Not a Chance (Sweet Nothings) - By Carter Ashby Page 0,1

knuckles turned white on the steering wheel. "Then offer another solution," he growled through this teeth. "Because that's what we're doing if you can't think up something else in the next five minutes."

"Here's an idea. Since you're being such a little girl about all of this, why don't you let me drive?"

Travis laughed, startled by her insult. "I'm going to spare you the humiliation and just pull off at the hotel."

"I'll walk before I spend the night anywhere near you."

"Fine," Travis said, getting irritated again. "If you want to drive, then you give it your best shot." He pulled to a stop and climbed out of the truck. She scooted over behind the wheel and he climbed into the passenger's seat.

This should be fun, he thought. He slouched down and waited for her to pull back onto the highway. She was fumbling for something down the side of the seat.

"What is it?" he asked.

"I can't reach the pedals."

He rolled his eyes. She found the handle to release the seat but since it was a bench, he had to help her scoot it forward. She was surprisingly strong and wound up slamming his knees into the dash. He cursed and she lifted her chin, a satisfied smirk on her prim, pointy face. It was the first moment Travis noticed that she might be human after all.

He twisted to the side to give his knees a different position. While Arden drove he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. It had been buzzing with another text message from his brother, Dustin.

It had been lucky for Arden that he was out searching for his youngest brother, Duane. Otherwise she would have been stranded. She had called the shop for help. Dustin had been there, also looking for Duane. He relayed Arden's whereabouts to Travis.

Now Travis sat next to this completely ungrateful young woman who had been stupid enough to go out of town during a blizzard warning, causing him to spend his valuable time rescuing her rather than finding his runaway brother.

Duane used to be a quiet, fairly upstanding boy. But after he graduated high school, he slowly drank himself into delinquency. It broke Travis's heart because it was the path he himself had taken at that age. Travis had wanted more than anything to help his younger brothers overcome their less-than-ideal upbringing. Dustin and Neil were only slightly younger than Travis. He had been able to shield them from their abusive father, for the most part. But Duane had come along much later. Travis was already thirteen when he was born. After Travis found work and a place of his own at seventeen, there was no one to protect Duane for the better part of his youth.

Travis looked at the text message on his phone.

Travis typed with his thumbs:

Travis swallowed. He cursed himself mentally. If he had kept his temper, Duane wouldn't have run off and none of this would have happened. That boy just knew how to push his buttons. They'd been arguing again and Duane's defensive posture was to blame everything bad in his life on Travis. Travis generally responded by throwing a punch and they would both end up on the ground fighting.

Dustin asked.

Travis shoved the phone back into his pocket. He caught Arden looking at him. She quickly turned her eyes back to the road.

"My little brother," Travis said, by way of explanation. "He disappeared earlier and..."

"I'm not really interested, Mr. Lanier," Arden said.

Travis slammed his mouth shut. He felt ninety percent angry and ten percent hurt. Bitch, he thought.

Arden's initially smug expression gradually faded as she furthered down the highway. She ended up leaning forward and squinting, just as he had done. She managed to make it past the abandoned hotel, but that had taken nearly five minutes. Travis watched her with increasing interest. She didn't look at him. Her proud expression had slowly devolved into disappointment followed by resignation, a flash of shame and then irritation.

She slowed the truck and glanced at him. "Fine," she said. "We can't make it."

Travis allowed himself the enjoyment of the warmth that came from proving an arrogant person wrong. "Told you," he said.

She snarled, "I know. But I'm not going back to that hotel. So what do we do?"

He grinned at her. "We could cozy up together right here in the