In an effort to keep her mind away from Gabe, she had been thinking about the vintage Chevy Corvette that her team was supposed to start overhauling on Monday. It was one of her biggest accounts and her client was an old friend who had allowed her to twist his arm into renovating the old car that had been rusting beneath a drop cloth in his garage. She was excited by the opportunity. Her business was still fairly new—just over a year old—and if they did this well she could make a name for herself in the very exclusive vintage car restoration market. At the moment engine repairs, bodywork, and other small jobs were keeping the business afloat, but this beauty of a car could be the break that she was looking for.
“Hey, boss, didn’t expect to see you in today,” Sean, the youngest of her three mechanics, called when saw her.
“You know that I can’t stay away from this place,” she joked, and he laughed, before ducking his head back under the bonnet of a badly dented sedan. Bobbi headed directly to the car that she had so many hopes and dreams invested in.
“Wow, you are gorgeous,” Bobbi whispered reverently, when she came to a halt in front of the faded beauty that graced her auto repair shop floor. “Hello darling, I’m going to make you even more beautiful. I’m going to give you a makeover. Would you like that?” She ran her hands worshipfully over the sleek lines of the battered 1970 Chevy Corvette LT-1. Craig Farrow, her head mechanic, grinned when she leaned over the car’s bonnet, spread her arms wide, and lay her cheek against the cold metal. She hugged the car as if it was a living, breathing entity and really to Bobbi it was. Cars spoke to her—they clearly communicated their pain, their suffering, their wants, and their needs. She lay there for a long while before sighing deeply and standing upright to look down at the car regretfully.
“I can’t promise that it won’t hurt,” she said solemnly. “But it’ll all be worth it in the end.”
Another long sigh before she glanced over at Craig, Sean, and Pieter, her other mechanic. While Sean was cheerful, Pieter, who was only slight older, was skinny as the proverbial rake and surly and uncommunicative. He did brilliant work though and seemed content to let everybody around him do the talking. They were all standing off to the side watching her commune with the car. Craig and Sean—who had stopped what he’d been doing for the moment—looked amused while Pieter merely looked bored.
“Dya wanna start today, boss?” Craig asked. All business now, Bobbi outlined her plan of action and her timeline for the car’s “makeover.” A lot of the parts had to be imported and the cost for it was coming straight out of her pocket, since she had all but begged her friend for the opportunity to work on this baby. Jason Claiborne hadn’t been willing to foot the expense of overhauling the vintage car and had been quite prepared to leave her to rust, but he was unwilling to sell what had once been his father’s pride and joy. Bobbi had convinced him that she could restore the car to its former glory, agreeing to charge him for only the bodywork and half of the cost of the mechanical repairs if he agreed to drive the car regularly and talk her business up if anyone asked about the car. That meant she would have to pay for the replacement parts and they didn’t come cheap. The project was an ambitious one for a young, struggling business like hers and she sometimes woke up in a cold sweat knowing that she was putting all her eggs into one very rickety basket.
She hoped to keep the money trickling in with the more minor jobs but her business didn’t have much of a reputation in the area yet. Added to that, she was a woman and most people didn’t trust a female near their cars. She had discovered that women were worse than men when it came to rampant sexism; her small clientele consisted mostly of men. The only women who supported her were her so-called “Mommy Club” friends and they weren’t in the area enough to use her services regularly. She’d had women drive into her shop and take one look at her before hastily claiming to have made a mistake and driving right back out again. And more than a few men had had the same reaction. It was disheartening to say the least.
She sucked in a breath and focused on the task at hand. She had a lot riding on the grand old lady parked in front of her but she was determined to succeed. She had dreamed of owning her own shop since her early teens, when her father had allowed her to help him “tinker” on his cars. The man hadn’t been the most attentive father, content to let his children run wild for the most part while he focused on his business and the only moments Bobbi had felt close to him when she was a child was when he allowed her to help him work on one of his precious cars. It was his hobby, something he did to unwind, and he had always welcomed Bobbi with her questions and her eagerness to help.
He hadn’t quite known what to do with a girl child and had been quite happy when she hadn’t shown an interest in more feminine pursuits, at least allowing them to have some common ground. He didn’t know that Bobbi had deliberately forsaken more “girlie” pastimes so that she could have her father’s approval and could have something in common with her brothers. She had been desperate to fit into her testosterone-laden family and so dresses and make-up had been sacrificed in favor of jeans, football, and grease.
Out of that need for approval had come this genuine love for auto mechanics. Her brothers had all gone to university after high school and had gone on to become a lawyer, architect, and doctor, respectively. Bobbi hadn’t wanted to be anything other than a mechanic and she had worked at an auto shop all through high school. She had halfheartedly pursued an aimless BA degree in English Literature before eventually dropping out to get an automotive certification instead. She had studied and worked hard and had apprenticed at three different auto repair shops. Years later a combination of savings, a small business loan, and some money her mother—who had died of a pulmonary embolism when Bobbi was just five—had left in trust for her had afforded her the opportunity to open her own shop in town at the relatively young age of twenty-five. Her father had been willing to finance the whole shop but she had wanted to do this by herself. Nobody could ever accuse her of being a pampered, spoiled brat whose wealthy daddy bankrolled her life. It was bad enough that she still lived at home. It was her only viable option at the moment, with every spare cent going into the business.