The Mechanic Pt. 03

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Abella Danger

Eagerly awaited, here is the third part in The Mechanic series. If you haven’t read part 1 and 2, I’d encourage you to read those first – things probably make more sense then. I know some of you can’t get enough of Riley and Rowan, and you have had to be so patient for their journey to continue. You’ll be pleased to hear that while writing part 3, I realised I need to give them some more time after this. Stay tuned… I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. As always, happy reading!

* * * * *

Riley pushed open the door of the coffee shop and looked around. When she didn’t see Megan, she got herself a coffee and sat down at a table near the window. She wondered yet again what Megan wanted to talk about. She had been racking her brain about this from the moment she received the bartender’s message last night. ‘We need to talk,’ the simple message had been. It had to be something to do with Rowan, as that was the only thing the girls had in common. But what was it about Rowan? And how did Megan get her number?

A part of Riley wanted to be optimistic and think that Rowan wanted to get in touch with her. She’d been pining over the handsome mechanic since she’d left her on that Sunday morning many weeks ago. She had been sorely tempted to go back to the ‘Ride Again’ garage many times, but she was worried Rowan would not want to see her. She’d actually made it over once, but as soon as she saw Rowan – she came out to throw out the trash – she’d gotten cold feet and had left.

It was more likely that Megan would tell her to leave Rowan alone; that she didn’t want to see her. But Riley had been leaving her alone; what was there to talk about? Feeling herself get sucked into the pointless circles her brain had been going round in since last night, Riley tried to focus on something else. She poked at her phone idly and saw that she had a new message. It was from Jenny.

[Hey sweetie… Not sure how to say this… Ollie met Rowan last night. So now we know… Oh honey, are you alright? Can we talk? I haven’t said anything to Sarah or Finn. Neither will Ollie. Call me, please!]

Riley felt a wave of panic rushing over her. If Oliver really met Rowan the secret was out of the box. Her friends knew that Riley’s handsome stranger wasn’t a man, as they all had expected. Riley would have a lot of explaining to do. Perhaps less so about the fact that Rowan was a woman than the fact that she hadn’t told them that. Why hadn’t she just said something from the beginning? She cursed herself. It would have saved her so much trouble now. But even then, her friends would never have expected her to fall for a woman. How would they react?

Riley fought a wave of nausea. Why was this happening all at once? First Megan’s message, completely out of the blue. Now this message from Jenny. Unless they were somehow related. Did Ollie bumping into Rowan have something to do with Megan wanting to talk to her? Was Megan there too?

Before Riley could give this any further thought, Megan entered the coffee shop. She looked slightly flushed and had a big grin on her face. At least someone was feeling happy.

“Hey, sorry I’m late!” Megan said, as she flopped down on the chair opposite Riley.

“No problem. I haven’t been here long either.”

“So, long time no see! How have you been?” Megan acted as if they were long-time friends who were due for a catch-up.

“Erm… Alright, I guess.”

“Good, good.” Megan looked out the window, as if she was trying to gather her thoughts. She got some reprieve from the waitress who took her order.

After some smalltalk and the delivery of Megan’s coffee, Riley started to feel impatient and asked: “So, what did you want talk about?”

“Right…” Megan looked a bit uncomfortable, almost as if she regretted doing this. “It’s about Rowan.” She paused. Riley’s heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t a surprise, but hearing Rowan’s name still made her belly flutter. She didn’t say anything; what about Rowan?

“God, where do I even begin?” Megan sighed. “I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon. I thought I’d have more time to prepare a bit.” She smiled apologetically.

What was there to prepare? Riley was now starting to worry that something was really wrong. She had to get Megan talking; just get her to start somewhere.

“How did you get my number, anyway?” She asked.

“Oh,” Megan said, seeming relieved that she could at least answer this question. “We… Rowan and I, I mean, saw your friend Oliver last night. I… got your number from him.”

The events were indeed related then, but Riley still couldn’t comprehend why Ollie would have just given Megan her number. She threw Megan a puzzled look.

“Yeah, I know. It doesn’t make any sense, does it?” Megan said. “Okay, let me explain. Rowan and I were having drinks last night. Oliver must have recognised us from that time at the bar; he came up to us. He was going on about how he wanted to beat the shit out of Rowan for what she’d done to you. He seemed quite shocked that she was a woman though.” Megan tuzla escort chuckled. “Did you not tell your friends that part?”

