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Revved (Axle Alley Vipers)

By´╝ÜSherilee Gray

Revved (Axle Alley Vipers) - Sherilee Gray

Chapter One

“What the fuck?” Slamming out of his office, Reid Parker strode onto R.I.P. Classic’s parking lot in time to watch the Ford Mustang—the same damn one he’d put in a quote to do bodywork on two weeks ago—peel out onto the road, sun glinting off its newly chromed rear bumper. A bumper they sure as hell hadn’t worked on.

Law, his friend and manager, turned to him, rubbing the back of his neck. “Did you see that shit? Said he decided to take the car somewhere else.”

“Where?” Someone had stolen another job out from under them, and Reid intended to find out who the hell was doing the stealing.

“Not a clue. Just said he was taking his business elsewhere from now on.” Law crossed his arms over his black leather cut. “That Mustang was gonna bring in some serious bank, but losing the other jobs he was bringing our way?” He shook his head. “That’s not just about losing money. It’s about hurting our rep.”

This was true. R.I.P. had a stellar reputation. They weren’t the biggest car restoration business in Miami by chance. They knew their shit, did excellent work. Losing business to someone else was not cool, especially when that customer had been coming to them for fucking years. Worse? This was not the first. Someone had been steadily taking work from them for the last couple of months. “How did it look?”

“Mint. The body work was slick, and whoever rebuilt the engine was a goddamn magician. That bitch purred, brother.”

“Leave it with me.” Reid strode to his office. No way would he sit by and risk damage to his good name. He didn’t appreciate someone encroaching on his turf, stealing his customers. It didn’t matter how much money, how many shops he had. It made no damn difference, not to him. Every job lost was a hit.

Through sheer pigheaded determination, he’d turned his love of cars—and when he was a kid, his escape from the reality of his shitty life—into ten thriving shops across the country.

The reason he had what he did, was that he did not let shit slide. Ever. Dragging yourself out of the gutter, having to fight tooth and nail for every damn thing you wanted tended to have that effect on a person.

There were only a handful of quality electroplaters in Miami. One of them had re-chromed the Mustang, and he intended to find out who’d booked the job.

Thirty minutes and several phone calls later, he was in his car and headed to the other side of the city. Axle Alley, for shit’s sake. The road had held that name for as long as he could remember—lined with businesses that catered to anything with an engine. But these were not high-end businesses. This was where your average Joe came with his average paycheck to get average work done.

At least that’s what he’d always thought.

He’d never heard of West Restoration. But from what he’d managed to find out, the small garage had been doing the occasional restoration job for years, though its main focus had always been your usual, run-of-the-mill mechanical work. Now with a new name, and new ownership, it seemed that focus had changed.

He’d expected it to be one of the short-lived garages that popped up in South Beach from time to time, only to close within the first two years. Building a steady and—as he’d found out recently—loyal customer base wasn’t easy.

How they were drawing people over to this side of the city, the fucking asshole of Miami as far as he was concerned, was a goddamned mystery.

West Restoration wasn’t hard to find. Bizarrely, it was right next to a cottage that looked like the Big Bad Wolf might pay it a visit, the only residential property on this stretch of road as far as he could see. The garage had a newly painted sign that stood out against its faded neighbors like a freakin’ beacon, all shiny and new and—purple.

He shook his head in disgust and drove past the parking area in front of the main workshop, and down the side of the building, making sure to park his black ’61 Plymouth Suburban—a hearse in its previous life—out of eye-shot of the roller doors. R.I.P. Classics was emblazoned on the side, and he didn’t want them tagging him right off the bat. This mission was all about stealth, at least until he’d had a chance to check the place out.

A black Ford pickup with green flames coming up over the hood and down the sides was parked next to his car, and he took a moment to look it over. It was good. Really good. If the rest of their work was anything like this, these guys had talent, and lots of it.

The outside of the place was nothing special, but it’d been treated to a makeover as well, given a fresh coat of paint in the same migraine-inducing, retina-searing purple.

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