Because I missed posting a chapter last Friday for Fiction Friday, I am posting an extra chapter today.
This is a continuing/serial story. I share a chapter a week and at the end of the story, and after I edit and rewrite, I self-publish it. To catch up with the story click HERE. To read the rest of the books in this series click HERE. Let me know in the comments what you think.
Judi leaned back on her hands as she watched the man climb down from the cab of the truck. Pulling her lower lip between her front teeth, she was torn between checking him out and letting worry clutch at her as he turned and slid his sunglasses off. Scenes from movies she’d watched late at night when she couldn’t sleep flashed through her mind, but were quickly replaced by the striking figure in front of her.
The tall, dark-haired, and rugged man strolled toward her with confidence, wearing a pair of faded blue jeans and a gray t-shirt that fit nicely across his broad shoulders and clearly well-toned torso.
“It really is you,” he said as he came close, a broad smile flicking a spark of energy across her skin. “Judi Lambert. What in the world are you doing out here?”
He knew her, that was clear. Studying the dimple on one cheek, bright green eyes framed by fairly long dark eyelashes, she was having a hard time placing him, though. As much as she wanted to.
Her confusion was clearly evident on her face.
He laughed. “You have no idea who I am, do you?”
By now Ben had stepped out of the car and was standing next to her with a dipped brow and a tight jaw, watching the man walk toward them.
Judi shook her head and slid off the hood. “Um, no. Should I?”
The man stopped, placed his hands at his waist, and flashed a smile that made Judi involuntarily giggle. “Yeah. You should. You were one of the best make-out sessions I ever had in high school.”
Judi bit her lower lip again. She hadn’t had many make-out sessions in high school, and she knew this wasn’t the person she’d gone even further with. If she made out with this guy she’d definitely —
No way. It couldn’t be. “Oh wow. Evan? Evan McGee?”
Evan winked and shaped his thumb and index finger like a gun and pointed it at her as another rich laugh escaped. “The one and only.” He pulled the trigger on the finger gun, grinning.
“What in the world are you doing in the middle of nowhere?” she asked, immediately self-conscious of her hair, which she was sure was a mess. She dragged a hand through it and then across it, hoping to smooth away any stray strands.
“I could easily ask you two the same thing,” Evan said, glancing at Ben. “Oh, sorry. Are you Judi’s boyfriend?”
Ben shook his head and folded his arms across his chest. He wasn’t smiling. “No. I’m Ben Oliver. We went to school together.”
Evan’s face registered recognition. “Ben! Oh wow! Of course! It’s been years.” He stuck his hand out toward Ben and the two men shook hands briefly. “Sorry I didn’t recognize you.”
Judi smoothed her hands down her skirt, hoping it looked less disheveled than it felt. She smirked and tilted her head toward Ben. “He’s my boss now.”
Evan’s eyebrows raised. “Oh yeah? You went to law school, right?”
Ben nodded and slid his hands into the front pockets of his jeans, looking a little more relaxed than he had a few minutes earlier. “Yeah. Opened an office in Burkett a year ago.” In fact, Judi had never seen him look so casual. Almost as if he’d finally unclenched a little.
Ben glanced at her and back and Evan. “So, not to break up this reunion or anything but what in the world are you doing out here?”
“I drive long distance for a trucking company now and have a delivery in a town a couple miles from here,” Evan said. “I saw Judi when I drove by. I didn’t think there was any way it was actually her, though.” He grinned again and let his eyes slide down Judi’s legs. “I mean, she had the same legs, but I still wasn’t sure.” He shrugged a shoulder and looked back at Ben. “It takes a lot to turn one of these rigs around but I found a place so I could see if she — well, both of you needed some help.”
Judi twisted a strand of hair around her finger and bent her ankle back and forth. “It’s such a small world, isn’t it? And we do need help. My car croaked and the only mechanic around said it would take him 45 minutes to get here.”
Evan nodded toward the car. “Let me take a look before you spend a bunch of money. Maybe it’s an easy fix.” He glanced over his shoulder as he leaned down to pop the hood. “What are you guys doing this far south anyhow?”
“We’re headed to Lancaster to see —” Judi paused, not sure how much of Ben’s personal life she should share. She slid her gaze quickly to Ben who was watching her with an unreadable expression.
Evan filled in the blank. “Angie.”
Ben transferred his attention from Judi to Evan.
“Yeah,” Judi said. “How’d you know?”
