One thing most people never realized about Kurt and Lena Trench: they weren’t just siblings. They were twins. It was the best joke they’d ever shared, because they looked nothing alike. People rarely guessed they could be cousins, never mind that they’d been born minutes apart to the same parents. Lena cut a slim figure, all sharp edges and narrow shoulders. She’d built up a lifetime of muscle working in the garage—strong arms and stronger hands—but her frame was slight, her face all delicate features and big, dark eyes. She wore her hair pixie short, the better for keeping it out of her face while she worked.
Kurt was the opposite in almost every way: tall, stocky, and sturdy as a pack mule. He had shoulders built to intimidate, all the more imposing for the wall of muscle he’d accumulated between gym and garage. There was nothing delicate about his broad nose and heavy brow. He wore his hair buzzed short despite the fact his ears were too big for his head, and his jaw always sported a shadow of stubble by noon, no matter how closely he shaved.
They were a mismatched set, he and his sister, but they made a good team.
“Hey, man.” Shane extended a hand toward Kurt on reaching him, inviting a familiar clasp. A year ago, when Shane was still a new face, Kurt might have avoided the handshake for fear of smudging a customer with oil and engine grease. He knew better now, and shook Shane’s hand warmly. A smile crept across Kurt’s face at the cocky strength in Shane’s grip.
“Hey, Dolan. What the hell did you do to your car? You were just in here two weeks ago.”
Actually, Shane had stopped by only five days back, but that had been purely a social call. No car troubles, just a box of pistachio muffins to share with everyone on shift. Somewhere in the past few months Shane had crossed the rocky divide from customer to friend, and his presence at the garage was easy to take for granted. It had something to do with Shane’s earnest eagerness around engine blocks and gearshifts, and even more to do with his stubborn and unquenchable charm.
Shane was a genuinely good guy, and Kurt hadn’t had the heart to run him off, even when Shane started hanging around the garage with the unspoken sincerity of a lost puppy. Lena had that effect on men sometimes. The fact she always smiled when Shane turned up told Kurt everything he needed to know.
Shane gave a rueful shrug when he dropped Kurt’s hand. “Could be I pushed the engine too hard yesterday. She’s running okay, and everything looks fine, but she doesn’t sound right. I was hoping you guys could work some magic, figure out what’s up?” He finished like a question, peering into Kurt’s eyes. Shane was nearly as tall as Kurt despite his lean frame, which meant he didn’t have to crane his neck to lock Kurt with a hopeful look.
“Could be your wheel bearings, from the sound of it.” Lena nudged Shane with an elbow. Her eyes met Kurt’s a moment later when she added, “Paperwork’s all yours, bro. I’ve got shit to do.” She retreated smirking, heading toward the hopeless old truck she’d been fighting for two days straight. Kurt had glanced under the hood when she wasn’t looking and honestly didn’t know why she was still trying; then again, it wouldn’t be the first time Lena had coaxed life back into a vehicle Kurt had judged beyond saving.
“Come on.” Kurt cocked his head toward the office at the back of the garage. He lead the way, barely aware of the creak of old hinges as he pushed open the door. “Coffee?”
The coffeemaker in the office was an outdated and fussy appliance, but it did the job. A fresh pot sat barely touched—Lena’s work for sure. No one else craved the caffeine badly enough to drink coffee in this heat.
“No. Thanks.” Shane followed him inside and flopped into one of the mismatched office chairs. Both were low and creaky, but Shane chose the sturdier of the two. He seemed completely at ease as he slouched against the faded back of the chair and kicked his legs out in a careless sprawl. Shane and his lanky limbs belonged in this space, his bright presence somehow perfectly natural in the dingy and well-worn gray of the room.
The whole office felt comfortingly like home, from the metal-sided desk to the scuffed leather couch on the other side of the room. Wide panes of glass took up most of the wall between the office and garage, and a row of smaller windows ran high along the opposite wall, sneaking sunlight in from outside. Both sets of windows were smudged with grime, but the office itself was cleaner than the rest of the garage. Kurt had a fastidious streak in him, and since the office was almost entirely his domain, neither Lena nor their staff imposed uninvited clutter.
Kurt slid into his chair behind the desk and grabbed the mouse to wake the garage’s clunky desktop computer. The ancient machine still ran the books and kept the schedule well enough to prevent Kurt pining after a replacement, but it was only a matter of time. Kurt predicted another year and a half before he admitted defeat and changed over to a new system.
“We’re a little swamped this week,” he admitted as he glanced through the pages of calendar on his screen. “If it’s a difficult fix, you might be waiting a few days before we squeeze you in. I could recommend another garage….” Kurt hated the very idea, but he’d do it if Shane was in a hurry. Shane was no slouch beneath the hood of a car himself. If Shane hadn’t been able to spot a problem—even one too complicated to fix himself—chances were it’d take some time to track down the fault.
“Nah.” Shane shook his head. “I’d rather leave it in your hands. The wait’s not a problem. I just bought my dad’s old Camaro off him, anyway. Car like that deserves a proper welcome.”
Kurt snorted. “Damn right it does.” He and Shane had shared only a handful of nonbusiness conversations, but even Kurt knew how long Shane had been coveting his father’s ’69 Camaro. “How’s she run?”
“Like a dream.” Shane’s eyes went distant, and the daydreamy look made his smooth face seem impossibly young. Kurt returned his attention to the computer with difficulty, focusing on entering data into the scheduling software. He didn’t need to ask Shane any of the usual intake questions, but there was no such thing as a tune-up without paperwork.
When Kurt finished and shifted in his seat, he found Shane watching him. Something other than quiet patience glinted in Shane’s expression, but it was a cryptic something, and Kurt couldn’t decipher it.
“I’ve got you booked in.” Kurt scooted his chair back more sharply than he intended. “We’ll give you a shout when she’s ready to pick up. Need me to call a cab?”
“Got it covered.” Shane fished his phone from his back pocket and tipped it in salute. From his front pocket he grabbed the Mustang’s spare key before Kurt had a chance to ask for it. “Here. Thanks for fitting me in.”
As Shane handed over the key, he smiled a different kind of smile than any of the ones Kurt had seen before. This was no smirk or laugh or giddy grin. This was something lazy and warm, the kind of look Kurt would take for an invitation coming from anyone else. He knew damn well it wasn’t an invitation, but the fact didn’t stop his stomach from clenching tight with a sudden kick of want. The unexpected feeling hit him hard, and he barely heard himself grunt a reply to Shane’s thanks.
A moment later Shane was out the office door, but Kurt’s head was still spinning.
Christ, where the hell had that come from?
Kurt was a pro at not wanting things he couldn’t have, and it didn’t take a headful of genius to figure out Shane Dolan belonged on the list. Sure, Kurt had looked. Shane was a knockout, charming, and easy on the eyes. Exactly Kurt’s type. But Kurt had no reason to believe Shane was interested in men, considering the way he’d hit it off with Lena; and even if he were, so what? Lena had dibs. Shane might not be her boyfriend exactly, but they were damn well headed that way.
Kurt sat, the wheels of his chair squeaking in protest when he landed too hard. Suddenly the fact he couldn’t make a move on Shane actually hurt, and that was a new sensation. It was a shitty way to feel about the guy Lena was into.
Kurt leaned forward and let his forehead hit the desk with a dull thud. He shoved all thoughts of Shane to the back of his mind and vowed not to revisit them.