Chapter Eight

Although she wanted to forget those few uncomfortable moments in the office with Wolfgang, hours later, she was still upset about it. She discovered she'd actually made extra attempts at avoiding any and all eye-contact with him throughout the rest of the day. For once she was actually grateful that it was so damned busy.

It made time fly by, too.

She looked up just as the door to the connecting door to the garage opened, afraid it was Wolfgang. It wasn't.

"Well!" Her father said jovially, and grinned. He was tired but happy as he dropped the last work order down on the counter. "That's the last one for the day."

She'd just finished helping a young strawberry blonde mother of a three-year-old with some candy before she pushed the register drawer closed, and waved after the two as they exited the shop. "It's been a busy one," she said with a nod.

Her father was wiping his brow with the back of his hand as he gave his usual, "Come again, soon," to the young woman exiting just when Davey walked in wearing a crisp bright blue Golf shirt and jeans.

The moment he saw his father smile at him, he rushed up to him and he was caught up in large arms with an, "Oof! You're gettin' big, David!"

"Can I have a Snickers bar?" Davey asked with a bright and energetic smile. His cherubic face was still flushed by the summer heat, and his black wavy hair was damp and curled around the ends.

"Didn't you just hear daddy?" Danielle said, teasingly. "You're getting big." Then she laughed when Davey pouted with a frown, but she made it all better as she took a Snickers bar and tossed it over the counter, smiling as he caught it with a big smile. "Nice catch!"

"So, are you sure you won't come with us to Nana Darlene's house, Danielle?" her father asked her. "She's making her special seasoned grilled chicken, the one you like so much."

She smiled but shook her head. "No, I'm just going to have a…" She paused when she caught sight of the tall blond 'hunk' entering the shop. Her big eyes swept to him as he stepped to the side of the counter; eyelashes down. He laid a work order on the counter for her to ring up before he turned to the coffee corner and poured himself a paper cup of coffee.

"Yes?" her father pressed.

"Oh, uh, I just wanted a quiet evening. I need a quiet evening," she emphasized. "It's been real hectic lately and I can use a little time to myself. As a matter of fact, I need to talk to you about that, Daddy."

"Talk about what?"

"Getting more time to myself by maybe hiring more people."

"We don't need to hire more people. You're doing just fine, Dani."

"No, Daddy, I'm not," she said with an annoyed look that had her father pause before he frowned at her. "I don't know if you've noticed, but it's getting really busy ever since—" She abruptly stopped, thought about it, and then cleared her throat. "It's just getting really busy."

"I don't know if we really need to hire someone else, Dani. Looks like you're handling it pretty well all on your own."

"But I'm not."

"From where I'm standing—"

"—Daddy!" she cried. "I'm not." She sighed. "Don't you get it?"

"Apparently not," her father muttered with a curious frown.

"I've been running myself ragged here, and it's seriously encroaching on my private time. I have a boyfriend—" She abruptly stopped when Wolfgang turned and leaned back against the coffee counter, bringing his cup up to his lips as he sipped while casually looking over the rim of at her.

She sent him a brief but withering glare. He was doing that staring again, damn it.

"She just wants more face-smooching time with Rob-beee…" Davey teased.

She made a face at him before she looked at her father. "I have a boyfriend and I've been neglecting him. I'm at risk of becoming an old spinster if this keeps up."

"Oh, come on, Danielle!" Her father scoffed. "It isn't going to be this busy forever. I'm sure Robert can bide his time and wait till it's less hectic around here long before you're at any risk of becoming the neighborhood's cat lady."

"I'm not so sure, Daddy."

"I am," her father said with a confident nod. "After all," he continued with a pointed look, "didn't you have to bide a whole month's worth when he was in Boston last year?"

She blushed. "He had to go on an assignment—"

"—For work. Yes," her father pointed out. "How is that any different than this?"

She bent her head and stole a furtive glance at an eavesdropping Wolfgang. A dark frown briefly flashed across her brow before she looked at her father with red cheeks.

"Dani's blushing!" Davey teased, and then giggled.

"Stop teasing your sister, David," Dan reprimanded his son who immediately quieted.

