Gabe stared at the young woman behind the counter. Her blouse stretched over her ample bosom; the gap between the buttons gave a hint of a pink bra. His cock jerked slightly and he coughed, hoping to cover the involuntary groan that was pulled from him.
"Stare at them long enough and they may grow," a voice behind him whispered.
He turned and shot a glance at the woman with the voice. He said nothing, took in her appearance, and then dismissed her without sparing another look.
"Thank you, Miss," he said to the beauty behind the counter, accepted his change and then winked.
Sarah watched the man walk away; she rolled her eyes at the blushing blonde that was grinning from ear to ear. She paid for her purchase, a small box of maxi pads, and headed out the door toward the parking lot. She quickened her steps, noting the time on her watch and cursing the fact her father hadn't told her the maxi pad machine at work was empty.
The sound of tires screeching was her warning that she was about to be run over. She jumped back and watched the man who had ogled the blonde drive a few feet past her, stop, look back through the rearview mirror, and then leave. For a split second she'd met his gaze and the look he gave her was one of annoyance. She felt her lips curl in fury, but said nothing as she resumed her walk to her car.
Gabe couldn't believe he'd almost hit the woman. He'd been concentrating on the chest of the retail girl, his cock growing a little with every imaginary button he was popping until he'd saw something out of the corner of his eye. He rolled his eyes at the stranger and drove away; now though he thought of the look of shock on her face and felt bad for almost running her down. Gabe sighed and pulled into the bank parking lot, got out and completed another of his morning errands. When he left, he headed across the street to the NAPA store.
His thoughts remained on the girl, until he saw a woman walk into the shop, her arm hooked on that of her boyfriend's. Her shorts were denim and rode high on her round ass, her narrow waist, Gabe swore he could span with his large hands. The side view of her chest, promised the front view would be just as tantalizing; when he wove his way through the isles, hoping to catch a glimpse of her, he was proved right in his assessment.
"Jesus Christ, don't you ever stop," a voice muttered under clenched teeth.
Gabe stopped his appraisal of the woman, pressed against her boyfriend, and turned to face the voice he'd heard just thirty minutes ago. "Excuse me?" he asked; one brow shot up as he stared into a pair of hazel eyes and checked the name tag of the girl from the discount store's isle. "Sarah."
"Nothing," Sarah answered back. Inwardly, she chastised herself, not quite believing she'd said the words out loud. She turned to leave, but was stopped when a firm grip on her arm pulled her back. She cursed silently. "No; you said something and though I know what you said, I'd like to have you repeat it." Gabe stared her down, noting for the first time how small she was compared to him. He gauged her to be five foot and that was with the tennis shoes she wore adding a half inch or inch to her small frame. Her hair was tied back in a braid, and her face held a sprinkling of freckles, probably brought on because of her fair complexion and her auburn hair.
He waited for her to speak, his grip held firm and his stubborn expression told her, he hoped, that he wasn't about to let her offhanded comment slide by this time.
Sarah swallowed the cutting remarks that boiled under the surface. If she'd been in some other store she would tell the man to get a life. But she was in her father's store and a customer was a customer. She took a deep breath and sighed. "Look, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said it and I know you know what I said, so repeating it really isn't necessary; is it?"
She saw it was no use and he wasn't letting up on the hold he had on her. Her shoulders fell and she muttered, "Jesus Christ, don't you ever stop."
Gabe smirked and released her arm. "Thanks, and no I don't. Why should I? The female body is a beautiful thing. Why shouldn't one admire it?" he asked and then boldly swept his gaze down her form. The NAPA shirt that he'd dismissed at the discount store fit her trim figure perfectly. It didn't hug her breasts, but the material lay smoothly over them as if it were made to move with her. It was definitely made for comfort, not appeal. Her slacks, black and cut with pleated fronts didn't add to what he was beginning to see as a package with potential. Her ankles were trim and the sneakers she wore were clean, but showed a few scuffs.
Sarah stood there, watching him take stock of her. She blushed under the scrutiny. She wasn't sure if it was anger or if it was pleasure, she opted to go with anger. When his gaze reached back to her face and their eyes met again, she glared back at him; her lips lifted in a snarl. His smile made her grow more irritated and she crossed her arms in front of her chest. "Finished?" she asked.
