Dalia Collins pulled her red sweater a little tighter, trying to ward off the late night chill as she walked across the parking lot to where she had parked her car. Behind her, the lights of Mickey's Place, the 24-hour Truck Stop where she worked, still shone brightly, the tables still filled with customers. It had been an extremely busy night for the 49 year old waitress, made more so by the fact that one of the other waitresses had called in sick at the last minute.
"Yeah, I just bet Gabrielle's sick!" the dark skinned woman said to herself as she reached the edge of the parking lot. "Home in bed on a Friday night!"
As she turned the key to unlock the door of her ten year old Escort, she added more cynically, "If she's home in bed, I'd bet my paycheck she's not there alone."
And of course Gabrielle would get away with it, Dalia thought, as she dropped into the diver's seat. You can get away with wonders when you occasionally blow the boss.
That little tidbit was supposed to be somewhat of a secret. Dalia knew it only because she'd accidentally walked in on the two of them. It had been at the end of a shift one night last month. Dalia had been carrying a stack of dishes to put away in the back room when she saw them. The sight of the 28-year-old blond on her knees mouthing Mickey's cock was almost enough to make her drop her heavy burden. Thankfully, she managed to keep her balance and backed out of there before Mickey could realize she was there.
Unfortunately, Gabrielle had noticed. She didn't react immediately but approached Dalia just before quitting time. The older woman had resisted the temptation to ask her how to could bear to suck off a fat slob like Mickey. Instead, she just assured her co-worker that she wouldn't mention it to anyone.
Surprisingly enough, to Dalia at least, Gabrielle didn't seem concerned that anyone should find out she was servicing the boss. Instead, she actually had the audacity to proposition Dalia. Gabrielle said that she'd always had a thing for black women and thought Dalia was really sexy, especially for a woman her age.
Dalia had been shocked. Never in her life had another woman approached her. She'd been quick to assure Gabrielle that she had no interest in that direction. The younger woman had pouted in disappointment and told Dalia that if she ever changed her mind, the offer was always open.
"You don't know what you're missing." Gabrielle had whispered into her ear as she stepped out of the corner she had pressed Dalia into. To highlight her remark, she had run her fingers across Dalia's left breast as she passed. The touch was hard enough to be felt through both blouse and bra.
Gabrielle hadn't repeated the offer since that night, but Dalia made it a point to check the back storage rooms before she walked into them.
"Home for a hot shower and a warm bed." Dalia mused as she started up the car, letting thoughts of Gabrielle fade from her mind.
Somewhat more angry ones quickly replaced those thoughts as the engine turned over but failed to catch. Dalia waited a moment, then tried it a second and third time, both with equally disappointing results.
"Fucking great!" she cried aloud as she tried again one last time. "This piece of shit would pick tonight to die!"
She knew angry curses weren't going to be much help right now, but they did make her feel a little better. Only last month her son had told her when he visited that she really needed a new car. She'd promised him that she was in the process of shopping for one. And no, she didn't need any money from him to buy one.
Of course she'd been lying. If she'd had enough money for a new car, she would have certainly gotten rid of this piece of crap. Be that as it may, it wasn't going to help her right now.
Getting out of the car, Dalia opened the hood and looked at the engine. She had to suppress a laugh. Like she knew what she was looking for. Her son, Jack had tried to teach her some basic mechanics but they always seemed beyond her.
Looking back at the brightly lit Truck Stop, Dalia hated the thought of going back and asking Mickey's help. He hadn't been too happy when she'd told him she was too tired to stay a few more hours to help out with the still large crowd. Still she didn't have much choice. Her apartment was eighteen miles away and she wasn't about to hike down the Interstate.
"Need help?" a voice asked from only a few feet behind Dalia.
"Jesus!" Dalia yelled as she jumped at the sound of the voice and the sudden realization that someone was behind her.
"I didn't mean to startle you," a young man said as he stepped over to the front fender. "I saw you open the hood and thought you might need some help."
"I'm sorry to have yelled," Dalia said as she took in the blond haired young man. "I just didn't know you were behind me."