Danielle smiled uncomfortably, looked down and away, very aware of sharp blue eyes on her. She wondered, again, just how much Wolfgang heard of the conversation between her and Rob earlier that day. She really didn't want to think about it but…she was thinking about it again. Ugh.

Thankfully, her father had turned his attention to his new mechanic. "Is Miss Johnson's Bug done, Wolfgang?"

"Yes. Just need to clean it, but it's done," he said raising his head and diverting his attention on Danielle's father.

"Good!" Dan Davenport said with a nod just when Davey wiggled. He put his son down and gave his son a playful pat on his behind before he said, "Don't you leave the property, David. It's the busiest time of the day and I don't want you caught in traffic.

"I'm gonna stay right here with Dani!" Davey promised.

Dan smiled, proudly. "That's good." Then he looked at his daughter. "I'll be in the office."

She nodded. "Okay."

"I need to call Miss Johnson that her car is ready. Ring it up, will ya?"

She nodded and reached for the invoice Wolfgang laid on the counter.

"And then I'll place a call to your Nana Darlene that you're not feeling well and that you can't come along tonight." He smiled when he saw his daughter look up with big hopeful eyes. "That way, you have an evening to recoup. Sound good?"

Danielle smiled gratefully and nodded. "Sounds wonderful, Daddy. Thank you."

He smiled as he passed Wolfgang and went into the office.

Wolfgang's gaze followed Dan into the office until he closed the door, and then he returned his full and undivided attention to the anxious daughter behind the counter. His gaze remained on her slightly flushed profile as she tallied up the bill, knowing she knew he was staring at her and knowing he was making her nervous. And that was exactly how he wanted to make her feel. It was about time he made inroads with her.

He watched as she swept her eyelashes up to steal a peek his way, but when she saw him staring, she gave him a fleeting smile before she quickly looked away. It was clear to him his attentions were no longer leaving her indifferent. And behind his cup, he slowly smiled before he pushed from the coffee bar counter and sauntered out of the shop and back into the garage.

She could finally breathe.

Thankfully, Davey gave her the diversion she needed. She smiled as her little brother walked up to the counter holding the half-wrapped sugary treat in one hand as he folded little arms on the counter. As he chewed on a bite of his Snicker's bar, he looked at her with those big hazel-green eyes.

"I know that look," she said with narrowed eyes and a smile. "What do you want from me, now?"

"Wanna practice some soccer kicks with me, Dani?" he asked with big hopeful eyes, and took another bite of his treat, making his cheek bulge.

"I can't, Davey. I've got work to do." She swept up palms and shrugged.

"How 'bout you tell daddy that you've changed your mind and that you want to come with us to Nana Darlene's house tonight so we can practice there?" he asked. "She's got a nice big backyard. Besides, I got a game tomorrow, 'member?"

"I know, but—"

"—and we always practice before a game," he cut in.

Danielle opened her mouth to answer just when the bell to the pumps rang and she turned to get out from behind the counter. "I know, but you were pretty darn good at the last game so I don't see why you need to practice every night—" She stopped abruptly and with big eyes stared at Wolfgang who just entered the shop with another invoice in his hand. He was standing right in her pathway to the door.

In other words, he was in her way. Again.

She quickly gave him a fleeting smile as he calmly watched her, but he didn't make a move to get out of her way. She, on the other hand, was close to being a nervous wreck. She even had trouble breathing normally. So, unable to keep her gaze on him, she lowered her eyes and stepped to him only to make a quick left turn before she slipped around him and headed for the door just as Davey immediately turned and quickly followed.

Outside air never felt so satisfying and she drew in lungfuls of it. She'd become a little dizzy and she realized she'd been holding her breath. The guy was beginning to affect her in very disturbing ways, but she really didn't want to think about them so she shook them from her mind.

"Why can't you go to Nana Darlene's house tonight?" Davey whined, following his sister as she made her way to the pumps where a hot pink Karmann Ghia stood waiting. It was packed with four gorgeous blondes listening to some romantic ballads blasting from their stereo system. He frowned as he looked at them.

"Because I need some alone time," Danielle answered.

