Opening of Honest And For True

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Honest And For True by Jane Lebak

Honest And For True

by Jane Lebak

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And here’s the opening, just to whet your appetite. Meet Lee.

If the customer was any more in my face, I’d be tasting her mouthwash. “You were supposed to give me an estimate!”

We don’t have bullet-proof glass at the garage, so I raise both hands. “But we didn’t–”

“I was waiting right here.” The woman’s angular cheeks go purple, and she’s got a white-knuckled grip on her purse. “If you think I’m paying for that, you can forget it.”

I thrust her the keys and the paperwork. “You don’t have to. You’re free to go.”

For a moment she huffs in the otherwise-still waiting room. Passing cars hum outside the windows, and a whiff of exhaust hangs in the air. Finally she says, “What?”

Poised to dart back from the counter, I circle the total on the invoice. $0.00. “The car is fixed. You’re all set. Have a nice day.”

Two regular customers are pretending not to watch. I’d like to think they’d save me if she attacked, but really–they’d bolt outside before their abandoned Daily News pages finished fluttering to the floor.

The keys crunch together as the woman slips them into her coat pocket. “It’s fixed?”

Breathe. Crisis averted.

This late in the day, the vinyl floor bears a salt and dirty-snow grime, and my last cup of coffee happened four hours ago. At least, I assume that was coffee. I found it in the coffee pot, so that should count for something.

I grin at the customer. “Our test drive confirmed the gasoline odor in the car, but that wasn’t the smell of a bad fuel pump. Your gas cap had a cracked gasket which was letting fumes get sucked back through the trunk whenever you accelerated.” I slip onto the stool beside the computer, bringing myself up to eye-level with the woman. “Since a locking gas cap isn’t standard on the Taurus, we popped the trunk and found the original cap rolling around the spare tire bed. New test drive, no odor, no charge.” Leaning forward, I rest my elbows on the counter. “If you aren’t satisfied, we’ll provide a full refund.”

Silence for five seconds.

She bites her lip. “The first mechanic swore it was the fuel pump.”

“And agreed to change it for $300,” I venture, “while throwing in a new gas cap for free?”

She bursts out laughing. That’s less than a week’s rent, but hey, money’s money. “Tell the mechanic I want to marry him.”

I make my eyes big. “That would be me.” When she steps backward, I add, “But I’m happily single, so I’ll decline your proposal.”

Now I’ve shocked her twice. “But you’re a girl.”

I stare down at myself. Yep, still the same me: grease-stained pants, work boots, and a denim shirt with our logo.

Although they pretend not to watch, the other customers snicker.

Grinning, the woman prints my name on the back of our business card. “Well, thanks…Lee. I’ll be back.”

No kidding. She’s got a Ford Taurus. Of course she’ll be back.

More tomorrow. Preorder Honest And For True at Amazon!