Thursday, March 23, 2017
First Meeting from Bet on Love
Gina McCarthy is stuck like so many college graduates, unable to find a job in her field. She's taken a night gate guard job at a local golf course/ exclusive residential area in Daytona. One night, shortly after she starts there, someone arrives who will change her life forever.
Headlights illuminated the interior, momentarily blinding her. The driver realized the beams were on high and set them on low. The car wasn't one she knew. All of the residents' cars were high end imports. This was a vintage Cobra, dark blue with wide white stripes on the hood and roof. She couldn't see the driver clearly, but from the height, was pretty sure it was a man. The driver pulled up next to the booth, lowering the window.
His face was in shadow. All she could see what the firm jawed profile with a five o'clock shadow, and dark, wavy hair that didn't quite touch his collar. Gina could see her own reflection in the car window. Light blonde hair was pulled back in a severe bun, dark eyes holding a question.
She opened the sliding window next to her, flashlight poised. There were lights around the booth, but they didn't penetrate the shadow of most cars. Nor were they particularly good to read by. Smiling politely, she leaned out to speak. Before she could say a word, a strong, long fingered hand flicked a driver's license at her. She studied it carefully, matching the unsmiling face in the photograph with the unsmiling face in the car. He wasn't facing the window, so all she could see was his profile.
"Yeah?" he didn't look at her.
"Mr. Caputo, I need you to face me, please."
He leaned through the window, glaring at her. "Happy now?" his eyes were dark and angry.
"I apologize, sir. It's the rules."
"Baby, if I were gonna cause trouble, I wouldn't have come to the gate in an easily identifiable, vintage, muscle car."
Gina blushed, nodding her agreement. "Again, I apologize, sir. I'm new, just learning the ropes. Are you expected?"
"Not really. My mom's house is here. I'm just rolling into town, here to close out her house and settle the estate."
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Mr. Caputo. I didn't realize. This is only my second week."
His face softened into kind lines. "I'm just real tired. I drove about non-stop from Houston. I'm beat."
Gina was thinking, You couldn't fly? But didn't think it was her place to ask. "I need to issue you a guest pass, Mr. Caputo."
He sighed heavily, glancing at his watch. "Is this gonna take long?"
"Five minutes, if the computer cooperates. Would you like some coffee? It's only fifteen minutes old."
"I'd love some."
"How do you take it?"
"Light. Three sugars." His face softened and he half smiled. "Thanks."
She got the coffee and he turned off the car. As she filled out the paperwork, he started humming, then singing with his music. He had a great voice. His fingers tapped the steering wheel to the drum beat. It took her a moment to realize he was singing Lyin' Eyes by the Eagles. A couple minutes later, she was done with his pass. Handing it to him, she joined him on the chorus, picking up the melody as he sang harmony. When the song ended, Zane Caputo was actually smiling.
"Not a bad voice for a security officer," he chuckled.
"Thanks. Not a bad voice for...whatever it is you do."
"I run a couple hotels. My real love is music, but my old man had other ideas. How about you? Surely this isn't your dream job?"
"No. I didn't grow up telling myself I wanted to guard snooty rich people. I got downsized from my last job. This was available."
Zane yawned loudly, apologizing with a sad smile.
"I'm keeping you up, Mr. Caputo. I'm sorry. Do you know the way to your mother's house?"
He tapped the dashboard. "GPS."
"Just a word of warning. Some of the streets here don't scan right. It might send you left when you should go right. If you don't find the house, go the other way. You can dial the gate if you need directions." Gina gave him a card with the number.
"Thanks for the tip. I've had that happen before. Irritating as shit."
"Sorry about your mom—and everything." She gestured vaguely at their surroundings.
"Not your fault. Thanks for the coffee and the chorus."
"Good night, Mr. Caputo."
"Good morning, Officer...?"
"Officer Gina." He winked as she raised the gate.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
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