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Behind The Scenes
Author: Christina C. Jones








There was no other way to frame the utter weakness of my barely suppressed urge to respond to the pleasant chime echoing through my car.

He was calling.


For at least the tenth time since I hurriedly dressed and grabbed my stuff, leaving the warm, false comfort of his bed in the middle of the night.

I didn’t understand how he could sleep like that, after a fight.

How the fuck had he found the peace to be stretched out, mouth hanging open, sweet-dreams-drooling while I laid restless beside him, my heart an open wound on the verge of bleeding out?

Or – the better question – why was I okay with it?

Was I okay with it?

With any of this?

… no.

And all the attention I was – pitifully – begging his ass for before… of course he was ready to give it now.

He never saw me more clearly than when I was walking away.

That was when all his care and concern, all the things I needed, came pouring out.

The fact that I even knew such a thing – that I’d accepted it enough, that I’d gone back enough times to see this pattern?


I cranked my music louder, as if it would drown out the sound of his back-to-back calls – ridiculous when the phone was connected to the car.

But whatever.

I turned the dial until it wouldn’t go higher, scream-singing along with some break-up anthem as I navigated the dark streets of Vegas to get myself home.

No tears, though.

I refused those.

Well… I tried.

The more Les called, the more agitated I got, the more upset I got, the less I found myself in control – physically or emotionally, until I couldn’t take it anymore.

I snatched my phone from where it was tucked into my purse on the passenger seat so I could reject the current call. Swiping past the countless texts, I navigated to where he was stored in my phone, so I could block him.

The reminder that I was driving and had no business on my phone came very suddenly, in the form of a sleek, matte black G-Wagon in my left peripheral as I coasted past a stop sign. The phone dropped; forgotten into my lap as I grabbed my steering wheel to pull to the right – not fast enough, though. The distinct screech of metal-on-metal rang in my ears as I made glancing contact with the other vehicle – which wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.

But I was so frazzled, from it all happening so fast, that I couldn’t get control fast enough not to drive right into – onto – a curb, with a hard stop that made my head hurt.

And Les was still calling.

Shit, shit, shit!

I blew a hard sigh through my lips as I turned my car off, knowing I was going to have to get out and talk to the other driver, who’d stopped too, but hadn’t left their vehicle.

Of all the things to hit, it had to be a luxury car?

Instead of dawdling, I reached into my glove box for my insurance information, and opened my door into the empty street, glad that it was one of the few in this area with working streetlights offering ample visibility.

When I climbed out, so did the other driver, in a ribbed tank and basketball shorts that made me feel less self-conscious about my pajama shorts and tee shirt.

“You tipsy or something, shorty?” he called, stopping a good length away from me – too far for me to really make out his face, especially with the hat pulled low over his eyes.

“No,” I answered, trying to keep my tone light and friendly, since I was clearly at fault. “Just… distracted, my bad. I’ve got my insurance information right here.”

“Distracted, your bad?” he scoffed. “You busted up my shit, and that’s all you’ve got?”

I peered toward his vehicle, which… yes, there was some damage to his rear fender and the casing on the taillight was broken, but… “It’s not that bad?”

“Wow,” he droned, moving closer now. “Let’s see how you feel about it when you get the bill.”

I shrugged. “Whatever. Are you getting the details or not? Nobody is hurt, so let’s get this done. I wanna go home.”

“That’s how it works? I just take the info, we go about our business?”

He was close enough now that while most of his face was still in the shadows from the brim of his hat, I could see the distinctive glint of a grill when he spoke, and caught the distinctive whiff of certain… herbal remedies… coming off him.

“Ideally? Yes,” I answered. “There’s no point in getting the police involved if nobody is hurt, especially since you’ve been…”

The streetlight reflected off his grin. “Since I’ve been…?”

“Smoking. I smell it on you,” I told him. “And you know LVPD is gonna have something to say about it, and there’s no point in turning this into all that. Really we don’t even have to do this insurance stuff – you can send the bill to my office.”

“Ohh. You just got G-Wagon repair money on your own, huh?”

“The bill will get paid,” I countered, not wanting to give more information than necessary. “So, again… can we exchange info and be on our way?”

He pushed his hands into the pockets of his shorts, looking away from me to where my car – a birthday gift from my father, which was why it would be great to handle this without insurance – was still parked.

“We could, but…” he walked away from where I was standing, going around to the front end. “I don’t think you’re going anywhere.”

My eyebrow went up. “What?”

“Your shit is pretty busted,” he explained, gesturing toward my front passenger side. I came around to where he was standing, and at first glance it looked like I’d just punctured my tire on an errant grate when I hit the curb. Looking a little closer though, the whole tire assembly just looked… out of place.

I didn’t know much about cars, but I did know it didn’t look in much shape to be driven.

And Les was still calling.

I could hear the phone, still on the floor of my car where it had landed, buzzing incessantly with back to back calls that had to qualify as some sort of harassment at this point.

And I had no idea what to do.

It was three in the morning, on a damn Tuesday, and I’d wrecked my car trying to block my boyfriend while I was driving away from what I guessed now was our breakup.

Who the fuck was I supposed to call and explain that to?

“Ay… this isn’t exactly a part of town where you wanna be hanging out,” the stranger spoke up, bringing me back to the reality of my current predicament. “You got somebody you can call?”



Want to?

Hell no.

“I’ll just get an Uber or something,” I stammered, shaking my head as I went toward the car to retrieve my phone.

“At this time of night? Over here? You’re funny.”

Frustrated, I turned to face him with my hands up. “Well, I don’t know what the fuck else to do, so…”

He blew out a sigh, pulling a hand from his pocket to grab the brim of his hat, tugging at it. “Where do you live?”


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