\ 11:41 "Central Park" | unlimitedi.net
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Central Park - Thursday 13th May 2021 - 11:41

“Oh, that’s just… fucking, BRILLIANT!” Meredith snarled through gritted teeth, folding the newspaper up messily before giving up in angry frustration. She threw it back down on the bench where she’d found it and got to her feet. It seemed there’d been one hell of a disturbance outside Slainte on Tuesday night - some punk kids setting fire to a homeless guy and causing a three car pile-up - FOUR HOURS after she’d been there talking to that Cadee chick. She couldn’t believe her dumb ass luck!!! Four hours and she could have been the first on the scene - a story like that could have gotten her some serious column inches.

Muttering under her breath, Meredith resumed her run. Even twenty-four hours after her encounter with Jason she was still fuming, the rage churning beneath her flesh. Last night she’d been so furious she’d thrown a drink over a client when he’d tried to grab her ass during a lap dance. Charlie had given her a total bollocking and sent her home.

She was hoping a good long sweaty run would wear it out of her. It usually did. Just being on her own in the sunshine, breathing in the fresh air, nothing but the wind in the trees and the hard, solid ground beneath her feet… Meredith slid her headphones into place and switched on her Walkman, music made it even better and soon the rocking sound of Whitesnake was blaring in her ears.

“In the Still of the Night I hear the wolf howl, honey, sniffing around your door! In the Still of the Night I feel my heart beating heavy, telling me I gotta have more!”

She sang along, murmuring the words as she knew them and making them up where she didn’t. Each beat of the music punctuated with the contact of her feet against the path and the pumping action of her arms.

“I see the full moon rise, telling me what’s in store. My heart starts aching, my body started shaking and I can’t take no more, no, no…”

The stretching of her muscles felt good. Each time her sneakers impacted with the ground, it sent a tiny jolt of pure joy surging through her body, loosening those angry knots. One foot in front of the other, that’s all she had to think about. The repetition focused her mind so well, just as it always did, just like the cool breeze on her cheeks made her feel alive, made her feel like herself.

“Now I just wanna get close to you and taste your love so sweet, and I just wanna make love to you, feel your body heat…”

Meredith adjusted the volume on the old fashioned Walkman and the tinny hiss grew louder in the fuzzy orange headset. She’d had incredible luck to find it at Goodwill, and in such good condition, complete with headphones - two bucks, and the store guy chucked her in a couple of tapes too. Sure, it was the technological equivalent of banging away with a hammer and chisel, the sound was poor, it was clunky as hell and slapped against her ass as she jogged like a randy old uncle after one too many scotch and sodas, but it was hers and at least she didn’t have to worry about anyone trying to steal it when she wanted to do her stretches.

She was still messing with the volume control when a blur in grey sweats and hightops leapt through the trees. He was powering hard, coming downhill in a small avalanche of dirt and debris. Meredith gasped as he clipped her elbow, knocking her around - nearly knocking her off her feet actually. Without even so much as a pause or apology, he carried on running. Meredith pulled her headset down in anger, watching him while her temper boiled anew.

“Don’t worry about me!” she yelled after him, her good mood completely obliterated. “I’m just fine! Asshole!

Gritting her teeth, Meredith turned, reaching for her headphones when another blur exploded from the trees. This one hit her solidly in the chest and so hard it felt like she’d been knocked over by a freight train. Meredith yelped as they both went down, the back of her head cracking on the path. “Mutherfucker!

Logan was quick to his feet, about ready to explode into another dead sprint when he stole a glance at the person he had bulldozed through.

*Shit.* He had smashed straight into some girl and from the looks of it, he’d hit her pretty damn hard. *Shit, shit, shit.* Logan scanned the area, looking for anyone who could help but he and the girl were alone on the path. He hesitated for a moment, took another step, looked back at the downed woman and made a decision. Balthazar would be furious, but he couldn’t just leave the woman on the floor, especially if she was hurt.

“Are you okay?” Logan asked as he crouched next to her. “I’m really sorry, I didn’t see you.”

Meredith blinked, still dazed, her head ringing from the impact. A low groan escaped her lips, followed by a louder, more insistent one as she tried to sit up. “Fuckin’ hell!” she moaned, reaching back to touch what was gonna be one humongous lump on the back of her head. “Am I okay? Of course I’m not fucking okay!” she snapped, batting away his concern. “Some asshole just turned me into goddamned road kill!”

A second of regret passed through him. He should have kept up the chase rather than waste time getting chewed out, but after a deep breath, he calmed down. *Can’t blame her, for being mad* he thought, trying to coax himself into keeping his cool.

“The guy I was chasing, he tried to nick my wallet,” Logan lied, doing his best to diffuse the tension. “I guess I was just so focused on catching the punk, I didn’t notice you on the path.”

Managing to finally prop herself up, Meredith looked the guy over - he was plainly dressed in dark jeans, his white t-shirt tight over a well defined set of muscles. In short, he was just like every other frat boy come Abercrombie and Fitch model wannabe who made her life a goddamn misery. “Sure, I mean, why would you notice me? Heaven forbid a human being gets in the way of you getting your precious money back, just carry on. I’m sure you have a kegger you’re late for too.”

What the hell is a kegger? From the scowl on the girl’s face, he figured it wouldn’t be a good idea to ask. “It’s fine, I said he ‘tried’ to nick my wallet. I was just chasing him to teach him a bit of a lesson.”

