AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is a (late) birthday gift for Kazza2085. Sorry this took so long, girlie! This may be a one-shot. I'm not sure yet! Enjoy!
Damn the December roads were hell to drive in. Rick sighed as he carefully maneuvered his SUV over the slippery highway. The snow shower the weatherman said they were expecting had long since turned into a full-blown blizzard, the fat flakes coming down threatening to completely obscure his vision. His windshield wipers were on high and still he had difficulty seeing through the glass. He kept his speed slow and steady throughout the drive, hoping upon hope that he didn't encounter anyone else on the road. No sense in risking anyone else's life, was there?
For the millionth time he cursed himself for not calling in sick that morning. His boss probably wouldn't have minded. It wasn't like Rick didn't have a bunch of unused sick days lying around. But that was just the kind of guy he was, he chided himself. If he wasn't sick and was reasonably sure he could get to work, he'd be there. Of course, he never did stop to worry about whether or not he could get home from it. Now here he was, just a few miles from home in the middle of a storm.
He ran a large hand over his wheat-colored blonde hair and blinked his eyes. So much for going out to the bar tonight, he thought. He knew Travis, his best friend, would be disappointed, too. Travis was still getting over being dumped by that cheating bitch Jennifer five months ago, and was only now showing signs of recovering. It had taken Rick two hours of browbeating and pleading to get him to agree, but after he assented Travis seemed excited to go and even went shopping for some new clothes. Rick had taken it as a good sign and prayed for decent weather. Maybe his mama was right. The Lord answers prayers first from those who actually go to church more once a year. Well, it couldn't be helped tonight. Travis would have to save his new shirt for tomorrow, if the plows weren't overextended tonight and cleared the snow that was already piled fairly high. He wiped the inside of the windshield to get rid of the fog that was over taxing his defroster and sighed again.
Jackson about pissed his pants as he drove his little hatchback down the highway road. He knew he shouldn't have gone out. True, it hadn't been snowing this bad when he'd left the house two hours earlier, but he knew never to trust a weather forecast that called for snow showers. Not out here in Minnesota. Snow showers turn into snow storms real quick around here. But Rhonda had needed him, and he wasn't the type to let a friend in need suffer. If he had to face his fear of driving in the snow, he'd do it ... for her. She was his best friend since kindergarten, and he'd have had no one to talk to if it hadn't been for her. He pushed back his wavy light brown hair then gripped the steering wheel with both hands again.
But today she needed him for a change. Her no good ex husband had done it again, and Jackson wanted to throttle the bastard! It wasn't enough that he'd cleaned out their bank account before he'd run off and left her for some foreign floozy looking for a green card. Oh no! The divorce hadn't been the end of it at all. Today, Rhonda had a phone call from the IRS letting her know that her taxes for the last three years were being audited because they didn't believe she had six children. Stunned, she verified that she didn't have any. Ron, who had previously prepared all of the forms when they were married, had duped her again. He probably spent every penny of it on women. And where was Ron? Well, apparently he mysteriously "disappeared" from the feds' radar screens, so, since she was the only one they could find, she'd be responsible for paying back all of the tax returns he'd received and hidden from her. And she was barely getting by as it was. Jackson wished he could afford to hire a detective or something. Ron needed his ass kicked and bad!
Well, he took it as a life lesson well-learned, and only regretted that it came at Rhonda's expense. When he was ready to settle into a serious relationship, he'd make sure he checked the guy out really carefully. That's right, Jackson was gay. He'd gone through enough shit for it when he was growing up when the other boys at school figured it out, too. But he made no heroic efforts to hide it. Their usual excuses for picking on him were absurd anyway. They thought he was looking at them in the locker room? Please! None of them measured up to his perfect man. Hey, most any guy could find a woman out there for him, but it took a hell of hottie to attract this gay guy.
Jackson didn't consider himself stereotypical of what society labels gay. He didn't dress only in ultra chic designer clothes or carefully coif his hair and pluck his brows. He preferred jeans and comfortable shirt, whether it be a tee in the summer or a flannel in the winter. For God's sakes, he lives in Minnesota! It gets damned cold here! He wasn't effeminate looking. He'd characterize his build as lean but average. Working out a few times a week at the gym kept his muscles toned. So when those who didn't know him found out he was gay, they were generally surprised. He liked it that way, preferring to choose who to tell. While he never made any efforts to hide his sexual preference, he also didn't put up advertisements. Rhonda liked to joke about it, telling him that's why he went through so many celibate periods.
