Bodies Ink and Steel Book II, “Stevie’s Book” first four chapters
I have attached the first four chapters of Stevie’s Book, which will be released the 26th. The title will be released the 19th.
His very muscular shirtless torso caught my eyes as he walked out of the bedroom. As I stirred my much needed coffee and peered toward him, he sauntered into the living room as if he didn’t have a worry in the world. Hell, maybe he didn’t as far as he was concerned. While he glanced around the unfamiliar surroundings, I attempted to shift my focus from my cup of coffee and catch his attention before he got too close.
“Where’s your shirt?” I hollered.
His body swiveled toward my voice. Upon seeing me, his eyes went wide. “I didn’t know where you went.”
I glanced down at his bare feet, chuckled, and shifted my eyes upward. “Well, now you know. Where’s your fucking boots?”
He tossed his head to the side. “They’re in your room.”
I really wish you would have lasted long enough to make me have an orgasm…
I really do.
He had the body of a Greek God. Muscles on top of muscles, no body fat, a ripped mid-section, and a prominent “V” at his waist – the “Fuck me V” I preferred men to have. Actually, it was much more than a preference. To be honest, I required it. Anyone could see he was well equipped in the muscle department, and he described himself in the bar as being hung like a horse. He didn’t lie in that regard, his cock was massive.
He had no sexual stamina.
I took a sip of coffee and shrugged my shoulders. “Well?”
“Well what?” he asked as he continued to walk in my direction.
“Well, you aren’t going to want to ride home like that,” I said as I nodded my head toward him. “Go get ‘em.”
“I ain’t plannin’ on leaving just yet. Thought we could go at it again,” he said with a laugh as he flexed his massive chest.
I nodded my head and widened my eyes comically, like he’d revealed one of the greatest ideas I had heard in the last decade. Although I hadn’t originally intended to do so, as I lowered my coffee cup to the counter, I burst into laughter.
“What?” he shrugged as he stepped into the threshold of the doorway.
He would have been most women’s dream come true. A Harley riding hellion who was tall, muscular, handsome, rough, had a few tattoos scattered about his upper arms and a cock the size of a large cucumber. To me, however, the man was as useless as a snooze button on a smoke alarm. Having him standing in the same room as me made me slightly uncomfortable. I really wanted him to leave; the thought of him now that the night was over included no desire on my part to continue anything sexually. I suspected most women would have at least got a little more dick from the guy before he left. Hell, it wouldn’t have cost me anything.
Well, nothing but a little pride.
“Listen. Go grab your shit and hop on that HOG of yours and just go on home,” I said as I turned toward the sink.
“Somethin’ wrong?” he asked as he walked into the kitchen.
Okay, that’s too close.
I placed my cup on the counter and turned to face him. “Other than the fact you’re in my kitchen? No.”
I tilted my head toward the doorway. “Listen, just go.”
And it was then that he grabbed my shoulder. It wasn’t the kind of grab a girl likes. Not the one that makes her go weak in the knees or feel butterflies. Hell, it wasn’t even the one where a guy forces his woman to commit the act.
The way he grabbed me reminded me of my ex.
The “I’m getting what I came here for, regardless of what you just said” grab.
One clear benefit I could see in moving from San Diego to the Midwest was the effortless yet completely legal means of owning a firearm. California sat on one end of the spectrum mirroring communism while Kansas sat clearly on the other. Considering the amount of people I witnessed carrying guns on the streets since I’d moved to Kansas, it was almost as if I had moved to the Wild West. To comply with the state’s gun laws, a concealed carry permit could be obtained, allowing you to conceal your pistol and carry it at will. Or, a legal owner of any firearm could choose the “open carry” option – requiring no permit – and carry the weapon on his or her hip.
Personally, I chose the cabinet carry method.
I spun the side, pulled open the kitchen cabinet, grabbed my newly purchased .45 caliber Colt pistol and leveled it at his head.
“See, you could have left. You really could have,” I said as he began to walk backward, raising his hands a little higher with each step.
“What the fuck…”
“What the fuck is right. What the fuck did you grab me for? Huh?” I asked as I continued to force him closer to the door.
“I wanted to…”
“Shut up. Now you get to ride home barefoot. Get the fuck out,” I fumed as I tilted my head toward the door.
“Hold on,” he said. “You uhhm. Fuck, you really need to…”
“You’re all fucked up on where you are,” I said. “I make the rules in this house. You really need to go.”
“I can’t ride without my boots,” he shrugged as he continued to nervously eye the barrel of the pistol.
“You’d be surprised. Get out,” I demanded. “And I’ll leave whatever you’ve left here at the door of the bar where we met last night on my way to work.”
“You crazy little…”
“Bitch? Yeah. I am,” I said with a grin as he stumbled into the door.
