With Every Heartbeat
Page 6

 Linda Kage

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And I still hated parties, but my girl loved them, so I kept taking her to them, which made her happy and in turn, made me happy. But that didn’t mean I didn’t totally sympathize with Zoey. She wanted to leave, so I was going to help her escape.
I caught Cora’s shoulder before she could tug Zoey too far away. “She’s probably too tired to dance. She had to have driven all day to get here.”
Cora paused and glanced back at Zoey, who quickly bobbed her head up and down. “Do you mind if I just get my key and find the apartment?”
“Of course not.” Cora was usually easy to convince of anything when she was drunk. She grinned at Zoey and looped their arms together. “I’ll go with you and help you settle in.”
Though Zoey looked relieved by the suggestion, I scratched my ear with unease.
“Uh...” I spoke up before I meant to. But I could already see where that offer was headed. Cora could never stay awake during a car ride after she’d been drinking. Besides, we had come here together in her car—hers because she hated having to climb up into my truck when she was wearing a short tight skirt like the one she had on now.
Both women glanced at me, so I thought up something quick to say. “I can follow you guys in Cora’s car.” And after that, I’d probably help Zoey carry a passed-out Cora up to their apartment.
Cora sent me a big, bright smile. “Sounds great. Let’s go.”
I was silent as Cora took off, easily gliding through the crowds while she dragged Zoey along. From behind, they could’ve been sisters. Heck, twins. Their hair was the same pale blonde and roughly the same length. Well, Zoey’s was actually up in a ponytail, but it seemed as if it was probably about as long as Cora’s. They had the same build and even the same height, though Cora was in heels, which meant Zoey was probably a little taller, placing her around five ten.
Chattering the whole time, Cora steered us through the maze of people before we reached the exit. I drew in a deep breath, glad to be free of that crammed place. Slipping my phone free of my pocket, I texted Ten.
I’m out. Making sure the girls get home okay. Behave yourself.
I should’ve known he’d have something obnoxious to reply. And he did: Girls? Plural? You are so the man. Give me every detail tomorrow.
With a sigh, I declined to respond. He’d probably only come up with something cruder to say. So I pocketed the phone as we came to a brand new, silver Lexus. Zoey unlocked it with her key fob and made the lights flash in welcome. I slowed to a startled stop.
For some reason, when Cora had talked about her best friend, I’d pictured Zoey Blakeland as a little more destitute...like I’d been. Everything else about her childhood has seemed so similar to mine; it had made sense for me to think she was just as poor as I’d been. But Cora had come from a well-to-do home, so it also made sense that her friend might too. It just surprised me to discover she drove something so nice.
As Cora climbed into the passenger seat as if she’d already forgotten about me, Zoey paused and sent me a hesitant glance.
I shifted a step back. “I, uh...Cora’s car is just around the corner. I guess I’ll see you guys there.”
Zoey nodded but waited until I’d backed up a couple more paces before she slid into the driver’s seat. I watched, blowing out a long breath. Then I lingered until she’d started the engine and pulled away from the curb before I turned away. My gut roiled uneasily, certain I’d flubbed up my one and only chance to befriend Cora’s new roommate.
As the taillights disappeared around the corner, I finally tracked down Cora’s Maserati, a little red convertible I felt like an ape driving because I could barely fit behind the wheel. She loved to drive fast, and could zip it around town well, but there was no way I could afford to get it fixed if I ever damaged it, so I never drove it as recklessly as she did.
After safely stowing it in the gated parking garage connected to her high-rise apartment building, I pocketed the keys and glanced around for the silver Lexus.
Zoey looked a little frantic when she waved me over. “Uh...”
“She passed out on the way home?” I guessed. When I got a nod for my answer, I smiled. “No problem. I can carry her.”
“Does she do that a lot?” Zoey bit the corner of her lip as she worriedly dogged my heels to the passenger side door. “Is she okay?”
“She’s fine. She does this every time we go out.” I sent Zoey a smile to reassure her before I undid Cora’s seat belt and slid her out into my arms. I was used to the process by now. When her head fell limply on my shoulder, Zoey gaped wide-eyed.