Chapter 7

Arriving back in town just as the sun was preparing to set, Jason parked his car outside of Joe’s and walked across to Aracely’s practice. It wasn’t long before her truck pulled up out front and the young country doctor got out.

“Hey,” he smiled. “Nice drive?”

“Pleasant,” she replied as she pulled out the keys and unlocked the door before pushing her way through. Dropping her bag on the counter she rounded it and picked up a pile of mail that was left for her. “Did you go straight home? I had your sister on the phone for like twenty minutes crying about how much of an idiot you are.”

“No, came straight here. Hayley sent me a text though,” he grinned as he looked around the office. The grin grew when he noticed that a bowl of candy sat atop the reception desk and a pile of comic books and magazines sat on the table in the waiting room. The smell of fresh paint made him take notice of the lighter coloured walls. With a proud and satisfied nod he added “Let’s just say, she’s not best pleased.”

“But still funny as shit,” she replied. “She’ll get over it at some point…I’m going to kill my mother,” Aracely sighed as she crumbled up a note that had been left on the phone and made her way to the back where her official desk was and shoved the door open, groaning.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, suddenly worried for their plans.

Backing into the hall, she leaned against the wall next to an exam room. “Evidently a pharmaceutical rep actually came into town and dumped a crap load of crap drugs on us but my mother doesn’t understand that just because its free doesn’t mean its a good drug. Look!” she said pointing into her office where it was covered in boxes everywhere possible so that it didn’t clog the other fresh clean patient and common areas of the office.

“Aww crap… we’re going to have to deal with this now, aren’t we,” he sighed, his head sagging.

“No,” she sighed. “I’m making my mother flush it all.”

“But you’ll need your office tomorrow,” he reminded her, not that she needed it.

“Exactly,” she said taking her cell from her pocket and dialed.

“Ma? – Yeah. I saw, I’m here now. – No Ma. Tomorrow morning I want you to get rid of it all before I come in. I won’t be in until after lunch…No Ma. What? Where did you hear – never mind, I know who told you. No Ma, he was just a nice man that helped change my truck’s tire – I was fucking with her! No don’t go tell them anything. She needs to learn to mind her own business – What the fuck does – No. – No. – Yes. – No. – No. – MA! Oh my god I don’t need know these things about you and Daddy. No! I’ll see you tomorrow when I get back into town. No Ma! I’m hanging up now. Bye.”

Jason visibly shuddered at the thought of what Mrs Blevins had told her daughter about her and Mr Blevins. “Oh my god… my sister’s insane… it’s one thing to interfere with your love life herself, but to tattle to your mom! That’s like sending a nuke after someone with a pea shooter.”

“No. She told your mom who then told Mrs. Smosky, who then told my mom,” she explained.

“What is it with this town and scuttlebutt?” he shook his head, feeling the weight of the negative side to small town life. “I’m sorry Ace.”

“It’s fine really. Just – I don’t need to know about my parent’s sex life. You have no idea how she managed to get sex from all that,” she replied gagging.

“At least your parents didn’t give you magazines when they gave you the talk.” He hoped to cheer her up with that embarrassing little nugget from his past.

“They didn’t need to. Remember I already had A&P books for that online course for college credits I was taking? They saw me studying one night when you were dragged off by your dad for guys’ weekend and didn’t know what to say when I gave them the hard facts about reproduction. For them it was like getting the talk themselves.”

Shaking his head, he remembered how excited he was about going hunting and fishing with his father, only to return with a brown paper bag of playboys and a very red face.

“Well, now that this is sorted… at least for now,” he said as he placed a hand on one of the boxes of Plomox tablets. “Shall we take the walk? Or would you rather go have a drink at Joe’s?”

“Then everyone will see you and I talking and they will begin to plan a spring wedding,” she pointed out. “Let’s go up to the lake. No one is usually around there after sunset anyway.”

“Okie doke… oh god, I did not just say that…” he sighed before they headed out. If he called coming home a great moment in his life, the fact that he was on friendly terms with Aracely was fantastic.