“Now reach around and open it. It’s unlocked,” I said as I nodded my head toward the door.
‘You’re really going to…”
“Yeah, really,” I said as I reached past him with my free hand and opened the door.
“Crazy bitch,” he said over his shoulder as he walked to his Harley.
“You fuck like a girl,” I hollered as I slammed the door.
I walked into the kitchen and set the pistol on the countertop. After warming my cold coffee in the microwave I made some toast, sat down, and began to eat my light breakfast. Half a dozen beers, a few margaritas, and who knows what afterward had led to a night that was a blur of a memory at best, and now my stomach was in turmoil; anything more than toast and I’d yack for sure.
And I hated barfing just about as much as I hated men with no stamina.
As the sound of his Harley faded into the distance, it was almost as if a small part of my confidence went with him. A girl with my looks, body, sexual appetite, and my attitude should be able to find a man compatible with her.
But try as I might, I always seemed to choose the losers.
I had decided after leaving Bart that the next man I settled down with was going to treat me right, fuck me right, and be able to stand on his own two feet without my income as a crutch.
And I really didn’t care how many men I had to force out of my house at gunpoint to find him.
As a child, I dreamed not of obtaining material things, toys, or property of any kind, but of spending time with my parents, playing in the yard, and being allowed to enjoy life as the kid I desperately wanted to be. My childhood slipped away from me, somehow without so much as a trip to the park, a single soccer match, or a birthday party with my friends.
I was raised in a disciplinary home by parents who placed tremendous value in protecting their only child from the drugs, violence, and mayhem they believed to be prevalent in the streets of the city I grew up in.
Receiving my education at home, having little exposure to other children, and being raised by a caretaker while my parents either worked or mingled with the business partners of my father should have left me mentally deranged or yearning for even an ounce of affection. For some reason, it didn’t. As an adult I would describe myself as cocky, confident, and extremely wealthy. Most who didn’t know me portrayed me as being an arrogant man, but nothing could be further from the truth.
I viewed myself as being extremely disciplined, capable of exercising control in almost any situation, and slightly weary of outsiders attempting to enter my otherwise private life. The fact that I was human and male assured me there would always, however, be exceptions to these rules.
As I stood under the overhang and gazed out at the parking lot, the unmistakable high-pitched complaint of an angry woman caused me to shift my eyes toward the sound of the well-chosen string of expletives.
“Son of a fucking cocksucking motherfucking bitch.”
Standing beside what I suspected was her bicycle with her hands full of groceries; she widened her eyes and appeared as if she was ready to start a fight. “What are you looking at?” she snarled.
I tried to keep from laughing and eventually shrugged my shoulders and simply grinned. She was five foot tall at best, weighed maybe a hundred pounds, wore jean shorts, a sleeveless tee-shirt – which she obviously made at home – and hair that resembled the color of a peach. As my eyes darted from her gorgeous face to her remarkably colored hair and back to her tattooed arms, I realized she was covered from her wrists to her shoulders in the colorful ink.
I had always perceived tattoos to be an interesting form of art, but found them quite distasteful on women.
Yet she was remarkably beautiful.
“I was looking at the rain,” I said as I shifted my eyes once again to the parking lot. “But your expressed displeasure caught my attention.”
“Expressed displeasure?” she said mockingly as she rested her bike against the long string of shopping carts.
“Mmhhmm,” I responded.
As much as I wanted to turn and admire her tattoos, I forced myself to gaze into the parking lot at the late afternoon deluge that fell from the summer sky. My choice to stare blankly at the rainstorm didn’t satisfy me for long, but considering her striking good looks and the fact I enjoyed ogling people’s tattoos, it was no surprise I eventually turned in her direction and smiled.
“I like your tattoos,” I said. “They’re fascinating.”
She lowered her groceries to the concrete, crossed her arms, and tilted her head to the side. “Really? You’re the first person to ever tell me that.”
I cocked an eyebrow and feigned surprise. I was still quite lost in her beauty. “Is that so?”
She narrowed her eyes and leaned back slightly. “No, it isn’t so, you idiot. You’re like the tenth person this week who’s said some shit about them. I fucking swear, do guys just think mentioning a chick’s tattoos is the best way to get in her pants?”
Arrogant or conceited may be inaccurate descriptions of me, but naïve could be used at times, and accurately so. I often wondered if my sheltered childhood prevented me from obtaining all of the real-world exposure that left most men with the keen sense of human nature which I seemed to lack.
“I wasn’t trying to get in your pants. I merely made an observation,” I responded as I turned away.
The rain continued to come down in a manner resembling a hurricane, something typical of a Gulf Coast fueled summer rain in the Midwest.
“Here’s an observation for you. It’s fucking raining,” she said as she waved her hand toward the parking lot.
