MAKE ME A MATCH (Running Wild), page 1
MAKE ME A MATCH
RUNNING WILD TRILOGY
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Copyright © 2013 by Bobby Hutchinson
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Table Of Contents
MAKE ME A MATCH
RUNNING WILD TRILOGY
Table Of Contents
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
CHAPTER TWENTY SIX
CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN
CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT
CHAPTER TWENTY NINE
Excerpt from Book 1
(RUNNING WILD SERIES)
STAND BY YOUR MAN
About the Author
Try some other books by Bobby Hutchinson:
Alice doesn’t live here anymore
The Saturday morning of his fortieth birthday, Eric Stewart began to wonder if maybe his crazy sister Anna was right about the stormy effects Uranus was having on his astrological chart. Eric didn’t personally know Uranus from a hole in the ground, apart from hearing Anna blather on, but there was no doubt turbulence was in the air.
“I don’t want a relationship; all I want is sex,” Nema screamed, letting fly with a piece of pipe he’d been saving to use as a tail for the dog he was welding out of iron rebar. Garbage was how he made his living, but dodging it wasn’t his favorite pastime.
She was panning the area for more ammunition. “We discussed it in the beginning. Why can’t you stick to the plan?”
Judo and great reflexes helped at times like this. Eric was able to dodge again, even though Nema’s aim was deadly. At six-one, she was not just tall but well muscled, and he was grateful she didn’t have a gun; she’d taken marksmanship, hoping to get apart on a television cop show currently being filmed in downtown Vancouver.
He’d met her at a party where a lot of the guests were actors. He’d figured he’d been invited for comic relief; the cretin giving the party kept introducing him as the garbage-man. It backfired, though, because Nema dumped the guy and came home with Eric.
On the way she’d said, “So, are you really a garbage-man?” as she ran her fingers through his hair. “Clean-cut, blond curls, baby blue’s, you don’t look like a garbage-man.”
“I’m undercover, and I bathed before the party,” he’d joked. “Actually, I own a garbage disposal business, Junk Busters Inc.,” he’d explained. “Garbage has been good to me.”
“Ohhh, a real, live blue-collar hunk who’s taller and stronger than me, that’s such a turn on,” she’d said, and then she’d gone down on him right there in the car. But that was eight weeks ago, and other things had gone down since then, like his enthusiasm for Nema.
“I don’t want to come to your birthday party,” she was shrieking, “and I don’t want to meet your sisters. I don’t want to talk about acting or welding or movies or books. I don’t want to look at the junk you make out of junk. I just want to get naked and come. What part of that don’t you get?”
She looked around the room for something else to throw, but fortunately everything else within her reach was way too heavy. Thankfully, he’d salvaged only big pieces of iron this week.
“Easy, honey.” He knew from years of experience raising three sisters that when a woman was this mad, reason didn’t work. Soft and soothing usually didn’t either, but it was worth a try. “Calm down, let’s talk about this.”
To his amazement, this time he got lucky. Nema’s pretty face crumbled and she collapsed on the chair he’d made out of discarded plumbing supplies. She shook back her flaming hair and swiped at her wet eyes.
“It was so good in the beginning, Eric,” she wailed. “Why do you have to mess it up like this with birthday parties and family and conversation?”
He let out a breath and wondered if he dared sit down. She could go off again without warning, he reminded himself. Better stay on his feet, keep a few yards away.
He tried to figure out strategy. It wouldn’t be smart to tell her the truth, that he was bored cross eyed with being a sex object, that he didn’t always want to drop his pants and his blowtorch just to get it on with her.
That even for a guy in his prime, six times in a twelve-hour period was pushing it. He’d read that book about Tantric sex; he knew there was a school of thought that figured it was dangerous to deplete your store of vital essence. Besides that, his balls were sore from overuse.
And there was his pride to consider as well as her temper. What guy in his right mind wanted to admit that welding pieces of discarded iron into useful shapes could get to be way more interesting than sex?
“You’re a gorgeous woman, Nema.” That seemed safe enough, and it might buy him time to figure out what else to say.
“But? I definitely hear a ‘but’ coming.” Her sultry dark eyes narrowed and her full mouth tightened.
He eyed her warily. “No buts, honest, honey. Truth is, I think I’m having some sort of mid-life crisis.” That wasn’t technically true, at least he hoped not, but he’d watched a television program about male menopause a couple days ago, and it might just get him off the hook here.
“It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with me. I’m questioning a lot of things about myself lately.”
Most of which had to do with whether he’d get the financing for two more trucks and forty more bins, which meant he could expand into Vancouver’s bedroom communities. That would mean Junk Busters Inc. was in the big league when it came to removal services.
