The older man startles awake in the cold metal shack. He fell asleep on the space heater for the third time this week.
“Fuck, Ivonne.” He groans as he stretches in the small black office chair. “How long I been out?” He ruffles his blonde hair with his gloved hands and puts the beanie he’s been wearing tonight back on his head.
“45 minutes,” I mutter. “You lucky your wife sends me dinner with you, or I’d just fire you.”
He snickers, moving towards coat hanger to grab a reflective jacket off it. “Kelly has saved me a ton during our marriage. Knew she’d come in handy.”
I roll my eyes. “I hope every Sunday she drags you to church so you can thank the heavens for her.”
“You keep rolling them big brown eyes they gon’ fall out your head little girl.” Donny waggles his finger at me, jokingly.
“I do as I please,” I tease him back. “I am the manager after all.”
“Yeah yeah, don’t let that go to your little head.”
“Don’t make fun of my age just cause you’re getting to the big for- “
“DON’T YOU DARE.” Donny warned, his blue eyes narrowing at me.
I laughed at his serious expression. He’s going through a 2/5ths life crisis as he’s calling it. He’s freaking out about being 40 next month and refuses to accept it. I don’t know why he was so worried about it. He’s a good-looking guy, with a good paying job, a good wife, and the most adorable 4-year-old I know.
“I don’t understand the problem with being 40!” I exclaim still chuckling at him as he pulls on his snow boots. “You act like the reaper is waiting out there for you while you walk the dock.”
Donny just keeps shooting me daggers as he ties his hoodie up and attaches his radio onto the small loop on the reflective jacket.
“It’s just another decade into being old. I had an existential crisis for my 30th.” he explained, “I envy your 25.”
I laugh again. “Everybody would love to be young again. But you’ve got a good thing going at 40. Good job, amazing wife, the cutest little toddler ever!”
“It’s the process of getting older. You just want to be young again forever. And young like you? With the salary they’re payin’ you, I don’t know what I’d do.”
I smile. Donny would make a great manager, and I’ve told him that. But the job demands so much time, time he’d rather spend with his family.
“You’re right. I waste my money paying a degree I don’t use.” I shrug. “You’re better off than me right now.”
Donny thinks about it. “You’re right. I’m dumb and happy, not educated or debt.” And with that he walks out to go walk the dock.
I shake my head, turning my attention back to my laptop. I was tracking our volume for the night at our warehouse and we were still waiting on three inventory linehauls.
Just as I’m about to call the first linehaul driver, my radio crackles to life.
“Ivonne, you at the shack?” The onsite warehouse manager, Joe, calls out to me.
“Yeah, I’m at the check in point. What’s up?” I answer back, hoping that it’s not a request for me to get out my seat and into the blistering cold snow of New Jersey.
“You busy? Wanted to run a few things by you.” Joe’s voice crackles back at me and I let out a huff.
Why does this man always want to talk to me face to face; just shoot me a text message! I groan at the prospect of having to leave the warmth of this small space heater.
Just as I went to grab the radio and let Joe know I was coming into the warehouse, a linehaul pulled up, 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
I silently jump for joy, thanking this linehaul for keeping in the shack.
“Just had a linehaul show up. Can’t leave the yard unattended since Donny is doing the bay walk now. Shoot me a message.”
“Copy.” His answer was short, but I could tell he was not a happy camper I wouldn’t go inside. I can imagine the pout on his 30-year-old face, reminding me of Donny’s four-year old, Peter, when he puts on his little pouty face when he doesn’t get candy for breakfast. Joe’s brown hair was always under a baseball cap, his brown eyes and busy eyebrows always furrowed while he tried reading his laptop screen. The guy needed glasses but refused to get them. Something about them being for “old people”, furthering Donny’s despair to the measurement of what “old” was.
I turn to the window as the linehaul driver climbs out of his cab and knocks on the sliding window.
I couldn’t see the person because of the ice sheet on the window, distorting their face on the other side. With a forceful tug I was able to open the window, shattering the ice onto my desk inside, and onto the driver outside.
“I am so sorry!” I exclaim, getting the ice off my laptop trying to save it before any water could damage the keyboard and paperwork sitting on it.
“Don’t worry about it krasivyy” the deep smooth voice said with an accent I couldn’t place.I looked up finally and saw what had to be one of the most attractive men I had ever seen. His eyes were like the ocean, so blue and clear it scared me to look at him. His hair was a stark black, kept longer on top and faded on the side. His face was angular and sharp with a light stubble that I could see from the light shining over us in the shack. Tattoos were peeking out from under his thick fleece sweater around his neck also adorned by thin gold chains. He was tall too, probably around 6’4 or even taller.
