Dog Days of Summer

By: P. J. Fiala

Chapter 1

Times Like These

There were times like this when Joci wanted to burst out laughing, it felt so good. The wind in her face, running through her hair, the sun warming her skin, the roar all around her, seven hundred-plus pounds of pure unadulterated power between her legs, and she was controlling it all. Gliding through traffic with her son, Gunnar, just a few yards in front of her, feeling all the love and joy God made for her, just her. Yes, these were the times Joci enjoyed.

She smiled as they came up behind a car and floated over to the left lane to pass. As she watched, Gunnar, his dark hair pulled into a low ponytail, glided easily past the car, the two little kids in the back seat watching him and smiling at each other. You could tell they were thinking, Someday, I’m going to do that. Then as Joci pulled up alongside to pass them, they started smiling and pointing at her, one of them turning to the adult in the front seat and saying something causing the driver to look over at her as she passed him. He smiled at her, and Joci smiled back at the reaction; it happened often. She could almost hear the kids in the back: Look, Dad, a girl on a motorcycle.

She easily pulled in front of the car and continued on down the highway to their destination. She loved this life, this group of people she had, at least, this in common with. A few minutes later, Gunnar and Joci put their turn signals on to turn off the highway onto a frontage road, and into the parking lot of Rolling Thunder Motorcycles. They navigated past the last few shoppers straggling out at the end of the day.

Gunnar had worked at Rolling Thunder Motorcycles as a mechanic for the past year. He loved working here. He loved the people he worked with, he loved the customers and their bikes, he loved building bikes, and lately Dog had let him help in the design on some of the custom bikes they were known for. And well-known they were becoming. Dog built some of the hottest bikes around. He had recently been featured in Rider magazine, and showcased on several “biker” shows. His reputation for building beautiful, custom, mechanically sound bikes was becoming legend.

Joci and Gunnar parked their bikes among a row of other motorcycles and started toward the back doors to the shop.

“Mom, you’re going to love this place. I’m excited to show you where I work and introduce you. You’re going to love Dog.”

“I’m sure I will, honey. I’m sorry it took me this long to get here and see where you work,” Joci said with a smile.

As they stepped through the back door, the smell of oil and warm engines hit Joci’s nostrils. A smile spread across her face as Gunnar turned and looked at her with a grin on his face.

“Gunnar, what the fuck took so long?” A man walking around the corner from the front of the building said. He stopped short when he saw Joci walking in behind Gunnar. “Ah, sorry. I didn’t know you had someone with you.”

Gunnar burst out laughing at the look on JT’s face. “JT, this is my mom, Jocelyn James. Mom, JT, Dog’s son.”

Joci leaned forward with her hand outstretched to shake JT’s hand. JT briefly hesitated then wrapped his large hand around her smaller one and pumped once. “Nice to meet you.”

Joci smirked. “Nice to meet you as well.”

JT glanced at Gunnar. “Ah...we’re sitting in the conference room upstairs. I just came down to get the article I found on the Internet this morning.”

Gunnar looked at his mom and jerked his head toward the door at the front of the garage as he said, “Conference room is this way, Mom.”

Joci nodded once and followed behind Gunnar as they made their way through the store and up the stairs. She noted that the store was neat and tidy. There were racks of clothing on one side of the store and parts, accessories, and motorcycles on the other. The store was well-lit and colorful. The logo painted on the wall, though, was boring. Rolling Thunder Motorcycles, Inc. was painted in silver lettering on a white wall with nothing else. No real logo other than the name.

Entering a room off to the right at the top of the stairs, Joci stopped in her tracks as she crossed the threshold. An incredibly handsome man was sitting at the conference table, which was a large, well-worn oak table littered with beer cans, papers, and miscellaneous food wrappers. About eight other people were either sitting at the table or standing around talking.

As she stood in the doorway, he looked up from his reading and stared at her.

“Dog, this is my mom, Joci. Mom, this is Jeremiah Sheppard, but everyone calls him Dog.”

Joci watched as Dog stood to his full height and rounded the table toward her. Well-built, broad shoulders supported the most beautiful head and face Joci had ever seen on a man. Long, blonde hair and bright green eyes held her attention as he came to a stop in her space. He reached his hand out to shake hers, but Joci stood transfixed as she looked into his eyes.

“Nice to meet you, Joci. Gunnar has told me a lot about you. I appreciate your time in helping us plan next year’s event.”

A blush raced toward Joci’s face as she realized he was standing before her with his hand out. Snapping her attention back to matters at hand, Joci’s lips trembled into a smile as she touched her palm to his and tightened her grip.

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