One thing that all us ladies can appreciate is a tall, strapping… beer can?

That’s right, it’s beer can appreciation day!

Now, is this our favorite holiday of the year? No.

Is it even mentioned on our meticulously kept calendars? Not really!

But, we will take any excuse to spend some time with a handsome hunk of southern hospitality and a refreshing can of our favorite brew. Read on for an excerpt of Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck.

In this excerpt, Marianne McCready is on her way back to her hometown of Lake Sackett, Georgia, when she swerves to avoid a deer and totals her car. She calls her brother Duffy to come get her, but he sends someone else instead: Carl Dawson, expert mechanic…and Marianne’s ex. It’s not just the Georgia heat making her sweat!

 


“Duffy, where are you? I’m sweatin’ my ass cheeks off out here,” Marianne said. “When you finally decide to grace me with your presence, can you bring me a Coke? I’m dyin’ of thirst.”

“I’m sorry, Manny, I got caught up at work. But don’t worry. Help is on the way.”

Marianne was not at all charmed by the nickname Duffy had used since they were toddlers. It was too damn humid for sisterly affection. “So, did you send Daddy?”

“Not exactly.”

And that’s when Marianne saw the old red tow rig barreling up the hill, the faint strains of Elvis echoing off the rocks. Marianne’s posture sagged, her bare shoulders sticking to the leather of the driver’s seat. “McDuff Marion McCready, you didn’t.”

“Hey, hey, don’t bring my middle name into this!”

“Duffy,” she growled.

“You said you were fine! Look, I had some dentist from Buckhead hemmin’ and hawin’ over a tackle set and I couldn’t leave the shop,” Duffy cried. “And Dad’s busy with Oscar Gaskill, so it was either send Carl or you wait for another couple of hours.”

“Aw, Mr. Oscar died?” Marianne sighed.

“Yeah, I’m sorry. I didn’t think to call you. The service is tomorrow.”

Mr. Gaskill had been the only math teacher who’d been able to coax her into an A average during her twelve years in the county’s public schools. He’d been quirky and unorthodox in his teaching methods, often speaking in the third person when complimenting students’ precalculus work. Marianne had adored him. And Duffy didn’t think to call her?

Marianne pursed her lips, blowing a breath through her nose.

And then Carl Dawson climbed out of the wrecker.

“Duffy, I’m gonna murder you.”

“Why?” Her brother’s tone was far too innocent to be genuine.

“I’m smart enough to use the crematory and get away with it.”

Duffy scoffed. “You would have to have Dad help you. He’d never—”

Marianne jammed her thumb against the cell phone so hard she thought she’d crack the screen, and glared across the road.

Carl Dawson.

The embodiment of all the reasons she’d left Lake Sackett in the first place stepped down from his towing rig and sauntered toward her car. It was wrong for a man’s arms to be that attractive.

The rest of him was plenty pleasant to look at, too: a worn Braves baseball cap covered longish light brown hair framing a face carved in merciless angles; a long, narrow nose hovered over thin lips that looked like they’d never once lifted upward.

His default expression was a scowl, one that she used to spend hours coaxing off his face.

But the arms.

Carl’s arms were straight off the covers of the Harlequin novels her grandma kept stashed in her sewing box. Every sinew of his biceps was sharply defined and that shouldn’t have been hot, but when streaked with engine grease and sweat it made Marianne’s knees go weak. He wore a Mason Towing T-shirt under a plaid button-down—both with the sleeves ripped off—and jeans that had seen much better days, which had been his uniform in high school. But unlike most of their classmates (according to the Facebook evidence), Carl seemed to have grown into his lean, rawboned looks without the semi-adult awkward phase.

Meanwhile, Marianne had indulged in pasta three times that week and skipped Pilates.

Life was just not fair.

Marianne resisted the urge to fluff her thick chestnut hair before stepping out of the car. “Hello, Carl.”

Carl nodded sharply. His hair shifted, giving her a glimpse of eyes the calm, clear green seen only in screensaver shots of the Caribbean. “Hey.”

A tiny splinter of hurt wedged its way under Marianne’s skin.

Really? “Hey?” That was it? He hadn’t seen her in four years, not since she’d left him sitting on the edge of Deer Tick Bay in his drawers, and he wasn’t even looking at her. Her considerable cleavage was on full display in this camisole, and he was staring at her car.

She cleared her throat, trying to draw his attention away from her Mustang. “How are you?”

“I’m fine.” His gravelly drawl made gooseflesh stand up on her arms, despite the waves of bone-melting warmth rising off the pavement.

Marianne chin-pointed toward his shirt. “I see you’re still working for Mason’s.”

“Bought it.”

Marianne blinked. Carl couldn’t introduce two nickels to each other when they were kids. How in the hell had he managed to buy Wendall Mason’s towing garage? She cleared her throat. “And you didn’t change the name?”

“Nah.”

“Because of customer loyalty?” she guessed.

“Yep.”

Marianne’s lips pinched together. Carl had never been a man of many words, but this complete nonreaction thing was wearing on her last damn nerve. Normally her nerves were a little more plentiful and resilient, but between the deer and the heat—and the fact that Carl didn’t seem to be at all affected by seeing her again—she was done with this whole afternoon. She threw her hands up in the air. “Really?”

Carl frowned and actually looked at her for the first time since he’d gotten out of his truck. “What?”

“It’s been four years and that’s all you have to say to me? One-syllable answers?”

Carl’s expression soured. “Well, shucks, ma’am,” he drawled in an exaggerated accent. “I didn’t run off to some fancy school and learn ten-dollar words, so ‘one-syllable answers’ is all I got in my back pocket.”

She muttered, “I think I liked ‘hey’ better.”

“Thought you might.” He snorted, turning to her hobbled vehicle. He laid a reverent hand on the bright red paint. “Now, why in the hell would you do this to such a beautiful machine?”

“I was trying to avoid a deer.”

Carl nodded. “That’d do it.”

“Can you fix it?”

“Sure, once I get the parts, which’ll take a while.”

“How long is ‘a while’?”

Carl jerked his shoulders. “A while.”

Marianne attempted to melt Carl’s stupid, beautiful face with the power of her mind. It didn’t work.