“Why are you calling me?” Shechem’s annoyance came through the phone line, and she wondered again if this had been a mistake. “Where are your mothers and brothers and daddy?”
“No one else is answering the phone.” Dinah was growing increasingly terrified stuck on the side of a winding mountain road. She knew the irresponsibility of travelling to Jerusalem alone, but she needed an excuse to escape the oppression of the palace. When her friend Rina had invited her to come shopping at the Alrov Mamilla, she couldn’t resist. She’d found the most incredible dress for that night’s formal dinner with the royal family. She felt beautiful in the thousand-dollar stilettos that matched perfectly. Right up until her car choked to a stop. “Are you going to help me or not?”
“I haven’t decided yet.” Even as he said that she could hear a set of car keys in his hands. She wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t help her. She’d been avoiding him since three days ago when he had challenged her about the premise of her book idea. “I want to know why you called me instead of a tow truck.”
“I still—”she gulped—“I still need to do that. I just want you here first.”
“Are you scared little princess?” His mocking tone would have been more annoying if she hadn’t heard his sporty little BMW purr to life on the other end of the phone line.
“No,” she insisted. Yes, she admitted in her head. “You would be too if you were sitting here in a very expensive car wearing a very expensive dress in a very remote area where stepping outside of this car could get me robbed, kidnapped, or murdered. Probably all of them.”
“I thought you said you knew enough self-defense to take me down with your bare hands.” More mocking. Great. Thanks a lot, you jerk.
“Have you ever tried to do a round kick in heels and a petticoat?”
“The last time I tried that I got a run in my pantihose and broke a fingernail,” Shechem said in a girly voice. “But I’d probably give up a Klondike bar to watch you try.”
“You’re a sick man, you know that?” Dinah tried to keep the giggle out of her voice at his teasing.
“One of the many reasons why you love me.”
“I do not love you,” Dinah insisted.
“Right, we’ll go with that. I just turned onto Kiryat Anavim. I think I’m about five minutes away from you.”
“Don’t you dare hang up until I can see you pull up behind me in my rearview mirror.”
“Don’t worry, princess. I won’t abandon you… on the side of the road.” He hesitated. Why did he have to hesitate? Was he thinking the same thing she was thinking? I won’t abandon you again?
She couldn’t complain. She was beholden to him. He was the only person who had answered the phone. Was she secretly glad he was the only person who had answered the phone? Maybe. Were there other people in her contacts list that she could have called first? Maybe. She reasoned with herself that technically he was the closest person to her location so he would be able to get there sooner. He was only ten minutes away.
“Why are you driving a candy apple red car?” he asked with humor in his voice. “You stand out like a ruby in a handful of cubic zirconia.”
“That is an absurd comparison,” she complained even as she sighed in response to the gold BMW pulling up behind her. “Only you would compare me to costume jewelry.”
“Oh, my love, you are not the costume jewelry,” he said. “You are the ruby. And I’m still trying to decide what kind of stone would look best in your engagement ring.”
“If you still think I’m going to marry you, you are the dumbest son-of-a-prince who ever—” She noted the phone line was dead and the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen climbed out of the gold BMW.
Dinah tossed the phone on the passenger seat and opened her car door. Hurrying back toward her prince—who she absolutely refused to marry—she flung herself into his arms. Instead of offering comforting words, he kissed the top of her head.
“I have no idea what’s wrong with my car,” she gushed without so much as a note of gratitude to the man who had saved her. “When I figure out who was responsible for the maintenance of my vehicle, that man is going to be fired.”
“How do you know he was a man?” Shechem chuckled, put his arm around her shoulders and led her around to the passenger side of his BMW. He opened the door and helped her into the seat, tucking the knee-length layers of fabric and crinoline up around her legs with an approving smirk, and leaned close as if to kiss her. “Mechanics can be women too you know.”
“Because only a man would be stupid enough to—” She was cut off by the door slamming in her face. She rolled down the window. “I need my phone and purse off the seat in my car. And here are the car keys.” She reached out her hand.
“What would you do without me?” He chuckled as he took her keys and walked around the side of her car and opened the door.
“I don’t want to find out,” Dinah mumbled under her breath as she was rolling up the window to keep out the oppressive heat and exhaust from another summer afternoon in Jerusalem.
The conditioned air inside the car was cool and smelled like Shechem’s cologne was competing with the new car smell. The subtle notes of each told her the car was just old enough to have been owned a few months, and her prince wore a tasteful amount of aftershave on his adorable baby face.
Shechem climbed back into the driver’s side of his car and handed her the aforementioned phone and purse, his own phone held to his ear. The Bluetooth connected his phone to the car and suddenly the ringing was very loud through the speakers.
“Mebasheret Towing,” a man answered in Hebrew. “How can I help you?”
Shechem switched seamlessly to Hebrew and told the man their location and that his girlfriend’s car had broken down and neither of them knew what was wrong with it.
The man took down their information and told them he’d have someone dispatched to come help them in about twenty minutes.
Now what? Dinah thought. Was she supposed to have a conversation with Shechem? Just because he’d rescued her didn’t mean she had to be civil. The last time she’d seen him three days ago she’d run from him in embarrassment and regret. Would he bring up their conversation?
“So… you want to talk about what happened?” Apparently, he wasn’t averse to starting the discussion.
“What do you want me to say?” Dinah folded her arms across her chest. “I was wrong? I’ve made a fool of myself for the past six years? My entire platform balances precariously on a lie? You deserve an apology?”
“Well, I was just curious what you think is wrong with your car, but yeah, we can go there.” He glanced over at her. Was he trying to hide the gleam in his eyes? He’d known all along that she was wrong, yet it took him six years to finally confront her.
… to be continued.
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