Chapter 1

Davenport's Auto & Stop 'n' Shop,

East Elmhurst, Queens, NYC

The pretty raven haired girl behind the crowded counter looked up with an infectious smile. "She's purring like a kitten again, Mr. Callahan," she said as she added up the repair bill for his VW Passat.

"It's amazing how Klaus can find problems where other mechanics can't," the elderly man said as he pulled out his wallet from his back pocket. "I've been to three other mechanics and none of them knew what was wrong with her. Wasted a lot of time."

"Well, that'll teach ya for being unfaithful to Davenport's Auto!" Danielle said with laughter, teasing the elderly man.

"Not unfaithful, Dani," Mr. Callahan said with a smile. "It was just a budgetary decision. You guys aren't cheap, you know."

"Yeah, we know," she said, blowing a bubble with her gum before she popped it while watching the numbers as she tapped swift fingertips on the calculator keys. "But with us you get your money's worth and you get the work done right the first time. You know what they say? You get what you pay for."

"That's true," Mr. Callahan said, nodding as he handed her his credit card. "And you guys are the best around."

Danielle Davenport was a precocious and energetic twenty-two year old and she was the oldest child in the Davenport family. The Davenports owned and operated a local gas station and a three-bay automotive repair and snack shop in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York City.

She had only one other sibling; a much younger brother, as in twelve years younger. Due to fertility problems, her mother hadn't been able to have more children and it looked as if Danielle would be it for Daniel and Dana Davenport. But then a miracle happened and David Davenport was born.

David was now ten years old and he idolized and adored his doting older sister who had all the energy in the world to play games with him other sisters her age wouldn't think of doing. Then again, a lot of older sisters hadn't longed for a sibling as badly as Danielle, so this paid off dividends for little Davey when he was born into a doting and loving family where he never wanted for anything.

Since the Davenports family business was the only garage that specialized in German automobile repairs—and actually knew what they were doing—and with German automobiles becoming popular those days, their business was booming.

Dan Davenport knew he'd have to hire an extra mechanic soon. He needed someone to help their current mechanic, sixty-two year old German immigrant, Klaus Schreiber, who'd been employed with the Davenports for over twenty years, ever since Danielle was two years young.

Klaus' age was starting to show when a growing backlog of cars in need of repairs began filling their lot. Dan had to work more and more in the garage as Klaus was taking more days off. At the moment there were four Jettas, two Bugs, and one VW Bus. Finding space for these cars was getting difficult since the property wasn't that big. Dan had thought about tearing down the extra shed in the back to open up more room, but he hadn't booked any success convincing his wife, Dana, to approve of it.

Danielle herself tended the snack shop and the four gas pumps out front when she wasn't working at the Bastion Burger Joint a few days a week and during the day on weekends. She only worked at the burger place to be among her friends and for a little extra money for herself.

She's never been one for academics and decided college really wasn't for her. Luckily, her father was a bit old-fashioned, so he didn't have a problem with that. So when she graduated high school, she only enrolled in a couple of bookkeeping classes at the local community college so she could help her father with the books.

Her mother, Dana, ran the four bedroom home built over the business. With a young child still in school and the housekeeping to tend to, she had her hands full just being a mom. She left the administrative work to her daughter the moment Danielle was able to take over.

Although Danielle wasn't academically strong, she did inherit her father's head for business. Despite her rather lackluster educational years in public school, Danielle was pretty good with numbers, so she added the business bookkeeping to her list of chores for the family. Although she was a very carefree gal, when it came to her family's business, she was dead serious. And she seriously believed they needed to hire another mechanic. Her father's—and Klaus'—prayers were about to be heard.

The answer to their prayers came driving up in an old dented up, once-upon-a-time black Porsche 911. Its perfectly tuned engine roared and drew her immediate attention. She was inside still busy with finalizing Mr. Callahan's payment when she heard the powerful engine roar onto their property. She curiously raised her head and when she saw the old Porsche, she paused with chewing her piece of peppermint gum while she peered curiously past the elderly man who had also turned to see what the commotion was.

"Wow," she said.

"Yeah," Mr. Callahan said. "Nice classic."

Her big golden-brown eyes, fringed with long whipping black eyelashes, blinked before her lips tightened when she saw the car pull up and stop by pump one. "I hope Klaus isn't busy," she mumbled. She'd otherwise have to see to that customer. The Davenport's gas station was still one of the few stations where people could still get full service.

