I stared at my phone in confusion, reading my aunt’s text again and growing sick with her vague words.
Something came up. Need you to collect my car - Melanie
She sent me the address, no explanation, no reassurance but just an order. Thank god, the address was near so I had no problem sparing a little change for the bus ride. I was a little nervous because it was right off the edge of Miami which had a reputation for its rundown buildings where drug dealers and addicts hung about. Or so I’d heard. It was my first time being so close to uncharted territory.
“Thank you,” I said to the bus driver and he tipped his head in acknowledgement, driving down the streets as I stared up at garage beaming bright neon lights against the darkening sky.
I’d never heard it before. Out of every other mechanic shop, she had to choose this one? It was a large building, standing adjacent to the road for any possible customers to get their vehicles fixed. In fact, it was so far off the city, it appeared convenient, almost eerie as there were no other buildings near within a mile from where I stood. From the distance, I saw cars hanging in the air as a few men worked on the wheels which came in various sizes. They also worked on motorcycles.
An evening chill passed and I welcomed it after hours facing the blistering heat that came with Miami. Tucking a loose tendril behind my ear, I headed straight in, ignoring the stares of some of the men as I searched for some kind of receptionist. There was none. How the hell was I supposed to get my aunt’s car? There should be someone to check in for my name and evidence for a receipt, right? She’d sent me the receipt via email, just in case they didn’t believe me.
My frustration grew and my skin prickled as the stares intensified. It was only then I realised that I was the only girl here. Being surrounded by men, especially when they stared as if I was a lamb wandering into the lions’ den, was unnerving. My natural instinct was to spin on my heels and run for the hills but my aunt wouldn’t appreciate it.
I bit my bottom lips, my steps faltering as I searched around, trying to feign some confidence and seemed unfazed by the amount of attention heading my way. Not knowing how long I could pretend, I almost gave up when a deep, gravelly voice shot through me, my soul fleeing my body in fright.
At first, I froze, confusion over through me. Was he talking to me? The voice was directed towards me but I wasn’t sure. Who the hell was named Bambi anyways? After a few seconds of silence, he called out again but with slight annoyance.
“I’m talking to you, girl,”
Shit, definitely me. Slowly turning around, I came face to face with the most peculiar eyes I’d ever met. I couldn’t stop staring at them; I couldn’t stop staring at him. Hands down, he was the most beautiful man I’d ever met.
He was tall, really tall, with dark curly hair tumbling around his sharp facial features. Up close, one eye looked slightly greener than the other but from afar, you wouldn’t notice. In fact, they would appear more brown than green. From his bronze complexion, I couldn’t pinpoint his ethnicity exactly. I was left completely dumbstruck and I licked my bottom lip to make sure I had no drool.
“Me?” I squeaked, pointing to my chest.
“You’re the only girl I see,”
I lowered my gaze to my shoes, my chest tightening with loss of oxygen as my face heated. When I gathered the courage to take a peek at him, he waved me over and he walked away. I took this as a sign to follow behind.
He headed towards a door by the corner of the building. It almost seemed hidden with the cars around catching our attention. I felt the eyes of the others boring holes through my thigh length summer dress. Wincing at the whistles and catcalls thrown my way, I scurried behind his heels and the guy opened the door, stepping aside to let me in first.
I didn’t miss the hard looks he sent over my shoulder and as on a silent command, the whistles quietened. It didn’t matter that they were gone, my embarrassment burned deeply in my chest that I felt too aware of my surroundings... of him.
Him, he needed a name. He didn’t introduce himself and I was too shy to even ask. From the tension rolling off him and the scowl marring his handsome features, he didn’t seem to have a warm personality. Cold personalities set me on edge; I didn’t feel at ease around them. One move and I would feel like I’d do something wrong even if I didn’t. For fuck’s sake, he didn’t even smile when he saw him.
He rounded the desk that was filled with piles and piles of paperwork and stacks of empty pizza boxes littered on the ground. His dark gaze darted to me and nodded at the chair across from him. Without hesitation, I sat down and crossed my legs, playing with my fingers nervously as I waited for this torturous silence to end.
