not.”
Blake shook his head and backed the car out of the parking spot. Andie watched out the window and let her hand rest on top of the cooling bandage. This was still probably the worst idea in the history of bad ideas, but then again, she looked down at the perfectly wrapped bandage, maybe not.