She'd also noticed the blondes, and her lips suddenly tightened. She recognized the one blonde girl behind the steering wheel. She was chewing gum while twirling a platinum blonde curl around a finger with a hot pink fingertip. Morgan Reissmuller—her adversary all throughout high school.

"Hey Danielle," Morgan greeted haughtily.

"Hey Morgan," Danielle returned as Davey stood by the pump with a disgruntled face. "What'll it be?"

Morgan straightened behind the wheel as she let her brown eyes roam around, looking for someone. "Where's the new guy?"

Danielle arched an eyebrow.

"Why won't you let that German hunk come out and do the gasoline service?" another blonde asked.

Danielle knew her from High School, too, and she looked at her, watching her tug up her sagging hot pink tube top.

"Too strenuous for Klaus," Danielle said, smiling cutesy.

"Not Klaus! Eeuw! The other German. The hunk."

"Terri," Danielle sighed, "our other mechanic is not German. He's American."

"Well, he looks like a Greek god," another said, and she was darn near swooning when she said it, too.

"He's so hot a gal can't help but melt for him the moment he looks at her. Right, Danielle?" Morgan purred.

Danielle looked incredulously at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Oh come on! Don't tell me you haven't noticed?" Morgan said, chewing her gum while smiling knowingly. "I'd notice. And I'd do a helluva lot more than just notice if he were working for my daddy."

"Who are they talking about, Dani?" Davey asked.

"Nobody." Danielle looked over her shoulder at her little brother. "Go back to the shop, Davey. I'll be right there." She didn't want to expose her little brother to this.

Of course he didn't listen. "They're talkin' 'bout Wolfgang, huh?" He smiled proudly for guessing right.

"Davey? Didn't Daddy say you had to stay close to the shop?" Danielle said, wishing he'd just go back inside.

"No," he answered. "Daddy said I couldn't leave the property and I ain't."

"Am not." Danielle corrected with a stern look.

"Am not," he copied with a pout.

"So, little Davey," Morgan smiled from behind her fashionable shades. "Does Wolfgang have a girlfriend?"

"Don't ask him things like that! Why don't you just tell me what grade of gasoline you want, hm?" Danielle arched a brow. "That is why you're here, isn't it?"

"I think he likes Dani," Davey said, volunteering information that made his sister go stiff before she snapped around and glared at him. "Well, he does! He's always staring at you—"

"—He stares at everybody so stop with the l-l-l—fibs! You know I'm with Rob and he knows it, too." She looked crossly at her little brother as the "pink ladies" all stopped chewing their bubble gum and pulled down their shades to look at Danielle's flushed face with interest.

Another car pulled up on the other side of the island, and then another behind it, and Danielle looked positively distraught as she watched the station fill up with cars. Then she quickly looked at Morgan.

"Did you hear about all those killings lately around here?" Morgan asked.

"Yeah. It's really sick," a brunette in the car said.

"You should be careful, Danielle—"

"—As you can see," Danielle cut in, clearly in a hurry, "I'm busy. Can you just tell me what grade of gasoline you wanted again?" Then another car pulled up behind Morgan's Karmann Ghia and she nearly groaned out loud in despair. "What is it with everybody? Isn't there any other gas stations in Queens?"

"Need help?" a deep voice asked.

All four blondes in the Karmann Ghia immediately turned heads to see the one they'd driven clear across town to see.

"Hi Wolfgang!" they bleated in unison like the sheep they were.

He smiled as he looked briefly at them before he looked back at Danielle. "Need help?" he repeated.

Her face was redder than boiled lobster now he'd come out to help with the overflow.

"Yes," she said uncomfortably, eyes big in a flushed face. Jeezus! Why did he have to come out now of all times?

Davey giggled. "They all came to see you, Wolfgang—"

"—Davey!" Danielle cried.

"But I already told them you like—"

"—Okie-dokie!" she quickly said, grabbing her brother by his shoulder. "That's enough out of you, squirt. Off you go!" She pushed Davey back toward the shop feeling Wolfgang's gaze as she quickly urged—more like, shoved—her little brother forward.

"Dani!" Davey protested loudly.

