The colorful glow of the city lights reflected throughout the interior of the car as we drove. The night air was still warm enough to have the windows down, and the breeze felt refreshing on my skin. A blues song played on the car stereo while the waves of the wind pushed against my hand as I held it out the window
Logan’s fingers tapped on the steering wheel to the beat of the music, then he looked at me and instantaneously busted out singing the words of the song. I laughed at the face he was making as he sang. He was so into it. The words were something about “riding with the king.”
“Oh, now I know what you really think of yourself!” I joked.
“It’s B.B. King, Liv! He’s the king, not me!” he defended, pretending to be hurt.
I found it intriguing that someone my age would be listening to blues. Logan seemed so different from other people my age and, yet again, I found myself trying to wrap my head around the idea that…for the first time ever, I was interested in finding out more about a boy. As the song ended, Logan turned the volume down.
“The phone call that Gavin took earlier…It was for a race, wasn’t it?” I asked.
Logan looked at me and nodded.
“Why do they call Gavin? Why don’t they call you?”
He shrugged. “Gavin is better with the negotiations. I’m better at the driving. It works well for both of us.”
Negotiations. Gavin’s expertise. I admit, experience would come in handy for when he dives fully into the real-estate biz.
“You didn’t go tonight.” It wasn’t a question. More of an observation. Although, I did wonder why he passed up the chance.
He looked at me and smiled. “I guess I had better things to do.”
“What about the police? Isn’t street racing…?” I decided not to finish. We both knew it was not exactly legal.
He chuckled. “I’ve got nothing against cops. Police are good. We just don’t want to see them during a race…or before or after a race, for that matter.”
“Isn’t it a little risky, though? You never know when they could show up.”
“We take precautions. I don’t race unless there are spotters around to let us know if police are getting close. We change the location as much as possible. There is always a risk, though.” He paused. “The real risk is dealing with some of the idiots that want to race.”
“What do you mean?”
He shifted in his seat, beginning to look uncomfortable. “You never know if the other guy is on something or if he even knows how to handle his car, among other things. The police are the least of my concerns.” He looked at me. “I almost called off the race last week. The one that you came to.”
He didn’t answer right away. Instead, he started tapping the steering wheel again. “Derrick was more jittery than normal. I didn’t have a good feeling about it.”
“Why didn’t you call it off?”
His expression became serious as his eyes fixated on the road. “I don’t know.”
He knew why. He just didn’t want to tell me. “Why do you do it if it’s so risky?”
He pondered the question for a moment as if he had never really contemplated that thought before. “It’s easy. And fun. And a hell of a lot better than working nine to five, six days a week.”
We pulled up to a two-story commercial building which had four overhead garage doors in the front and an entry door on the side. The sign above the overhead doors said “Tanner Automotive.” We parked in the lot in front and walked towards the building.
“This is my shop.”
“Your shop?” I found it hard to believe that a nineteen-year-old owned his own building.
“Yes,my shop. My dad left it to me and my uncle. My uncle runs the business. I help him out when he needs it, and I live in the apartment upstairs.”
“Geez, must be nice,” I teased.
“Actually, it is pretty nice,” he grinned back at me. “Look, I may not work nine to five but that doesn’t mean the shop’s not important to me. It is. I train the mechanics. I’m here when we’re short-staffed or overloaded with work and plenty of times when we’re not, too. I’ve just been lucky enough that it’s done so well and that Craig hasn’t pushed me to be more involved.”
“You don’t want to be more involved?”
I watched as he unlocked the side door. “I’m cool with the way things are at this point. Maybe someday that will change, but for now it’s all good.”
We entered a hallway which had stairs to our left, and the garage was straight ahead. We walked into the garage, and Logan switched on the florescent lights, revealing a sizable object underneath a grey canvas cover in the very first car bay. The remaining three car bays were empty, making the room appear enormous. Against the walls were shelves and peg boards stocked with tools and auto supplies. Each bay had its own tool station which included several different tool chests.
We moved to the back of the garage, and Logan tossed his keys on a metal desk. I took a seat in the swivel chair in front of the desk and stared curiously at an old-time movie poster that hung on the wall.
“It’s John Wayne,” Logan explained, noticing my interest in the poster. “My dad was a huge John Wayne fan. He always had those movies on when I was growing up. We even had a room in our house specifically designated for all the John Wayne memorabilia that he collected.”
He leaned back against a tall Craftsman tool chest directing his attention to the grey canvas cover in front of us, silently staring at it for a moment.
“Why did you bring me here?” I asked softly.
He turned his face to me, meeting my eyes. Slowly he shook his head as if he wasn’t sure he knew the answer. My heart skipped a beat. What was it about looking into his eyes that made me feel so…at peace…and thrilled at the same time?
He stepped toward the canvas cover then slowly removed the cloth, rolling it up along the way to reveal an old white muscle car with black racing strips which traveled from the front bumper to the back bumper. The condition of this car wasn’t nearly as pristine as the Mustang. The dull finish had several nicks and scratches, and a few small spots of rust lined the bottom.
“It’s a ’72 Nova,” he disclosed as he walked around the car, taking in the sight of it as if it were for the first time.
