Olivia smiled. “Thanks for your help!”

“It’s not work, it’s a pleasure!  I’m not used to working on such exotic cars.”

“You seem to love working on cars,” she said.

“Not just any car.  I love working under your hood.”

She laughed.  It was a satisfied laugh.  She wondered what she would say back, and said it as soon as the words popped into her head. “Ohhh, so it’s my car you are after!  I get it!”

“Yep!  I’ve got you covered anytime you need help.  I’m your man!”

“Are you serious?” Her voice sounded how she felt, serious and naïve.  She wasn’t sure what he meant.

Jude laughed and quickly hugging her, swung her, lifting her feet off the ground. “Of course not!  I do enjoy working on your car —but it is you I like, Mini Cooper or not.”

She rested her hand idly on top of her raised hood.

He checked the fluid level. “Needs a little bit more.”  He picked up the carton of oil and carefully poured it into the hole.  She scrutinized his face and then watched with him as the oil tapered to a fine golden stream of oil.

“Now it’s good-to-go,” he said.

He tossed the carton into the trash can.

“The other part.  About being my man,” asked Olivia.

“I sure am.”  He stood within an inch of her, but she didn’t move away.

She inhaled through her mouth.  She felt woozy.  Or was it dizziness?  Maybe she was getting sick, but she didn’t feel like she was.  What was wrong with her?

He screwed on the oil filler cap tightly, smiled at her, and put his hand on the hood—on top of hers.  She froze, embarrassed, but not daring to move.  He leaned closer and her heart briskly palpitated in response.

“Let me let it down,” he said.


“Move your hand, let me lower your hood.” Jude inched closer and she instinctively leaned her face down and towards him as he kissed her on the forehead.  My second kiss from him, and both of them on my forehead.

“Olivia, I love you!”

She saw small tears forming in the corners of his eyes.  He reached up with his left hand and caressed her cheek, leaving a small, black smudge.

“I’m sorry, now you have a blemish!”  He pulled out another towel and rubbed off the mark as she stood still for him, face upturned as he scrutinized her from inches away.  “Just want to make sure it’s all clean. — Olivia, do you know what?”

“What?”  The rest of the world disappeared.  Just Jude stood with her, on top of their pinnacle, far above the rest of the world.

“You are sooo beautifully sweet.  An incredible work of art!  Your eyes, your cheeks, your nose, your chin, your fore­head, your hair…”  He gazed deeply into her eyes.

She stood limply and could only gaze back into his eyes that wouldn’t let go of hers.  Her heart pounded and yearned for something, but she wasn’t sure what it was or if it was right.

“I love your voice.  Have I ever told you that? Your voice is so sweet, so musical.  And your lips, they drip with… with honey.”  He leaned closer.  “I love you, Olivia!

“Uh, we’d better get back,” she said.

“Can’t you give a little bit back?  You are the moon and the stars to me.  I… I love you to the sun and back.  Think you’ll ever return my love?  You are my life.