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Driving Her Crazy(4)

By:Kira Archer

It took forty-five minutes to get to the airport, and by the time they arrived, Oz was in need of a few aspirin and a good long nap. His nephew was the light of his life, but being trapped in a car with an amped-up five-year-old was enough to drive anyone to pharmaceutical intervention.

They parked in the short term lot and Oz raced Tyler to the entrance. Well, Tyler raced. Oz did his slow-mo runner routine. His and Lena’s dad had always done that when they were kids. Challenge them to a race or an arm wrestle match or something and then pretend that his muscles had disappeared so he couldn’t even hold up his arm or was stuck in molasses and could barely move his feet. Oz had always loved it. Tyler’s real dad wasn’t ever going to be in the picture but Oz tried his damndest to be the best father figure he could for his nephew.

Tyler “won,” but just barely. They tumbled through the doors, laughing.

Until he saw the length of the security line.

Oz gave a low whistle. “I hope we got here early enough. Usually it doesn’t take all that long.”

“Uncle Oz!” Tyler said, tugging on his hand.

“What’s up, little man?” he said, squatting down to Tyler’s level.

“Look at the fancy lady. Is she the principal?”

Oz looked in the direction Tyler was pointing and chuckled. The principal of Tyler’s new school always made it a point to welcome all the new incoming kindergarteners and she’d been dressed very nicely when she’d come to their home. Since Tyler spent a lot of time hanging out with Oz down at the shop, he was more used to seeing men and women in greasy coveralls than dressed up in business attire.

“No, she’s not the principal.”

“She’s pretty,” Tyler whispered.

Oz couldn’t argue that. The woman was gorgeous. But she was also standing in line at the airport dressed like she was about to walk into some board meeting and she was digging around in a purse that looked like the one Lena had been lusting after for years. It was worth more than his first car.

“Yes, she is,” Oz agreed, picking his nephew up again and giving him a big kiss. Tyler squealed with laughter and tried to squirm away but Oz kept a firm hold on him.

“Fly me, Uncle Oz!”

Oz laughed. “You’re getting too big to be an airplane,” he said, but he hefted him higher, anyway. He was going to miss the little rascal.

Lena frowned. “Do you want us to wait with you?”

Oz knew the tone of her voice. She didn’t want to leave him alone, but the thought of keeping Tyler contained in a busy airport was enough to induce a panic attack in the strongest of mothers.

“No, you guys can go on home. It might take a while.”

“Okay,” she said, not bothering to hide her relief. “But you call the second you land.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She mock glared at him and he laughed. “All right, Tyler,” she said. “Give Uncle Oz a hug goodbye.”

Oz said his goodbyes, hoping like hell he’d come home with good news. He was tired of working three jobs just to make sure ends did more than just barely meet. And if he could support everyone doing something he loved, life would be pretty damn good. The desk editor job was a long shot. But it was one he had to take.

Maybe he’d get lucky for once in his life.

Chapter Two

Cherice switched her carry-on to her other shoulder so she could dig in her Louis Vuitton for some lip gloss. The line was moving very, very slowly. With every step she shuffled forward, her concern doubled. If she didn’t have high blood pressure by the time she got out of here it would be a miracle. Crap, crap, crap.

Every few minutes someone’s deep, baritone laugh would ring out, rippling through Cherice in waves of warmth and good naturedness. Really, who was in that good a mood stuck in an interminable line at the airport? And could he please share whatever he was on, because she could use a healthy dose of it.

The sound of a child laughing drew her attention to a small family a few feet away. The father, a ridiculously handsome man who could have graced the cover of GQ…well, maybe Popular Mechanics, she amended, taking in his worn jeans and scuffed boots, was holding a curly-haired blond boy in the air above his head. The boy shrieked in delight, kicking his legs, while his mother looked on with a beaming smile.

The man snuggled the boy in his arms for a moment, giving him a loud kiss on the cheek before handing him back to his mother. She wrapped her free arm around the man’s waist and hugged him, patting him on the chest with an encouraging expression. Pep talk? Maybe the guy was afraid of flying. Though Cherice didn’t see how anyone with the rock hard biceps of a Greek god could be afraid of anything.