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Spare Parts (A Romentics Novel) Scott & Scott This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Published by Loose Id LLC 1802 N Carson Street, Suite 212-2924 Carson City NV 89701-1215 www.loose-id.com Copyright © November 2007 by Scott & Scott All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced or shared in any form, including, but not limited to printing, photocopying, faxing, or emailing without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC. ISBN 978-1-59632-572-2 Available in Adobe PDF, HTML, MobiPocket, and MS Reader Printed in the United States of America Editor: Raven McKnight Cover Artist: Croco Designs .
Romentics A Novel Approach To Gay Romance Introducing a line of romance novels written just for gay men. It’s all the steamy passion, crazy excitement, and gay drama you’d expect when two men fall for each other -- maybe even more. And they’re all written with love by Scott&Scott. www.Romentics.com Log on and fall in love with Romentics. .
Chapter One Dan slammed his boot against the brake. He nearly slammed into the car in front of him, too. Traffic was unbearable on the highway, and he was trying to force the truck through the congestion too hard and too fast. It was just the anger boiling inside him that needed release. There is nothing wrong with the suburbs, Dan reminded himself. It’s not so bad, really. Not even the commute. Usually, returning home was an escape for Dan, a journey of freedom away from his hectic business of six bustling garages scattered throughout the large city. But on nights like this, it didn’t seem worth the long drive north to return to the lies and accusations that awaited him in the little bedroom town of Glen Mills. Lately, everywhere Dan went in that town where he grew up and still lived, he encountered sudden silence when he entered a room. He saw guilty glances as he walked by. He knew there was gossip before he heard it. Before he heard Rodney’s name whispered under his neighbors’ breath. Dan thought he had left all that in the past -- he thought he had left Rodney behind. But he should have known better. History had a way of repeating itself in a small hometown. Enemies had a way of resurfacing. Especially when that enemy lived across town. Especially when he used to be your best friend. Dan remembered Rodney before the spite, before the protruding belly and the receding hairline. At one time, he had been handsome and full of ideas and conversation. They had both shot out of high school fueled by youth and ambition. Dan had been the sidekick. Rodney was the forward one. He was pushy. He was the one who talked their way .
2 Scott & Scott into their first real job at a garage. The attitude had seemed grown-up and almost charming in an eighteen-year-old. The old guy who owned Glen Mills Mechanics was never even there. After a few months, Dan and Rodney practically ran the place. At least, that’s how Rodney saw it. But his greed was the force that had really been running things. He was impatient. He was short-tempered. And sidekick Dan tagged right along with every decision he made. A few shortcuts here and there became the norm. Recycled parts, quick fixes, extra charges, and a friendly smile became their business. Two talented kids had become crooks. Looking back, their mistakes were so much clearer to Dan. He knew they were corrupt. He saw how easily they had chosen the wrong path. What was harder for Dan to admit, even to himself, even now, was that he had been in love with Rodney. Love is a strong word, probably too strong. Dan hadn’t really understood his feelings then. But that first big crush is a powerful force, like hormones and rebellion all rolled into one. Adding confusion and sexuality made for a volatile mix. He had fallen for his friend. As with any big fall, he ended up hurt. If he’d only bruised his heart, he might have healed. He might have mended his feelings and their friendship. But a lot more had been at stake. The extra money they’d stolen didn’t go far. What seemed like a lot to a couple of teenagers was pretty easy to spend. Dan and Rodney’s cars were flawless, gleaming models that purred and revved with every conceivable luxury. But when customers started to complain about their own patched-up wrecks, the two young mechanics had been caught in the headlights. They had to replace parts, fix mistakes, take even longer to retrace and repair their shortcuts. The old mechanic had not been as blind as Rodney thought. He was too old, the owner told them. He was never around. He said it was time to pass on the business. He said he was cutting them a deal. He was selling them the garage on account of all their hard work. And that was the price -- the two custom cars they had worked so hard on, their pride and joy. Suddenly Glen Mills Mechanics turned into a trap. What would have been a dream a year earlier became their nightmare. They were stuck with no cars and one broken-down garage. Dan had known what he had to do. He had to make a clean break, no matter what more it cost him. He had to leave Rodney. But the conflicting elements of loyalty, guilt, and secret desire made it nearly impossible. He told himself it was the kind of devotion that buddies shared. It all seemed worth it when they had a moment to sit and try to laugh. He would have given up most anything for shared beers and a pat on the back. Whenever Rodney touched him, Dan could feel the heat of his friend’s hand. He could feel the shadow of his touch lingering between his shoulders. .
