“Really? You want to do this to me now?” Harland eased his truck off of the road and into the filling station. “And to think I was about to give you a bath when we got home.” He managed to stop right in front of the mechanic’s bay door. At least something was going right for him. Thank goodness the truck hadn’t stalled a mile back on the empty country road.
Harland shoved the gear into park and got out, slamming the door closed. He normally wouldn’t treat his baby that way, but he was ticked off.
No one was in sight, not one single customer. Harland gazed around the place, wondering where the owner was. The white-and-blue building was like a silent sentinel as it stood there under the hot summer sun.
“Harland,” Stork said as he walked out of the shop, wiping his hands on a rag. The guy was in his late sixties and skinny as a whip. The large gap in the man’s front teeth always made it sound like there was a slight whistle when the guy talked. “What seems to be the problem?”
“It just gave out on me.” Harland removed his black Stetson and swiped his hand over his head. “I don’t get it. The truck is almost brand new.”
Tucking the rag into his back pocket, Stork waved at the driver’s door. “Pop the hood and let me get a look at her.”
Harland would be the first to admit that he knew nothing about being a mechanic. That was Jed’s specialty. Harland usually would have his friend look at his truck but, because Jed wasn’t with him, he had no choice but to let Stork take care of the problem.
After popping the hood, Harland walked around to the front and stood next to Stork, unsure of what he was looking at. It was just one big hunk of machinery to him. The mechanic fiddled around, cursed a few times, and then slapped his hands together as he brushed them off. “You need a new alternator.”
A what? “You got one of those laying around here somewhere?”
“Got a whole shop of them.”
“No,” Stork deadpanned. “I’m gonna have to order it for ya.”
The old man dropped the hood and nodded toward the store part of his station.
“Why don’t you get some cool air inside while I find out how long your part is gonna be.”
The urge to kick the crap out of his truck was strong. He didn’t have time for this.
Jed was waiting on the supplies Harland had in the bed of his truck. But what was he going to do, walk the shit home?
Slapping his hat back onto his head, Harland headed inside. It was midsummer and the heat index was well over one hundred. There wasn’t even a breeze to offset the muggy air.
By the time he entered the store, Harland was sweating like crazy. It took a moment for the air conditioner to cool his heated skin. As Harland gazed through the cooler for something cold to drink, he noticed a peculiar smell. It was like honey-sweet biscuits and strawberries all rolled into one.
He knew for a fact that the old man didn’t have a bakery in here. Hell, most of the pastries were past their expiration date and wrapped in plastic.
But the scent grew stronger, urging Harland to find out where it was coming from. He sniffed along the shelves, wrinkling his nose when he passed the motor oil. His sense of smell was stronger than a human’s. Being a bear shifter, Harland was pretty damn good at finding the sweets.
He was just stumped when he ended up at the counter. There wasn’t anything there except a register, cigarettes and snuff on the back counter, and rows of beef jerky in every flavor to the side.
There was also a new worker sweeping the floor over by the old man’s office.
Harland leaned an arm on the counter and let his eyes skim up and down the slim guy’s body.
What he wouldn’t give to take a bite out of that little blond cowboy. “Excuse me.”
The clerk jumped, squeaked, and slammed a hand over his chest. “Oh, you scared me!”
Harland wanted to hear more of that squeaking sound. Only he wanted both of them naked. He smiled apologetically. “Didn’t mean to do that.”
Setting the broom aside, the clerk hurried over, cleared his throat, and then gave Harland a crooked smile that was brighter than the sun outside. “What can I get you?”
The man tapped a tag on his powder-blue shirt. “Dresden.”
In return, Harland tapped his own chest. “Harland Macy.”
The soft laugh had Harland smiling. He liked this guy. He also noticed that the sweet smell was even stronger now. It had to be coming from Dresden. Harland wasn’t sure how though. What guy smelled like fresh baked goods?
“What can I do for you, Harland?” A fine blush washed over Dresden’s cheeks.
“You can give me your number for starters.” God, the guy had the most stunning green eyes Harland had ever seen. They were as dark as summer leaves. He felt like he was melting into them. “And I’ll take some of this beef jerky.” Harland grabbed a handful and set them on the counter.
“You flirt with every guy you see?” Dresden set the broom aside and hitched a hip against the counter. Harland had to stop himself from pulling the man over the beef jerky.
“Just you, handsome.” Well, that wasn’t wholly true. Harland had flirted with the waiter down at the Ugly Broad Saloon. He had also flirted with the clerk at the Piggly Wiggly. Then there was that guy who had cut his hair last week and the assistant at the feedstore. Okay, maybe he was a flirt, but none of those other fellas had smelled this damn good.
“Why do I find that hard to believe?” Dresden asked, a slight teasing in his tone. “A nice-looking guy like you?” The clerk chuckled and the sound was as soft as silk.
“I’m guessing you get plenty of numbers.”
“I could say the same about you.” Harland pulled his cell phone out and handed it to the clerk. “Now give me your number or you’ll force me to come back until you do.”
Harland was drawn to this man like bees to honey. Dresden’s smile, eyes, and scent went straight to Harland’s head. He’d never experienced sheer pleasure just by flirting with someone.
Dresden didn’t take the phone. As a matter of fact, the smile faded from his face. Harland turned to see Stork standing in the doorway, his hands on his hips as he gazed between them. “I see you’ve met my nephew.”