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Wicked Beat(4)

By´╝ÜOlivia Cunning



She turned, brushed past Eric, and trotted down the bus steps.

“Later, Reb,” she heard Travis call from inside the pigsty bus.

Eric loped down the steps and came to a halt beside her. She glanced around the parking lot looking for another bus. She’d only seen one bus when the taxi had dropped her off. It wasn’t like a big ol’ tour bus was something she could have easily overlooked. Behind the pigsty bus, she spotted the large, black moving van with Sinners’ red logo painted on the back, but nope, there was no other bus in sight. “Where’s the other bus?”

“Sed’s bringing it. He called and said he was on his way. And before you ask, yes, Trey is with him.” He rolled his eyes skyward and shook his head.

She set her suitcase at her feet to wait. Rebekah took another glance around the parking lot and noticed a vintage Stingray Corvette parked under a palm tree. That hadn’t been here when she’d arrived. She’d have noticed it for sure. The car was a real beauty that had been manufactured in 1965. Maybe ’66. Shiny emerald green paint. Its convertible top had been left down. Good thing it didn’t rain often in Southern California.

“Sweet!” she said, practically salivating over the car’s beauty and the raw power she knew would be under its hood.

“What?” Eric asked.

She pointed enthusiastically across the parking lot. “That gorgeous hunk of metal over there.”

Eric’s gaze followed the tip of her finger. He scratched behind his ear when his eyes located the object of her obsession. “You mean my car?”

She glanced at him, eyes wide. “That’s yours?”

He grinned and nodded. “Yeah. I’m so proud of her. She died at only two stoplights today.” He held up two fingers.

“She died?”

Eric scratched behind his ear again and stared up at the clear sky. “I can’t seem to get her timing right. Or maybe I didn’t gap those new spark plugs correctly. I’m not sure.”

“Mind if I take a look?” Rebekah left her suitcase by the bus and was heading across the parking lot before he could answer. He caught up with her in two long-legged strides.

Before Rebekah’s failed stint as an oil-rigger and a crab fisherman, um, fisherwoman, she’d had a failed stint as an auto mechanic. Not because she had been bad at it, but because no one took her seriously. She had been bad at rigging oil and fishing crab—five-foot-two and a hundred and six pounds soaking wet did not make her suitable for many of the jobs she insisted she wanted.

When she reached the car, her heart sank. The camel-colored, leather interior was totally trashed. “What did you do to her?” she bellowed and turned on Eric, who took a step backward, his smile fading.

“She was like that when I got her.”

“And you just left her like this? How long have you had her?”

Eric tipped backward at the hips, lifted his toes off the ground, and stared at his black Converse high-tops. “Uh, around ten…”

“Ten days?”

“Uh…” He shook his head.

“Ten weeks?”

Eric cleared his throat. “Um… ten… years.” He whispered the last word.

She slapped him on the chest with the flat of her hand. “How could you? She’s a priceless work of art and you treat her like junk.”

“Junk? No, not junk. She’s my baby.” He patted the door affectionately.

“Your baby? That pisses me off even more.” Rebekah moved around to the front of the car to pop the hood. “If the engine looks as bad as the interior, I’m gonna scratch your eyes out.”

Eric covered his eyes with both hands.

And he had reason to. “Oh, dear,” Rebekah gasped as she tried to make heads or tails over what someone had done to the once glorious V-8 engine. “Is that? Is that… a coat hanger holding open the carburetor choke?”

“I tried to fix her,” Eric said, his eyes still protected by his long-fingered hands.

He looked ridiculous. And somehow endearing. She smiled to herself and propped up the hood with a metal rod—another coat hanger.

“Are you sure you should be the one trying to fix her?”

“I have a repair manual for this model,” he said. “A really good one.”

“We’re going to need it to figure out how to straighten out this disaster.”

He lowered his hands from his eyes. “We’re going to need it?”

“I’m sorta a mechanic. Or I used to be. If you want, I’ll help you get her running properly. I don’t do interiors though.”

He hesitated.

“Do you have a better suggestion?” she asked, running a finger along the side of the engine block and finding seeping oil. Blown head gasket. Wonderful. She sighed heavily. This poor car. How could he claim that it was his baby?

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