Joe's eyes sparkled and he wrung his hands uncharacteristically. I was growing accustomed to the spots of oil smudged on his hands and lower arms. The shirt he was wearing looked beyond rescue; it was so dirty with oil and dirt. I could imagine June or Abriella scrubbing away in vain at the white material in a bid to somehow salvage the shirt. The messy, workman look suited him and I could see past the grime to his handsome face.

"Good. I want to ask you something as well." I told him, leaning against the car.

Joe's blue eyes lit up and the grin I was so familiarised with leapt to his features. He wiped his hands on the jeans that he wore when working on the cars. Taking his expectant silence as permission to continue I phrased my question in a way which I hoped didn't give too much away.

"Where are the keys to the car kept?"

Joe's smile faded slightly as if he hadn't expected my question to involve car keys. Slowly suspicion crept onto his face.

"You're not still trying to escape are you Lizzy?"

"Yes," I admitted with a sigh. "So where are the keys kept?"

In truth, Ashley's unfriendliness had been one of the factors that had spurred my sudden, more intense want to escape. I didn't want to spend one more moment in Ashley's company when he was acting so distant with me.

"There are no keys. I've told you that before."

He motioned towards a shiny black screen next to the door handle, just large enough for a finger to be placed on. This, I supposed, must be the fingerprint-initiated lock he was talking about.

"But don't you need a key to turn the engine on?" I asked, wondering if I was really so clueless with cars that I'd got this fact wrong.

"No, not in this car. Goliath knows that nobody but him and that son of his-."

"Ashley." I interrupted.

"Yes, him. Goliath knows that nobody but those can get into the cars so there's no need for a lock. I assume that there's a button you can press once inside to turn the engine on."

I nodded, taking this in. There were no car keys which only made my task, providing I could actually get into the car in the first place, easier. Plans of obtaining a fingerprint from Ashley looped around in my mind. I doubted that pressing a fork with his fingerprint on would work but it was worth a shot. I sighed, realising that I had little chance of escaping in the car.

"So what did you want to ask me?" I changed the subject.

Joe, instead of seeming pleased at the subject change, turned a shade of pink. He stood motionless for a few seconds and then, following my expectant look, fumbled around in his pockets. Finally he pulled out a tattered piece of paper and a pencil.

"Will you do this for me?"

He thrust the paper and pencil into my hands and then disappeared back under the car. Puzzled, I opened up the sheet. Columns of numbers were written down the paper under headings such as 'Hex-head bolts' and in pencil Joe had scribbled some attempts at addition. I let out a giggle at the confused face he'd drawn in the corner.

"Math isn't my forte!" His muffled voice came from under the car in response.

I quickly did the math and then prodded his foot.

"I've done." I told him.

"What?" He asked in amazement, checking my numbers. "How did you do it so quickly?"

"Eh, I guess math has always been my 'forte', as you put it. Now," I said, putting on a business type tone. "What did you really want to ask me?"

I doubted very much that Joe had really been wanting to ask me to do his maths although, looking at the confused face, he certainly needed a bit of help.

"I really wanted to ask you to do the maths!" He said lamely.

"Yeah. Right." I replied, my voice filled with scepticism.

Joe fidgeted as if I'd caught him in the act of doing something wrong. After a while of staring at the ground he resumed his normal expression; a cocky grin spread across his face. Then, taking a step towards me he took hold of my hand. His skin was rough and calloused but it was also warm and friendly .I could tell by his touch that he worked hard. Ashley's hands wouldn't be rough though because he hadn't worked at all in his life. I slapped myself mentally as I imagined the feel of Ashley's hands in mine. What was wrong with me?

"Lizzy. Do you think that I'll ever have a chance with you?"

His blue eyes searched my own which I was sure were filled with shock. Hating myself for thinking it, I wished that a different pair of dark green eyes were looking back at me. I hadn't expected this...

"What do you mean?" I asked weakly.

I didn't have time to respond but Joe had evidently decided to answer my question without words. He brought my body close to his for the second time since I'd met him. The only difference was that this time there was no loud boiler puffing out steam to alert me to my senses. Before I knew what was happening Joe's lips were on mine. And strangely, unexplainably my own lips were unresisting.

What was I doing? How would Ashley react if he knew I was kissing one of his employees? I dismissed this thought from my head, sadly knowing that he wouldn't care. Whilst wishing that he would... How would Abriella and June react?

"Stop!" I cried, pushing Joe away from me.

He pulled away from me with a grin on his face. He didn't seem too phased that I'd just ended our short kiss and was now glaring at him with a look close to anger on my face.

"You can't blame a guy for having fun, eh?" He said, giving me a weird sense of déjà vu.

"What about June?" I frowned.

"What about her?"

"Well she obviously likes you! And I thought that you liked her!" I yelled as if it was obvious.

"June likes me?" He asked, curiously.

"Yes!" I exclaimed, amazed at how clueless he could be. "How did you not know? She blushes and giggles every time you walk into a room!"

"I thought that she just had a scarlet tone to her skin and that she was laughing at my jokes." Joe said, grinning excitedly. "Do you think she really does like me?"

I rolled my eyes. How could Joe be so oblivious?

"Yes. I do." I told him, happy to see that he was excited about this piece of news. "Come on, your jokes are terrible. How could you believe she was laughing at them?"

Joe grinned contently and I wondered if a romance was about to blossom at my hands. Romance. That one single word sent my mind inexplicably to Ashley.

As I turned to enter the house, a movement in a window on the second floor caught my eyes. A curtain was being pulled over the window and an unmistakeable blond head disappeared behind it. How much had Ashley seen? It was impossible not to think about the possibility that he'd seen me kiss Joe. Although, I reflected sadly, why would he care anyway?

Even in bed that night, Ashley's hand pulling the curtain over the window replayed in my brain. I hadn't been able to see his face but I was sure that his emotions were the same as always. His face would undoubtedly be cold and bored. Anger ran through my veins at the thought of his expressionless face. Tomorrow, I promised myself, I would do something to put my mind at rest. Some way or other, this infuriating relationship with Ashley was going to be resolved.



Hey guys, so I updated at last! A massive thanks because because of your votes and comments I made it up to #46 on the What's Hot! list which is the highest I've ever been. Thanks a lot :) Comment/fan/vote pretty please :) xx