The Wrong Sister

By: Kris Pearson

The rest of the morning passed peacefully enough. Christian had holed up in the cavernous garage, tinkering with one of his vintage cars. Leaving Nicky in the sandpit again, Fiona intruded with a mug of coffee for him and was amazed to find he had part of an engine in pieces. She’d assumed he’d had washing or waxing in mind.

“So you don’t just do toasters?”

He laughed at that, more relaxed than he had been earlier. “A methodical man can take anything apart.”

“And put it back together again?”

“Unless it’s broken beyond repair. These old girls are a good deal easier to play with than modern cars.”

Among other things, Christian and his father owned a highly profitable business creating reproduction vintage motor vehicles, and repairing genuine old models, too. Fiona knew their main market was Japan, which seemed incongruous to her. Surely the bustling streets of Tokyo and Osaka hardly needed these big beauties adding to the traffic congestion? But maybe the cars were kept garaged as precious treasures and rarely saw the road?

“So these are real?”

Christian squatted to reach in behind a wheel. The old jeans strained around his narrow hips and long thighs so the waistband dipped to reveal a wedge of his lower back below his T-shirt hem.

Fiona had the sudden devastating sensation of her mouth moving across that strip of smooth golden skin. She could taste him on her tongue, imagine his scent, feel the tingle in her lips. She knew she should squash the outrageous scene right out of her imagination but it was so vivid and enjoyable.

After a few seconds, he rose to his feet, affording her feverish mind a little relief, but still the image burned her brain. Still the guilty pleasure hung in the air.

He shook her out of her daydream when he waved an arm and said “The crème de la crème. 1905...1913...the old Rolls is late twenties...that’s a 1929 Alfa Zagato...a ‘36 Buick. The E-type Jag is ‘64. Not as old as the others, but a classic for sure.”

“Is there a chance I could borrow a car—not one of these of course—to go down into the city?”

The memory of his almost-revealed body still taunted and teased her. Her lucky sister had been able to touch him any time she wanted to.

Or maybe her not-so-lucky sister...

“Take Jan’s.” He shot her a glance that looked almost embarrassed. “I’m sorry I lost it earlier. It’s just so damned hard coming to terms with everything right now.” He wrestled a key off his own bunch and held it toward her. “The Audi. I couldn’t bear to sell it while she was still alive. Good thing I didn’t maybe? We’ll have to move my Merc first though.”

Fiona reached for the key and he drew a line on her palm with it. Her fingers closed over his as her hand reacted to the stimulus.

“Sorry,” she gasped.

He grinned—wonderful white teeth against his dark stubble.

He still hasn’t shaved. God...

“Flirting with me, sister-in-law?”

“Stop it, Christian,” she snapped, ripping the key from his long fingers.

“You blush superbly,” he added, raising an eyebrow. Fiona turned and fled, unnerved by his suddenly sexy suggestion. If he had any idea what he was doing to her blood pressure, surely he’d stop it right away? Her face and neck burned, and she knew the blush would flood down through her breasts and make them feel hot and heavy.

She’d always blushed easily—although whether that qualified as ‘superbly’ she had no idea.

Damn the man. Double damn! But at least she now had a car to use, so she could escape when being close to him became unbearable. It would make it easier to track down an obliging hairdresser as the first step in her ‘not-like-Jan’ makeover, too.

She slowed, turned back, took a deep breath, and poked her head around the garage door. “If I’m so unnecessary to you, can you spare me this afternoon?”

“Fine by me. I was planning to take Nicky down to the beach at Oriental Bay for a while anyway.”

She nodded at his dismissal, located the telephone book, and took it outside before Nicky came toddling in to search for MommaJan yet again.

She was still occupied in the sandpit, poor little girl. Fiona’s heart ached as she watched Nic trying to make a sandcastle. What must it be like when the most important person in your life had disappeared with no explanation you could understand?

Predictably, Nic’s attempts to remove the red plastic bucket collapsed the sandy sides and led to tears of annoyance. Fiona hurried back into the kitchen and grabbed a wide-rimmed stainless steel basin.

“This one, Nic,” she encouraged as she returned. She sat back on her heels and watched her niece’s dimpled hands patting the sand into the new container. Together they made a rather breast-like ‘castle’ with the more easily removed basin. Nicky was full of giggles again only seconds later.

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