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Authors: Ambrielle Kirk

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BOOK: Mz Mechanic
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He moved ahead and opened the door for her. “What year did you graduate?”

“The same year you did,” she said.

Shawn racked his brain for any recollection of an Alexia Reilly. “Did we…date?”

Alexia laughed loudly. “How funny.”

“I just…” He had absolutely no idea who she was. It was an embarrassment to him even though their graduating class size was in the thousands. He knew almost everyone for the most part.

“Mr. Morgan, we don’t have a credit account for you. Would you like to create one? There’s an application. It’ll only take a few minutes.”

He dug the card out of his wallet and handed it to her.

“How did you hear about us?”

Shawn started to pull out a business, but at this point, earning a commission was the least of his worries. “Are you going to the reunion tomorrow night?”

“I might.” She handed him his American Express and a card. “Your receipt and a frequent customer card. On your sixth visit, you get a free oil change and tire rotation.”

“Do you have family in the area?” He still couldn’t put his finger on it. Where could he have known her from? She talked as if they’d met at one point before.

“Alex?” Ronald stuck his head around the door. “You okay?”

“I was just finishing up with Mr. Morgan.”

The guy came inside and handed Shawn his keys. “Your car is out front. Ready and waiting.”

It was cue that Ronald wanted him to leave Alexia alone. He didn’t blame the guy.

Shawn took the hint and walked toward the door. “Thank you very much.”

Ronald held the door for him. “We hope we earn your business again.”

Shawn took one last look at Alexia. She looked up from under her lashes behind her post at the checkout desk. There was a hint of amusement in her eyes.

“I hope to see you soon, Alexia.”

He exited the shop.

Chapter Two

Alexia reached up to pull down the sun visor in her car and glanced at herself in the mirror for the tenth time. Her appearance shouldn’t have bothered her. She’d only had the best hair dresser and personal stylist in the city. Her idea of formal attire was a sundress from the nearest department store and a pair of sandals. That idea was smashed when she told her two best friends she’d finally changed her mind and had decided on going to the high school reunion.

Alexia grabbed her clutch purse and exited the vehicle. For this year’s reunion, the planners had rented out a posh resort on the outskirts of the city. It was a change from their first reunion in the high school’s gymnasium. She expected the attendance tonight to be in excess.

Just as she began walking, she spotted a couple as they got out of their car. It was a reminder that she’d be attending the damned thing alone this year too. Marriage wasn’t in her cards, as with some of her classmates. While other’s flaunted their husbands, wives, and six figure salary lifestyles, she’d be flaunting…absolutely nothing.

But that’s not why she attended tonight. She could care less about the actual event. Networking was the key. She needed lots of practice. If she expected her brand to flourish then she had to be the well-regarded, popular business professional that her late father was. She’d decided months ago that hiding in the interior of the shop would not help Reilly’s obtain the leverage it needed to develop.

She handed her ticket to the attendant and entered the gala area. Dimmed lights and soft jazz music surrounded her. Snippets of conversation flowed toward her as she walked further into the room. Just as it had been over fifteen years ago, people still formed small cliques in the room. A few brave ones twirled around on the dance floor with their partners under the glistening ball. There was an open bar on either side of the room, and as she expected the area around it was crowded. The hors devours line in an adjoining room also seemed to be the area of interest.

Alexia picked up a program as she passed the DJ’s table. As she scanned the list of events, the music faded and the host made his introduction into the microphone. The welcome speech was a bit long, but allowed others to arrive and fill into the ballroom. She recognized many familiar faces already, but not many people she could call best of buddies. One of her best friends was overseas on an assignment for her job. Another friend that she went to law school with didn’t plan to attend at all due to family issues. Alexia wasn’t even supposed to be here, but she’d gain nothing by hiding in her shop day in and day out. Maybe if she learned about all the achievements from her classmates that would somehow motivate her more to accomplish her own goals.

The crowd erupted in laughter and she realized that she’d missed the joke. She moved a bit closer to the front where she could see a little better.

“Hi, Alexia.”

