***Chapter Three***
Word Count: 4,782

He'd called the night before. They hadn't talked real long, but more than just him seeing if she'd gotten home all right.

"Where are you going, Sara?" her mom asked.

"Downtown to meet a friend," she said. "I'm taking the train down so will leave my car at the station."

"Okay. Weren't you going to a movie later?"

"Yeah, I still am, I think," she shrugged. Plans changed sometimes.

"Are you doing anything special downtown?"

"No, not really. It's just a nice day. We decided to go."

"You need some money?"

"Sure," Sara said. She wasn't working, her parents wouldn't let her do that. They hadn't let Brad either so it wasn't because she was a girl. They wanted their kids focused on school. She'd thought of getting one for the summer, just for something to do but she hadn't looked yet.

"Thanks, Mom," she said, putting the money in her purse. "I'll see you later. It'll be late since we'll probably get something to eat after the movie especially if we're downtown all day."

"Okay. Just be careful."

"We won't be downtown tonight."

"I know. I still worry."

"Mom," she said with a roll of her eyes. Sometimes she thought her mom still saw her as a kid.

She followed Dawson's instructions on getting to his garage after getting downtown. It wasn't that difficult, but there were certainly some very interesting people on the bus going to this part of the city versus the museums and stuff.

She opened the door, not expecting Pablo to bark as he did because the first two times she'd been there he hadn't made a sound.

"Hi Pablo," she said, but he didn't stop. "Shit," she said. What was she supposed to do? "Uh, Dawson?" she called out. She really didn't want to go to the hospital for a dog bite today. That would be a difficult one to explain to her mother.

"Oh, hey," Dawson said, coming out from the back somewhere. "Pablo," he said. He said something else in Spanish that exceeded Sara's very basic knowledge of the language. She'd taken German in high school and college. He grew quiet at whatever he said, though. So whatever he'd said worked. "Sorry."

"I guess he is good at his job."

He chuckled at that. "Yeah. He's deceptive during the day, which is fine. I don't want him scaring away customers."

"Well, no," she said. "That would be bad."

"So you made it all right," he said, glancing at his watch. "And a little sooner than I was thinking. Your movie get pushed to earlier or something?"

"No," she said with a shrug. "My mom was home."

"I'll pretend I understand what that means. I have vague memories of needing to get out of the house because my mom was home and I didn't want to be."

"Been a while?"

He laughed softly, petting the top of Pablo's head. He wasn't laying down yet, so evidently he wasn't too sure if Dawson was serious about telling him to be quiet or not. "Yeah, it has. I haven't lived at home since I was seventeen."

"Really?"

"Yeah. I got a place with an older friend that was closer to here."

"What about school?"

"School is school. I graduated."

"You mean you switched schools your senior year?"

"Yeah," he said, looking at her curiously. "Not you, huh?"

"No!"

"Same house all of your life?"

"Yes," she said.

"Same schools as your brother I suppose."

"Yes. You didn't go to the same schools as your sister?"

"I did. Mom still lives in the same house I grew up in."

"Well, then…"

"Oh, I know where you're coming from, but down here," he said, gesturing to his garage. "There are families who are stuck here, some want to be here because this is all they know, but the ones who can and want to get out. They get out as soon as they can. Things work a little different. You know?"

"I do."

"Anyway. Good timing, early or not. I just cleaned up."

"You didn't finish early on my account, did you?"

"What can I say? Something more appealing than work presented itself. I can come back later if I want to. The cars can wait until Monday, too."

"Why do you come in on Saturday then?"

He shrugged. "Nothing else to do? Customers get their cars back first thing Monday morning and are happy about that. They come back then the next time something goes wrong."

"I suppose."

"Anyway. I promised better than that diner. Name it."

"Oh, I don't know…"

"You don't know. I find that hard to believe."

"Well, I don't know what you're in the mood for or what you even like."

There was that look he'd given her last night, checking her out again and she knew she was blushing terribly as a result. He saw it, too, and only then did he glance away from her and look at Pablo.

"You can pet him now if you want."

"I wasn't sure I should."

"I don't let customers pet him generally, no, but you did yesterday."

"I did?" she asked. She hadn't even noticed doing it. "I'm sorry. It's just natural, I guess."

"It's okay. I could've stopped you. He could've stopped you. He knows better."

"He's a dog who probably likes to get attention."

