The definition of a happy man?
The guy who knows exactly what he wants and has it. That's Harry Porter. He's got the perfect job, the best buddies and no commitments beyond the next good time. It's the ideal life.
Then he stops to help Pippa White when she's stranded by the side of the road. He's known--and liked--her for a while, but as the ex of a friend, she's entirely off-limits. And as fun as the banter with her is, Harry knows single moms are out of his league.
So why all the excuses to see Pippa again...and again? And why can't he stop thinking about her? But most puzzling of all is how Harry suddenly wants to swap a night with the boys for one with only Pippa!
Beer. Icy cold, preferably accompanied by a big, greasy burger. Oh, yeah.
Harry Porter rolled down the window of his 1972 HQ Monaro GTS and grinned into the resulting wind as he sped toward the pub. A vintage Midnight Oil song played on the radio and he tapped out the rhythm on the steering wheel, the burble of the V8 engine providing a bass beat.
It was Friday afternoon, it was summer, he'd just been paid, and half a dozen of his best mates were waiting at the Pier Hotel ten minutes up the road to kick off the weekend's adventures.
Life didn't get much better.
Whoever was in charge at the radio station seemed to agree because Midnight Oil's "Power and the Passion" was followed by Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." He was reaching for the volume to crank it higher when he spotted the bright yellow car in the emergency stopping lane to the left of the highway, its hood pushed up in the universal signal that someone was shit out of luck.
The mechanic in him automatically diagnosed the problem--in this weather, most likely the car's cooling system--before returning his gaze to the road. Fortunately, being a mechanic wasn't like being a doctor-- Harry wasn't obliged to stop for emergencies. Which was just as well, because he'd spend half his life riding to the rescue if that was the case.
Something tickled at the back of his brain as he approached the car. He realized what it was as he sped past. He knew this car--at least, he knew its owner. He hadn't seen her for nearly six months, but that was definitely her bright yellow hatchback, a fact he confirmed when he looked in his rear vision mirror and saw Pippa White standing with her hands on her hips staring into the engine bay.
He swerved into the unsealed emergency lane and glanced in the rearview mirror as Pippa turned to watch his big black car reverse toward her. She was frowning, clearly trying to work out who was coming to her rescue.
The worried expression vanished from her face when he exited his car. It was replaced with the wry, appreciative smile he'd come to associate with her during the six months she'd dated his best mate, Steve.
Pippa pushed her heavy black-framed glasses up her nose and scanned him head to toe as he approached.
"You're definitely not what I was expecting when I sent up a prayer for a guardian angel."
"Long time no see," he said easily.
Pippa's smile slipped a fraction and he knew that--like him--she was remembering the last time they'd seen each other. Driven by god-knows-what stupid impulse, he had visited her at the hospital after the birth of her daughter, Alice. The most uncomfortable fifteen minutes of his life so far, hands down. She recovered quickly, pushing her glasses up her nose again.
"How have you been, Harry? How's Hogwarts going? Cast any good spells lately?"
The Harry Potter/Porter jokes had gotten old around the time Ms. Rowling had made her second billion, but Pippa was one of the few people he allowed to get away with them. They'd always got on well and, unlike most of Steve's girlfriends, he'd regretted it when things had gone pear-shaped and she'd disappeared off the scene. She'd always had something interesting to say, and she'd always laughed at his jokes, even when they sucked.
"Made some underwear disappear the other night, if that's what you mean."
She laughed appreciatively. "Dirty dog."
"How about you? How are things?"
"I've had better days, you know." She shrugged, her dark, wavy hair brushing her shoulders. A sparkly clip was pinned at one temple....