Since the Davenport's gas station was boldly advertised as a full service station, the owner of the Porsche didn't make any move to get out.

"Damn," she muttered.

"I don't see old Klaus walking up to the pump, Dani," Mr. Callahan noted.

"Klaus is getting up there so maybe he needs a little more time," she said absently as she took his credit card, slid it through the machine, and when the receipt printed out, ripped off the receipt and handed it to him to sign. "At least, that's what I'm hoping," she added as she handed him a pen.

"Still don't see him," Mr. Callahan noted as he accepted the pen and signed the receipt.

She sighed. "Well, that means it's gonna be me." She took the receipt and slipped it into the register drawer before she closed it. "Watch that lamp, Mr. Callahan. When it's on, it's tellin' you something isn't right."

He nodded, widening his eyes. "Oh, you bet I'll be doing that from now on, Dani."

"Good!" she said, sprightly. "Have a great day, and say hello to Mrs. Callahan for me."

"You bet, Dani."

She stepped out from behind the counter dressed in a summery bright red bandana poncho-hem cotton tee with rolled up short sleeves, and a pair of low-hip denims. Her high ponytail swayed as she walked with brisk grace toward the door to see to the new customer.

When she stepped out into the day, she felt the summer's heat hit her and she squinted against the sun. Her big intelligent golden-brown eyes peered through the sunshine and spotted the driver's blond head as he sat patiently behind the wheel of his classic Porsche. It's a shame, she thought. The beautiful cabriolet would really benefit from some body work and a fresh paint job. She was sure it would look magnificent.

"Hi!" she greeted as she rounded the front of the small sports car and only briefly blinked when she saw how incredibly attractive the guy sitting behind the wheel was. In fact, she nearly stopped in her tracks. She felt, rather than saw, the power of his intense blue eyes that followed her from under windblown blond locks in a strong chiseled face.

"What will it be?" she asked masking her thoughts behind a bright smile as she slipped fingers down the back pockets of her jeans.

"Unleaded. Fill it up," he said with a very pleasant deep drawl, albeit a bit curtly.

He was staring at her, and she couldn't help but notice that he had this strange look in his eyes. Almost stoic, detached even. But what a pair of peepers that guy had! Sterling blue fringed with almost black eyelashes which only added beauty to his unmistakably masculine appearance. He was wearing a simple but snug white tee that she could almost hear groan under the strain of his wide shoulders and very well-toned upper arms and chest.

"They're all unleaded," she said as she nodded at the pumps. "What octane do you prefer? Regular, Super, or Premium?" She was smiling very friendly, but she didn't even get a twitch back. She was beginning to think he didn't know how to smile. Staring, on the other hand, was something he'd perfected to an art form.

"What would you recommend?" he asked.

She noticed how slowly he blinked. Almost lazily, or sleepily. It gave him a distinct sensual look, adding to his already powerful magnetism. "For a…" She craned forward to look down the car's dented side, "1967, 911?"

He nodded.

"I'd go with Super," she said with confidence. "It's cheaper than Premium. And to be honest, Premium's really only for the newer models." She smiled. "So, Super?"

He nodded as he continued to stare at her.

Her smile faltered some, knowing he wasn't going to engage in any conversation with her.

"Okay!" she said, chipper, before she stepped to the front left fender, and with a slender short-nailed fingertip, flipped up the gasoline cover.

She chose Super and stuck the nozzle into the tank before she squeezed the trigger and set the hold latch while she looked over her shoulder, chewing her gum. She watched the falling numbers for a moment, but then it slowly dawned on her that she was being stared at and that the handsome guy behind the wheel was doing the staring. She swept big eyes his way and yup, he was staring all right.

"So…passing through Queens?" she asked just to break the uncomfortable silence—and hoping he'd do more than just stare at her.

"You have a help wanted sign in the window," he noted, ignoring her inquiry.

"Sure do," she said, nodding.

"What job do you need filled?"

"Mechanic." She nodded. "Why? Interested?" she asked, and he nodded once. "Well," she looked down at the nozzle as she heard the click, indicating the tank was full, "you can talk to my Dad. He's in the garage." She looked at him with big eyes. "You have experience working on German cars?"

"I know enough," he said.

Know enough? She briefly frowned, but then she nodded. "M-kay."

