Flat Tire (Short Story)

            This was the second flat tire in two weeks on my new Saturn. Ugh! At least it was a nice fall day, not raining, or winter with it being 30 below.  It didn’t help that today I had chosen to wear a long narrow skirt. That made it doubly difficult trying to get down to the ground and get that jack in “oh, so right” position so as not to pop the tin can metal on the rest of the car.  At least the flat was on the passenger side, away from the traffic whizzing by on the highway.

            I tried one more time and couldn’t seem to find that spot for the jack. I finally threw it down in frustration and pushed myself up off my knees to a standing position. My cream colored skirt now had nice brown circles on it where my knees had been pressing the material into the dirt. I brushed at it with my hands only to find that somehow they had black grease on them. The whole mess smeared across the fabric. Lovely. The skirt was new too. There was no way that was going to come clean.

            I took out my cell phone to call the office to canceled my next appointment. If I could get this flat changed quickly enough, maybe I would have time to run home and change my clothes. I shook my head. Only thing clean right now was my favorite pair of jeans. Thankfully, I had no more important meetings for the rest of the day so that would have to do. Catherine answered when I called.

            “Where are you? Anne is hopping mad that you are not here right now. She wanted to go over your report before the meeting.”

            “I got a flat and I’m stuck on the highway. I need to cancel. Can you call Mr. Ramsey for me to reschedule?”

            “And what am I to tell Anne?”

            “Tell her the truth. I’m stranded with a flat tire.”

            “Do you think she’s going to buy that line? Didn’t you just have one two weeks ago?”

            I raise my eyes to the sky to watch the clouds slowly travel overhead as I bite my lip to keep from crying in frustration. “Yes. This did happen two weeks ago and it cost me $78 for a new tire to replace the one that shredded on me.”

            “I thought this was a new car.”

            “It is.”

            “I’ll let Anne know but I can bet she’s not going to be happy about this.”

            “Thanks, Catherine. Believe me, I would rather be in the office then sitting here on the side of the road stranded.”

            “What? Can’t change your own tire?” Catherine’s voice mocked me.

            I sighed. “I am doing my best. Later.”  I clicked end on the cell phone and leaned my rear against the side of the car and close my eyes. Really Lord, why do these things keep happening to me? I need this job. I had heard the unspoken threat that had been in the secretary’s voice. My job was in jeopardy.

            I took a deep breath and knowing my skirt was destined for the dumpster, I knelt back down and brought myself to lay by the flat tire to look under the car for that exact sweet spot for my jack. I got it positioned when I saw boots approaching. Cowboy boots and dress pants? I tried to rise but smacked my head on the bottom of the car.

            “Ouch. That had to hurt.” A familiar male voice spoke.

            I lifted my head out and put my hand to my forehead and glance up to see the man now scooting down to my level, knees bent and balancing on his toes. My eyes looked up to see his face. It was Mr. Ramsey, my two o’clock appointment.

            “Yeah.” I answered. “This hasn’t been my day.”

            “So I understand. I just got a call from your office saying we needed to reschedule.”

            “Sorry about that.” I struggle to at least get to my knees. Hard to do gracefully in a long narrow skirt. I’m going back to slacks from now on.  My hair had to be a mess from laying in the dirt.

            “Would you like some help?” He reached out to touch my hair and I heard some stones drop out.

            “Yeah. That would be nice, Mr. Ramsey.”

            “Call me Jon.”

            “Jon. Thank you.”

“Miss Brown, I don’t believe I have ever heard your first name.” He offered me a hand. Strong and sure he helped me to my feet. I felt heat travel up my arms from his touch. Oh, my.

I blushed. “Sapphire. I know. It’s strange but my parents were a bit unconventional.”

His eyebrows went up. “It describes your eyes perfectly, though.” He smiled, took off his suit coat, handed it to me and rolled up his sleeves. I couldn’t help but notice the cords of muscle in his arms. I shook my head. Maybe the sun was getting to me. I had no right to think of a client in that way. He knelt down by my car and in no time had the wheel off and the spare on. Now his dress pants looked about as clean as my skirt. His blonde hair was disheveled. He looked so much more approachable all rumpled from helping me. My heart skipped a beat.

“Thank you.” I said as I packed the jack away in its compartment and he tossed my pathetic looking tire in the trunk.

            “I’m glad I could help. There’s a Starbucks up at the next exit. Can I treat you to something to drink? I think we both deserve it. After that I can follow you then to the dealer to make sure you get there safely.”

            It’s a work day, but I’m already in trouble and since I make my money on commission. . .  “Sure. That sounds great.”

            We headed to the restaurant. I found the restroom and tried to at least get the grease off my hands. My dark hair is a mess so I braided it back loosely so it was off my face. My cheeks were pink. Maybe I did get too much sun. I scrubbed at the grease marks that somehow made their way there and put on lipstick. Why? I don’t know. I have an attractive business man buying me a drink at a coffee shop when I look like this? And lipstick was going to help? I shrugged and left to meet him.

            I accepted my ice cold Via from him. Cool lime. I definitely needed something to cool me off. I glance over at Mr. Ramsey. Jon. He’s an attractive man. I’ve always admired him when we have met before. It is awkward now. Is this business or pleasure? I wished for the latter.

            “I’m sorry I had to cancel our meeting today. I do have those reports in my car if you wanted to look at them.”

            He waved me off. “I’m in no hurry, Sapphire. To be honest, I had already made my decision and you have the contract. I’ll send it to your office later. Maybe that will get your boss off your back.”

            “Thank you, Jon. That means a lot.”

            “You are good at what you do. Matter of fact, I was wondering if you would consider a job change.”

            I squint. Partly because the sun is shining in and I’m not sure I heard him correctly. “What kind of job change?”

            “How would you like to work exclusively on my accounts, in house? I can promise to compensate you fairly. Salaried position and full benefits.”

            My eyes grow wide. “Really?”

            He nodded his head. “I also wanted to ask something a bit more personal.”

            “Okay.”

            “Could I take you to lunch after church on Sunday? I noticed we attend the same one and just wondered. . . “

            “Lunch? A date?”

            “The job offer is not dependant on you accepting my offer to connect outside of work.”

            I gulped. Mixing business and pleasure? Dating someone who could be my boss? “I don’t date co-workers or supervisors.” I regretted having to say that. It would be nice to be able to have both the job and the man.

            He bit his lip and nodded his head. “I thought you would say that. Are you turning down the job offer or the date?” His gaze from those dark eyes was intense. 

            “I’m turning down the job, Jon. I’ll accept the date.” I sip my Via and watched him over the lid.

            He smiled and tingles warmed my insides. I landed the account so my boss wouldn’t be mad at me and at the same time snagged the attention of a pretty cute business man when I looked my worst. Thanks to an inconvenient flat tire. All of a sudden today didn’t seem so bad after all.

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