Twenty two year old Abby Raines was cruising at 65 miles per hour in her six year old Toyota and singing happily along with the radio when the car started acting sluggish. She released the accelerator, tamped it down again. She got no significant response. She frowned at the dashboard where the Check Engine light had not come on. She put on her turn signal, changed lanes, and then pulled onto the shoulder of Interstate 90 just eleven miles outside Rapid City, South Dakota. She killed the radio, but left the car idling. She yanked on the parking brake, got out and strode to the front of her car, her boots leaving tracks in the damp earth.
It was cold, in the mid forties, and March in South Dakota was a hell of a lot more damp than she was used to. But the scenery was downright breathtaking. Highway 90 skirted the Black Forest from the minute she’d crossed the border from Wyoming. The weather would take some getting used to but she already loved the view.
She popped the car’s hood and leaned in, listening intently. She heard the telltale crackling noise and heaved a sigh. She stalked back to the driver’s side door, reached in, and killed the engine. She continued on down to the trunk where she opened it and took out a folded white rag tucked into the corner.
She was on the last leg of her trip and had risen at 6 am to check out of her hotel in order to get on the road and get to her final destination at a decent hour. It was now going on 2 pm. It was her own fault though, that she was stuck out here, so far from her old home yet so close to her new one. She leaned down and pulled a spark plug out.
She was making up lists in her head for all the things she needed to buy for her new place when she heard a low rumble. She peeked around the side of the hood and saw a man pulling up behind her on a black Harley Davidson. He took off his helmet and hooked it to the handlebar and swung his leg over the back. He was tall, she could tell that just by how low the Harley was in comparison.
He had medium length blonde hair and was fairly intimidating in his black leather jacket and dark blue jeans. His boots were black, too, and rounded at the toe. As he headed toward her, Abby’s heart knocked in her chest. She wasn’t afraid. She was on a busy highway and if push came to shove she could handle herself. But damn this man was fine. She had seen few men this good looking close up and she was from a town where beautiful people reigned supreme.
He stalked up the length of the car and rounded the front. “So,” he said. “Flat tire, huh?”
And she laughed. She had expected a man who looked this rough to be all growls and grunts. “I wish,” she replied. “Wouldn’t take nearly as long.” She held up a disconnected spark plug. “I really should have gone for that tune up before I made the trip.”
He nodded and his eyes raked over the rest of the car’s engine. “It’s important to keep up with your maintenance.”
She sighed and continued to clean the inside with the rag. “I know. But lately it just seems like there’s too much to do and not enough me to do it. You know what I mean?”
“Definitely. I’m Tex, from Texas. And you’re coming from Vegas? Says your license plate. You actually live there?”
She nodded. “My whole life. I’m Abby.”
His eyes glittered with interest. “I never met anyone who actually lives in Vegas. I mean...aside from people who work there.”
She frowned at him. He was not asking if she was a stripper. She glanced down. Her jeans were not tight at all, her t-shirt wasn’t either, and it showed no cleavage. “Well, I did work there. In a hotel,” she told him quickly. “But I was born there, too. So were both my parents.”
He nodded. “You here for a visit?”
“No. I just graduated from UNLV and got my first job offer at a hotel in Rapid City.”
He studied her. “Aren’t graduations usually in May?”
“Usually,” she said, replacing the plug, “But I graduated a semester early. Just ready to get out of Vegas and start my life, you know?”
“I can relate. I wanted to get off the farm so badly I joined the Army at 18.”
Abby’s eyes widened. “Really?”
He grinned. “Yeah, but I had to quit after a while because the food’s so bad.”
She laughed again. She’d met all kinds of people in Las Vegas. Bikers weren’t new, but funny bikers were few and far between.
“You would think it would have been the people shooting at you,” she teased.
“Nah. They missed. Usually. But heartburn from the powdered eggs? That’s a sure thing.”