It certainly wasn’t small talk, nor did she appear to be the slight bit interested in anything more than getting home with her groceries, but to me it was enough of an exchange to encourage me to press a little further.
“Well, it doesn’t look like it’s stopping any time soon, so…” I paused and turned toward her. “I can offer to toss your bike in the back of my car and give you a ride.”
With her eyes still fixed on me, she waved her hand toward her bicycle. “I don’t toss my bike around. It’s my only ride, so I take care of it.”
“I didn’t mean…nevermind. Let me run and get my car and I’ll pull up here and pop the hatch. I’m Wilson,” I said as I held my hand out.
“Like Tom Hanks’ little buddy, the volleyball?” she asked with a laugh.
I pursed my lips and nodded my head, guessing I had heard the comparison made as many times as she’d had people make a comment about her tattoos. Considering all things, it was far from practical for me to toss the bicycle of an unknown tattooed girl with the mouth of a sailor into the back of my SUV and give her a ride home. Nonetheless, I stood and stared at her admiringly, hoping she would agree to my offer.
“Okay, Wilson. I’d tell you normally I don’t do shit like this, but it’d be a fucking lie. I’m Stevie. I appreciate the offer. Thanks,” she said as she shook my hand.
As she released my hand my mouth curled into a smile. As much as I liked the thought of a girl with a unique name like Stevie, I couldn’t help myself.
“Like the blind singer from the 1960’s, Stevie Wonder?” I asked.
“Good one,” she said. “Now go get your car before you say something stupid and I decide to ride in the rain.”
I gazed down at my one week old Allen Edmonds Oxfords. I doubted the rain would actually harm the shoe, and even if it did, in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter – but something about running through the six inches of water standing in the parking lot in my newly purchased $400.00 shoes didn’t seem sensible.
And, for the most part, I was always sensible.
I turned toward her and grinned. “Be back in a minute.”
I reached into the pocket of my pants, gripped the key fob in my hand, and dashed through the parking lot as fast as I was able. By the time I reached my vehicle, I was soaked from my feet to mid-thigh. I yanked the door open, flopped down into the leather seat, and stared down at the rain-soaked pants as they clung to my legs.
A far cry from my typical day at the office.
As I pulled the SUV alongside the curb in front of the store, Stevie stood and stared. I pressed the hatch-release button on the dash and rolled the passenger window down slightly.
“Just wait there, I’ll get it,” I said through the open window.
As she nodded her head I rolled up the window. After getting out and running around the car, I picked up her bike and carefully placed it in the back of the SUV and closed the hatch. Without speaking, we made eye contact, and she quickly leaped from under the overhand toward the vehicle in two long strides.
Now sitting in the car drenched from head to toe, I turned to face her. She was equally soaked, her orange and pink hair a darkened wet mess matted to the sides of her face. After a short time of surveying the interior of the vehicle, she reached for her seatbelt.
“So, a Porsche? You haul your kids around in this?” she asked, improperly pronouncing the word “Porsche” in one syllable.
“Yes,” I said as I pulled away from the curb. “And no.”
She glanced up from situating the bags of groceries at her feet and narrowed her eyes. “Huh?” she huffed.
“Yes, I drive a Porsche,” I said, pronouncing the word Por-sha. “And no, I don’t haul kids around in this. I’m single, and I have no children.
“I thought it was Porsche,” she said, improperly pronouncing the word once more.
I shook my head. “It really doesn’t matter. I was being facetious. Almost everyone pronounces it like you do.”
As I waited at the exit for a break in traffic, she sat sideways in her seat and studied me. After a moment, she shifted in the seat, faced forward, and stared out into traffic.
“‘Expressed displeasure.’ ‘Merely made an observation.’ ‘Por-sha.’ ‘I was being facetious.’ You sound like you went to Harvard,” she said, pronouncing the word Hah-vahd.
“I did not attend Harvard,” I said as I checked traffic in each direction. As I glanced to my right, my eyes once again became fixed on her.
She raised her hands and began raking her fingers through her wet hair as her eyes fell to her lap. Her forearms seemed to be much more colorful now that they were wet. After enjoying watching her for a short moment, I pulled out of the exit and accelerated into traffic.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
She continued to toss her hair. “You know where Riverside is?” she asked as she glanced in my direction.
I did my best to focus on the road ahead of me and not stare at her, although doing so was difficult at best. The more I studied her, the more I wanted to continue.
I nodded my head as I approached the highway. “I sure do.”
“Well, head that direction,” she said.
As she peered out the side window, seeming to take each passing car and the few distant buildings into memory, she cleared her throat.
“So, were you lurking at the store waiting for some poor girl to need a ride?” she asked as she turned in my direction.
“Excuse me?” I responded.
“You were leaving, and you didn’t have a bag, weren’t holding anything, and you don’t have a bulge in your pockets, so what were you doing there? Is this something you do frequently?” she asked.
