I said I won't lose control, I don't want it (ooh)
I said I won't get too close, but I can't stop it
Oh no, there you go, making me a liar
Got me begging you for more
Oh no, there I go, startin' up a fire
Liar, Camila Cabello
"So I have a date." I started the phone call without any kind of greeting.
"A date?" Brian asked incredulously.
Yes. With your archnemesis's buddy.
"Yeah. Expat that moved down here a few years ago." I fluffed my hair for the hundredth time.
Since I only shoved three changes of clothes in a bag before I got on the plane, I had to go shopping today. I had on a loose blue button-up shirt and shorts with a bikini top as a bra and bottoms in place of the undies I didn't bring. I was hoping that it would look good against my green eyes, but I was sure I looked sloppy. When I went shopping I was going to find a dress that actually sexy like the women at the bar were wearing last night. Brian would probably approve of none of this, but Lisa would be all in for it.
"Anna." Brian cut himself off and I could hear the wheels turning in his head.
"You're worried about me. You're worried this is another sign of me not coping." I filled in the blanks.
Was he right? Yes. I had nightmares of being murdered and dead bodies all night until I went for an early morning run on the beach as the sun was coming up. I had also stupidly been reading a Stephen King novel that I bought at the airport, so it was hard to tell why that happened. All I knew was I didn't feel trapped here like I did in my tiny apartment. I felt like I could breathe.
"I'm not making reckless decisions." If you took away the fact that Han was probably an internationally wanted felon than I actually wasn't. He had been a perfect gentleman last night. He didn't push. He backed off when I told him too. I was kind of wishing I let him in last night.
"This whole thing is one big reckless decision." He deadpanned.
"And I feel alive for the first time in forever," I replied as I pulled my sandals out of my bag.
"I understand that, but do you know what you're doing?"
Did I know? I had an opportunity here. One that would never present itself again in my career. I could be the one that finally brought in Dominic Toretto. I would be famous and I would have my pick of whatever case I wanted. That was better than Brian's infamy for the opposite. I was
On the other hand, I didn't want to think about work. I wanted to be someone new and different and have a good time on the beach without any responsibility. Technically, if I was a good undercover cop I could do both. Honestly, the thought of being an undercover agent had soured immensely. I wanted to be someone else, but I didn't want to be someone else while I was doing that.
A horn sounded in the driveway.
"I know. He's here so I have to go." I thought for a second. "And I do know what I am doing."
I had decided; I was going to go with the flow and decide to either turn them in or keep their secrets later. Hell, I might not even have any contact with Torretto. I might see his friend for a few days and that might be the end of it. Either way, I had a feeling it was going to break Brian's heart when he found out I knew where they were.
"Be careful." He warned. "What's his name?" I laughed humorously.
"You aren't running him. Goodbye, Brian. I'm late and I'm gonna be fine." I hung up before I could catch any more of his mothering.
The heat outside the villa was stifling despite the fact that it was only a quarter after nine in the morning. It didn't seem to affect Han though. He was leaning against the passenger door of his Road Runner, casually smoking a cigarette. He was wearing loose khakis and a button-up shirt without anything underneath it. It was already sticking to him from the heat.
I should have felt anything, but I felt a flutter in my chest when I looked at him.
I could do this. I could keep my head. I just had to be careful and keep him at an arm's length.
"Morning." I greeted as I approached the car.
"Morning." He half-smiled as he popped open the passenger side door, holding it open for me to get in. He shut the door behind me. I squirmed against the scalding black leather seats. Han noticed when he got in the driver's seat.
"Sorry." He apologized as he tossed out his cigarette. The engine roared to life at a volume that definitely meant it was heavily modified. He cranked up the air conditioner and knocked a vent in my direction.
"So how often do you race?" I blurted without thinking.
He was reaching to put the car in gear, but his hand froze on the shifter. He looked at me with a new curiosity. I felt nervous thrum in my chest when I met his eyes.
I hadn't been with someone that made me nervous like this in a long time. It was first date butterflies mixed with something else entirely.
"I race when it's important." He answered slowly. He backed the car out of the driveway without looking away from me.
Despite my constant car sickness with Brian, I had yet to get nauseated with Han driving. He was a much smoother driver with no erratic turns, hard stops, or sudden acceleration. I felt like I should be able to relax. I wasn't though.
"Where are you taking me?" It was meant to be flirty, but it sounded accusatory. There was tension in the corner of his mouth, and I knew he caught it. "Sorry. I'm honestly a little nervous without the tequila."