With a sigh, he straightened his posture and the familiar sound of my aunt’s keys chimed in the air. He played with them around his index finger and tossed it my way. My reflexes kicked in and I caught them with ease.
“Thanks,” I murmured lowly.
“You needed a new set of tires. I caught a few other things wrong with your car and I got that fixed, don’t need to pay extra,”
He tossed the file in front of me but I didn’t look down to see what he repaired. We held gazes for a split second before I looked away. Pretending to look over the page, I stood to my feet, hiking my bag over my shoulder while clutching the keys tightly as if they’d disappear. They couldn’t disappear because I was gonna high-tail the fuck out of here.
“Thank you, I should get going,”
I turned around but paused when his deep voice reached my ears.
“You can’t leave yet.”
Glancing over my shoulder, we locked eyes again. Unlike mine that was filled with confusion, his didn’t reveal anything. I couldn’t read him and it was unnerving. The muscles in his forearm tightened and flexed as he stood to his full height. I followed his movement as he headed for the door.
“W-what do you mean I can’t leave?” I stuttered and felt my heart rate accelerate.
I did, again, and when I walked out of his office, this time none of the guys glanced my way. From the way they were acting, you’d think I was invisible. I stared at the back of his head curiously. They feared him and I couldn’t blame them. The aura he exuded was intimidating and yet... sexy? I didn’t know but what I did know was he left me in a confused state. Who was this man?
He guided me around the corner of the garage and two guys were by my aunt’s car, washing it down... why? Were they part mechanics and car washers? Aunt Melanie always washed her own car, every Sunday, and she actually enjoyed it. It was her form of therapy. I felt his presence close to me, too close I could feel electric currents pass between us.
“You came a little early. Another thirty minutes more and I promise you can leave,”
The corner of his lips quirked upwards in amusement and I smiled nervously.
“You say thanks a lot,”
I blinked at this and turned to him fully. He wasn’t facing me but watching his men wipe down Melanie’s car. Wants wrong saying thank you? In all honesty, that word wasn’t being said enough these days.
“I’m just being polite,”
“So you are...”
I detected sarcasm in his tone and I didn’t like it. It almost sounded condescending. “Do you have a problem with me?”
At my question, glanced at me from the corner of his eyes, his irises so hazel my breathing hitched a fraction at the intensity of his look. “Do I need to have a problem?”
I stared at him in disbelief. Scoffing, I turned away but not without muttering. “Arrogant asshole.”
I said it loud enough so that he was able to hear. That sounded like the perfect name for him – Arrogant Asshole. It had a nice ring to it. When I noticed the guys stepping away and I took a few steps forward but then a hand shot out, gripping my forearm before sinking to catch my hand. I froze for a second and scrutinised our joined hands.
I stared at him, perplexed, and he drew me closer and didn’t let go of my hand. Bolts of electricity sizzled through me, travelling through my body before building down right at my core. Shocked by my reaction, I tore my hand from his.
He tilted my chin up a little and the muscle in his jaw ticked as the silence grew between us. Eventually, he spoke.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feeling,”
My feelings weren’t hurt. With the shit I’d been through, I didn’t let myself have feelings, let alone catch them. He was bringing out these emotions in me and I’d already been burned enough to not let myself get too far.
Not saying another word, I spun on my heels, pressing the button to unlock the car doors and opened the driver’s side, tossing my bag far enough that it landed on the passenger seat. I didn’t give him another glanced when I entered and slammed the door shut with enough force I was sure his thick skull could get the message.
Fuck his apology.
Twisting the ignition, the car hummed to life and looking through the rear-view mirror, I caught him standing there, his eyes pinned on me and still, I couldn’t make out what he was thinking. Again, the stare off between us began and he shoved his hands into his pockets in a relaxed manner in an ‘I can stand here all day and do this’ type of way. After what felt like forever, finally, I looked away.
I drove out of the parking lot, probably a little too quickly that would give notice.
I, Vanessa Anne Davies, have sworn off relationships for the meantime and focus on myself.
At least, for now.