There was a second where neither of them said anything, it was in this silence that he noticed just how attractive she was. Dark hair, pretty face and some…assets any man would admire. He reached out, offering the girl a hand. “Would her highness like some help up?” he said, eliciting an icy scowl. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding.”

“I don’t need anymore of your help,” Meredith snapped, leaning on her hands as she pushed up with her feet. A sharp stab of pain radiated from her right knee and she yelped, falling back onto her ass. She scowled again and held out her hand reluctantly. “Fine. You can help. But don’t get any ideas about trying to cop-a-feel or anything. I know self-defence.”

He seemed… amused? Well, she was so glad that her pain was such a bloody good source of entertainment for him! When it was obvious she wasn’t about to stand without a good amount of assistance, he wrapped one of her arms around his broad shoulders and his other around her waist, hoisting her up from the ground. Meredith groaned, she had one monster headache brewing and being fully vertical made her feel dizzy and ever so slightly nauseous.

“Hey, hey!” she shouted, wincing at her own voice as her head rang from the volume. The man looked at her like she’d gone mad. Meredith scowled and gestured to his hand that had slid up from her waist to her ribcage. “A little close to the boob don’t you think? Or is this how you get your women? Knock them out then drag them back to your cave.”

“I usually just rely on my bad boy good looks,” Logan retorted, making sure to reposition his hand so she didn’t get the wrong idea. He was starting to get annoyed with this girl’s attitude problem *and I don’t think it’s going to get better* he cringed, seeing the girls broken….walkman(?) on the ground next to her. “I think your walkman’s seen better days”.

“WHAT?” Meredith hopped around, giving the guy no option but to turn or let her go. Regardless of what he might have wanted to do, he held on and helped her stay standing even though her thinly reined in temper had just hit meltdown. “You broke my Walkman! Oh that is just-” she threw her only free hand up in the air, “and my Whitesnake tape, that was my- Brilliant! Just fan-bloody-tastic! What are you? A one-man demolition squad?”

“Would you calm down!” Logan finally burst. “It was a fucking accident alright? Do you think I thought to myself, ‘hey how about I mow over the first cute girl I see in the park?” He caught a slight glimpse of worry in the woman’s eyes, perhaps afraid that he was turning violent. “Ok, look,” he sighed, taking another deep breath to quench the fire that had begun burning in the pit of his stomach. “First, I think maybe I should take you to doctors to make sure you’re alright. And then we can see about stopping by an antique store to replace your walkman.”

“Ha ha, oh you’re so funny!” Meredith mocked, though her anger had cooled a touch. He was right, it was just an accident, and at least he’d not just left her crashed out on the ground, even after she’d torn into him. Maybe he wasn’t the total asshole she’d first pegged him as. “You should definitely stick with the ‘bad boy good looks’ thing, ‘cos the comedy routine? Needs some work.”

Logan could feel the girl relax slightly. “Don’t worry I wasn’t planning on quitting my day job, I’ll just stick to ‘one man demolition squad’. Here, let’s get you seated down for a second, there’s a bench over there”.

With Logan’s help, the girl took a step forward but winced when the weight came down on her right knee. “Here, hold on” without giving it much thought, Logan scooped her up into his arms.

“What are you-” Meredith squealed as he scooped her up, attracting the attention of a couple of joggers who slowed but didn’t bother to stop - obviously the sight of a girl being manhandled against her will didn’t warrant an intervention. Instinctively, Meredith clung onto the man as he lifted her from the ground. When she realised she’d practically shoved her tits in his face she loosened her hold.

“Put me down!” she demanded hotly, equal parts fury and embarrassment flaming her cheeks bright pink. “Put me down right now!

He placed her on the bench and took a step back. “What do you want me to do?” His patience had just about hit its limit. Just when he thought she had calmed down, the harpee reared it’s ugly head again - this girl was infuriating. “If you want, I’ll just leave. You don’t think I have better things to do with my day than hang around here listening to you bitch at me when all I’m trying to do is help?” Now, he was really beginning to regret not chasing after the guy when he had the chance.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Meredith grit her teeth against the pain in her knee as he set her down with all the grace of a rag doll. Just when she thought maybe she’d been too hard on him, he went and acted like a jerk again! “Was I supposed to be grateful that you crashed into me like goddamn steamroller? Or maybe trashing my personal belongings? No, no, it must be when you had your hand on my ass just now! Thank-you, whoever you are, thank-you for taking time out of your busy schedule of chasing down random men just to teach them a lesson to fucking cripple me!

Meredith stood up and immediately regretted it. “Owww!” she groaned and dropped back down on the bench, glaring up at the guy. Goddamn it he had some fucking problem if he expected her to be all dreamy eyed and swooning at his amazing display of strength in swooping her off her feet. She hadn’t been imaging his hand on her ass either, there had been definite cupping going on. “Well if you’re expecting some kind of medal you can just… piss off!”

Logan angrily reached into his back pocket, and pulled out his wallet. “Here’s twenty for a cab,” he said, tossing the money at the girl. “and here’s another hundred so you can get an Ipod to replace your fucking Walkman. Welcome to the 21st century, you’re only about 20 years late.” Logan began walking off, steam coming out of his ears. He almost felt a little bad leaving her there when…

“Hey, hey!” Meredith had been stunned when he’d thrown the money at her, now she was just plain furious. If she could have run after him she would have. “Don’t you walk away you… asshole! I don’t want your goddamn money! I said… I don‘t want your money!

Logan rolled his eyes, not surprised that the dragon woman would get in the last word. "And there it is".

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