Logan immediately pulled over to the side of the road, normally he would drive straight by a hitcher - they could be dangerous after all - but there was something about this girl; he knew her somehow.
“You boys got room for one more?” she drawled when Logan stepped out. Her question was met with a chorus of “We got room, don‘t we Logan?” ”Oh, we got plenty of room back here.” ”I‘m sure we could squeeze you in.”
Logan took a moment to gather his thoughts before he spoke. “Where you headed?”
“I don‘t really know.” she said truthfully. “I‘m new in town and I‘m looking for a place to stay.”
Louis stood up in the back of the truck when he spoke. “We‘re headed into town, Logan.” Logan punched him in the back of the knee to make him sit down again.
“Hop in.” he told her, and she smiled when Jeff got out and held the door for her.
“Thank you, sugah.” He smiled sheepishly and climbed in the back with the rest of the guys.
“I‘m Logan. That‘s Jeff, Steve and Martin.” he said as he sat down and closed the door. “Marie. So, you guys work at the lumberyard? There‘s nothing else outside of town, right?” she asked when Logan started up the truck again.
“Don‘t tell me,” he said “You don‘t like a man with dirt under his fingernails?” he asked, half-joking. She didn’t wear any makeup, although she appeared stunning from all angles. She smelled clean and fresh, and there was something else he couldn’t put his finger on - something familiar.
“Actually, I‘d prefer a guy who‘s not afraid of a hard days work. Real men are so hard to come by nowadays.” She couldn’t help but laugh at Logan’s signature raised eyebrow. “What? I spent the last three years with a guy who spent more time thinking about his hair that he did me.” she stated and began twirling a thick, auburn curl around her finger.
“What ever went wrong?” Logan asked sarcastically, not really expecting a response.
“He cheated on me with my best friend at the time.” she said plainly.
Almost simultaneously, the four men in the back spoke up. “What the what?” “Are you serious?” “How does someone cheat on a girl like you?” “I don‘t get it!” Logan interrupted them by declaring “Hey, that reminds me-” and sliding the back window closed. “Sorry about that. They can be a little…abrasive.”
Just then, the truck started to make a chugga-chugga-ping noise and Logan cursed under his breath. “Sorry. I don‘t usually swear in front of ladies.”
“Don‘t worry about it. Does this happen often?” she asked when Logan popped the hood and opened his door to get out.
“Only all the time.” the men in the back chorused. Logan only glared at them and opened the hood. Marie got out and stood next to him while he tried to fix whatever was wrong. Without thinking, Logan put his hand on the radiator cap to unscrew it, burning his hand in the process. “Ah! Son of a-”
“Oh, are you okay?” Marie’s asked, concerned, and watched as the skin on his palm healed before her eyes. “Well, that‘s a relief.” she said, and leaned forward to unscrew the cap her self. Logan noticed her pull the hem of her t-shirt over her hand as she did so.
“What‘s going on?” “You need Martin to get out and push?” “Oh, that‘s nice. Volunteer me to push this hunk of junk up a huge, massive hill.”
“We‘re good.” Logan called back. “Somebody pass me that big water bottle.” Logan watched as Marie placed the cap on the engine cover, somehow catching the bottle Steve threw at him. “You a mutant too?” he asked quietly, and began pouring the water into the radiator.
“Life absorption.” she told him, leaning against the front bumper. “When it first manifested, I couldn‘t touch anybody. Now I can turn it on and off. Like a light switch.” Marie was quiet for a minute. “Do they know?” she asked and jerked her thumb towards the back of the truck.
“No. Nobody around here does. And I plan on keeping it that way.” He gave her a look anyone else would have found at least a little threatening.
“I can keep a secret. You think I want everyone knowing I have killer skin?” She held out her hand then and Logan shook it.
“Fair enough.” With that, she screwed the radiator cap back on and Logan closed the hood.
“Well, I can‘t say I‘ve ever met a woman who knew which end of a wrench to hold.” Martin told Marie when Logan tossed the water bottle to him.
“The mechanic in town is a woman.” Steve said, confused by Martin’s statement.
“Are you sure?”
“Her name‘s Jenna.” Louis said, bemused.
“I‘ve been calling her Johnny.” he admitted after a moments silence. The three other men in the back fell into an uproar of laughter and Logan looked at Marie over the top of the truck.
“I feel like such a nice guy right now.” he stated and climbed back into the truck, followed by Marie.
“You‘re not a nice guy?” she asked with mock innocence.
“Darlin‘, I‘m the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn‘t very nice.” Logan smirked wolfishly at her and started the truck up again. It was cheesy and she knew it, but that line had always made her laugh. He thought it was a beautiful laugh, like the rest of her: it was deep, genuine and sweet. What she’d said about real men was true of women these days as well. So many of them were fake; fake laugh, fake hair, fake breasts…the list went on. But this girl was 100% natural. She wasn’t even wearing perfume. He thought she might be perfect.
Logan switched on the radio to Cab Calloway’s ‘Minnie the Moocher’ and Marie immediately turned it up, announcing “Oh, I love this song!” and began to sing along in her thick Southern drawl.
Logan changed his mind; he didn’t think she was perfect, he knew it.