FLOW: The GRIP Prequel

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My phone rings, and I answer, still scanning the crowd for a girl fitting Rhyson's vague description.

"Whassup, Rhys." I clutch the phone and crane my neck to see over what must be a college basketball team. Not one of them is under six five. Even at six two, I can't see the forest for the trees with trees this tall.

"Trying to finish this track. Bristol there yet?" That note in Rhyson's voice tells me this conversation only holds half his attention. He's in the studio, and when he's there, good luck getting him to think about anything other than music. I get it. I'm the same way.

"I don't know if she's here or not. Did you forget to send the picture?"

"Oh, yeah. The picture." He clears his throat to make way for whatever excuse he's about to give me. "I thought I had it on my phone. Maybe I accidentally deleted it or something."

Or something. I let him get away with that. Rhyson's excuse for sending me to pick his sister up from the airport is legit. There's this pop star diva who needs a shit ton of tracks remastered at the last minute before her album drops, but I suspect he's also nervous about his sister's visit. Maybe this emergency is a convenient way to avoid dealing with her for a little bit. Or inconvenient, if you were me and missed lunch rushing to get to the airport as stand-in chauffeur.

"Well, I don't know what she looks like." I push my sunglasses onto the top of my head.

"She looks like me," he says. "I told you we're twins. Lemme check the Cloud for a picture."

Did dude just seriously say 'check the Cloud'?

"Yeah, Rhys, you check the Cloud. Lemme know what you find."

"Okay," he says from the other end, and I can tell he's back into that track. "I called to tell her you were coming, but I keep getting voice mail. I'll try again and send a pic."

Once he hangs up, I concentrate on searching methodically through the crowd. She'd be coming from New York, so I've narrowed it down to one carrousel. "She looks like me" isn't much to go on, but I stop at every tall, dark-haired girl, and check for signs of Rhyson's DNA. Hell, she could be right in front of—

That thought fizzles out when my eyes land on the girl standing right in front of me.

Shit.

Black skinny jeans cling to long, lean legs that start at Monday and stretch all the way through next week. A white T-shirt peeps through the small opening left by the black leather jacket molding her arms and chest.

And the rack.

The leather lovingly cups the just-right handful of her breasts. Narrow waist and nice ass. She's not as thick as the chicks I usually pull, but my eyes involuntarily scroll back up her slim curves, seeking the face that goes with this body.

Fuck. This woman is profanely gorgeous.

I never understood the big deal with high cheekbones. I mean, they're cheekbones, not tits. You can't motorboat cheekbones, but now I get it. Her face makes me get it. The bones are molded into a slanting curve that saves her face from angularity and elevates it to arresting. Her mouth, a wide, full line, twists to one side as she scans the crowd around her with eyes so light a shade of gray they're almost silver. Dark, copper-streaked hair frames her face and slips past her shoulders.

The alert from my phone interrupts my ogling. It's a text from Rhyson.

Rhyson: Here ya go. This pic's old as hell, but she can't look much different.

When the photo comes over, it confirms in my nearly agnostic mind what my mother has been trying to tell me for years. There must indeed be a God. How did I ever doubt Him? He has sent me, little old me, a tiny miracle to confirm His existence. It isn't water into wine, but I'll take it. I toss my eyes up to the sky and whisper a quick thanks to the Big Guy. Because the girl in the family picture, though almost a decade younger and with braces and frizzier hair, is the gorgeous, willowy woman standing in front of me in baggage claims. One hand on her hip and a frown between her dark eyebrows, she leans to peer down the conveyor that now holds only a few bags.

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