Inning 26 ★ The Crash

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The whole house started to vibrate with the flurry of activity as people started to leave in droves. We were in the alley at the side of the house and had a clear route out. So we ran, hand in hand, sorting through the first people who came out. I tugged him in the direction of my car and we climbed on it in a rush.

"Call Ellen, please."

He did, just as I turned on my car. "She says she got out with Chris and Gigi. She doesn't know where Anthony or the others are."

"Okay, text them."

We got no answer immediately, so I took the executive decision of pulling off the driveway and getting the hell out of dodge. I wasn't about to risk Santi's or my future over a stupid party that wasn't even much fun. Except for that back alley, that had had potential. I saw the police cars turn in as soon as I took a bend on a corner. We managed to put good enough distance that I didn't think we were being followed. In any case, we hadn't been the only car peeling it off. We just blended with the traffic at University Boulevard.

Santi's phone went off then and he said, "It's Anthony." I sighed in relief. Santi put the phone on loud speaker and our friend told us he'd got away with Jessica and McCann. He'd ended up driving McCann's car, and the latter was busy making out in the backseat with his ex. I couldn't help but laugh at that, releasing some of the tension in my shoulders. I hoped the rest of our boys got out without problem and vowed to check with each one of them as soon as I got home. I tried to relax and loosened the vice grip on the steering wheel.

And then the unthinkable happened.

Some asshole drove on the wrong direction, speeding straight at us.

My body reacted before my brain could understand what was going on. I veered sharply to the right and narrowly avoided a head on collision, but my car bumped against the sidewalk and for a moment it felt like we were airborne. I screamed. I screamed so much that it was all I could hear. The car crashed back down on its wheels and the speed took us off of the sidewalk and back on the road. It took me a second to set our course straight. I looked in the rearview mirror, fearing that someone might not see our struggle and just crash into us, but all I could see was the crazy asshole speeding off in the distance, still on the wrong lanes.

I was shaking and was drawing in breath in gasps at that point. I drove slowly until I found a Chick-Fil-A and just pulled into the parking lot and turned off the car.

And then I looked at Santi, and I almost died.

He was frozen, white as paper. He wouldn't blink. I didn't even know if he was breathing.

I wailed and threw myself against him, and was relieved to find that his heart was still beating. I repeated the word fuck like it was a mantra. I took off our seatbelt and jumped out of the car. When he remained inside I opened his door and pulled him out into the open air until he sat with me on the grass. A couple came out of the restaurant and looked at us funny as they got on their car.

I grabbed Santi's hand and squeezed, my heart breaking for the trauma he was reliving. "I'm so sorry, Santi. Please, talk to me. Are you okay? Please..."

He squeezed my hand back so hard it almost felt like he'd break it. But I didn't care. I reached out and wrapped my arms around him from behind. We stayed like that for who knew how long, until his shoulders started to shake and I knew that he was crying. I kissed the top of his head and his neck.

"You're not alone," I told him. "I'm with you. I'm not going anywhere and neither are you."

Here I was, trying to comfort him even though my entire body was quivering like a newborn fowl, but that was what love did to you. You got strength from where you didn't have any to give it away.

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