Page 29 of Mr. Fixit Next Door

He shook his head and smiled. “No, not right now. Your application is the best one I’ve seen all week. I’ll definitely be in touch by Friday to let you know if you’ve got the position. By the looks of it, I think your chances are really good.”

We both rose and shook hands amicably.

“Thank you,” I said. “I look forward to hearing from you.”

I left Frederick’s office and quickly found my way out of the tall building. Bakerson Inc.’s headquarters was based out of the downtown area, so I found myself surrounded on all sides by towering buildings made of reflective glass and hard steel. I rounded the corner just in time to see the bus pull up to the curb. Quickening my step, I hopped on and grabbed the closest vacant seat, holding my purse on my lap. Traffic was relatively light that day, so I arrived at Joe’s Auto Fix within half an hour, all the intermittent stops included.

The garage was busier than ever. Ever since the business expanded into the empty lot next door, there never seemed to be a shortage of customers looking to get their car serviced. Word had gotten around town that Joe’s garage was the place to go if you wanted quality service at a very reasonable price. The musty scent of the garage reached my nose first, a mix of rust, oil, window washer fluid, and sweat. I approached one of the open garage doors and peeked inside to see if I could spot Joe at work, his natural habitat. As was always the case, I heard him before I saw him.

“Make sure you throw in a complimentary oil change,” I heard him say from the opposite corner of the garage. “The client comes here often enough that we can do that for him.”

When he turned, I saw little Hayley strapped to his chest, snug and sound in the harness Max had purchased for us when she was born. The little girl looked incredibly small in comparison to her father, a bit of drool spilling from the corner of her open mouth as she slept. She didn’t seem at all disturbed by the loud noises of the garage or Joe’s booming voice. The moment Joe laid eyes on me, he smiled wide, expression shifting from professional sternness to something much softer. He walked over immediately and kissed me on the lips.

“How was the interview? You think you got it? I mean, I know you got it. I’m proud of you for going, either way.”

“I think it went well. I’m supposed to hear back from him by the end of the week. I’m a little nervous, though.”

“Don’t be nervous, sweetheart. You’ve got this.”

“Thanks, baby.”

I giggled as I stroked the top of my daughter’s head. Hayley had bright blonde hair like Chris, but that was where the similarities ended. She had my big eyes, button-nose, and small lips. When it came to her personality, she definitely got her booming confidence from Joe. Whenever she wasn’t asleep, she was talking our ears off, cooing and giggling at all hours of the day.

“How was your day with Papa?” I asked her. “Did you keep him out of trouble? Did he remember to feed you lunch?”

“Trust me, she didn’t let me forget.”

I laughed. “She’s a vocal little thing. Do you think she’ll grow up to be a singer?”

“Definitely,” Joe snorted. “Not going to lie, I was kind of hoping she’d become president.”

“An opera-singing president, then. People can do multiple things.”

Joe threw his head back and laughed, causing Hayley to stir a little. She stretched and yawned wide, turning her head to press her opposite cheek to her father’s chest. She didn’t rouse, too interested in her nap to wake.

“She gets her volume from you, I think,” I chided.

Joe grimaced. “I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment.”

“Are you ready for lunch with Max, or do you need a few more minutes?”

“Nah, I’m good.” Joe turned to yell at one of his employees. “I’m heading out, boys.”

He was met with a chorus of see you later.

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