CHAPTER TWELVE

When the delivery van showed up at the shop two days later, Sean and Pieter groaned and Craig rubbed his hands together at the prospect of more free flowers with which to butter up his wife. Apparently she had been very forgiving after that last time. Bobbi, in the meantime, was utterly dismayed that Gabe had so completely ignored her plea that he stop sending her flowers.

She stood waiting with her arms folded defensively over her chest. It was the same delivery guy as the last time but he didn’t have a cavalcade of trucks following him or an army of guys to carry in the flowers this time. When he saw Bobbi’s stance, he shrugged and grinned.

Advertisement

“If you’d just sign the delivery slip I’ll get your stuff and be on my way.” Bobbi heaved an exasperated sigh and reached for the clipboard.

Bobbi watched him turn back to his truck and withdraw a cellophane wrapped basket from the back of the van. The thing was huge and looked heavy, but he managed to carry it into the shop and drop it onto one of the closest work surfaces with a heavy thud.

“I was told to personally hand this over to you,” he said, stopping in front of Bobbi on his way out and holding out a familiar card to her. “You should tell your boyfriend to put these cards into envelopes, ma’am. More private that way.” Which meant that—she peered at the faded stitching on the breast pocket of his shirt—Quinton here had probably read the card. Along with whoever else had handled the order. She had a feeling that Gabe didn’t put them in envelopes because he knew that once she caught even the slightest glimpse of what he had written she wouldn’t stop reading. If it were in an envelope it would be too easy for her to toss it thoughtlessly aside.

She ignored Quinton, who shrugged and whistled as he returned to his truck. Pieter, Sean, and Craig had gathered around the cellophane-wrapped basket curiously.

“Do you think it’s a fruit basket? Or chocolates maybe?” Sean asked eagerly.

“I’m hoping for perfumes and lotions and stuff. Ellie would love that,” Craig inserted. Pieter cracked his bubblegum and glared at the basket like it had mortally offended him.

-- Advertisement --

“You gonna open it, boss?” Sean asked when she just stood staring at the gigantic basket with dread. What if it was “perfumes and lotions and stuff.” How would she cope with something so obvious? She absently looked down at the card in her hand and read it slowly.

I fully confess to making the following up but since it’s what I want them to mean, I’m hoping you’ll grant me some leeway. So, did you know that pliers are symbolic for two people coming together? And (true story) wrench is something my heart does every time I see you? —G

She was baffled by that message and turned the card over, hoping for some clarity.

Drill bits are sharp

Handsaws are too

A grease streak or two

Advertisement

Are beautiful on you

She rapidly blinked away the tears that suddenly flooded her eyes and glanced up at the large basket at which the guys were still poking and prodding. Tucking the card safely into her pocket, she walked over to where they were trying to discern the contents through the layers of dark-blue cellophane.

She dragged off the ridiculous pink bow, tore off the crisp plastic, and gasped when she saw what he had given her.

“Well, I’ll be damned.” Craig sounded both awed and disappointed.

“That’s so cool,” Sean whooped. Pieter snorted and turned away to amble back to the old hatchback VW he was servicing. The other two men also drifted off to their tasks and left Bobbi to stand and gape at the tool bouquet in front of her. Brand-spanking-new hand tools—probably worth thousands—arranged quite prettily in one of those round baskets usually reserved for floral arrangements. A complete set of screwdrivers were fanned out in the back, with pink—pink for heaven’s sake—rubberized handles facing up and sizes arranged from small to large. There were wrenches, levels, hammers, pliers . . . everything a girl could ever ask for from a set of tools. Everything accentuated in the prettiest pink. Gabe must have gone to great lengths to obtain them, and Bobbi found herself ridiculously touched by the gesture.

And then there was that silly little rhyme. It had hit all the right notes, and it scared Bobbi how quickly a part of her heart had melted. He could so easily sneak past her defenses when she wasn’t looking, especially if he kept doing things like this.

When Gabe drove up to Bobbi’s shop later that day, the place was busier than usual. He could barely find space to park amongst all the cars in the lot waiting to be serviced. He had seen the masterful work she had done on Jason’s Corvette—the car was unrecognizable from the heap he had seen on her shop floor a month ago and Jason was like a new dad with the damned thing. As Jason promised he told everybody who asked and, even those who didn’t, where his car had been restored and had even put a sticker endorsing her shop in the rear window of the car. It looked like the advertising was paying off, judging by the amount of cars in the lot. Gabe was proud of Bobbi and ashamed for doubting her. He had known how much his skepticism had hurt her and that his misgivings had read as a complete lack of faith. It was probably another thing she had added to his list of flaws.

He walked into the bustling shop; Craig, Sean, and Pieter were busy with a different car each and Bobbi was in her office in earnest discussion with a debonair-looking older man. She didn’t see him, and not wanting to interrupt the flow of her conversation, he wandered over to Craig, who was peering into the innards of an ancient-looking Jeep.

-- Advertisement --

The man glanced up when Gabe came to stand beside the car.

-- Advertisement --