(Remember: this is subject to change)
The day I met Will Reyes is the day my heart no longer belonged to me. It no longer mattered that my parents told me I was wrong and unnatural. It wasn’t important that my friends wouldn’t understand and would ridicule me. It wasn’t even disconcerting that the God I was brought up to fear and revere would send me to hell. All that mattered was the man who stepped out of his car in the pink shirt, golden brown skin, and eyes that took away my breath.
The sun was starting to fall away from the sky, filling the hot eastern Virginia air with a slight breeze that cooled the garage a few degrees. Sweat dripped down the back of my neck and forehead, soaking the ball cap that was snug on my head. The Rolling Stones played on the radio, filling the local auto shop with something that I could actually work to.
My boss had left early that day, as he usually did since I knew as much about fixing cars as the trained mechanic, and I was grateful for the solitude. I sang terribly to the words of “Start Me Up” as I worked under a beat up truck. Even better than not being under the boss’s scrutinizing eyes was being able to listen to something other than the country garbage he played all day.
I grunted in frustration when the nut I had been trying to tighten kept slipping from my hand. I placed it on the concrete ground and wiped my oil slickened hand on my red dingy shirt. When I tried again, I was able to finish installing the new clutch. It also meant my work day was complete.
I rolled out and grimaced when I heard the sound of crunching rocks. The approaching car meant I couldn’t go home. Mike would be pissed if he found out I turned away an opportunity for more money. I sighed and grabbed a rag from the work table.
I squinted from the blinding sun as I walked to the edge of the garage and looked across the driveway. I leaned up against the wall and waited for him to come out and ruin my night.
The car was a pristine dark blue Thunderbird. Cosmetically, I couldn’t see any damage, so I hoped he or she was coming by for an air freshener instead of work that needed to be done. However, the lurch and grind of the car during a downshift shot that dream down quickly.
I turned my Chevrolet hat backwards and threw my wrench into the toolbox behind me as I waited for the person to hurry up and get out of the car. Because the driver was taking her sweet time getting out of the car, I could only assume it was a woman, and it wasn’t a good first impression. In my frustration, I started walking to the driver’s side door, surprised to see how wrong I was.
When I was about a foot away, the door opened, and my throat seemed to close. The air in my lungs caught, and when my heart started beating again, it thumped roughly against my chest. I had never in my life seen anyone as handsome as this man.
He had brown skin that glistened in the descending sun, even though there wasn’t a speck of water or sweat on him. He had the darkest brown eyes I had ever seen; it was like I was soul searching inside my coffee cup. His eyes had a slight slant to them, indicating some kind of Asian roots and making him even more attractive. His dark brown hair was parted to the side and glistened the same way his skin did. He looked like a god.
But it wasn’t the fact that he was the most handsome person I had ever met, it was the smile that lit up his face when he looked back at me. It was the straight white teeth, the laugh lines around his eyes, the way his cheeks lifted, and most of all, it was the sincerity of his smile.
“Hi, I’m Will Reyes.”
That was the moment my heart was stolen.
I swallowed back the confusing thoughts and feelings and put on my best scowl. I didn’t want to acknowledge the initial feelings this stranger aroused, so I hid it.
“What can I help you with?” I asked, ignoring his introduction and trying to stop admiring his smile. My faux indifference didn’t seem to dim his genuinely sincere personality.
“Don’t know much about cars, but there’s this loud grating sound it makes and it kind of shudders when I’m shifting.” He stood next to me to look at the car and I grew uneasy once again at his proximity and the way his gentle voice put my senses on high alert.
I coughed once and moved subtly to examine the car. “Sounds like you might have transmission issues. It would take a few days to fix. If you bring it back tomorrow, I can give you a definite idea of what the issue is and we can talk about getting it fixed.”
“Oh. Could I leave it here? I have someone picking me up, I just figured you’d have to keep it here while it’s getting fixed anyway.”
It wasn’t customary for us to just keep a car in the garage overnight before there was any type of payment or clear work to be done, but I wasn’t about to tell him that. “Sure. Just come by tomorrow and I will let you know what’s going on.”
I put my hands in my back pockets and looked everywhere but his eyes, until eventually there was no denying the magnetic pull. My chest tightened when I found his eyes looking straight at me without shame. Our eyes locked onto each other for a minute before either of us moved.
He moved first. He took a step closer to me, and my heart sped up when he was only an inch away.
