Home > Marco's Redemption

Marco's Redemption
Author: Lynda Chance

Chapter One

Marco Donati threw on the brakes in rush hour traffic and heard the squeal of tires and the crunch of metal against metal at the same exact moment he felt the vicious jerk from behind. He expelled a breath as he negotiated a quick turn onto the shoulder of the freeway and waited for the car that had rear-ended him to do the same.

Hissing a curse for the delay and pain in the ass this was going to cause him, he glanced in the rearview mirror to see the small car pull onto the shoulder and come to a stop.

He didn't think the impact had been substantial enough to cause any bodily injury to the other driver, but he slid out of his car to make sure anyway.

As he walked to the back of his vehicle, he briefly inspected the mangled fender of his custom-ordered Audi A-8 that had, until minutes ago, been pristine. A streak of fluorescent green paint on the previously gleaming black enamel was a further insult to the sleek lines of his car.

As Marco approached the driver's side of the ancient green compact, he saw that it held only one person, a young female, and with an exaggerated hand gesture, he motioned for the window to be lowered.

The girl inside rolled the window down and Marco saw a face already white from shock. He couldn't see her eyes--they were covered in huge, dark sunglasses that almost completely dominated her small face.

He so didn't have time for this shit right now. "You all right?" he asked. The girl seemed shaky, but not in any pain that he could see.

"Yes. You didn't hurt me."

"I didn't hurt you? You slammed me from the rear," he interjected harshly.

"You stopped so fast!"

"Are you serious? We're on a freeway in rush hour traffic. Get real. Hand over your insurance information and driver's license and we'll get this over with."

She continued to watch him while her lower lip trembled and Marco thought she looked extremely young, although he couldn't pinpoint any one thing about her that gave him that idea. She could have been a teenager--or a woman full grown. There wasn't really any way for him to know with those huge sunglasses covering her eyes. He shifted his weight from one foot to the next as unease spread through him. There was absolutely no reason he should be feeling any guilt about this. There hadn't been a damn thing he could do to stop the collision.

"I realize that technically it was my fault. But I--" She stopped speaking when a eighteen-wheeler zoomed by. Her voice lacked strength as her eyes remained glued to the traffic speeding past and she made no move to give him the information he had requested.

Feeling his muscles tighten and his jaw clench, he made a swift decision, refusing to be moved by a pretty face, and slipped his phone from his pocket and began to punch in numbers.

"Wait." The word was a plea from the heart and he made the foolish mistake of pausing and looking into her face once again.

"Who are you calling?" she asked on a whisper.

"The police." The words were abrupt as the line of his mouth flattened.

"Please don't do that."

Her words were beseeching, and Marco found himself having to grit his teeth against them. "Why shouldn't I? Somebody's sure as sh--" he assessed her possible age once more and swiftly cleaned up his language. "Somebody's going to pay for the damage to my car." He quickly took in the state of her clothing and determined the approximate year of her vehicle. Everything he could see indicated a lack of money. He was so fucked. She probably didn't even have basic liability insurance. Receiving a citation from the police would put her in the wrong, guarantee her insurance would pay--if she had any--and it would make him feel so much better.

Her face paled and she began to shake her head. "It'll be okay, I promise it will. Just don't call the police. Please. That will only make matters worse."

He hesitated only fractionally. "Maybe you should call your father."

Her face froze in lines of tension that hardened almost imperceptibly. "I don't have a father. This is my cousin's car."

Two lone tears made tracks down her face and she lifted her hands and scrubbed at them quickly, obviously trying to get a hold of herself. The tears made her appear heartbreakingly fragile and made him feel like a supreme dick. Marco hesitated another fateful moment as he watched her, his guts tightening. No doubt it would make matters worse for her if he called the police. He was a bit incredulous that he actually felt sorry for her, but at the same time, he was suspicious she might be playing him. "Let me see your license," he said in a voice that softened only minimally.

She reached down and began digging around in a purse that was almost as old and battered as her car. When she successfully located what she was looking for, she handed it over to him through the window.

Marco noticed a few things immediately when he took her license. Her name was Natalie Lambert and she wasn't nearly as young as she appeared at first glance. She was twenty-four. The moment he calculated her age from her date of birth, he felt an internal shift in his body temperature. She wasn't a girl; she was a woman, and he looked her over again before reading the rest of her information, wondering what it was about her that made her appear so young. Now that he knew her age, it was easy to see. The rest of the information was basic. She was from out of town, her eyes were blue, she was an organ donor, and her height was five foot three.

Fuck--five foot three.

He'd always had a thing for small women. He'd deny it to his grave, but he had a basic, visceral reaction to them, especially those like the one in front of him with soft silky hair who looked helpless in the extreme. It was a knee-jerk, caveman reaction, but he couldn't shake it. Yeah, it was something he'd never, ever admit to. It wasn't politically correct, there wasn't anything intellectual about it, it had basic written all over it, but there it fucking was. It was a compulsion he almost always fought, because he didn't want his sexual partners to get too close to him. But there was no doubt that his fantasies always included a petite partner, and the thought of sliding into a narrow, tiny opening never failed to arouse him.

It was arousing him now as he looked down at her sitting demurely and nervously behind the wheel of her car, waiting on him to make a decision that might impact her life.

Incendiary heat rushed through his veins.

He couldn't see much of her behind those damn glasses and short of asking her to remove them, there wasn't anything he could do at the moment to see her better. Her hair, medium length, was a mess and just an average, brownish color, but she was looking up at him with a soft trembling of her incredibly full lips, and although he was pissed about his car, he was fighting a hard-on big time--and a goddamn urge to protect her from the mess she had created for herself.


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