The roar of the Jaguar took with it a little of the annoyance of having to drive home. It was a luxurious ride, smooth as heated velvet as it purred around the curves and roared over the hills toward her destination. She knew that people at work talked about her “signing bonus” with the Paragon Center; but she also knew that this ostentatious display of wealth and power had much less to do with the shiny bling of success as it did with her sanity at having to actually drive home when she could be home in a series of arcane words. The problem with leaving the jaguar in her personal parking spot for too long was the rumors started all over again: who was she going home with now?
Like it mattered. She had just weathered the rumors of her supposed sexual escapades with Foster and now after one of the nurses had spotted her laughing over gelato with the head of security she was once again on the receiving end of whispers and looks. It was endless. And a lifetime of it hadn’t taken the bite from the censorship.
As she spun around the corner with an expert glide of manicured nails along the wheel, lights from a police cruiser sprung up and sirens filled the air.
“Ni en pedo!” She murmured, pushing her matching manicured toes on the accelerator, the force of the engine pushing her back into the cushioned leather seats. “Not again!”
The car cut like a scalpel, slicing in and around the bends and sending exhilarating thrills of excitement through her, but the cruiser stayed stubbornly behind her. It had to be a rookie. No way would an experienced cop try to keep up, it was too dangerous on these beach roads. “Buludo!”
She was going to have to pull over. If the cop wrecked she wouldn’t be able to put them back together, at least not magically. A dark bubble of anger threatened at the reminder that the healing arts remained out of her reach despite her career and mundane devotion to medicine. Without the arcane guarantee of survival she couldn’t risk being at fault for the officer’s injuries.
Braking and downshifting with the barest of controls she avoided the grip of the sand on the shoulder and swerved to an irritable idle, the jaguar’s engine echoing her own need to grumble. The amount of time it would take to persuade this officer to let her be was even more time it took to get home and at this point she had to admit she was stretching herself too thin. With the return of Spider from his coma the Alliance had suddenly sputtered back into fitful action and the constant pull away from her job was only now made worse by her mental exercises with Ghost. She wasn’t about to admit how draining the work was; not when the team still had issues with trusting her. But exhaustion was becoming problematic. The odd mental jaunts she’d started having seemed a byproduct of not enough sleep and too much magic.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a dark shadow stepping free from the cruiser and approaching her through the blaze of headlights. She didn’t bother reaching for her insurance or driver’s license as she rolled down her window, her fingers starting to glow with just a whisper of purplish white energy. She might not need it but it was good to have it ready. The night air was salty and crisp, warm and welcoming and the crunch of the officer’s boots in the sand made her wish she was the one out there and not embraced in the canned cold air of her AC.
Rolling her eyes up in a feminine and pleasing way she practically purred, “Buenas noches, officer.”
And nearly choked on the word officer as her brother pulled his sunglasses down.
“Hermana.” His dark eyes pierced her own as he leaned on his forearms, crowding her back into her seat with fisted gloved hands clasped in her face.
“Andreas, I did not know it was you—“
His lips quirked upward in a smirk that stole her words as he nodded, “Oh this I know dulce. License and registration please.”
Irritation sparked a purple hue to her gaze as she felt her frozen smile give up its hold on her lips, “So what are you doing on traffic duty, hermano? It seems a bit beneath your pay grade, no? Did you piss someone off?”
As there was no way she could or would cast upon her own blood without much more serious provocation and at the risk of angering her mother and grandmother, Whitley turned her gaze to her interior of her car as she tried to think where she even stored that information.
“Oh no, not at all. I volunteered.”
She paused in rifling through the glovebox that had taken her a minute to figure out how to even open. “What…why?”
“Funny story there.” He held out a gloved hand for her to deposit the requested items, “it seems there have been several stops on this road at this same time over the last couple of weeks but my officers have not been issuing tickets. Dash cams show that they’re pulling over the same car but they all seem to have different reasons for not actually following through on procedure.”
Whitley resisted the urge to cough or to give any hint of a reaction as she opened her purse for her license, “How odd, must be a similar car to mine.”
“Mmm, si, because there are so many jaguars in this area…” His gloved hand closed around her fingers as she handed over the paperwork and ID. “Funniest part, sis, is that the excuses were so strange, like one guy said he decided not to issue the ticket because he was tired and near the end of his shift….he’d just clocked in.”
Their eyes met and locked.
“And another officer said that the perp was just too beautiful to issue a ticket so he settled on a warning…”
“Oh no! Now wait a minute I did nothing to him—“ She cut herself off before revealing any more than that. She hadn’t even used any magic on that guy!!
“Odd, right? These magical reprieves..”
She couldn’t keep her eyes from flaring in aggravation as he released her hand and continued, “But no concerns to be had, little hermana, because I am here now to set things to right.” He leaned back up and stood to his full imposing height before adding, “Oh, go ahead and get comfortable, this is going to take a minute.”
His saunter was just salt in the wounds. And the 20 minutes that he left her stewing on the side of the road had the desired effect of making her utterly stir crazy. She fidgeted and fiddled with the radio, considered opening up a mental link to her team, and even briefly entertained the insane idea of simply teleporting the rest of the way home and leaving her car there. She’d resorted to touching up her lipstick when her brother finally returned and knocked one heavy knuckle on her window.
She made him wait while she finished glossing her lips and carefully returned the lid before sliding it in her purse. The window slowly slid downward as she reached for her ticket with a forced smile, “Andreas, always a pleasure to see you hermano.”
“Si, hermana, this has been my delight.”
He was back in his car and pulling away when she actually registered the sheer amount of citations he had slapped her with. Rolling down her passenger window she yelled out at him: “Running a stoplight?! There isn’t even a stoplight on this stretch of the road!!”
“Eh…must be magic.” His tires crunched gravel and sand as he pulled in a wide stately turn of his cruiser.