Dreading the only decision left to her, Sabrina Adams guided the car to the shoulder of the road, moving faster in her sputtering twelve-year old Corolla than the stalled traffic she’d sat in for the last ten hours.
The narrow shoulder was not quite wide enough to accommodate her compact-sized car. Coming to a complete stop partway on the shoulder and partway on the grassy field running parallel, Sabrina threw her car into park, shut the engine off and stared out the windshield as the radiator released its last, fiery breath with a tremendous puff of smoke.
She had been warned that the radiator was on its last leg and that her Band-aid approach of periodically adding water would one day fail. The radiator needed to be replaced and she had planned on getting it done one day next week.
Katrina could be the one the entire population of New Orleans had been warned about for as long as she could remember, all her life probably. “New Orleans is a bowl,” she had heard over and over again. With Lake Ponchartrain to the north of the city and the Mississippi River running through it, if the city got a direct hit there would be no place for the water from the storm surge to go. It was a bit hard to imagine, but who would dare to be stuck in such a situation?
Which was why, having a car, slightly handicapped as it was, she was evacuating. A little late but that couldn’t be helped. A steady, constant breeze washed over her, a heavy scent of rain in the air. She needed to find some shelter.
Sabrina allowed herself to relive part of her birthday adventure, only the good part . After all, it was because of her adventure that her uncle had had to travel to New Orleans to take her grandmother to safety. Because of her adventure, she had left the city just before the highways were closed and long after her grandmother. And it was because of her adventure that she had embarrassed herself more than she had ever done in her life, a major feat in and of itself.
“ John.” She sighed his name, wallowing in her infatuation. No, not infatuation. Her grandmother thought it was infatuation, and maybe at one time it had been. As a teenager she had sighed and mooned over John Lewis and his identical twin brother Josh every time she saw them and every hour in between. But then, one day she’d found herself mooning over John and only John. He was somehow the more handsome of the two, even taking into consideration the identical twin thing. John was the one she had fallen in love with.
John, so sweet and talented and probably still completely mortified and mad as hell that I made a pass at him, Sabrina pressed her face into her palms. She lifted her eyes a moment later to stare at the lights of a three-story building that looked like a school, situated on the side of the dark highway. A lone figure was walking toward the building, carrying what looked to be an instrument case. The deceptively slight build, the straight, confident walk… It couldn’t be him. But as they drove closer Sabrina had no doubt that it was.
It made perfect sense. They had both left from the casino hotel where he had played a gig with his jazz band. John had been loading his car when she and Kara had pulled off. Of course she had avoided him. She couldn’t avoid him now. John was walking toward the same shelter where she would probably be spending the next two or three days if the grouchy guy’s prediction was right.
But it was too late now. He’d noticed her. She was a woman and she was interested in him. From the way she’d pressed herself against him the night before, he had no doubt about that. This was all so very wrong. He didn’t have time for a woman in his life. His career was just taking off. He had landed a temporary spot in a well-known brass jazz band because their trumpet player got busted for drinking and driving and then held for the many parking and speeding tickets in his name. The player’s tough break had been a good one for John.
He had tried to let Sabrina down without hurting her feelings. She needed to understand that he wasn’t interested in her that way. But now he was coming to understand that he was interested in her that way . But he didn’t want to be, which was why he had been so nasty to her earlier today. That, and the fact that he had been jealous of that trooper, who’d had the nerve to put a hand on her. His eyes having fully adjusted to the sparse light in the gym, John couldn’t keep them off Sabrina as he puzzled over his new feelings for her.