"He probably does. That doesn't mean he doesn't know better than to let people he doesn't know pet him. Forget me, he had some pretty shitty things done to him before he came to me."

"I suppose," she said, walking toward them then. She settled her hand over his head. "Does this mean he's not going to bark at me the next time I come here?"

"I doubt that. It took him a work week or two with my newest mechanic before he stopped."

"Oh."

"I want him to be cautious."

"Well, sure," she said. "He's beautiful."

"He is."

"Why don't you take him home with you?"

"I already told you that."

"I know. It just seems so…"

"It's better than where he was."

"Where was he?"

"A crack house a couple blocks over."

"Really?"

"Yes. I'm pretty sure he'd been injected with drugs more than once."

"That's awful."

"That's why he's not so trusting of people petting him."

She could see that. She had a friend in high school who smoked pot and thought it was funny to get his cat stoned from the smoke. Sara had never found it really amusing, but that wasn't directly injecting the drug into the cat's blood stream. She couldn't even imagine someone doing that.

"Evidently you understand, too," he said. He'd evidently noticed when she changed how she was petting him from appreciation for him being a beautiful dog to feeling bad he'd been abused. She felt awful that he'd gone through that.

"How'd you end up with him?" she asked.

"The guy who ran the house gave him to me."

"Gave him to you?"

"Yeah. I dated his sister a few years ago and he knew he was about to get busted. He knew with the bust he'd get arrested for some other things. He didn't want Pablo caught up in legal red tape or being put down."

"Oh, that makes sense."

"Luckily, I knew Spanish so all of the commands he knows I could work with, but I've made him kind of bilingual. Obviously I'm not here at the garage all of the time so my workers need to be able to quiet him down, too. He knows the basics in English. Sit. Stay. Down. You know, enough if I'm not around he can be calmed down."

"Right. So, when he gets out of jail Pablo will go back to him?"

"He's not getting out of jail, honey. He's in prison, not jail, and will be for a very long time."

"Oh," she said.

"They tend not to let murderers out."

"Oh," she said again, eyes widening at that. "And you dated his sister?"

"She's not the murderer, but I learned pretty quickly he wasn't someone I wanted to be on the bad side of. I didn't date her for too long after discovering that about him, but for some reason he liked me."

"Why?"

"I don't know," he said with a shrug. "I suppose because I didn't fuck his sister over like most of the crackheads who came around there looking for her did? I don't use. I'm not violent so he knew the dog wasn't going to be harmed any more than he already had been. She didn't use, but it's hard to keep completely clean of that life if you're around it every day. And, well, she was pretty nice looking, but not too well-equipped in the brains department so she was an easy one to take advantage of if someone were of the mind to do that."

"I can't even…"

"Anyway, Pablo seems happy here. He has a bed and stuff in the back he can use he just chooses not to. I can't leave it out here in the garage. I don't know what he does when I'm not here, of course. For all I know he has parties with other dogs in here."

She snorted softly at that.

"So, aren't you hungry? You didn't come down all this way to tell me you're canceling on me, did you?"

"I didn't. I just hadn't thought about it. I figured you'd choose."

"I can, sure. Let me grab my wallet and keys, I didn't think it'd be you this early."

"Sorry."

"No reason to apologize," he said, shaking his head slightly. "You don't need to be so nervous around me, Sara. It's a date. Or just lunch if you don't want to think of it as a date."

She did. Deeply. Really badly. She just wasn't sure, listening to him talk about moving out at seventeen, dating women who had drug dealers for brothers, the brother of his ex-girlfriend being a murderer, and having a dog who used to live in a crack house. Well, should she really be wanting to date him?

She hadn't thought about him as a person with a life leading up to the day she'd had her car towed to the garage. For some reason in her mind he'd just been sort of frozen in time from the night she'd first seen him on. Obviously she knew that wasn't possible, but that's how she'd seen him. He'd be Dawson. She had no doubt ten years ago he was a little rough around the edges.

"I should…"

"Hey," he said with a frown.

"No, I'm sorry."

"Sara?" he asked. He sounded legitimately confused as he should she imagined.

"I'm just not ready for this, I guess. I thought I was. My car wouldn't start and I thought it was like a sign, you know?"

"No, I don't know, but I'm not sure what you're not ready for. It's lunch. You have to eat, right? Did I say something wrong?"

