Braving the Heat(8)

By: Regan Black

“That’s good.” Leaning back in his chair, Grant drummed a quick rhythm on the edge of his desk. “Here’s the thing. I just got off the phone with Stephen.”

“About my car?” That didn’t make any sense. “Why?”

“You may not know it, but he likes to stay busy,” Grant said. “He took a look at your car as soon as he got back to his shop.”

“Did he find the problem already?” She braced herself for the worst, assuming Stephen had mentioned parts, labor and prices.

“Yes. He says he can fix it fairly quickly, though he’s not sure that’s the wise choice since the car’s a rolling wreck. His words, not mine.” Grant sat upright suddenly and the chair squeaked a protest. He ignored the grating sound, massaging at the scar tissue in his shoulder, the way he often did when he was thinking. “Any chance you forgot how your dad taught you to care for a car and accidently dumped sugar into your gas tank?”

What? “Of course not.”

Grant’s intent brown eyes turned weary from one blink to the next. “Didn’t think so.” He blew out a breath and rubbed his temples. “Stephen can explain all the details, of course. I just wanted to be the one to give you the big picture.”

“Which is?” she prompted when he hesitated.

“Everything Stephen found suggests that someone sabotaged your car.”

“Sugar in the gas tank is hardly the problem people think it is,” she said, latching on to the one factor she could comprehend in this bizarre situation. It was a fairly affordable fix to change the clogged filters and flush the tank and fuel lines. “Maybe the previous owner pissed off someone who didn’t know keying a car was a better form of revenge.”

“Maybe,” Grant allowed. He looked as if he wanted to believe her theory as opposed to the evidence that contradicted it. “How long have you had the vehicle?”

She gripped the straps of the backpack, resisting the logic and implications he was forcing on her. “Three weeks.” He arched an eyebrow. She didn’t need him to say it for her. “If I’d bought the thing with sugar in the tank it would have given me problems long before now.”

“So you bought the car at the same time you had to hire an attorney for the civil suit?”

“Yes,” she replied, grudgingly.

“Then whoever dumped sugar in the tank was targeting you.”

“Unless they didn’t realize the car had been sold.” She rushed on when Grant rolled his eyes. “It’s an inconvenience, that’s all.” She could do the repairs, assuming Stephen would let her borrow space and the tools.

Grant glanced at the clock over the office door. “You need help, Kenzie. Support.”

She understood it wasn’t a question. Help was what Grant did. He’d never been able to depart from his inherent need to get involved from his days on the police force. He probably hadn’t tried too hard.

She gathered the fraying remnants of her pride. “My attorney has it under control,” she said. “He assures me it’s a matter of wading through the system.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” Grant stood up, ending the meeting. “It’s okay to remember you have friends willing to help, too.”

“Thanks.” She hated the idea of dragging her friends into her problems. Besides, there wasn’t anything to do except let her lawyer handle the case.

She escaped the office and the club, relieved and troubled in equal measure. Outside, she paused and breathed deeply. The air at this hour was clear along the river and as cool and pleasant as Philly could be in the summer. The stars in the inky sky above were faint, the lights from buildings on both sides of the river offering more sparkle.

Only a few cars remained in the lot, and she assumed the small SUV parked next to Mitch’s truck was the car Stephen had brought for her. Standing between the two, the Galway brothers turned to her as she approached. She sensed she’d interrupted something important.

“Hi,” she said. “Sorry for the delay.”

“No problem.” Stephen opened the passenger door of the SUV for her. “I’ll drive to the shop and you can take it from there.”

“Okay.” She glanced at Mitch. “Thanks for loaning me your truck today.”

“No problem.” Lines of tension bracketed the stern set of his mouth. It wasn’t a look she often saw on his face. “Be careful, Kenzie.”

“Always,” she promised, before sliding into the seat. He couldn’t be warning her about his brother. “You told him about the clogged fuel filter?” she asked, as Stephen slid behind the wheel and started the car.

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