The Ride by Mickey Miller



I don’t know if my instant attraction to the man is a good or bad sign as far as trusting him goes. Something about Zach and his dark eyes scream danger and really bad idea to me, though.

I don’t have the money to call a cab all the way out here in No Man’s Land, and Ubers don’t make it to this neck of the woods.

I glance down at my phone, damning myself for not charging it up before I left the house. I should have known better than to come to The Hungry Burger without a full charge—or at least a charger.

I silently curse my stepmom. It wasn’t her fault, she said. She “accidentally” drank a full bottle of wine and wasn’t able to come all the way out here to get me.

She just wanted to have one glass, but lost count.

Sadly, this is a typical Lisa move.

If I’d been smarter, I would have planned for one of my friends to come and get me. Now, though, it’s past midnight, I’m in the middle of nowhere and actually considering this strange man’s offer.

Zach lets his pinkie drop and walks over to his bike.

“Look, it’s getting late,” he says.

He gets on the bike and turns the engine on, letting it purr before he looks at me again.

“Get on,” he says, tipping his head behind him.

“I don’t know.”

He smirks and shakes his head, looking away from me. The way the starlight hits his profile, I bet he’s even more handsome in the daylight. I’m a little concerned that I don’t recognize him, since I know just about everyone from the area. Maybe he’s from the outskirts. Or he could be a stranger from out of town and is just point blank lying to me—which is definitely not a selling point in his favor because that’s literally how every serial killer podcast starts.

My heart pounds as I wish I was more decisive. I’m so articulate when singing. Why am I always so darn tongue-tied whenever I’m not on the stage?

Zach’s white T-shirt shows off muscular biceps, and his sweat glistens in the starlight.

“Look, Harmony. The way you’re staring at the bike, I know you’re thinking about it. And there’re only three reasons you wouldn’t accept a ride home. You need to think about it, you need to talk to your daddy, or you think I’m not gonna get you home safe. And it isn’t like you can talk to your daddy right now because you’ve got no phone.”

Seeing my hesitation, he pulls out his phone, unlocks it, and offers it to me. “Call him. Or…whoever is waiting for you.”

I clear my throat, a little shaken by how direct he is. I don’t reach out for the phone.

“Look,” he says when I don’t accept his offer. He puts the phone back in his pocket and glances around. “It’s getting late. Meth heads driving around these parts this time of night. God knows what they’d do with a pretty little thing like you walking down the side of the road. At this point, you’re my responsibility. If I something were to happen to you, I’d never forgive myself. I can’t in good conscience do anything but take you home.” He revs the motor and takes his eyes off of me. “Harmony. I know I just met you. But get your ass on the bike.”

I gulp, and freeze. A chill runs down my spine.

“That’s not a question anymore,” he says. “The more I think about it, I can’t leave you here.” He revs the engine, his voice low and commanding now. “Let’s go.”

“Okay,” I finally say. I’ve got a stubborn streak in me, but he’s right. At this point I’m better off with him than the alternative.

I take my amp around back and make sure it’s out of the elements…I’ll just pick it up later. Then I walk over to where Zach is waiting on the motorcycle.

He hands me a helmet. I put it on, then sling my guitar over my shoulder and get on the back of his motorcycle.

“Is Harmony your real name?” he asks. “Or is that just a stage name? It seems a little too on the nose for a singer.”

“It’s my real name,” I say. “Now I have a question for you.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. You’re not a serial killer, are you? Seriously.”

He smirks. “Seriously? You’re still on that? You’re one of those girls who loves to listen to serial killer podcasts, aren’t you? Well, welcome to real life, honey. I’m Zach. I might bite occasionally, but only if you ask me too. Ain’t gonna kill you, though.”