“I suppose you’ll be needing these...?”
In his hand, he held his keys. You can tell a lot about somebody through their key chains. I took a quick glance at his and saw a Madonna pendant on it. I smiled to myself and looked back at him.
“These would help,” I sarcastically said in an attempt to lighten my shy and unapproachable character. “I’m Tony.” I stuck out my empty hand and he reached out at the same time. His dark tanned hands were soft and unmarred, unlike mine, which had seen too many scrapes and hard edges of car parts. I didn’t usually feel self-conscious because I never had anyone I really wanted to impress, but I felt it then- the clawing desire to make myself more presentable and worthy of this handsome man.
“Nice to meet you.” His lips tilted upward as he held onto my hand. We touched for a few beats longer than necessary in an introductory handshake, but no one was around to witness the exchange so it didn’t matter.
‘You too.” I couldn’t stop the smile that formed on my face- completely opposite to the usual mien I had with customers.
“So you the boss here?” he asked. He left little space between us and I inhaled a swift scent of burning fire. It was warm and inviting. I didn’t want to stop breathing him in. The opposite could be said for me. I was in dingy clothes that smelled like sweat and oil. He was probably repulsed.
“Not technically. He leaves early and I do most of the work, but I’m still just a lowly mechanic.”
His dark eyes traveled the length of my over-six-feet-tall stature, lingering on my rounded biceps, smeared with grease, and finally landing on my olive green eyes.
“There’s definitely nothing lowly about you, Tony. Me on the other hand…” He looked down at himself, about a foot shorter than me and very well groomed, then back up at me. “I could check under the hood and mess something up.”
A swell of mirth swirled in my stomach, and I laughed at his response. He laughed with me, and I admired the harmony we made in our happiness. His laugh was more of a soft giggle, and mine was deep and short.
“I’m sure you’re not lowly in anything else,” I reassured him. He bit his bottom lip and looked down at his white tennis shoes in a moment of shyness I wouldn’t have guessed could come out of him. A splash of red tinted his lovely skin along his cheekbone, and my hand itched to reach out and follow the color.
I opened my mouth to ask what time I could see him the following day, but we both started when a car came rumbling down the driveway. I shook off whatever confidence had overcome me and stepped away. A slight crease formed in Will’s perfect features when he glanced back at me and observed the distance I put between us, but he smoothed it out quickly and I couldn’t tell if he was frustrated or hurt.
When the silver car parked next to the Thunderbird, a pretty honey-brown haired girl stepped out the driver’s side. Her hair fell down to the middle of her back and she stood way below my height at about five feet tall. She was so thin I could barely see any of her curves in the yellow sundress she was wearing, but I was sure other guys would be attracted to her.
She smiled brightly at Will and gave him a hug, making me realize that she was there for Will. I chastised myself for assuming he might be like me. Of course someone as handsome as him wouldn’t be gay. He could have any girl he wanted. I was just some mechanic boy who would never have a chance to be who I really am. I stepped back into the garage to turn away from the unexpected pain of being attracted to someone who was unattainable.
“I’ll see you tomorrow and let you know what’s going on,” I said over my shoulder. I pretended to be busy with the tools on the workbench, and waited for them to leave.
“Can’t wait, Tony.”
I tried my hardest not to turn around. I really did. But I couldn’t. The way he said my name was like a caress of my soul, and I had to take one more selfish glance at the man who was changing me. His look was confident and his smile was sweet. He looked like he was trying to speak to me with his eyes, but I knew it was my obscene hopefulness.
My jaw ticked as I watched the petite girl slide her arm through his. I was surprised when she spoke to me with a coquettish tone. “Yeah, I can’t wait either, Tony.”
She giggled and fluttered her eyelashes, similar to the other girls I paid no attention to when I would go out, and I turned my gaze back to Will’s to drown out the blatant flirting. His smile widened and without another word, he turned and walked to the girl’s car.
After starting wide eyed between Will and me, I heard her whisper, “Oh my god, Will. He’s totally-.”
“Stop it, Am,” he said, cutting her off and opening the passenger door. His tone was meant to be harsh, but even I could see the elated aura surrounding him and his wide smile. Lost in her own world, she jovially did a shake of her hips and a twirl before opening her door.
I smirked at their comradery and went back to cleaning the garage so I could leave for the night. I didn’t know who this Will was, but I knew my mundane and monotonous life was about to change.