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Copyright ©2017 Paige Warren
“Looks like you could use this,” he said. “Bad day?”
“You could say that.”
I accepted the bottle of water and took a big gulp, hastily wiping away the droplets that spilled from the corner of my mouth. He nodded toward my car, which still had the windows rolled down from my drive over.
“Either you like fresh air or you don’t have A/C.”
“A little bit of both. The vents don’t work at all anymore, which is a pain in the ass when it rains and the windshield fogs because the defroster doesn’t work either.”
He frowned and leaned through the window of my car to check it out. What the hell he could tell by just looking at the interior I didn’t know. Cars were a mystery to me. I knew you put gas in them, turned the key, and pressed the pedal to make it go. Other than that, I didn’t have a clue. I’d never had a dad to show me how to change the oil or fix a flat tire.
“Why don’t you pull it over to the shop for a minute and I’ll take a look?”
I bit my lip. “I appreciate it, really, but I can’t afford –”
He cut me off. “No charge. No one should drive around in this heat without air. If you got stuck in traffic too long, you could overheat and pass out. I can’t promise I can fix it, but what would it hurt for me to check out it?”
“Why would you do it for free?” I asked, more than a little skeptical. No one ever did anything for free. I just couldn’t figure out what he’d possibly want from me. I wasn’t exactly ugly, but with my hair not brushed and windblown, I wasn’t looking my best.
“Maybe I’m hoping it will convince you I’m a nice guy.”
My eyebrows lifted. “And are you?”
“Most of the time.” He chuckled. “So, what do you say? Let me take a look?”
“Sure. I appreciate it.”
He walked back over to the shop next door and I climbed into my car to pull it over to the open bay that didn’t have a motorcycle parked in it. The interior of the garage was a little cooler than the sidewalk had been and several fans were blasting a nice breeze through the place. Some of the guys stopped what they were doing to see what was going on, and there were one or two smirks, but Mr. Sexy scowled at them and everyone got back to work.
I’d left the keys in the ignition, so Mr. Sexy cranked the engine and played with the air controls. Then he got out and walked around to the passenger side. I saw him grab some tools from a nearby cabinet, but I didn’t want to lean into the car to watch him. He popped back out of the car a few minutes later with some strange looking thing in his hand.
“This is your problem,” he said. “The actuator burnt out. It’s the little motor that controls your air flow. I can look up the part and see if anyone local has one.”
“I really do appreciate you checking it out, but I can’t afford to replace anything right now. I was hoping it was just a loose wire or something.”
His gaze scanned me from head to toe before taking in my poor car. My RAV4 had more dings and dents than most cars, and at twenty years old, the leather seats were tearing and the paint was losing its shine. Even the windows had sounded like they were having trouble rolling up and down the last few times, and I worried they would crap out too and I’d be stuck without so much as a breeze to cool me down.
“Just how much trouble are you in right now?” he finally asked, his gaze going to the bruise on my cheek.
I didn’t know how much to share with him, what with him being a stranger and all. It wasn’t like we were BFFs chatting over coffee. It was sweet that he was trying to take care of me, but I’d been standing on my own two feet for so long I’d almost forgotten how to accept help when it came my way, which was seldom. He nodded toward the door on the far side of the shop and I followed him out of the work area.
Inside, the air conditioning was going full blast and I nearly sighed in relief. There was a small waiting area with black leather couches, a desk with a register, and then two closed doors. One had a bathroom sign on it, so I assumed the other was the office. Mr. Sexy pushed open the unmarked door and motioned for me to have a seat across from the rather large desk littered with papers.
“So, you’re the manager here?” I asked, checking the place out.
That damn irresistible smirk was back. “I’m the owner.”