Disclaimer: Not mine <sigh>. If they were, I would share honestly No money made, etc, etc .
Authors Notes: Real quickie a tiny little ficlet that I wrote in about an hour, before braving the morning rush to work . This is for Nancy she knows why! <wink>
Her head hurt. A dull, annoying throb, emanating somewhere behind her eyes, that seemed to spread a widening band of pain around the inside of her skull. She squinted slightly, screwing her eyes up to block out some of the daylight that seemed to accentuate the irritating ache.
Her back ached, too. This was more of a sharp twinge, catching her by surprise and making her wince every few minutes when she shifted her position in the driving seat. The back ache spread irritating spasms of tightness into the muscles across her shoulders and at the base of her neck; not yet severe enough to be actual pain, but more than enough to add to her frustration and annoyance. She sighed gently.
The traffic had slowed to a standstill; up ahead she could just see a huge truck backing into an alleyway, effectively blocking the road as the driver reversed the enormous vehicle expertly through the throng of cars. She looked around at the snarled traffic. Where the hell were all these people going? Why werent they all at work, like she was indeed, like she had been for the last six and a half, long, exhausting hours. No-one would drive into the city by choice today, would they? So what the hell were they all doing here? She let out another sigh, longer this time, then caught her breath and flinched as her back reminded her she had been abusing it lately and it was getting damned fed up with it. She mentally cursed whatever malevolent guardian angel had conspired to give her this route, this week. Whatever sin she had committed must be a real howler to have pulled this little beauty on the duty roster what a shame she hadnt enjoyed committing it enough to actually remember it.
Car horns began to sound in the traffic as drivers began to lose their patience with the reversing truck. Yeah, she thought wearily, thatll help would certainly make me want to hurry up and get out of the way you ignorant jerks sitting there in your sedans swearing and blaring whilst I manoeuvre a truck the size of Wyoming through an entrance the size of Long Island. Thanks for your patience and understanding
God, she was tired. All she really wanted was to get to the end of this shift, go home and sink into a deep, hot bath, then sleep. Sleep for a year. Sleep until the headache dissipated and the backache softened. Sleep until January, when this frenetic, feverish mania that seemed to overtake everyone at this time of year would recede back into something approaching normality.
The traffic began to move inches at a time, but move nonetheless. She could see her destination up ahead the clustered, shimmering buildings of the main business district, clearly outlined against the vivid blue of todays unclouded sky. A group of men were stringing Christmas lights high up around a storefront, working off a hydraulic lift truck parked at the edge of the street. The decorations had begun appearing in earnest over the past few days trees, stars, angels, lights transforming the shop windows and draping trees, streetlights and buildings. Her back would ache a helluva lot more before they all came down again.
She edged her vehicle out around the lift truck and received a loud horn blast from a car coming the other way as he tried to inch between her truck and the opposite curb. A muffled shout and a waving arm, a scowling face and another blast of the horn as he almost mounted the sidewalk to get past her, when a few seconds patience on his part would have made life easier on both of them. "Peace and goodwill to you too ," she mumbled, shaking her head.
Without doubt, there would be nowhere to park even remotely close to the central business plaza she would have to leave the truck, hazard lights blinking, on the street no doubt causing more shouts of seasonal bonhomie and glad tidings to reach her ears. Then all she had to do was face the three enormous mailboxes in the centre of the plaza and move the contents of their seemingly bottomless interiors into her truck. Easy. Yeah, if you were a Sumo wrestler or an Olympic weightlifter. No doubt the citizenry would have crammed the boxes so full she would probably need a crowbar to extract the contents. People seemed to regard mail boxes as having infinite capacity you just rammed harder and something magical happened inside, increasing the size of the box so that your letters could be accommodated. Of course. What actually happened was that the contents got impacted together so tightly; you needed to be Arnie Schwarzenegger to persuade the mail to part company with the interior of the box. After that, all you had to do was carry in to the truck, staggering under the combined weight of what felt like three tons of greeting cards, junk mail, overdue bill reminders, letters, postcards the list was endless. Like this bloody shift.
She eased the truck to the side of the street, flicked on the hazard lights and pushed the lever into park. Flinching again as her back tweaked, and turning a deaf ear to the horns blaring, she climbed out.