"Yeah; now I'll go on to more pleasing things. Where are the fan belts?" he asked.
He watched her eyes grow wide and her jaw drop in shock at the slam to her and her appearance. She saw the humor in his eyes and clamped her mouth shut. She took a couple deep breaths and then turned. "This way," she hissed and headed toward the west wall. Sarah felt his eyes watching her hips as she walked and she fought the urge to sway them. Instead, she walked stiffly toward the wall, passing her father and giving him a customary nod.
"What kind of car?" she asked.
Gabe wanted to drag her across his knee and spank the attitude out of her, but instead he allowed his thoughts to focus on the memory of her round ass and how the back view of her black uniform slacks had worked to her advantage by outlining the firm globes. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the woman and her boyfriend leaving; he admired the denim clad ass as it disappeared from the store. "Nice," he whispered and then heard a cough. He smirked and turned back. "Ahh yes; sorry, I forgot you were there."
Sarah felt the knee gut jerk a woman gets for being dismissed in light of a tastier meal. Mentally she kicked herself for caring, but knew her face was losing the forced polite expression and was on the edge of self pity. "What kind of car do you need the belt for? The one you were driving sounded fine."
Gabe's brows shot up at her comment. "Yes, that one is fine. It's for my father's '53 Chevy Pick-up." He gave her the details of the truck and she grabbed the hook from the wall.
She felt him watching her. Later, she chided herself for caring what he was thinking and for purposely stretching more than she needed in order to force the shirt to stretch across her breasts. When she brought the belt down and handed to him, she was blushing from the display she'd tried to provoke.
Gabe smirked and thanked her. He nodded his head and headed to the counter, this time he felt a pair of hazel eyes on his ass and he grinned. He set the belt down and waited for the older man to ring him up. Behind him he could hear the sound of the woman, Sarah, talking with another customer.
The older man, nodded his head and said, "Be with you in a minute."
Gabe patiently waited and then watched in shock as the man grabbed his left arm and started to fall. Gabe leapt over the counter and caught the older gentleman before his head hit the hard concrete floor.
Sarah saw the movement out of the corner of her eye. She'd been watching the cocky fellow and was tempted to wait on him, but now she was shocked to see him jumping in the air and disappearing behind the counter. She hurried over to the swinging half door. "Pop?" she screamed and rushed to her father's side. "What the fuck happened?" she cursed.
"I don't know; call an ambulance," Gabe ordered.
Sarah's fingers shook as she pulled her cell phone from the small clip on her belt. She had to punch in the numbers twice, because she was so upset, but eventually she had the 911 Operator on the line and was relaying information to her.
"Pop," Sarah whispered to him, her fingers smoothing his gray hair down, "help is coming okay."
"Aye, little one," Paul grimaced.
Sarah held his hand and continued to speak quietly to him. She was vaguely aware of the gentleman finishing up the sale and walking the customers out the door, then closing the shop. When the ambulance arrived, Sarah mumbled a quiet, and hurried thank you and then disappeared into the back of the ambulance with her father.
Gabe watched the vehicle drive away, lights blaring and sirens screaming. He spoke with an officer that had responded and together they locked up the store; Gabe left reassured that the officer was going to drive by the shop, off and on during his shift, as well as have others do so, since neither he nor Gabe set the alarm.
Gabe returned home and tried to concentrate on repairing his father's truck. His thoughts kept returning to the look of disbelief and horror that filled the young woman's features. Her eyes had grown wide and her jaw slack, tears hadn't fallen, but they were on the edge. He wondered how the old man was doing and felt the need to check up on her overtake him.
He walked into his father's home and called out. Mitch yelled back and Gabe followed his voice down to the basement.
"Hey Dad," Gabe said as he made his way through several odds and ends.
"Gabe," Mitch answered back. "How's it going?"
"Not bad, hard to concentrate though. I keep thinking about this morning." Gabe sat down on a bench and watched his father work on the small rocking chair he was building. His hands were rough, just like Gabe's, but they were also gnarled from age, unlike Gabe's. He studied his father for several minutes, before getting up and walking around the work table. "I love ya, Dad," Gabe answered and pulled the man into a hug.
