He quickly swerves off the curb and slams hard on the brakes.
His hands are curled around the steering wheel, his face taut and angry.
I open my car door, reach in, and grab my bag. Then, I lock my car up and walk over to Gabriel.
He’s still sitting there, staring angrily at his steering wheel.
“I told you—”
Laser eyes turn to me, cutting me off mid sentence. “If you fucking say I told you so, I’m calling the cops, and then I’ll have them drive me to the hospital while you sit in the back of the patrol car in handcuffs.”
I bite my lip to keep from laughing. “So, does that mean you want me to drive you to the hospital?”
“No,” he growls.
Then, he yanks his seat belt off and jerks open his car door. I jump back just in time to avoid being hit by it.
I watch, confused, as he hops his way around his car. Then, he opens the passenger door, gets inside, and slams it shut.
“Are you driving me to the fucking hospital or not?” he hollers from inside the car.
Okay. Guess I’m driving the cantankerous superstar to the hospital.
Without a word, I climb in his car, shut the door, and drop my bag on the backseat. I adjust the seat forward, so I can reach the pedals, and then I put my seat belt on.
“I’m taking you to Presbyterian?” I check.
“Yes. My brother’s a doctor there. He’ll see to me.”
I didn’t know he had a brother, let alone that he was a doctor.
I wonder what kind of doctor he is. Do they look alike? God, I hope so.
Gabriel might be a monumental asshole, but he’s a good-looking one.
I’m not holding my breath that his brother is nice though. I thought Gabriel was a nice guy after our first meeting, and look at how wrong I was about that.
I’m just about to shift the car into drive when I see Gabriel reach into the pocket of his pants. He pulls out a small silver hip flask. He unscrews the cap and takes a drink of whatever’s in there, and I’m guessing it isn’t water.
“Should you be drinking?” I ask.
He frowns. “It helps with the pain.”
“I have some Advil in my bag,” I offer.
Ignoring me, he takes another drink from the flask.
“Fine.” I sigh. “Let’s go.” The sooner I get him to the hospital, the better.
I put the car in drive, and then I double-check and then triple-check the mirrors before pulling off.
Gabriel opens up the central console and gets out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.
I didn’t know he smoked.
He rolls his window down, gets a cigarette out of the packet, puts it between his gorgeous lips, and lights it up.
Even though he looks seriously sexy and kind of badass with a cigarette, smoking is gross and really bad for your health.
The smell of the smoke filters through the car, even with his window open.
Ugh, God, it stinks.
I let out a loud, exaggerated cough and roll down my window.
“Did you know passive smoking kills thousands of Americans every year?”
“I didn’t. Did you know that irresponsible drivers kill tens of thousands of innocent Americans in road-traffic accidents every year?”
He gives me a pointed look and takes another long drag of his cigarette, letting the smoke filter slowly out of the corner of his mouth.
God, he’s so sexy.
Stop it, Ava. Focus on the matter at hand.
“Mine was by accident. And I didn’t kill you.”
“Just broke my foot. And I’m not killing you.”
“But you’re purposely putting my life at risk with your cancer stick.” I jab a finger in its direction.
He puts the cigarette between his lips, leaving it there, dangling.
Dear God. He looks like James Dean or a young Marlon Brando. All beautifully bad and cool.
Ugh. Why does he have to look so good with the grossest thing in the world hanging from his mouth?
“Don’t worry, Speedy,” he says, cigarette still between his lips. “I’m sure you’re far more likely to kill yourself in your golf-cart car than die from the inhalation of my smoke.”
“Well, if I do die of lung cancer by smoke inhalation, then my death is on you.”
He takes another long drag of his cigarette and then removes it from between his lips. Holding it between his thumb and index finger, he flicks the ash out the window. “I’m sure I’ll find a way to live with it.”
“Not when my pissed off ghost comes back to haunt your smoking ass, you won’t.”
“Did you just make a dirty joke, Speedy?”
I run my words back through my head, hearing them how he heard them, and my face floods with embarrassment, my cheeks burning.
“You think my ass is smoking hot?”
I have nothing, so I do what any grown woman would. I flip him the bird.
He laughs. It’s deep and sexy, and I feel it everywhere.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
“Take it as a no. A big fat no. Now, will you be quiet and let me drive? I’d hate to have another accident.”
I flick a glance at him and find him grinning at me.
“Sure thing, Speedy.” He winks at me. Then, he puts his cigarette between his lips and takes another drag, looking every bit the gorgeous movie star that he is.
And my girlie parts shimmy in response.
Two more cigarettes, three mints, four drinks from his hip flask, and what feels like five years later, I pull up outside of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.
Who knew being stuck in a car with my celebrity crush could be so painful? Especially when I was aware of every single thing he did, down to every inhalation of breath he took.
I bring the car to a stop in the patient drop-off zone.
I’ll leave it here, help Gabriel inside, and then come back out to move it to the parking lot.
I take my seat belt off at the same time as Gabriel.
I open my mouth to speak, but he beats me to it.
“You can just leave my car here. I’ll have Tate move it. And here’s some money for a cab back to your car.”
I hold up a hand, stopping him. “I don’t want your money for a cab. I can pay for my own cabs.” For now at least. “And, as much as I’d like to leave you here, my conscience won’t allow it. I have to make sure you’re okay.”
“I’m okay. There. Your conscience is eased.”
“Funny. I didn’t know you became a doctor in the five years it took to drive here.”
“That’s weird because, the speed you drove, it felt more like five seconds to get here.”
“I did not speed! I stuck to the speed limit the whole way. And I got you to the hospital in one piece, didn’t I?”
He eyes his broken foot with a raised brow.
“That doesn’t count because it was already broken before I got in the car with you.”
“Your logic is screwed up.”
“It is not! God, you’re so annoying.” I glare at him.
“And smoking hot, Speedy. Don’t forget that.”
“I never said you were smoking hot! I said I would haunt your smoking ass! As in the fact that you smoke—which is a disgusting habit, FYI—and I was using the word ass as an insult, you ass! I do not think that your ass is hot! Seriously! I would rather kiss a toad’s ass than ever think that your ass is hot! I do think that you’re vain, crude, argumentative, and seriously annoying though!” I break off, breathing hard. I’m pretty sure I have steam coming out of my ears.
Jesus, I barely know him, and I want to strangle him! No one has ever annoyed me more than he does. And it’s so disappointing because I thought he was awesome. That was before I got to know him, of course.
“Has my hair gone gray?” he asks, pressing a hand to his head.
“No.” I frown. “Why?”
“Because I feel like I just lost twenty years of my life after listening to your little rant. Seriously, Speedy, you should consider getting help with that verbal diarrhea that falls out of your mouth. I know a good vocal coach who might be able to work on it with you. He normally just works on accents and word pronunciations, but he should be able to help you learn to speak properly.”