We cleaned up, dressed and packed our things. The rain had stopped but the day was overcast and a bit cool.
We drove to the office and settled up. I asked about the nearest restaurant and got directions. The nearest town was fifteen miles down the road.
When I came out of the office, I tossed Shug the keys. “You drive,” I told him. “The next town is fifteen miles. I need to make a couple of calls.”
We headed out on the highway and I dialed my mother-in-law’s number. She answered on the third ring.
“Mother? It’s Caroline. I’m taking my time, dear. I don’t want to get over-tired and do something stupid. Can you keep Nathan for another day or two?”
“He’s swimming right now,” she told me. “Do you want me to get him?”
“It must be warmer there than it is here,” I said. “Just tell him I called and I love him, okay? And, thank you, Mother. You’re terrific.”
“You be careful, dear,” she said. “Call when you get back into town. We’ll be glad to keep Nathan for a few more days.”
“I love you,” I told her. “Thank you for helping.” I rang off.
“Your mother?” Shug asked.
“Mother-in-law,” I replied. “Eric’s mother. Eric was my husband.”
Next I called my office. I got the service. I left a message for the manager that I was taking some time off. I said I’d call when I was coming back.
I clicked the phone closed and returned it to my purse.
“I got the service,” I told Shug. “What day is it?”
“Sunday,” he said.
“Well, that explains that,” I said.
We pulled into the small town about ten minutes later. We found one of those 24-7 breakfast joints. Shug wheeled the car into a parking slot and we went in.
I ordered the breakfast special, with steak, eggs, hash browns, and the works. I insisted Shug have the same?
“I’m not having you searching the menu for the cheapest item,” I told him. “You eat what I eat and stop worrying.”
We sat holding hands across the table until the waitress brought our coffee. When she left Shug smiled at me.
“Have I told you today that you’re beautiful?” he asked.
“You have. You’re welcome to say it again.”
“You’re beautiful,” he said. I felt like a schoolgirl.
“Do you suppose it was some sort of fate thing, us meeting up like this?” I asked him.
He shrugged. “Could be.”
“You know I can still feel you inside me?”
“Really? Does it hurt?” He looked concerned.
I smiled. “No. It feels a little weird, but nice. It makes me want to squinch on you.”
“Squinch? That’s a unique word.”
“I know. But it fits, doesn’t it? I mean, you know exactly what I mean.”
“Exactly. I love it when you squinch on me.”
“I feel like such a slut. I haven’t been this horny in years!”
I nodded. “I am. Isn’t that awful? I mean, it hasn’t been an hour and I want you again, already.”
“I don’t think it’s awful,” Shug said. “It makes me, well, excited to think about it.”
“So, you’re just as bad as I am,” I said. “We’re just a couple of nasty animals.”
“I think we should just go with it,” Shug suggested. He grinned broadly.
The food arrived. We both ate like we hadn’t had a meal in weeks. Within ten minutes we had cleaned our plates. We stacked the dishes and pushed them aside.
“We have to make some plans,” Shug said.
“Why?” I wanted to know. “What kind of plans?”
“I’ve got to get to St. Louis, Caroline. You’ve got to go home to your son.”
“I don’t want to make plans,” I said, feeling suddenly dejected. “Plans are real world. I don’t want to be in the real world right now. I want to be with you.”
Shug smiled. “You wouldn’t believe how glad it makes me to hear you say that.”
“Then stop trying to be so reasonable,” I sulked.
“Caroline,” he put his hands out to me. I placed mine in his. “Sweetheart, I have to be back in Atlanta on the twenty-seventh. That’s a week from tomorrow.”
“I know that,” I said.
“That means I’m going to have to leave St. Louis on Friday, at the latest.”
“Friday? That’s three whole days! It doesn’t take three days to get from St. Louis to Atlanta.”
“It does when you’re hitchhiking,” he smiled at me.
“But, you’re not hitchhiking anymore, Shug,” I protested. “You’re with me.”
“That’s true,” he acknowledged, but you’re going on from St. Louis to…” he stopped. You haven’t told me where you live,” he said. “Where do you live?”
“Tulsa,” I said.
“Tulsa, Oklahoma?” Shug sounded amazed.
“Yeah. People live in Tulsa, you know.”
“Sure, but, you said St. Louis isn’t far out of the way. St. Louis is a long way out of the way if you’re going to Tulsa!”
“You’re being reasonable again,” I told him.
Shug pulled his hands away from mine and planted them on the edge of the table.
“Don’t you think one of us should occasionally touch reality?”
“I don’t want to be in touch with reality, right now, Shug. I want to drive through the countryside, stop at every cheesy motel we come across, fuck our brains out for the next week, and then take you back to Atlanta on the twenty-seventh.”
Shug looked stunned. “I guess that’s a plan of sorts,” he said. “When did you come up with that idea?”
“Just now,” I admitted. “I mean, it just now clarified. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of hours.”
“We’ve only been awake for a couple of hours,” he reminded me.
I took a deep breath and looked down at the table, tracing figure eight patterns on the top. “When I woke up this morning in your arms, I thought, this is where I want to be. This is where I want to stay. I was so warm and so comfortable with you. I felt safe, and protected, and.well, I just knew, that’s all.”
Shug looked like somebody had just told him his dog died. I thought he was going to cry.
“What?” I asked, softly. “You have trouble dealing with honesty? I’ve just told you the deepest, most private thoughts and feelings. You can’t handle that?”
“It’s not that,” he answered. “I am so…touched. So honored. I feel like you’ve just given me the most wonderful gift imaginable. Like, you’ve shared your soul with me. I’m…. I’m so very honored.”
“Oh, God,” I moaned, knowing that agony was only an instant away. I took a deep breath. “Go ahead,” I said. “Let the other shoe drop.”
“What?” Shug now looked confused.
“You’re honored? People only say that when there’s an awful something coming up. People say that just before the ‘but’. You know, but I don’t feel the same way about you.”
Shug’s look of confusion disappeared. He stared at me. Then he turned toward the window. I steeled myself for the bad news. Then he started to laugh. He reached across the table and took my hands in his once more.
“You are the most wonderful, amazing creature I have ever met,” Shug said, grinning so broadly I thought his face would split open. “There is no other shoe, my love,” he said. “I am truly honored that you shared you’re most intimate thoughts with me. I know how vulnerable it makes you feel. That you trust me that much in the short amount of time we’ve had together is…is…amazing! You are completely wonderful.”
A warm, golden glow settled around me. I couldn’t help but smile back at this marvelous young man. This had been a test of fire. I shared my inner self with him, trusted him, and he proved worthy. I was so relieved; I felt the need to break the tension that had built up around us.
“And a pretty good fuck, too, huh?” I whispered wickedly, leaning forward so only he could hear.
“All of that,” he grinned. He leaned across the table toward me. I met him halfway. It was a terrific little soft kiss that lasted two seconds longer than it should have.
We settled up the bill at the cash register and walked toward the car. Shug held the door for me, and then climbed in behind the wheel. As he backed out of the parking lot and pointed the car down the road he asked, “Destination?”
“Then next cheesy motel you can find, lover. I can’t wait to feel you back inside me.”