"No, it's just," she chewed on her lower lip not at all sure how to put it into words. She hadn't thought about how different their worlds would likely be. That hadn't mattered to her in her mind when she imagined seeing him again. She just knew she had to see him again. Her car had died and it seemed like a golden opportunity to see what her childhood hero who'd turned into a teenaged crush was like now.

"Well, let me grab my stuff if you want me to take you back to the train station I can do that I guess. I'm not going to make you take a bus back there."

She followed him to what turned out to be his office. There was a lot of stuff back here, though. Parts and stuff. So other than his office, a breakroom which appeared to have lockers in it, and a bathroom the rest of the back area was pretty wide open. She hadn't been certain what to expect exactly.

"You have kids?" she asked.

"Uh, no," he said quickly. "They're my partners. That's Holly," he said, apparently noticing the picture she was looking at.

"You share the office?"

"Yes. That's why we have two desks."

"Oh, right," she said. She just hadn't really thought of why he had two desks. "Why do you work the Saturdays then?"

"Because I don't have a wife and kids to give me something else to do? I don't know," he said with a shrug. "He does his share of Saturdays, too, when we have something actually time sensitive. We go to car shows and stuff sometimes on the weekends. He handles more of the business aspect of things. You know, advertising, convincing me to accept credit cards, and talking me into hiring two mechanics I never thought I needed. He's a good mechanic, don't get me wrong, but I'm better."

She giggled softly at that.

"Sound too conceited?"

"No," she said with a shrug.

"His dad was one and taught him things, but his dad isn't the nicest guy so never taught him too much. Just enough to get by, help his dad out, never enough to do better than his dad."

"Oh," she said. "He seems kind of young."

"To what?" he asked with a frown.

"Have a daughter that age," she said. She had to be close to high school age. A teenager for sure. She hadn't paid much attention to him the couple of times she'd seen him but he hadn't seemed older than Dawson at any rate.

"Oh, yeah, he was pretty young. Sixteen or seventeen I think. Still in school anyway."

"And married?"

"Uh, no, not to her mom. That came later to someone else. Then came more kids."

"Oh."

She moved in front of him then. He'd been watching her as she looked around the office. Other than the picture of his partner's kids and wife. She presumed it was the partner's wife anyway. There wasn't much personal in here. A calendar on the wall was from a tool company. A poster on the wall was of an old Corvette.

"This one's your desk?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said, looking puzzled at her question.

"But you don't have kids?"

"No," he said, glancing at the obviously handmade pen and pencil holder on his desk.

"I do have a niece and nephew, though. My nephew made that for me in junior high school. Ceramics or something."

"It's a muffler," she said, realization dawning on her what the holder was supposed to be.

He chuckled. "Yeah."

"How old is he now?"

"Uh, eighteen and would probably hate knowing I still have it on my desk. He was into cars at the time so sort of idolized me. Well, the idea that I got to work on cars all day long. I'm not sure he understood it's not a glamorous job. I got that out of the deal regardless."

"That's sweet."

"If you say so."

"I do. I made my dad something like that, too, for his desk. It wasn't nearly as original or creative, though. It was just an ashtray."

"Your dad smokes?"

"No," she said with a shrug. "I have no idea why I made it. I couldn't think of anything. I figured he had to have people who came to his office that smoked."

"I'm sure your dad was just as glad to have it on his desk as I am to have Sean's on mine. What does your dad do?"

"He's an architect," she said.

"Ah," he said. "Mom?"

"Real estate."

"Selling Dad's buildings?"

"Sometimes, sure, and it's renting out offices in the buildings not the buildings themselves."

"I suppose," he said.

She settled a hand over his, the one he wasn't holding his keys in. She had to touch him. They'd kissed yesterday, but he'd initiated and she'd been so surprised that he'd done it that she hadn't really touched him much. She swallowed a bit, nervous as hell as she laced her fingers through his before leaning into kiss him.

She'd surprised him. She'd surprised herself truthfully. She shouldn't be kissing him. She shouldn't even be here. She knew that, but God he was such a fascination to her. She had to give into her curiosity about him. She had to know what he was like.

She took his hand, sliding it under her shirt and settled it against her stomach. He didn't need much more of a hint than that evidently. She whimpered softly as he moved his hand up along her stomach slowly. Too slowly. It felt nice, though. He clearly wanted to touch her.

Her lips parted about the time he grazed a nipple through her bra with his thumb. God, it'd been so long since she'd let anyone do this to her. She got sort of tired of feeling inadequate next to her better endowed friends. Her problem not theirs, but she never felt as though a guy really wanted to be there with her feeling her up instead of someone else.

