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So this guy shows up, big dude too. His truck’s overheating, blowing clouds everywhere. He walked through the door, looking fiercely pissed. He glanced at me and looked glaringly around our shop.
“Can I help you?”
“Gotta mechanic round?” he growled.
“Sure, that your truck?”
“Think it blew up?”
“Doubt it but let me go take a look. Key in it?” I asked, grabbing the key from him, my notebook and fresh gloves before I walked past him, out the door. I took down all the info I needed before popping the hood. A thin cloud of white smoke swirled out from underneath as I raised it.
“You have any idea what you’re looking at?” he asked from behind me. I climbed up onto the front bumper, to get a closer look through the clouds. What was that clicking noise? I wondered as I leaned over, waving away the lingering wisps, noticing a few areas where antifreeze still dribbled.
“Nope, not a clue but it looks like you not only sprang leak from your water pump but also the lower radiator hose and quite possibly the radiator. Did you run anything over recently? Nail gun? Porcupine? Was it running hot?”
“Not to my knowledge. It’s a loaner, one of my coworkers let me borrow it and I did beat on it on the way here.”
“Well, let me get it inside and see if I can get the parts. Do you want to drive it in or would you like me to?”
“Go ahead. I’ll make a call and be in, in a few minutes.” I shut the hood, climbed up into the driver’s seat, shifted the seat forward about five inches, started the engine, listening carefully as I shifted to reverse. In a minute, I had it pulled into the a/c and shut it back off, listening to the many substantial leaks drip onto the floor.
I clicked on my headset hearing my parts company number blipping through. I rattled off the truck info and went through the list of parts I’d need for certain and their availability. My parts guy had everything but the radiator and couldn’t until the day after tomorrow.
While going over the list with one, I was checking online for everybody else. Unless I wanted to drive sixteen and a half hours, it’d be the day after tomorrow. I glanced up when the door opened again, expecting the truck dude, and watched as my partner in life and business came in.
“That’s him outside?” he asked, behaving jittery.
“Big job?” His hands won’t stop moving.
“Radiator, water pump, and the lower hose. Problem is, can’t get the radiator until the day after tomorrow. Nobody’s got it.”
“Have you told him yet?” He’s not meeting my eyes. He’s done something stupid.
“He’s been outside since I brought it in. I’ve still gotta work up the estimate for him.”
“I’m gonna work on that rebuild.” He mumbled, acting strangely. Sweat beading on his forehead, his jaw clenching and chewing at nothing before he jittered across the shop. My customer came in the door behind him and watched him cross the shop.
“What’s the damage?”
“Well, I’m still working that out. I have a problem though. I can’t get the radiator until the day after tomorrow.”
“Unfortunately, yes.” I looked up, meeting his eyes for the first time. ‘What’s that pain in my chest? That thudding feeling?’ I thought in that brief second after being caught by his warm whiskey eyes.
“Sorry.” The phone rang. It was my parts guy calling back to tell me that if I wanted to take a four and a half hour ride, I could pick up the radiator in Memphis tomorrow after two-thirty. “I’ll let you know in a few, okay? Yeah. Bye.”
“What’s up?” my customer asks.
“I’ll let you know in a minute.” I said with a hopeful smile as I crossed the shop to confer with Mike. “Hey, um, I can pick the radiator up tomorrow after two-thirty if I want to drive to Memphis and back.”
“That’s… that’s a…a whole d-d-day lost.”
“We’d only have the walk-ins. You can handle that no problem. Is everything alright?”
“Y-y-yes. I-I’m fine.” Mike snapped, his body shaking madly. “Ask the…the c-c-customer wh-what he’d li-like y-y-you to d-d-do.”
“Fine.” Absolutely certain that the last hour he’d been gone, he’d visited his new squeeze/meth whore and now he’s tweaking. Wonderful. “I’ll give you the news first, then finish up the estimate if that’s okay.”
“Sure. What’s the news?”
“Well, I can get the radiator tomorrow afternoon, after two-thirty if I want to drive to Memphis and back.”
“How far away is that?”
“About four and a half hours, one way.”
“Would you be willing to drive nine hours to get it?”
“Would you want me to? Are you in a big hurry to get somewhere or are you just passing through at a leisurely pace?”
“Actually, I was just driving off my anger.” He shrugged, a sheepish grin hinting at dimples. “I don’t actually have anything I need to rush for. Is there anywhere nearby where I can spend a couple of nights?”
“There are a couple places but the one I recommend is the B&B. Every time. Kinda on the pricey side but so very bursa escort worth it. Would you like me to call and find out if they have anything available?”
