Davenport's Auto & Stop 'n' Shop, East Elmhurst, Queens, NYC
"She's purring like a kitten again, Mr. Callahan," the pretty raven haired girl behind the crowded counter said as she added up the repair bill for his VW Passat.
"It's amazing how Klaus can find problems where other mechanics can't. I've been to three other mechanics and none of them knew what was wrong with her," the elderly man said as he pulled out his wallet from his back pocket.
"Well, that'll teach ya for being unfaithful to Davenport's Auto!" Danielle said with laughter and a smile, teasing the elderly man.
"Not unfaithful, Dani," the man said with a smile. "It was just a budgetary thing. You guys aren't cheap, you know."
"Yeah, we know," Danielle said, blowing a bubble with her gum before she popped it, and watching the numbers as she ticked on the calculator. "But with us you get your money's worth and you get the work done right the first time."
"That's true," Mr. Callahan said, nodding as he handed her his credit card.
Danielle Davenport was a precocious and energetic twenty-two year old and she was the oldest child in the Davenport family. The family owned and operated a local gas station and a three-bay automotive repair and snack shop in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York City.
She had a much younger brother, as in ten years younger. Due to fertility problems, her mother hadn't been able to have more children and it looked as if Danielle would be it for Daniel and Dana Davenport. But then a miracle happened and David Davenport was born.
David was now ten years old and he idolized and adored by his doting older sister who had all the energy in the world to play games with him other sisters her age wouldn't think of doing. Then again, a lot of older sisters hadn't longed for a sibling as badly as Danielle had so this paid off dividends for little Davey when he was born into a doting and loving family where he never wanted for anything.
Since the Davenports family business was the only garage that specialized in German automobile repairs—and knew what they were doing—and with German automobiles becoming popular those days, their business was booming.
Daniel Davenport knew he'd have to hire an extra mechanic soon. He needed someone to help their current mechanic, sixty-two year old German immigrant, Klaus Schreiber, who had been employed with the Davenports for over twenty years, ever since Danielle was two years young.
Klaus' age was starting to show when a growing backlog of cars in need of repairs began filling their lot and Daniel had to work more and more in the garage as Klaus was taking more days off. At the moment there were four Jettas, two Bugs, and one VW Bus, and finding space for these cars was getting difficult since the property wasn't that big. Daniel had thought about tearing down the extra shed in the back to open up more room, but he hadn't booked any success convincing his wife, Dana, that it was a good idea.
Danielle herself tended the snack shop and the four gas pumps out front when she wasn't working at the Bastion Burger Joint a few days a week and during the day on weekends. She only worked at the burger place to be among her friends and for a little extra money for herself.
She'd never been one for academics and decided college really wasn't for her—and being pretty old-fashioned, her father couldn't agree more—so she didn't go when she graduated high school. Instead, she took a couple of classes in bookkeeping at the local community college so she could help her father with the books.
Danielle's mother, Dana, ran the four bedroom home built over the business, and with a young child still in school and the housekeeping to tend to, she had her hands full just being a mom. She left the administrative work to her daughter the moment Danielle was able to take over.
Although Danielle wasn't academically strong, she did inherit her father's head for business. Despite her rather lackluster educational years in public school, Danielle was good with numbers so she added the business bookkeeping to her list of chores for the family business. Although she was a very carefree gal, when it came to her family's business, she was dead serious.
That day her father's prayers were about to be heard, though. It came driving up in an old dented up once-upon-a-time black Porsche 911 that roared with a perfectly tuned engine into the station for gasoline.
Danielle was inside the shop, finalizing the payment for Mr. Callahan, when she heard the powerful engine. She raised her head and saw the car, and she paused with chewing on her piece of peppermint gum as she peered curiously through the large window of the shop.
Her big golden-brown eyes, fringed with long whipping black lashes, blinked as she saw the car pull up and stop by pump one.
"I hope Klaus isn't busy," she mumbled. She'd otherwise have to see to that customer. The Davenport's gas station was still one of the few places where people still got full service.
Mr. Callahan turned his head to look out the window, too, and saw the car. Since the Davenport's gas station was boldly advertised as a full service station, the owner of the Porsche didn't get out. "I don't see the old guy walking up to the pump, Dani," Mr. Callahan noted.
