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Until Sadie by Sarah Curtis

 

Overview: Cruising Pacific Coast Highway, Dean Keller had one thing on his mind—the job he needed to nail down.
New city. New connections. New life. That was Dean’s focus.
Until Sadie.
One look at the fiery pixie with emerald eyes and Dean knew he had to make her his.
The timing couldn’t be worse. Things were… complicated.
Dean should’ve walked away from her.
He didn’t.
Couldn’t.
But he should have.
Because too soon the truth would be revealed.
And Dean would be left desperate to prove to Sadie his love for her was real.
Even if not everything else was.

 

Until Sadie by Sarah Curtis Book Chapter One

 

Three months prior, Friday, August 7th

 

Dean always felt a thrill when riding into a new town, and as he turned his bike off Pacific Coast Highway, this one was no exception. Heading inland with the salt and brine of the ocean air whipping through his hair and the sun warming his scalp, he slowed his Harley so he could take in the sights. Gone was the view of bikini-clad bodies, surfers, and families that crowded the beaches as he’d sped down California’s coast. In its stead were the rustic and weathered houses and shops of downtown Huntington Beach. He rode along quaint streets lined with old-fashioned light posts and sidewalks filled with scantily clad people, their flip-flops slapping the pavement as they passed stores and restaurants that catered to a beach community.

He reduced his speed to a crawl as he reached his destination and turned into Pierce’s Garage—a mechanic shop off Main Street. Parking his bike, he kicked down the stand and got off, taking his time to survey the place, noting it did good business. Cars lined the back and side walls and filled all the bays where mechanics busily worked. He didn’t see anyone idly standing around.

Classic rock played from the depths of one of the bays, the music occasionally drowned by the loud blast of impact guns, clanking tools, and revving engines. Sounds he was familiar with—the lullaby he’d fallen asleep to as a child.

“Sweet ride.”

Dean turned at the sound of the gruffly spoken compliment to find a guy—appearing just as rough as his voice with shaggy brown hair and a full beard—approaching, wiping his hands on a red rag smeared with grease stains.

“Thanks.” He took a step to the side so the guy had a better view.

As the man drew near, Dean noted he was a few inches shorter than himself. Not a surprise. Not many men topped his six-four frame.

“Classic with a custom package? That must have set you back a few bucks.”

Dean’s lips quirked. “Just a few.” He waited a beat, then asked, “You know where I can find Ray?”

“You’re looking at him.” The guy’s brow furrowed. “What can I do for you?”

Dean held out his hand. “Name’s Dean Keller. We have a mutual friend. Said the first thing I needed to do when I hit town was look you up.”

Ray tucked the rag into his back pocket before taking Dean’s hand, giving it a firm shake. “Yeah? And who might that friend be?”

“Cobi Mayson.”

“Mayson? Well shit. Why didn’t you start with that?” Ray’s lips split into a broad smile. “Cobi saved my skin more than once when we served together. How do you know him?”

“Our families are close. We played football in school, then we both joined the service together. Though we went our separate ways after boot camp.”

“Army?”

Dean shook his head, knowing he was being tested. “Marines.” He ran a hand through his brown hair that was about two months past due for a haircut. “Miss the three squares but can’t say I miss the buzz cuts.”

Ray laughed, slapping him on the shoulder. “Well, any friend of Cobi’s is a friend of mine. How’s he doing? I haven’t talked to him in… Hell, close to six years.”

“He’s good. Moved back home after getting out of the service. Met some chick. Got married.” Dean internally winced. Hadley would bust his nuts if she heard him call her a chick.

“No, shit? That’s crazy, man.” He ran a palm over his forehead, wiping droplets of sweat. “Let’s go to my office and out of the sun. You can catch me up.”

Dean’s gaze wandered as he followed Ray to the back of the shop, catching the eyes of a few workers. He gave them chin lifts as he passed. All but one returned the gesture—a burly dude covered in tats from the top of his bald head to the sleeves that wrapped his arms. Dean got a glare from him. He returned it with a megawatt smile. Kill ‘em with fucking kindness.

