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Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 27


“Beck, I think we should pull off at the next exit.”

I grunt, my eyes focused on the road in front of us. The windshield wipers swipe in rapid succession, but even with their rampant pace, they’re still not very helpful. With the thick snow flurries pouring from the sky, it’s hard to really see anything on the road.

“We’ll be out of the snow soon,” I answer, trying to calm her nerves. She seems nervous as hell sitting next to me. In hindsight, I maybe should’ve accepted the invite to stay at the residence of the man who just agreed to invest enough into the company to streamline a development that’s been in the works for two years now.

I was too prideful to accept. I’d hated the way his son stared at Margo. He’d watched her like he wanted her. The last thing I was going to do was stay in that house with all of them to ride out a snow storm. Not with the knowledge of how bad his annoying, golden-retriever acting son looked at Margo like he was just waiting to sink his claws into her. I know the look of desire when it comes to her well. It’s because I’ve been wearing the same look for a while now.

I shouldn’t have brought Margo in the first place. Granted, part of the reason she thinks she was hired was to travel with me. But the moment I saw the son’s eyes light up when Margo stepped from behind me at the beginning of the meeting, I regretted ever bringing her.

“If this radar is correct, it’s supposed to snow for at least the next twelve hours. And that’s as far as it’ll let me see.”

“Those things are never right.”

“Oh, so you’re a meteorologist now?”

“And you are?” I accuse, throwing her insult back at her. I’m not a fucking meteorologist, although it seems like a good gig because they’re wrong half the time and still get to keep their job.

“All I’m saying is that I’m not trying to die in a snow storm. So if you want to keep driving to try and make it to your little airport, fine be my guest. I think it’s dumb considering there’s no way they’re flying in this, but you can give it a try. I, on the other hand, would love for you to drop me off at the next exit so I can ride out the snow storm in the warmth and not fearing for my life.”

“I’m not leaving you alone in an unfamiliar place.”

“And driving recklessly in the middle of a blizzard is a better option?”

If I wasn’t white-knuckling the steering wheel, I’d look over at her and give her a dirty look. She might have a valid point, but I’m still under the impression that sooner or later we have to make it through the worst of the snow. It came on pretty sudden, the small flurries easy to see through at first before it started dumping snow.

“Beck.” She raises her voice at me. I can feel her gaze hot on my cheeks.


“I think there’s a town close called Sutten Mountain. Pull over at the next exit. There’s got to be somewhere for us to stay.”

“No. We’re almost out of it.”

She groans, her hands flying into the air in frustration. “We are not almost out of it. I want to get out of the car and stay somewhere! We should be passing an exit any minute. We’re getting off there.”

“Last I checked, I’m the one driving.”

I have to squint to see through the snow. Maybe she is right. I thought that the snow would lighten up if we just kept driving, but the visibility is becoming worse and worse. Even with the all-wheel drive of the SUV, I can feel the tires slip every now and then on slick patches.

“Oh look,” Margo says sarcastically. From the corner of her eye I can see her holding her phone up to her face as she reads something on it. “Apparently they’ve shut the interstate down three miles ahead due to the storm. Weird. It’s as if we’re in an actual fucking dangerous snow storm!”

“Watch your tone,” I warn, hating that I was wrong in this scenario.

Watch your tone,” she mocks. “God, you’re so stubborn and frustrating. Can you just admit that you were wrong and pull off?”

I’m frustrating?” I laugh maniacally, leaning forward in the seat to try and see better through the gusts of wind blowing snow all over the road. “You’ve frustrated me from the moment I met you. So before you call me stubborn, look at yourself, sweetheart.”

Sweetheart?” she says in disgust. “Don’t talk down to me, asshole.”

I take a deep breath, looking for any indication of the exit she apparently thinks is close. “I’m not talking down to you.”

A sarcastic laugh fills the tense space between us. “Just because you’re mad that you’re wrong and I’m right doesn’t mean you have an excuse to be a dick.”

My teeth grind together as I keep my mouth shut. There are so many things I’d like to bring up to her, like the fact that she’s been the one who’s been hard-headed from the moment I kissed her. She may be frustrated with me for the moment, but I’ve been frustrated for over a month now. I say none of this, knowing that we aren’t seeing eye to eye right now to begin with.

“You’re sure the interstate is closed up ahead?”