“Thanks. Yeah, please.” I watched him turn and sit beside my dog, rubbing his short fur absently, as I dialed he B&B.
“Hey Katie! It’s Jem. Would you check and see if you’ve got anything for tonight and the next day and some, maybe? One. Nope. No, I didn’t but I guessed. She’s already talking? Yep, plan number fifteen is now initiated. Really? That’s a really nice room with a pretty nice view. Definitely tonight and tomorrow night. No, I can’t get the part til the day after tomorrow. Yeah, it does. Okay, I’ll give him the phone. Katie’s ready to check you in but she needs some info first.”
“Sure, thanks.” I went back to his estimate, trying to be fair and reasonable and still make a fair profit on the parts, figuring the labor, wave the magic wand and come up with a grand total.
I glanced up at him, when I heard him laugh. ‘Thank you Katie-girl! He needs a laugh right now more than anything! He’s got a great smile.’ I thought letting my gaze travel over him in closer detail.
Wide shoulders topped a broad, muscled chest, over a thick, toned stomach. Long, strong thighs filled his jeans over black, dusty cowboy boots. His smile, catching me checking him out was friendly with a hint of flirtation sparkling in those whiskey pools.
“I’m checked in and Charles is serving dinner at six. Would you mind giving me a ride there?”
“Not at all. I’d be glad to.”
“Anywhere nearby where I can get some clothes and other things?”
“Nearby? Not unless you count the dollar store. Wallyworld is about a half hour away. I could take you over there after Charles’s dinner, if you’d like.”
“I’d appreciate that Jem.”
“I’ve got your estimate ready.”
“Hit me with it.”
“Nine hundred fifteen dollars and forty-seven cents.”
“Whew, thanks. I’ll take you up in just a minute. It’s the pink Ford out there.” I waited until he’d gone outside before I went back over to Mike. “I’m taking him up to the B&B, and later, I’m taking him to get some stuff at Wallyworld. Don’t come home. Go to Kimber’s. Your clothes and shit will be delivered there as soon as possible. When I’m done with his truck, I’m outta here. Done. You understand me?”
“Y-y-yeah. W-w-what-ev-ever. S-s-she’s bet-bet-better than y-y-you, an-any-anyway.”
“I’m outta here. Bye.” I strode across the shop, collected my ugly bag and my dog and out the door we went. I got Pudge settled in the bed and climbed into my driver’s seat.
“Thanks.” I replied shortly.
“I have to ask though, why this shade of pink?”
“So Mike wouldn’t drive it. What man in his right mind drives a pink truck?” I said, twisting the key in the dash, bringing my sweet girl to life with a purring rumble. I grinned at his raised eyebrows. “What’d you expect? A knocking drippy piece of shit?”
“I didn’t expect that either. Something somewhere in between.” I glanced over at him to see his smile blooming. “You did that?”
“Yeah. With some help from Mike here and there.” I answered, shifting into drive and turning toward the driveway.
“Thanks. Hang on.” I grinned as I stomped on the gas and lit up the tires. My rear end swinging back and forth across the road before she caught pavement and shot down the road.
“Whooohooo! Go! Go! Yeah!” he howled laughing.
That instant burned into my soul. His smile, surprised, full and relaxed. The sun highlighting the light blond tips peeking out from under his gimme cap. The way it felt so right having him in my truck, beside me.
I let her idle around the curve, goosing her lightly up the hill before turning onto the left that led me back behind the neighborhood to where the B&B hid, snuggled into a paradise of landscaping and water features, sitting on four acres above the lake.
“Wow.” He breathed when I slowed passing the fountain falls. Around another gentle curve and I puttered into their crushed shell drive. I grinned at him, shaking my head. ‘He ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’ I thought shifting into park.
I led him into the reception desk where Charles actually sat, listening intently to a screeching harpy blasting away viciously at full volume, his thumb and forefinger massaging his forehead, pinching the bridge of his nose. He waved us wearily into the kitchen behind him.
His partner, Zachary, was just finishing pouring coffee into a carafe.
“Well, hello there! You must be Drake Franklin. Has Jemmie here taken good care of you so far?”
“She has.” Drake answered, his smile relaxed.
“Young man, you were in the right spot at the right time. Jemmie’ll take the best care of you. By the look of those dark circles under your eyes, you need one of my special cucumber treatments.” Zack said, taking Drake’s chin gently, in his hand and inspecting him closely.
“I’d like to start with a straight eight hours of sleep but maybe tomorrow.” Drake bursa escort bayan said, lifting his chin from Zack’s fingertips slowly.
