Author’s Note: Honestly, I don’t know what it is about this scene. I have been staring at it for more than a day now. I had the idea of where to go with it earlier today. I was quite pleased, and had I not had some other work interfere with it and not had access to my computer, I might have gotten it written instead of a scene for the collaboration.
Or I might not have. Despite the fact that I knew where I was taking it and started working on it again this evening, I ended up coming up with a line for what is probably the next scene after and running with that for a good three/four paragraphs before stopping to try and get myself back on track.
Instead I went to reread the scene for the other story which made me have to read another flashback from that one, and then I zoned out for a bit toying with a concept I think has to be explored a bit… I even let myself be distracted by snuggling my cat rather than get back to this scene. I suppose part of that is because it’s action, but still…
This scene should not have been so hard. Maybe if it wasn’t, I’d have gotten more done.
Nolan said goodbye to his sister at the restaurant, ignoring her protests and attempts to say she should stay with him again. If he was going to get over this, he needed to be alone sometime, and Nora hadn’t left his side much, not since she learned Shaelynn was gone, not even when he was working. The whole thing was rather awkward, but he knew she was trying to help. He even appreciated it.
He was just tired of having her hover, and he would not get over Shaelynn if his sister was watching over him. He’d start lying to appease Nora like he always did, and he did not want this cycle to continue, so he needed to be on his own.
He would survive one night—it was only the night, and he needed to learn to sleep again, without Nora’s presence or interference, and he might as well start now. He didn’t know that it would work this time, but he’d try it anyway.
He was almost done with the drive home when he remembered that the cats were out of food. He couldn’t go home without that. Not unless he wanted a mutiny, and since he had so few cats left as it was, he couldn’t afford to alienate them. He had to get something, even if it was just a small bag or a can to tide them over for the night.
Shaelynn would have laughed at him for his need to stop at the natural market for their food, but he hadn’t been able to consult for a company that made inferior cat food—how could he give that to his own cats? He’d barely had scraps for the ones he fed growing up, but these days he had the money, and his cats were family. He owed them the best food he could buy, and he would give them that.
He turned onto the side street, using a shortcut to cut down on his drive time across town. He should invest in the store’s chain so that he could help them open up more branches—one closer to the office or his apartment would be nice. He supposed he could move. That might be an option. His apartment had been broken into, after all, and he had told him himself he didn’t care, and mostly he didn’t. His main issue with his apartment these days was that somehow, despite the fact that she’d only been there for a couple of days, Shaelynn’s presence lingered. He had found her shampoo in his bathroom, and he knew that was what had contributed to the scent on the second pillow on his bed.
Some of the dishes she had used were still in the sink—Nora did lots for him but she would not do his dishes and he didn’t blame her. He just should have been capable of doing them himself. He could blame not doing them on the fact that he was a guy, though, and pretend it had nothing to do with being hung up on a woman he should have gotten over when he was still a teenager.
He was almost to the store when he saw the same car behind him again, one he’d seen behind Nora’s car a couple times. He didn’t want to get paranoid—that was Shaelynn’s job, not his—but it didn’t seem like much of a coincidence that it was behind him this time. He would have thought that maybe him having a rental would throw things off somehow, or maybe he wanted to believe that the make and model of that sedan was just familiar, so popular that it kept showing up again, but that kind of frequency wasn’t right.
He was not capable of convincing himself it was nothing.
He swung abruptly into the other lane, deciding to see if he knew this area of town better than the person following him, and if he didn’t—well, he didn’t know that he needed much more than confirmation that he was not being paranoid. He’d call his new fed friends and get them to deal with the situation beyond that point. He wasn’t going to be able to evade his pursuer like a NASCAR driver. He’d never been trained in that, and that was mostly a movie thing anyway.
Two blocks to the left was one of those one way streets, and he could use that to cause some trouble if he wanted to. All he had to do was make sure that the sedan wasn’t able to follow him, and that would be simple enough if he did it right.
He made the second turn, preparing to fake a turn onto the one way, and frowned. The car wasn’t behind him anymore. That didn’t make sense unless he was just paranoid. He slowed down and turned onto the one way, letting it take him back toward the store. He still needed to get cat food, and maybe they knew he was onto them somehow.
He didn’t know what to think at this point.
His eyes were on the rear view mirror, looking for the sedan when he felt something jar him, and he let out a curse when he realized he’d hit the person in front of him. He should never have let himself get so distracted, not when he needed to be careful.
He put the car in park and turned on the flashers before opening his door and stepping out to get a good look at the damage he’d done.
“Well, the good news is that I think it’s only a couple of scratches. The bad news is that this is a rental, and that’s going to make it a bit complicated dealing with insurance and all that,” Nolan told the other driver without looking at him. He shook his head. “I’m sorry. I was looking in the rear view mirror and didn’t see what was right in front of me.”
“Yeah, I think that’s a habit with you.”
Nolan frowned, but before he could turn around and ask about that, something impacted the back of his head. The whole world took on the same dark shade as his rental as he lost consciousness.