A Girl's Guide to Moving On (New Beginnings #2)(4) by Debbie Macomber

“Nichole. Nichole.”

I lifted my head and nodded. “I am such an idiot.”

“Are you hurt?”

I assured her I wasn’t.

“You’re going to need a tow truck to pull you out of here.”

I figured as much.

“Do you have Triple A?”

I shook my head. It was an added expense I couldn’t afford.

“Do you want me to call someone for you?”

“Please.” Still I remained in the car, praying I hadn’t done any further damage to my vehicle.

Alicia hesitated. “Are you sure you’re all right? You didn’t hit your head or anything, did you?”

“No, no, I’m fine.” I wasn’t. I wasn’t anywhere close to okay, but that wasn’t due to the fact my car was head up in a ditch.

Alicia hesitated and then left me. Breathless, she returned a few minutes later. I remained seated in the car, clenching the steering wheel. She opened the driver’s-side door. “Potter Towing will be here within thirty minutes.”

I nodded. “Thanks.”

“You need help getting out?” She studied me as if unconvinced I hadn’t suffered a head injury.

I sniffled, ran my hand beneath my nose, and shook my head. “I’m not hurt, just a little shook up.”

“Listen, I’d wait with you, but I’m giving Mrs. Fountaine a perm and I don’t want to leave the solution on too long. Denise has gone for the day, so I’m all alone.”

“Don’t worry; go take care of Mrs. Fountaine. I’ll be okay.” I wanted to blame Jake for this but I was the one who hadn’t looked where I was going.

Just as Alicia promised, a tow truck pulled into the parking lot about twenty-five minutes later. By then I had climbed out, had collected my purse, and was pacing anxiously, waiting. I’d called Leanne and told her what happened.

“You’re sure you’re okay?” Leanne asked, and I could hear the concern in her voice.

“No, no, I’m perfectly all right. I just wanted you to know I’ll be later than usual. Look, I need to go, the tow truck just pulled up.”

“Don’t worry about Owen. He’s doing great. Take your time.”

I disconnected just as a hulk of a man jumped out of the tow truck. He had on greasy overalls and a sleeveless shirt. Both arms revealed bulging muscles and full-sleeve tattoos. His eyes were a piercing shade of blue as his gaze skidded past me to my car.

“How’d that happen?” he asked, studying the position of the car.

“I wasn’t drinking, if that is what you think.”

He shook his head and grinned. “You mean to say you did that sober?”

For the first time since I’d ended the conversation with Jake, I smiled. “I guess it does look like I was on something.”

His smile was friendly, lighting up his eyes.

I wrapped my arms around my waist. “How much is this going to set me back?” I asked.

He named a figure that caused me to swallow a gasp. “I’ll need to put it on my credit card.” I had one I used only for emergencies. I’d once been free and easy with money. I could afford to be then, but no longer.

“I can give you a discount for cash,” he told me as he pulled out a thick wire cord and hooked it onto the car’s bumper.

“How much of a discount?”

“Ten percent.”

I did a quick calculation in my head. “What about my debit card?”

“Still got to pay the bank fees with that. Cash only.”

“Will you take a check?” I had a checkbook in my purse.

He paused and glanced over his shoulder. “Is it good?”

I was pissed that he’d ask. “Yes, it’s good.”

“Then I’ll take your check.”

Big of him.

“I know Alicia,” he said as he walked back to his truck. “She said you work at that used-clothing place.” He motioned with his head toward the shop.

“It’s a volunteer position, so it isn’t like a job.”

“Yeah, that’s what she said. She said it’s a shop that dresses women looking for work. Guess you must have a good eye for that sort of thing.”

He didn’t expect an answer and I didn’t give him one.

Once the car was connected to the tow truck, it took only a few minutes to bring it out of the ditch. He waited to make sure the engine started and I hadn’t done any further damage.

I set my purse on the hood of the car and pulled out my checkbook. He took the check, folded it in half. He looked at me and then paused before slipping it into his pocket. It seemed like he had something he wanted to say. I waited and then realized he was probably worried about the check.

“It’s good,” I assured him again, annoyed that he seemed to think I’d stiff him. Maybe he’d gotten stiffed before.

“Anything more I can do for you?” he asked.

“Nothing. Thanks. I need to get home.”

He gave me a salute and said, “It was nice doing business with you, Ms. Patterson.”

“You, too, Mr….?”

“Nyquist. Call me Rocco.”

“Rocco,” I repeated with a smile. “Thank you for your help, Rocco,” I said, eager now to be on my way.

As soon as Leanne answered the door, Owen dropped his toy and raced into my waiting arms. I got down on one knee and my son hugged my neck, squeezing tightly.

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