Her eyes were an almost transparent brown, and her skin was dark, but didn’t seem overly dark like some of the women who spent countless hours in the sun or a tanning booth. As I formulated my response in my head, I wondered what color her hair would be if she hadn’t colored it the combination of blonde and pink.
“I was mailing my sister a package on the way to my office,” I responded.
She gazed down at my still soaking wet pants, peered into the rear of the vehicle, and turned to face me.
“So what is it that you do, Wilson?” she asked.
“I buy and sell stocks,” I responded.
“So, you’re a stockbroker?” she asked.
“No, not a broker,” I responded, shaking my head. “A broker works as an intermediary of sorts, making trades on behalf of retail clients. I buy and sell securities in the same day, normally in large quantities, hoping for a small increase, but making a large profit due to the amount purchased. It’s a fast-paced business.”
“Day trader?” she asked.
“Exactly,” I responded, surprised she had even heard of the title.
“You don’t look like a day trader. Not that I was looking, but you’re built like a body builder,” she said.
I grinned and nodded my head. “The wet shirt gave it away, didn’t it? Thank you, I’ve studied martial arts my entire life, and I’m quite dedicated. My parents insisted on it. A man should be able to protect himself and the ones he loves.”
“You don’t ride a Harley, do you?” she asked as she shifted her eyes toward my chest.
“I sure don’t,” I responded with a laugh. “Why?”
As her focus stayed fixed on my mid-section, I realized not only were my wet pants pasted to my legs, but my soaking wet shirt was stuck to my arms and chest, and was almost transparent.
“Just wondering. I only date guys who ride Harleys, and I just moved here, and I’m single, so I was just, I don’t know…”
The thought of being in a relationship with anyone caused me tremendous grief. Although I had been with women sexually, I had never been in an actual relationship with anyone. My parents, financial status, aggressive work practices, and frequent travel all but prohibited me from being in an effective relationship.
No one would ever suit my parents, unless I married someone from another state. Their thoughts of people in the Midwest were that they weren’t good enough for me, even though they had lived in the Midwest for the majority of their adult lives. Over time, their constant fear of a woman taking my fortune in whole or in part became my fear.
As hard as I had worked for my money, I often felt I would be willing to forfeit it all to have a normal life with a normal woman; far away from the watchful eyes and constant questioning of my parents.
“What do you do?” I asked.
“Tattoo artist. Just got a job at Blurred Lines, it’s a pretty new shop in Old Town,” she responded.
I nodded my head as I exited the highway. “It’s an awful shame about the Harley thing.”
She wrinkled her brow and raised one eyebrow slightly. “What do you mean?” she asked.
“Well, I only date tattoo artists,” I responded. “So it’s a shame you only date guys who ride Harleys. I guess I could buy one.”
“You can’t buy the personality,” she said.
“Oh, so I don’t have a personality?” I asked.
“Turn here,” she said as she pointed at the upcoming street.
As I turned the corner, the rain slowed to a light sprinkle. I realized what she meant in her comment about my personality, or at least I felt that I knew what she was trying to say. The back and forth banter regarding a relationship was a nice change of pace, and I found it to be not only interesting, but quite entertaining. As my mind floated away to thoughts of having a petite tattooed girlfriend with a foul mouth, she answered my earlier question.
“You’ve got the personality of a rich brat,” she said. “And what I was saying is that you may buy the Harley, but you can’t buy the personality I want.”
I immediately took exception to her remarks. I was far from a rich brat, and my actions, our dialogue, nor my dress made me appear to be so.
“Rich brat?” I said. “I take exception to that statement. If I would have been dressed in jeans and boots and pulled up to the front of the store in a truck, would you say the same thing?”
She shook her head. “No, but you didn’t. You’re dressed in slacks, a nice button down shirt, and dress shoes. And you pulled up in a Por-sha. Oh, and you’re a day trader. You buy and sell securities in the same day, normally in large quantities, hoping for a small increase, but making a large profit due to the amount purchased. Or whatever it was that you said,” she said mockingly.
I was thoroughly impressed at her capacity to retain information, primarily her ability to recite word for word what I had said earlier. Even so, her comment was without warrant, and wasn’t supported by her claims.
“So, I don’t have the personality of a rich brat, I have the perception of one. My dress, my choice of vehicles, nor my profession would be indicative of the personality I possess. I have a great personality,” I said.
“Maybe if you pulled that stick out of your ass,” she said. “Turn here, on Eleventh. Then a right on Lewellen.”
Her personality was as colorful as her tattoos and her hair. Contrary to anything sensible, and without a doubt against the beliefs and potential support of my parents, I decided to press even further.
“I would like to take you on a date,” I said.