“Have a seat.” Ray motioned to a metal folding chair that was positioned in front of an industrial desk. He opened a mini fridge. “I got soda and water. What’s your pleasure?”

“Water would be great, thanks.” Dean took a seat, trying not to cringe as the cold metal seeped through the ass of his jeans. It might be hot as hell outside, but Ray’s office felt like the Arctic with the way he had the air-conditioning blasting.

Ray pulled out two bottled waters and handed one over before sitting behind the desk.

After a few more minutes of shooting the shit, Ray speared him with his eyes. “So, tell me why you’re really here, Dean.”

Dean leaned back in his chair, legs spread wide, and didn’t bother beating around the bush. “To be honest, I could use a job.” He held his breath and Ray’s gaze as he waited for him to speak, not letting it show how much he had riding on the answer. He’d left everything familiar behind to start this new venture and hoped to shit it would pan out.

After what felt like a lifetime, Ray finally spoke. “I’m gonna assume you know your way around an engine.”

He nodded curtly. “I do.”

“Okay, you can start tomorrow. Six a.m. sharp. I’ll give you two weeks to show me what you’ve got. After that, if I like you, the job becomes permanent.”

“I appreciate the opportunity.” Dean stood and held out a hand.

Ray shook it. “You got a place to stay lined up?”

“Still need to find something. Fixin’ to hit up a cheap motel in the meantime.”

“Fuck that shit. Don’t waste your money. I’ve got a buddy who owns some apartments not too far from here. Some of the guys you’ll be working with live there. Nothing fancy, but cleaner than a motel and cheaper, too. Five hundred a month, includes utilities. Stay as long as you like or until you find something better.”

“Sounds good. I’m definitely interested.”

Ray opened his desk drawer and took out a set of keys. “Come on, I’ll introduce you.”

Dean followed Ray back out front. He beelined to a black and chrome hog, calling over his shoulder before getting on, “Follow me. It’s only a few blocks down the street.”


Ray pulled his bike over in front of a long row of single-story apartments. Dean did a quick count. There were eight in total.

After getting off their bikes, Ray led him to the first in line and knocked. A guy in a Budweiser tee and faded jeans opened the door.

“Hey, Jim. Got a tenant for you. Name’s Dean Keller. I just hired him on.”

Jim gave him a once over before holding out a hand. “Nice to meetcha.”

Dean shook it. “Same.”

Jim leaned away from the doorway, coming back into view with a set of keys. “Got one’s been vacant a couple of months now. Guy who used to rent it moved on to greener pastures. Got his degree, then got some fancy-ass job in LA.”

He stepped out, and they walked three units down. After sticking the key in the deadbolt, he twisted the lock at the same time shoving the door with his shoulder. “Gets stuck during the hotter months. Wood swells. Just need to give it a good push.”

Dean crossed the threshold, and it was like stepping into a furnace. But Ray had been right, the place was clean. Spotless from what he could tell. It had a basic apartment setup. Living area straight ahead, a small kitchen to the left, an archway that led to a hall and presumably the bedroom to the right.

“Whew, it’s hotter than fucking Hades in here.” Ray moved to a back window and pulled up the blinds before sliding the window open.

“It doesn’t have central air, but with the ocean breeze, you leave the windows open for a while and it’ll cool off. There is a window unit in the bedroom, though,” Jim supplied.

Dean took a few steps farther into the living room, glancing around. “I’m used to the heat.”

“Yeah, where you from?”

“Was living in Tennessee.” He turned to Jim and smirked. “Until I got sick of the heat and humidity.”

Ray laughed, tucked his hands into his back pockets, and looked at Dean. “Well, what do you think?”

The place was fully furnished—sofa, recliner, coffee and end tables, TV. Everything was at least two decades old but was in decent shape, and he wasn’t fucking picky. “It’s perfect. I’ll take it.”

Jim nodded. “I don’t do no formal contract. As long as you pay the rent every month, we’re good.” They made their way to the door, and he continued, “Need help moving anything in?”

Dean stepped back out into the bright sunshine. “All I own is strapped to my bike. Sold everything to move here.”

Ray whistled. “That’s risky, man.”

Dean couldn’t agree more.

 
 

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