It wasn’t long before they had arrived at the lake in Aracely’s truck and Jason had to admit that it was comfortable, safe, quiet and even entertaining to drive in, but he still preferred his car. And as the sun dipped below the treeline, signalling the start to yet another hot summer night, memories of their time at the lake once again filled the former marine’s mind.

“So what do you think?” she asked as she reached forward in the passenger seat to turn the radio down. “Not a bad ride, right?”

“It’ll do,” he smiled, “I just didn’t expect you to pick something like this. But I guess people change in ten years. You’re no longer the girl begging me to let her drive a muscle car.”

“It’s all about the comfort. Especially the heat when the snow comes. I remember that monster having no heat in it that wasn’t produced by us,” she smirked.

“Well where’s the fun in having a working heater when you’re taking a drive with your boyfriend on a cold day,” he smirked, “Your complaints soon stopped when I pulled over, didn’t they?”

She shook her head, “Not after you convinced me to go skinny dipping.”

“You had a lot of fun though, if I recall correctly,” he smiled “So much fun that you said you’d have to do it again some day.”

“Maybe. Maybe not,” she smiled cheekily.

“Knowing you, it’ll happen again,” he grinned, “If it hasn’t already.”

“I’m not going to admit or deny anything,” Aracely replied as she got out of the truck and made her way around it before leading the way down towards the benches. “And stop staring at my ass.”

“Oh you know you love it when I watch you,” he grinned, his eyes still firmly locked on her tight, shapely butt. The only thought running through his mind was ’God broke the mold when he made you’.

She laughed and shook her head as she climbed over a large rock. “When we were dating it was fine. Expected even as we were teenagers but that’s not the case anymore. And it’s only the first day that you and I have ever really talked so maybe just try to resist a little harder?”

“Why should I?” he asked with a grin, “You can’t tell me that you haven’t been checking me out either. I saw you exchanging looks with Candy back at that diner.”

“I just smiled back at her when she looked at me after she checked you out. See, I already know you well enough to know that you aren’t as Wow as she thinks,” she teased. Reaching the benches she climbed up to sit on the top and looked out towards the lake. “LA was nice enough but just for visiting. Living there – not my cup of tea. Too loud, too much trouble around every corner.”

“Remind me never to take you to Vegas then,” he grinned, remembering his 7-day pass after boot.

“Vegas is alright but like I said – to visit. I wouldn’t ever want to live there. Although the idea of living in a hotel that fancy is kind of appealing. No lawns to mow, plants to water, and room service if you don’t want to cook.”

“Still a sucker for breakfast in bed, huh?” he asked as he stepped behind her. He was about to place his hands on her shoulders, just as he did when they were dating. It was instinct to do it, he’d done it so often after all. Resisting the urge, he slid his hands into his pockets.

She turned slightly to smile back at him. “Nothing beats the lake though. No sharks. Never so crowded that you trip over someone just turning over on your blanket.”

“I hear that,” he smiled. They both had a lot of fond memories of the lake from rope swings to skinny dipping and everything in between.

“Where does everything go from here?” she asked, her tone shifting.

“You mean with us?” he asked, taken aback by the sudden question. “Where would you like things to go?” She’d just got out of a troubled relationship and he didn’t want to push her into anything. If friendship was all she was prepared to offer him for the moment, he would gladly accept it. If she wanted more… well, she didn’t need telling that he was open to the idea. He may as well have been wearing a big neon sign telling the world he still had feelings for her.

Aracely nodded that she understood what he was really saying before letting out a sigh. Her mind hadn’t stopped thinking about him since the day she saw him when he came home and in a small way, Eric had been right but she wouldn’t have left him just because he was there again. Still, she didn’t know what else to say in that moment.

“Look, why don’t we just take things one day at a time. There’s no rush with this decision because I’m not planning on going anywhere and I know you’re not either. Right now we should concentrate on our friendship and getting over the bad stuff from the last ten years,” he explained, moving around to face her with a small smile. “If one day we decide to give our relationship another shot… great, grand, wonderful. But if not… we’ll always have our friendship.”

She looked at him for a moment before her lips pulled back into a smile. Quickly she jumped up, slapped him on the shoulder and ran off laughing as part of one their old childhood games of tag where they stayed silent as long as they could because when they played it was usually late at night after sneaking out of their homes and trying not to wake their parents or the neighbors.

