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Trucker (The Good Guys #1)

By:Jamie Schlosser

Trucker (The Good Guys #1)
Jamie Schlosser

       ACKNOWLEDGMENTS



When I first decided to write a book, I had no idea I would need so many  people to help me along the way. Thank you to my husband and kids for  being so supportive of this new adventure. I couldn't have done this  without your encouragement, especially on the days when I felt like  giving up. And a special thanks to my hubby for volunteering to be my  cover model. (That's right. The man on the cover is mine!)



Thank you to my betas Brittaney, Carole, Christine, and Alice. You were  the very first people to enthusiastically volunteer to read my book, and  I appreciate you!



Thanks to my Newbs. Writing a book was incredibly lonely until you came  along. Your support, knowledge, and encouragement has helped me so much.



Thank you to my editor Kim Huther, my cover artist Lori Follett, and my formatter Shari Ryan.



Last, but certainly not least, thank you to my readers!





DEDICATION



To all the romance addicts out there who love to read about a good guy-this one is for you!





ONE MONTH EARLIER

ANGEL

My aunt's fingers felt cool and smooth as I held her hand in mine. I  softly hummed ‘Don't Worry Baby' by the Beach Boys as I filed her nails  until the edges were rounded and smooth. Claire never wore nail polish.  She said she couldn't stand the smell. I wasn't sure if the hospital  would have allowed it anyway.

I glanced up at her closed eyes, silently willing them to open, even  though I knew-I knew-it wasn't going to happen. The steady rise and fall  of her chest generated by the machines was a cruel illusion.

I squinted my eyes against the harsh lighting of the sterile room and  continued shaping her fingernails while medical terms like ‘irreparable  brain damage' floated around in my mind.

Brain dead.

That's what the doctors told me.

But I still had a little bit of hope. Miracles happened every day.

After I finished her manicure, I planned to read to her. I'd snagged a  gossip magazine from the waiting room, and although it wasn't the best  option, it was better than nothing.

Putting down the nail file, I decided to try reading, hoping the sound  of my voice might cause some improvement. I picked it up and cleared my  throat.

"Okay, uhh … " I flipped through the first few pages, passing perfume ads  until I came to the first article. "Who wore it best at the VMAs?" I  announced the headline.

Well.

She couldn't actually see the dresses, so I skipped ahead a few more  pages. "Celebs dish their secrets to achieving-" multiple orgasms. I  didn't finish the sentence out loud.

I'm not even touching that one.

Then again, if anything could snap Claire out of it, surely it would be  the opportunity to torture me with more awkward sex talks.

I closed the magazine, then opened it to a random page somewhere in the  middle. "Um …  Something about a Kardashian, blah blah blah..."

Oh my God. I really suck at this.

I was willing to bet most of the stuff in there wasn't even true anyway.

Setting the useless gossip aside, I decided I would just bring a book  from home next time. Probably Anne of Green Gables. My heart warmed at  the memories of all the times we'd read it together.

"Claire, please," I pleaded quietly as I grabbed her hand. "Please wake up. You're all I have left."

Was it possible to guilt-trip someone out of a coma? It was worth a shot.

Needing something to do, I went back to filing her already perfectly-shaped fingernails.

The door to the room swung open, and Claire's doctor walked in with a  nurse following close behind. I squeezed her hand one last time before  turning away from the bed.

Their somber expressions had me giving them my full attention.

The doctor was a tall, thin man with wire-rimmed glasses. His salt and  pepper hair indicated he was probably in his late forties. He quickly  checked over the machines and tubes surrounding my aunt before turning  to me.

I felt numb as he told me the stipulations of Claire's will-she didn't  want to be kept alive under these circumstances, and she was an organ  donor.

"Time is of the essence," the doctor said as he explained what would  happen over the next several hours. Claire's healthy organs would be  harvested, saving the lives of the lucky recipients. There was no  emotion in his voice, no sympathy behind his eyes. He might as well have  been telling me what he had for lunch earlier that day.

