Home > See Me(9)

See Me(9)
Author: Nicholas Sparks

“I’m not afraid of you,” she lied.


“I’m not.”

“Okay,” he said again, then started toward her. She felt her heart squeeze as he passed within arm’s reach of her, only to feel foolish when he walked right past without slowing. He unscrewed something, then lifted the spare tire out and set it aside before he disappeared behind the trunk again, no doubt to retrieve the jack.

“One of us needs to move your car onto the road,” he said. “It needs to be level before I get the jack going, otherwise the car might slip.”

“But I’ve got a flat tire.”

He peeked around the side, jack in hand. “It won’t hurt the car. Just go slow.”

“But it will block most of the lane.”

“It’s blocking half the lane already.”

He had a point there… but…

But what if that was all part of his plan? To distract her somehow? To get her to turn her back?

A plan that included letting me use his phone? And removing the tire from the trunk?

Rattled and self-conscious, she got into the car and started the engine, slowly but surely edging it back onto the road and setting the emergency brake. By the time she opened the door, he was rolling the spare toward the rear tire, lug wrench in hand.

“You can stay in the car if you want,” he said. “This shouldn’t take long.”

She debated before closing the door, then spent several minutes watching in the side mirror as he continued to loosen the bolts before sliding the jack into place. A moment later, she could feel the car lifting slightly, bouncing its way slowly upward and then stopping. She watched as he finished unscrewing the bolts before sliding the tire off, just as the storm began to intensify, rain blowing in gusty sheets. The spare went on quickly, along with the bolts, and then all at once, the car was being lowered again. He placed the flat tire back in her trunk along with the jack and the lug wrench, and she felt him gently push the trunk closed. And just like that, it was over. Still, she startled a little when he tapped on her window. She lowered the glass and rain began to spit through the opening. With his face still shadowed, it was almost possible to see past the bruises and the swelling and the bloody eye. Almost, but not entirely.

“You’re good to go,” he shouted over the gale, “but you should probably get the tire fixed or replace it sooner rather than later. Your spare isn’t meant to be used permanently.”

She nodded, but before she could thank him, he had already turned and was jogging toward his car. He jerked his door open and slid behind the wheel. She heard the roar of his engine and then – before she knew it – she was alone on the road again, albeit now in a car that would get her home.

“I heard the phone ring, but I didn’t recognize the number so I let it go to voice mail,” Serena said in between sips of orange juice. Beside her at the table on the back porch, Maria nursed a cup of coffee, the morning sunlight already warming the air. “Sorry about that.”

“Well, next time, just answer, okay?”

“Can’t do that.” Serena smiled. “What if it was some crazy person trying to reach me?”

“That was the problem! I was with a crazy person and I needed you to rescue me.”

“It doesn’t sound like it. He sounds like a nice guy.”

Maria glared at her over the rim of her coffee mug. “You didn’t see him. Trust me. I’ve seen scary people, and he was beyond scary.”

“He told you he’d been in a fight…”

“And that’s the point. He’s obviously violent.”

“But he wasn’t the least bit violent toward you – you said he didn’t even go near you at first. And then he let you borrow his phone. And after that, he changed your tire and then got back in his car and drove away.”

“You’re missing the point.”

“What point? That you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?”

“I’m being serious here!”

Serena laughed. “Wow, someone’s touchy. And you know I’m just teasing you. If it was me out there, I probably would have peed my pants. Broken car, deserted road, no phone, blood on some stranger’s face… it’s like every girl’s worst nightmare.”


“Did you ever find your phone?”

“It’s at the office. Probably still on my desk.”

“You mean it’s been there since Friday? And you didn’t realize you didn’t have it until Saturday night?”


“I guess not too many people call you, huh?”

“Ha, ha.”

Serena shook her head, then reached for her phone. “I can’t live without mine, just so you know.” She snapped a quick photo of Maria.

“What’s that for?”



Serena was already tapping away. “Don’t worry. It’ll be funny,” she added before presenting the image and caption. “Maria, after surviving Nightmare on Dark Street.”

“You’re not going to post that, are you?”

“Already did.” Serena winked.

“You’ve got to stop posting about me. I’m serious. What if one of my clients finds it?”

“Then blame me.” She shrugged. “Where’s Dad, by the way?”

“He’s still walking Copo,” she said. Copo was a female, nearly all-white shih tzu. After Serena had moved to the dorms, she and Maria had returned home one Christmas to find that their parents had purchased a dog. Now Copo went practically everywhere with them: to the restaurant – where she had her own bed in the office – to the supermarket, even to the accountant. Copo was far more spoiled than either of the girls had ever been.

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