By: M.L. Young

Chapter One


A few beads of motor oil dripped down my forearm as I opened the valve on the bottom of the car.

“Okay, that one is draining. Go get the other car and bring it in bay three,” I said to Dan, one of my technicians.

I stood next to the hulking Chevy Suburban raised on the lift. Business had been going well—so well, in fact, that my father and I were thinking of opening another shop sometime soon, though all the details weren’t ironed out yet. I’d been into cars, trucks, and anything else with an engine since I was barely old enough to say my first words. It just felt so natural to me, unlike anything else in my life. I was only twenty-five, but I already had more experience than some guys twice my age.

Dan brought the rusted Geo Metro into the third bay and got out before lifting it up and beginning to change the oil. He was new here, one of many mechanics we had, all of whom were more like family than employees. I was incredibly close with my own family, including my two younger brothers, Cash and Liam, but they chose much different paths than working with our dad in this shop. I didn’t blame them, though. They were never into this stuff as much as I was, and I guess a man needs to follow his own path in life instead of a path he thinks somebody else believes he should take. How can you ever be happy if you don’t do what you love?

“Got it,” Dan said, with an enthusiasm I hadn’t seen much before.

“Good, now work on something else, but keep your eye on the car. We have a few appointments today for oil changes and two other people in the lobby waiting,” I said before capping up the Suburban again.

We did everything here, from oil changes to full body restoration. We’d been voted best mechanic in the area for the past seven years since we opened, and we had so many customers that some days we had to push them away because we had no room for them. The perils of being successful, I guess.

As another technician came off break and took over my oil change, I walked over to the bench and grabbed a rag before wiping the oil off my arm. It never went fully away, instead making my tattoos glisten, looking more like tanning oil than anything else against my bronzed skin.

“How are things going out there?” my dad asked as he peeked his head into the shop from the front.

“Good. The Suburban should be done within ten, the Geo in fifteen,” I said.

“We have a blown muffler coming in next, so get ready what you need,” he said, shutting the door.

We had a good thing going here. My dad took care of most of the front stuff, including scheduling, ordering parts, and dealing with the public. He was always great with that, coming from a customer service-oriented background in sales. I took care of the actual shop part, though he was more than qualified. Hell, he taught me most of what I know, so he knew his way around the shop, that’s for sure.

I ran into him later that day at lunch as I grabbed my black lunchbox from the fridge and sat with him in his office. He was a simple man, eating a plain bologna sandwich with mustard, a bag of potato chips, and a can of Coca-Cola every single day of his work week and life. I tried to get him to branch out, to try something new, but he was never into it. I didn’t even know how he stomached the shit.

“Your mom wants you to RSVP for your cousin Kelly’s wedding soon,” he said.

“When is that, again?” I asked.

“I think in a month or two, I don’t know. She just told me to tell you to get on it,” he said.

“I’ll do it tonight,” I said as I took out my turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwich.

“Bringing anybody that we should know about?” he asked.

“What, like a date?” I asked.

“Yeah, like a date. I was married with a kid by your age, you know,” he said.

“I know, I’ve heard the story a hundred times. I don’t have anybody in mind, no,” I said.

“Well, you have to bring a date. You can’t just go alone,” he said.

“Cash and Liam will be there,” I said.

“You can’t bring your brothers as dates, Bentley. You’re telling me you can’t think of anyone? You date girls left and right,” he said.

“I go on dates with girls, there’s a big difference there. I don’t date them,” I said.

“Well, your mother isn’t going to let it go unless you bring a date, so you better stop taking girls out one time and instead take one to the wedding with you. Besides, Lord knows you could use a girlfriend. I think you’re sinking a little too much into this bachelor lifestyle,” he said.

“I’ll get right on that,” I said, taking a big bite of my sandwich.


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