“Would you like to check yourself?” she seethes. I brave a look at her out of the corner of my eye. She shakes her phone at me, some sort of app pulled up that appears to have traffic updates on it.

“Give it to me,” I instruct, pulling one hand off the wheel to hold it in front of her.

“No freaking way!” she yells. “Put both hands on the wheel now. Are you crazy?”

My fingers wiggle as an aggravated sigh falls from my mouth. “Give me the fucking phone so I can check where I need to get off.”

“I told you, it’s the next exit.”

“Do you see an exit anywhere?” I point out, growing more frustrated with her by the second.

“Put both hands on the wheel and I’ll look again,” she demands.

I growl, hurriedly reaching out to try to pluck the phone from her hands. It doesn’t work. She screams, the sound causing me to jump. She immediately reaches across the space between us, grabbing the steering wheel.

“Hands off,” I scold, trying to push her hands away so I can do my job and get her somewhere safely.

“Oh, so now you’re worried about safety?”

I try to pull her hand off the wheel, but her little fingers are wrapped around it so tightly it’s proving harder than I’d expected.

In my efforts to try and get her grip from the steering wheel, I miss the sign for the exit. Everything happens in one big blur. I’m trying to turn the wheel toward the exit ramp that’s coming into light before us. Unfortunately, Margo sees it at the same time. She jerks at the wheel, trying to point it out. The mixture of our movements together causes the wheel to go too far right. In slow motion, the tires skid down the unused exit ramp, wet snow coating the surface. One moment we’re perfectly lined up on the road, the next the sudden movements of the wheel have us skidding off the side of the road and down a small embankment.

My arm reaches out to Margo immediately, crossing her chest to try and shield her from any impact. Her scream ricochets off the SUV walls, sending my heart into disarray in pure panic that she’s hurt.

Somehow we get lucky, and the car comes to an almost immediate stop, the tires getting stuck in the thick mud and snow mixture on the side of the road.

The impact is so soft that not even the airbags deploy.

I look to her immediately, scanning her face and body for any indications that she’d been hurt. “Are you okay?” I rush, reaching out to rub my fingers down her cheek to make sure she’s okay.

“Don’t touch me,” she angrily answers, pushing my hand off her. “I’m fine.”

I’d be upset with the tone she uses with me if I wasn’t so fucking relieved that I hadn’t been responsible for her getting hurt.

“Well, that’s one way to make sure we stop,” I say, knowing I sound like the dick she’s accusing me of being.

“Really? That’s what you’re saying right now?”

“Was there something else I’m supposed to be saying?” I pull out my phone to attempt to call to help. Ezra is waiting at the private airport for us. He might be able to do something. Or l can at least try to call a tow truck.

“Yeah, how about I’m sorry I almost killed you, Margo?”

I shoot her a look. “You’re the one who was grabbing the wheel! Do you have a death wish?”

She lets out an aggravated sigh. “The only reason I grabbed the wheel is because you took a hand off it! I was just trying to keep us safe.”

I roll my eyes at her. “I don’t think it’s ever a safe choice for the passenger to grab the steering wheel. Did you take driver’s education classes?”

“You’re being an asshole right now.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Should I be thankful for your assistance in getting us stuck in the middle of fucking nowhere?” I wave my phone between us. “With no fucking service.”

Her lips form a little O as my words register with her. She looks down at her phone to confirm my statement for herself.

We have no service.

I reach up, pinching the bridge of my nose with my thumb and index finger as my eyes squeeze shut. I take a calming breath, trying to think about what our options are.

Essentially, we’re fucked. We have no service. It’s getting dark outside. Snow falls down in thick, wet clusters that makes it hard to see anything. Add in the wind and the bitter cold and it’s a fucking nightmare outside.

Plus, there’s the fun fact that the only sign of civilization is the small hint of light in the distance.

“We could maybe wait for someone to drive by?” Margo offers.

I keep my eyes shut, biting my tongue before I bite out a response that I may regret.

With a deep breath, I attempt to see if pressing on the gas pedal does anything. Maybe if I can press it hard enough, we can get unstuck. My efforts prove futile. We don’t move an inch.

“Stay in the heat,” I command. I angrily pull at the door handle, shoving the door open. I get hit in the face immediately with the blistering cold. Even pulling the collar of my coat to try and shield my face doesn’t do enough to fight the bitterness of the wind.

The headlights of the SUV blink, illuminating the night. Bending down in front of the vehicle, I look at both front wheels.

