The end of summer, for most, was a depressing time. It signaled the temporary death of warm days and long, delightful nights designed for everyone to run free and be careless. It meant school was around the corner, and freedom for all children K-12, and those in higher education courses, was coming to a nine-month hiatus.
For the trio at the Graveyard Garage, the heart, and soul of Riverbourne, it was just business as usual.
“Tony?” Jasper Crystals was a tornado, destroying the careful organization on the desk, ripping through the papers, unable to find what he was looking for. His inability to sort through paperwork like a normal person was expected. He was never good with it, and if it weren’t for Tony and Raquel, he would have been able to find the front door most days because his mind was clouded with more important concerns. “Come on, where is it?” he muttered before yelling once more. “Tony!”
“I heard you the first time,” Tony sighed in an exhausted tone as he appeared, having been preoccupied with the first bathroom break he’d had in hours. This was their busiest time as summer ending meant all the students who had the chance were trying to squeeze in that last bit of rough riding before school took over. The more recklessly they drove, the earlier the garage opened and the later it closed because the kids wanted their vehicles back before the first bell of the school year rang.
Due to that rush, both mechanics had begun working before dawn, and Tony was dedicating every waking moment to getting the clerical part done so they could be done with the rush with as little problems as possible. At least, until Thanksgiving break. “Stop messing with my desk. I don’t mess with your handiwork.” Tony’s tired hazel eyes revealed that he’d spent hours organizing all the work that Jasper destroyed in a matter of mere seconds. “What do you want?”
“Morgan’s estimate,” Jasper answered, attempting to calm down. He’d been on overdrive for the last few days, so when there was finally a moment to breathe, he took a moment to come back down. “She has been calling nonstop asking for it. I’m pretty sure it’s just a ploy to give her an excuse to come and bother us, so I was trying to find it to reduce her visits.”
Tony took the disorganized papers from Jasper, half-heartedly sorting them into quick little piles to be fixed later. He opened the middle drawer of the desk and handed Jasper a slip with Morgan’s estimate on it. Morgan was a paranoid woman when it came to her personal information, so Tony had learned to put her estimates and bills in a separate place, mostly for looks when she came to pick it up.
Jasper smiled, petting Tony’s dark hair. “What the hell would I do without you?”
“Lose your mind. I’d say your head, but at least that’s screwed into place,” Raquel offered from the garage as Jasper entered to get his cell phone. Raquel was underneath the sedan that belonged to the woman that Jasper was working up the courage to speak with. “If Morgan doesn’t put an end to making our lives a living hell, I will cut her breaks and end it myself, I swear!”
“You are lucky that she didn’t pick her phone up,” Jasper muttered through gritted teeth. Raquel chuckled in reply. He took a deep breath as he waited to leave a voicemail. “Hey, Morgan, it’s Jasper from The Graveyard Garage. I have your estimate you asked for, but I’d feel more comfortable speaking directly to you. Please call back at your convenience. I would hate to have you come all the way down here when the car isn’t done yet. Have a good day.” He hung up and rolled his eyes. “You don’t think she-”
Tony’s shriek from the lobby cut off Jasper’s question.
“She’s here,” Raquel grieved as she crawled out from under the car, wiping her hand on her overalls as she and Jasper joined Tony, hoping to diffuse the situation.
Tony was standing behind the desk, stapler held up like a weapon as Morgan leaned in with a smirk of pure lust and determination. Raquel could stifle her violent thoughts, but she couldn’t disguise the condescending tone that Morgan always turned on within her. “Stop harassing him. You are clearly in need of our services, and it wouldn’t make a dent in my account if we lost you as a customer. It would be a bittersweet pity to ban you from the garage.”
“Not your call to make, little miss grease monkey. You don’t own the place,” Morgan barked back, fluttering her eyelashes as she turned to continue her perusal of Tony. “Just one movie. I’ll pay for it, tickets, food and...whatever else we might need for the night. You must have free time on your hands.”
“He works when he isn’t at school for eight hours a day. Idle hands are the devil’s playthings, but you’d know that quite well, wouldn’t you?” Jasper shooed Tony to the office as a hiding place from the most unbearable client on their list. They could handle bloodsuckers, angry werecreatures, and even the occasional deep-sea myth but Morgan somehow managed to top them all in being dramatic and exhausting.“Please, leave Tony alone, you damn pervert. We go through this all the time, and I’m getting tired of it.”
