Sunday, November 13, 2011

After The Storm - Chapter 3

Chapter 2

I grabbed my duffel bag from the back of my car while Kyle the Handsome Cowboy set his truck up for towing.  I really hoped it wasn't going to cost too much money.  Or time.  Surely I had things to do... like... okay, maybe I didn't have anything to do but cry and eat my mom's chocolate chip cookies.

I watched from the side of the road as Kyle worked on attaching the chains, and then we jumped into the cab of his truck.  I didn't really know where we were going... I wasn't even positive where I was.  I'd taken so many twisty turns in my driving, I was fairly lost.  I leaned my seat back a little and just watched the scenery go by in silence.

After a few minutes, I sighed to myself, "It's so beautiful here..."

Kyle looked up from the road briefly, "Hmm?"

I spoke a little louder. "I said that it's beautiful here...  Where ARE we, anyway?  I was just driving to drive, and...  well, truth is that I guess I'm lost."

"Well, miss...  you are on your way to the booming metropolis of Terrance."

I smiled over at him. "Please, call me Melissa.  Terrance.." I turned the word over in my head.  "Sorry, I don't think I've ever heard of it."

He laughed a little.  "Don't worry... no one ever has.  Blink and you'll miss us." He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel to an imaginary beat in his head.  "In my experience, Melissa, no one goes for long drives, not paying attention to where they're going, unless they've got something on their mind they're running away from."

Cheeky and meddling.  "I'm really not sure that's any of your business," I responded icily.

Kyle grinned and held up one hand in defense.  "Fair enough...  sometimes it helps to talk."

I guess that wasn't totally fair of me, so I said quietly, "Sorry...  okay, yes.  Man trouble...  I broke up with the man I was dating." That hurt inside... that sounded so much less intimate than what it had really been.

"Ah.  What happened?"

I looked out the window at the trees floating by.  "I don't know."  My voice broke on the last word as I tried to keep the emotion out of it... ineffectually.

"Aw, come on now, Melissa," Kyle protested.  "You're not going to cry on me, are you?  I'm fresh out of Kleenex from the last time a girl fell apart in here."

He was making me mad again.  "Well, if you're going to ask!!"  I sniffled a little and turned to stare pointedly at whatever was not in his direction.

He reached behind him to the back of his truck cab and placed a small box of tissues on my lap.  "I thought you were out," I commented as I pulled one out to wipe my eyes.

I could hear the good humor in his voice.  "I might keep an extra box for the pretty girls."  A town rolled into our view.  "Welcome to Terrance, chica....  don't blink."

Terrance wasn't a huge town.  But, to be fair, you might have to blink at least twice to get through it.  It ran the length of the highway for a few blocks before the road picked back up into the great unknown ahead.  Along one side, I could see what must be Kyle's auto repair shop, with one gas pump sitting outside.  Next to it sat a pretty little restaurant with daffodils lining the walkway... "Julia's Place."  On the other side of the auto shop, there was a little teensy grocery store with Pepsi signs plastered all over the outside.  On the opposite side of the highway, an old house stood next a neighborhood park, restored to an antique perfection.  "Terrance Bed and Breakfast" was painted on the archway that stood over the house's walkway.

I searched the road for the one thing I needed.  "No Starbucks, then?"

Kyle laughed, "Ah, no.  No Starbucks... Funny, their corporate headquarters didn't seem to think we could support one.  Julia makes a mean pot of coffee, though..."

"That's a pretty home that your town bed and breakfast is in," I offered, honestly.  I didn't REALLY want to offend the guy... who knew how much he'd charge me?  "Do you get a lot of tourism here?"

"No, not really, just lost girls with broken cars" he answered.  "A whim of an old woman, really.  But the owners are good people."

We pulled into the bay of his auto shop, full of car parts I didn't understand.  He bade me to wait a moment, and he came around to help me down out of the truck.  Kyle ushered me into what must have been his office.  "It's a little messy in here," he offered with an apology as he moved magazines from the one waiting chair.  "Why don't you wait a few minutes, and I'll take a better look at your car."

I tossed my bag into a corner, and sat obediently where I was told, not that there was much of anywhere else TO sit, while he backed out of the office to do car stuff.  My eyes perused the magazines he'd dropped on the floor, looking for something to entertain myself.  Car and Driver. Hot Rod. Motor Trend.  Not a single girl magazine in the stack. Getting up, I took a little tour around the little room, studying the pictures on the wall.

There was a shot of Kyle with three friends about high school age, all young and smiley in football uniforms. One of him kneeling with one arm slung around a black lab, sweet.  A certificate from the state auto mechanic license board, awarded to Kyle... Terrance.  That was interesting. A photo of him looking close with a beautiful brunette... girlfriend?

His voice came ringing out from the shop and I jumped back to my chair, grabbing a magazine off the floor and tried to look occupied.  "Melissa, we're going to need--" he entered the office and grinned at me with the magazine in my lap. "Good magazine?" he asked.

"Oh sure," I replied with attempted authority. "I've always been interested in carburetors."

"Well sure, who hasn't?  I'm afraid your car's going to need a little bit of work before you can get back on the road.  Why don't you run on over to Julia's Place while I see about getting some replacement parts sent out here?  Tell her I sent you and she'll get you all fixed up."

"Is it going to be a lot?"

"Well... not oil-change cheap, but I'll do the best I can for you.  You need a timing belt, like I said...  and a new alternator.  Plus, that... you were definitely right about the flux capacitor.  I'm going to need to track one of those down, too. I'll come over when I get that straightened out."

"Okay..." I picked my purse up and wandered out of the shop to the daffodil-lined sidewalk of the cafe.  I pushed open the door and the bell over the door announced my arrival.  All heads turned... and by all, I mean "all four."

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