When she drove up she looked like an angel. She was looking around at the trees and the sky but her dazed expression didn’t change when she saw me striding towards her. I had to yank her door open and kiss her properly to make her remember exactly who I was and that she was here for me.
“Hang on a sec” I said and pulled out my phone. I needed to show her that I understood what she was sacrificing to be here. I called Rissa and put it on speaker.
“Rissa, I’m breaking up with you.” I glanced up at Odette who looked a little confused with knitted eyebrows.
Rissa paused for a while then finally said, “Jake, I know you think this kind of shit is funny, but it’s not.”
“I’m not joking. I’m here with Odette.” I sat and waited, feeling a little sudden nausea but mostly exhilaration.
I could hear Rissa’s breathing start to get fast and heavy. “She’ll fuck you over,” she said simply.
“And I’ll enjoy every minute of it,” I couldn’t help but quip.
“I always knew this was coming,” she said. I was surprised. Really? Then why did she even bother with me? As if she heard my thoughts she said, “But I had hope…that last thing out of Pandora’s box and we still wonder if hope is the tiny bit of good in there, or just one of the horrors like the rest.”
“I’ll always love you, Rissa. And sometimes I’ll miss you.”
“Fuck you” she said, and hung up.
I hung up and looked at Odette who was still looking at me with a puzzled frown.
“Please don’t say, ‘you’re turn’” she said.
“I don’t care what you do or who you tell,” I said. “But get out of that van before my heart explodes.”
She suddenly laughed. I held her as she slid out onto the ground. I slammed the van door then pressed her up against it with my kiss. I held her and felt every part of her against me. All I wanted to do was take every piece of clothing off and feel her skin against mine. I stroked her soft hair and breathed her in then kissed the top of her head. The words, ‘I love you’ sat on my lips but I kept them there, not wanting to do or say anything that might put her back in that van. Instead I said it inside my head…I love you, I love you, I love you.
I pulled away from her and she looked at my face inquisitively and touched my unshaven cheek with her hand. She looked troubled. “You’re so young,” she said.
That worried me. Was this something she was telling herself so that she could shed me too, like everyone else? “I’m yours” I said breathlessly, surprised at how the words sounded coming out of my mouth. She smiled, perhaps a little startled too at my urgency. “We need to go somewhere” I said, “to be alone.” We were alone out there but she knew what I meant. I looked in the window at the back of her van and she shook her head and rolled her eyes and brought my chin back to face her so that we were looking in each other’s eyes again. I smiled. “Then where?”
She shrugged. I didn’t want to go to some cheesy motel somewhere. “Let’s go to the Hilton and swim in their pool and pretend we are newlyweds” I said, thinking that was the most likely thing she would agree to.
She brightened up. “Really?”
“Yeah, it will be fun.”
Right then, time to move. “Let’s leave the van here, I’ll get someone to come and fix my windshield when we get to the hotel.” I took her hand and practically pulled her towards my truck. I tried to remember the last time I had felt this excited. Perhaps it was when my Dad took me to see the Empire Strikes Back when it came out for a second time in movie theaters. Maybe it was when I got the acceptance letter for college. Perhaps it was the last time I was in bed with her. But I didn’t know then how fleeting things were with her. And it seemed now that nothing compared to this. Her hand was warm and electric. I kissed the back of it and couldn’t wait to get her into that hotel room. I looked at her as we walked over to my truck and she flickered her eyes up at me and smiled a little smile. I knew she was doing exactly what she wanted to do and soon she would be mine, in the way that I had stopped letting myself dream about, because it was utterly too painful to be tempted like that. And the sky opened up and suddenly drenched us. We ran the rest of the way to my truck and I opened the door for her as water ran down into my mouth and the neck of my T-shirt, waited until she slid into the seat and closed it for her. Then I ran over to my side and got in and after I slammed my door shut, I rested my hand on the steering wheel and paused with wonder to listen to the rain pounding on the metal roof and the distant call of exotic migrating birds. How was I going to wait until we got to the Hilton? I looked over at her wet hair and bright eyes. “Start the car,” she said.
I sucked in a breath, turned the ignition and grinned as I tore out of the parking lot leaving rocks and mud flying. Fuck the Sand Hill Cranes.