“Right here,” she said as she pointed to a small brownstone on the left side. “1229.”
“Would you now? Well, I might consider it, but you’ll have to dress in something different. I don’t own any clothes like that, so you’ll need to get some jeans and a tee shirt,” she said.
“I have jeans and tee shirts,” I responded as I turned into the driveway.
I gazed out the windshield and out into the sky. The rain had stopped, and the sun was shining through a gap between the clouds as they slowly rolled away. As I shifted my gaze from the sky to the driveway in front of me, I realized the home had no garage, and there wasn’t a car in sight. I shifted the gear selector into park and turned in her direction.
“Is your vehicle broken?” I asked.
“My vehicle is in the back,” she responded as she tossed her head toward the rear of the car. “I don’t own a car. I’m from San Diego, and it never fucking rains there.”
“Oh,” I responded, quite shocked to learn that she had no vehicle.
She opened the door, grabbed her groceries, and stepped out of the car. I pressed the button to release the hatch, stepped from the car and quickly followed.
“So, when do you prefer to try and do this?” I asked as I walked toward the rear of the vehicle.
“Do what?” she asked.
For having an almost photographic memory of our previous dialogue, she sure seemed to forget the details of our recent discussion about going on a date in a matter of minutes. Maybe it wasn’t as important to her as it had become to me.
“Go on a date,” I responded as I pulled her bicycle out of the back of the car.
“Oh that,” she said. “I don’t know. How about tonight?”
Short of being slightly over an hour later to arrive at my office than I had planned, I knew my day’s schedule was as slight as any other. My evening would be spent at the office, gym, and home, in that order.
“Tonight sounds great,” I said as I pushed her bike toward where she stood.
She glanced upward and grinned, eventually revealing a smile which made her appear slightly more beautiful than she seemed to be without it. Her tattoos set aside, she was certainly as or more beautiful than any other woman I had ever seen.
After seeing her with the tattoos, I could not imagine her without them. In the past I would have turned my nose upward at a woman with as many tattoos as she had, but for her, they only added to her already outgoing personality. And, although I had yet to decide for certain, I was almost convinced they also added to her beauty.
“Alright. I’m not giving you my phone number if that’s what you’re standing there waiting for. Just pick me up here, tonight at oh, let’s say, six thirty. How’s that sound?” she asked.
I grinned and nodded my head. “I’ll see you at six thirty.”
“Bye, Wilson,” she said as she turned away.
I waved as she pushed her bicycle toward the side of the house, but it appeared she paid no attention. Slightly disappointed in her lack of expressed interest, I reluctantly walked to the side of the car, got in, and backed out of the drive.
As I shifted the car into gear and prepared to pull away, I peered over my shoulder and toward the front porch just in time to see the door swing closed. My final effort to catch one more glimpse of her obviously wasn’t meant to be.
Her image, however, was clearly etched into my mind.
And my entire work day was spent thinking not of short sales, securities, stocks, options, or futures, but of her.
And the seemed to drag on forever.
For some reason I had spent the majority of the afternoon of my day off thinking of Wilson. It was unlike me to spend any time daydreaming or contemplating the possibilities of life – or men for that matter – I had always been a “by the seat of your pants” type of girl. When things happened, I reacted, and I didn’t really worry about what may be or what might happen, focusing only on what had happened and what I should do as a result. For whatever reason, I seemed to be intrigued by Wilson, his kind and caring nature, and his matter-of-fact personality. He was completely the opposite of what I had always been attracted to in a man, but something about him sure seemed to have captured my interest.
A large part of it had to be his handsome looks. He was a very attractive man with an extremely strong presence. His wet shirt clinging to his well-defined chest and muscular biceps as he ran through the rain may have played a large part in my subconscious attraction. Realistically, there wasn’t anything wrong with him that I could see; only that he wasn’t a biker, and I had always dated bikers.
I straightened my work station and cleaned my drawers free of trash as I tried to convince myself a change in pace wasn’t necessarily going to be a bad thing. Maybe going on a date with a rich brat was just what I needed.
Riley’s heavy sigh from across the shop caught my attention and shifted my focus from thoughts of Wilson to the reality of cleaning the shop. Riley was the fiancé of the owner, Blake, and didn’t have a job. I guessed she must not need one, because she came into the shop and worked as a half-assed receptionist on a daily basis. She seemed to be a little bit of a lost soul, but she fit Blake’s scatterbrained personality perfectly. As broken as they were apart, together they seemed to somehow correct all of their individual faults and shortcomings.
Well, almost all of them.
“The pictures are all fuzzy. It’s supposed to take really clear pictures, but it freaking sucks,” she said as she stared down at the screen of her new phone.
She had just completed taking another series of photos of the shop, and was attempting to make a Facebook page. After I finished sweeping my floor I walked to the reception area and glared at her as she continued to flip through the grainy pictures on her phone.
