Trust Me If You Dare

By: L.B. Gregg

Romano and Albright, Book 2

Chapter One: Cappy’s

Approximately four point eight seconds prior to impact, Tommy Cappelletti spat the raw edge of his mustache from the side of his mouth and said, “The first thing you need to know about the 328i? It’s touchy. You hear what I’m sayin’, Caesar? The accelerator is probably more responsive than what you’re used to.” He gave me a sideways look. “She’ll go zero to sixty in under four point eight seconds. So go ahead. Tap it.”


The word seemed innocent enough, but this kind of manly camaraderie isn’t really my thing, and I swear he was throwing down the gauntlet. Subtly challenging my masculinity from the relative safety of his passenger seat. His cowboy hat was cocked, his mustache drooped, and he seemed slyer than your average car salesman. When he winked, I couldn’t stop myself from tapping the gas with a stomp. How fast could this thing go in reverse anyway?

Gravel flew, tires squealed and we pealed out with far more enthusiasm than the Pish Posh Nosh delivery van had ever shown. Before my foot could even touch the brake, I was thrown into my seat belt. A nauseating crunch filled the plush interior of the car.

I’d never hit another vehicle in my life, but that sound was unmistakable. We’d— I’d—cleared the parking space and crossed the driveway in under…well in under four point eight seconds. “Shit.”

“Holy fucking shit,” Tommy agreed, clutching his seat belt with a chubby hand. His wedding ring was imbedded on a sausage-thick finger, and his limp string tie draped his knuckles. He whipped around and stared bug-eyed at me. “Did you…? Did you just? Did you…?”

I found some comfort in his stuttering, as I’m afflicted with the same tendency. “I…think…yes…I…”

An alarm binged from somewhere inside the car—there was an astonishing array of whistles and bells and all of them seemed to ring at once. On the video screen, the backup camera’s dotted red line indicated stop. I had stopped, all right—stopped on the bumper of another Beemer. Thank God the air bag hadn’t deployed.

“I…I…I am so sorry. I’m…I’m not much of a driver. I may have mentioned that?” I shouldn’t be behind the wheel at all. I should be watching the dealership. Watching in case someone walked in.

Someone whose photo Dan had handed me fifteen minutes earlier—a slender redhead with a splash of freckles across her nose. She looked twelve. I was at Cappy’s doing a favor for my new boyfriend, PI and Trust Me If You Dare former NYC Detective, Dan Green Albright. He said, Text me if she shows up. However, with no viable excuse for loitering in the empty showroom, a desperate car salesman had appropriated me.

“Holy Christ.” Tommy Cappelletti’s panic was on the rise. He sucked half his mustache in on a breath and blew it back out. With the stutter, the low-riding cowboy hat and the long, bushy brows—and those now-bulging eyes in his flaming red face—the man was a dead ringer for Yosemite Sam. “You hit that car.” With a click he freed himself from the seat belt, his mustache flaring like bellows. The metal seat belt buckle clacked against the passenger window as he tossed the strap from his waist and gripped the door handle. “What did you do?”

“Well, I…I…didn’t realize the car was so fast in reverse. I drive a delivery van and you have to wrestle the gas pedal. You said tap and I thought you meant punch.”

“If I meant punch it, I would have said punch!” Tommy hollered as if somehow his anger could change the recent course of events. I was still immobilized by the accident. He was flailing and furious. “I told you it was responsive. What did you think that meant?” His pallor shifted from pale to ruddy and back again. Did he have high blood pressure? He was flashing like a neon sign.

“Let me move forward an inch so we can see the damage.” I gathered my wits and, grinding the gears until I found first, I released the clutch and jabbed the accelerator as Tommy fell from the open car door.

The door slammed. Tommy sprang to his feet, jaw swinging open again.

Pop! I jerked against the seat belt and everything went white. The air bag exploded from the steering column and smacked my chest like a fucking two by four. Stars. Lights. Pain. My top tooth pierced my bottom lip and the acrid scent of chemicals filled my nose.

I punched the air bag away and sucked oxygen into my lungs. It took only a few tries.

What the hell was I doing in this deathtrap German car? It was filled with fog and I had an air bag deflating on my lap. White particles floated around me. Another first. I’d never seen an air bag explode.

There was a dull ringing in my ears and my face felt funny. In the rearview mirror I could see a bright spot of blood welling on my lower lip. I licked it, the taste a mix of tin and salt. Maybe it was baking powder.

Although, who knew what that white powder really was? For all I knew, it was anthrax.

The crumpled hood of the car gleamed at me through the windshield. I’d bounced off a large silver sedan. 750Li read the chunky silver letters on the now-crooked trunk of the car in front of me. BMW. Zero to sixty held new meaning for me and, as Dan would probably add later, I was unsafe at any speed.

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