I cleared my throat, hoping I wasn’t staring at him for too long before speaking, “License and bill of lading?”The driver pulled out his brown wallet, tattered up and worn from excessive use. He took out his ID and pulled his paperwork out from the pocket in his jacket. I do a quick check of his paperwork for the company’s dispatch number to register in the system. Thankfully we do business with Silvercaust all the time, I just needed to register him as a verified driver and get him an access card. I look at his ID and almost audibly gasped. How the hell does he look good even in his license?I shake my head. This guy could be a freakin’ model and here he is, driving trucks.
“How’s your night going?” his deep voice startled me. I was so in thought about how pretty he was I forgot he was even standing there.
I looked up from the computer screen to answer.
“Not too bad. Got another 8 hours of work ahead of me.” I answer back politely as I usually do with the drivers who come in. We often get older men with families who are the road 4-5 days a week. They love talking about being able to finally get home and spend some time with them. But this guy seemed pretty young to have kids and a family to worry about. Probably has a girlfriend in every state he drives with those looks. 27 to be exact, if I follow his license.
He’s an Aquarius too.
“How has your night been? Are we your last stop?” I ask him as I register him.
DOB: January 31st, 1992
NJ DOT #: 456743-100
“For the week yes, I’m being grounded until the snow dies down up north. Next stop is for me is Buffalo.” He answered.
I looked up as I could still feel his eyes on me. “They putting you up in our little town?” I joke with him.
We’re in Forrest, NJ one of the smallest towns in the state. We’re down the coast of the state on the very tip. It was heavily wooded forests where we located but only an hour from the shore.
“Seems like it.” He chuckles, his voice getting even deeper. “They got me into a Holiday Inn down the street from here. Can’t complain.”
I smile at him as I hand his license back to him. “Sounds like a good deal. At least you’ll be closer to home in a week.”
He raised a manicured brow at me in question. I pointed to his license, registered to the state of New York. “I didn’t look at your address, but I figure being in the state puts you somewhat close to home.” I shrug, trying not to give away the fact that I do know where he lives because I most definitely did read his address.
He smirked at me. “Right. Hopefully next week I’ll be back, closer to home.” He teases me.
I shake my head. “Please stand under the awning, I have to take a picture for your access card.”
“If you wanted a picture of me darling all you had to do was ask.” He joked at me coming closer to the window.
“Don’t flatter yourself too much hun.” I scoff, even though I am fully aware of the effect this man has on my body. He is so painfully attractive, and he must know it.
“Now be still. 1…2…3” I took his picture and quickly uploaded it into our database.
Damn, can this guy not take a bad picture. Even in 25-degree weather he’s looking good.
“Alright, give the printer a minute to print out and code your access card and you’ll be free to go.” I let him know as I stand from the chair to get a quick stretch. I was 8 hours in to my 16-hour shift and I was already starting to feel it.
“You said you had 8 more hours. Did you just start the night?” I hear Alexis ask me from the window.
“No, I’m 8 hours in. Getting a little stiff from being in here.” I tell him jokingly. I look and see a concerned expression on his face. “What’s a young pretty girl like you working 16-hour shifts?” He asks in all seriousness.I’m taken aback, one because he called me pretty and two because working long hours has been a regular thing for me since I started working.
Also, young pretty girl?
“Pretty girls can’t work hard?” I shot back as usual when I was questioned by some of the drivers who came through. They always wanted to why I was working so hard, why was I working so much, letting me know where else a “pretty face” like mine could be so much better at. How a husband should be taking care of me.
Ah, the perks of being a young female manager at a warehouse.
He put his hands up in defense. “I didn’t mean to offend you; I’m just saying you look tired.”
I huff slightly. “That’s what happens when you’re the head of a department.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Really now? What are you 23? That’s impressive.”
I chuckle. “I’m 25. Been here since I graduated college. But thanks for the compliment.”
“You have a young face. You’re lucky.” He complimented.I look over just as our card printer spit out his access badge, saving me from blushing at the second compliment he’s given me .I grab it and a plain black lanyard for him to keep it on.
“Here you go. Whenever you come in, you can use this to check it. Find the Silvercaust bay area and park on any empty bay door. If there’s no door, go head and park in a staging lane. Once you’re there you can update your location by swiping your badge and entering the last four digits of your trailer number into the keypad next to the parking slip.” I give him the quick instructions and hand him his access card. “If you need anything there will be members of my team walking the bay yard or you can walk into the closest truckers’ areas.”