I reached for her phone. “Let me see it.”
“It’s stupid. I swear, you’d think for six hundred bucks it would take better pictures than my old phone,” she said as she handed me the phone.
After looking over a few of the terribly blurry photos, I turned the phone over and glanced at the camera’s lens. The clear plastic protective film was still affixed to it, making obtaining a clear photo nothing short of impossible. I turned toward her, shook my head, and peeled the film from the lens.
“Here, dumbass,” I said as I handed her the phone. “My guess is it’ll do a lot better now.”
She chuckled as she reached for the phone. “Oh, wow. Now I feel stupid.”
“You are stupid,” I said as I turned away.
Riley was far from stupid, but I liked teasing her. She had quickly become my favorite person, and was my only girlfriend. She was a fairly quiet person, listened well, and was easy to frustrate, leaving me no alternative but to tease her. Her sense of wit was pretty keen, but a little slow at times.
“I am not,” she shouted as I sat down on my stool.
I reached for my drawer, pulled out a box of cellophane wrap, and pulled about ten feet of it from the roll. After folding the wrap into a two foot square, I held it directly in front of my face, and attempted to peer through it toward where she was standing.
“Fuck, I can’t see a thing. Everything’s all blurry,” I whined.
“Fuck you, Stevie,” she snapped back.
I wadded the cellophane into a ball and tossed it toward the trash basket in the front of the store, a good twenty-five feet from where I was sitting. It fell directly into the trash as Riley pivoted in a circle, snapping photos of the shop with every ten degrees or so of rotation. I nodded my head in confirmation of my skills, half aggravated that Riley didn’t witness the almost impossible basket.
“You didn’t see that, did you?” I asked as I waved my hand toward the basket again.
She continued to pivot a few inches at a time, snapping a picture each time she stopped. “See what?” she asked.
“Forget it,” I sighed.
“So, why are you in such a shitty mood?” she asked as she leaned against the stool and began flipping through her newly acquired photos.
I shrugged my shoulders and tossed my head toward the door. “It’s fucking raining again.”
“I can take you home,” she said without looking up from her phone.
“Hopefully it’ll stop here pretty quick,” I responded.
She glanced up and peered toward where I was sitting. “I can’t believe you came in on your day off just to clean your station.”
“I can’t believe you came in on your day off to take pictures. Me? I love this place,” I said in a sarcastic tone.
Truthfully, I did enjoy going in to work, even on my day off. It was a really cool shop, and Blake and Riley were as good of people as I had ever met. Being at work was soothing for me, even if I wasn’t actually working. The shop was a place I knew I could find peace, and no one messed with me when I was there. There were the occasional idiots who came in and wanted some stupid tattoo, but seeing them, hearing their stories, and giving them a piece of artwork – even if it was stupid – was always pretty entertaining. Today, as odd as it seemed, I was apprehensive about my upcoming date with Wilson, and seemed to be trying to waste time until six o’clock rolled around. At times, I wished Blake would just keep the shop open seven days a week; at least I would always have something to do. As the buzzer for the front door sounded, I glanced toward the entrance.
“Is there a Stevie here?” the man asked as he entered the shop.
“Right here,” I said as I walked toward him. “Actually, we’re closed, but what can I do for you?”
“Here you go,” he said as he dangled a pair of what appeared to be key fobs from his fingers.
“Here you go what?” I shrugged as I glanced down at his hand.
“Mr. Wilson was afraid you’d be riding your bike in the rain. He sent this for you,” he said.
I wrinkled my nose and stared. “Mr. Wilson?”
“That is correct, ma’am,” he said.
He appeared to be in his mid-twenties, was an attractive guy, and was dressed similar to Wilson, wearing slacks, a pressed shirt, and dress shoes.
“Wait a minute. Mr. Wilson? So his last name is Wilson? And he sent me a fucking car?” I asked, half confused and slightly excited.
“I’m not at liberty to say, ma’am. And that is correct, he sent you a car,” he responded with a nod of his head.
He reached toward me and shook the key fobs as if they were a bell.
I glanced toward Riley and widened my eyes. As she began to walk in our direction, I shifted my eyes toward the man with the keys. “He rented me a car to drive so I wouldn’t get wet? And what do you mean you’re not at liberty to say? Who the fuck are you?”
He stood stone-faced with his hands on his hips. “I’m Andrew, and associate of Mr. Wilson’s. And no, ma’am, he didn’t rent a car. He purchased the car and had me pick it up for you. I was advised to deliver the car to you. Mr. Wilson was afraid the rain may hinder your ride home and prevent you from being on time for your meeting later this evening.”
“So you’re giving me this car to drive so I don’t get wet?” I asked, attempting to contain my excitement.