Spare Parts 3 But as Dan continued to struggle and pay their debt, even this warmth had faded. Their friendship and Dan’s adolescent hope for more were not enough reason to risk ruining everything. So Dan had emptied his savings and paid off his share. He had fixed his mistakes. And he gave his best wishes and his half of nothing to his best friend. That was almost twenty years ago. Today, Glen Mills Mechanics was still there, and so was Rodney. He’d managed to keep it going, barely, but Rodney’s morals hadn’t improved any more than the business had. Nothing and everything had changed. After he left Rodney, Dan had found another garage and another old mechanic. But the similarities ended there. Santom was always there under the hood of a car, and there was nothing blind about him. He was willing to forgive, but not forget, mistakes. Dan had to work harder and longer and learn more than he thought any mechanic should ever know. Eventually, he had earned Santom’s respect. He’d earned a true friendship based on trust and hard work. And when old age finally caught up with his old friend Santom, Dan inherited his business. It was one of the businesses that he still ran, the one that had grown with its younger owner into a chain of six garages -- each with SANTOM’S on its sign. Both Rodney and Dan were still mechanics. They both still lived in Glen Mills. But they were not still friends. They avoided the topic and each other. Rodney had grown old and fat in his jealousy, and Dan had grown distant and silent running his businesses in the city. They were only miles apart, but they were worlds from where their friendship had started. Leaving Rodney had been the biggest turning point in Dan’s life. It had changed the direction of every moment that followed. But now, at thirty-five, it all seemed less traumatic. It didn’t hurt as much in retrospect. Scar tissue is thick and numb. Amid the gridlock traffic, the sports car behind Dan beeped its pitiful little horn. Dan had to grit his teeth to keep from throwing the pickup into park and grabbing the tire iron in the backseat. He gripped the steering wheel and exhaled slowly. He was beyond that youthful anger. He put it inside. Now there was a little gray touching Dan’s dark temples, but he was solid. Years of twisting wrenches and lifting steel had made his workingman’s body as hard as his resolve. And he was determined that all that hard work would not be undone by small-town rumors. Dan tried not to blame Glen Mills. He knew that he owed part of his success to that hometown. His business and his business sense had both stemmed from his blue-collar background. His hardworking roots were in that suburb, but he was not going to let his past destroy his future. He was not going to let Rodney destroy his name. But Dan really couldn’t hold his neighbors’ shock against them. No one saw it coming. No one thought the smart, responsible one was going to turn out that different after thirty. No one expected him to leave his fiancée. No one expected a handsome, hard worker with broad shoulders and a square jaw to .
