This is quite sometime later in the (almost complete) Stalled Independence story. Clay and Regan have been dating for a couple of weeks, known each other about a month. Turns out that despite their very disparate backgrounds they have quite a bit in common.
This scene involves the hero, Clay and his unscheduled (but always welcome) visitor. Calliope (aka Calli) is Clay’s sister, and she’s going to make an appearance in the Thanksgiving story and if I continue my holiday stories in 2015 (i.e. if the publisher takes them on) – she’ll have her own story then. In the meantime, she’s a sister who’s made an unscheduled, hurried run to New York to see her brother:
A honking horn pulled Clay from his work. He wiped the grease from his hands as he withdrew his head out from under the car hood. After he’d waved off his mechanics, he headed toward the doors. Before he got there he spotted a bright white cowboy hat and blonde hair through the glass and grinned.
He threw open the door. “Calliope!”
“Hey big brother!” His sister spun around and wrapped him in a savage hug. “Damn, I missed you something fierce.”
“Missed you too, baby sis.” Clay stepped back and resumed wiping off his hands. Calliope was only ten months younger than he was, and the most fiercely independent of the bunch. Even so, a random visit near the end of May wasn’t typical for her. “So are you going to tell my why you’re really here? Or do I have to call Mama?”
“Mama doesn’t know, so it doesn’t matter if you call.” Calli patted his cheek. “And my reasons are mine.”
“Fat chance I’m letting you leave it at that.” Clay shoved his rag into his back pocket. “Let me get cleaned up while you throw your things upstairs. We’ll go have lunch.”
“I’ll take you up on the food, but not the conversation.” Calli hauled her suitcase out of the trunk. “I’d much rather hear about the girl making you all flustered.”
“You’ll get better than that. You’ll get to meet her. She’s working today.”
“Oh goody. Then be quick about it.” Calli didn’t give him another look as she traipsed up the side stairs to his apartment.
Clay shook his head and went inside to let the guys know he was heading for lunch. One of them decided to take off for lunch too, while his shop manager, Chris said he’d stay behind to finish the Ellsworth’s car. Clay made fast work of scrubbing his arms and face. On his way out, he dropped his hat on his head.
Calli was already waiting outside with a shit-eating grin already in place. “So she’s cute, what else do you know about her?”
“Why couldn’t you stay down south?” He shook his head and ignored her question, choosing instead to head to the crosswalk. “Don’t you have anything better to do than harass me? Like, oh, I don’t know—working or having a life of your own?”
She blew a large raspberry and turned her thumb down. “Both in the toilet, and no I don’t have anything better to do. I have to keep an eye on you. After all, you haven’t had a girl since that uptight girl, what was her name?”
“Casey.” Clay grumbled and rubbed the back of his neck. When he’d first come to Rochester he’d met Casey at school. They’d dated for almost four years before he’d realized she’d been sleeping around behind his back from the second he’d decided to leave RIT to buy the shop. “Why on earth bring her up?”
“To point out that your head isn’t always screwed on right when it comes to women.”
“Well that taught me a lot, and Regan is different.” He hoped.
“Well, I’ll see about that.”
“Myrtle loves her,” Clay protested. “What else can you do?”
“Myrtle’s a good gauge, but I’m your sister.” Calli dragged him across the street wen the light turned. He was beginning to regret suggesting they go to lunch.
“I always am. That’s part of my southern charm, you know. Mama didn’t raise no fools.”
“She raised you.” He laughed when she shoved him aside. “What?”
“Jerk!” She hopped up the three steps to the diner door and let herself in.
Clay followed, still chuckling as he stepped inside the diner. His amusement faded when he noticed for the first time just how crowded the diner was. So much for Calli getting to know Regan at all right then. Maybe it was just as well, it wasn’t fair to corner her at work with his sister. No one deserved that.
Calli waved him to the counter where she’d managed to snag two stools for them to sit at. She grinned and scanned the restaurant. “Well?”
“Be a little more obvious, why don’t you?” When she stood, he gripped her shoulder and pulled her back into her seat. “I was kidding.”
“I don’t see her.”
Right as he spoke, Regan burst out from the kitchen with a large tray full of food. The way she held it blocked him from her view, but he recognized her instantly. Against his better judgment, he tracked her path all the way to the large corner booth.
“Oooh, she’s adorably scrumptious. Are you sure she plays for your team?”
“Back off, sis.” Clay was surprised at how harsh he snarled the words. “I mean, I’m sure.”
“You are smitten. So tell me about her.”
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