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Suddenly, the music stopped, and air filled with the steady buzz of several oscillating fans I hadn’t noticed at first – probably because they weren’t doing shit but stirring up the hot air, moving it around without cooling it. Heavy boots thudded against the ground, rounding the car, and seconds later, I was met with neatly-arched eyebrows, pulled into a scowl.

“What do you want?”

I couldn’t stop my eyes from skipping down, to full breasts clad in a stained, white, ribbed tank, and mechanics’ coveralls tied around a trim waist, with the pants swamping the petite woman in front of me. When my gaze came back up, I took in long lashes and high cheekbones, full lips and a little upturned nose, and clear, penny-brown skin.

“I want you to point me to Jake, sweetheart,” I told her. “Or, whoever it is that’s in charge around here.”

There was no missing the rise in her eyebrow, her apparent annoyance making it into a dark, menacing hook on her face as those pretty pink-brown lips turned up into a smirk. “Not your fucking sweetheart, first of all,” she corrected me. “And Jake isn’t here.I’min charge.” Her molten amber eyes were full of challenge as she glared up at me - a challenge I met with a smirk of my own.

“You’rein charge?” I asked, taking another sweep of her appearance. She couldn’t be more than an inch or two over five feet. I scoffed. “Look, I have somewhere to be, and not a lot of time for games – where’s Jake?”

One hand propped on her hip, with the other, she aimed her pointer finger down.

I frowned. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“It means he’s in the ground. As in,dead,” she elaborated, with an inexplicable smile. “Would you like the gory details?”

I took a step back. “Did you kill him?”

“If I say yes, will it get you out of my face faster?”

“Is that really the attitude you want to have with a potential customer?” I countered, words that made her eyes go wide.

“Oh, isthatwhat you are? I thought you were a sexist asshole, here to piss me the fuck off.”


Maybe that was fair.

“Listen – how about we start over?” I said, raising my hands to signal a truce.

She laughed a little – kinda sexy, to be honest – pulling the cotton bandana from her head and wiping her greasy hands on it. “Oh, you want to start over, do you?” She tipped her head to the side, and her thick natural hair, twisted into ropes, swayed left.

“Can we do that?” I asked, earnestly. I was hot, tired, and had shit to do, so I really did need to shift this interaction in a different direction – in a direction I could actually use.

Her only response was raised eyebrows and an otherwise blank expression on that pretty ass face, which I took as a yes, even as she crossed her arms.

“My car broke down, about a mile up the road,” I explained. “But I’m still some miles from where I need to be.”

She smirked. “And… you need a big strong man to help you out of your predicament, but all you have available is lil old me, who couldn’tpossiblybe of any assistance, right?”

“My bad. I shouldn’t have doubted your capacity just because you’re a woman,” I conceded. “Now… can you help me?”

For a few moments, she just stared, then finally shook her head. “Nah. Sorry. I’m just here to answer the phones and keep everything clean.”

What little moisture I had left drained from my mouth, as rage replaced whatever little hopefulness I’d allowed to gain traction. And despite her drily-delivered “sorry”, there was no outward indication of anything but petty satisfaction from the woman in front of me as her smirk bloomed into a full grin.

“I’m kidding. I’ll grab the keys for the tow truck.”

She shot me a mischievous wink as she turned, hips swaying, to head to the back wall, making sure I knew I’d gotten played. I blew out a gruff sigh, biting my lip to keep my fucking mouth shut, before I offended her ass again.

A moment later, a low mechanical rumble hit my ears, and more of the overbearing sunlight spilled into the space from the repair bay next to us as the door rolled open. The mechanic sauntered past me, not looking back, but I quickly raised my hands, catching the bottled water she’d tossed my way.

“Nice reflexes,” she complimented, not waiting for a response before she moved on, pulling the dustcover from a big blue tow truck. “Get in.”

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