Okay, excerpts as promised. Remember the links are in the prior post. I’ll leave them of here as this one is longish! PG-13 since the site is not age-restricted but I promise they are both pretty sizzling stories!
Here’s a snip from Muscle Car Man: (This is Jeff and Mike’s first meeting and sets up some of their problems!)
Jeff Castle slammed down the phone. He wanted to throw it across the room. How in the bloody fucking hell am I supposed to be ten places at once? If I can’t get some reliable help this week I don’t know what I’m going to do.
To some, Jeff’s business might be termed a junkyard, but to aficionados of classic cars, especially the “muscle cars” of the sixties and early seventies, it was a haven of dreams. Row upon row, literally dozens of restorable vehicles, and others good for parts to pull and reassemble They could become the car many had always lusted after and longed for, or maybe owned at some earlier time and now wanted to recapture those bygone days. Mustangs and Trans Ams, ‘Cudas, Firebirds and Camaros–they were all here, some rusted heaps of worn out metal, but others just waiting for the right person to restore them to their former glory.
Jeff had inherited the business from his late uncle and taken over management a year ago. He’d been looking for a way to get off the high tech fast track, which had suddenly become a slippery road to hell for him with the economic upheavals. The dubious inheritance had held the promise of providing him an alternative. He’d always enjoyed tinkering on old cars himself, but where was the poetic justice in sitting in the midst of them without a spare minute to work on the one he’d selected for his own? Seemed he’d just jumped from frying pan to frying pan, if not directly into the flames.
Today someone had discovered yet another candidate to offer him, this one half-buried in a tumble-down barn down the valley. He almost regretted the recurring ad he ran in regional papers offering to buy classic cars in salvageable condition. Another ad offered parts and vehicles in various conditions from restorable to only parts and scrap. Business was fitful, but getting better.
He’d need to take the slider down to pick the car up–if it was what the man claimed. If not, he’d have to consider how much he could afford to offer for it and even if it was worth the bother. But in order to make the run, he’d have to close and lock the gates and lose goodness knew how many parts sales and possible whole vehicle sales while he was gone. The lack of reliable employees was getting the best of him.
With a sigh, he drove the slider tow truck out through the gate, shut it, and hung up a closed sign. Be back soon, it read. Please come again. Some would and some would not, but there wasn’t anything he could do about that. He climbed into the cab and drove off down the gravel road, trailing a rooster tail of dust.
Some miles out of town, he spied a man walking on the side of the road. Picking up hitchhikers was not something he normally did. Later on he never could quite decide what made him stop. The man certainly didn’t look too appealing, dirty and ragged, a week’s worth of beard darkening his lean face, and a hungry, haunted look in his eyes. Still, something made Jeff pull over. Maybe because it was a smoking hot day and this road down between declining and deserted farms into the edge of the desert didn’t promise many rides.
“Hey, fella, do you need a lift?”
The man looked up, hardly a trace of hope in the wary yet wistful expression on his face. “It’d help.” He waited, not barging forward to reach for the door, as if he thought Jeff would drive off once he got a good look.
“Well, come on. I’m short on time and heading farther out before I go back to town, but if that’s okay with you, get in.”
The stranger climbed in, grabbed the seat belt without Jeff having to remind him, and then sat back, his shoulders slumping as if in relief. “Hot day,” he said.
“Look back of the seat. I’ve got some water in a cooler there if you’re thirsty. Not good to get dehydrated. It can happen fast out here. Humidity is about five percent today.”
“Thanks.” The man turned and reached, took out a bottle and opened it with exaggerated care. He finished the whole thing in about five swallows.
Jeff glanced across at his unexpected passenger. Up close the man didn’t look too bad. True, he had dust on him, and his clothes had seen better days, but he didn’t have the dirt-crusted complexion of someone who no longer cared and hadn’t bathed in weeks, and he didn’t smell that way either. Clean shaven and with a decent hair cut, the guy wouldn’t be half bad looking. Probably just down on his luck.
“I’m Jeff Castle,” he said. “I have a junkyard, but it’s not just a standard old clunker one. I specialize in muscle cars. There’s supposed to be a Barracuda in pretty good shape down here on a farm a guy just bought. If it’s half what he said, I’ll be taking it back.”
“Name’s Mike,” the stranger said after a moment. “Home was once in east Texas. Now it’s not anywhere in particular. My old car broke down, and I guess I took the wrong direction trying to make my way back to the highway. I was trying to locate the place where my uncle used to live, but it looks like he’s long gone.”
“What’s your trade? Looking for a job?” Again the offer was impulsive, but Jeff figured if Mike was hungry enough he might be willing to work, for a while anyway. Right now any warm body and willing hands would be better than what he had. Covering all the bases alone was just not hacking it.
“I used to do a little stock car driving and some mechanic work, but I’m out of practice. Just so you don’t find out later, I got out of prison about six weeks ago. I didn’t do all they sent me up for, but that’s a moot point. I was convicted and served my time. I’m finding not too many businesses want to hire a con.”