“Report me,” she retorted. “Oh, that’s right, you can’t. Because if you did, I might find myself on the phone with my friends who aren’t fond of the....inhuman population in this town. You know, the monstrous creatures you call your neighbors, customers, and acquaintances? I’m sure the few hunters that owe me a favor wouldn’t mind stopping by for a quick visit.”
Raquel growled quietly as she leaned against the front desk, gripping it with white knuckles as she swallowed the urge to knock Morgan flat on her back. Jasper shook off her words, as he’d done for every interaction they had. Morgan only had one threat in her arsenal, and so far, there was no proof that she could act upon it.
The trio’s favorite hunter, Fang, had assured them that there were no priority list targets in their area and that the town would be safe if Morgan did call her allegedly dangerous friends. Regular, registered hunters were typically welcomed warmly to Riverbourne. The only time they entered the town for business was to assist citizens in updating the registration with the national database. Outside of that, they acted as kind towards the town’s inhabitants as beings could be.
Despite that fact, her threat still caused Raquel and Tony to worry about the infinitesimal possibility that she had a valid threat. There was a chance that she was involved with rogue hunters, as they would have been the type to owe her ‘a favor’. The kind who killed just because someone was different. Anything unhuman was as good as dead in their demented brains. Jasper had witnessed innocent non-humans die at the hands of insane hunters who found mercy to be lacking in their vocabulary. The town was full of nothing but sweet, kind people who happened to be non-human, and he was not going to risk them dying because Morgan couldn’t get her rocks off.
Jasper took a deep breath, trying to keep calm as he addressed Morgan. “I am asking you kindly to stop sexually harassing Tony and creating a hostile environment in an otherwise perfectly safe space.”
“Safe space my ass. I’ve seen Little Misdemeanor over there in action.” Raquel’s grip on the desk tightened as she closed her eyes, breathing slowly. “Yeah, right, like you’d do anything, Rachel.”
“It’s Raquel.” She opened her eyes and fixed a forced smile across her face. “Do you need me to spell it for you? I’ll go slow so you have a chance to sound out each of the letters.”
“Point is.” Jasper cleared his throat to get their attention, preventing a murder scene, although there was nothing more appealing to him than to turn his head and let Raquel have at it. “He isn’t interested. What exactly about his pleading ‘no’ turns you on? I suppose consent isn’t your kink?”
She ignored the comments, as she always did. He asked the same type of questions every time this situation occurred. All of it conveyed the underlying idea that he thought she didn’t respect consent, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. She found nothing to be sexier than the begging, pleading, and breathless ‘yes’ or moans of her lover. Morgan had simply never been fond of the word ‘no’, as it was one she heard so rarely. “I’ll be back when my car is done. And he will eventually say yes. See you later, Jasper. Rochelle.”
“Raquel,” the young woman snarled back as she watched Morgan sashay away, wondering if she could plead ignorance if her shoe ‘fell off’ and hit the woman in the head. She shook her head as Tony rejoined the group in the lobby after hearing the heels that Morgan adorned click out onto the sidewalk. “Start standing up for yourself. Haven’t you learned anything from either of us? If this were a test, you’d have failed miserably.” She went to go back to work, but Jasper stopped her. “What?”
“I am going to work on her car, at least for today..” She furrowed her brow as he went on. “I can’t afford to bail you out for killing her due to a mistake you made with intention, and vehicular manslaughter holds a hefty fine if you don’t go to jail for it.”
“I don’t think that’s technically what crime she’d be committing,” Tony mentioned.
She frowned, her sangria eyes in a determined stare she’d inherited from her mother. “Jasper, do you honestly think I would risk my reputation as a reliable and miracle-working mechanic over that....woman?” She tried not to call Morgan by degrading words that usually tore females down, but she had yet to find a perfect word to replace her colorful thoughts. The English language, as vast as it was, somehow didn’t encompass her feelings perfectly.
“Yes.” He turned and entered the garage while Tony stifled his laughter and Raquel crossed her arms.
“Well, you didn’t have to say so!”