the highlight of her day, and she was going to squeeze every drop of pleasure out it. Pumping the
pedals of her bike harder and harder, she swiftly climbed the hill, feeling the pleasant strain in
her thighs and the wind whipping through her sleek black hair. In two months she’d be eligible
for her driver’s license, which would be totally awesome. But she’d miss her bike, no doubt
about it. She loved these fall mornings – peddling as fast as she could through the crisp air,
watching the sunlight turn a rich gold as it filtered through the flaming leaves. She was almost
at the crest of the hill, at the bottom of which was her school. Just a couple of more pumps and
then…freedom, absolute freedom. The pavement was still wet from last night’s rainfall, and
as her wheels glided over the hill, she did what she did every morning. She let go. Spreading
her arms like a bird does its wings, she closed her eyes and listened. Listened to the hiss of her
tires on the slick pavement, the chirping of the birds, and the wind thrumming in her ears. And
for a brief moment, a precious brief moment, everything became so intense and a strange thrill
bubbled through her.
But then something went wrong.
Her wheel wobbled, and there was a screech of tires, and every sound was drowned out by a
blaring horn. And then she was really flying. As she tumbled through the air, she braced herself
for the pain of the crash. She felt her stomach flip, and then was filled with a sick and giddy
and helpless feeling as she hurtled towards the pavement. She landed on her elbows and knees.
Hard. A stinging pain shot through her. The stinging intensified into fierce hot waves of agony.
Stunned by the flaming pain, she curled herself into a ball, every muscle tensed against the
sickening swells of nerve-ripping heat. It even hurt to breathe.
From someplace just at the blurred edges of her consciousness, she heard the creak of a car
door and then rushed footsteps. Then she felt firm hands on her shoulders and saw a cool shadow
slide over her onto the sidewalk in front of her.
“Are you okay?”
The voice was calm but filled with a strange ache. And smooth and deep. Even in her pain
she felt the urge to jerk around and get a look at the face that went with that voice. She didn’t
have to. He curled his head around so he could see her. When their eyes met, her breath caught
again, but this time not from pain. His blue eyes had the fierce sparkle of sun on water, and they
filled her with a storm of emotion. She couldn’t stand it. She had to look away, and she did, long
enough to realize that her pain had subsided to a superficial stinging. Isadora slowly rolled up to
a sitting position and started assessing the damage.
That’s when she saw the hole. In her all-time favorite sweater. “Damn it. It’s ruined,” she said
as she took in the frayed red and orange threads radiating out from her torn elbow like the petals
of a bloody flower.
“What? You’ve got to be kidding me.” His voice was now clouding with suppressed
rage. “Look at me.”
Isadora stole another glance at him. His eyes were still mesmerizing, but this time she was
able to take in the rest of him as well. He was wearing a slightly battered biker style leather
jacket. It had zippers everywhere and emphasized his broad, muscular shoulders. He had the
chiseled jaw of a Calvin Klein model, and tanned skin that brought out those incredible eyes.
Furtively looking him up and down, she took in his tousled brown hair, his full yet masculine
lips. She noticed that the cuffs of his baggy jeans were frayed, and that his black motorcycle
boots were slightly scuffed. A little rugged, she thought, and effortlessly cool. And…hands down
the hottest boy she had ever seen.
Wait, he was saying something. To her. She had to snap out of this daze.
“Did you hear me?”
“Huh?” Coming out of her trance, Isadora took in the expression in his eyes. He was
definitely pissed. What the hell was his problem?
“Must have hit your head as well. You almost got yourself killed and the thing you’re most
upset about is your torn sweater.” His eyes were blazing. His hands, pressed against the curb,
were clenched in fists.
Isadora didn’t like his tone. Her sweater meant a lot to her. Her mom bought it so that she
could literally have the fall colors around her in the bleak grey months of winter. She looked up
at him, directly in the eye, challenging him, weighing him. Finally she shrugged and said “It’s
sentimental. Anyway, it’s none of your business.”
“It became my business when you swerved in front of my car,” he said, not taking his eyes off
“Maybe you should watch where you’re going. And not hog the road.”
“Are you kidding me? You swerved right into my path, flapping your arms like a crazed
“You’re an ass,” Isadora said, with a smile that started angry and ended up sheepish. It was as
close to admitting that she was in the wrong as she was going to get.