“Your current project?”
“Not really,” he shrugged. “This one’s been on hold for a while. I’ve barely looked at it since…” He didn’t finish. Just got lost in thought. After a moment, he cocked his head to the side. “Hey, do you wanna go upstairs and get a drink?”
I frowned at him suspiciously. “Is that why you brought me here? You know you’re not going to get lucky with me, right?”
He let out a laugh then bowed his head down as he shook it, trying to hold back any more laughter. He couldn’t hold back the gigantic smile on his face, though. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to try anything with you. I think you’re cool, Liv. You’re someone I could hang out with, that’s all, nothing more. Friends have drinks together, right?”
I nodded, feeling embarrassed that I jumped to conclusions. I stood up from the chair. “Alright then, let’s go.”
“Usually it’s the guy’s mind that goes there,” he teased as we walked up the stairs to his apartment. “I like the way your mind works.”
“Oh, please! You have to admit, it sounded a bit forward,” I counter attacked.
The apartment was only half the size of the garage downstairs. The décor consisted of a few posters on the wall, a couch with a coffee table in front of it, an oversized round wicker chair in the corner, and a giant TV. A breakfast bar separated the kitchen from the living room. I took my shoes off, sat down on the couch, and brought my knees up, resting them on the cushion.
Logan handed me a beer, sat down next to me, and raised a brow. “Now it’s my turn to ask the questions.”
He didn’t ask anything too deep or too personal, and I was grateful for that. We spent the next few hours laughing and talking about everything from our favorite foods and music, to embarrassing moments, places we’ve been and want to go, and a rather extended round of “would you rather.” I found out that he would rather get a cardboard cut between the toes than get poked in the eye. And I informed him that I would rather drink pickle juice than sour milk.
There were no awkward silences or lulls in the conversations. I showed him that I could walk across a room with a full bottle of beer on my head without spilling it, and he showed me that he could spin a pen around his fingers so fast that it looked like moving helicopter propellers. Towards the end of it all, as we started to get tired, I asked him about the blues music that he was playing in the car earlier.
“There’s such a raw emotion behind the really good blues music. The guitar speaks to you in a way that doesn’t happen with any other genre,” he explained.
“So, let’s hear it. Play me your favorite blues song,” I challenged.
He turned it on, then looked at me with a small smile. He stepped over to the couch and sat down beside me, as the track started. It was a mellow song with no vocals. I didn’t expect it to have such an effect on me, but he was right. The guitar’s voice had a way of grasping my emotions, squeezing them tight, then pulling them out of me. I was hooked no more than thirty seconds into it.
I faced him, somewhat shocked that this beautiful music moved me in such an intense, hypnotic way. He stared straight ahead, looking at nothing in particular absorbed in the melody.
Slowly, he turned his face to me, and our eyes locked. We stared at each other for several moments, taking each other in. The friendly smile I attempted quickly faded as the intensity in his eyes increased and the atmosphere became much more than friendly. His brows furrowed as his gaze moved slowly from my eyes, to my hair, to my lips, and back.
I’m not sure if I leaned into him, or if he leaned into me, but we slowly inched closer until I could feel his minty breath on my face, his nose on my nose, and my heart pounding rapidly in my ears. I longed so badly for him to kiss me, yet hated my lack of control. Was it the music that was causing me to lose myself in him or just…him?
Heat emanated from his lips as they gently touched mine, hesitating in place for several moments, and igniting a surge of fire through my blood. The longer the kiss lingered, the more my skin began to burn, and when my lips parted and his tongue slowly discovered mine, I felt the rush of the touch throughout my body.
My hands slowly moved to his face, then the back of his neck, and I pulled him toward me. His fingers weaved up the hair at the base of my skull as he drew me closer. My body and mind were completely enraptured in the moment, my self-control rapidly fading away to nothing with each passing moment. Logan Tanner was kissing me in a way I had never been kissed before. It was happening, and although it was going against my plans, it was so fucking right.
He began to lay me down onto the couch and then stopped, abruptly pulling away, forcing himself back up to a sitting position. Following his lead, I sat back up, too. His eyes focused on me for a moment, the confusion in his them matching that which was in my heart, the look on his face mirroring my thoughts…Holy shit, that was intense.
He took me behind the neck and drew me closer to him, his lips no more than an inch from mine. Then, just at the moment I thought he would continue our kiss, he closed his eyes and placed his forehead on mine, taking a deep breath in.
My heartbeat was almost deafening as it pounded throughout my body, my chest moving up and down as I tried to catch my breath and regain composure. Pulling away, he opened his eyes and looked at me with intensity, passion, and…confusion.
“This isn’t why I brought you here, Liv,” he whispered. “I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
Then he kissed me softly on the forehead and slowly leaned back into the couch cushion. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the drinks, but a mixture of emotions flooded my senses. I was both grateful and disappointed that he stopped and baffled at why I couldn’t. I was mad at myself for being so irresponsible, but at the same time, I couldn’t deny the feeling of both peace and excitement that he gave me.
My head found a place to rest in the nook between his chest and his shoulder, as my arms held him. Closing my eyes, I became lost in the music.