"Well, Klaus is getting up there so maybe he needs a little more time," she said absently as she took his credit card, slid it through the machine, and when the receipt printed out, she ripped off the receipt and had him sign before she rang it up and put their copy in the old fashioned cash register.
"Still don't see him," Mr. Callahan noted.
"Well, that means it's gonna be me," she said, closing the register drawer. "Watch that lamp, Mr. Callahan. When it's on, it's tellin' you something isn't right," she said with a smile.
He nodded, widening his eyes. "Oh, you bet I will from now on, Dani," he said.
"Good!" she said, chipper. "Have a great day, and say hello to Mrs. Callahan for me."
"You bet, Dani."
She stepped out from behind the counter dressed in a summery bright red bandana poncho-hem cotton tee with rolled up short sleeves over a pair of low-hip denims. Her high ponytail swayed as she walked with brisk grace toward the door to see to the new customer.
When she stepped out into the day, she felt the summer's heat hit her and she squinted golden-amber eyes against the sun. Her big, intelligent golden-brown eyes peered through the sunshine and spotted the driver's blond head as he sat patiently behind the wheel of his classic Porsche. It's a shame, she thought. The beautiful cabriolet would really benefit from some body work and a fresh paint job. She was sure it would look magnificent once it had.
"Hi!" she greeted as she rounded the front of the small sports car and only briefly blinked when she saw how incredibly attractive the guy was behind the wheel. In fact, she nearly stopped in her tracks. She felt, rather than saw, the power of his intense blue eyes that followed her from under windblown blond locks in a strong, chiseled face.
"What will it be?" she asked masking her thoughts behind a bright smile as she slipped fingers down the back pockets of her jeans.
"Unleaded. Fill it up." he said with a very pleasant, deep drawl albeit a bit curt.
He was staring at her, and she couldn't help but notice he had this strange look in his eyes. Almost stoic, even detached, but what a pair of peepers that guy had! Sterling blue fringed with almost black lashes which only added to the beauty of his appearance. He was wearing a simple white tee that she could almost hear groan under the strain of his wide shoulders and very well toned upper arms and chest.
"They're all unleaded," she said as she nodded at the pumps. "What octane do you prefer? Regular, Super, or Premium?"
She was smiling very friendly, but she didn't even get a twitch back. She was beginning to think he didn't know how to smile. Staring, on the other hand, was something he'd perfected into an art form.
"What would you recommend?" he asked, and she noticed how slowly he blinked. Almost lazy. Or sleepily. It gave him a distinct, sensual look, adding to his already powerful magnetism.
"For a..." she craned forward to look down the car's dented side, "1967, 911?"
"I'd go with Super," she said with confidence. "It's cheaper than Premium. And to be honest, Premium's really only for the newer models." She smiled. "So, Super?"
He nodded as he continued to stare at her. Her smile faltered some, knowing he wasn't going to engage in any conversation with her.
"Okay!" she said, chipper, before she stepped to the front left fender and with a slender, short-nailed fingertip, flipped up the gasoline cover.
She chose Super and stuck the nozzle into the tank before she squeezed the trigger and put the latch in place while she looked over her shoulder chewing her gum, watching the falling numbers for a moment, but then it slowly dawned on her he was watching her, and she swept big eyes to him seeing he was.
"So ... passing through Queens?" she asked just to break the uncomfortable silence—and hoping he'd do more than just stare at her.
"You have a help wanted sign in the window," he noted, ignoring her inquiry.
"Sure do," she said, nodding.
"What job do you need filled?"
"Mechanic." She nodded. "Why? Interested?" she asked, and he nodded once. "Well," she looked down at the nozzle as she heard the click, indicating the tank was full, "you can talk to my Dad. He's in the garage." She looked at him with big eyes. "You have experience working on German cars?" she asked.
"I know enough," he said.
She briefly frowned, but then she nodded. "M-kay."
Another car, a flashier black American model—a Viper—pulled up on the other side of the pump where she stood. Hard rock music boomed as a handsome dark-haired man wearing Ray Bans, twisted in his seat behind the wheel to smile at her as he shut off the powerful engine and loud music. She returned the smile as she turned and set the nozzle back into its perch.