Riley’s brain was trying to keep up. “He did what!?”

“He was quite drunk. I think he meant well.” Megan snickered again, clearly finding her groove in the conversation now. “He just wanted to let her know that it wasn’t cool that she’d never called you, while you were clearly very much into her. How did he put it? ‘Head over heels’?” Megan looked at her quizzically, challenging her to counter the statement.

“Oh my god…” Riley tried to keep her panic down. “I can’t believe he did that. He actually said that? She knows!?”

“So it’s true?”

Riley couldn’t look at Megan. What was it about this girl that made Riley say things she didn’t mean to say; to give herself away?

“Yeah, I thought so…,” Megan continued, unperturbed. “Anyway, I guess that’s what I want to talk to you about.” She paused.

Riley didn’t reply – she was still fighting her blind panic over the fact that Rowan now knew how she felt about her. There was no playing it cool or not showing up at her garage that could combat that. She knew. What did that mean? What would Rowan do about it? Up to now, Riley could have convinced herself that Rowan wasn’t aware of her feelings and therefore it was understandable that she hadn’t contacted her. But now… If Rowan continued ignoring her, it would break her already cracked heart.

“Look, I totally get it… Besides, I think you two could really work together,” Megan then added.

“Really?” Riley asked before she could stop herself. “You think so?”

Megan smiled kindly: “Yeah, really.”

“Did she say anything?” Riley asked, a bit annoyed that Megan was being so evasive.

“Not specifically, but I’ve known her for a long time and I can tell when someone is more to her than a quick fling.”

“But she never called. She basically told me straightaway that she wouldn’t. She said it was because she doesn’t use her phone, but it was pretty obvious that she just wasn’t interested. That’s why I’ve been trying to forget about her. But I just can’t stop thinking about her.” The words came out of Riley’s mouth like a whirlwind. She wasn’t sure why she was spilling her heart out to Rowan’s friend, who was sure to be on Rowan’s side.

“Is that why you’ve never tried to get in touch with her again?” Megan looked at her intently. Riley wasn’t sure if it was meant as a criticism.

“Well, yeah. I tried to stay away. But I really wanted to see her again. I thought maybe she would change her mind if I was standing right in front of her. So I did go to the garage one day, but I didn’t actually go through with it. She came out and I got cold feet. I’m such a wuss.”

“No, you’re not,” Megan said emphatically. “She can be a bit intimidating.”

“I just don’t get it… She was so sweet and caring when we were… you know, together… but then, the next morning, it was like she flipped a switch in her head. She couldn’t get me out of her apartment quick enough.” Riley felt herself welling up. The last thing she wanted to do was cry in front of Megan.

“Yeah, that sounds like her… Look, there’s a few things you need to know about Rowan. By telling you, I just want to give you a fair chance with her.”

Riley looked at Megan with tears in her eyes. “Why are you doing this?” Surely, she would take her friend’s side?

“Because I think you two could be amazing together. I’ve seen the change in Rowan when she talks about you. Call me romantic, but I think that’s worth something; worth giving a chance anyway. I tried to make her see it. I actually tried to get her to give you a call, but she’s being her usual stubborn self. She has these self-imposed rules, you see? They prevent her from… well, from letting herself be happy, basically. Of course, she doesn’t see it that way.”

“What are you talking about? What rules?”

“Let’s see, there’s the ‘never the same girl twice’ rule and then there’s the ‘no relationships’ rule. I guess they are related. They are both designed to never let anyone develop feelings for anyone else, ever.”

“What? You mean she doesn’t sleep with a girl again, and she doesn’t do relationships?” Riley thought for a moment. That certainly threw a major spanner in the works.

“Yeah, exactly. She’s got this idea in her head that this way she will prevent a girl from falling for her and start expecting more from her than she’s able, or willing, to give.”

Riley couldn’t suppress a surprised snort. “Well, that didn’t work!”

Megan laughed. “Tell me about it… To be honest with you, I think it’s also a self-preservation thing. She…” Megan stopped abruptly and stared into her empty coffee cup for a moment, clearly unwilling to disclose any more. After a moment she said: “I could do another coffee. How about you?”