“Fuck,” I mutter, noting both wheels a fourth of way dug into mud. I don’t think there’s any way to get out without a tow.


I stomp back to the car, relishing in the warmth once I take a seat in the driver’s seat and pull the door shut.

“How sure are you that there’s a town near?”

She picks at her cuticles, something I’ve noticed she does when she’s nervous. If I wasn’t so pissed at myself for putting us in the situation, I’d reach over and try to calm her nerves. I don’t know what to do in this situation, so I’m going to stay on my side of the SUV and stew in my anger. “I mean, it was an exit where I think it said something about a town called Sutten Mountain or something like that. Surely there’s businesses? I think…”

“You think?”

“Yes Beck, I think. It made it seem like there is, but I don’t want to say I’m totally confident in that.”

With an angry sigh, I figure out what to do. I turn to face her. “You stay in the car. Keep it locked and keep it on. I’ll be back.”

Her mouth flies open, fear in her eyes. “You’re going out in that?” Her eyes look out the front windshield, where the visibility has declined even more—something I didn’t know was possible.

“I don’t have much choice. I need to find us help.”

She chews on her lip for a few seconds. “I’ll go with you. Maybe we can find somewhere to stay for the night.”

“You’re not going out in these conditions.” My tone is harsh, but I don’t care to soften it. I might lose my god damn mind if I have to watch her trudge through the bitter cold and snow because I was too fucking jealous to stay at the nice, warm place we were offered earlier.

“Staying in the car waiting for a serial killer isn’t that great of an option either,” she spits out. Her arms cross over her chest defensively. The stare she pins on me is probably supposed to scare me. It doesn’t.

“Something tells me even serial killers aren’t out in weather like this.”

Her eyebrows lift to her hairline as she leans slightly closer to me. “Oh, so now you’re admitting how terrible the conditions are?”

My eyes roll. “The conditions are shitty out there. You aren’t going out in it.”

She defiantly stares back at me, zipping her thin coat all the way up to her chin. “If you’re going out there, so am I.”

“Not a fucking chance.”

“You’re not my boss.”

Despite how pissed off I am, my lips twitch with humor. “Actually, I am. So it’s settled. You’ll stay here.”

I open my door once again, hoping that my abrupt ending to the conversation will deter her from her stupid idea to follow me to what I hope is a town.

The car shuts off. I turn to figure out what the fuck she’s up to when her passenger door opens. She steps out, holding her arms close to her body in an attempt to keep warm. She dangles the keys in the air, her hair blowing all over the place from the wind.

“We’ve got to lock it since we’ll be gone.”

“Get back in the car, Margo!” I yell into the whistling wind.

She fucking ignores me. The lights blink twice, indicating that she’s locked the car before she starts walking down the side of the road in the direction of the lights.

My dress shoes slip in the snow as I rush toward her. “Margo,” I hiss, catching up to her.

She ignores me, her eyes trained on the lights ahead of her.

“Stop ignoring me,” I demand.

Snow hits the both of us in the face. We might as well fucking freeze out in this storm. And it’s completely unnecessary for her to freeze right along with me. She should’ve stayed in the car.

“Then stop trying to tell me what to do,” she yells against the wind.

“Now’s not the time for you to be fucking stubborn,” I seethe. Her shoulders have already begun to shake from the cold. With the way the wind beats down on both of us, it should be only minutes before her lips turn blue.

She continues her trek down the road. I don’t think the pair of fuzzy boots on her feet are much better footwear for the snow than my dress shoes. I’d let her know of that fact if she wasn’t so hellbent on ignoring me.

With a loud groan of anger—at myself and at her—I rip my coat off and eat the distance between us. Without warning, I shove the coat over her shoulders, trying to pull it up and around her ears so at least she’ll be a little more warm.

“What are you doing?”

Without the coat, the wind cuts right through my suit jacket and thin button up. I try to hide how fucking cold it is. It doesn’t matter. I’d strip completely fucking naked in this storm if it meant she’d be even slightly warmer.

“If you’re not going to listen, then I’m at least going to try and keep you from freezing to death.”

“What about you?”

“Should’ve thought about that before you insisted on following me.” Stuffing my hands in my pockets in an attempt to keep them warm, I head down the road, knowing she’ll follow closely behind me.

As the lights get closer and closer, I can’t help but become even more pissed off with myself for the decisions I’ve made today.


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