“Jesus. I’m not doing this with you.” He gave her a once over. “Where’s your coat?”
“In the living room.”
“Do you have snow boots?”
“Yes, I’m not a total idiot.”
Boone scowled at her. “Did you even check the weather before you went out tonight?”
She blinked at him.
“I take that as a no. The road conditions were shitty an hour ago. They’ve gotta be worse by now.”
“Did you ride your bike here?”
“How’d you expect to get home?”
“How’d you expect to get home?” he countered. “Or did you tell your dad you were spending the night someplace?”
“No. My curfew is midnight.”
He glanced at his watch. “It’s only nine thirty. Give me your keys.”
“They’re in my coat.”
He blew out a frustrated breath. “When we get out there, go ahead and act like you’re mad at me.”
“Won’t be an act,” she flashed her teeth at him.
Boone jammed his hands into her hair and messed it up. He popped the button on his jeans. Then he pulled her shirt down her arm, exposing her bra strap. “There. At least it looks like we’ve been going at it.”
Her head pounded and she just wanted to leave.
He held out his hand for hers and opened the door.
A few catcalls greeted them. She’d just slipped on her coat when Kara and Angie sidled up to her. “Omigod, Sierra. Why didn’t you tell us you were with Boone West?”
She looked at him, too tired to come up with something clever. “Because our families will freak out. So don’t tell anyone. Please.”
“It’s our secret. We promise.” They exchanged a conspiring look.
Sierra allowed Boone to tuck her against his side as they left the party.
Fierce winds smacked her in the face, stealing her breath, and she jerked away from Boone. Immediately vertigo hit; she swayed and fell on her ass.
Boone picked her up without comment. He shoved her in the passenger seat and buckled her in.
The drive was tense and the visibility horrible, as Boone repeatedly pointed out. After a bit, he said, “Your car runs like crap. What’s wrong with it?”
“I don’t know. Been like that a few days.”
“And yet you’re still driving it?”
“Either that or sit at home.”
As soon as they hit the cut-across to the paved county road, he drove faster. He probably couldn’t wait to get rid of her. But given the weather and the fact he didn’t have his bike, Boone would be stuck at her house. What would her Dad think?
He’ll be pissed you’ve been drinking.
Snow swirled and blew over the windshield. It made her dizzy and she wanted to close her eyes. Why was it taking so long for the car to warm up?
A loud bang sounded and the car wobbled.
She glanced over at Boone to see both his hands clamped on the steering wheel. His feet intermittently pumped the brakes. She saw his horror when they picked up momentum and the road seemed to buckle and snap.
She was jerked forward as the front end connected with a solid object, throwing snow on the windshield before the world went dark.
Gavin glanced at his cell phone when it rang at eleven-thirty. That’d better not be his daughter calling to say she’d be late coming home. Again.
The caller ID was a restricted number so he was tempted to ignore it, but he answered, “What?”
“Gavin? This is Cam.”
Why the hell would Cam McKay be calling him this time of night? Then it hit him. Cam was with the sheriff’s office. “What’s happened?”
“Sierra’s been in a car accident.”
He sank into the closest chair. The words registered, yet not. “When?”
“Not sure. She’s in the ER now. Look, the roads are nasty and there’ve been a lot of accidents. Do you have a four-wheel drive vehicle that’ll get you into Sundance?”
He frowned at the phone. “What? I need a four-wheeler to get there?”
“No. Let’s take this slow.” Cam asked a question. Gavin answered. Cam asked another question. Gavin answered again. Cam asked, “Is Rielle there?”
“No. She’s in Denver.”
“You okay to drive?”
“Gavin, stay on the line.”
Sierra. Ask him what’s going on with Sierra before he hangs up.
Dead air for what seemed like forever.
Then a click. “I called Ben. He’ll be there in five minutes to get you.”
That registered. Why hadn’t he thought of calling his brother? It also registered he hadn’t asked if his daughter was all right. “What can you tell me about Sierra?”
“Nothing. I’m sorry.”