“Well, of course! I’ll be here in the morning helping Charles with breakfast and the morning chores. Y’all want some coffee?”
“Please.” We both said.
“You done for the day Jemmie? A little early isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I’m taking some…personal time.” I said, feeling the razorblades licking my throat with every calmly spoken word, watching as he poured three mugs.
“Katie told me, honey, before she rushed out of here. You okay?” Zack asked, resting his hand on my cheek, letting his thumb brush my skin.
“I’ll feel it later. Right now, I’m numb and angry.” I said mixing in sugar and cream.
“Nowhere near as angry as the female that was just on the phone, haranguing me about the room she said she reserved but no confirmation code. Which means she never completed the online form, nor called for confirmation of any sort in the three months since she supposedly made these reservations.” Charles began, reaching into the cabinet for a tumbler. He glided over to the icemaker in the fridge, got three cubes in his glass. “Now mind you, we have a room or two available, so there really isn’t a problem. Her problem was she wanted a specific room, the honeymoon suite and that’s booked!”
Gracefully, he walked to the liquor cart and poured himself three fingers of scotch, stirring the ice cubes around with a fingertip.
“Will this shrew be staying with us?” Zack asked, looking horrified.
“Yes, she will.” Charles sighed sadly. “I put her in the Orchid room for the three nights she’s chosen.” He sipped deeply, sighed heavily and noticed Drake. “Good afternoon. Drake, I presume?”
“I am. Pleased to meet you, Charles.”
“I don’t usually speak ill of our customers but Zack’s right. She’s a shrew. Vegan. Allergic to cotton and rayon, so she needs silk or satin sheets.” He sipped deeply again. “Demanded the room at half price because of ‘the hassle and inconvenience she endured’.”
“Fruit and veggie basket?” Zack asked, planning ahead.
“Yes, darling. Fruits, veggies and she requested an assortment of nuts. Salted.” Watching Zack and Charles was watching a long time married couple, still in love. “I’d love to give her some really salty nuts.” Charles growled, sipping from his glass, making Zack and I laugh.
“I know you would love, but think of the decontamination process after.” Zack purred in his ear, rubbing his hand over his shoulder. Charles shrugged in agreement. “Drake would you like me to show you to your room? Or would you prefer Jem to?”
“Smooth, Zack, smooth. I’ll show him, which room have you put him in?” I stood, watching as Charles checked his phone.
“The Rose room.”
“C’mon, you’re in for a treat.” He followed close behind as I led him up a flight of stairs, down the hallway to another flight of stairs and up again.
“Nice view.” I heard him purr softly from behind me as we climbed the second flight. I glanced over my shoulder to see him licking his lips and grinning. “Well, it is.”
On the landing at the top of the stairs, I turned left and opened the door. I stepped inside, opening the door wide.
“Wow. Victorian. Big room. Nice big bed.” He mumbled crossing the room to sit on the bed, testing its comfort.
“Check this out.” I said, waving to him to join me at the French doors. I opened the doors for him to take in the lake view.
“Well now. Very picturesque. Postcard worthy.” I turned back to him when I felt his hand on my waist, turning into his embrace. “I like this one better.”
“I’m sure you do.” I said softly, watching as his lips descended to mine. I felt his heart thudding under my palm, felt mine racing just as wildly.
Softly, with a tenderness I’d forgotten existed, his mouth captured mine. Teasing my lips apart with his tongue, I felt myself sinking deep and fast. My hands slid over and around him, threading into his silken hair, clutching him tightly around his waist.
His hands plastered my body to his with firm strokes and nudges. Heartbeat to heartbeat. His hardness pressing against my lower belly, setting my thoughts scattering madly and my loins ablaze.
“Been a while?” he asked, leaning his forehead to mine.
“Yes.” Was all I trusted myself to say between my labored breaths.
“He’s a fool.” I felt a coldness seeping in and pulled myself from his warmth.
“No, he’s not. Not really. He’s an addict and a drunk but not a fool.” I said stepping away and turning toward the door.
“If he let you slip through his fingers, then I say he’s a fool.” He said softly, his hands sliding over my shoulders and stopping me in my tracks. “To find a woman like you and to mistreat her, and I have seen it, makes him foolish.”
“I’m no prize. I’m a bitch. Psychotic beyond…”
“Shut up.” He said, spinning me around to kiss me again. I clutched my arms around his shoulders, hanging on as he fanned the heat blazing through me again. “Mmmm, shopping escort bursa will be fun.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard a man say that.”