Danielle took Davey's arm and made him turn to face her. She bent down to look into his eyes. "If you leave now and wait for me in the snack shop, I promise to practice a half hour with you in the park across the street, okay?"

He looked up at her with happy hazel-green eyes. "Promise?"

"Promise."

"When?"

"After we get these people served and out of here."

Her little brother whooped—much like Rob did earlier, she thought with a smile—before he jumped in the air.

"I'll get my soccer ball!" he said, speeding toward the shop.

"And my sneakers!" she called after him. "The white ones with the blue stripes!"

By the time she returned to the pumps, Wolfgang had already stuck nozzles in the Karmann Ghia, the brown Firebird, the green Pinto, and the Mercedes Sports. It didn't surprise her, though, that all four cars were packed with flirty girls who were asking him all kinds of silly questions.

To his credit, she thought silently, their flirting and questions-just-to-get-his-attention didn't bother him in the least. He just went about his tasks, cleaning their windshields and headlights while they just about fell out of their cars to get a good look at him—all of him. Especially his butt.

Sad, she thought. Those girls were so sad.

He wasn't encouraging them. Then again, he wasn't discouraging them either. Not with that smile.

She went to stand behind the outside cash box and unlocked it with her key as Wolfgang took the nozzle out of the Karmann Ghia and set it back in the pump. She looked at him and saw, for once, he wasn't staring at her. Then she noticed three more cars with women and girls pulling up, and the queue was getting longer and longer.

Great.

"Here."

She looked up to find Wolfgang standing beside her. He was handing her a crisp one hundred dollar bill. She popped eyebrows as she took it and looked down at it before she raised her gaze to look at the Karmann Ghia as it drove off while the girls were whistling and waving at him. Then she watched as he briefly returned their greeting as he stuck up a hand before he turned and waved the other cars forward.

She looked down at the bill in her hand again. "How much was the gasoline for?"

He turned, smiling. "Thirty-four eighty seven," he said and watched as her naturally curving eyebrows popped in surprise. "They said to keep the change."

A single eyebrow snatched upward as her gaze went cool. "I bet they did," she mumbled, seeing his smile fade, but she pretended not to see. Then she turned and made change and then closed the box before she handed him the difference.

He paused as he raised brows before he looked down at her offer. "What's that for?"

"Your tip. Contrary to how immature those girls were acting, they're very good in math. They said keep the change so keep it."

He looked at her somewhat unfriendly expression with interest. "You keep it," he said.

"No." She shook her head. "This tip was meant for you." Without thinking—because she was suddenly rattled although she didn't know why, exactly—she stepped to him while folding the bills. Then she stopped cold. She looked up at his curious blue eyes when she realized she was about to touch him in order to slip the money into his breast zipper pocket. Her eyelashes suddenly flickered before she quickly stepped back, eyeing him a little warily. "I'll give it to you later."

She slipped the money into her dress pocket just when she heard the 'click' of the nozzle that the tank was full. Thank the heavens for the reprieve! She turned, stepped to the other side of the pump, and tended to the all-female customers in the Firebird.

There was a brief rush and, in the end, she was infinitely grateful that Wolfgang had come out to help. She was doubly grateful that she was too busy to have any eye contact with him as they both worked like a team, making what could've been a frantic situation pretty smooth sailing. But even a fool could see most cars were occupied with women who were only there to get a look at the "German hunk".

When the worst was behind them, she looked over her shoulder back at the shop. She'd been wondering what was keeping her little brother. Then she remembered she still had a pocket full of cash tips for Wolfgang.

She saw he was calmly wiping his hands with a paper towel. As she looked at him, he calmly raised his eyes to look back. She gave him a quick smile as she slipped her hand into her pocket and pulled out the large wad of cash as she made her way to him between two pumps while his gaze silently followed.

"Here." She smiled a bit uneasily as she handed him the money, but he was more interested in staring at her face than taking the cash. It made her blush even more. She was exhausted and irritable, and she finally decided enough was enough. Her eyebrows dipped crossly as she lowered her eyes. "You really need to stop that," she said before she raised stern and annoyed eyes to him.

"Does it bother you?" he asked calmly.

