I told you in my last writing update that I’m currently working on a story for the JMS Books’ Autumn Love submission call. When I write this, the story is still unnamed, but the main characters are Oren and Pete, two lovely men in their late forties.
This is the opening to the story, and it’s unedited. I hope you’ll like it. Have a great week! 🙂
“Peter Higgins?” I raise my voice to make myself heard over the rock’n’roll music booming in the garage, but the man crouched by the motorcycle resembling something you’d buy at Ikea before it’s assembled, hears me and snaps his head up.
He shadows his eyes against the bright light with his hand, and then he holds up his index finger in the universal sign for “hang on a minute.” He jumps to his feet and jogs to the bench in the back of the garage, where I’m assuming the stereo is located considering Robert Plant gets cut off in the middle of a magnificent moan.
As the man approaches me, his long legs quickly eating up the distance, I take in his appearance. Dark, tousled hair as though he just ran his fingers through it when he stepped out of the shower this morning. A full beard with strands of silver, albeit still more pepper than salt. Laugh lines brackets his mouth and sprawl out in the corners of his friendly hazel eyes. He’s fit; his thigh muscles play under the faded denim and an oil-stained T-shirt clings to defined abs.
My mouth waters and I have to fight to keep my face neutral. I don’t want to get caught ogling the man before I’ve had the opportunity to thank him.
“I’m Pete Higgins,” he says. “Can I help you?” His tone is as friendly as his face; he shows no sign of irritation over being interrupted in the middle of assembling—or disassembling—the five-thousand piece bike puzzle.
“I’m Oren Walker.” I smile and extend my hand. “Daphne Walker’s son.”
“Oh! Mrs. Walker! How is she?” He moves to take my hand but stops himself with a grimace. “Sorry,” he says and hold out his oil-stained palms for me to see. “I’d better not shake your hand. I don’t want to get your suit all dirty.”
I chuckle and lower my hand, ignoring the pang of disappointment in my stomach that I won’t be allowed to touch him and see for myself if has palms are as callused as I hope they are. “Yeah sorry, I came right from work.” I finger my blue-striped tie and feel out of place in my two-thousand-dollar suit in his garage.
“I figured. The day is too hot for a suit.” He flashes me a smile. “Let’s go inside. I have aircon.” He waggles his eyebrows. “I’m thirsty, and you can tell me all about your mom.”
“All right.” I follow him into the garage, through a utility room, and into a big, cozy kitchen, with pale green cabinets, gleaming appliances, and a round kitchen table standing in a bright bay window.
He nods at the fridge. “Help yourself to whatever’s in there. Grab a longneck for me, will ya? I’ll wash my hands and be right back.” He disappears out into the hallway before I have time to answer.
Feeling rude and nosy for opening a stranger’s fridge, I do my best not to look and take out the first two bottles of beer I find. There’s a bottle opener magnet on the fridge door, and I pop off the caps and return it to where I found it.
The only other thing on the fridge is a photo that must be a family picture: Peter Higgins with his arm around a dark-haired teenaged girl who’s the spitting image of him, minus the beard and the crow’s feet. Next to the girl stands a tall, blond boy, probably a little older than his sister, and last but not least, a beautiful blonde woman, wearing a wide smile and a smart business suit, screaming power-woman.
Mr. Higgins strolls back into the kitchen wearing a fresh shirt. I glance at his hands, now looking reasonably clean. “Great, you found the beer!”
I nod and hand him one. “You have a beautiful family.” I tilt my head to the photo.
He looks at it with a fond smile. “Yeah, they’re a great bunch. It’s a few years old now, though. Both rascals are in college, can you believe it?”
“I don’t have kids, but I can imagine it must be…tough?”
He chuckles and plops down on ta chair around the kitchen table. “Someone should have told me that men suffer from empty-nest syndrome, too. Please sit.”
And if you’re wondering what Robert Plant is moaning in the beginning of the teaser, it’s this song, of course, around 2:10 into the song 🙂