“Do you need me to stay on the line with you until Ben arrives?”
“No, Cam. Thanks. I’m…I’ll…I need to get myself together.”
“Understandable. See you in a few.”
But he couldn’t get himself together. He was absolutely numb. What if she was…? He squeezed his eyes shut. He couldn’t think the word, let alone say it.
Every second felt like a day. He slipped on his cold weather gear. By the time he’d pulled on the hat Sierra had made him, a vehicle barreled up the driveway and he scooted out of the house and into Ben’s big rig.
Ben whipped a U-turn in the drive. Then they were on the highway leading to Sundance. “Any word on her?”
“No. Just that she was in an accident.”
Silence filled the cab as Gavin stared out the window into the black night. He finally said, “Cam said the roads are bad.”
“Not here. But I flipped on the road condition report. Guess it’s worse by Moorcroft. Was that where she was tonight?”
I have no idea.
Why didn’t he know?
Because as soon as she’d gotten those keys she was gone. He’d been relieved the issue of her not driving wasn’t an issue between them anymore, so he’d been lax asking her specifics on where she was going, what she was doing, and who she was doing it with.
Some parent. No idea where his kid had been, no idea how the fuck he’d deal with it if something bad had happened to her.
“Where is Rielle?” Ben asked.
“Trade show in Denver with Rory.”
“Did you call her?”
“No. Not until I know…” He cleared his throat. “Same with Sierra’s mom.”
“Let’s err on the side that everything will be all right.”
“I’m trying. But if anything happened to her, I’d lose my fucking mind.”
“I know. Don’t think that way.”
It was hard not to. “Sorry that Cam got you out of bed. I wasn’t thinking straight when he called.”
“That’s fine. I wasn’t in bed. I called Mom and Dad. They’re a little slower on the draw, but they’ll be there.”
Wasn’t long before they were in town. Gavin unbuckled his seatbelt the instant they turned into the hospital parking lot.
Ben pulled up to the front. “Go on. I’ll see you inside.”
He nearly fell on his ass when his boots connected with the slippery ground. He righted himself and headed through the ER doors. A woman not much older than Sierra managed the front desk.
“Sir? How may I help you?”
“Sierra Daniels. I’m her father. I need to see her.”
“I’ll let the staff know you’re here. In the meantime, you’ll need to fill out all the paperwork on this clipboard—”
But Gavin had already started down the hallway.
“Sir! You can’t just go back there.”
He stopped short of yelling her name as he passed by hospital rooms. He reached another desk and the woman behind it was no pushover. She got in his face. “You cannot barge back here.”
He loomed over her. “My daughter was in a car accident and I’ve no idea if she’s even okay. Please, just give me any kind of information—”
“They’re doing a CT scan on her right now.”
Gavin whirled around. “Who are you?”
“Alan. The EMT who brought her in.” He raised his hand to forestall Gavin’s question. “Before you badger me to tell you more, I can’t.”
He turned the other direction quickly.
A male in surgical scrubs moved toward him and Gavin’s heart dropped.
“I’m Roger, the ER nurse. Before I can tell you anything you need to fill out the forms. There are a few questions we need answers to on Sierra’s health history.” He pointed to the small waiting room. “The sooner you get the bureaucratic portion done, the sooner we can treat your daughter and the sooner you can see her.”
Gavin grabbed the clipboard and pen. His eyeballs pulsed with anger. This was bullshit. It’d be faster if they just asked him the fucking questions. He glanced at the clipboard. The words on the paper blurred into black blots.
Five excruciating minutes later he handed in the paperwork. Then another five minutes before Nurse Roger appeared.
“I’ll take you back to see Sierra. Two things you should know. Sierra admitted she’s been drinking tonight.”
Gavin’s stomach dropped even as his blood pressure skyrocketed. Sierra had been drinking and driving?
“You can yell at her about poor choices another time. I need you to be focused on the positive side of this. Like she wasn’t behind the wheel—”
“What? She wasn’t driving?” As much as that relieved him, it also had him demanding, “Then who the hell was driving?”