“Oh, I have a bit of an idea, since you do it all the time.”

He taps the side of the bus. Usually he conducts the auction from the steps of the vehicle, megaphone in hand. “I need to review the list of goodies up for grabs. Lunch is on you today.”

“Isn’t it always?”

“That’s what I like to hear.”

I wave him off and head for the pack of car buyers, spotting a familiar face in the crowd, Jeanne. I chatted with her the last time I was here, and she’s a hoot.

She’s perched on an old Dodge, likely reviewing the list of items up for grabs today, with purple reading glasses low on her nose and a studious look on her weathered face. And she’s wearing the least little-old-lady outfit I’ve ever seen—jeans and a basic black top. I imagine no elasticized waistbands of polyester have ever entered her home.

“Is this seat taken?”

She snaps up her gaze. “That depends on whether a handsome young man is going to park his butt on the hood of this car, or if some old fellow who smells like Vicks VapoRub will try to snag the coveted spot next to me.”

“Definitely no Vicks VapoRub on me today, Jeanne. But young? I don’t know. I’m pushing thirty-three.”

She tuts. “Practically a boy-child.”

I drop a kiss on her cheek, enjoying the faint scent of lilacs surrounding her. “What’s shaking? I haven’t seen you since that Mercury was up for grabs the other month.”

She groans dramatically, clasping her cheeks. “Don’t remind me. I lost out on that one, and I was dying for it.”

“How many cars can you have, woman?”

She narrows her brows and wags a finger. “I have four, thank you very much. And it seems a downright sin not to have a fifth.”

“Well, good thing you can make amends for that sin today.”

“Indeed.” She taps the list of items. “If I can snag the Camaro, I can fix it up and give it to my friend Betty.”

“That’s what you do with the cars?”

She smiles proudly. “It is. If I see any more of my girlfriends driving Buicks and Cadillacs, I will disown them. That’s why I bid on the sports cars on their last legs then fix them up for my girls.”

“Can I be your best friend when I’m seventy-five?”

She pats my leg. “Only if you play bridge, gin rummy, or poker.”

I raise a hand. “All of the above.”

“That so?”

I waggle my phone. “Online poker fiend at your service.”

“We have lots to talk about, then.”

“But first . . .” I glance at the school bus, where Joe is finishing his prep work, then whisper, “Why don’t I let Joe know to give you some sugar when it comes to the Camaro?”

She clasps her hands together in prayer. “I’d say I want to win fair and square, but we all know that’s a bald-faced lie, so anything he can do to grease the wheels would be fantastic. I’d be willing to pay a little more than the opening bid.”

“How much?”

She gives me a number.

“Let me see what I can do for you,” I say with a wink, and I return to Joe. He raises his chin, glances at me, and scrubs a hand across his silvery beard. “You again? I’m telling you, Cam, you need to take action here. Less talk, more buying.”

“I’ll get to it.”

He sighs heavily, shaking his head. “You always did spend too much time thinking. Everything had to be analyzed, considered, weighed. Even as a kid, you debated Should I play with the Matchbox cars or the Legos? Let me weigh the pros and cons.”

“Those were important choices. There is nothing wrong with thinking. It happens to be my . . . second-favorite activity.”

Joe laughs, pointing at me. “Good one. And I agree on the first.”

“Anyway, would you do me a solid? Any chance you can make sure the Camaro goes to a certain someone?” I tip my forehead toward Jeanne.

His eyes land on her, and he whistles low. “Babe alert.”

I stare at him, flustered. “Babe? Isn’t she about fifteen years older than you?”

“Are you an ageist when it comes to matters of the heart?”

“No way. I just thought you liked them the same age as you.”

He hums his approval. “I am omnivorous when it comes to the ladies.” He gestures to Jeanne. “What’ll she pay for it?”

I give him Jeanne’s price, and he says he’ll consider it. I return to her. “No promises, but he’ll see what he can do. Should be ready to start in five minutes.”

Jeanne squeezes my arm. “You’re a good man. How long are you in town this time?”

“Just a few more days. I have a couple meetings, then I take off for Vegas, then Chicago.”

“You need to see the Wynwood Walls while you’re here.”

“I heard there were some new murals.” The walls in that neighborhood teem with cool graffiti art.


Tags: Lauren Blakely Romance
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