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Every Time It Rains

by

Margaret Marr

Rain assaulted the windshield of Christina Millerís car. The wipers swished back and forth, slinging water in all directions. They were useless against the heavy downpour. She couldnít see more than a few feet in front of the hood.

She glanced at the gas gauge, and bit her lip. "Come on, baby, you can make it." The gas light lit up, blinked, then stayed on. Why did she always tempt fate by riding on empty? Thunder grumbled overhead. She glanced up and out the windshield. Rain as thick as a curtain fell from the sky. Doesnít look like itís gonna let up, she thought.

Halfway up a steep gravel road the car began to splutter. "Oh, no! Not now! Please, just a little further!" The car gave one last shudder then died. She eased the car backward to the shoulder, rolled it to a stop, and banged her head on the steering wheel. After a few moments, she blew out an exasperated breath.

"You couldnít do this one thing for me, could you?" She didnít know if she was talking to the car, God, or herself. She finally decided it was all three.

As time ticked by, she listened to the rain drum a loud beat on the roof of the car. After a few more minutes, she took a deep breath, opened the door, and stepped out into the downpour. "Blasted rain!" Within seconds the cold rain plastered her black T-shirt against her skin. "I must have the worst luck in the world," she grumbled, as she trudged up the road. Wrapping her arms snug against her body, she attempted to halt the cold shudders that racked her body. "Oh, please let there be a store or something close by," she pleaded at the muddy gravel road underneath her feet.

A pick-up truck blew past her without even slowing down. Dirty water, kicked up by the tires after they bounced into a mud-hole, splattered her pants. Perhaps, whoever it was hadnít seen her. Christina moved further off the road. She didnít want to add sideswiped by a vehicle to her list of woes. 

Two miles later she arrived at a gas station slash garage. The rain still fell, although not as heavily as before. She pushed the door to the store open. No one was behind the counter. A quick glance of the aisles turned up empty except for racks of potato chips, candy bars, and canned goods. Back out in the rain, she hurried over to the garage.

A white truck was parked inside, its hood up and various tools scattered around it. "Hello? Anybody here?" she called, and peered around the garage. A shiver shook her body as goosebumps sprang up on her skin.

A man rolled out from under the truck. "Nothing but us grease-monkeys." 

It was corny but cute, Christina decided, after getting her eyeful of the man. His smile catapulted her pulse somewhere beyond the stars. He was the Marlboro man in a mechanicís uniform. Instead of a cigarette and a horse, he had a wrench and a 4 X 4 pick-up. She wished like heck that she didnít resemble a half-drowned cat. She smoothed a wet strand of hair behind her ear.

The guy climbed to his feet then wiped his hands on a greasy rag he produced from his back pocket. "Tom Myers." He stuck out a semi-clean hand. "Can I help you with something?" A curious look lit up his brown eyes. The sexy beard stubble on his face drove her to the edge of distraction, and she almost forgot why she needed his help.

"Christina Miller." She placed her hand in his, and he gave it a gentle squeeze. Heat shot up her arm. "I need some gas," she blurted out. 

Tom shifted his eyes to the gas pumps, but didnít let go of her hand.

"My car is two miles back that way." She reluctantly slid her hand out of his, and hitched a thumb over her shoulder.

"I donít think the hose will stretch that far," he joked. When he smiled his whole face lit up.

Christina laughed. "A gallon jug should do the trick." Another clap of thunder exploded across the sky, causing Christina to jump.

"Donít you just love a thunder storm?" Tom asked as he rummaged around in a junk-heap until he found a clean, empty jug. He carried it to the covered pumps and filled it for her. 

Grateful that she was no longer pounded by the relentless rain she smiled. "Yeah, if Iím at home wrapped up in a blanket on the front porch swing," Christina answered. 

"Iíd offer you a ride back, but Dad has my truck out on a job." He paused, looked at her through his thick lashes, and grinned.

Her heart flip-flopped against her ribs. "You only have one vehicle?" Gosh, he was adorable!

"Usually, yeah. We take turns driving to work. Saves on gas since itís shot through the roof lately."

"Thatís why I donít fill my tank up as often as I should," she said, mostly to herself.

"The least I can do is carry it to your car for you," he offered.

"Oh, no, you donít have to do that. Itís still raining pretty hard out there. No sense in both of us getting wet."

"I insist." He screwed the lid on the milk jug of gas.

"Really, itís not necessary." Had the rain washed away most of her brain? She would like nothing better than for him to walk her back to her car.

"Aww, come on, let me be your knight in shiningÖerrÖgreasy uniform." He swept a hand down the front of his shirt as if he thought he could wipe away the grease like magic.

Christina laughed, again. "Okay, I wouldnít want to deprive you of your knightly duties." A blush crept up her neck at the double meaning behind those words. Iíve read way too many medieval romances, she thought. She cleared her throat, and glanced down at her once white shoes that were now stained with water and mud. Those would never come clean, but she found she didnít really care. It was worth ruining a pair of shoes to meet someone like Tom.

Once back out in the rain, Christina tried to hug herself warm, but the cold wiggled through her body, and caused goose bumps to pop up all over her flesh.

Tom stopped and slung his arms wide. One side was weighed down with the gallon jug of gas. He tilted his head back and stuck out his tongue. "Man, this feels great!" he yelled. "Woo hoo! I love rain!"

Christina smiled and stretched out her arms, tilted her head back, and closed her eyes. The cold rain pelted off her face in little stinging blows. Funny, when she stopped concentrating on getting warm she didnít feel quite so cold. Water trickled from her hair, and slid down the slope of her nose. She opened her eyes and grinned at Tom. That had felt good.

When they approached a mud-hole a mischievous grin spread across Tomís face. He jumped in it, splashing muddy water all over Christina.

She gasped. "Youíre in for it now!" She jumped in with both feet, spraying dirty water everywhere.

They raced to the next mud-hole, playing like two children until they collapsed against each other in laughter. Tom slid his arm around her waist, and spun her around. The gallon jug of gas bumped her leg.

"Oops, sorry. I donít want to spill gas all over you," Tom said, and brushed at her jeans.

She looked into brown eyes full of merriment and mischief. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "Iíd forgotten how much fun the rain could be. Thank you," she said.

"It was my pleasure, maíam."

They arrived at her car, much too soon for Christinaís liking. Tom poured the gas in the tank. Ever so often heíd look her way and smile. Her heart knocked against her chest each time he looked at her.

Once the jug was empty, Tom screwed the gas cap back on, and turned to Christina. "All done," he said.

"Need a lift back to the station?" she asked, hopefully.

"Iím awfully dirty and wet," he answered.

"I figure since Iím gonna get the driverís seat dirty you might as well do the same for the passengerís seat. At least theyíll match, then."

"Well, if you insist." He grinned and got in.

Back at the station, Christina scribbled on a piece of paper. "Here is my phone number just in case you ever get the urge to play in the rain again."

Tom took the white slip of paper from her. "You can count on it." He stuck the scrap of paper in the pocket of his garage uniform.

Christina drove away with a smile on her face. Even if he never called, sheíd remember him every time it rained.

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