As much as I was against cars and associated them with confinement, living in Kansas was a far cry from living in San Diego, and not having a car was proving to be impossible.
“No ma’am. Not exactly. It appears Mr. Wilson purchased the car for you. He was under the understanding you didn’t have a car, and he wanted you to be able to get out of the weather. He said…” He paused and glanced down at his feet.
As he shifted his eyes upward, he continued. “He said it was the closest he could get to providing you with San Diego’s weather.”
“So you’re giving her a car?” Riley asked as she reached for the keys.
He pulled the keys toward his chest. “No ma’am. Mr. Wilson is giving her a car. I’m sorry, there’s a cab waiting, and I need to get back to the office. Mr. Wilson’s card is in the passenger seat. You may call him if you have any further questions.”
I glanced at Riley and grinned. As strange as it seemed, I extended my open hand and shifted my eyes toward Andrew. He released the keys into my hand, nodded his head, and turned toward the door.
“It’s the white coupe parked by the door,” he said over his shoulder.
I glanced down at the two key fobs.
Riley looked up with wide eyes after studying the keys. “Uhhm, those are keys to a BMW.”
“I can see that,” I said as I walked toward the window.
“So the guy you met at the grocery store bought you a fucking car?” Riley asked.
I shrugged my shoulders.
She chuckled, covered her mouth, and turned to face me. “You sucked his cock, didn’t you?”
“No I didn’t suck his fucking cock,” I snapped back. “He just gave me a ride.”
It was slightly out of character for me not to suck his cock, but for some reason I hadn’t. Maybe it was because it was ten o’ clock in the morning, and I hadn’t been drinking yet. One predictable pattern of mine was that sex seemed to always follow the consumption of alcohol.
With Riley at my side, I stood and peered through the glass. A white two door BMW sat beside the curb in front of the shop. The window sticker from the dealership was still on the passenger side window. Without speaking I walked to the front door of the shop, opened it, and waited for Riley. Together we walked to the curb and stared at the car. After studying the key fob for a moment, I pressed the button to unlock the car.
“Get in,” I said as I opened the driver’s side door.
The inside of the car was a combination of light tan and black, and smelled of new leather. In slight shock, I sat in the seat and stared at the gear selector. A short but confusing moment later, I leaned back in the seat and stared down at the pedals.
As Riley got into the passenger side of the car she handed me a business card, obviously the one Wilson had left on the seat of the car for me. The name “Wilson” and a phone number were all that was on the card. It was simple but mysterious in an odd sense. Maybe it was because I wanted it to be. I dropped the card into the center console, turned to face Riley, and shrugged my shoulders.
“It’s a stick shift, but there’s no clutch pedal,” I said as I glanced around, trying to make sense of the many dials and levers. “How the fuck do you make it go?”
“It’s just like mine,” Riley said.
Riley’s ex bought her a new BMW for her birthday, and when they separated, she kept the car. She seemed to love driving it, and her knowledge of the futuristic spaceship like cockpit would certainly be useful to someone used to riding nothing but a bicycle.
“It’s a manual shift with no clutch pedal. It’s fun. See those paddles on the steering wheel?” she asked as she motioned toward the center of the steering wheel.
On each side of the center of the steering wheel was a small silver lever. The one on the left was clearly marked with a minus symbol, and the one on the right with a plus symbol. After studying them for a moment, I nodded my head.
“The one on the left shifts down and the one on the right shifts up. You just click them up and down, and there’s no clutch pedal, the levers do it all,” Riley explained.
“No shit?” I asked.
Riley opened the door, stepped onto the sidewalk and leaned into the car. “Let’s lock the shop and go for a drive.”
I continued to glance around the car, nodding my head mindlessly as I tried to make sense of everything. A few minutes later Riley opened the door, lowered herself into the seat, and buckled her seatbelt.
I had always explained how I hated cars, and rode my bicycle to make a statement regarding my opinion of the freedom it represented. As much as I did enjoy riding my bike in California, riding it in Kansas was an entirely different experience. The wind, varying temperatures, and rain made riding it on a daily basis almost impossible. For me to buy a car, however, would have been impossible. My rent, utilities, and booth rental at the shop was about all I could currently afford. To think some man I didn’t even know had bought me a car was impossible for me to comprehend, but him allowing me to use it for the afternoon wasn’t so much of a stretch.
“Ready?” Riley asked.
I buckled my seat belt, turned her direction, and shrugged my shoulders. I knew how to drive, but it had been a long time since I had done so. The futuristic cockpit of the BMW made me a little nervous to say the least. Riley having one and knowing the intricacies of it helped make me slightly more comfortable.
“Yeah,” I said as I looked at the rectangular key fob.
There was no key on the fob.
“As long as the key is in your pocket or purse or whatever, all you do is push the button on the dash. It’ll start it. And you push it again to shut it off when you’re done. So, push the button and start it,” she said.