Jeff shrugged. “You can’t be bonded, but I’ve got a lot of things to do around the place that don’t require bond. If you’re willing to work, I can give you a place to stay, three meals a day and some spending money. We can probably even get your car if you want to keep it. What is it?”
“A sixty-five Mustang, one I used to race. It sat at my sister’s place for several years and her kids kind of trashed it. Wasn’t in great shape anyway. Prob’ly should have left it there, but I didn’t. It got me all the way here from Beaumont anyway.”
Jeff laughed. “I’ve got a whole row of ’em in my yard. You ought to be able to cannibalize whatever you need to get it back in shape. We can work something out.”
“Man, I don’t know how to thank you. I’ve got about five dollars in my pocket and a change of clothes back in the car. That’s all I own in the effin’ world. A job and a place to stay sound damn good to me. I’ll try not to make you regret it.”
And a peek at Special Delivery: (Again Monte and Jed’s first meeting and a hint that Jed may not be just a common delivery guy.)
Monte Farnsworth stared out the display window of his shop at the bleak wintery-looking street. Business was about as slow and gray as the cold November day. At this rate, he’d be broke before the end of the year, a mere nine months after realizing his long-time dream of opening his own sporting goods store the previous spring.
Just then, a black delivery truck pulled up to the curb, midway between Monte’s store and the barber and beauty shop next door.
I don’t think I have any deliveries coming in today. Must be for the Hair Apparent.
When the driver stepped out, Monte’s breath hitched in his chest. Oh, my gods, that’s a beautiful hunk of male. Whew, he could raise my temperature, whatever the weather.
The man must have been an inch or two over six feet tall. In spite of the chill, a pair of snug shorts revealed sleek, muscular legs from mid-thigh down to a pair of dark athletic shoes edged by strips of white ankle-high socks. An open windbreaker displayed a broad chest straining the soft fabric of a uniform shirt. The brisk wind ruffled hair a bit darker than the uniform, shiny and vitally alive. Everything about the man looked and felt vitally alive.
The stranger paused on the sidewalk and glanced up and down the street as if looking for a name or number. Maybe he’s new and not familiar with Cameron Creek yet. Drawn by a magnetic pull he could not resist, Monte opened the door and stepped out onto the sidewalk. “Can I help you find a place?”
The deliveryman spun to face him, eyes the color of dark chocolate meeting Monte’s gaze in a manner that sent a jolt of erotic heat slashing through his veins.
The other man smiled. “Yeah, maybe you can. I’m not seeing three-fourteen or a place called Icy Heat. This is Hammond Street, isn’t it?”
Clearing his throat, Monte found his voice after a gulp. “Yep, this is Hammond. Never heard of such an establishment, but my place is three-fourteen. The number isn’t very clear, I’m afraid.”
The other man nodded. “I’m guessing you haven’t been here long and maybe there used to be another business in your space called Icy Heat? Can’t imagine what that would be, except maybe a tea room and ice cream parlor.” He laughed.
“I’m not sure what was here before I opened up on April Fools’ Day. The place had been vacant for a while, I was told.”
“April Fool’s Day, huh? That’s quite the day to get started.” The delivery man smiled at him.
“Yeah, well, I’m afraid the opening date’s been symbolic of my success so far,” Monte admitted. “Sportsman’s Stop is–well, let’s just say I wasn’t expecting any deliveries. I’m not sure how I’d pay for them if some came or where I’d put any new inventory. Nothing much is moving.”
“That’s a bummer. I guess everything is slow now, and what business there is goes to the new mall down the freeway at Junction City.”
“I suppose so.”
“You know…I’m a few minutes ahead on my route and I see there’s a coffee shop at the corner. I was thinking about getting a cup. Would you like to join me?”
Monte hesitated. He couldn’t quite figure why, but the surprising invitation, though flattering, troubled him. Why would a total stranger–a gorgeous stranger at that–want his company, even for a few minutes?
“Sorry, guess I should introduce myself. I’m Jed Hardesty. I just took over this route last week, so I’m still learning the town and the area out here. It helps to get to know some folks as well.”
Monte took the other man’s extended hand. Jed’s grip was firm but not punishing. The contact sent a warm current sparkling along Monte’s nerves. “I’m Monte Farnsworth, still pretty new here myself, obviously. Sure, let’s go get a cup of coffee. As my uncle use to say, this is a five-cup day–one for each hand and foot and one to drink. That wind must come straight from the North Pole.”
“Yep, only one fence post between us and there and it blew down. I’m from southern California, so this climate is a shocker.”
Monte flipped the open sign to read “Back Soon” and locked the door. Then the two men set off to the opposite end of the block and the welcoming warmth of Dip ‘n’ Sip Coffee Shop. They did have good coffee, Monte knew, and served sinfully delicious homemade pastries.
He had to stretch to keep up with Jed’s long strides, but that was okay. Since coming to Cameron Creek, his social life had dwindled to near zilch. It felt good to be with someone as congenial and appealing as Jed, even if only for a few minutes of casual company. He’d never considered a deliveryman would be his type. He normally gravitated to other high tech guys like he’d known in his prior life in Silicon Valley, or some of the fellow sports enthusiasts who’d inspired him to open his own place.