"What seems to be the problem?" he asked, looking under the hood.
"I'm not sure," Dalia replied. "It doesn't want to start."
"I'm pretty good with cars, let me take a look." he said with a smile. "Do you have a flashlight?"
"I think so."
While he bent over the front bumper, Dalia reached back into the car and pulled the flashlight out of the glove compartment. She'd thought the young man looked familiar and was able to place him in the flashlight's glow.
She'd seen him in the restaurant, sitting in a booth with three of his friends. She hadn't given them much notice; they'd been sitting at one of Beverly's tables. Beverly was the other waitress on the 4-12 shift.
She remembered them because Beverly went out of her way to flirt with them. The 45-year-old redhead was always flirting with the students from the local college. There were times when Beverly insinuated that she did more than flirt with them, but Dalia was never sure if she was joking or not.
This young man stood five foot five and looked more like a high school than college student. With a slim build that made Dalia conscious of the extra pounds she was always trying to take off, he was definitely cute by any standard. He was wearing a blue T- shirt and jeans, topped by a green and white windbreaker.
"My names Ryan, by the way." he said as he poked around the engine.
"Dalia," was her response.
He spent a few minutes checking various connections, asking Dalia to follow his hands with the flashlight. He stopped at one connection and tested it a second time.
"I think this is it."
"Can you do anything with it?" Dalia asked. "At least enough to get me home?"
He grinned. "I'm gonna try."
A few moments later, another car pulled up in front of Dalia's. At the wheel was another of the students she had seen back at Mickey's.
"Hey Ryan, we're out of here," the black bearded young man called. "Are you coming or what?"
Ryan's head appeared. "Hang on a few, will you." I just need about 15 minutes, 20 tops to get this car going."
"What are you, triple A?"
"15 minutes. You're not going to die for 15 minutes, Billy." Ryan said as he leaned under the hood again.
"Ryan, we have to get going," Billy insisted as he looked over his shoulder toward the back seat. "You're going to mess this all up."
Just then, the headlights of a passing car illuminated the Billy's back seat. Squeezed in between the final two students from that booth, was Beverly. She was trying hard to be inconspicuous. Up to that moment she had succeeded.
She leaned forward from her hiding place and said something to Billy that Dalia couldn't make out.
"Last chance!" Billy yelled.
Ryan didn't respond, his mind on the engine in front of him.
"Your loss, man!" Billy yelled, hitting the gas. The car took off across the parking lot and passed out the exit toward the Interstate.
Little more than a minute later, Billy stood up and told Dalia to try it. In testament to his efforts, the old clunker coughed to life.
After waiting a few moments to see if the engine would stay running, Ryan looked around to see where his friends had gone.
"I'm afraid they left you here." Dalia remarked as she came back around to the front of the car, careful to leave the motor running.
"Damn," Ryan muttered under his breath.
"I'm sorry," she sympathized. "I feel responsible."
"It's okay," Ryan said, wiping his hands on a rag. "I couldn't leave you stranded here."
"And you are a dear for thinking that way." She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
He just smiled in return.
Dalia ran a hand through her short curly hair. "Maybe we'd better get going before this hunk of junk decides to die again."
"We... ?" he repeated in surprise.
"Of course," Dalia smiled. "You don't think I'm going to leave you stranded here now, do you?"
"You don't have to," Ryan said. "I can grab the bus back to school just down the road. It should be along in about a half hour or so."
"Just get in the car..." she insisted.
After a brief hesitation, Ryan did just that.
As they exited the parking lot and started for the Interstate, they exchanged idle chatter. Dalia talked a little about her job and Ryan told her about life at school.
"I don't think it was very nice for your friends to take off and leave you like that." Dalia said as they headed east.
"Well, they're not really my friends. Just some guys from my dorm."
"Still it was a lousy thing to do." Dalia said as she turned onto an off ramp.
"I guess so." Ryan finally agreed.
"So where were you coming from that you wound up at Mickey's?" Dalia asked.
"From the dorms."
"I know that," Dalia laughed. "I meant in between Mickey's and the dorm."
.... There is more of this story ...