Part 1 starts here.
She had packed up everything she needed from her desk – now officially Tara’s desk – and Tara had helped her bring down all the bags to her car. Once Tara was gone, Katy sat in her car in the comfortably cool parking lot to catch her breath.
Peering into the rear view mirror, she saw the huge teddy bear with the Santa hat. Tara had buckled him into the passenger side and it felt weird to see something so big back there. Seeing the Santa hat reminded her that the tow truck driver said she should come by after lunch to pick up the fixed tire. She pulled out her purse and found the business card.
Right, Tyler Thompson. She decided a text would be better than trying to explain to him who she was and what she was calling about. No doubt he’d had a few dozen calls last night.
He replied almost immediately with an address saying the tire was fixed and that any time was good. She let him know she was on her way.
Katy pulled her sun visor down and glanced in the mirror to check her make up and hair. With the biggest inhale she could manage with her pregnant belly, she started her car and rolled down the windows. Maybe the cold December air would help to calm the puffiness in her red eyes. She could only hope.
Ten minutes later, she pulled up to the shop at the address Tyler had given her. It was a newer garage with big, airy windows on each of the three large garage doors. A huge Santa inflatable stood swaying on the corner of the lot. She was about to send Tyler another text message when one of the side doors started rolling up and she saw Tyler standing there in grease-streaked jeans and a half-buttoned plaid shirt with a t-shirt underneath. He motioned at her with his work gloves to pull into the garage. She followed his instructions and parked the car while he closed the large door. She tucked her phone into her purse and reached for the door. No surprise, she needed to go to the bathroom again.
“Here, let me help you up.” Tyler opened the door and reached for her arms. Feeling embarrassed, she avoided looking at him as he gently helped her out of the car.
“Sorry, I just need to use your…bathroom, if that’s okay. Is it warm in here, or is it just me?” She turned around carefully and tossed her coat into the car. She reached for the door and saw Tyler’s tattooed arm resting on it. The tattoo might have been a lion. He lifted his arm up so she could shut it. His streaked hair was pulled back into a short pony tail at the back of his head and his smile never seemed to leave his face.
“Here, it’s this way.” He led the way into the other part of the shop. Katy had been in her brother’s garage before but it was not nearly this big and spacious. Everything here was new and shiny. But the smell was just the same. Oil and grease. She liked the smell.
Tyler was holding the door open for her and she stepped in. He leaned in and pointed at the bathroom door and she had a good look at the tattoo on his neck. It was three crosses, all touching. The middle one was the tallest. Interesting.
“There ya go, ma’am. It’ll be about ten minutes or so. You can wait in here if you like.” He smiled at her and she gave him a half-smile in return and turned to go to the bathroom.
When she was done, she stood and watched him through the large window in the waiting area. He looked different without the big bulky jacket he had been wearing last night. He wasn’t as big as she had thought he was but then again, it had been cold and dark and she had been scared he might be some kind of freak.
Tyler moved around her car lightly and quickly. There was nothing sluggish about him. He was about to put the spare tire in the trunk but it was full of gift bags. He looked up and caught her eye, giving her a double thumbs up. He took off his work gloves and picked up as many bags as he could and put them in her back seat before getting the rest. Katy found herself tilting her head to try to see the other tattoo on his right forearm. Maybe it was some sort of large boat.
Slipping his gloves back on, he uncovered the hole in the trunk for the spare and secured the tire before replacing the cover. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him. There was something about him that she couldn’t put her finger on. Here was a tattooed, pierced, crazy haired man taking care of her. A pregnant stranger. Why would he do that?
Tyler was walking towards her now. He pulled open the door and she walked over to meet him.
“All done. Easy as pie. You got lots of shopping done, heh? Where’d you get the huge bear? My niece has been asking me for one and I don’t want to disappoint. I checked Toys R Us but they had nothing. Don’t really have time to go out again before the twenty-fifth.”
Katy cleared her throat, “Uh, actually the people at work gave him to me. They had a party for me. Well going away party slash baby shower. Pretty amazing heh? They even got me a wagon and a swing.” Katy stopped herself. She was babbling. She didn’t run her mouth off like this unless she was nervous.
“Whoa, awesome! You didn’t bring them though, or are they hidden somewhere that I can’t see?”
Katy gave a quick smile. “No, they were too big to fit into my car so I left them at work until I can pick them up in a van or something.”
“I’ve got a truck, just let me know and I’ll be there.”
“Oh no, it’s okay. You’ve already helped me so much. What do I owe you?”
“Nothing. It’s on me.” Tyler smiled and bowed.
“That’s not right. Between the tow truck and the tire repair that must be at least a hundred and fifty dollars. Here,” she shuffled into her purse searching for her wallet. “Let me give you something.” She pulled open her wallet and looked inside. Great, no cash.
“Do you take credit card?” she said, whipping out her Visa.
“No, we only take Mastercard and American Express.”
Katy looked at him and noticed the twinkling in his brown eyes. He was teasing her. Or maybe flirting. She didn’t know why he would flirt with a grumpy, pregnant woman. Maybe he had a thing for helpless, pregnant chicks.
“Fine, if you won’t take my money then I guess I’m done here. Thank you. Good bye.” She opened the car door and carefully eased herself in. Tyler quickly reached for her elbow and she grudgingly accepted the help. It must be time to drink more and lie down by the feel of it. But she had shopping to do before she got to go home and lie down in bed.
Tyler closed the door softly and she sat in the warm car for a few seconds. She reached for her seatbelt and felt the familiar tug in her belly. Ugh. Why now? She stopped and put her hand on the sore area and waited for the pain to subside.
There was a knock on the window. She knew who it was without looking. With a sigh, she lowered the window but didn’t say anything.
“Can I get you some water?” he asked. She nodded and grimaced. Why did he seem to know so much about pregnancy? A guy with tattoos and an eyebrow piercing and a pony tail would make an excellent obstetrician. She softly chuckled to herself as Tyler reappeared, handing her an unopened water bottle.
“Here ya go. What’s so funny? Baby doing somersaults?” He leaned down and rested his tattooed forearms on the opening between them, his smiling face peering in close to hers. She found herself admiring the eyebrow piercing. She had never seen one up close.
“Oh, I was just imaging you as a doctor. You seem to know so much about pregnancy. But what would a woman say when you’d walk into the room for the first time with your tattoos and pony tail?” She smirked and looked at him.
His smile slowly faded and he pushed himself off the car and stood up. “Well, not everyone judges a book by it’s cover,” he said quietly. As he walked away, he called back, “I’ll open the door for you. Have a Merry Christmas!”
Katy rolled her window up. She felt bad. It was true, she had judged him on his appearance. She had assumed he was some kind of punk kid by the way he looked but he was one of the nicest guys she had ever met. He hadn’t even batted an eye when she had told him she was pregnant and not in a relationship. Unlike everyone at church.
She put the car in reverse and slowly backed out. She gave him a little wave as she drove past him and he held out his hand to the side as if to say “good bye”, then shut the door as soon as she was out of the garage.
Click here for Part 7.