Riley shrugged. Who cared about coffee now? She waited impatiently as Megan waved over the waitress and ordered. When they were finally on their own again and Megan göztepe escort had nothing else to distract herself with, Riley attempted to pick up where the conversation had left off. She tried to keep the desperation out of her voice when she asked: “But why…? I mean, why the ‘no feelings’ thing?”

“Ah, there’s the million dollar question.” Megan looked uncomfortable, as if she’d arrived at a part of the story she didn’t really want to address. She sighed. “Oh man, she would kill me if she knew I’m telling you all of this…”

Riley didn’t care. She had to know. She looked at Megan encouragingly.

“Look, it’s really not my story to tell, but I guess it explains a lot about who Rowan is and why she behaves the way she does. Like I said, the only reason I’m telling you is to give you a fair chance with her. If I ever find out you’ve used any of it against her…” Megan trailed off threateningly.

“I won’t, I promise,” Riley said quickly, willing the other girl to continue her story.

“Alright… Well, Rowan wasn’t always a mechanic. In fact, she was really quite successful in the finance industry for a number of years after university.”

Riley couldn’t stop herself from interrupting. “Really?” She asked in disbelief. There were so many surprises in that one sentence. She couldn’t picture Rowan at a university, let alone in the finance industry. It was hard to imagine her in a power suit and high heels. Although, she would probably look hot as hell – awkward, but hot!

“I know. Can’t see that, right?” Megan smiled. “She’s definitely much happier being a mechanic. She was born to do this. Her dad was a mechanic and she grew up playing with engine parts. Anyway, she did this big career change a few years ago. She desperately needed a change and by then she’d proved to everyone and herself that she could survive after Diana.”

Sensing that Megan was getting to the core of the story, Riley probed carefully: “Diana?”

“Diana was Rowan’s first – and only, I guess – big love. She was much older than Rowan, in her forties then, I think. They met at a job fair: Rowan was in the last year of university and was figuring out what she wanted to do next; Diana was recruiting new talent for her company. They exchanged details and started chatting. It was all professional at first, I think, or maybe Rowan already liked her then. Either way, Rowan went to work for the same company and quickly became very close to Diana. She became her prodigy, I guess you could say. Before long, that went beyond the workplace and they became lovers.”

Megan paused to take a sip of her coffee. Riley waited, scared that anything she would say would stop Megan telling her more.

“The problem was, Diana was married. She kept telling Rowan she wanted to be with her instead, promising she would leave her husband, but she never did. I think she was enjoying herself too much, having it both ways. And she definitely loved the power she had over Rowan. Rowan had fallen for her completely; she would do anything for her. Whatever Diana did to her; no matter how many times she would let her down, stand her up, lie to her, Rowan would always come back to her. She became a total workaholic. And when she wasn’t in the office with Diana, she was in her bed. Anyone could have seen that was going to blow up sooner or later. But I lost touch with Rowan in that period. She just disappeared on everyone.”

Riley had so many questions about Diana, and she was intrigued about Rowan and Megan’s relationship too: how long had they known each other? She’d gotten the impression a few times that they’d been more than friends at one point. What was their story? But asking these questions would distract from the main story, so she simply asked: “What happened?”

“This went on for a few years, in which Rowan became increasingly unhappy. She told me later that she was doing really well at work, earning big commissions, but she felt like she was being used. She eventually decided to cut ties with Diana, who she now knew was never going to leave her husband. She asked to be transferred to a different branch and moved back here. Diana begged for her to come back, if not at work then certainly back to her. She said she loved Rowan; that she was sorry. She promised everything would be different. When Rowan didn’t budge, Diana started to badmouth her in the industry. She tried to ruin Rowan’s reputation, everything she worked so hard for. The messed-up thing was that Rowan felt guilty for leaving. She thought that as much as Diana had screwed her over, she had also taught her everything she knew. Rowan wouldn’t have climbed so quickly if it hadn’t been for Diana. But I guess that was all part of Diana’s manipulative powers.”

Megan looked angry just talking about it. Once again Riley got a glimpse of how much Rowan meant to her. Megan hadn’t even been around at the time to see the effect of Diana’s actions on Rowan, but she looked ready to rip her to pieces.

“Did it work, the badmouthing? Is that why she left?” Riley asked carefully.

