Readers of sweet romances might enjoy this short bit from a book I wrote in the '90s, updated now as an E-book. A LITTLE NIGHT RAINBOW will soon be available for Kindle, Nook, Apple and other e-readers. In this clip Max, who is traveling in northern Arizona with his 13-year-old daughter, Marcie, has just stopped at the side of the road to help a woman stranded with two young children. This scene ensues:
Max set the emergency brake, then moderated his tone. "I'm going to go see if I can help. You can stay in the car if you prefer, or you can come and talk to the kids. The girl there looks about your age." He slid his tool kit out from under the driver's seat and opened the door.
"Whatever, Dad." Marcie didn't bother to hide her sarcasm, but she got out of the car and followed behind Max as he approached the woman.
“What seems to be the trouble?'' he asked as he neared her.
"We think it may be the carburetor," the woman answered, turning as she spoke. It was a smooth motion, natural, unselfconscious motion, and utterly feminine. Max, who until now had seen only a woman in need of help, was instantly aware of how attractive she was.
"Uh, maybe I can have a look," he said, giving a nod to the boy who hovered protectively at his mother's side. He stepped in beside the woman and was struck by the scent of her—rich, like honeysuckle and orange blossoms on a summer afternoon.
"I sure appreciate you stopping," the woman said. She turned slightly toward him as she spoke, and her long, dark hair brushed his bare arm just below his shirtsleeve. His mouth went dry.
"Uh, no problem," he said, feeling as tongue-tied as a kid at a school dance. He struggled to remember that his daughter was behind him, striking up a conversation with the other girl. If he didn't want to embarrass her, as well as himself, he'd better get his concentration centered on that carburetor—and fast. He leaned in closer, breathing deeply of hot engine smells.
"It seems to be running rich," the woman said. Her voice was as warm and rich as her scent. Max thought he could get lost in it. You’ve been wrapped up in engines too long, he advised himself.
"Um, uh, yeah. I'll check that," he said, opening the carburetor.
For the next few minutes, Max fought to focus his attention on the task before him. He couldn't remember when he'd ever been so instantly, intensely attracted to anyone. Every move she made distracted him; every word she spoke rang through him. It was only through long experience with more engines than he could count that he was able to spot the trouble and make the necessary adjustment.
"There, see if you can start 'er up," he said as he finished, not quite daring to meet the woman's eyes. They were brown eyes, as rich as dark, sweet chocolate, and huge in her perfect oval face. Max, get a grip, he chided himself as the engine turned over. You're losing it, man.
"You did it!" the woman called as she joined him again. "I really can't thank you enough. Can I pay you for your trouble?" She was reaching for her wallet.
“Heavens, no!" Max couldn't imagine taking money for these few minutes of pure delight. Heck, he ought to be paying her for letting him stand next to her, breathe her fragrance, touch her hair. "It's a temporary fix, anyway. You'll have to get it in for service soon."
"I'll do that," she said, then, "Lydia, Danny, we're going now."
"Okay," the boy answered. "Come on, Sis."
"Yeah, yeah," the girl responded, and it was only then that Max noticed how thick the two teens had become in such a short time. Marcie hadn't whined in at least eight minutes.
"Oh, maybe you can return the favor," he said to the woman as he closed the hood. He took his last jotted directions from his shirt pocket. "I'm supposed to turn right on Hummingbird Lane. Can you tell me how far ahead that is?"
"You passed it," the woman answered in that liquid honey voice. She turned and pointed, and again he was struck by the easy way she moved. He also made a point of noticing her left hand—bare of jewelry, not even a wedding ring. "It'll be the second turn on your left as you go back."
"Thanks," he said.
"Oh, no. Thank you," the woman answered, beaming a megawatt smile, and Max thought he might melt right on the spot.