Excerpt

TRTLH (Version 3)

“What a heap of junk.”

“Hey!  That’s my baby you’re talking about,” Laney Roberts scolded, running a loving hand across the rusted fender of her dilapidated, fifteen-year-old, pick-up truck.  Though the once bright red had faded into a brownish maroon, Laney was still extremely attached to her first and only vehicle.

Gabe Kapshaw looked up from the ramshackle engine he’d spent the last twenty minutes puttering over.  “Heap of,” he paused, rapping his fist on something under the hood Laney couldn’t identify.  “J-u-n-k.”

“Just fix it, oh master mechanic,” Laney replied, smirking as she lowered herself onto the grass of the Kapshaw’s expansive front yard.  Linking her fingers behind her head, Laney leaned back against the well-tended fence and tried to ignore Gabe’s mutterings as she looked out across the Kapshaw farm around them.

It was a picturesque day.  The sun was shining brightly, but the cool breeze kept the late summer heat at bay.  Vivid blue sky contrasted perfectly with the fields of growing corn that reached longingly for the sky

Laney closed her eyes breathing in the hint of fall that lingered on the very edge of the breeze.  She smiled to herself and attempted to tune out the noises Gabe was making as he worked on the truck.

“Damn it,” Gabe yelped.  Laney opened one eye to see the wrench he’d been working with clatter onto the engine.  Cursing again, Gabe gave the fender an emphatic kick.

“Careful,” Laney offered cheerfully, grinning over at him and stretching her long legs out in front of her.

Gabe looked up from the truck, his almost hazel green eyes flashing with rare frustration and anger.  “Shut up,” he spat, picking the wrench back up with a jerk.  He bent back under the hood setting his jaw so that his chin jutted out stubbornly.

Laney did her best to fight back a chuckle.  Gabe Kapshaw had been her best friend all of their twenty-four years and his rare and often short-lived bouts of temper were usually more amusing than anything else.  His overall good nature offered little violence and he couldn’t hold onto anger to save his life.

Still, Gabe swore again, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand before running greasy fingers through his unruly waves of dark brown hair.  “What the hell is wrong with this damn thing?” he demanded, taking a step back from the temperamental machine as if he meant to kick it again.

“Nothing’s wrong with it.  It’s just old and cranky.”  Laney smiled innocently as she pulled her dark blonde hair back into a band.  She bit back another chuckle as Gabe chose a new tool from his box and bent back under the hood.  He’d never give up until it was fixed… or a million pieces in the dump.

After a few minutes of annoyed grunts and loud clanging noises, Gabe dropped the pliers into his toolbox.  His eyes still mirrored frustration and his lips were set in a grim line.  His forehead was smudged with grease where he had wiped it and Laney had to fight the urge to point it out to him.

“Why don’t you just buy a new car, Laney?  Or a used car.  Anything is better than this.  Your truck is beyond hope.”

“Unfortunately, I have to eat and pay bills.  A car, new or used, doesn’t fit into that equation right now.”

Gabe just frowned at her as he picked up his greasy thermos of water and took a large gulp.  “Well, don’t you have anything better to do than sit there and watch me bang around on this thing praying for a miracle?”  He wiped some stray water off his chin with the back of his arm, leaving another grease smudge.

Laney just looked at him, her large brown eyes unable to hide amusement even as she managed to keep a straight face.  “Nope, not a thing.”

The familiar glint of humor danced into his eyes.  “Well, I know that sitting there staring at my butt has a certain appeal, but honestly Laney, a man can only take so much gawking.”  With the striking, crooked Kapshaw grin that was famed throughout Lilac Grove, Gabe bent back to his work.

The best Laney could manage in response was a disdainful snort.  Mainly because watching him work was generally very appealing.  Though they were friends and nothing more she was still a woman and he… in the way that all the Kapshaw men were or had been at one time… was a very attractive man.

He was still kind of lanky, but he’d grown out of the awkward teenage phase and into his six foot two frame.  Though slim, his muscles were well defined from working his weekends on the farm.  And it was easy to see through the thin, cotton t-shirt he wore that his back was muscled and well-defined too… and if it wasn’t Gabe she might have let her gaze linger there and follow the strong lines of his waist down to the way the jeans fit very nicely around his…

But it was Gabe and since she’d known him since birth, she didn’t notice at all.

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