She turned to her right to find the guy who she’d come to know as Junior. He grinned at her. At nearly six foot four with nothing but lean muscle, Junior was high school running back the entire four years. There wasn’t anything junior about him.

“Hi, Junior.”

“I can see you haven’t changed since the last time we met,” he said. “Still deliciously stunning.”


“Quite a change from fifteen years ago. I remember when you were as shy as a mouse and always kept your head down.” He nodded and took a sip of his drink. “I can see you’ve opened up.” He made a show of glancing at her behind. “Made some improvements in all the right places. Lookin’ good.”

Her smile disappeared. “We’ve all changed.” Being referred to as a mouse didn’t seem all that flattering to her. Neither did she feel like being on display for the pervert of the event. “Some for better. Some for worse. And sadly some didn’t change at all. Excuse me, if you don’t mind.”

This time she stood beside a lady. One thing she didn’t come here to be was harassed.

“The first speaker of the night is someone very special…” the host announced “…I’ve come to know him as a confidant and business partner for a number of years. Many of you know him as president of his junior and senior class. Please welcome Shawn Morgan.”

Alexia’s stomach dipped at the mention of his name. She shouldn’t have been surprised. She knew good and well that Shawn would be in attendance tonight. It was easier for her to tell herself that his presence in her shop didn’t somehow influence her change of heart to come here tonight.

Shawn walked onto the small platform after shaking hands with a few folks along the way. There was no doubt that he was always the center of attention in a crowd. It was how he’d won over the student body when he ran for office. That, and his ability to persuade.

The room fell silent as Shawn welcomed everyone and addressed the attendees. He recognized a number of individuals and stressed the important and giving back and getting involved in the community. Alexia wondered if he followed his own advice. Fifteen years ago, the only thing he’d ever been known to give was heartaches to the girls who were unfortunate enough to fall for him.

When his speech was over, the crowd broke up and people once again split off into their own little groups. Not forgetting the main reason why she was in attendance tonight, Alexia started off toward the ice sculpture near the center of the room. The cerulean-colored punch cascaded over it like a water fall. She held a cup under a spout to collect some of the beverage.

Theresa, who worked at the local library, fell in step beside her wearing a cheeky grin. “Hi, Alexia. I haven’t seen you in a while. What have you been up to?”

“Hi.” She smiled. “Nothing much. Just working…mostly on the expansion of Reilly’s. What about yourself?”

“That’s right. You did mention that last time. I bet that’s been keeping you busy.” Theresa ran her fingers through her mane of curly red hair. “Me. Just hanging in there. Carl will be home in a month from his tour of duty in Iraq. I can’t wait. I haven’t seen him in ten months.”

Alexia rested her hand on the woman’s shoulder. “That must be hard, Theresa. Listen, I’m a bit of a loner in my shop, so if you ever want to go out to lunch or anything…speaking of lunch, I haven’t received any notices about the reading fest.”

Last year, she’d been invited to talk about her career and read to a group of children. She’d enjoyed doing it, and got some fulfillment out of somebody thinking her work was just as important as any other job or career.

Theresa grinned. “The kids are quite busy with school, but they’ll be out next month. I’ll certainly give you a call in a couple weeks. That program has been real popular with the kids and parents.”

“Nice to hear.”


The voice behind Alexia was unmistakable. She didn’t turn around to confirm, as she was speechless. How strange that Shawn could trigger this reaction in her. She’d turned from ready to open up to inhibited in a matter of seconds.

Theresa didn’t have any problems acknowledging him. “Hi Shawn!” They hugged briefly. “Oh, my. You look so…professional.”

They laughed.

“Hey,” Shawn said. “What does that mean? Don’t I always look professional?”

“We both know how you do it.” Theresa teased, and then nudged at Alexia. “Do you remember that, Alexia? The guy who wore jeans to his very first prom.”

Alexia had heard of this, but she’d never witnessed it. She’d never been to any of the proms. Finally she turned, gaze still glued to the marble floor, and laughed nervously. “Yeah.”

