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She yanked open the office door and stomped inside. Tom, her mechanic and number three on her speed-dial, raised his head from his study of a grease-edged manual.

Judi could see "You again?" in his eyes. "How can I help you?" he asked, his tone more polite than his expression. He slapped the manual shut and slid it beside the cash register.

"It won't start. Again. Same as last time." Judi glanced out the window. The tow truck driver had unhooked her car and removed the flashing lights from her rear window.

Tom shook his head. "Young lady, I don't know what else to fix. I'm not that good with foreign cars. Maybe you should take it to someone else."

"You're the only mechanic in the phone book who will touch a foreign car."

Tom shrugged. "As much as I'd like the work, I don't have time to fiddle with it. It'll just cost you more money for labor and parts and not get you anywhere."

Judi drummed her fingertips on the worn countertop to keep her frustration at bay. She appreciated his honesty; it was probably unusual for mechanics to turn away business. He could milk her for hours and hours of labor. "I still need to get it fixed. It's my first year as a teacher. I need to have reliable transportation. I'm new to Carterville. Is there someone not listed in the phonebook?"

She couldn't lose her job. She owed it to her dad to fulfill his final wishes. He knew how much she wanted to be a teacher and he'd done everything he could to get her through school.

Tom removed his greasy baseball cap and ran his hand over his bald head. "Let's see here. You could try Bryce Halloway."

"Halloway? The heavy machinery place just outside of town?" Tom was referring her to a tractor repair shop? How would they know any more than Tom about foreign cars? She had hit rock bottom.

Maybe it was time to junk the car and get something more reliable and less flashy. Her stomach lurched as soon as she thought about it. The Datsun had been her father's pride and joy. He'd spent many a Saturday afternoon tinkering with it or cruising along the Florida coast. Since he died, the car was the only memento of him she had left.

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