Fake Marriage with the CEO(8)

By: Amanda Horton





“Three blocks away from the next corner—Look out!”



Wolfe slammed on the brakes before Simms finished speaking. He stared, open-mouthed, at the woman who had dashed into the road without looking.



She stood frozen, only inches from the front of the car. She was braced for impact, her eyes scrunch tight, arms curled against her chest. Slowly, she opened her eyes. She looked around, staring at the car. Her eyes met Wolfe’s, and she offered a trembling smile. “Sorry,” she mouthed, and then she turned, plunging into the crowd on the sidewalk.



“Shit!” Simms said weakly. “If it hadn’t been for your reflexes...”



Wolfe realized that he was frozen in place. He took his foot off the brake, sending the car back into traffic. He didn’t want to think about what might have happened if he hadn’t stopped in time.

***

Miranda pushed open the glass doors leading to the center. She was drenched. Her clothes clung to her body like wrinkled skin, and her hair hung limp and heavy on her shoulders. She thought she could outrun the impending storm by taking the bus and be at the center before the rain came. She was so wrong.



Miranda shook her head. Should have heeded the warning signs. She’d seen the sky turn overcast. And that lightning! Though the storm was a lot less scary than her near-escape from New York traffic. Her legs still trembled and her heart pounded. If that driver hadn’t slammed on his brakes, I’d be dead! Miranda suppressed a giggle. Being hit by a BMW... “Talk about a swanky way to go.”



A chorus of greetings demanded her attention. Miranda took a deep breath, focusing on the job in front of her. The center was always full. But today it was jam-packed like sardines. Even those from surrounding areas came to seek shelter from the rain.



“Miranda, you here to cook for us today?” a man called. Miranda recognized Ben. He called Prospect Park his home and lugged his remaining possessions around with him in a beat up suitcase.



“No. Sorry, Ben. I heard some fancy corporation donated the food today.”



“Where is it then? We’ve been here for hours.” A barrage of complaints echoed across the room.



Miranda smiled, projecting calm. “It should be here anytime. Traffic’s really bad because of the rain.” As she looked around the room, tucking her damp hair out of her face, Miranda’s heart sank. She’d never seen the center this crowded before. While she knew her ‘hungry regulars’ at the restaurant, the majority were strangers. Miranda noted bloodshot eyes, angry mutters and faces turned towards the kitchen with trepidation. For many in the crowd, their last ‘meal’ could have been a bottle of cheap whiskey, leaving them nursing a hangover. Any provocation could turn nasty. It was a volatile situation. She needed to watch out for signs of any trouble.



She walked over to the other volunteers. “Any idea where the food is?”



The nearest volunteer shook his head. “No—and I’m starting to get worried. I don’t know how much longer these guys are prepared to wait.”



“There it is!” Someone from the crowd yelled.



There was a mad rush for the door. Miranda and the volunteers fought their way to the front. If we don’t contain the crowd, these hungry folks will swarm the truck! “Form a line! Everyone will get a share,” Miranda yelled at the top of her voice.



Some obeyed. Others pushed and shoved to be first in line.



Miranda looked to the volunteers and nodded. They knew they had to do this quickly while there was still some semblance of order. She barreled her way to the doorway and waited for the truck to begin unloading.



Suddenly two SUVs screeched to a halt beside the truck. Burly men poured out from the vehicle and surrounded the truck.



Not here—not now! Miranda gasped, her chest tightening.



The memory of heavy-set men in uniform seizing her roughly, and forcing her into a van came back to her. She was unable to move, filled with terror at the idea of being deported again.



Then she realized they weren’t after her. Instead, the men had formed a barrier around the truck, preventing the boxes from being unloaded.



Miranda took a deep breath, pushing back the fear she felt. “What’s the meaning of this?”



A man stepped forward. “Are you the head of the center?”



“No I’m not. I’m a volunteer here. But why are you preventing those boxes from being unloaded? These people are hungry and have been waiting for hours just to eat.”



“We have orders to stop the distribution of these boxes.” The man turned his back on Miranda and nodded to his men. “Stay put. Not a single box is getting off this truck.”

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