"Then I'm guessing breakfast mimosas aren't out of the questions?" He teased.
"I might stay sober enough to attempt surfing." Surfing? What the fuck. I had daydreamed about trying it while I was drunk and staring at a Spanish brochure I couldn't read last night, but that wasn't a good impulsive first date activity. I was going to make a fool of myself on day one.
"You surf?" He asked, he looked away from me to make a turn onto the main road and I was glad because it gave me a second to exhale.
"No, but I figured I'm in Mexico, I might as well try some things," I answered. Did that make me sound desperate? I felt desperate saying that.
"First time in Sayulita?"
"Yes. I'm excited to explore a little. The airline lost my bag, so I don't have much a choice but to walk around and do some shopping today." I lied smoothly so maybe I would seem like less of a psycho when he realized I had only packed two shirts, a dress, a pair of shorts, and a bathing suit. I didn't even pack panties. "How long have you been here?"
"Couple weeks." He pulled down a side road before smoothly pulling into a parking space. "I've always liked Sayulita."
"Where do you live when you're not here?" I was expecting a roundabout answer, but I wasn't expecting a straight-up shrug.
"Come on. This place has the best breakfast in town."
Was it bad to be jealous of a criminal? Han was the most relaxed free spirit I'd met in a long time. He stayed laid back in his chair the entire meal, lazily munching on his breakfast sandwich without a care in the world. Meanwhile, my anxiety went through the roof with no warning when we sat down to order.
With the way kept a constant scan of everything going on, I knew he knew. He didn't acknowledge it and rolled with all of my awkward questions and behaviors. I was flustered for no damn reason. Well, maybe not for no damn reason.
I hadn't been on a date in almost a year. Towards the end of my relationship with Marcus, we were fighting so much he made no effort to take me out, so I couldn't even say I'd been on a date with him. I had spent most of my time doing interrogations, and unfortunately, it was showing.
Han was amazing at dodging questions. He played everything close to the chest, answering everything breezily and without giving any real information. I caught myself pushing harder. Surprisingly, I did manage to get him to slip up once.
He left for Mexico immediately after high school. The implication was that something happened right before. I also learned the name of his hometown in a sterile California suburb that I had filed away for later.
Getting into his life was fun until he turned it back on me. I lied as much as I could, but at some point, I realized I could only create so much of a new identity. Then some truths started to slip out. When I'd had as much as I could take, I simply smiled and reminded him that I need to replace some clothes when he started his questions. I was not prepared for him to shrug, pay the bill, and offer to take me.
"Isn't this going to be boring for you?" I asked as we made our way back to his Road Runner. He took a long drag on his cigarette before he answered.
"You're not a girl that likes to shop." He said firmly. I was slightly taken aback. "That's a work shirt that you're wearing now and your shorts have been around a while. The shoes are new though."
He was correct; as usual.
"What else have you noticed?" I asked him as I reached for the passenger door.
Han had a bunch of minute changes in his face that signaled he what he was thinking and feeling. He wasn't blank; you could feel the good-natured, laid back energy rolling off of him, but he didn't let you in. He was happy and having a good time, but there was a wariness to him that hadn't dropped.
"You're impulsive, but this seems like a new thing for you." He smiled, but there was something else there.
"What makes you think it's new?" I asked as we settled back into the car and the scalding hot seats. He reached across and fingered the rolled-up sleeve of my button-up shirt.
"When you asked me about what to do in town. There was nothing go-with-the-flow about any of those questions." Maybe attempting to decide on a schedule for my vacation was a dead give away.
"Sometimes stepping off that ledge into the unknown is the only way to live," I answered quickly before he could say anything else. He started the car without an answer, but I could tell from the look in his eye that he understood.
The wind pulled at the hem of my shirt. The sun had long set in the distance and the sand was getting cold. I had to change and leave to meet Han for a drink, but I couldn't make myself move away from the edge of the waves.
It had been a good day. We had shifted away from constant questioning in the afternoon and settled into a companionable silence with light-hearted chatter. The word vomit that had been pouring out of my mouth had stopped and I became less awkward the more we were together. My favorite part was when Han told me about all of the places he had seen in Central and South America. I had booked my villa for two weeks out of my two month leave in case I wanted to go home early, but now I was considering picked another place at random and going.
When I was home alone in my villa, the thoughts of why I was here started settling in. This was a distraction, a fantasy. I had to go home at the end of it. I had to go face review board and be interviewed by countless superiors. I had to go to therapy appointment after therapy appointment to make up for the ones I was missing being here. I had to go back home alone.