Alexis looked at me as he grabbed the card out of my hand slowly. He gave me a small smile, flashing me, again, with his white teeth. He definitely goes to his dentist every 6 months.
“Can’t have you show me around krasivyy?” He teased, calling me that name again. I didn’t know what he was saying, and I hated being called something I didn’t understand.
“My name is Ivonne.” I crossed my arms over my chest with a slight attitude in my tone, “I don’t leave the shack. Now if you’d excuse me, I got another guy behind you. Have a good night sir. I’ll be here to check you out.”
His grin widened. “Can’t wait. I’ll be checking you out too Ivonne.” Alexis put up his hood and hopped back in his tractor, pulling off into our yard. The way he said made me shiver, and not because of the cold. I shook my head as the door to the shack swings open and reveals a snow-covered Donny.
“Fucking hell. It’s colder than a penguin's ass crack.” Donny exclaimed nearly throwing me out of the way to get to the space heater. His 6’0 overpowered my petite frame and I nearly fell into the checkout window. I laughed as a regular driver rolled down his window to flash his card at us.
“Good evening Mr. Brown. You’re all good to go! Be careful out on that side of the dock. Lights went out last night so it’s dark. Keep your beams on.”
“That’s a good copy young lady. You two stay warm!” The 65-year-old smiled warmly, even though his grey mustache. He was an older man whose wife died a few years back. His daughter lives in the area with her son, so he continues to drive and visit them so he can spoil his grandson.
“We’ll try James! You know they don’t give us much here!” Donny joked as he straddled the space heater, still wearing his large reflective winter coat. James laughed as he pulled off towards his docking area. With no one else scheduled to check in for the next hour I decided to finally take a lunch and go inside. I turned to Donny as I grabbed a flashlight and my phone off the desk.
“I’m gonna go get something to eat. Think you can be here alone and not burn the place down?” I teased throwing on my own reflective coat.Donny snorted, “With this cold? I’d be happier if I did burn this shit down.”
I chuckled at his comment. “As long as I don’t get fired, do as you please.”“Sounds good boss,” he said, sliding across the small shack towards the desk and check in window, the space heater in tow, “Enjoy your lunch. I know you hardly take one.”
I nodded and put on my beanie and scarf before bracing the bitter New Jersey winter. I turned my flashlight on and clipped my walkie onto my coat.
Fuck, Donny wasn’t lying, I’m freezing, and it’s been 2 minutes.
It was a ten-minute walk to the side of the building where she stashed her lunch in the trucker’s lounge. It was rarely used on that side of the building since the warehouse receivers inside made quick with their job getting inventory into the building. I shivered trying to walk a fast as possible. It was fairly well lit on this side of the building and I was grateful for that. Last thing I needed was for a driver to not pay attention and back into me as I walked along the row of docked trailed.
“Almost there.” I murmured catching sight of the familiar stairs leading to the cage I’d badge in through to get into the truckers’ lounge.
Ivy you got a copy? My walkie crackled to life, Joe’s voice filling the silence of outside
For fucks sake man I groan internally,
Yeah what’s going on Joe? I reply begrudgingly as I climb the six steps up.
Hey you still busy? I wanted to run some numbers by you
I’m actually about to take my lunch, been here 8 hours and haven’t eaten. I reply as I wave my badge over the reader. I hear the door click, letting me in to the cage.
Ah shit, don’t worry. Just check your email when you get a chance. Enjoy your lunch.
“Finally.” I muttered.
“Hello again.” A deep voice said to my left.Startled, I did a quick turn letting out a frightened squeak.
“Fuck man.” I huffed out seeing the smirk on the modelesqe driver.
“Scare you?” Alexis asked playfully.
“Thought you’d be tougher than that.”He looked even better under full lightening. God he was like a Greek statue. His jaw was sharp and those eyes- Lord. His lips were full and a rosy shade of pink. His skin was smooth and free of blemishes, save the few small beauty marks that adorned his face giving him a boyish look for a man his age. I roll my eyes at him. I ignore him as I hang my coat up along with a scarf. I walk passed him to get to the cubbies where I had stored my lunch earlier in the night when I first arrived at the warehouse.
“Silent treatment eh? This how you treat all your contractors?” Alexis teased me again, furthering my irritation with him.
“Just the annoying ones.” I grumbled throwing my leftover lasagna in the microwave. It was day three of heated up lasagna and I made a promise to myself that after tonight’s shift I’d cook something else for myself. I had three nights off after today thankfully and I was going to take full advantage of it.