Another car, a flashier black American model—a Viper—pulled up on the other side of the pump where she stood. Hard rock music boomed as a handsome dark-haired man wearing Ray Bans, twisted in his seat behind the wheel to smile at her as he shut off the powerful engine and loud music. She returned the smile as she turned and set the nozzle back into its perch.

"Hey there beautiful!" the young guy called. He smiled with perfect white teeth.

"Hey there, handsome!" she gave back, grinning. "Strange, but a Viper just like yours pulled up for gas just little over an hour ago." She frowned with feigned curiosity as he pulled himself up to sit on the back support of his seat as she replaced the Porsche's gas cap.

"Really?" he said as he flipped his shades on his head and sent her a broad smile, looking at her with twinkling hazel-green eyes. "I hope you didn't flirt with the guy," he said with a feigned look of warning.

"You bet I did," she said, and she laughed when he looked wryly at her.

Behind the steering wheel of his Porsche, the blond guy watched this playful banter between the two, his gaze going from her bright smiling face to the handsome dark-haired man dressed impeccably in the latest fashion. Then his gaze rose as she came to stand by his door.

"That'll be $24.98," she said, with a catching smile and a friendly tone.

His gaze slid to the soft flush in her cheeks.

Her smile waned a little when she noticed he was openly staring at her, and that his stare was a degree more intense than publicly allowed. His gaze never wavered or left her face as he moved forward and pulled out his wallet from the back of his almost threadbare jeans that showed off strong, muscular thighs.

"$24.98? That's it?" the dark-haired Viper guy cried in shock, tearing her out of her thoughts.

Her eyelashes flickered as if she'd awakened from a trance, and she smiled before she turned her head to look across the Porsche at the Viper guy. "Should'a bought Stan's Porsche instead of the Viper, Rob," she said with laughter as she accepted the money from the customer and went to the cashbox on the island to get his change. "Saves on fill-ups so you wouldn't have to come back here every hour." She nodded with big impish eyes.

She got the two pennies change and returned to the silent customer, but she'd already dismissed him the moment Rob appeared. That turned out to be a major mistake! Since she wasn't paying attention, she absently handed him his change but they missed their mark and missed his opened palm.

"Oh!" she cried, and without thinking, she leaned in to take them from his thigh bringing her dark head close to his face not seeing how his nostrils flared and something sparked in his eyes before she pulled herself out and looked embarrassed as hell at his staring face. "I'm so sorry! I wasn't paying attention."

"No matter."

She smiled gratefully as she handed him the two bits. "Thank you," she said. "Have a nice trip!" she added, cheerfully, before she swept around with swaying tail and crossed over to the other side of the island to go to the dark-haired guy named Rob.

With chin low and eyes sharp, the blond in the Porsche watched her between two gas pumps. He watched as she playfully stepped toward the black Viper before this Rob leaned down to her. She slipped arms around his neck and they kissed.

He was unmistakably her beau.

"Daneee…!" A man called.

The blond saw her quickly break the kiss just before a tall raven-haired man with graying temples in a blue coverall appeared in one of the three open bays. He scanned the area before he spotted her, and then he lifted a brawny arm and waved her over.

"Coming, Daddy!" she called back before she said something to her apparent boyfriend and blew him a hand kiss. "Gotta get back to work!" she said before she hurried along the gas pumps and then threw herself into a sprint, heading over to her father.

Silent and staring blue eyes followed her.

"Hey!"

He was instantly annoyed by that word, and took his time turning his attention on the handsome face of the Viper guy.

"She's my girlfriend, buddy," Rob said, really pissed off inside, but he wasn't going to give the guy the satisfaction of showing it. "And I don't appreciate guys staring at her the way you've been. She's off limits, pal. Get my drift?"

He remained silent as he looked at the girl's boyfriend, his expression unchanged. Then he watched as Viper guy slipped his dark shades back over his eyes and flashed him a big, confident smile.

"You've got your fill up so you're done here. Now be a good guy and mosey on down the road since there's nothing left for you here, all right?"

He stared silently at the girl's boyfriend, not showing any emotion.

"You need to work on that attitude, Rob," he said as he leaned forward, turned the key, and brought the engine to life before shifting.

"How do you know my name?"

"Because one of these days, you just might challenge the wrong guy, and then you're going to find yourself in a fight you're bound to lose." And with that, he shifted and shot forward almost in a blur as hazel-green eyes glared after him.