One of the bikers stopped behind her rental and left his bike by the rear bumper. He was trudging slowly over to her, water bottle in hand, his O'Neil's pushed through blond wisps of drenched hair to reveal light brown eyes glistening in the harsh sunlight. Cavalier? Conceited? He didn't seem to have a care in the world.
"Seems to be my luck today."
"Just today?" His brows lifted with amusement.
Meghan crossed her arms angrily across her chest and pried her body slowly from the side of the car to alleviate any metallic burns from the heated metal against her skin. "You got me, I'm an established walking catastrophe."
"You sure are bad news." He took a long, thorough look at the hood and the dying smoke, then engaged in a languid visual lapping up of Meghan's attire. "Anyone else'd run in the other direction."
She held her breath, wondered what he saw when he looked at her all upset, bare legged and standing by the hood of a car in the heat worse than Death Valley.
She decided to attempt a sidetracking maneuver. "You're free to run, I got it covered." She released her arms, went searching through her purse and pulled out her trusty old cell phone.
She caught his smile widening as he lowered his head so he could resume chuckling beneath his breath. It was just as mortifying.
She glowered at him, was on the verge of stamping her foot, and thought better than to indulge him in a tantrum. This was no time to turn drama queen, she needed wheels—and fast.
She shoved her phone back into her handbag, she should have known she'd never get reception out yonder, but she was desperate. And Jed was confusing her. He was everywhere, all the time. She wanted to slap the water bottle out of his smug hands while he put it to his lips.
She perked up. "Water! Can I have some of your water?" she almost lunged forward, interrupting him as he lifted his head and guzzled the fluid. The idea sparked an itch of excitement in her. The car just needed cooling down, that was all. Drink up, baby, and let's get this show on the road. Meghan almost clapped her hands together at her quick thinking.
"What, this water?" Jed pulled the bottle from his lips, squinted in the heavy blaze of sun and focused on Meghan, tipped the bottle upside down and showed her he was all out. "Sorry, 'bout that."
"Hmmph," Meghan mumbled, pressed her lips together to stop from screaming at the outcome this day was driving toward.
"You need to be somewhere?"
"Where? I can take you."
"Markopolis Farm, it's a six thousand square acre lot of olive groves and vineyards in the hillsides of—wait," she shook her head, held his gaze. "Did you just say you could take me?"
He shrugged both broad shoulders, cocked his head to one side and offered his cute dimple a front row seat, "Ye-ah, I do happen to have a bicycle. Typically used for getting around."
"I can't ride on that!" She bellowed louder than expected.
A noble white steed it was not.
"Suit yourself, but I wouldn't bank on anyone else dropping by anytime soon."
Jed, a gallant knight? Doubly debatable.
"I'm sure they will. There has to be—"
"There's a reason international cyclists use this stretch of road for practice races, Meghan." He was on the verge of laughter, but then spoke to her like she was in kindergarten. "It's so vastly empty." She scowled at him. He threw his arms up and swiveled to one side as though about to abandon her. "But, hey, who am I to pry, wouldn't dream of ruining that pretty get-up you got on."
"Okay, okay." She reached out to grab him so he didn't have time to disappear on her and leave her stranded. "Point well taken. I am on a time crunch." She closed her eyes briefly, wavered on the spot and decided to suck it up.
"Where are we headed?" He spoke with newfound happiness. He was actually joyful about this little adventure. What was wrong with this man!?
Meghan sidestepped around him trying to alleviate all contact, reached into the opened front seat of the car, pulled out the map and passed it to Jed. She had gotten nowhere with it, no use wasting any more time. "I couldn't find the turn off, and figured I'd enter Delphi before I found the family farm and screw up my appointment completely."
His face was intense as he scrutinized the road map in silence. His tan was enhanced in the sunlight of a European summer, the sweat running down his face looked sensual on him, Meghan felt the urge to wipe it away with her fingers, to see how it felt, watch how he'd react.
His head bolted up, caught her staring at him, and smiled brightly, "Not bad Meghan, we're close."
She exhaled in slight elation and said hesitantly, "Close as in two more laps of the mountain, or close as in a block or so?"
"How long you got?"
She checked her watched, failed to hide her fret and looked at him with pleading eyes. "Twenty minutes."
His humor now gone, Jed stepped closer to Meghan, slid a hand across her cheek and said in all seriousness, "I'll get you there in time."
Meghan's body hummed with delight, she wanted to lay her head down on his large, soft palm and take a nap. Nuzzle into his chest and get lost in his embrace. "You're a good man, Jed Burrows. I think I got you all wrong—"
He pulled away, turned his back to her and retrieved his bike. "You can thank me later." He slid his body swiftly over the seat and steadied his weight out and said, "Jump on and hold tight, this may be a wild ride"
"I can do wild."