I closed my eyes, inhaled, and counted to ten. It was some stupid trick that was supposed to help me rein in my anger. It wasn’t working. I ran hot on a good day, and after breakfast with my mother, I was in the danger zone.
“I’m leaving,” I said before things got ugly.
“Jameson, don’t be like that,” my mother said and tossed her napkin on her plate.
I turned to look at her, reminding myself she was my mother and she loved me. Too much sometimes. “I have things to do.”
“You can’t run away anytime someone tries to have a conversation with you about your life. You’re thirty-two. Your father and I were already married with you by that age.”
“Congratulations,” I muttered. “I’m not you. Why aren’t you harping on Julia?”
“Because she’s still looking for her Mr. Right. I have no doubt she’ll find him. She’s not a serial womanizer.”
I smirked. “It would blow your mind if she was.”
“Stop it. This is not funny. Your father and I think it’s time you settled down. I think you’ve run through most of the women in New York.” She said that last bit with disgust. Her lip curled and she looked properly repulsed.
I leaned toward her. The massive dining table in her formal dining room could easily sit sixteen. These so-called intimate family breakfasts required hand signals and raised voices to have a conversation. “Thank god there are another forty-nine states for me to pull from.”
I rose from the table and straightened my tie. “Thank you for an exciting breakfast. I was almost worried I wouldn’t get my weekly lecture about getting married and knocking up my wife. I do look forward to these conversations so much. It’s all I can think about.”
“Don’t be sarcastic.”
I slapped a hand over my chest. “Mother, no. It’s the god’s honest truth. I love hearing you tell me I should only have sex with my wife and frequently. I mean, isn’t that what all adult sons and mothers talk about over breakfast?”
“This is serious.”
“Yes, it is. Seriously boring. You might forget, but one of us is out there busting ass to keep the family business thriving. You and Dad are enjoying retirement, but I’m not. I’m always on the move. Women don’t like that.”
“I did just fine when your father was working,” she said in a haughty tone.
“Ah, but you had this big ol’ mansion to keep you busy.”
“You could afford a nice home as well. You choose to live in the city because you have easier access to women.”
I grinned. “Nailed it. Goodbye, Mom. Tell Dad I said goodbye. I don’t believe for a second he’s on an important call. He just didn’t want to sit here and listen to you lecture me again.”
I walked out of the dining room, my Prada loafers making a clicking sound as I crossed the marble floors into the foyer. I paused at the front door and took a last look over my shoulder. She wasn’t following me. I might have pushed her too far this time.
Too bad. I was tired of her meddling in my life. She’d been after me to get married for two years.
The day I turned thirty, it was like something in her snapped. She was certain I was going to die alone. I found it a little disconcerting that she was already planning my funeral before I had a chance to live. I was still in my prime. I was still enjoying all life had to offer, and because of my family’s wealth, there was a lot.
A lot of women as well. I had yet to find one that truly appealed to me. I only dated women who knew it would never turn into anything more. I preferred to keep things casual.
One night. That was all I could offer. I wasn’t a boyfriend. I didn’t know how to be a boyfriend and I didn’t want to be a boyfriend.
I didn’t want the hassle.
I pushed the button on my key fob and unlocked the doors of my precious Lamborghini. I ran my hand over the cherry-red paint and climbed into the car. I started the engine, listening to the purr and feeling that familiar thrill of being behind the wheel of such a powerful machine.
Yes, it was cliché, but the car was fucking amazing.
I pulled out of the long driveway that gave my parents the illusion of privacy in the gated community they lived in. The mansion sprawled out over several acres with a tennis court, two pools, and every other amenity my father could think to add. It was like he’d built one of his hotels for him to live in.
Whenever my mother complained about my flashy lifestyle, I only had to remind her of where she lived. When Dad bitched about me buying a thousand-dollar bottle of champagne, I reminded him of the gold royal throne he sat his ass on.
I turned up the radio when a Post Malone song came on. I pushed the throttle and headed back to the city while singing along. I put it in first and took off from the light. I was within a mile of my loft and already thinking about taking a nap. Last night had been late and the obligatory breakfast had been early. A quick power nap would go a long way.
I was just rounding the corner when there was a flash of blue and a strong jolt. The back end of my Lambo jerked around. I ended up doing a one-eighty in the intersection. A big SUV barely missed T-boning my car.
“What the hell?” I said aloud. My heart was pounding. I had a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel like it would somehow help.
I turned off the car and released the brake I had instinctively pressed. I blew out a breath and got my bearings.
In all, it was probably less than a minute from impact until I climbed out of my car. I walked around to the back and cringed. “Dammit.”
The entire back end was smashed, with the bulk of the damage being on the rear passenger side.
I heard a commotion and turned to see what was happening. A little blue Kia was pointing in the wrong direction on the street I had just pulled out from. The hood was smashed and her windshield had shattered.