He settled against the edge of his desk, drawing her to him so she was between his legs. She pressed against him. She couldn't help it and he groaned softly, breaking the kiss then. He kissed her jaw, finding her ear and kissing her there, too.

She slid her hands along his sides, tugging on the T-shirt he wore a bit so she could touch him. She had to. She was this close to him. She had to know if he felt as good as she imagined he had over the years. She'd imagined it a lot, too.

She was pleased to know he felt every bit as good as she anticipated he would. Better even because her dreams weren't really him so she couldn't feel the warmth of his skin or smell the cologne he wore. She hadn't noticed him wearing any the first time she met him, too little and scared to think on such things.

His mouth found her neck as she worked the button on the front of his jeans. A drastic change of heart from where she was thinking about leaving him just a few minutes ago. Realistically she knew she probably should turn around and leave right now, but as she reached into his jeans to touch him she wasn't thinking with her head at the moment.

He nipped at her neck when she touched his length for the first time. Her breath caught at the feeling of him growing harder as she slid her fingertips over his shaft. It'd been a while since she'd done this much with a guy and she was kind of nervous about doing it now, but her desire to know what he felt like took over.

He didn't seem to be of the mind to complain. His hands slid along her stomach to her hips so he could grab her shirt and pull it up and over her head, setting it on his desk behind him. She shivered a bit as he reached behind her to undo her bra. She kissed his neck as he seemed to be deciding whether to actually touch her now that he'd taken her shirt off.

He tilted his head a bit, seeming to invite her to kiss his neck more as he ran the back of his hand along her arm and over her shoulder. She hissed softly when he finally got to a breast, brushing over it with the back of his hand before cupping it. Distantly, she noticed he had a bandage or something on the back of his hand and knew she should maybe ask him what happened since she was pretty sure it hadn't been there the other day.

Later.

Like the rest of him his hand wasn't small by any means, but he touched her in such a way that she didn't feel small or as if she was seriously lacking in the basic equipment for him to like her. He lowered a mouth to her breast while shifting them so she was sitting on the desk and he was in front of her. She barely noticed him doing it she was so focused on touching him finally.

She absolutely had not had the idea of him being able to push her skirt up being much easier than jeans when she dressed for the day. As he was doing just that, though, she thought it'd been a fantastic idea. His mouth was at her breast, sucking and licking her hardened nipple as well as the skin around it. She slid her hands to his head, pressing into him once she felt him sliding a fingertip inside of her panties so he could touch her there.

She whimpered softly as he seemed to be avoiding touching her clit and he chuckled softly. She really, really wanted him to touch her there. She knew he'd bring her off real easily. Instead, he slid a fingertip inside of her and she clenched around him as she felt him slide further inside of her.

"Dawson," she whispered after a while. He was teasing her. He had to be. He was so slow about sliding his finger in and out of her. She clearly wanted him to do it and she was as wet as she could remember ever being.

"Erik," he murmured against her breast.

"Erik," she said then, realizing she hadn't even known his first name until that moment.

"Uh huh," he said, not seeming to have talking on his mind just then. She couldn't blame him exactly. She didn't either.

"Please," she whispered, somehow making it sound like a plea even saying it so softly.

He slid her panties off then and slid his jeans down enough he could do exactly what she wanted him to do.

Slide inside of her.

She gripped his shoulders, crying out.

Years she'd dreamt of this, wondered what he'd feel like pressed inside of her. She groaned, sliding her mouth to his neck to stifle it a bit as he kept moving inside of her deeper.

"It's okay, honey, no one's here but us."

She knew that, of course, but she was kind of embarrassed at how turned on she was right now. She finished before he had even thrusted all the way inside of her and he had to know that. His hands slid from her hips to her ass, cupping her there as he tugged her closer to the edge of the desk and into him and his thrusts.

She slid her hands along his arms and then lower to his stomach, pushing his shirt up enough so she could touch him. Higher she lifted his shirt up so she could kiss his chest. God, he was solid everywhere and felt so good to touch.

"Fuck," he cried out as he pulled out of her seconds before she felt her thigh get damp.

"Sorry," he said.

"For what?" she asked. He wasn't possibly sorry that they'd just done that, was he?

"I shouldn't have waited until I was that close."

"It's all right," she said.

"I should get something…"

"Erik."