She openly glared at him. "No. I just love being stared at for no reason," she answered sarcastically.

"It's not for no reason," he said, and he saw her get even madder.

"Here," she said, gruffly. "Take the money. It's yours."

She held out the large folded wad of cash but he took his time balling the paper towel before he twisted his waist and with a well-aimed shot, sent it through the small opening of the hanging waste bin.

He turned and looked at her pretty face that had gotten even more annoyed. "It's nice to know you're no longer unaffected, Pup," he said as he looked at her flustered and somewhat puzzled face.

"Pup?" She shook her head. "O…kay. Whatever, Wolfgang," she said all the while nearly stabbing him with the wad of cash. "Here. Take it already."

He looked down at the folded up bills in her slender fingers before he reached for it and took it before slipping it into his breast pocket while he looked down at her indifferent face as she stepped back.

"Yes. Pup. Because that's what you are. A pup," he said mysteriously.

It made her uneasy—and annoyed.

"Can you keep your little pet names to yourself? Save them for the legion of women marching in and out of the shed at night. I don't appreciate them," she demanded more than asked.

He quirked his blond head and narrowed his eyes with a smile. "You don't appreciate women coming in and out of the shed—"

"—Noo…" she cut in. "I don't appreciate your pet names or your stares."

He arched an eyebrow. "The only way you'd know that women were coming to see me is if you'd been watching."

"I really don't want to talk about that, if you don't mind."

"Been watching me, Pup?"

"Stop calling me pup!"

He suddenly leaned in to her, and she needed every ounce of willpower not to look cowardly and pull back from him. She gave him a cool look as he searched her eyes for a few moments before a smile stretched across his lips.

"I'll stop when you no longer are." Then he pulled back.

"What?" She frowned, confused, up at him; wondering what he meant by that. His look gave her the distinct feeling he was trying to tell her something, but he wasn't forthcoming.

"You can handle it from here on out, right Pup?" Then, much to her surprise, he simply turned and stepped down the pump island to make his way back to the bays, but as he did, he gave her a sidelong smile in passing, confusing her even more.

Another car pulled up for service, so it was back to work.

Luckily, she was able to handle the slower flow of customers pulling into the gas station now. It was still pretty busy but nothing she couldn't handle—just as Wolfgang predicted. She also noticed the tips were a hell of a lot less generous.

As she helped the last few customers as they trickled in, and as she prepared to close shop for the evening since her father decided to close earlier in order to go to Nana Darlene, his mother, a thought hit her. She now began to wonder about something that had been troubling her. And yes, it had to do with Wolfgang. Even though she made herself a promise not to think about him so damn much, she couldn't help herself.

It was something that had been bothering for weeks now, probably even longer than that. It was something that came to a head when it had gotten really busy earlier, forcing her to break her own resolve and think about the last person on Earth she ever wanted to think about.

She recalled how he had just stood there while staring at her. Now, that in and of itself was pretty darn unnerving, but what really unnerved her was the fact that nobody else seemed to notice. Outside of Davey, then.

Come to think of it, Rob didn't even seem to notice! At least, she didn't think he did since, well, if he had noticed Wolfgang had been staring at her the way he was prone to do—which was every chance he got—he never mentioned it nor did anything to stop it. And wouldn't that be something he'd do in a heartbeat?

Why didn't anyone, outside Davey, mention Wolfgang's nonstop staring?

She slowly unwrapped a fresh stick of gum as she thought these things over, looking up from the counter and out into the quiet gas station beyond the windows. As she replayed the events of that day, she really couldn't recall a single person noticing, let alone mentioning, how Wolfgang was constantly staring at her. It was as if…they didn't see it.

"Ridiculous," she said, folding the stick of gum on her tongue. She shook her head. "Stupid thought." She shook her head. "They're just too polite to say anything, that's all." Then she frowned. Where was Davey keeping?

On the other hand, she was relieved he hadn't come downstairs with his soccer ball. Her feet were aching and she really wanted to have a long soothing bath before Rob came calling. With a lighter mood, she tossed the gum wrapper in the bucket and proceeded to close shop so she could get ready for their hot date.