Flynn Thomas is back in Hartley. His plan is to be out of there before anyone notices he’s back. He left twenty years ago and promised himself he’d never have to face his childhood bullies or set foot in his bigoted hometown ever again. But it’s been six months since his mother passed away, and someone has to clear out the house.
Caspian Cook is out on a walk with his three dogs when he sees Flynn Thomas, at least he thinks it’s Flynn Thomas. He never forgot the red-haired boy his brother used to harass, and he never forgot how he used to wonder if there were freckles underneath his clothes as well as on his face.
Flynn mistakes Caspian for his childhood tormenter and flees. Caspian can guess why he’s in such a hurry to get away, but he hasn’t seen Flynn in twenty years, and if he allows him to run off, he fears he’ll never see him again. Will spending time with Flynn be enough for him to forget who Caspian’s brother is?
Flynn needs help. He underestimated how much work it would be to move his mother’s things. Caspian offers to give him a hand, but can he trust someone who looks like his worst nightmare?
Flynn dressed in running clothes. It would be cold while driving to the auto shop, but he couldn’t run home in a winter jacket, and he was not walking through town. No way. He wanted out of this shitty place as fast as he could, and he didn’t want anyone to know he was here. He put on a beanie to hide his hair.
Moving his car from the driveway to the lawn -- Mom would’ve thrown a fit, had she seen it. She couldn’t stand people parking their cars on the lawn -- he went into the garage. He knew nothing about cars, but the tiny Toyota looked to be in good shape. Opening the door to the driver’s seat, he put the key in the ignition and turned it.
Shit. He tried one more time, but the car was dead. It didn’t as much as splutter in an attempt to come to life.
This was not how it was supposed to go.
Flynn got his phone out and called the number to the auto shop again.
“Hartley’s car repair.”
“It doesn’t start.” Flynn gestured at the car in frustration. “Doesn’t even make a sound.”
“Hello to you, too.”
“Hi.” Flynn huffed. “The car, it doesn’t start.”
“How’s the battery? Does it have any fuel?”
Flynn frowned. “Can you come get it?” The desperation in his voice made him wince.
Silence stretched. “I don’t know --”
“Please.” Panic set in. He had to get out of here, couldn’t wait for the fucking car to work. He needed to get rid of it.
The man sighed. “Where are you?”
He hadn’t introduced himself or told the man where the car was. “Sorry. It’s my mom’s car, she passed away six months ago, and I want to get rid of it. It’s a Toyota. I don’t know what year or model it is, but it’s a tiny little thing. White, if that helps.”
The man laughed. “I’m sorry for your loss, but no, the color of the car doesn’t help or matter.”
“Oh ...” Flynn blushed. Of course, the color didn’t matter to a mechanic. “Sorry, I don’t know anything about cars.”
“Really? I couldn’t tell.”
Flynn snorted but grinned into the dark of the garage. “I’m sorry to be a bother.”
“You’re not. I haven’t been this entertained in days.”
“You can’t lead a very exciting life then.”
The man huffed. “No, I guess not.”
Flynn flinched. “I didn’t mean --”
“It’s okay.” The man chuckled again. “Where are you? I can come by on my lunch break if it works for you.”
“Yes, I’ll be here all day.” Flynn sighed and rattled off the address. When no reply came, Flynn glanced at the phone. The call was still connected. “Hello?”
Ice spread in his veins. “Yes.” Damn, his heartbeats were ringing in his ears. He didn’t want to see anyone who would recognize him.
“Okay, I know the house then, and the car. It’s a 2010 Toyota Prius, it’s in good shape, might need to be jump-started though, unless there is something else. The gasoline has been in the tank for a long time.”
Flynn looked at the car. “Okay.”
“So ... are you moving into the house?”
Flynn frowned at the light tone. “No, I’m selling it.”
“Too bad. I’ll be by in a few hours. Do you mind if I bring my dogs? They’ll need a walk at lunch, and if I’m going to walk over to your place ...”
Dogs? He remembered Blade from yesterday. Blade who most likely hadn’t been Blade unless he’d grown a humane side while Flynn was away. This town had him seeing things.
“Dogs are fine.”
“You’re not afraid?”
“Of dogs? No.” He was afraid of a lot of things, but not dogs.