"I'll be right back," he said. "Just stay there."

"You think I'm going anywhere?"

"Well, I suppose not. I just," he stepped away, fastening his jeans. "Wasn't expecting that at all."

"Really?"

He frowned a bit, but left the room. He came back a few minutes later with some towels. She'd put her bra and top back on while he was gone. Her panties would have to wait until he was done she supposed.

"You came here assuming I was expecting you to have sex with me?"

"Well, no, but I just assumed…" He was older than her, more than just a little bit she knew. So he had to sort of assume sex would come as part of a date. Wouldn't he?

"That I'd assume that?"

"Yeah."

He scoffed. "Uh no, especially knowing you had plans later."

"Oh," she said.

"Is that why you did that? Because you think I expected you to?"

"No, I wanted to."

"Well, I'm glad that was the reason. I mean, it was a more than pleasant surprise. I won't deny that."

"So, Erik," she said, mulling that over as he wiped her leg off.

"Uh yeah. Sorry, I guess I thought I'd told you that already."

"No," she said. She hadn't asked either. She wasn't sure what that said.

"Yeah, everyone calls me Dawson I don't even think about it anymore."

"I like Erik."

"I admit I'm rather indifferent about it, but if you like it then I guess I can live with that."

"Good," she said, reaching for him so she could kiss him once he finished wiping her leg off. "Thank you."

"For cleaning up my mess, you mean?"

"Yeah," she whispered.

He chuckled softly, grabbing her panties from beside her before moving in front of her so he could slide them back on.

"If you haven't noticed by now I try to keep my garage clean."

"I guess I know that now."

"You put your shirt and bra back on."

"Yeah," she said.

"I didn't even really get the chance to look at you while they were off."

"Like there's much to look at," she murmured.

"Hey," he said, sliding his hands under her shirt. "Did I complain?"

"No, I surprised you, though."

"Did I react as if I didn't like what you felt like?"

"You're a guy…"

"Wow. I'm not sure what kind of guys you've run across before and I'm sorry if you were left with the impression you're anything but pretty."

She rolled her eyes.

"Don't do that. I'm not feeding you a line."

"No, but you have to say that!"

"Why?"

"We just had sex."

"Uh no, I don't have to say that. We've already had sex. If I was like you seem to think I am I wouldn't care now."

"I guess."

"I mean, yeah, all right you're not Dolly Parton, but that'd look ridiculous on you anyway."

"Oh God," she said, pushing him away. "Just forget it."

"Now you're mad at me."

"No, it's just," she shrugged. "Guys like that."

"Well, sure. I mean, if I said otherwise I'd be a liar, but this guy likes all shapes and sizes. You know?"

"I suppose."

"Come on, let's go to lunch and get away from this conversation. I've made you mad or uncomfortable. Something. I didn't mean to do that."

"We don't have to…"

"Now you think I don't want to have lunch with you. Sara. Really. I invited you here for lunch. Sex hadn't even entered my mind!"

"Why not?'

"I don't know. Because you're like a decade younger than me. I don't expect that out of first dates anyway."

"Never?"

"Well, depends on what kind of first date we're talking about, I guess. First and last? Probably I'd expect that."

"You don't think this will be our last?"

He scoffed. "I guess that's up to you now, isn't it, honey? You're insecure about your chest. I get that. I mean, I don't because you're fine and everything. What if I just came across as a bumbling idiot who could barely pull out of you in time?"

"You didn't."

"Yeah, well, see, it works both ways."

He shifted his hands to her hips, helping her adjust her skirt as she slid off of the desk.

"You still want to have lunch with me or you just want me to take you to the train station?"

"No, I do."

She did. She knew she probably shouldn't, but the time for walking away had come and gone now. God, she'd had sex with him. There was only one person she could tell who would ever understand how big of a deal that was. She'd have to call her tomorrow or next week.

"All right. Let me turn everything off and do one last walk-through to be sure everything's locked up tight."

"I'll go find Pablo. He's not going to growl at me again, is he?"

He chuckled. "Well, you probably smell like me now so no I don't think he will."

"That's the secret?"

"No, but I think in this case he'll know you're all right to be out there."

"Hmm," she said, leaving the office. She felt his eyes on her, watching her but she didn't look back. She couldn't. He'd actually made her feel … good about herself. She'd never left sex before with that. She didn't want to look back and see that he really didn't believe what he'd just told her.

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