Out of the Ashes(10)

By: Anne Malcom

With shoes firmly on my feet, I left the house to see Lexie standing in the driveway staring at the car.

“You’re actually meant to get in the car in order to travel places,” I informed her.

She pointed at the back tire. It was flat.

“Drat and damn it all to Hell,” I snapped at the air.

We were silent for a moment, both staring at the flat tire, which I thought was taunting us.

“You know how to change a tire?” I asked Lexie.

“How would I know how to change a tire?” she replied, looking at me with disbelief.

I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know. You could have decided to take a course, watched an online tutorial.”

She turned to face me. “I don’t think there’s such a thing as tire changing courses. I can’t even drive yet—why would I learn how to change a tire?” Her expression had changed from disbelief to regarding me like I may be slightly crazy.

“You’re old enough to drive, yet you don’t seem to have the driving gene,” I pointed out, referring to the many times Lexie had risked my life when I tried to teach her. We were currently on hiatus. “Plus, you like learning things. You might have a tire passion I don’t know about.” I stared at the tire.

“A tire passion?” Lexie repeated. Now I was getting the full crazy stare.

“I haven’t had coffee,” was my answer.

There was silence.

“Do you think we can call AAA?” I pondered.

“That’s like, roadside assistance. We’re not on the road. We’re at home,” my smart daughter pointed out. “I don’t even think they come for flat tires.”

It worried me slightly she had more knowledge than I did. But, as mentioned, I hadn’t had coffee. Who knew what sort of stuff my caffeinated brain would have been able to come up with? It might even have been able to change that tire. The one that was for sure taunting us.

“We could walk,” Lexie suggested after another long silence.

I stared at her. “Walking would mean changing my shoes. Changing my shoes would mean changing my outfit. We’d be way late and I wouldn’t get coffee.”

“You’ve got coffee at the hotel,” Lexie said.

“Yes, but it’s not the good coffee. Shelly makes the good coffee. It sets me up for the day. Without it I’d be lost,” I told her, although this was something she already knew. She had experienced the Shelly coffee in all its glory. She had felt its effects.

“You’ve only been drinking it for a week and you survived before then without it.”

I frowned at Lexie. She was starting to tick me off. “What are you, the coffee police?” I searched my handbag. “We’ll get a taxi,” I decided.

“Keys,” a deep voice commanded.

Lexie and I both jumped. We had been so wrapped up in our conversation, we hadn’t noticed another presence. How I couldn’t notice this man earlier was beyond me. But here he was, clad in jeans, motorcycle boots, a tight black tee and a leather vest. He was scowling at me and holding out his hand. A hand attached to a very muscled arm; the veins were pulsing in it and everything.

“Keys,” he repeated, his voice rough and impatient.

“What?” I half whispered, still staring at the arm. It not only had beautiful muscles, but up close his tattoos were amazing. Works of art. Full of color.

“For the car. I need keys.” He spoke with irritation.

“Why do you want the keys to my car?” I asked, moving my thoughts away from his arm.

“To change the tire. You’ve been standing out here for ten minutes staring at it. I’m guessing you don’t know how to.” He spoke a full sentence and the irritation was even more prevalent. So was the hotness of his low and raspy voice.

Lexie and I both shook our heads slowly.

His scowl deepened. “Then give me the keys.” He was speaking to us like we were slightly slow.

“We haven’t had coffee,” I blurted randomly to explain our mental slowness.

The hard look he gave me told me I didn’t do much to help our case for mental competency.

Lexie wordlessly handed him the keys. He didn’t seem to be expecting her to have them, because his face softened a smidgeon at my kid. I mean slightly. So he went from looking like he might shiv us and steal our car, or he might just hogtie us and take it for a joyride. Not that I would mind being hogtied by him.

I shook that thought out of my head.

He didn’t say another word before turning and going to the trunk of the car.

“Mom, the hot but immensely scary biker from next door is changing the tire on our car,” Lexie whispered, not taking her eyes off him.

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