He had four trucks and as many regular drivers. He had ninety bins to drop off wherever people needed them. He was making more money than he’d ever thought possible back when he was sixteen, which was when he’d quit school and bought a beat-up half-ton for seven hundred bucks. He’d started carting junk away from building sites to pay for it.
He hadn’t realized then that there was no ceiling to the garbage busine
So now he was worth a million and a half on paper, and the ironic part was that he still sweated bullets sometimes at month’s end when the bills were due. Equipment rich, cash flow poor. That would level off when he got the two latest trucks paid for, but it made it touchy when it came to expansion. His brother-in-law, Bruno Lifkin, who was also his accountant, assured him the business was doing fine financially.
Garbage had also given Eric a hobby he loved. A lady he’d dated once or twice—Ainsley? Amy?—he couldn’t remember. Anyhow, she’d dragged him to an art exhibit, and he’d seen what some guy made out of old car parts, a weird and otherworldly sculpture that was only good for looking at, and inspiration had struck.
Eric was practical. The things he scrounged from the trucks and then welded together now furnished his apartment, tables, chairs, lamps, his sofa. The dog was the first thing he’d done that wasn’t strictly functional. Welding unlikely bits of scrap energized and thrilled him. It also gave him the feeling he was making something out of nothing, which in turn gave him hope for his future.
It was really too bad Nema didn’t thrill him any longer.
“I’m actually considering talking to somebody, Nema. ”
His bank manager, with Bruno in tow, first thing Monday morning.
“Like a shrink?” He saw the horrified look on her face and realized he was on the right road here. He shrugged and tried to look depressed.
“Analysis. That’s it, that’s the straw.” She shot to her feet and grabbed the oversize quilted handbag she used as an overnight case. “I’m outta here. I already went through this with a guy once; we ended up sitting in this geek’s office talking about our mothers. I’m just not into that head stuff. What is it with guys these days, anyway? Call me when you’re over it.”
A moment later, the outside door slammed behind her. He blew out a breath and let himself flop onto the sofa. He looked out the tall, uncurtained windows at the busy street and the wild and windy June morning and tried to figure out how he felt about her walking out on him instead of the other way around, whether he was making a huge mistake here, whether his pride ought to be hurt, when the door banged open again.
His heart gave a thump and he leaped up, ready to duck.
“I forgot, here’s your keys.” Nema lobbed them into one of the hubcaps he’d fashioned into a bowl. “Have a nice life. If you happen to come to your senses, you’ve got my number.”
The door slammed again. He heard the lock engage, and now he had the spare set of keys. It felt final this time. He tried to remember if she had any stuff in the bedroom or the bathroom. He didn’t think so; he was pretty careful about letting women leave anything at his place. Generally, he preferred their bed to his, that way he could get up and come home, but Nema had four roommates, so they’d spent more time here than he was comfortable with.
He didn’t care if women stayed over Friday and Saturday, but Sunday night he’d always made it a rule that they went home and took everything they owned with them. The weekend rule, he called it.
He didn’t want them to get any ideas about moving in, and it was easier to maintain the status quo if there were rules. He was vigilant about making sure they didn’t leave makeup bags and wisps of underwear behind, and in turn he never left so much as a razor at their places either.
He’d kicked himself for allowing Nema to have keys to the place.
She’d cajoled them out of him early on, in a particularly vulnerable moment. Before he got so disillusioned with being a stud.
It wasn’t noon yet, but he figured he deserved a brew after what just happened. Besides, it was his birthday, how often did a guy turn forty? He got up and retrieved a Bud from the fridge, screwed off the cap and flopped down again, considering things.
He took a long swig and choked when the door buzzer sounded.
She was back.
He thought of hiding, but he’d never been a coward. He walked to the door and opened it cautiously, wishing he was wearing a cup. He’d seen her practice kickboxing; it was a scary sight.
“You got muscle strain?” Rocky Hutton gestured at Eric’s hand, which was hovering over a vital part of his anatomy.
“I thought you were Nema.” Eric glanced up and down the hall and sighed with relief when there was no sign of her. “C’mon in.”
“You guys having a fight or something?” Rocky picked up the box of plumbing parts he’d brought and carried them inside. “Happy birthday, I thought you could use these old fittings to make more hat racks.” Rocky was a plumber. He often brought Eric valuable secondary material. “I won’t stay. You and Nema will wanna make up when she gets back.”
“She’s gone for good. With any luck she isn’t ever coming back.” Eric got another beer from the fridge and handed it to Rocky. “Sit down, I’m celebrating.”
