History professor Heather Young is firmly on her career track from community college adjunct instructor to university tenured professor when along comes Mika—blue collar mechanic and lover extraordinaire. They come from vastly different worlds but it’s not long before Heather is relishing new experiences with her unpretentious man.
When she receives that coveted job offer on her career trajectory, she accepts even though it is in Arizona—six hours away.
Unable to leave New Mexico, Mika plies her with local culinary treats, shared adventures to historical sites, and time camping under the stars in an effort to get her to stay. He ramps up his fervent attentions with progressively more passionate attempts to convince her that she can’t live without him.
Heather meets them with her own endeavors to cement memories of her mechanic into her body, knowing she may never experience anything like this again. All the while, Heather tries to hold back a chunk of her heart by looking for reasons why it would never work, knowing their future is limited. In spite of the ease and passion of their relationship, she feels she must follow her career dream. They strive to stay connected over the distance through occasional visits and time on the phone, but their lives drift apart. As Heather struggles in her new life, memories of Mika continue to tug her body and heart back toward him.
|Release||February 12, 2016|
|Tags||Romance, erotica, bowling, southwestern U.S., auto mechanics, university teaching, camping, bird watching, Swedish heritage, Irish heritage, foodies, history, flamenco dancing, contemporary women|
Besides giving her the security to venture far off the beaten trail with confidence, Mika had also used food to try to convince her to stay. Heather could now take some heat when she ate. Coming from Seattle she had grumbled at first about the lack of fresh fish, but had learned from Mika that New Mexico had its own state food—red and green chiles. With his enthusiasm, she was willing to forego seafood in exchange for a different culinary landscape to match the new history she was learning.
“I want to take you to a favorite place of mine,” Mika said one Friday night. “It’s a taco truck that’s been in the same location for thirty years on the seedier edge of downtown.”
“A roach coach. I love those,” Heather said. “Sounds like this one’s got a good following.”
The faded white truck slumped in front of an old gas station where the taco truck cooked its food. The menu was written in Spanish on a piece of cardboard, taped to the side of the truck. No prices. “You order, okay?”
Mika rattled off something in Spanish to the middle-aged woman in the truck. Heather watched her smile. Was the woman also marveling at the incongruity of the big white Swede conversing in rapid, nicely-accented Spanish? Years of living in the Southwest had contributed to his facility with the language. Heather hoped to become that fluent if she gained tenure in Arizona.
They pulled cans of pop out of the white cooler then sat at a plastic table until the cook signaled their meal was ready. “Umm, tacos. They look good. What are they?”
“I got you a variety pack—carne asada, adovada, carnitas, lengua.”
Heather smiled, rubbed her hands together. Sounded like Greek to her but she was up for it. He instructed her to try them without salsa first, then add a little after she had the initial flavor. Each taco contained meat, finely chopped onions, cilantro. They were built upon two four-inch round, soft corn tortillas. Heather pinched one bundle together, tilted her head to the side over her plate then took a big bite. “Wow, that’s fantastic.” She wiped the corner of her mouth with a napkin.
Mika smiled as he squeezed half a lime over her next taco. She knew his fingers were clean, or as clean as they were ever going to get, so had gotten comfortable seeing his nails with all the creases black with grease. She’d even developed a yen to see those marked, meaty paws tracing over her white flesh. She brought her mind back to the task at hand and took a bite from each of the three remaining tacos. “I think this one is my favorite.” She picked a cube of meat out of the taco, chewed it, rolling it around her mouth. “Sort of like a cross between prime rib and bacon. Soft but not mushy. Fabulous flavor. What is it?”
“Tongue.” Mika grinned at her.
It’s a good thing Heather hadn’t been drinking or her pop would have squirted out of her nose as they burst out laughing. When they’d settled back down she said, “I’m lucky I only know a little Spanish, otherwise I never would have tried it. But it’s so delicious.”
Mika leaned over as he kissed her with a little tongue of his own then encouraged her to try the salsa.
Heather checked out the thick orange mixture in the clear plastic cup, swirled it around, took a sniff. She looked up into Mika’s eyes. He nodded. She drizzled a few drops on one of the tacos—not the tongue because if the salsa ruined the taste, she didn’t want it to be that one. Again, she resumed the lean over position, head tilted, shoulders hunched, as she took a tentative bite. “Yowser that’s hot!” Her nose ran. She daubed it with a napkin then took another bite. “Spicy.” She sucked in air. “But it does something right to the flavor. Sort of enhances it, brightens it.”
“That’s my girl,” Mika said.
Heather dribbled more on her next taco. “It’s actually better,” she said, but grabbed her drink then took a long pull on it. “Here.” She took another chile-dotted bite. “Tell me if you can feel if my lips are hot.” She leaned over while they kissed every which way, turning the inside of their lips on one another, smooshing their sizzling flesh together, dancing their tongues in a tango. “Hey,” she said drawing back. “I can feel fire on your lips. Not fair.” She shook her head as he grinned. “So there really is something to that Hot Lips name.”
“At least in New Mexico.”
“Or maybe she was eating kimchi,” Heather said. “M.A.S.H. was set in Korea.”
“Have you tried that yet, Ms. Gentle Irish Lassie?”
“Well, I’ve seen it in Seattle. It is the Pacific Rim, after all.”
“Oh yes, after all,” Mika said. He ate half a taco in one bite.
“But no, I haven’t tried it yet. Maybe now after my Southwest training.”
“We’ve got more toughening up to do,” Mika said. “I want to take you to Ropers for a breakfast of chicken fried steak with green chile gravy over it.” His eyes glittered at her under the neon lights of the food truck.
- Thinking back on her New Mexico spice training, there was at least one positive aspect of moving away—she was leaving just in time that she didn’t have to buy new jeans. Mr. Burn a Lot of Calories could really put it away but her clothes were stretched tight. Not a lot of play left around her waistband.