"Okay do you want me to go through it once more, or are you okay with it now?" J D Dunnes hazel eyes regarded the young agent sitting at the desk next to him.
"No thanks, I think Ive got it now. Thanks, really, for all your effort." The young agent closed his notepad and rubbed his eyes. "This computer stuff makes my head ache!"
JD grinned. Hed enjoyed this two-day sojourn to install the new virus protection software at this new ATF office. Widely recognised as one of the brightest IT stars in the whole ATF, he was an obvious choice to teach these newly assigned agents the intricacies of operating their protective software.
"JD? We oughta think bout makin a move we don wanna miss our flight." Vins voice sounded slightly edgy. JD glanced across at his friend and team-mate, who was fidgeting in one of the brand new swivel chairs. JD knew Vin was keen to get home to Denver tomorrow was Christmas Eve, after all. The traffic was bound to be horrendous out to the airport and Vin was desperate to get on the flight home.
"Okay Vin I think were about done here." He turned to his student. "Any problems just call me, okay?"
The young man nodded. "I will JD thanks I could never have mastered this without you." Another face appeared at the office door, carrying a large box of mail.
"Just going down to the plaza to mail this lot any chance of a hand? Theres another box outside the same size and I cant carry both of them!"
JD turned to him. "Thats okay we were just leaving well take the mail down for ya!"
"Would you? Thanks! Weve got loads to get through before tonight."
Vin and JD slung their overnight carry-cases over their shoulders and picked up a large box of mail each, calling farewells to the new team as they made their way to the elevators.
Outside, the plaza was thronged with people.
"Wheres the . Oh hell! Quick Vin were gonna miss it!" JD shouted as he saw the woman emptying the mailbox. They walked fast across the open space carrying the boxes, and stopped just behind her.
Great, she thought without looking up. Im already over my allotted time on this pickup and now Ive got some joker standing behind me who is, any second now, going to say Oh dear! Have I missed the mail? From the corner of her eye, she could just make out a box. Great! That means another trip back to the truck, then back here, just to make me really late!
"Scuse us Maam are we too late?"
She turned, ready to fire a sarcastic comment, but was silenced when she found herself staring into a pair of sparkling hazel eyes, framed by a floppy dark fringe and underlined by a beautiful smile. Lord, he was cute! Unconsciously, her eyes did a quick top-to-toe sweep and her headache suddenly vanished. Very cute!
"Sorry to hold yup Maam we werent sure where the mail boxes were "
This accent was Texan. Her gaze shifted. These eyes were as blue as the sky overhead, set in a face framed by long brown curls and a jaw line that ought to be illegal. And talking of illegal worn cowboy boots, long, long legs clad in faded denim, a red soft cotton shirt and a battered leather jacket this guy ought to be registered somewhere as a lethal weapon or something .
And they were both smiling warmly at her.
Her good nature, or more accurately, her hormones, got the better of her. She smiled ruefully and shook her head. "Okay Ill take it . Just put it down and Ill take this to the truck, then come back for it " Hell, some things were worth being a little late for!
"Thats okay Maam well carry it you just show us where we can help you carry that lot too, if you like."
Well, they obviously werent local, that was for sure! She smiled gratefully, and nodded her head in the direction of the truck. They walked across the plaza, carrying the armloads of mail.
"Sorry if weve held you up Maam, were much obliged " the blue eyes were totally genuine.
"Thank you and a merry Christmas Maam," the younger one pushed the dark hair out of his eyes and smiled at her gratefully.
She was a little stunned. "Thank you and a merry Christmas to you, too."
With a cheery wave, they turned and strode back across the plaza, in the direction of the taxis.
She watched them walk away hell late was late, and that view was the best thing shed seen all day! A slight sigh escaped her.
As they disappeared into the crowds of people, she glanced down at the boxes of mail they had placed in the back of the truck. The return address said they were ATF. Well, the government were obviously getting something right!
She pushed the lever into drive and indicated to pull out from the curb. A driver hit his horn as she pulled out obviously mistaking her truck for a Ferrari. A completely understandable mistake. She grinned, thinking about two pairs of laughing eyes and two bodies that did things for jeans Levi Strauss never even thought of
"Merry Christmas to you, too!" she shouted with a laugh.
(so to speak )
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