“Annoying you say? Usually women describe me as charming, handsome, lovel-“
“Is modest also a compliment that you’ve gotten?” I question him cutting off his gloating. While all those things may be true, I couldn’t let his ego be anymore inflated than it obviously is. Alexis gave me a wide grin.
“You wound me so kishka.” He puts a hand to his heart feigning the feel of a blow to his chest. There goes that word again. I glared at him,
“What is that word? You cussin’ at me in a different language?” There was a silence between us for a beat and then the sound of him laughing rang through the small lounge. I rolled my eyes and turned back to the microwave to grab my heated food trying to ignore his deep laugh.
Why is there nothing wrong with this man? He probably has a foot fetish, maybe that’s his vice.
“It’s an endearment, I think is what the English call it. It means kitten.” He explained from his place in the armchair in the corner opposite the table against the wall. I slammed the door to the microwave a tad too harshly hearing what the “endearment” meant.
I tried to keep from blushing. How dare this stranger call me kitten?
“I’d prefer you keep your kinky little endearments to yourself.” I seethed sitting down at the table giving him my back. I was heated. The little endearment made me feel small and I did not like feeling like, especially at a place where I had spent much of my time trying to shake off my “little girl” energy that most of these men preyed upon. Soon I hear the scraping of the chair across from me on the ground. I took a deep breath preparing for a fight. I looked up at him and saw his lips pulled into a deep frown.
“Did I offend you?” Alexis asked, sounding genuinely concerned. I quirked a brow, trying to silently give him a ‘duh’, but still said, “Yes. You did. You don’t know me to be out here calling me a fucking kitten.”
His frown deepened at my words. I’ll admit I might be overeacting, but I don’t like it when men just think they can come around calling me pet names like they have that right to me.
“I called you kitten because you look like one. Small, fragile with big round eyes. Very adorable if you ask me. I’m sorry if that offended you. What would you rather me call you?”
I paused my chewing after hearing him call me adorable. I felt my face heat up. Shit it felt like my face was on fire.
He thinks I’m …. Adorable. What the actual fuck?
I cleared my throat putting down my fork and swallow the bite I had taken. “My name is Ivonne. Some people call me Ivy, but they earn that privilege.”
Alexis smirks at me. “Really?”
I nod my head reaching to take a swig of my water bottle. “Good think I’m working for the privilege to call you kitten.” I whip my head to face him so quick I’m surprised I didn’t give myself whiplash.
“What?” I asked almost in a whisper.
“I think you’re an attractive woman Ivonne. Where I’m from we don’t beat around the bush and I’m too old to play cat and mouse. Would you like to accompany me to dinner while I’m stuck in this town? Pick your favorite place so I can treat you.”
My jaw dropped. Literally. Alexis reached his long arms over to me and used one slender finger to close my mouth for me much to my embarrassment. “Is that a yes?” He teased.
I blinked my shock away and let out a breathily laugh. “You’re bold, aren’t you?”
Alexis smiled, “The Russians aren’t known for our delicate touches, are we?” The accent.
“You’re from Russia?”He nodded. “I was raised there until I was 16 and came to the states.”
I titled my head acknowledging his statement. “I can hear the accent.” I reach for my water bottle, taking another swig before continuing. “I’d love to hear it over dinner tomorrow.”
Alexis gave me a show stopping grin. God those teeth. “I look forward to it, Ivonne.” I cleared my throat trying to shake the feeling he was giving me. I reached into my safety vest’s pockets and pulled out my small notepad with a pen. I wrote down my number and handed the slip of paper over to him. “I’ll be here all night.” I told him with a small smile. I started to pack my lunch bag back up and put on my coat to prepare for my trek back to the check-in shack.“Maybe I’ll keep you company. Doesn’t look like I’ll be getting my trailer back anytime soon anyways.” He smirked as he played with the piece of paper between his long fingers. Jesus the guy could palm a basketball easy.
“I’ll let you know if I get bored out there.” I flirt back tightening my scarf. I wink at him, finding my full confidence before exiting the lounge. I quickly walked down the steps before I could turn around and take everything back.
Fuck. I have a date with one of the finest men to ever be in my presence.
I grinned to myself and giggled like a fucking schoolgirl with a crush. But I couldn’t help feeling like that. I was 25 and hadn’t had a boyfriend since 23. I definitely deserved this after the mess I was in before. I smiled the entire way back the shake, not even worried about the cold.