The Great Pretender (MM)
In 1950s America, rock ‘n roll is sweeping the nation and the drive-ins are full of greasers, jocks, and girls in poodle skirts. Recently graduated from college, Billy Hadley is eager to change the direction his life is heading, although crashing his car wasn’t exactly how he planned on doing it.
Tall, sexy mechanic, Gene Milgram, rides to the rescue on his motorcycle. Billy takes one look at him and can’t fight the immediate attraction.
Will these two take a chance on each other and find love?
They pulled up to the diner and Billy was dismayed to see how busy they were. Cars and teens were everywhere. Music from the jukebox inside spilled out of large speakers around the parking lot. It wasn’t that he minded crowds really, but he would rather be in the background, cooking for instance, than be part of the actual crowd. He sighed and forced himself to climb off.
“Thanks for everything, Gene.” He dared to take a glance at his face, but his eyes revealed nothing. “You…you went above and beyond, really.”
“No problem. I’ve got your number back at the garage and I’ll call you tomorrow with some information.”
Billy nodded and gave a little wave. “Bye.” He turned around. Come after me. Please. Billy didn’t want the evening to end, yet. He was reaching for the door handle when he heard his name.
Nervously, he turned around to see Gene striding toward him. Oh my God, did my little prayer work?
“Um, hey,” he started, his eyes darting to the door behind Billy. “Sorry, but you’re still wearing my helmet.”
Shit. Of course he was. He blushed and pulled it off. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
“No problem. Talk to you tomorrow.”
Fuck! He couldn’t just let him walk away. “Gene?”
He turned around. “Yeah?”
“Want a chocolate malt? It’s the least I can do ...” He gestured toward the diner.
“Sure? My sister would love to meet the man that got me on a motorcycle.” He laughed nervously.
His brow furrowed. “Your sister?”
“Yeah, Carolyn. She’s inside waiting --”
“Carolyn is your sister?” he interrupted, a grin spreading across his face. “I’d love to meet your sister.”
Billy grinned back, confused by Gene’s about-face, but happy he was staying. Gene reached around him and pulled the door open, ushering him inside.
The diner was loud and bustling with activity. Boys in letter jackets, girls in a myriad of sweaters and poodle skirts, and even a family or two filled every available table and booth. Waitresses deftly moved among them, delivering trays filled with burgers, fries, malts, and sundaes to their customers. Some kids hung around the jukebox, currently playing “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers.
Billy scanned the diner, searching for Carolyn and finally finding her perched on a stool at the far end of the pink and teal laminate counter. Boys surrounded her, of course. He paused a moment, really looking. These weren’t boys. These were men. Grown men. College men. Talking to his sister.
He moved toward her, Gene close behind.
“Billy!” she cried out and hopped down so she could lean in for a hug.
“Carolyn.” Billy smiled as the men backed off, making room. He pulled back so he could introduce his friend. “Carolyn, this is Gene, my savior tonight. Gene, this is my baby sister.”
She elbowed Billy playfully. “My brother forgets I’m eighteen,” she said, flashing a smile at Gene. Billy bit back the jealousy when Gene grinned back.
He sighed, knowing there wasn’t anything he could do about it. It was inevitable, really. Carolyn had always been beautiful. Delicate, pale skin, baby blue eyes, and blonde hair she currently wore in a ponytail. His gaze dropped to the poodle on her grey skirt and he chuckled. She had sewn sequins on the poodle’s collar. She always did have her own flair for fashion.
“I have a booth saved. Come on,” she waved toward the back and they followed her.
Billy slid into the booth and Carolyn took the seat across from him. He expected Gene to slide in next to her because guys always wanted to be close to Carolyn, but instead he slid into the seat next to Billy. He moved a little closer to the wall to give Gene more room, but he only shifted nearer to Billy.
Carolyn watched both of them, her eyes twinkling. “So, you saved my brother?”