Mitch smiled, and hugged his son back. He thought of the last time Gabe had expressed this particular type of emotion. He knew his son loved him, but the physical contact was something Gabe rarely invoked toward another man, even if that man was his Father. "I love you, son."
"I just thought it was really important that you know that," Gabe said and then released his dad. He leaned against the table and sighed. "I wasn't really nice to that girl today," he said.
"The girl at the shop?" Mitch asked.
"Yeah. I was giving her a hard time and then her Pop goes and drops on her," he muttered, pushing his fingers through his thick brown curls. "I'm an ass sometimes."
Mitch laughed. "Aren't we all?" he asked. "Why not go down there; maybe she'll be there making sure it got locked up right."
"Yeah, that's a good idea. I can offer my apologies for being a dick and find out if her father is okay." Gabe squeezed his father's shoulder and headed back up the stairs to the basement. He paused half way. "I'll be back tomorrow to finish up the truck."
"Sounds fine son; see you then," Mitch answered back and watched his only son disappear up the basement steps. He worked for several hours, before calling it quits and heading up the steps to grab a bite to eat. He noted the time and wondered how the day had slipped by so fast.
Gabe sat outside the NAPA shop, staring at the windows. He'd seen the woman moving around inside, the door however still showed the closed sign, so he knew it was still locked. Just before he'd gotten to the shop he'd grabbed himself a bite to eat at one of the local fast food joints; then waited for some type of sign that someone was inside the shop. He'd dozed off and on several times. Each time he woke up he asked himself why he was still there. The same answer came back to him in the form of Sarah's lost and hurt expression that he'd seen when he had dismissed her that final time, followed by the shock and fear that etched her face when her father collapsed.
Sarah worked in silence emptying the cash register and readying the shop to be opened the next morning with all the paperwork from the weekends sales recorded. She left a note for Brian and Delilah, two employees that would be opening for the next two weeks, on how to properly record gains and losses for the day. She left the passwords to the accounts that were on the computer and then took a look around at her father's small office before shutting off the last light in the shop. The security lights flickered on and she set the alarm.
When she walked out the back door and then walked around the front, she stopped and stared at the car that had almost run her down. She took a deep breath and began to walk over to its occupant, only to watch him open the door and proceed to head in her direction. She stopped and waited till he was standing in front of her.
"Thank you," she told him. Her gaze shifted from his shoes, to the front of his shirt, and then to the space behind his shoulder. "I appreciate you locking up for me earlier this morning, especially after . . . "
Gabe noted her puffy eyes and red nose. He felt he knew the answer to the question he had to ask, but heard himself asking anyway, "How is he?"
Sarah swallowed and took a deep breath. "He didn't make it." Her fingers curled into fists at her side and she bit her lower lip, stifling the fresh river of tears and sobs that threatened to fall from her lids.
"Ahh hell," Gabe muttered. "I'm sorry Sarah girl." He pulled her into his arms and held her tight. His fingers smoothed her braid, now loose from the day's activities.
She didn't want to be in his arms, but she did nothing to stop him as she clung to his shirt and wept fresh tears and felt her body wrack with grief.
Gabe held her for several minutes, taking the assault of anguished salt water filling the cotton of his shirt and soaking into his skin. He heard her sniffles and slowly began to halfway carry and walk her toward his car. Once there, he leaned against it and kept her tucked into him. He ran his hands down her back and then up again, offering words of comfort and trying to help her through the pain of losing her father and the embarrassment of being held by a stranger. "Jesus Christ, I'm sorry," Sarah whispered against his shirt and slipped free of his arms. She crossed her's in front of her chest and swallowed the lump in her throat. "Thanks," she muttered and wiped at the tears.
"It's okay, it's the least I could do. After all, I was an asshole this morning and should be apologizing for that too," Gabe told her.
Sarah shrugged her shoulders and sighed. "Nah, you weren't. I was. I shouldn't have ragged on you." She chuckled and then rolled her eyes.
"What?" Gabe asked, wanting to keep her chuckling as long as he could.
"I'm on the rag is all, that's why I was raggin' on you. I'm a bitch." She smirked and shuffled her feet. "Anyway, thanks for well . . . for locking up and for letting me cry on your shoulder. I appreciate it."
"Not a problem. I am sorry you lost him," Gabe answered. "Does your mom know?" he asked.
