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Copyright ©2009 Lena Austin
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Loren drummed his fingers nervously on the steering wheel of his eighteen-wheeler. Saying "his" even in his mind made him smile. After six months on the road without a break, save for a week's layover in El Paso while the company repaired his antenna, he was ready for a holiday at home.
Home. What a funny word for a guy who'd run away from his last foster home at sixteen and vowed never to be shackled to the system again. Now he was driving for Barkus, Kansas, making his semi scream down I-70 in the winter. Running back to the man of his dreams, Bad Dawg the biker.
The long-legged, slow-talking redhead with a voice like Sam Elliott at his finest was enough to distract Loren from the road and make him smile a shit-eating grin nothing could wipe off his face. Man, he had it bad for BD, and he didn't care about traps and being tied down to a place anymore.
Unfortunately, Loren hadn't given BD a definite arrival time. Naturally, as a low man on the hierarchy of truckers working for the company, he'd gotten all the shitty little jobs none of the others wanted. Loren had done his time and paid his dues, and now the truck he sat in was assigned to him, and him alone. He could customize the berth, up to a point, and had managed to acquire a refrigerator, coffee pot, and a specialized GPS system for truckers. Loren patted the GPS device, sitting atop the Qual-com computer. The luxury of never being lost had been worth every cent.
He hoped BD would stoop from his artistry with customizing motorcycles to help Loren outfit the berth for comfort and function. Eventually, if their relationship worked out for the long haul, Loren would send BD money for the down payment on a Harley to customize.
Loren dreamed of owning a Harley Hawg, customized in blue metallic paint. Not that Loren minded, but riding the bitch seat behind BD was murderous on the ego and the kidneys. Loren wanted his own bike to ride next to BD.
The exit to Barkus was nothing more than a tiny county road sign, but Loren's GPS beeped a warning in plenty of time for him to turn north and head toward the man he loved. The big blue semi made the turn with lumbering grace, considering Loren had dropped off the trailer in KC and was bob-tailing it home before the Qual-com lit up with another load and another delay on his requested holiday time. Four days of bliss with BD.
He hoped. Talking on the phone was fine, considering how the conversations went. BD had never been talkative, and Loren understood his private nature. Hell, a prairie dog shifter had to be cautious to survive, and BD made secrecy into a fine art.
Loren crawled his semi through the town of Barkus. Not only was the day getting on toward dusk, but the small town had strict speed limits. The last thing Loren wanted was a speeding ticket. Not a good way to meet your future father-in-law, especially since the sheriff might not approve of his son's human mate.
Loren winced to himself, still incredulous at the circumstances. A whole town of shifters, mixed with tolerant or ignorant human residents -- a gator shifter, among others! The still-pink scar on his hand reminded him of when BD had bitten him to prove the point.
He turned into the gravel and dirt driveway, which led to BD's home. The house was dark, meaning BD wasn't inside. Sure enough, the lights blazed out the window of the huge barn BD had converted into a workshop. Loren parked his rig in the parking lot mostly used by BD's biker buddies.
Loren sniffed himself cautiously when he got out of the cab. He'd bathed yesterday at a truck stop in Indiana, but he didn't want to offend BD's nose just in case. A guy got pretty darn rank when he could only stop to bathe and do laundry about once a week. Of course, BD had stated clearly when they spoke three days ago that Loren could have another religious experience in the cathedral to cleanliness BD termed a bathroom. Loren intended to take him up on the offer.
Loren walked around to the small side door of the barn and didn't bother to try to muscle open the big double doors. They were for when a bike needed to be driven in for custom work or minor repairs. A wailing scream of metal being ground -- or a tone-deaf banshee chorus warming up -- assailed Loren's ears before he even turned the doorknob.
Loren winced at the painful sound and seriously considered waiting in the truck. The sound was eardrum-shattering through the barn walls and made his skin crawl. Now he knew for certain you could kill with sound. His ears begged him not to open the door, but he had to see BD. He turned the knob, and when the door swung free, he clapped his hands over his ears and stepped into the cavernous barn.
BD was there, in a corner area where a welding setup and other metal-smithing tools stood. In front of him on a bench, clamped to a fare-thee-well, was part of a motorcycle's motor jugs, and BD made a grinder scream as he made minute adjustments to angles on the vanes of the jugs. He had a massive set of sound-deadening earphones on and, from the focused concentration on his face, was deaf and blind to anything but his work.
What Loren knew about customizing bikes would fit in a teacup in comparison to BD, but the way the already cut pieces reflected the lights was beautiful. Someone had undoubtedly paid BD a small fortune, because the Harley sitting nearby was a work of art in baby blue and silver chrome. Loren drooled on his steel toes to go admire, but he dared not.
Loren also recognized that disturbing BD in any manner while he used the grinder could destroy the bike's motor. Those finicky cuts were probably made on precise angles. If he startled BD, he could ruin a month's work. Since leaving BD there suited Loren, he backed out of the barn and shut the door softly. He hiked up to the house, found the spare key right where BD had told him the hiding rock would be, and let himself into the house. He had a little holiday surprise to prepare for one redheaded prairie dog.