It was quiet in the little apartment, and Jimmy Wilson leaned against the kitchen counter. He glanced at the clock every few moments, arms folded, feeling the excitement rising in his belly.

Take it easy, he coached himself. No big deal. Don’t get uptight.

He had done the calculating a dozen times; it took one minute to walk out to his truck, another minute to get out onto the street, and 12 minutes to get to Sid Johnson’s place. If he walked out his door at precisely 16 minutes past six that would get him to Sid’s at 6:30, on the nose.

Not that anybody – other than him – was keeping track.

It was a simple invitation, after all. Sid and his wife Margaret – everybody called her Maggie – asked Jimmy to come over for a backyard cookout. A few other racing folks would join them; Al and Nancy Petrov, Bobby and Sandy Mancini, Sammy Caldwell and his wife Phyllis, Jack Harvey and Slim MacDonald, and Sid’s current driver David Post. It was a welcome home celebration for Sid and Maggie’s daughter, Renee Johnson, who was moving back from Florida.

Renee.

That name had been on Jimmy’s mind non-stop over the past few days. A few years ago Jimmy and Renee had dated, pretty seriously. But that all ended when Renee took a job in Florida with a banking company.

Now she was moving back to Central City. Home.

So Jimmy was watching the clock, counting the minutes. He didn’t want to get there early; that would look like he was over-anxious. But he also didn’t want to be late, because that might look like he didn’t care.

He laughed at himself.

“Man, you are seriously messed up,” he said out loud. “Just get on with it.”

He grabbed his keys and headed outside, making his way to his truck.

The thing that kept his mind tied up was the big unknown. Okay, Renee was moving back to Central City. That much was solid. Beyond that, everything else was a question mark. Is she single? That was the great question. And does she still have any interest in Jimmy?

There was only one way to find out.

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