"Mom passed a couple of years ago, from cancer. I think Dad was just hanging on because of me. Guess he figured I was ready," she said quietly and sniffled.
"Do you have anyone that can help you out?" he asked.
"I've got some folks coming in to work mine and Pop's shift all this week and into next. I'll be okay and I've got the numbers to the church and the funeral home from when Momma passed so I'll be fine there too. Thanks though." Sarah turned to go and felt the man's grip on her shoulder.
"I mean, do you have anyone at home that can help? A brother, sister, boyfriend, husband? Anyone?" Gabe waited for her to answer, but saw it written in her eyes. She was alone, he could tell, by the sudden squaring of her shoulders and the steel in her eyes that appeared.
"I called my brother, he can't be bothered, and my sister told me that if I really needed her help than to call her back, but otherwise she'd be at the funeral and the reading of the Will, but I could handle everything else. I'll give Pop's friends a call tomorrow, but I don't have a husband or a boyfriend and my friends are twenty-three hours away in another state."
Gabe tried to not be insulted by the venom in her voice. He knew it wasn't because of him, but from the obvious need to show she could make it on her own. He stepped back and nodded his head. "Well, I've been down this road too. My Mom passed away a few years ago." He pulled his wallet from his back pocket and smirked at her raised hand.
"I don't need any mon. . ." Sarah stopped when she saw a slim white business card pressed into her palm.
"Not money, just a number," Gabe said. He watched her glance at the name and saw the look of recognition on it. "Yeah, he's my Dad."
"Oh, you guys have awesome furniture," Sarah said. She put the card in her pocket and smiled up at him. "Thanks Gabe," she said and turned away, then stopped and looked back at him. "I do appreciate what you did this morning and I am sorry I was a bitch."
"No worries, Sarah," he told her. He watched her walk away and get into her Taurus. He walked around and took his place behind the wheel of the Cadillac he'd purchased a few years ago and left the parking lot. His mind focused on the young woman and her hazel eyes. He wondered how long it would be before he found himself in front of the NAPA store again, checking up on her.
Sarah drove home. She concentrated on nothing but the road and the gentleman from that morning, swearing off focusing on her father until she was safely parked in the driveway of her small ranch style home. Once there she slumped against the wheel and let the flood gates open. She cried for the loss of her parent, the realization that her brother and sister were not going to lend a helping hand, and the fact that she was alone. She recalled the last time she'd seen her siblings. The day their mother's Will was read, Trevor and Denise had both taken the cashier checks, waded through their mother's belongings and then left. They had barely spoken to Sarah or Paul.
She forced herself from the car and walked up the sidewalk to the front porch. She turned the key and walked in. Her hands, still shaky from the cry, flicked on the switch in the kitchen. She dropped her keys on the table and then walked quietly into her living room. Another light flickered to life and Sarah stared at the empty wall that had held her newest purchase. Her jaw dropped and her shoulders sagged. She glanced around the room and noted the new stereo and speakers she'd purchased were gone as well as the silver tea set she'd inherited from her mother.
Silently she walked through every room in her home and felt hot, angry tears slide down her cheeks. By the time she reached her bedroom, she was numb. She crawled onto the bed and slipped under the covers. Her head hurt. Her eyes stung and she just couldn't think anymore.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The following morning Gabe awoke with the sun and stood under the hot spray of shower water, as he thought of how to find out more about Sarah, the NAPA girl. Last night he found himself thinking of her more and more. By the time morning came around he'd crawled out of bed with a raging hard on and a need to have it satisfied.
He washed off the evidence of his release and left the shower, grabbed a robe and flicked on the morning radio and scanner that he kept in the kitchen. He'd purchased the scanner years ago, after realizing that he missed the constant noise of police speaking in the background that he'd grown up with during his youth. His father had kept one in his living room by his easy chair, all through Gabe's college days. Now, he found himself enjoying knowing what was happening in the town of his youth.
Gabe scrambled a couple eggs, toasted some white bread and then added some milk to his coffee. The sound of Sarah Granger, 1367 East Bella Drive reached his ears and he stopped for a moment. He thought about his Sarah and hoped it wasn't the same woman. Something in the pit of his stomach told him it was though. He shut the stove off and dumped his eggs, curiosity winning over commonsense.