Kiss My Boots

By: Harper Sloan



“Middle of a Memory” by Cole Swindell

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The aroma of oil and exhaust fumes swirls in the air, mixing and mingling with the scent of metal baking in the strong summer sun. Even with the bays of the garage closed, the shop can’t escape the soaring temperatures. Every truck that’s brought in gives off waves of fiery heat for what seems like hours while we begin our work.

If you’ve ever worked under a vehicle that spent any amount of time kicking up rocks on the scorching Texas asphalt, then you know it’s about as close to feeling the heat of hell that one chick can take.

And I love every second of it.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been happiest when getting my hands dirty. Most of the girls I knew went to mudholes to find their dirty fun—not me. While they were in the passenger seats of their dads’ or brothers’ or boyfriends’ trucks, laughing and screaming as they bumped along through the holes, I was too busy climbing behind the wheel analyzing each and every move my truck would make—even before I could legally drive, which made my own brothers, Clay and Maverick, insane. But I didn’t care. I couldn’t get enough of it. I would envision ways to make the truck roar louder, kick up its spray of murky clay and water more powerfully, and take those backwoods trails with a supremacy that even the deepest rut couldn’t stop.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that while I was growing up, my father had owned the best auto shop around. It was also the only one around, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t the best. Davis Auto Works has been the place for custom auto needs since 1982.

And it’s been my haven for longer than I can remember.

“Q! You gotta second, doll?” Tank bellows from somewhere close to the 2017 Dodge Ram I’ve been working underneath for the last hour.

Taking a second, knowing he can’t see me, I close my eyes and take a deep pull of my special brand of calming air. The scent of motor oil, chassis grease, and brake dust trickles through my system and blankets my frazzled nerves instantly.

“What’s shakin’, cowboy?” I ask with a sigh, pulling myself to my feet. My hands go to the sides of my coveralls to wipe them clean out of habit before I realize I pulled them down after lunch to try and cool off. “Damn,” I mutter, peering at the black handprints now adorning my faded denim. “I liked these jeans, too.”

“Nothing a little elbow grease can’t handle, darlin’.”

I look up . . . and up . . . and up, finally meeting the dirt-brown eyes of Miles “Tank” Miller. The man is huge—hence the nickname—and, bless his heart, dumber than a box of rocks. He’s a handsome devil, don’t get me wrong, but even if he wasn’t a complete idiot when it comes to anything other than motors, I wouldn’t be interested.

I don’t date. Ever.

“What do you need, Tank? I need to get this lift finished before five so I’m not stuck here all dang night.”

“Got a real shitter comin’ in. Man said he wanted every whistle and toot out there. I ain’t sure what that meant though, seein’ as he said it ain’t even runnin’. Not sure you can put a whistle and toot on a heap of broken metal.”

It takes every ounce of sweet southern darlin’ I have deep in my soul not to snap at Tank and tell him I can barely understand his broken English, but my brothers didn’t raise a rude little bitch.

“Tank, sweetheart, can you be a little more clear for me?” I roll to the tips of my boots and reach up to pat his beard-covered cheek.

He looks down, blinks a few times, and shrugs one meaty shoulder. “Naw.”

Patience, Quinn. Patience. “Did you take his number?”

His eyes crinkle as his brow pulls into a frown. “Reckon I might have.”

“How about you finish up fine-tuning the suspension system on the Ram for me? I was almost done so there isn’t much left, just finishing up with the sway bar. I’ll go look for that number. How’s that sound?”

“Sure thing, Q. You takin’ this baby up nice and high. Chester handlin’ the engine on this bad boy?”

I nod, but don’t bother answering him since he’s already dropped down to disappear under the truck. I walk over to the sink in the corner and wash up with some GOJO. I might love getting my hands dirty working with trucks, but I still enjoy looking like a girl—which means I’m anal about washing often to avoid the perpetual black stains most mechanics have on their hands.