Life's not always about the journey, but who takes you on the ride.
A Midsummer Night's Steam story.
A stint in the Air Force left Ryan MacRae with a bitter memory of life in the closet. Jeff Allstein is a mechanic who has too much to lose if his private life becomes public. The heat of their attraction boils over on a stormy summer night, but satisfying that need only makes them both crave more.
Their searing connection makes it hard for Ryan to understand the road blocks Jeff continually puts down. Ryan will have to buckle up if he's going to find love at the end of his custom ride.
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August 16, 2007
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Excerpt from Custom Ride by K. A. Mitchell
Ryan felt like an idiot sitting out here with the a/c running, would feel even dumber wandering around the lot. It wasn't as if he didn't like cars, especially classic cars, but if he got out, it would be like he was looking for an excuse to run into tattoo guy; if he sat in the car, it was like he was avoiding him.
He shut off the car. Heat hit him instantly. After two minutes, the air was impossible to breathe. He opened the door. A bike was between his car and the back entrance to the garage, and he examined it as he passed, chrome blinding in the sunlight.
With the shimmering heat, the dark opening was too tempting to resist, and Ryan ducked inside the garage. It was cavernous, cluttered without being messy. David was off in the far corner at some kind of counter and even at this distance, Ryan could see the light brown brush cut on the mechanic settling his brother's bill. He went back out into the heat and glare.
Ryan checked out the bike again, tried to picture himself on it, laughed and walked down past a line of cars in the back lot. He stopped between a gleaming late 60's Camaro and a disintegrating car from a 1930's gangster movie. The car looked like it had given birth Alien-style, with a gaping hole exploding out from the roof. He tried to figure out what caused it.
He glanced up in time to see his brother peeling out of the lot in the Mustang. He ought to head back to his car, but the sun baked in a lassitude that kept him looking at the rusted-out car. Maybe it was a relic from a real gangster, taken out when police had launched some kind of explosive into the backseat. He was reaching a hand toward the fragmented metal when a voice said, "Tree."
"Huh?" He turned. Tattoo guy had come up behind him.
"A tree did it. Grew right through the floor and tore right through the roof. It's going to be gorgeous when we get her fixed up though. A '37 Buick." The guy's voice curled over Ryan's ears like smoke, a deep graveled edge hugging the words.
The guy was definitely not taking gay for a test spin. He was subtly teasing the edge of Ryan's space, his eyes holding his a little too long to be misinterpreted as anything but interest. Ryan wondered if he even remembered him from that night.
He returned the look, watching the way the unbuttoned grey work shirt stretched across his shoulders, framing a grease-smeared white undershirt, sweat-stuck to hard pecs. Ryan wished mechanics still had names stitched above the pocket.
As if he were reading his mind, the guy stuck out a hand. "Jeff."
He reached for Jeff's hand, but before he could offer his own name, Jeff was saying it in that husky voice. "Ryan, right?"
"Oh." He couldn't wait to get that phone call.
Jeff shook his hand firmly, but not in some kind of out-to-prove-who's-butcher way, and then didn't let go, leaving them fused at the palms.
"I remember you." Jeff broke the ice, but Ryan felt hot all over. "From the club."
"Or should I say, I remember your ass a hell of a lot better."