I pushed the button on the dash and started the car. The low rumble from the engine echoed against the long line of brick buildings along the street. The rain had all but stopped for the time being, but the windshield was covered in droplets from sitting outside from what had now been no less than fifteen minutes. As I nervously searched for the windshield wipers, Riley reached over and pressed a lever on the right side of the steering wheel. I glanced up in time to see the wipers wipe the windshield once.
“They sense the rain in that mode,” she said. “If it starts raining, they’ll wipe it off.”
As strange as it seemed, I was nervous. “So…”
Riley reached toward the lever in the center of the car and wiggled it.
“Just push the gas, and flip those little levers up and down. You’ll get the hang of it here pretty quick,” she said.
I situated my foot against the accelerator pedal, checked over my left shoulder for traffic, and pressed the pedal down after seeing no traffic approaching. The car felt as if it had been shot out of a cannon, lurching into the street with so much force it pressed my body into the seat. Within an instant, the engine was revving so high the sound from the exhaust was a loud shrill.
I pulled against the lever on the right side of the steering wheel. The car lurched forward once again and the RPM’s came down slightly. I pulled the lever again and the car lunged slightly and the engine slowed down to a light drone. I glanced down at the speedometer.
In the few seconds of driving, and without doing anything but trying to pull away from the curb, I was going 80 miles an hour.
“Shit,” I shouted as I pressed against the brake.
Riley laughed. “You’ll get used to it.”
Living on the cusp of being poor white trash and seeing he clearly lived somewhere in complete contrast made me believe the differences between Wilson and me were enough that I would never get used to the things he may do to, for, or with me.
I was anxious to find out.
I doubt many thirty year old men worried about what their parents thought regarding the woman they were going on a date with, but I couldn’t seem to keep from doing so. As a child, my parents were protective of me, and as an adult they weren’t necessarily protective, but they were certainly eager to learn about my every move and decision when it came to women.
I was still, and would probably always remain, their little boy.
Their expressed belief of their hopes – or requirements – regarding my choice of female companions prevented me from being in a meaningful relationship for my younger years based solely on my fear of disappointing them alone. My own fear of making a decision which could ultimately crush me financially, or the possibility of encountering a gold digger who was much less interested in me than she was my finances all but prohibited me from acting on my infrequent sexual desires as an adult.
And then I met Stevie.
After I dropped her off and drove to my office all my common sense and fear of parental retribution seemed to be cast aside. I found myself all but dwelling on her current situation and not having a vehicle in what appeared to be the beginning of a three day rainstorm. As fate would have it, it was enough of an issue for me to act on it.
There was no doubt I could have done things differently. I could have very easily rented her a car, provided her with a far less expensive car, or even given her one of my own vehicles to use, but for whatever reason I did not.
I believed in looking back on how I handled the situation, I was no different than most extremely wealthy men. I wanted to be recognized as being so. As pretentious as it may seem to others for me to have sent her a new BMW, in reality it wasn’t pretentious at all. My current financial status would have allowed me to send her half of a dozen similar cars without noticing the deficit from my personal account. I was an extremely wealthy man, and I wasn’t acting beyond my financial means. If anything, I probably should have sent her a new Ferrari.
Never having felt the way I felt about Stevie seemed quite out of place considering my knowledge of her, but that lack of knowledge was partially to blame for my reaction. I wanted to know more about her, and for whatever reason, I felt a burning desire to take care of her any or all costs.
Now concerned with my parent’s reaction to my decision, but harboring zero regret, I pulled into the driveway of her home. Although I had already made a mental note of the fact she had no garage, seeing the vehicle sitting out in the weather was a reminder of her lack of some of the luxuries I took for absolute granted.
Dressed in jeans, leather loafers, and a V-neck tee shirt, felt slightly out of sorts, but not nearly as out of sorts as I felt picking up a girl for a date. My stomach was a mess, my face felt flush, and my nerves were on edge.
I turned off the ignition, swallowed my mint, and opened the door. Before I was able to step from the car, Stevie walked out onto the porch, turned to face me, and smiled. She wasn’t dressed in jeans and a tee shirt, and if she didn’t previously own clothes to match what I was wearing when we met, she had apparently gone out and purchased some.
Dear Lord, please allow this woman to see me for who I am, and not what I appear to be.
As she stepped from the porch and began toward me, I stood and stared, incapable of doing much else. Somehow, however, I managed to stumble toward the other side of the vehicle and open the door. Standing beside the car with my mouth agape and my mind reeling from a newfound beauty of her, I gazed in her direction with wide eyes and rapidly beating heart.
As she leaned a little closer, she raised her hand to my cheek, stood on her tip-toes, and kissed me on the cheek.
And my heart stopped completely.