4 Scott & Scott end up a confirmed bachelor. Honestly, no one expected the confirmation. No one expected him to be gay. And once they knew the truth, it became easy to believe Rodney’s lies. When a timid customer in her fifties picked up her car and said, “Rodney’s been talking,” Dan could tell by the quick, embarrassed way she looked down at her shoes just what he’d been talking about. The woman, who had probably known Dan since he was a child, finally admitted, “He says it’s no coincidence you hire all these young, handsome mechanics.” She shuffled into her car and left Dan speechless. Sure, he worked with a lot of younger guys. Some were still in high school and only worked weekends and late afternoons. But this was where the talent was. Dan remembered what it was like to be young and ambitious. He remembered how it could go wrong so easily and so fast. Dan wanted to teach them and mold them and turn them into amazing mechanics and men. It had everything to do with success for himself and them. It had nothing to do with being gay. Everybody needed a good mechanic, someone to trust. And that was the belief he had built his business on. There were plenty of kids out there who could rebuild a carburetor in their sleep, but teaching them to do it honestly was another story. Dan spent most of his time teaching the most simplistic business principles: No one gets arrested for taking parts out of cars if he replaces them with new ones. The real money is in loyalty. Long-term customers bring in long-term profits. A quick buck doesn’t even last as long as that recycled, rebuilt part you used to cheat the customer. Trust lasts forever. And that was Dan’s business. That’s what had earned him a modest empire of garages that circled the bustling city like protective wagons. And now that was all being attacked. Yes, Dan paid those kids well to learn. And soon, they became invaluable. It worked out well for all involved. He made sure it worked out better for them than it had for him at their age. But the idea that anything else was going on with those young guys was ridiculous. It was exactly the kind of scandal people would secretly believe despite themselves. It was the kind of thing people whispered and said, “That can’t be true.” But that didn’t stop the rumors, the speculation, the suspicion that it just might have a kernel of truth it in. And it was exactly the kind of ignorant, evil lie Rodney would invent. By the time the whispers had spread throughout town, no one even remembered who whispered first. Dan scowled as he finally pulled his truck out of traffic and onto the back roads. He drove north, choosing the potholes and twisting pavement over the clogged, slick arteries of commuters. This was the same choice he had made all his life. Driving the bumpy roads takes its toll. But to Dan, the easy route was never that easy. The straight and narrow was always backed up. He’d paid the price for some choices, but he’d always been able to hammer out the dents and get things running smoothly again. .
Spare Parts 5 Dan knew there were more rough roads ahead of him. But he had no idea how to repair the rumors and the resulting damage. If only he had come out sooner. If only he had been the one to tell his customers and neighbors about his sexuality instead of Rodney. If only Rodney hadn’t spotted Dan’s truck in front of a certain bar on a certain night. But there was no time for regrets now. Dan’s homosexuality was not a secret. He wasn’t ashamed. He just didn’t broadcast it. He didn’t mix business with pleasure; he didn’t fly a pride flag over his garages. In fact, he didn’t actually have time for pleasure, with all the business in his life. But now his business was defined by sex. He was the gay mechanic. Dan tried not to think about irreparable mistakes. He just wished people could have had their own chance for acceptance. He wished his parents had lived long enough to accept the real him. But he had waited too long to come out, and now he’d never know. And he knew that he’d waited too long for himself, too. He was comfortable with himself now. However, getting to that point was a struggle he couldn’t understand and didn’t want to remember. He hit a pothole and cranked the wheel all the way to the right. He forgot about whispers and lies. He forgot about how fast and unexpectedly life can change course. He forgot about decades living in the closet, keeping himself and everyone in the dark. He forgot how small and scared a big man like himself could feel creeping out of denial and into the light at thirty. Dan pulled into his driveway and shut off the engine. He pulled his key out of the ignition and put another one into the door of his empty house. Time to stop dwelling on the past. He had enough to deal with in the present. His house was large, comfortable without pretense. It was just a little too big for a bachelor. The suburbs had grown up around the ideal of children and family and happily ever after. What they didn’t accommodate were self-sufficient gay men in their thirties who were too used to being alone. He looked around his home and laughed at the thought that anything scandalous was happening in his life. The rumor that it was happening in his sex life was practically impossible. But people will believe what they want. There is nothing wrong with the suburbs, he reminded himself. But a small town like Glen Mills could be like a big, dysfunctional family. He was the town’s estranged son, its success and failure all at once. It wasn’t surprising that they would talk about the gay guy who had gone wrong and made it good. It was crazy gossip, but it wasn’t hard to believe. Sexual indiscretion. Manipulation. Molestation. Nothing could have been more damaging, and nothing could have been farther from the truth. .