Fire in the Night Ch. 03

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Amateur

When he heard Caitlin close the bedroom door, Jack tried to focus his concentration on the rainy night and the highway ahead of him. ‘Half your age, half your age,’ he repeated to himself in a frustrated voice. But she was amazing. Beautiful, well that goes without saying. Yet she was also intelligent, funny, and adventurous. And she certainly didn’t act like a girl in her early 20’s – she seemed more mature than some of the women he’d recently dated. Of course, there was so much of her that was still a mystery. But from what he knew, he thought she was one of the most amazing women he’d ever met. And he could swear there was electricity between them.

‘You’re imagining that,’ he told himself. ‘What could she possibly see in an old man twice her age? She no doubt has men her age drawn to her like bees to honey. Fuck, she probably has a boyfriend. Certainly has a boyfriend! No woman that amazing could be without love in her life.’ He concentrated intensely on the road and tried not to imagine what she was telling her friend.

Several minutes later, she emerged from the bedroom, turning on the overhead light in the kitchen. “Does this distract you from driving?” she called to him.

‘No, but you sure as hell do,’ he thought. “Nope, not at all,” he called out cheerily.

He heard her open the fridge, then heard her pouring another drink. She turned off the overhead light and came to the front of the RV, sitting in the passenger seat again. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched her sipping her wine carefully. This was a dangerous move on his part, as he was nearly mesmerized by the sight of her soft, pink lips pursing gently to drink the wine. Her fiery red curls fell onto her shoulders, which were covered by a royal blue top that hugged her curves nicely, and her khaki pants hung low on her hips, showing just a hint of tummy when she leaned forward to put the wineglass in the cup holder. He shivered slightly, moving his gaze back Escort Bayan Gaziantep to the road. ‘Just don’t look at her anymore,’ he told himself firmly.

“How is your friend?” he asked.

“Oh, she’s great,” she replied. “She’s such a sweetheart, looking out for me like this. I’m really lucky to have a friend like her.”

“How long have you been traveling?” he asked curiously.

“About three weeks now. I took the Southern route, roughly, to the East Coast from California, and was planning on trying to take the Northern route back home, so that I can see as much of the country as possible,” she explained.

His eyebrows shot up. “You’re from California, too?” he asked, somehow managing to keep the hope out of his voice.

“Yes, San Francisco,” she answered.

“Ah…I live in Long Beach,” he said, hiding his disappointment quite well.

“I’m going to UCLA for graduate school in August!” she exclaimed. “What are the chances, two Californians meeting in lonely, upstate New York?”

‘The chances may be slim, but it just means that Fate loves me,’ he thought, hiding a delighted grin. Los Angeles was within 30 miles of Long Beach. “You’re going to graduate school?”

She hesitated before answering, as if she just realized how personal the conversation was getting. “Yes…for biopsychology.”

“Wow, that sounds fascinating,” he said, thoroughly impressed.

Her voice was quiet when she replied, “It’s not that fascinating…a life in research must sound so dull to a man who puts his life on the line every day.”

He shook his head firmly. “You couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve always thought that if I could go to school for my entire life, and just learn as much as I possibly could about the world, then that would give my life meaning. But my dad was a cop, and you know how it goes…” He trailed off as he was suddenly aware that she was leaning toward him, watching him carefully.

“Well I greatly admire what you do,” she said seriously. “It takes a brave and courageous man to do what you do, and I’m sure it must give your life meaning to save lives every day.”

He smiled modestly. “Well, not every day…I get two days off.”

She gave a low, throaty chuckle that he found incredibly sexy. “Well, five out of seven days a week, then.”

As midnight approached, he found himself growing ever more enamored with her. ‘It’s not like I can make a move on her,’ he reminded himself. ‘She is trusting me with her safekeeping, she is vulnerable because I’m giving her a ride. I don’t want her to feel coerced into doing something with me just because she’s afraid that I will dump her back on the road if she turns me down.’

He turned off of Route 88 onto Route 81, heading south toward Pennsylvania. “After I cross the border, we’ll look for a rest stop for the night,” he explained to her.

“Alright,” she said softly. Her wineglass was empty again. He wondered if she would want more. He wondered if she would want to go to sleep immediately after they stopped. He wondered what she looked like when she slept. He wondered what she looked like when she…

‘Stop it,’ he said to himself firmly. ‘Just stop it right there, you dirty old man.’

He drove past a sign that read ‘Pennsylvania Welcomes You.’ She pointed to it and said delightedly, “Pennsylvania welcomes us, Jack!” He laughed softly, enjoying her enthusiasm for their traveling.

“I only rode through the southeastern corner when I came up to New York,” she explained quickly, as if embarrassed. “It will be nice to see more of the state.”

“Well then we can make that our goal for tomorrow,” he smiled. “Hopefully the weather will clear up. Oh, there’s a rest stop right up here,’ he added, leaning forward and peering into the rain and darkness as he turned off onto the exit ramp. He pulled into the parking lot, and offered to pull up to the rest area main entrance if she wanted to go inside.

“Not now, maybe in the morning,” she said. “I have everything I need in here.”

‘That didn’t mean anything, that wasn’t a subtle innuendo, she’s talking about bathroom supplies and food,’ he told himself determinedly while he backed into a motor home parking space carefully. ‘Stop looking for flirting!’ But he couldn’t help imagining that she meant more by this comment, that perhaps this was her way of hinting that he could be man enough to be everything to her, that he could fulfill her needs in every way… ‘Half your age, half your age,’ he muttered to himself.

“What?” she asked. He glanced over and she was looking at him curiously.

“Oh, I was just talking to myself while parking… ‘Back into the space, back into the space.’ Just a quirk I picked up from driving alone so much.” His reply was smooth even though his heart was pounding furiously. ‘Be careful, buddy, you’re going to freak her out if you keep that shit up,’ he thought, annoyed with himself. Turning off the RV, he unbuckled his seatbelt and got up, stretching as much as he could before walking into the kitchen.

“I think I’ll join you with that wine before we retire, if that’s alright,” he called over his shoulder, flicking on the overhead light. He heard her get up and move behind him to the booth on the other side of the kitchen.

“That sounds great,” she said softly. “Pour me another glass and I’ll check in with Shanna again.” He couldn’t help but notice that she used her friend’s name now, rather than the ambiguous term ‘my friend.’ She was getting more comfortable with him, trusting him. His intuition told him that this was important to her, that she was letting him into her life a little bit at a time.

He turned after pouring the two glasses, and caught her brilliant green eyes watching him. ‘I want her to trust me,’ he realized suddenly. ‘I’ve never cared whether a woman trusted me before, just whether she would sleep with me. What is wrong with me…?’ he wondered.

To be continued…

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