"Hey there beautiful!" the young guy called. He had dark hair and an infectious smile. He flipped his shades back on his head and sent her a broad smile, looking at her with twinkling hazel-green eyes.
"Hey there, handsome!" she gave back, grinning. "Strange, but a Viper just like yours pulled up for gas just little over an hour ago." She frowned with feigned curiosity as he pulled himself up to sit on the back support of his seat as she replaced the top of the Porsche's tank.
"Really?" he said. "I hope you didn't flirt with the guy," he said with a feigned look of warning.
"You bet I did," she said, and she laughed when he looked wryly at her.
Behind the steering wheel of his Porsche, the blond guy watched this playful banter between the two, his gaze going from her bright smiling face to the handsome dark-haired man dressed impeccably in the latest fashion. Then his gaze rose as she came to stand by his door.
"That'll be $24.98," she said, with a catching smile and a friendly tone.
He looked up, noticing the soft flush in her cheeks.
Danielle's smile waned a little when she noticed he was silent and staring at her with an intense look in his blue eyes. His gaze never wavered or left her face as he moved forward and pulled out his wallet from the back of his almost threadbare jeans that showed off strong, muscular thighs.
"$24.98? That's it?" the dark-haired guy cried in shock, tearing her out of her thoughts.
Danielle's lashes flickered as if she were awakening from a trance, and she smiled before she turned her head to look across the Porsche at the other guy. "Should'a bought Stan's Porsche instead of the Viper, Rob," she said with laughter as she accepted the money from the customer and went to the cashbox on the island to get his change. "Saves on fill-ups so you wouldn't have to come back here after an hour." She nodded with big eyes.
She got the two pennies change and returned to the silent customer, but she'd already dismissed him the moment Rob appeared, and that would prove to be a mistake. She wasn't paying attention as she absently handed him his change, but they missed their mark and dropped passed his opened palm.
"Oh!" she cried, and without thinking, she leaned in to take them from his thigh bringing her dark head close to his face not seeing how his nostrils flared and something sparked in his eyes before she pulled herself out and looked embarrassed as hell at his staring face. "I'm so sorry! I wasn't paying attention."
"No matter," he said, and she smiled gratefully as she handed him the two bits.
"Thank you," she said, gratefully. "Have a nice trip!" she added, cheerfully, before she swept around with swaying tail and crossed over to the other side of the island to go to the dark-haired guy she called Rob.
With chin low and sharp eyes, the blond in the Porsche watched her through two gas pumps, and saw how she went to the black Viper before Rob leaned down to her. She slipped arms around his neck and they kissed.
He was, unmistakably, her beau.
"Daneee... !" another man called, and the blond saw her quickly break the kiss just before a tall, raven-haired man with graying temples in a blue coverall appeared in one of the three open bays.
"Coming, Daddy!" she called back before she said something to her apparent boyfriend and blew him a hand kiss before she hurried in a sprint over to her father as his blue eyes followed her in silence.
He took his time turning his attention on the handsome face of the guy in the Viper.
"She's my girlfriend, buddy," Rob said, really pissed off inside, but he wasn't going to give the guy the satisfaction of showing it. "And I don't appreciate guys staring at her the way you've been. Get my drift?"
He remained silent as he looked at the girl's boyfriend. Then he watched as the Viper guy slipped his dark shades back over his eyes and flashed him a big, confident smile.
"You've got your fill up so you're done here, pal. Now be a good guy and mosey on down the road before things get ugly, all right?"
He stared silently at the girl's boyfriend, not showing any emotion. Then he leaned forward, turned the key, and brought the engine to life before shifting, and he did all of this without taking his eyes off the self-confident Viper guy who clearly had money to burn.
Rob watched the blond in the old dented Porsche as he shifted and sped forward and he flashed him a grin, watching the stranger drive off. But his grin slowly faded as his jaw grew more rigid when he saw the Porsche avoid the exit off the property, and suddenly swerve in a wide curve to come to a halt by the bay where Danielle's father was standing alone again since Dani had already gone inside to write up another satisfied customer.
"What the hell?" Rob frowned, angrily, as he watched as the blond shut off his Porsche and pushed open his door. He got out just as Dani's father sauntered over to him, and it was only then when Rob noticed just how tall the blond was since he knew Dani's father was no pipsqueak himself! Dani's dad stood at a decent six feet two, yet the blond was taller than him by at least half a head or more.