Something in him changed when he saw that smile; Isadora saw it. The rage subsided and
the ache she had heard in his voice was now in his eyes. She took in his furrowed brow and the
tormented look, and it was suddenly so familiar to her. But she couldn’t place how.
Out of the corner of her eye, she caught something glinting in the sunlight. Her bike. It was in
a twisted heap on the road, but it didn’t appear to be too damaged.
“I have to get to school,” she said, getting up. “I’m already late.” As she pushed herself to her
feet, she felt the stinging return, shooting up from her knees.
“No, I’m taking you to the hospital,” he said, grabbing her arm to steady her. His touch sent a
strange thrill racing up her arm.
“I’m fine. I just need some rubbing alcohol and a few bandages.” As she started towards her
bike, he pulled her back and turned her gently to face him.
“You weren’t wearing a helmet. You may have hit your head. I’m taking you to the hospital,
and that’s the end of it,” he said, looking like he would not take no for an answer.
“Am I hearing things or…..” looking past her bike to the road, Isadora caught sight of a blue
Mini Cooper, the driver side door open with the radio blasting Jay-Z.. Suddenly a wide smile
spread across her face. “You’re going to take me to the hospital in that? That smurf car won’t
even fit my bag”
“That’s because your bag is big enough to fit the entire fall collection at Macy’s” he said,
looking at the oversize, well-worn Coach purse lying next to Isadora’s bike.
A crooked smile tugged its way across Isadora’s face. She tried to suppress it, but couldn’t.
She gave up the fight and looked directly into his startlingly blue eyes.“If you’re going to insult
me and try to kidnap me, the least you could do is tell me your name,” she said.
“As in the clothing store?” she teased.
“As in one of the knights of the round table. At your service, me lady” he said in a self-
mocking and theatrical tone.
So, he was funny and he could laugh at himself, Isadora thought. “I’m Isadora. My friends
call me Izzy.”
The same strange, longing look flickered across his face. Or was she seeing things? It was
immediately replaced by a dazzling smile. “Nice to meet you Izzy. And now that we’re on a first
name basis, it’s time to deliver you to the hospital.”
“No, seriously, I’m fine. I’m going to school. I’ve already missed way too many classes this
term and it’s only the beginning of October.” Isadora turned away and started limping toward her
bike. Tristan caught her by the elbow. “Ouch!” she said.
“Sorry….listen, you could have a concussion. You need to see a doctor.”
“Not today. I’m not missing try outs for the school play. There’s just no way.”
He sighed. “Fine. You’re at least going to see the school nurse.”
Isadora gave him a defiant stare. A look of exasperation crossed his face, but then his jaw
tightened and he gave her a level stare. It was obvious he was going to stand his ground. “I’m
helping you into my car. Then I’m wheeling your bike to the rack. Then I’m taking you to the
school nurse. Got it?”
Isadora looked at him in disbelief. “What, you’re giving me orders? Are you kidding me?”
“Someone has to be the voice of reason. Now let’s get you into my car.”
Isadora returned his level stare. He was not going to budge.
Then she considered. Her knees and elbows really were stinging, and she did feel a bit dizzy.
Maybe seeing the nurse wasn’t such a bad idea. She shrugged and said, “Fine. The nurse. I’m
Once inside the Mini, Isadora relaxed back into the leather seat. It was actually much more
spacious inside than she had imagined. Looking around, she took in all of the bells-and-whistles.
Everything about the car was ostentatious, from the bug-eyed headlights to the giant glowing
orange speed dial that reminded her of the lit coils on a stovetop. The orange was so bright it
seriously looked like you could burn your hand on it. As Isadora played with the radio, trying to
find a good channel, she caught a whiff of a familiar smell. Something dark and musky mixed
with the scent of pine needles and burning firewood. She had no memory to connect the smell to,
but she knew she had smelled it hundreds of times before.
Snapping out of her trance, she glanced through the windshield. Tristan was on her bike,
standing up on the pedals, riding down the hill towards the school. He’d taken off his jacket
when he helped her to the car and was now wearing just a white T-shirt. She watched his strong
arm muscles flexing with each push of the pedals, watched the way he swayed slightly with the
effort, saw the casual determination in his movements, and somehow all of it was so familiar.
She could have sworn she knew this guy, but from where? Why did she feel so connected to
him? One way or another, she would figure this guy out. She just had to. As he strode back
towards the car, his intense, determined eyes focused on her, she felt her heart flutter up into her
throat, and knew that for better or worse, she was irresistibly drawn to him.