Evan had opened the hood and propped it open and was looking at the engine. “I just took a guess. I heard she’d moved to Lancaster with her parents. I bumped into her brothers a few months ago on a visit back to Spencer.” He leaned over the engine and unscrewed a cap. “I didn’t think you two were together anymore.”
Ben cleared his throat. “We’re not.”
Evan turned and winced. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to assume.” He held his hands up, palms out. “None of my business.”
Ben nodded curtly. “It’s fine.”
It was time to change the conversation. Judi stepped closer to Evan. “So where are you headed after this delivery?”
Evan unscrewed another cap and pulled out a stick Judi figured she should know the purpose of but didn’t. “Back to Spencer for a visit actually.”
Judi could smell a musky cologne or aftershave coming off Evan. “How long will you be staying?”
“About a month. I’ve been working non-stop for about two years straight, so my boss said I needed to take some of my vacation time.” He leaned back and wiped his hands on a rag. “Mom’s been asking me to come home for a visit for a while now, so I figured I’d finally grant her wish.” He nodded toward the car. “I’m going to slide underneath to double check but I think this might be a simple fix.”
Judi watched him lay on his back under the front of the car, biting her lower lip as his shirt pulled up and revealed a hint of toned skin.
“Looks like you’re out of coolant,” he said after a few minutes.
Judi pursed her lips. “Oh. What’s coolant?”
“It keeps the car cool,” Ben quipped.
Judi rolled her eyes. “Thanks.” She turned her attention back to Evan. “So how do we get coolant?”
“Actually, I have some. It’s in the back of my cab.” He jerked his head toward his truck and smiled at Judi. “I’ll be right back.”
Judi folded her arms behind her and shot a smile right back at him. “I’ll be right here.”
“Of course he has some in his truck,” Ben mumbled, loud enough so only Judi heard it as Evan walked away.
She elbowed him in the side as she walked past him to stand on the other side of the car and watch Evan. She ignored the gagging noise that came from Ben.
Ben cleared his throat. “Excuse me.”
“You are excused to wherever would like to be excused to.”
“Uh no – I mean you’re obviously ogling Evan. So —”
“Uh. Yeah, I am.” She turned and fanned herself with her hand. “Because he’s hot. Like seriously hot.” A soft growl came from her throat. “I don’t remember him being this hot when I knew him in high school.”
Ben rolled his eyes again. “Good grief. I don’t care if he’s hot or cold as long as he can get us moving again.”
Twenty minutes later, Evan had the car started and Ben shook his hand as he asked for directions back to the highway. Evan reached his hand out to Judi next and held it longer than he had Ben’s. Much longer, rubbing the top of it with his thumb. “Well, Judi Lambert, promise me you’ll look me up when you get back to Spencer, okay?”
The way his green eyes sparkled should have been a crime. “I’ll definitely be sure to do that.”
He let her hand go and held up his hand. “Hold on.” When he came back from the truck he was holding his phone. “Let me get your number so I can call you sometime.”
After she’d given him her number, she thanked him and slid in behind the steering wheel. Evan looked over his shoulder as he walked back to his truck and waved one more time at her, then climbed inside. She smiled at him, waving back as he started the truck and she started the car. When she looked away from Evan, she met Ben’s amused expression.
“Are you two done with your cute meet or whatever they call it in romance novels?”
Judi rolled her eyes and shifted the car into gear. “I don’t know what it’s called in romance novels, but yes, I guess we are done saying goodbye as people tend to do when they are parting ways.” She adjusted her rearview and side mirrors. “How would you know about what is in a romance novel anyhow? I doubt you have a romantic bone in your body.”
Ben scoffed. “I know about those novels. My little sister reads them all the time. Angie did too. They’re ridiculous. About as ridiculous as you fawning all over Evan. Now come on. Let’s get going before you break us down again somewhere.”
Judi gave him a mock salute as she pulled out onto the road. “Yes, sir, Captain Oliver.”
“You’re not as funny as you think, you know.”
Judi winked. “Luckily I don’t think I’m that funny.”
She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye as he scrolled through his phone. Maybe Ben would be doing some ogling of his own soon. Ogling his old flame Angie, who Judi was going to try her best to make his current and future flame. She needed a challenge, something to distract herself from the past that seemed to be trying to catch up to her.
4 thoughts on “Fiction Thursday: Mercy’s Shore Chapter 13”
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Thank you Lisa for giving us this extra chapter in the middle of your full weeks! It sure looks like that past is going to demand some confronting very soon for both Ben and Judi!
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Yes, I believe the past is knocking on their door very loudly.
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