The Voyeur Next Door(5)

By: Airicka Phoenix


“Grandpa!”

He ignored his grandson, which amused me. I was really beginning to like Earl. Enough to sleep with him? Uh, no. But definitely enough to want to give him a high five.

“I still owe you for helping me with my groceries.”

I shook my head. “Really it’s fine. I have to get home anyway and continue the job hunt. But it was wonderful to meet you.”

“Actually!” Earl grabbed my hand before I could leave. “That’s exactly what I want to do.”

I frowned. “You want to help me job hunt?”

“Yes and no,” he answered with a chuckle. “We need someone with your expertise here at the shop and you need a job. I think we can help each other out.”

“What are you doing, Grandpa?” Gabriel demanded.

“I’m getting this place an administrative assistant,” Earl retorted. “Someone who knows how to do the books and filing, because apparently you got my brains when it comes to paperwork.”

Gabriel scowled. The guy was a professional scowler. I could tell. He was very good at his job.

“We’re doing fine,” he grumbled.

“Have you seen the office, Gabriel?” Earl countered. “I found a form the other day dating back to when the shop was first opened. We need the help.”

Gabriel seemed to chew this bit of information over, possibly literally. His face-bush kept twitching. Either that, or some unsuspecting rodent had made a home beneath that jungle.

“Fine. I’ll call someone,” he replied. “There has to be an agency, or—”

“Why when Ali’s right here?” Earl said, waving a hand at me.

Those smolderingly gray eyes darted to me and narrowed even further if possible. “You met the girl two minutes ago. How do you know she’s any good? Besides, she barely looks old enough to be out of school.”

Yeah, this guy and I would never be friends. He made me want to stab him, repeatedly, with something pointy and rusty. That didn’t make for very good friendship.

“I graduated with my bachelors last year,” I informed him sharply. “And spent the last ten months interning at one of the biggest ad companies in Portland. Trust me, I am very good at what I do.”

“And I am a very good judge of character,” Earl added. “I like Ali and since this is still my shop, I’m hiring her.”

Gabriel stared hard at his grandfather. “That’s not how this works. You need references and—”

“I’m not an idiot, Gabriel!” Earl snapped. “I’ve been doing this since before you were born. But she’s the one I want.”

It didn’t even dawn on me that I had just accepted a job at a garage. At that moment, all I wanted was to rub it in Gabriel’s smug little face. Then it hit me.

“Wait, you’re giving me a job?”

Gabriel threw his hands up. “Observant.”

I opened my mouth to tell him I was ten different belts of crazy and not afraid to use all of them on him if he kept pushing me, but Earl touched my arm.

“If you want it,” he said kindly. “It might not be all fancy, but you can start tomorrow. Bring your papers and Gabriel will go over them.”

With that, and a pat on my shoulder, he shuffled back down the stairs, leaving me alone with Mountain Man.

“Are you sleeping with him?”

Unbelievable.

“I don’t sleep with men to get what I want, Jack,” I snapped. “I’m perfectly capable of getting through life without offering my taco to every man that walks my way.”

That seemed to silence him. He watched me like I was some endangered species that just made no sense. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wasn’t there for his approval. I certainly didn’t want it.

But, at the same time, I did need a job. After three months of unemployment, my savings had begun to grow a happy family of dust bunnies and I didn’t know when I would get another offer like that. Besides, it would only be temporary. I could watch my mouth and temper for a few months.

Gabriel turned his full attention on me, which meant not just his eyes, or his head, but his entire body so we were facing off. I hated that he was taller than me. Pretending to be a bad ass took extra effort when you were stuck glowering at a beautiful man chest.

“My grandfather is eighty years old,” he told me again in a deep, quiet tone. “He’s trusting of pretty faces, but I’m not. I may not have any say in who he hires, but that sure as hell won’t stop me from booting you out of here if I smell even a hint of foul play.”

“What exactly do you think I’m after?” I wondered. “And what exactly does foul play smell like?”