After the doctor left, the nurse gently patted my arm and I barely  registered the words she said. She kept saying things like ‘give you a  few minutes to say goodbye' and ‘social services' and ‘foster care'.

"Hon, do you understand what I'm saying?" she asked, but I couldn't respond. "I'll go see if the grief counselor is available."                       
       
           



       

With hurried footsteps, she left the room. I stared down at the little  wooden nail file I was still gripping in my hand as I tried to process  the fact that the only person I had was gone.





PRESENT DAY

TRAVIS

Stereotype. That thing people did when they made assumptions about the kind of person I was, just because I drove a semi.

When they heard the term ‘trucker', they had a certain image in mind-usually one that included a beer gut and a bad case of BO.

Rough around the edges and a little bit dangerous. Uneducated. Perverted.

Much to their surprise, I didn't fit into the mold. In fact, I was far  from it. My sexual experience-or lack thereof-was probably the biggest  shock of all.

So, how did a guy end up still a virgin at twenty-one?

The short answer was a combination of plain bad luck and standards.

And bad dates. Lots of them. Much like the one I was on right now.

Kendra's grating laughter cut through the air as she drunkenly babbled  to herself in the passenger seat of my pickup truck. I'd stopped trying  to make sense of what she was saying an hour ago.

When I'd agreed to go out with her, I didn't realize her idea of a good time was main-lining tequila.

Don't get me wrong, I liked to party when the time called for it.

But not on a first date. I could give her the benefit of the doubt-maybe  she was just nervous. But it didn't change the fact that I knew there  wouldn't be a second date in the future.

The incoherent noises Kendra was making suddenly stopped as she clamped a hand over her mouth.

"I think I'm gonna be sick," she muffled against her palm.

Now that I could understand.

I slammed on the brakes to pull over and hoped she could hold it in long  enough to make it outside. I followed behind her as she stumbled out of  my truck, and I caught her around the waist to keep her from falling  into the ditch.

Wrinkling my nose in disgust, I looked away as she started to heave.

My mind decided to take a trip down memory lane to escape the predicament I was currently in the middle of.

I'd had my fair share of disastrous dates, and obviously tonight was no exception.

When I was fifteen, my buddy Colton and I had a double date with a  couple of girls from two towns over. Colton had just gotten his license  and we thought we were hot shit for getting dates with girls who weren't  from our high school.

To top it off, Amanda and Amber were twins. Twins.

When we got to their house they showed us to their room and said they  were going to the kitchen to get some snacks. Told us to make ourselves  at home. Being the nosy pricks that we were, we decided to snoop around.

On opposite sides of the room were matching twin beds with three shelves  of collectables on the wall in between. Amanda and Amber seemed to have  an unhealthy obsession with unicorns. Glass figurines and snow globes  made up most of the collection.

On the other side of the room was a TV. We found an old kickboxing  workout DVD and decided to put it on. Mimicking the kicks and punches in  such a small space was a bad idea. Because we were rambunctious  ass-hats, things quickly got out of control.

Colton sent a high kick to my chest and I fell backwards against the  wall, causing all three shelves to collapse. Unicorn horns, broken  glass, water, and glitter covered the floor.

It was a unicorn massacre.

Colton and I did the only thing we saw as an option at the time-we ran.

I realized how shitty it was to break all their stuff and leave without  even saying goodbye. I still felt bad about it to this day. We ignored  angry texts for at least two weeks. Getting text-tag-teamed by twins was  brutal. I liked to think that was punishment enough.

When I was sixteen, I got the courage to ask Jenny Jenkins out to a  movie. She was cute, smart, and willing to go out with me-all good  things.

I arrived at her house on time, just three minutes shy of 7 PM. Jenny  must have been excited because she came out to meet me in front of her  house. She said she needed to get her purse from inside and gestured for  me to follow.

What happened next was like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

On her way up the steps, Jenny tripped and face planted on the porch.  Hard. Between garbled sobs and lots of blood coming out of her mouth,  she told me she bit her tongue and to call her mom.

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