Love On the Line 2
Women at Work Book 1
by Kirsten Fullmer
Genre: Women's Fiction, Romance
In part two of this extraordinary love story set in the hot, humid, summer of the wide-open mid-west, egos and emotions collide. Andy and Rooster find their romance in peril when job-related stress, injuries, and extraordinary weather conditions interfere with their relationship, both at work and at home.
Andrea has come to understand working outdoors in inhospitable climates and is thriving in her role as assistant bending engineer. She and Rooster have moved in together and are starting a new job. Although exhausted, Andy is glad to be working with Grandpa Buck again, even though it limits her time with Rooster. She’s missed the other hands too, and she is very curious about the new coating foreman; an intelligent, confident, and independent young woman. So is her friend, Nick. Andy also finds herself befriending a neighbor at the RV park, the wife of a welder on the line. Seeing a girl her age as a mother has Andy wondering about her own future. Could she manage to pipeline and be wife and mother too?
As always, pipeline construction is interrupted by delays, fraught with fatigue, and contingent on the weather. Caught up in a world of egos, Andrea and Rooster struggle to maintain their workload while finding time for each other after hours. When a serious on-the-job accident tips the scale of leadership, Andy and Rooster are thrown into conflicting positions. If stress at work, little time for love, and their reputations in danger wasn’t enough, Andy’s parents show up to complicate things further. Rooster is determined to prove himself capable of his new position, and Andrea isn’t about to let Buck down; will their fledgling romance pay the price? The couple has their horns locked in battle and they can’t let go, but they need each other, especially now. Both will have to make sacrifices and take a chance on ruining their credibility in order to stay together.
One joint of pipe was now exposed, but it still lay in a soupy mess and was quickly filling up with water. Two hands slogged out to the pipe, sinking in well past their knees, in preparation to put a belt around the pipe.
“Get a pump over here!” Rooster hollered, and two hands took off at a trot to comply.
The hoe operator hooked a tooth of the bucket in the end of the pipe and lifted, but to everyone’s horror, the weight of the pipe caused the hoe to tip precariously in the mud.
“Let it go!” Rooster hollered. “You’ll have to lift it from up here on the mats.”
It was no easy feat for the hoe to get back up onto the mats. It had to use its bucket for leverage and lift itself out of the muck hole. But soon enough it was stable on the mats and everyone returned their attention to retrieving the pipe.
In the meantime, more trucks had pulled up and men from assorted crews stood watching. Everyone was curious. Included in the group of onlookers was the farmer who Rooster had talked to the morning before. The old man grinned and tipped his hat; it was his way of reminding Rooster that he’d warned him about the mud.
Rooster glanced at his watch. This was taking forever. If they had to go through this for every joint of pipe, it would take forever. Of course, he’d called for more hoes and equipment to help with the work, but by setting up the pipe where it was unstable, he had messed up, and he had no one to blame but himself.
The hoe bucket reached out and once again, down into the hole, while two hands, now almost waste deep in mud, waited with a sling. Slowly, the hoe managed to lift one end of the pipe out of the mud.
A pickup truck worked its way through the mass of workers and stopped nearby. Rooster wasn’t surprised to see Ol’ Louie climb from the driver’s seat. Of course, the boss would want to see the nightmare situation his assistant had created. But Rooster was completely caught off guard when the passenger door of Louie’s truck swung open and Janet gingerly stuck out one pink sandal clad foot to test the mud-smeared mat.
“Now what?” Rooster moaned, his eyes scanning the crowd for Andy. This was the last thing he needed. He stomped over and nudged Andy with his elbow. “Handle your mother, will you?”
Andy’s mouth fell open at his audacity.
Several of the hands turned to stare at the new arrival as she closed the truck door and brushed off her dress. Women on the right-of-way were rare, but a woman in a bright pink dress was unheard of.
One of the inspectors lowered his safety glasses for a better look.
Janet picked her way across the mats with Louie by her side, holding her elbow. The old man left her with Andy and then moved away to speak with Rooster.
Brushing at the mud on her arm, likely from Louie’s truck, Janet adjusted the borrowed hard hat that had slipped to one side. She squinted through her loaner safety glasses toward the pipe that was raising from the hole, dripping and covered in mud. “Well,” she huffed, “that seems strange.” She turned to Andy. “Why do you dip the pipe in mud?”
Andy cast a glare at Rooster’s retreating back.
Love on the Line
Women at Work Book 1
An elbow in her side caused Andy to jolt forward and she stumbled her way down the rest of the wooden trailer steps. Several men glanced her way as they passed, then quickly looked away as if she were fascinating yet horrifying, like kryptonite.
Trying to remember where Buck had parked his work truck that morning, she headed across the yard. As she picked her way through the snow and frozen mud, she noticed a group of nine or ten men who looked different than the others, standing near flat bed trucks with dual tires and machines of some sort on the back. They stared at her silently as she passed. Unlike the other workers, these men were in no hurry. They didn’t wear hardhats or safety glasses, instead they wore soft cloth caps with long bills, some of which were turned sideways, with the bill flipped up against their heads. Their jeans were clean, new dark blue, and ironed crisp with a crease. Arrogance radiated off the group.
There had been a group of boys like that back in high school. She remembered their eyes boring into her as she passed in the hall, their eyes glued to her chest. Invariably one would shove another, causing them to fall directly into her. How could she report being groped when--
A horn honk startled Andy, causing her to trip on a clump of frozen mud. With her cheeks flaming, she tore her gaze from the haughty men to find Buck’s truck pulled up by her side. Glad to have a get-away, she tugged open the door and stretched hard against layers of clothing to get her foot up into the truck. Pulling herself up into the cab, she settled into the seat, out of the wind and away from the glares of strangers. With a grunt she tugged the door closed behind her.
As they drove through the yard, Buck was silent, but offered a nod and the lift of two fingers from the steering wheel in greeting as he passed workers. Heat pumped from under the dash as the truck growled and bumped over the frozen ruts, jarring and rattling the paperwork and gear scattered throughout the double cab.
“Who were those guys?” Andy asked, leaning forward to see the group of haughty men in the side mirror.
Buck pulled the truck to a stop at the gate of the yard. “Who?” He bent forward to peer up then down the road, waiting for a break in the traffic streaming past on the highway.
“The ones wearing the funny hats.”
He glanced in the mirror. “Them’s welders,” he snorted.
Unsure why a welder would be different than any of the other workers, she shrugged.
Time clicked past as they drove. Brilliant bursts of morning sunlight flashed through the towering hardwood forest as it slid past Andy’s window. Never before had she seen such dense growth. Even the ground cover was thick and deep. This place was very different that the open rolling green fields of Kansas. Bushes, briars, and plants of every kind made her wonder how anyone could navigate between the trees. She turned from the scenery and back to Buck. “Where are we going?” She asked. It was a simple enough question, but having no idea what lay ahead, she braced herself for the unexpected.
is a writer with a love of art and design. She worked in the
engineering field, taught college, and consulted free lance. Due to
health problems, she retired in 2012 to travel with her husband. They
live and work full time in a 40' travel trailer with their little dog
Bingo. Besides writing romance novels, she enjoys selling art on Etsy
and spoiling their three grandchildren.
As a writer, Kirsten's goal is to create strong female characters who face challenging, painful, and sometimes comical situations. She believes that the best way to deal with struggle, is through friendship and women helping women. She knows good stories are based on interesting and relatable characters.
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