The thought of being alone was crushing me. The walls of my apartment kept getting smaller and smaller in on me and I'd have to go back to that, day in and day out. My only escape would be going back to a sterile gray office where my coworkers hated me and my career was being stunted by being "the guy who blew up his first undercover assignment by letting his mark go's trainee who couldn't follow orders and bent up an LAPD Charger". I'd never escape that reputation while I still lived in LA.
A crunch of sand behind me startled me out of my reverie.
I turned, ready to fight, but I found myself face to face with Han. His eyebrows shot up, but he didn't say anything. I felt my face heat up with a deep blush.
"Sorry. I lost track of time." I turned back to the ocean to hide my blush. "I've always loved the beach at night."
False. If I was on the beach at night, it was a bad day. I went to the beach at night to hide from my problems. Sometimes, when the problems got big enough, I even hopped on planes to other countries to stare at the ocean on beaches there.
I felt his body heat against my back as his strong arms wrapped around my waist. The same fire I had felt last night started creeping back. That was the good thing about this fantasy; I didn't go to bed alone in it.
"Are you still sticking to the claim that you're hard to impress?" He whispered in my ear.
"What did you have in mind?"
The music from the cars came together into one loud, glorious cacophony. The rows of cars were just as pristine as Han's Road Runner. Their owners stood around beside their rides, drinking beer, pointing out new additions to their cars, and staring at the girls in tiny skirts. And of course, there were the racers, tearing down a quarter-mile strip of beach road so fast that my hair was whipped around my head every time they drove past.
I was in heaven.
I felt Han's watchful gaze on my back as I darted between the cars. I knew the makes and models from all of my research, but I hadn't started learning the engines yet. All I could tell from looking at them as I went down the line was that most of the mods were illegal and every engine was spotlessly clean.
I was turning to say something to Han when I caught a glance of a red Chevelle over his shoulder parked on the outskirts of everything. A cherry red Chevelle had always been my dream. This one was even more glorious in person.
He glanced between me and the car for a second before he stepped out of the way like he was giving me permission. As I approached it, I didn't see the owner. I took a second to run a finger down the smooth side of the car, stopping when I got to the door handle.
"I've always wanted a red Chevelle," I told Han without looking away from the car. I could feel the amusement radiating off of him.
"It's a good car." He fished his cigarettes out of his pocket.
"This whole just-cut-back thing isn't working for you. If you really want to quit, you're going to have to find something else for your hands and mouth to do," I told him as I ran my fingers over the door handle, tracing a pattern over it. I wanted to pop open the door and look inside so badly.
Han's movement stopped. I glanced at him to see the boyish grin spread over his face. I raised my eyebrows at him playfully.
"I can think of a few things." I doubled down with a laugh.
"Nothing he hasn't thought of already." A throaty, sarcastic voice intoned from behind me. My face instantly went bright red. "Han, where have you been?"
He shot me one last smug look before his eyes settled on someone standing behind me.
"I've been around, Letty." He answered.
Letty. Leticia Ortiz. Latina female, approximately five-foot-five inches. Brunette. Dominic Toretto's childhood sweetheart. Career criminal I spotted at a bar last night and didn't report. This was Letty's car.
"Tell me something I don't know." She mumbled.
Unable to help myself, I snorted at her humor. I forced myself to turn and face her. At the last second, I remembered to pull my hand off the driver's side door.
She was about an inch taller than me. She looked older than the pictures tucked in the FBI file, but she wore it really well. A bright smile was spread across her makeup-less face. Her dark hair was hanging in a ponytail over her shoulders and her bangs were blowing in the breeze. She wasn't dressed like the other women, with short shorts and a tank top over a bikini top, and she radiated confidence that I was instantly jealous of. All of my confidence was normally either fake or pure arrogance. Hers was just natural self-assuredness.
"Is the Chevelle yours?" I asked her politely. She looked me up and down and I felt her appraising me. I tried not to wither under her sharp, analytical look.
"Dom's." She answered finally.
"You've met Dom. We left him at the bar the other night." Han clarified. I nodded in agreement to show I remembered as my heart sped up.
"Where'd you find this one? She looks like an insurance adjuster." There was a teasing edge to her voice that didn't offend.
"Psychologist. I'm a counselor." I offered without thinking. It was my go-to not-a-cop job that I always told guys in clubs. I had gotten my bachelor's degree in psychology to advance my career in the police department and hopefully the FBI when I was on patrol, so it wasn't the worst lie.
"Are you lost?" She laughed.
"Not this time." I looked her dead in the eye. "I'm right where I want to be."