“Hell üsküdar escort no! That bitch couldn’t get Rowan down if she brought a whole army. Rowan chose to be the bigger person and keep her head down. She worked even harder for another two years or so, earning more commissions and squirrelling away all her money. Finally, she landed a big client and with the commission from that and the bonus she was given for her hard work, she had saved enough to pursue her dream of leaving that world. That’s when she bought the garage space and the apartment.”

Riley felt like cheering for the happy ending. “That’s so impressive,” she said, adding everything up that Rowan had been through in her life and comparing it to her simple and straightforward journey.

Megan nodded earnestly. “She set up the garage from scratch. She had a bit of a slow start in which she focused on honing her skills and making a name for herself, but it has been going really well for a few years. She landed on her feet, that one.”

“So, Diana is the reason she won’t get involved with anyone?” Riley had been backtracking the story and thought she understood what Megan was getting at.

“Ah yes, I knew there was a reason I was telling you all that.” Megan laughed heartily, more relaxed now that the cat was out of the bag. “Basically, yes. Having been someone’s plaything herself, Rowan is terrified of making anyone hers. She doesn’t believe in relationships, or happy-ever-afters. She’s convinced it will always get uneven at some point: someone will feel more than the other, and someone will end up getting hurt. So she goes through life just enjoying herself with anyone who tickles her fancy in that moment.”

Riley’s face must have shown her hurt feelings about this last statement, because Megan’s expression instantly softened and she quickly added: “Sorry.”

“But if it’s just sex she wants, I can do that!” Riley cried out in desperation. She wasn’t sure if this was true, but if it was the best she could get… She pictured herself in a sweaty, blissful mess with the sexy mechanic and felt her body responding to that image.

Megan looked at her skeptically. “Can you, really?”

Riley looked down at her hands. The scene in her head moved on to Rowan kicking her out unceremoniously in the middle of the night, with Riley wondering if she was already calling the next girl on her speed dial. She couldn’t do that, she realised. She didn’t say anything.

“Yeah, didn’t think so,” Megan correctly interpreted her silence. “I couldn’t either, as much as I tried to tell myself I could. Besides, that’s where the second rule comes into play: she won’t sleep with the same girl twice.”

“You and Rowan were together then?” The question had slipped out before Riley could make up her mind about what the most important information was to get next.

“As much as Rowan is ever together with anyone… This was before her second rule. I may have contributed to her putting that in place, actually.” Megan laughed as if this whole predicament was terribly funny. Riley didn’t think it was funny at all.

Seeing Riley’s stressed face, Megan clarified: “After the whole Diana thing, Rowan and I randomly bumped into each other in town and reconnected. We were friends with benefits for a while, but she gradually started to mean much more to me. I think Rowan realised this, but knew she couldn’t give me what I wanted. I guess she didn’t want to be the Diana in our relationship. So we took our distance for a while, let things cool off. And now we’re friends without benefits.” Megan laughed.

“But… sleeping with someone twice doesn’t make it a relationship,” Riley said, grasping at straws. There was so much information to take in. She felt like she was walking in a minefield.

“No, it doesn’t in anyone’s mind but Rowan’s.” Megan paused, but seeing that Riley was not satisfied with that answer, she continued: “Look, she’s well aware of the effect she has on girls. She knows it doesn’t take her much effort to sweep a girl off her feet, even if she doesn’t intend to. And despite all the cool bravado, she actually cares about not hurting people. That’s why she won’t take any chances and won’t allow anyone to come too close. None of that makes a lot of sense to you or me, but you can kind of see where she’s coming from, can’t you?”

“I guess,” Riley sighed. “But that can change right? I mean, if she meets someone she really cares for too?” Riley didn’t even dare hope that she could be that person, but there had to be something she could do.

“Well, in Rowan’s own words: ‘A tiger doesn’t change its stripes’. She believes this won’t change for her.” Megan shrugged as if to say that was the end of it.

“So what do I do?” It was much as much a question for herself as it was for Megan.

Did she really want to get into such an uphill battle? Was Rowan really worth the pain and effort that would invariably come her way? She considered walking away and trying to forget about Rowan. She was surprised by the clenching sensation that engulfed her. She felt as if someone had wrapped a fist around her throat and was slowly closing it. She had tried to forget about Rowan; she had tried for weeks. The harder she tried, the more she thought about her, wanted her, despaired for her.

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