Robin’s Nest Sneak Peak

Chapter 1

I was curled up on the couch, a good book in my hand, and a glass of tea nearby, when my cell rang. The Bellamy Brother’s classic “Redneck Girl” wasn’t a ring tone I’d set, so I checked the screen to see who it was. I rolled my eyes when I saw the words “Robin Calling” flash across the screen. Apparently, he’d found my phone unattended and changed the ring tone, again. It was something he did with regularity.

I ran my thumb across the scene to answer the call. “Hey, Rob, what’s up?”

“What are you up to tonight?” His deep voice rumbled from the small device.

“Not much, just laying here, spending some quality time with Anne.” He knew I was referring to Anne McCaffrey, the author of the book. I loved her work and I read it over and over.

I heard him sigh on the other end of the line. “I hate to interrupt what I’m sure is an exciting evening, but could I bum a ride off you? My truck broke down again and I’m a foot.”

He was being flippant about my reading, but I knew Robin liked to read almost as much as I do. We share a lot of the same interests, and sometimes, even books.

“Of course. I have to get dressed, but I’ll be there as soon as I can. Where are you?” I got up and headed for the bedroom to change. “Is it something you can take care of easily? Can I bring you a part or a few tools? Or will we have to haul it back to the house to fix it?” I asked, ready to toss whatever he needed into my jeep and take it out to him.

He sighed again. “I’m out on 70, towards Lordsburg. You know where the windmill is on the north side of the road? I’m about a mile past that. It’ll be a pretty quick repair but I don’t have the part. I was just going to leave the truck here tonight. I’ll go to Safford and get the part in the morning, then come out and fix it, if I can bum another ride that is.”

“No problem, I’ll even take you to Safford tomorrow, if you don’t have any plans. I have a couple of things I need to pick up over there.”

“I’d appreciate it.”

“No problem, give me about thirty minutes and I’ll ride to your rescue.”

“No rush. It’s not like I’m going anywhere.”

“Later.” I hung up, stripped out of my lounging clothes and pulled on one of my usual summer outfits of a tank top and shorts. I grabbed my keys, tucked my phone into my purse, and headed out the door.

It didn’t take long to steer my little red Jeep Wrangler through town and onto the highway that heads towards Lordsburg. About twenty minutes after leaving my house, I spotted the silhouette of a pickup sitting on the side of the road, a man leaning up against the side of it. I knew it had to be Robin. Who else would be out here on the side of the highway? Right where he’d said he was? I grinned at the sight of him. It was a familiar pose, one I’d seen at least a thousand times over the years.

Robin and I had been best friends since I was four, when I’d moved in with my aunt and uncle, long before anyone told us that the opposite sex was supposed to be icky.

As I drew closer, I saw Robin push himself off the side of the truck and stand to his full height of 6’1″. He opened his pickup door and reached for something inside. I pulled the Jeep off the highway, and watched as he locked and closed the door then crossed the highway and rounded the Jeep to the passenger side. Robin isn’t a particularly large guy. Yeah, he’s tall, but he’s lean, like the basketball player he’d been in high school. I leaned across the seat and lifted the lock on the door to let him in.

“So, what’s the problem this time?” I asked as he climbed inside and closed the door.

“Damned rotor again,” he replied, tossing his baseball cap with his keys inside onto the dash. He ran his hand through his shaggy blond hair. It stayed back for maybe three seconds before falling on either side of his face again, framing his deep green eyes.

I waited while he buckled his seatbelt, then checked for cars before pulling back onto the highway. Only going far enough to make a U-turn without hitting his truck, before heading back into town.

“I thought you kept an extra one in the glove box for when this happens?” I asked.

“I do, but I used my last one a couple of months ago and I forgot to get more on my next trip to Safford, then I just spaced it.” He ran his hand through his hair again, only to have it fall right back where it started. “Of course, it was about time for Murphy’s Law to smack me upside the head again, so here we are.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Are you about ready to give up on that antique or are you gonna buy another case of rotors for it?” Ribbing Robin about his stubbornly keeping the old pickup, despite its oddities, was an old habit between the two of us. Though we dig at each other and bicker once in a while, I don’t think we’ve had more than two or three real fights in our entire friendship.

“So it eats rotors. So what? They’re cheap. The frame, body, and motor are all in good condition. Why junk a good machine for one small, and relatively  inexpensive, inconvenience?” He easily fell right back into the old game.

“It’s broken down, and left you stranded along the side of the road, how many times now?”

“A few,” he admitted, “but I can usually repair the problem in less than fifteen minutes and be back on my way. It’s my own fault I ended up stranded tonight. Besides, if you’d been busy I would have found someone else, or eventually, someone would have come along and given me a ride into town.”

He’s right, someone would have come along. It was barely eight o’clock, and not quite dark yet. However, this wasn’t the most used road out of town and he might have had to wait a couple of hours before someone came along.

“What were you doing out here?” I glanced at him before looking back at the road.

“I was on my way back from a meeting in Lordsburg.”

“That sounds fun.” My tone was dry. I didn’t know what the meeting was for, but if had been something he had enjoyed, he would have shared more about it.

“Any leads on a new job?”

“Not yet.” I shrugged. “I’ll find something, I’m sure. The question is, how long until I do?”

“If you need something to make ends meet, I can put you to work. It’s long hours and muddy as hell, but it’s work.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, thanks. I’ve got a while before I have to worry, though. I have a good chunk in savings and since I don’t have a house payment or rent, it will go a lot farther.”

“That’s true.”

I reminded him that I’d pick him up at eight the next morning as I dropped him off in his driveway. I waited until he made it to the door before turning around and heading home.

Pulling out onto the highway my mind raced ahead. My thoughts were already back at the house. It was only eight thirty, I still had plenty of the evening left. I could settle back onto the sofa, but the thought of a hot bath was even more enticing.

Suddenly, I was drawn back to what I was doing by bright lights directed at my face. I shook my head and barely had time to register the vehicle that was supposed to be in the left lane, it was in mine instead. I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t avoid it. The last thought that went through my mind was “How badly is this gonna hurt?” then everything went black.

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