Chapters:

Chapter 1

Isabeau stepped down from the curb, her arms full of books. She was rather keen to drive home for the weekend and forget all that had happened at school the previous week. Only when she looked up she came face to face with a guy gawking at her. He was leaning across the hood of her canary yellow Jetta and while she could have sworn she’d seen him before she couldn’t recall where or when.

“Nice car,” he said with a smile that went all the way to his eyes. It was then that Isabeau remembered where she’d seen him. He’d been lingering on the school grounds earlier that day; although how he had remained unnoticed by both staff and students alike was a mystery.

“Are you following me?” Isabeau asked ignoring his compliment of her car. The Jetta was anything but nice; it certainly wasn’t new and if she’d had her way it would have at least been given a new paint job but as her father had been the one to buy the vehicle it would have to wait until she could come up with cash of her own.

“No. I was across the street, saw the car and figured I’d introduce myself,” he said as he extended his hand. “Name’s Lincoln Aster.”

Isabeau eyed his outstretched hand warily but didn’t shake it. “Because of the car?”

“Yes,” Lincoln let his hand drop back to his side.

“Right.” Isabeau shifted the pile of books in her arms, pulled the car key from her pocket as Lincoln moved across the body of the car to block her path to the driver’s side door.

“Why aren’t you afraid of me?”

“Should I be?”

“Most people are,” he admitted.

Isabeau scoffed. “I’m not most people.”

“Clearly,” Lincoln noted as he moved aside just as another car came and parked at a ninety degree angle to her own. A guy with frosted blonde hair stepped out.

“Oh, come on!” she called. “Do you mind?”

A young man, no older than twenty-five, winked in Lincoln’s direction and Isabeau stared at him, mouth agape. “Not at all.”

Isabeau got in her car and closed the door.

“What are you doing? You can’t―”

But Isabeau ignored his outburst, choosing instead to turn the key, gun the engine and shift the car into reverse before hitting the accelerator and rather violently shoving the other car out of the way.

“Oops! Guess I just did,” she said. “See ya ‘round Lincoln.”

“Yeah see ya,” Lincoln muttered aloud as he watched Isabeau drive away.

“I hope that the girl was well worth the damage that was done to my car,” he said as he approached Lincoln.

“Yeah, she’s definitely worth it Jake,” Lincoln replied. “Don’t worry, I’ll find away to fix the car.”

“You’d better man, ‘cause as of right now I’m walking and you know how I hate walking.”

“You won’t be if we head over to Sam’s and get him to bring the tow-truck,” Lincoln replied.

“Now you’re thinking on your feet angel-boy,” Jake said.

“Gee, thanks. Should I take that as a compliment?” Lincoln walked away and turned right.

On the corner, was a petrol station and workshop. Sam Clary owned both and now had two boys, no older than twenty apprenticing for him. Lincoln wasn’t into cars and perhaps he should have been given how very little there was to do in such a small rundown city, such as Bethlehem was, but the appeal of getting his hands dirty was lost on him.

Lincoln walked into the workshop and looked around for Sam but couldn’t see him.

“If you’re looking for Sam, he ain’t here,” one of the apprentices said from under the body of a raised sedan.

“Yeah, Clary took an early mark. Some family thing or something if you ask me―”

“He’s not asking you Daniel so get back to work. That car ain’t going to fix itself.”

“Speaking of cars that need fixing, a mate of mine’s―”

“My car had a run in with an angst ridden teenage girl. You wouldn’t have a truck or something handy to give us a tow would you?” Jake asked.

“Nah sorry. The truck belongs to Sam, and since he’s gone home, the truck’s gone too.” The apprentice scooted out from under the sedan and wiped his hands on the cloth that was tucked into the pocket of his jeans. “I can give you his home address.”

Jake ran a hand through his blonde hair. “Yeah guess that’ll have to do.”

“One Hundred and Sixty-One Charles Street,” the apprentice said. “Need me to write that down for you?”

“No. One Sixty One Charles Street. Got it,” Jake replied. “You comin’ Linc?”

“Yeah man, I’m comin’,” he replied.

The two men sank into a comfortable silence; walking the streets of Bethlehem in the middle of the afternoon wasn’t one of Lincoln’s usual pastimes but at least Charles Street wasn’t that far from the workshop and half an hour later they were standing outside of a modest house, complete with a while picket fence.

“How charming,” Jake replied.

“That’s not all that’s charming. Guess Sam’s apprentice forgot to mention that our little rev head also happens to be the boss’s daughter,” Lincoln said nodding towards the Jetta he’d been admiring outside the bookstore earlier.

“Wonderful,” Jake said, hardly able to keep the annoyance from his voice.

“Maybe we’ll luck out and she won’t be home,” Lincoln said.

Jake shook his head, opened the gate and headed for the front door. The house appeared to have seen better days. Lincoln laughed, but had no choice other than to follow.

The door opened, after Jake had knocked three times, and the girl appeared.

She rolled her eyes, unimpressed by their appearance on her doorstep.

“Hi, I’m Jake. Seems my car had a run in with an annoying teenage girl and is in need of repairs. Heard through the grapevine that your father is here and has the truck,” Jake said.

“You are stalking me aren’t you?” she asked addressing Lincoln while ignoring Jake.

“Not at all. You really did damage Jake’s car enough that it needs a tow,” he said.

“Fine. Come in, I guess,” she said. “Dad!”

She stepped away from the front door, not looking to see if either Jake or Lincoln were following.

“Bo, what is it? I told you―” Sam Clary looked up, after wiping his hands on a rag.

“Car needs a tow,” she said.

“So here,” Sam said tossing her the keys from the hall table nearby. “Take the truck and give them a tow.”

“But―”

“Isabeau,” Sam Clary replied impatiently. “You know Astrid needs her car tomorrow and I’m behind as it is.”

“Yeah, all right... fine,” she grumbled. “But I ain’t helping to repair the damage that―”

“That you did?” Sam sighed. “And the Jetta?”

“The Jetta’s fine. Remarkably, it has very little damage, considering my exit strategy.”

“We’ll talk about this later,” Sam replied. “Go get the car, tow it to the workshop and have Ben make sure it’s locked up tight before he leaves for the day. I’ll look at it first thing tomorrow.”

With the keys now in her hand Isabeau pivoted and headed back out through the open front door. Approaching the truck, she opened the driver’s side door and got in while Lincoln and Jake got in on the passenger side.

“Wasn’t aware you could drive a stick,” Lincoln said to her as she reversed out of the driveway.

Isabeau caught the subtly in his flirtatious remark but chose to ignore it and him and concentrate on the road.

He’s just baiting you anyway and no good ever comes of those sorts of games.

“Don’t say much do you?” Lincoln tried again.

“No, but then I don’t need to. You never seem to know when to shut up,” Isabeau replied as she eased the car to a stop, outside the bookstore. She jumped down out of the truck and turned to Jake who was siding up to his damaged car.

“Get in and put the car in neutral. You’ll need to stay put while it’s towed... work the breaks and stuff. I can’t load it onto the truck the tray isn’t big enough.”

“I do know how towing works, you know. So,” he said. “What’s the story with you and Linc? You two an item or what?”

Isabeau looked at Jake, who winked and then she shook her head.

“There’s nothing to tell. Just get in the car and do as I said. Unlike you, I don’t have all day.”

“Yes Miss,” he said with a chuckle as Isabeau turned away and went about hooking the tow rope to the hood of Jake’s car.

Getting in the driver’s side of the truck she turned to Lincoln. “Your friend is a jerk.”

“Yeah. Jake has that effect on people,” he replied as she started the truck.