"Don't need no damn competition," Rob mumbled as he slipped back down behind the wheel and started his Viper before he drove it away from the pumps and to the side of the lot. He got out before he threw his door shut and stalked to the shop where Danielle was while he glared at the blond through his shades, seeing him raise his head to stare straight back at him.
Daniel Davenport twisted his waist to see what caught the blond man's attention before he smiled and stuck up a hand in greeting, and Rob smiled back and returned the favor before he came to the door of the shop and entered.
Danielle was just finishing up with another satisfied and loyal customer as she popped her gum while simply chewing it, but when he entered, she looked up and her face beamed brightly as she smiled.
"Hey, hey!" she greeted.
He chuckled. "Hey, gorgeous," he gave back.
Mrs. Bracket smiled quietly as she watched the two most popular young people in East Elmhurst, Queens still very much in love even after a year's dating. It was pretty remarkable, to say the least, since they both came from completely different milieus. It was nice to see not even money and social status could stop true love from happening.
She quietly left the shop to leave the two lovebirds alone.
Danielle giggled as Rob nodded a greeting to the smiling Mrs. Bracket as she exited the shop before he turned to see Danielle rush into his arms, throwing her arms around his neck. He chuckled as he embraced her and pulled her giggling form against him before their noses touched.
"Aren't you supposed to be clerking for your big-shot lawyer father today, Mr. Future Big Shot Attorney?" she giggled before he pressed a kiss on her plump, pillowy lips.
"Wanna come with?" He grinned. "You'll brighten up that dull and boring office.
She pouted. "Can't," she confessed. "I'm needed here and then I've gotta take Davey to his soccer game this afternoon. Promised my mom." She sighed and rolled her eyes.
"One of these days you're going to have to wean that little brother of yours, Dani. I'm startin' ta get really jealous, and I've never been jealous of a ten year old ever in my life," he said with a chuckle as his hands swept down to cup her tiny waist.
Danielle swept up felinesque eyes before she briefly buried her smiling face against his throat as he chuckled, but when the bell over the door from the bay into the shop rang, she quickly stepped back with a smile, sweeping hands to her back as her father entered ... followed by the tall blond Porsche owner she'd served earlier.
"Oh, hey! Hello again," she greeted cheerfully as her father frowned from her to Rob.
Rob smiled politely before he raised his hazel-green eyes to look a helluva lot less friendly at the handsome blond following Danielle's father into the shop. The guy felt his stare and he looked back before he smiled and nodded.
That smile took Danielle by surprise since it was the first he'd ever given.
"Hello, Danielle," he added, making her blink in pleasant surprise.
Rob didn't look half as excited.
"Danielle? Rob? You two are behaving, right?" Daniel Davenport said with a clear warning in his golden-brown eyes. "This is a business. Remember that, okay?" he added with fatherly brows up.
Danielle smiled over at Rob with twinkling golden-brown eyes, hands on her back. "We know, Daddy," she said before she looked at her father who was making his way to the small office behind the snack shop. "And sorry," she added, knowing her father had seen them since the door that divided the bay and the snack shop was mostly glass inset.
"Anyway," Daniel said as he turned to face his smiling daughter. "Danielle, this is Wolfgang Jaeger. I've just hired him as our new mechanic," he said.
Danielle looked surprised seeing that the blond guy of the Porsche not only drove a German car, but he had a distinct German name. "Wolfgang Jaeger. Jaeger? What a cool name!" she exclaimed. "Like the lead singer of the Rolling Stones," she said. "Welcome aboard, Mr. Jaeger."
She stepped forward and offered her hand and he smiled as he accepted it with a much larger one, making hers briefly disappear and that made her chuckle as she looked down at their hands with a meaningful look and smile.
She had a nice, warm hand. Small and dainty, but pleasant, he thought. They shook and parted hands as Rob stood by, smiling coldly at him, but he ignored him for a few moments as he indulged in the girl's warm eyes and smile.
Rob watched as the blond German rose piercing blue eyes and looked at him with a smug and mysterious smile. He was right. The German guy was much taller than he was, by at least half a head, and he was right about another thing: they'd never be friends.
