Dean yanked Lissa back to the sidewalk. His arms snapped tight around her, part protective hold, part hug, part support to keep him from shaking. His heart was beating hard against the inside of his ribs, pounding straight through to hers. For a moment, she was too surprised even to lay her hands against his back in return. She had never heard that southern boy drawl snap out words so fast.
Another moment before she understood what had happened, before she registered the sound of a car darting behind her. She’d seen it at the corner, a little red smart car with dirty white stripes across the roof and down the sides. It sounded like a bug compared to the rumbling truck Dean drove back in Oklahoma, closer to the sound of the new york compacts she’d grown up with. But it was sharper, less brute energy. Still just as easy to imagine that the bark of it whipping past was the automobile equivalent to an expletive, just with the Italian accent everything here carried. Lissa almost laughed, thinking that it had been a familiar, jocular sort of greeting.
She rested her hands against his shoulders gently, surprised to find that her breathing was coming a little ragged too. “It’s okay,” she whispered.
She could almost feel him fighting to form a sentence, fighting to hold to his training never to swear in front of a lady. “Drivers here are…” he swallowed back whatever word came next. “You… you almost got hit.”
“It was okay,” she promised him.
Dean laughed nervously. “Oh, it was? Is this normal?”
“Yeah. I saw it coming. We could have crossed before it got to us.”
Dean loosened his hold on her, staring over her head at the street. “Really? Okay.” He took a deep breath in. He rubbed her shoulders. “Okay. This is what New York is like?”
“No,” she said quickly. “This is worse.”
“Liar,” he said. “You’re just trying to make sure you can talk me into coming to New York with you later.”
Lissa slipped her hand into his, waited for there to be a long break in the traffic and led him across the street. “I got you to take a fourteen hour flight here without lying. I think I can get you to New York without lying.”
Dean allowed himself one small swear word, hidden under his breath. “You’re right. Momma always said falling for a city girl would kill me.”
Wrapping her arm around him while they walked, Lissa refused to laugh. He still sounded shaken, concerned that she might actually give him that fatal heart attack, or drag him in front of that careening cabbie.
Maybe she could do him in, this boy who dodged bulls in a ten by ten pen, but couldn’t figure out the cars on a hundred yard block, but why would she want to?
This post was written in response to this week’s writing challenge:
Your challenge this week is to write a post based on this picture.