Rob’s wallet was one hundred six dollars lighter, but he had his car back. It passed inspection, which had been a little bit of a worry, needing nothing more than new windshield wipers. They’d put them on without consulting him, and Rob had no idea why they had cost thirty dollars, but the car had passed and was his to drive for another year without worry. He’d even had the garage change the oil while the car was there. His little sedan was good to go.
Rob exited the office and gave a wave to his co-worker that had been kind enough to drop him off. She left the parking lot with a smile, and Rob crossed to his car. It had been a tiring day, the worry on his mind, and now he just wanted to go home, have a quick dinner, and crash in front of the TV after finding a suitably mind-numbingly dumb show to watch.
Rob took a right out of the parking lot. As he approached the traffic light, he put on his left blinker. It’s cadence pounded out double time. The noise startled him for a moment, then he released an explosive breath. His tail light was blown. But it had just been inspected so he knew it had to have worked earlier or they would have replaced that too. What were the chances that the light would go out seconds after leaving the garage? It was just the kind of luck Rob had.
“Shit,” he muttered.
Making a quick decision, Rob circle the block and pulled into the parking lot of the garage. He’d been the last customer, but he was hoping they hadn’t closed up yet. One of the mechanics, looking sinfully hot in greased stained coveralls, was standing beside an open bay door. Rob stopped close by.
“Hey, um, I just hand my car inspected here–”
“Yeah, I saw you when you dropped it off this morning,” the mechanic interrupted. He had a nice smile that made his eyes sparkle. “I did the work myself. Is there a problem?”
Rob was distracted for a moment when the setting sun glinted off the tiny gold hoop in the guy’s ear. He shook his head, then nodded. “The tail light blew. I was wondering if you could fix it now?”
“Of course, yeah,” the man said easily. He motioned toward the open bay. “Pull her in.”
Relief flooded through Rob’s veins. He was sure he could stop at an auto parts store and get the bulb, but he wasn’t sure how to change it himself and he didn’t want to screw it up. Following the mechanic’s guidance, Rob steered his car into the bay. Then he shut it off and climbed out. Now that he was closer, he could see the name Jace stitched on the man’s coveralls.
It was an easy job, and Jace had the tail light replaced within minutes. He was focused solely on his work, so Rob let his gaze roam over the man. He was good looking, his dark hair a little long and curling against his collar. His hands were large and capable, and Rob was struck with the very inappropriate thought that he’d like to feel them on his skin. Rob flushed, and took a few steps back. No hitting on the mechanic. That was a recipe for disaster, or maybe a beating, just waiting to happen.
Jace replaced the cover, straightened up, and pinned Rob with a penetrating stare. Rob tried, and failed, to keep himself from licking his lips. Jace’s gaze dropped to his mouth, and then the man smiled.
“Have a confession to make,” Jace said, his voice going low.
“I fucked with your tail light on purpose.”
Rob jolted, shock coursing through him. “Wait. What? Why?”
“I was hoping you were the kind of guy that would turn around and come back to the garage. Then I could fix the problem for you, talk to you again, ask you out without anyone around.” Jace shrugged, and looked a little embarrassed. “Some of the guys know I’m gay, but I still have to be careful not to show it too much.”
Rob understood the need to be careful. Hadn’t he just been thinking similar thoughts? He swallowed hard. “And if I hadn’t been the kind of guy that would turn around?”
Another shrug from Jace. “Missed opportunity,” he said, like it didn’t matter, but Rob could see something on his face that mad Rob think it mattered a lot.
Rob let himself think about it. Jace was cute, and he’d gone to an awful lot of trouble to get Rob’s attention. That was kind of sweet. He let his smile uncurl slowly, and was smugly satisfied when Jace’s eyes widened and his breathing picked up.
“What are you doing tonight?” Rob asked.
The smile Jace gave him just lit up the man’s face. “I need a shower to scrub off the grease, but after that, I’m free.”
“Excellent,” Rob said, anticipation building in his chest. “You know where Johnny’s is?” He waited until he got a nod from Jace before he continued. “Meet me there at seven?”
Jace nodded fast. Rob just grinned. They said their “see you laters” and then Rob got into his car, slowly backed out of the bay, and then paused in the parking lot. He watched as Jace rolled down the bay door and lock it up. Then, with a cheerful wave, Jace headed for the side of the building and a gleaming black and chrome motorcycle. Rob swallowed hard. The man rode a bike.
Rob let Jace leave first, and then followed him out of the parking lot. They drove in different directions, and Rob was sad to lose sight of the powerful way Jace commanded the bike. Rob shook his head, and grinned. They’d be meeting up again in less than two hours. Excitement crept in, mingling with the anticipation, and Rob practically bounced in his seat.
Suddenly, Rob wasn’t tired anymore. His night was looking decidedly up.