“Dinner in twenty.” We heard Zack call up the stairs.
“Just wait and see. And as much as I’d like to use these next twenty minutes convincing you, I think I’d rather spend them kissing you.”
“Hmm, I think I might like that too.” I murmured against his cheek as he nibbled a trail down the side of my neck. Ripples of sensation coursed through me as his big hand slid down my spine to my ass cheek, pulling my heat tighter to his hardness.
“Would they think it improper of me if I asked for dinner up here?” he rumbled in my ear, his breath warm against my skin.
“Yes, they would. Especially with me.” I answered, nuzzling along his neck to his ear. I was losing, hell, I lost my battle to remain aloof and professional. Sensuality flooded my being, making me ache for his touch, for his skin sizzling against mine, for the wild images in my mind of he and I tangled, rutting like beasts.
“After dinner then.”
“If I know Charles and Zack, it’ll be never.” I grinned up at him, giving him pause. “When they took over this place and remodeled it, I was sworn to never… how’d Zack put it? …knock boots in any room anywhere on the premises. Unless I ever remarried.”
“Seriously. In twelve years, never happened. They won’t allow it.”
“Hey, Jemmie honey? Will you be staying for Charles’s Irish Stew?” Zack called again up the flights of stairs. I arched my eyebrow at him.
“Stay.” He whispered, a smile teasing at his lips.
“For Irish Stew? Most definitely.” I called back, gazing into Drake’s eyes. Gold, amber, hints of chocolate fascinated me completely. His hands soothed and smoothed up and down my back.
“Well, come give us a hand then. Tables need to be set.” Zack called again.
“I’ll be right down.” I called back.
“In a minute…” he purred before kissing me again, “…or two.”
Already I was melting into him, into his kiss. Already I wanted more. More of his hands firmly kneading wherever they paused long enough. More of him. I wanted to know what his skin would taste like.
“Jem!” Charles called sharply up the stairwell. Sharply enough that I actually jumped back, out of his arms. I met his eyes seeing they were just as dazed as I felt and had to smile.
“I better go help. And um…” I paused, watching those glorious eyes clear a little, “there’s always my house.”
His smile was amazing. It really did light up his whole face. I turned to the door, glancing over my shoulder, catching his smile focus on my butt. I almost floated down the stairs, back down to the kitchen where Zack waited patiently with the silverware basket and napkins.
“C’mon, you can tell me while we set.”
“What just happened or what happened earlier?”
“What just happened?”
“Well,” I sighed, folding napkins neatly, “I’ll say he’s a great kisser.”
“I hope that’s all you did upstairs young lady.” Charles said softly but sharply from his desk across the room.
“It was. I even told him of my promise.”
“Good girl.” Charles said. Zack shook his head sadly.
“Though, I did mention that there’s always my house.” Charles looked up, his eyes shocked. Zack grinned.
“And Mike?” he asked, watching me carefully.
“Should be moving in with Kimber as we speak. His stuff is being delivered there now.”
“That’s where Katie went.” Zack said with a smile. “She’s getting his shit out. Kimber, of all people.”
“Never liked her. Never trusted that skinny little trailer trash hoe. I always knew her for a lying little thief. You’re better off without either of them.” Charles said turning back to his paperwork.
“And Mr. Drake upstairs? Will he actually be staying here? Or with you?” Zack asked, placing silverware around the plates.
“I’m not exactly certain. I think it might be best to let him make that decision. No matter how much I’d like him to.”
“Good thinking, my girl. Wait, what’s going to happen at the shop?”
“After I fix Drake’s truck, it can go to hell in a handbasket on the express line for all I care.”
“I give him six months without you before he shuts up completely.”
“Hmmm.” I didn’t want to think about it. I wanted to think about Drake in my bed, in me in my bed. I set another folded napkin beside Zack’s favorite flower patterned plate. “Hey, these are your special dishes! What gives?”
“You think Charles and I are letting him off the hook? Your Drake will be getting the interrogation Mike never did. You’re like a daughter to both of us, y’know.”
“He’s interested in our Jem and that’s more than enough.”
My phone chose then to ring out Katie’s ringtone. Zack waved me off to answer it. I went out on the back porch, under Drake’s tiny balcony.
“Hey girl. How’s it going?”
“All his shit’s out of your place and in transit to Kimber’s. Hope Shaky don’t mind a new roomie.”
“Not my problem. Shaky should’ve taken care of this shit months ago. He must be feeling his age.” I said quietly, pacing.
“More like feeling the effects of years on that garbage. Your house is cleaned out with no lingering Mike shit.”
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