"Mr. Davenport?" Rob said, taking his gaze off the staring and smiling German, and directing it at Danielle's father.
"I just wanted to remind you that Danielle and I are going to the Bastion Burger Joint this evening," he said.
Daniel nodded. "I haven't forgotten, Rob. I'll make sure she's off in time to be ready."
"Thank you, sir," Rob said. Then he looked at Danielle who smiled warmly and he quirked his head, motioning for her to follow and she happily obliged. As he came to the door, he looked down at her pretty face. "See you at eight sharp?" he asked more than reminded her and she smiled as she nodded.
"Eight sharp," she said.
"I wish I could stay until you're ready, but I've gotta see my Dad at his office for a stupid meeting," he said with a sigh, not really wanting to go to any boring legal meeting, especially not now that blond Kraut had shown interest in his girl and was now going to work for her father.
"Well, if you want to take over the family business it would help to know how it's run, right Rob?"
"True." Then he smiled at her and moved to kiss her good bye.
"Dani?" her father called and they paused just short of touching lips before she nearly burst into laughter seeing the disappointed and irritated look on Rob's face.
"Yes, Daddy?" she said before she turned her head and looked over her shoulder with big innocent eyes, seeing the brief frown on her father's brow vanish.
"I need you to give Wolfgang the paperwork because I'm working on Mr. Reynolds' Golf's carburetor since he's coming this evening to pick up his car," he said, and she dropped shoulders with a whiny look on her face but her father ignored it.
"Well, I'll see you eight o'clock sharp, Danielle," Rob said with the best smile he could muster as she turned to look up at him. Then he pressed a swift kiss on her lips as her father looked discretely and uncomfortably away.
Danielle wished Wolfgang Jaeger would've taken a cue and did the same, but apparently he had no decency because he just continued to watch them. She felt a little embarrassed and a little self-conscious, and she even blushed some. Good thing Rob thought it was because of him rather than Jaeger.
"Sharp," she said and watched how Rob grinned before he said good-bye to her uncomfortable father and was even able to muster up a nod for the new guy. Then he turned and opened the door as Danielle took it and held it open for him as he exited.
She let the door go and it slowly closed as she watched him through the glass. Then she stuck up a hand with a bright smile as she waved before she turned to look at her father who was still there. Her black eyebrows pop up. "Was there something else, Daddy?"
"Yes," her father answered. "I didn't want to say anything in front of Rob, but Wolfgang here is new in town and he doesn't have a place to stay."
Her big, curious eyes swept over to Jaeger, seeing him looking straight at her. She smiled before she returned her attention to her father. "And?"
"And," her father resumed, "I need you to go upstairs to get the key to the work shed. He'll be staying there until he's found a place," her father said.
Her eyebrows shot up, surprised her father trusted a perfect stranger so easily, let alone so quickly! She didn't think that was wise. For all they knew, Jaeger could be an escaped criminal or something. "Oh." She looked at this Wolfgang again and found him staring at her. Again. She popped a smile before she looked at her father. "Is Mom okay with this?" she asked carefully.
"We'll soon find out," her father said as he passed in between them, heading for the connecting door.
Danielle quickly looked at this new employee/tenant and smiled as she put up a waiting finger. "Excuse me, Mr. Jaeger—"
"—Wolfgang," he offered.
"Yes," she said a little doubtful, but then she smiled. "Excuse me for a moment," she repeated before she turned and followed her father out the door into the first bay. "Daddy!" she called as he came to his big, red tool cabinet. She saw him turn to look at her, eyeing her troubled face.
"What's wrong, Danielle?"
"Are you sure you want to do this, Daddy?" she asked beneath her breath. "You don't even know the guy."
"I feel I can trust him," her father said, and then he turned to look for a tool in the cabinet, not seeing her jaw drop.
"He's fine, Danielle," her father said before he turned with tool in hand. "Don't worry so much, okay? Now get upstairs and get the key for him so he can settle in."
"But it's nasty in the shed—"
"—Then while you're upstairs get Davey from behind his computer to help you clean the place and make it decent again."
"I'm busy now, sweetheart," he said, and pressed a kiss on her forehead before he passed her and bent over the open hood of a blue VW Golf.
She stared at him, flabbergasted, and then she tossed up arms before she snapped around and left the bay and returned to the shop.