Coastal Athens was the last place Elina would expect to see a cowboy.
Well, maybe the open sea would be less fitting, but coastal Athens was a close second.
A shirtless cowboy walking along the highway at seven in the morning made her mentally go over her breakfast for possible hallucinogens. But she’d only had her morning cereal, and a tall, broad-shouldered man in jeans, boots, and a cowboy hat was walking her way.
Elina blinked at the approaching figure and set her car into first gear. As soon as the road ahead cleared, she was out of here. She hoped that would be before the tan blond reached her Volkswagen sedan. She was in no mood for chit chat and didn’t believe in indulging beggars.
Weird, though. She’d never before seen beggars around these parts.
The light turned green, and in true Greek fashion, Elina leaned on her horn. The blaring didn’t dissuade the driver of the truck in front of her from making a U-turn on the highway.
The cowboy reached her, removed his hat, and easily slid half his upper body inside her open window. Damned air conditioning system had chosen the hottest day in July to die on her. Now the cowboy’s scent covered that of her car air freshener, and boy, was it a yummy smell… Like baby powder over something spicy. Cinnamon and clover?
Elina kept her gaze on the blinker of the white truck, as if she hadn’t noticed the naked muscular shoulder wedged inside her car.
“Excuse me, darling. Do you speak English?”
He had a Texas accent, if TV shows had that right. Elina almost laughed. This was the weirdest Thursday morning she’d ever experienced. Reluctantly, she half-turned his way, keeping an eye on the traffic light. It was red again. Great.
“I do,” she said. “But I have no change. Sorry.”
“I don’t need money.” One of his hands disappeared beneath Elina’s line of sight, and she freaked out for the split second it took to reappear, fisted around a bunch of fifty-euro notes. “I sort of got stranded here and need a ride. Anywhere near the center of Athens would be great.”
“I’m sorry. I have to go to work.”
He reached for her hand on the gear shift. “Please,” he said. “I’ll pay you. I’ve been walking for an hour now.”
“I can’t pick up a random hitchhiker. Maybe I could call you a cab?” Her Gucci purse was on her lap, and she fumbled in it blindly for her cell phone.
“By the time one gets here, I’ll have died of thirst,” he said with a chuckle.
The sound made her think of a water spring in the dessert. What an odd association. “I—”
“I promise I’m a good guy. I won’t lay a finger on you, unless you ask nicely.”The hint of mirth in his delivery saved his joke from sounding crass.
Elina raised her gaze to his face for the first time, and was shocked speechless. He was gorgeous. His big brown eyes, so light they looked almost amber, were fringed with long, thick lashes, and his lips were wide and sensual. His slightly crooked nose elevated his boyish good looks to something more primitive and masculine. And his smile… If Elina saw it before she said she was busy, she’d promise to drive him any place he wanted.
As things stood, she said, “I’m only going as far as Voula, but there must be a bus you can catch there.”
Copyright © 2017 Sotia Lazu