Joe tried to concentrate on what the
receptionist was saying, but his mind was
outside wondering what Hannah was doing with
the blond-haired guy in the white suit. Was he a
friend ? A customer?
He kept thinking about the way the guy had
been watching her, as though right at that
moment she was the most important thing in
the world to him.
So not a friend, then something more.
It took Joe a moment to recognize the emotion
burning in his belly as jealousy. It had been a
while since he’d had reason to be jealous of
He kept his gaze on his car as he exited the
store, but he could still see Hannah and her
friend out of the corner of his eye. They were
talking, leaning towards one another. He told
himself what she did and who she did it with
was none of his business. It didn’t make any
difference to the burn in his gut.
Ruby, Joes daughter was having a playdate
with one of her friends from school. So Joe had
the house to himself when he got home. He
tidied the kitchen, then threw on a load of
washing. Finally he came to a halt in his
The bed was a mess, a tangle of sheets and
guilt. He’d had a bad nigh’s sleep, tosing and
turning, his mind full of images and sense
memories: Hannahs b0s0m, full and warm in his
hand; the taste of her in his mouth, the feel of
her firm, rouded butt0ckz. Somehow, somewhere in
the dark hours, Hannah and Beth (His late wife)
had gotten mixed up in his dreams and he’d
found himself looking into Beth’s face but
pressed against Hannah’s body, guilt and desire
twisting inside him until he didn’t know which
was which. He’d woken sweating and agitated,
the sheets wrapped around his legs in a
Now, he sat on the end of the bed, thighs wide,
hands on his knees, his unfocused gaze on the
carpet. The reality was that he and Hannah
hardly knew each other. There was a physical
attraction. There was the potential for more,
maybe. But he had to take the next step to find
out. And he wasn’t sure if he was ready to do
Meanwhile, when Hannah got home, for a
moment she was so angry and sad she could
I’m so sick of this. I’m so sick of feeling this way.
The problem was, she didn’t know what to do
with her anger. She’d only had to look into
Betty’s perfectly made up face to feel it all
surging back. That, and seeing the pity on
Of course, her mother wasn’t the only one who
felt sorry for poor, jilted Hannah. It had
practically become a national pastime once the
wedding had been canceled. Their family, all of
her and Lucas’s friends, the neighbours, her
customers — they’d all offered their
condolences and shaken their heads. It was a
classic tale of woe and everyone could relate.
And more than anything perhaps even more
than the pain of betrayal and loss — Hannah
resented being cast as a victim.
Hannah was still outside since she got home.
stomach rumbled with hunger but she wasn’t
ready to go in yet. Instead, she entered her
garage (her workshop as she is a mechanic),
grabbed a beer from the bar fridge she kept in
palmed a handful of peanuts from the jar on the
work bench. ()She’d downed half the beer when
she became aware that someone was watching
her. She glanced across into a pair of big, intent
“I’m Ruby Lawson” daughter to Joe Lawson. The
little girl thrust her hand forward.
Hannah surpressed a smile. She help up her own
hand. “I’m Hannah”. she said.
“Pleased to meet you” Ruby said solemnly.
It was impossible for Hannah to hid her smile
then. “Pleased to meet you, too, Ruby”.
“Wow, what a nice bike” “Can we go for a ride?
Hannah smiled ……”I don’t think your dad would
appreciate us doing that.”
“He wouldn’t mind”
“Hmm. I’m not so sure about that.”
Ruby pressed her hands together and gave
Hannah a limpid – eyed beseeching look, “Pretty
As pitiful pleas went, it was very effective.
Hannah wondered if Ruby had practiced in the
mirror. “Sorry, sweetheart. You can have a sit on
it, though, if you’d like.”
Ruby considered for a moment. “I guess that
would be okay,” she said grudgingly.
Hannah wiped her hand on her jeans and helped
boost Ruby onto the saddle. Ruby’s legs barely
straddled the seat adn she wobbled and
clutched at the handlebars, a woored frown on
Hannah twisted the ignition key and the bike
rumbled to life beneath them. Ruby giggled.
“It’s all bouncy”. Ruby said.
Hannah laughed as she leaned forward to twist
“See? You grip this and twist it slowly forward.
But not too much — you dont’ want to push it
Ruby reached out, fingers spread wide.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Hannah nearly fell off the bike as Joe stacked
across the sidewalk, his expression livid.
“Are you out of your freaking mind?” he
He gasped Ruby around the waist, plucking her
from the bike as though she weighed less than a
feather. Joe set her on the ground and put a
hand on her shoulder. “I want you to go inside”.
“No! We weren’t doing anything wrong. We were
just siting there, “Rubby insisted.
Hannah couuld see the little girl was getting
herself worked up. She could also see that Joe
was in no mood to listen to reason. She met
“It’s okay, sweetie,” she said reassuringly. “You
can do what your daddy says.”
Joe waited until his daughter was well out of
hearing before turning on Hannah. “What kind of
a reckless takes a kid for a ride on a motorbike
without a helmet? You want to answer me that ?
“You are overreacting. If you calmed down for
one second ——”
“Don’t tell me to calm, lady”. He shoved a finger
in her face. “You had no right to risk my
daughter’s life. Did you even stop to think ……..”
He broke off, unable to articulate his fury.
“”Are you finished? she asked calmly. “Any more
insults you want to throw at me?
He gave her a scathing head to toe. “Stay away
from my daughter. “He turned on his heel and
strode towards his house.
Hannah let out the breath she’d been holding.
wow. That had been exactly what she hadn’t
needed —– a big, shitty cherry on top of an
already shitty day.
Joe tried to concentrate on what the