His pride rings clear, and he gives the car another pat. “It drove my mom nuts when he spent his weekends tinkering with Little Red, but she knew how much he loved it so…” He shrugs.
“Did you ever work on it?”
“Mostly it’s only tune ups and belt changes now, but, yeah, I know how to fix a car, if that’s what you’re asking.” A little mischief brews in his dark eyes. “Want to go for a ride?”
“No. Three hours from now,” he deadpans. “I figure you can get in your pjs, maybe sleep for a while, then we’ll go out.”
He’s already opening the passenger door. “Come on, Jones, ride with me.”
“It’ll be nice and warm with the heat on,” he adds.
The Camaro’s dark interior gleams in the yellow glow of the parking lot light. Drew is waiting. He wants to kiss me. He wants everything.
I take a little breath. “Okay, but this thing had better go fast.”
“She’ll set your hair straight.” He gives one of my curls a playful tug before closing the door behind me.
Inside, the car smells of old leather and a bit of Drew’s shaving cream. It’s that subtle scent of Drew that makes me sink into my seat and inhale deeply. Then he’s getting into the car. His grin is like a kid’s when he turns the key and the car rumbles to life with a growl.
“Oh, yeah, baby,” he says to her, “purr for me.”
“Would you like a little time alone?” I ask, but I love the way he appreciates his car.
His dimple deepens. “This is a shared experience, Jones. Get with the program. Now buckle up.”
I do as ordered and happily sit back as he pulls out of the lot. He goes slow through the campus, turning on the heat and fiddling with the radio. Soon I’m warm enough to pull off my coat, and Led Zepplin’s Kasmir fills the silence.
“You weren’t kidding about the classic rock,” I say, taking a look around the dash. “I’m surprised there isn’t an eight-track in here.”
“I’m surprised you know what an eight-track is.”
He laughs. “Dad put in a new stereo the year before he—”
He stops talking and turns out onto the main road. The car springs forward with a throaty little rumble.
“It’s a beautiful car,” I say to fill the awkward silence. I hate that he hurts, that he misses his parents. “I’m glad you have it.”
“I am too.” He’s quiet for a moment, then smiles softly. “When I finally made straight A’s, he let me use it on dates. It became my personal quest to get laid in here.”
“Nice.” I wrinkle my nose. “And you’ve just put the kibosh on getting any from me in here.”
I flush hard the moment the words are out of my mouth, and Drew snorts. “Damn, there goes my plan.” He sends me a sidelong look. “Actually, the backseat is ridiculously small for a muscle car. Can’t do anything back there but get a leg cramp.”
Much to his amusement, I glance over my shoulder. The seat is small. Annoyed at myself and at Drew’s smug chuckle, I pull out my phone. We’re heading for a large stretch of empty road now, and I know he’ll let the car go then. “This radio work with my phone?” I ask.
Drew nods. “I like old cars, but I have my standards.” He reaches down and hands me an input wire as I download a song.
It’s my turn to smile. “I think you’ll like this one.” I hit play.
His expression is priceless, his nose wrinkled in confusion at the twangy plucking of a guitar and two guys conversing in a beatnik style. “What the hell?”
He does and his mouth twitches. The guys are making fun of The Doors now, and Drew snorts.
“It’s the Dead Milkmen,” I say.
One guy asks the other what car dude’s dad got him. My gaze catches Drew’s and we’re both grinning.
“Don’t tell me,” Drew says, just as the band launches into a hard and fast punk rock riff about a Camaro. It’s manic, all drums and guitars and screaming singers.
“Bitchin’ Camaro, man,” I say with a laugh.
And Drew takes off. We’re flying, my back presses against the seat, and I’m laughing so hard my sides hurt. Drew’s laughing with me. We’re mad on speed and ridiculous lyrics. And I don’t want it to end. Little Red eats up the road, gray asphalt is a blur. I ought to be afraid, but I feel alive.
We race along until the song ends and then Drew slows. “That was excellent,” he says.
“So’s the car.” I rest my head on the seat and smile at him. I’m sore from laughter, little aftershocks of giddiness quake though my belly.
Everything is quiet except the steady hum of the engine, and that’s okay. The realization steals over me. We can sit together in silence and feel comfortable. When had it happened? Before I can brood on it any longer, Drew’s stomach growls. With insistence.
“Why do I get the feeling that your stomach likes talking to me?” I ask him.
The corner of his mouth quirks. “Kind of your fault.”
“You fed it once. Naturally it’s going to come asking for more.”
“Naturally.” I snort and then grab my bag. “I don’t know if I should be enabling this development, but I happen to have a sub—”
“Hand it over, Jones.”
“You sure? You’d let us eat in Little Red? I mean this interior is pretty pristine.”