“It was so funny. They took pictures and everything. Hilarious.” Theresa laughed. “I bet your date didn’t care though. She got to ride in that nice ass Lamborghini that was the talk of the event.”

When Alexia looked up, she met Shawn’s eyes as he laughed along with Theresa.

“Alexia,” he said, softly.


Aside from his professional demeanor, it seemed that he hadn’t aged a bit. Tonight, his olive-toned face was clean-shaven and his dark brown hair combed back away from his face. The dark grey of his suit contrasted with the cool gray color of his eyes. His gaze swept across her as well, and evidently held her in a trance. Everything and everyone around them was forgotten.

It wasn’t until Theresa spoke that she remembered where she was.

“Oh, I see Tasha.” Theresa waved as she walked away. “See you two later.”

“I like your hair. It’s…different from yesterday.”

“Thank you. It took a couple hours to straighten it.” She usually wore her curly mane out and free. The one thing she could never get rid of was her big hair. Most everything else about her had changed once she’d graduated from high school. Cutting it was out of the question. Her late mother had dutifully brushed her hair at least every other night before bed time. Those mother-daughter talks were something she would always remember.

He placed his cup under the fountain and collected some punch. “So, is it spiked?”

“Not that I know of,” she smiled. “I have a low tolerance, so I’ll let you know in about ten minutes.”

Shawn took a sip. “I’ll need something stronger soon. I was nervous making that speech.”

“I couldn’t tell. You did well.”

“I was on the fence about coming anyway, and then when I got here I was talked into giving a speech.”

As more people crowded around the fountain, they moved away from it.

“I can tolerate the heat now while riding around,” he said. “Thanks.”

She smiled. “Don’t mention it. It was business.”

“Yeah, business.” He seemed to look at something beyond her shoulder just before he asked, “How did you go from being a lawyer to a mechanic?”

His knowledge literally surprised her. She didn’t remember telling him anything, especially since he didn’t know her in the first place. “How do you know that I was once a lawyer?”

“After I left your shop, I was curious.” He took his wallet out and opened it up. “I looked you up in an old yearbook…” he placed a cut-out square into her palm “…and found you.”

Alexia dreaded looking at any past pictures of herself, but she looked anyway. The picture on the torn paper was her alright. Thick-rimmed glasses. Unruly hair pulled back tightly in a bun. And a crooked smile on her face. The shy girl in the picture was an instant reminder of her mother. They were the spitting image of each other. But, the image also brought back memories of the days when she was a proud member of the un-crowd. She’d never fit in, and that was okay with her. Being the center of attention was not something she coveted.

She shrugged. “Yeah, that’s me.”

“You’ve changed, Alexia.” He smiled. “You used to tutor at the local library.”

“Yes.” She nodded.

“You loaned me your calculator one day. I remember because that was the week right before finals and I literally camped out at that library studying for exams,” he said. “The next night when I came back to return it, you weren’t there. I returned two more days and asked about you. The lady at the reference desk told me you had stopped working there.”

Alexia swallowed. It had been hard for her following the death of her parents. She’d been outsider then, and after they were gone she became even more of a recluse.

Shawn moved closer and cupped her elbow. “I remember you now. Forgive me, but you’ve really…”

“Changed.” Alexia smiled. “I know.”

“Then came finals week and next was graduation. Things really moved fast after that, but I wanted to return your calculator…really.”

“You didn’t even know my name back then. You were just glad you found a calculator to use.”

“That’s not true.” He shook his head. “Why’d you just stop working at the library?”

“That same evening, my parents were in a really bad car accident. Both died.” A sudden chill raced up Alexia’s spine, and she lowered her head. Years and years had passed but she couldn’t help to think what their lives would be now if they’d made it out of the crash alive.

“I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

Shawn frowned. “I won’t say I can relate, and pretend what it’s like to lose someone so close, let alone a parent.”

“It was a difficult time for me.” After her tragedy, she’d moved away as an attempt to relieve the stress. Unfortunately, it took years to realize that running wasn’t the answer.

“What happened to you after that?”

BOOK: Mz Mechanic
11.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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