“Jeeze. You really okay with her walking out on you?” Rocky took off his baseball cap and scratched his head. Eric figured the Rock had no idea that his thick black hair had molded itself to the shape of the cap. As usual, it was mashed flat on top and sticking up over his ears and around the back of his head.
“I might not be in a couple weeks when I get horny again.” He hadn’t had a single chance to feel horny for the past two months, not since he’d met Nema. “Right now it feels pretty good to have her gone. That sex thing all the time was starting to wear me down.”
“Yeah, that could be a real problem, all right.” Rocky gave Eric a doleful look. “I struggle with it myself. So how many is that you’ve gone through since January?”
Six months? Eric shrugged and tried to add it up.
“Six, maybe. Seven, if you count that mail carrier, but that only lasted two weeks.” Her legs had attracted him. She had first-class legs; it was all the walking, but talking about postal zones and the weight of flyers proved to be a real turnoff.
“It must have to do with being blond and having curly hair.” Rocky took a gulp of his beer. “I’m thinking of getting a bleach job and a perm. Y'know, I hate to say it, but Sophie’s right about you and that catch-and-release thing.”
“Yeah, well, Sophie’s a smart ass.” His sister was also an ER physician, and she’d heard the phrase after chatting with a patient in the ER, a fisherman who was getting a hook extracted from his ear. You fished for the sport of it, the guy told her, and when you hooked one, you took the hook out and put the fish back into the water. The mouth was somewhat damaged, but it healed.
Catch and release.
Eric thought it had a nice generous ring to it, but his sisters had an entirely different opinion. They’d started keeping score of the women he went through, which had tended to make him secretive in the past few months.
“Does Sophie know about Nema?”
“Nope, none of the girls do. I was going to introduce her tonight at the party, but now there’s no real reason to mention her. They look at one another with that expression on their faces, like here we go again, and then when it’s over, they get on my case about being fickle and how the poor girl must feel and life passing me by. What they don’t know won’t hurt me.”
“Gotcha.” Rocky knew all about the self-help books on commitment phobia Eric’s sisters had been buying him. “They worry about you, Eric. I wish I had some sisters to worry over me, Dad and I are turning into old guys with hair in our ears and nose and not enough on our head.”
“Your head still looks pretty well covered to me. And you and Fletcher have it made, single, no women breathing down your neck and giving you a hard time about commitment.”
“Yeah, no hot chicks like Nema hanging around, either.”
“What about Chloe?”
“That’s history.” Rocky had hired Chloe to do some paperwork for his plumbing company, and they’d been going out for months. “She joined the Hare Krishnas, says she’s decided to be celibate. She’s in that temple
Eric whistled. “Wearing those robes and all that, dancing at the airport?” Chloe had always been a little left of normal, but this was extreme.
“The robes, yeah. I don’t know about the airport.”
“She’s a good-looking lady. Smart, too. Go figure.”
“Yeah. The celibate thing sorta smarts. I thought that part was going okay, unless she was faking.”
“They all do that sometimes. Nobody else on the horizon?” Apart from being tall and well muscled, Rocky wasn’t what anybody would call handsome, but his broad face and chocolate brown eyes shone with goodness. Eric had known him since high school and would have trusted him with his life, and several times, he’d come pretty close. He’d certainly trust him with his sister Sophie, if Rocky would only wake up and smell the antiseptic, which on Sophie took the place of perfume. For years now, they’d been out of step. When Sophie wasn’t in a relationship, Rocky was, and vice versa.
“Not at the moment.”
“Give it time.” Which maybe wasn’t the best advice in this case. Rocky married his high school sweetheart, Melanie, right after graduation. Mel died in a car wreck two years later, and a month to the day after that, Rocky’s mother dropped dead of a heart attack. So Rocky moved in with his dad, Fletcher. The two of them had grieved together and stayed together. Fifteen years later, they were still the odd couple.
“Your sisters feel bad about giving you such a hard time when they were growing up.” As usual, Rocky didn’t want to talk about his foibles when Eric’s were available for dissection. And with no brothers or sisters of his own, Rocky loved hearing about Eric’s.
“Yeah, well, they have good reason to feel guilty. I learned too much about the worst of the female gender from them. It’s a wonder I’m not alcoholic and bald after what they put me through.”
Hell, it was a wonder he wasn’t gay; raising them was enough to put anybody off women. He shuddered even now, remembering that with three of them, somebody always had PMS, which meant that three weeks out of every month were unbearable, and the one left over was no picnic either. It was no wonder a lot of his relationships hadn’t lasted twenty-eight days.
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