He was glad he was nearing his exit because the snow was getting so bad he could barely see a damned thing. Ah, there it is! He slowly turned the wheel and guided the compact car to the right. Uh oh! Where did that SUV come from? He instinctively slammed on the brakes which sent him skidding into the back of the SUV with a loud thud. Jackson's heart pounded and he shut his eyes tightly. The impact jarred him, but wasn't serious enough to deploy his airbag. Shakily he got out of the car to go see how the other driver was.
The bigger man was already climbing out when he got close to the vehicle and he stood frozen in place as he waited for the yelling to begin. There had to be yelling, he reasoned. He'd just rear-ended the guy. And the SUV looked kind of expensive, too. He snuck a glance over to the other man hoping to see some kind of mercy in his eyes. Then he was frozen in place again. The man was magnificent! Okay, he had a slightly receding hairline, but his body beneath the thick winter jacket looked very well-built, and his eyes were a light blue. Damn!
Rick shook his head at the dent in the back of vehicle. He supposed he was just lucky the impact hadn't been harder, and that it was small hatchback that did it. He glanced over at the man who'd hit him and noted the furtive, guilty gaze. Hell, anyone could have had an accident like that in these weather conditions.
"Hey," he said gently, pulling the guy's brandy-brown eyes up to his. He shook himself at the confusing thought and went on. "You okay?"
"Don't look so scared then," Rick smiled. "This is a blizzard, man. I know you didn't mean to hit me." He stuck out his hand to the man. "I'm Rick, by the way."
"Er … Jackson."
Nice name. It suits him. Rick shook his head, again wondering where these thoughts were coming from. "Uh, you heading out or back?"
"Back," the slighter shorter man grimaced. "I shouldn't have gone out at all but my friend needed me."
"Yeah, I should have stayed home, too," Rick grinned. "The boss would have let me, I know it. Damn foolish of me."
Jackson gave him a small smile and a nod of understanding. "I'm real sorry I hit you," he said. "I slammed on the brakes when I suddenly saw your taillights but I guess the ground's too slippery to have stopped me."
"Jamming on the brakes only makes her skid more," Rick replied wryly. "Instinct, though, would have made me do the same."
Jackson's face colored a little and he looked down. The guy didn't need to have such a hot smile, did he? Sheesh!
"You okay?" Rick asked, a little concerned at the color splattering the guy's cheeks. "It's real cold, I know. You want to go back to your car to finish this?"
"Finish this?" Jackson asked. "You mean you don't want to wait for a police report?"
"You really think a car's going to have time to come out here and deal with this fender bender while there are probably more serious accidents around?"
The raised blonde eyebrow was mocking him, Jackson decided. It had to be. He frowned at it before returning his eyes to its owner's and shrugged.
"I have No-Fault anyway," Rick smirked. "Makes things easier all the way around." Especially since the guy's hatchback looked to be about ten years old."
"But I want to pay for the damage," Jackson protested. "It was my fault!"
"It was the snow's fault," Rick pointed out, letting his eyes linger on the other man's shoulder-length hair. Finally, Jackson's scowl got the better of him and he relented a little. "Okay, okay, how about this? When the weather let's up, you buy me a couple of rounds at The Fox Den." He turned to reach other the driver's seat and pull a business card out of his leather folder on the passenger's side.
"The Fox Den?" That sports bar? Jackson curled his lip back in disdain. He'd been there once when he first moved to this little town from his hometown, where Rhonda still lived. It had been loud and the other patrons were rude, beer swilling fart machines! "I know where it is."
"You do?" Rick grinned. "Great then. I'm bringing my friend Travis there tomorrow. We were going tonight to get him back into the dating scene, but this snow put the kibosh on that."
"At The Fox Den?" Jackson asked skeptically. "Is that a good place to meet … um, ladies?"
"Not until recently." Rick laughed at the guy's expression. "Now they have ladies' night on Fridays and Saturdays, so he'll do okay."
"Hmm," Jackson muttered as he took the card Rick handed him. "Maybe I should bring my friend Rhonda there." At Rick's questioning glance he explained, "She's divorced and her husband really did a number on her. She could use a little ego boost, if you know what I mean."
"I know exactly what you mean," Rick sighed. "When his ex left him, Travis was a mess. And that was almost half a year ago."
"Rhonda's been divorced for a year and a half."
They gave each other sympathetic looks and smiled.
"Your car still drivable?" Rick asked glancing back over to the hatchback.
"Yeah, I think so. Yours?"
"Yeah, she's fine," Rick nodded. "I'll wait till I see your move though before I go." Damn! That sounded like he thought the guy was a chick! "Uh, just cause I'd hate not knowing if you got out of this snow."
"Uh … okay. Thanks."
Jackson got back into his car and Rick climbed up into his SUV. Both turned the ignition back on, wondering what the hell just happened.