Marriage Of Convenience

By: Cher Etan

Lunchtime traffic was crazy as expected but Leila had her trusty action bike and she wove in and out of it like a pro. She was just passing Starbucks when it happened; she swerved suddenly to avoid running into an unspecified lump on the road and her tire bumped into the side of a huge black SUV and the impact sent her careening into the side of another car. Before she knew it, the world was spinning and she’d landed on a hard surface with a huge thud. She stared, stupefied at the blue expanse above her, unable to make sense of it. A face appeared above her looking concerned. The lips were moving, possibly he was talking to her.

“…-you alright?” she heard.

Her eyes settled on the face, trying to make the world stop spinning by concentrating on one thing. The man’s hands came down to run down her arms and his face went from concerned to worried.

“Miss? Miss?” he kept saying. Leila wondered what it was he was missing.

The man shook her and that jolted her out of her reverie because it hurt.

“Ouch! Stop it!” she exclaimed in pain, trying to get away from him and go back to staring at the blue expanse. The man stopped shaking her and instead burrowed his hands beneath her body and lifted her up.

“What are you…? Put me down!” she said trying to swat him away. She lifted her arm and saw to her surprise that her sleeve was reddened. She was bleeding.

“What…?” she said in disbelief.

“I’m taking you to the hospital miss,” the man said manhandling her toward his vehicle.

“What? Wait, bike!” she said.

“I’ll put it in the trunk,” the man replied.

“Is she okay?” another man asked standing beside the car.

“She’s bleeding,” the first man said.

“I’m not bleeding,” Leila protested.

“She speaks!” the second man said with an impudent grin. Leila regarded him askance and then turned to the first man who seemed to be the more responsible of the two.

“Mister, put me down,” she ordered him in the same voice she used to direct her interns.

“Ma’am, you’re bleeding; you need to go to the hospital,” he replied.

Leila was against this plan. “You can’t make me go anywhere. I need to go home. Now put me down,” she said again her voice higher with stress.

“Okay, okay, but your bike wheel is all twisted, won’t you at least allow us to take you home?” the second impudent man said.

Leila peered down through the arms of the man carrying her and saw her bike laying forlorn and injured by the sidewalk. She made a small sound of distress.

“I’ll pay for repairs of course,” the man carrying her said quickly, seemingly afraid that she’d burst into tears or descend into some other form of feminine display of emotion.

Leila said nothing, just allowed herself to be placed in the back seat. She was beginning to feel pain along her arm and at her right ankle so maybe the men were right and she was injured. She didn’t see how taking a ride from the two strangers who hit her was wise though. They were very insistent however, so she decided to go with it but dug into her pocket and extracted her phone. It seemed to have suffered no ill effects in the accident so she took a picture of her erstwhile rescuers and sent it to Sheila with a text telling her that if she didn’t hear from her in two hours she was to take the photos to the police.

“Feel better now?” man number two asked after watching her send the text in amusement. She shot him a glare and ignored his remark, looking down instead to inspect herself. There was a hole in the knee of her black pants and her arm was definitely gashed if not actively bleeding at the moment. Her foot looked fine but it was too early to tell if the pain indicated a sprain or a break. She hoped it was neither, please God, she had a fundraiser to arrange by the day after tomorrow.

“I’m Jonathon Leary,” the man sitting beside her with the smug smile said.

“Leila Masters,” she replied automatically not looking at him.

“That’s my driver Mathews, he’s the one who hit you and he’s very sorry,” Jonathon said.

Leila glanced up and then back down to her arm. Was it possible to get through this journey without talking? She could feel the Jonathon dude’s eyes on her and she squirmed uncomfortably. How to ask him to stop staring without causing offense and/or showing fear?

“We don’t bite you know?” he said further startling her.

“I’m sure you don’t,” she replied with a fake smile.

Mathews turned around to look at her, “Where can we take you?”

Leila gave them directions to her house and Mathews nodded and turned around to start the vehicle. He’d deposited her bike in the trunk as promised and now he drew smoothly into the traffic. Jonathon sighed theatrically, prompting Leila to look over at him. He gave her a wry glance.

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