The reality of what happened sank in. “Oh shit.”
I rushed over to the car to find out what kind of dumbass driver ran a light and smashed into me.
Then I saw her. A young woman was sitting behind the wheel.
She looked like she was sleeping. Her head was resting on the deflated airbag. Blood trickled down the side of her face.
“Call nine-one-one,” I barked at two teens that were standing on the sidewalk with their phones out. They weren’t calling for help. They were taking video. “Now!”
“Chill, dude,” one of them groaned.
I tried to open the woman’s door, but it wouldn’t budge. I slapped my hand against the window. “Hey, hey, can you hear me?”
She didn’t move.
“Miss? Miss, can you hear me?”
There was no response.
“Fuck.” I turned around to make sure one of the kids had called an ambulance. One of them was on the phone. “Did you call nine-one-one?”
The smartass pointed at his phone. “Duh.”
I debated kicking his ass. I figured the police would be on scene soon enough, though. I didn’t want to land in jail for assaulting a minor. “Miss? Miss, can you hear me? Help is on the way.”
Her eyes fluttered. She was alive.
She moved, leaning back in the seat. She reached a hand up and touched her forehead where the blood was steadily dripping.
“Try not to move,” I told her.
She turned to look at me and frowned. Her pretty blue eyes were lined with heavy dark eyeliner. There was a small cut on her plump top lip. She blinked several times. “My head hurts,” she said.
“I know. An ambulance is on the way.”
She reached for her door handle and looked confused when the door didn’t open. “My door’s stuck.”
“Yeah, it’s been bent. They’ll get you out of there. Just sit tight.”
“I need to go,” she said.
I raised an eyebrow. “You did go. You went right through a red light.”
“Oh no,” she said and put a hand over her mouth. She pulled her fingertips away and looked at them. “I’m bleeding.”
I nodded once. It was hard not to be a bit of a dick. She’d just slammed into my car because she was in a hurry and likely not paying attention. “Sit tight.”
I heard sirens in the distance. I actually felt a sense of relief knowing the professionals were on their way. I wanted to be a hero and pull her from the wreckage, but her car wasn’t smoking or on fire, so it seemed safe. And it was a lot harder than it looked on TV to pull open a door that had been moved back several inches.
“I think I hit my head,” she said.
My typical default attitude was sarcastic asshole. I kept it in check and forced a smile. “Your face hit the airbag.”
I grimaced when I heard the words. I probably could have used a little more finesse. The sirens grew louder, and soon, I saw the flashing lights.
“Sir, were you in the car?” a police officer asked after approaching.
“Not this car. I was in that one.”
He turned and looked at my baby sitting in the middle of the intersection. A firetruck and two other cop cars pulled up with an ambulance in tow.
“Damn,” he said and shook his head. “That’s a shame.”
“Tell me about it.”
I told him the tale of me very slowly pulling into the intersection and then out of the blue being hit by a blue tornado. I felt a little guilty for throwing her under the bus, but she did hit me. The cop was nodding as he took down notes.
“All right, we’ll call a tow.”
“No!” I blurted out. “I’ll call someone. My car needs—”
The cop grinned. “I get it. I don’t blame you. They’ll need to be here ASAP. I need to get the intersection cleared.”
“I’ll call now.”
“I’ll need your license and insurance information.”
“Mine? I wasn’t the one that did this.”
“I need it for the report. I’ll get you the information so you can give it to your insurance.”
I looked at the Kia that looked like it could have been superglued together. “Yeah, does she have insurance?”
“We’ll find out.”
I turned to watch her being pulled from her car. She had a neck brace on and was being put onto a stretcher. “Is she hurt badly?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t think she was going all that fast,” I said.
“Sir, you should probably get checked out as well.”
“You might not realize you’re hurt until later. The shock blocks the pain.”
He cleared his throat. “Trust me. You’ll want to at least be seen by a doctor. Back injuries can go unnoticed for days.”
I understood what he was saying. He was trying to up my insurance claim. “You know, you’re right. I feel a little twitch in my back.”
“Would you like me to call you an ambulance?”
“Nope. I’ll ride in that one.”
“Oh, I can’t do that. That’s not policy.”
I looked at him. It was the look I used when I wanted something done. I had been told more than once it looked aristocratic. “I want to ride in that ambulance,” I said and pointed to the one she was being loaded up in. “My father, Jack Harrow, would want me to get checked out right away.”
I knew the name would be my ticket to ride in the ambulance. “I’m sure we can make an exception. Another ambulance is probably at least fifteen minutes out.”
I smiled. “Thanks. I’m sure you’re going to the hospital to get her information. I’ll have my info for you there as well.”
“Yes, Mr. Harrow.”
I strode up to the ambulance and hopped in. The paramedic stared at me with shock and tried to tell me to get out. I made it clear that wasn’t happening.
He had no choice but to start driving.