After ten years with the Marines, Jason had gotten a lot stronger and a lot faster since the last time they played around like this, but he decided on giving her a chance before he really wiped the smile off her face and beat her at her own game. Taking off after her, they ran down the bank of the lake, zig-zagging and ducking, trying to outsmart one another.

Just as she thought she would have reached the end of the beach, Aracley felt his arms wrap around her to pull her down into the sand. It didn’t necessarily mean she had lost yet, as she instinctively reached up to get her hands along his sides where she knew he was extremely ticklish.

“Hey hey hey!” he chuckled as her fingers went to work, “That’s not fair!” He began to wriggle uncontrollably as she hit every sensitive spot along his ribcage. She’d mastered the art of tickling him very early on in their friendship because she knew that she could get whatever she wanted from him. His juice-box, his animal crackers and later on when friendship turned into something more, his bike, his car keys and whatever else her devious mind could think of.

“When was fairness ever in the rules?” she asked with a raised eyebrow as she looked down at him.

“Fine,” he said as he snatched her wrists, flipped her onto her back and pinned her arms above her head. “Do you submit,” he grinned cheekily.

“Never!” she grinned at him.

“Are you sure?” he asked, keeping both of her hands pinned with one of his own, freeing up the other to give a little payback. “I know your sensitive spots too y’know.”

“I know but you also wouldn’t,” she smirked.

“Wouldn’t I?” he asked, his eyebrow raised as he brushed a single finger over her neck. “You know how much I love to hear you laugh. Tickling you would be music to my ears.”

Aracely only looked at him. She could feel her heart racing in her chest and the sound of the beats were almost deafening in her ears. “Jason…”

“You know what you have to say…” he grinned, stroking her neck again for emphasis.

She closed her mouth tightly and smiled up at him, resisting the urge to shudder under his attentions. Shaking her head, she continued to refuse to give in to him.

“Well, I tried to give you a chance…” he grinned as his hand moved from her neck to her knee, more specifically, the soft flesh behind it. With a wink, he started to rub the skin with two fingers moving in a slow circular pattern.

Aracely narrowed her eyes as she thrust her hips up to roll them over where it left him blinking in surprise and his hand on her arms loosened enough that she was able to gain control again. Straddling him, she flashed a smirk at him cheekily.

“Oh no… I’m at the mercy of a gorgeous Doctor… whatever shall I do?” he feigned his protest as he looked into her sexy eyes..

A muscle twitched just under her eye as she looked down at him before she suddenly leaned in to kiss him. It started off soft, but became quite demanding fast.

It took Jason a moment to react, but boy did he react to keep up with her demanding lips and tongue. As he kissed back with the same force she was kissing him, his hands moved from her legs to her hips, from her hips to her shoulders and from her shoulders to her hair. Ten long lonely years had passed for him. Sure he’d had sex with women while on leave, but they would always be memories, paling in comparison to his past and hopefully his future with Aracely.

When the need for oxygen became too much, she finally parted from his lips and lowered her head into his shoulder as she tried to catch her breath and calm the pounding heart-rate that echoed in her ears.

Catching his breath, but not his tongue, Jason didn’t know what to say next. What could he say. The kiss was amazing, as if ten years of pent up feelings had been poured into it. Instinctively wrapping his arms around her, he couldn’t help but wonder what was going through her mind at that very moment.

“Well, um,” she said feeling a bit unsure. Sitting up, she ran her hand through her hair to pull it back from hanging over in her face and bit her lip looking at him.

“That was… uh… well I guess wow is the only word my brain can come up with to describe what just happened,” he said, his face blank. He could tell she was feeling anxious, so he knew he had to be very careful as to what he was going to say next. He reached up and tucked a few stray hairs behind her ear, his eyes still looking deeply into hers. “Not that I’m not so very grateful for the kiss… because I am. And its not like I haven’t wanted it since I saw you the day I got back into town… because I did. I… is this what you want?”

“I don’t want to think,” Aracely said quietly. “I’ve thought about too much for too long. Is it wrong to just want to do what I feel?”

“No… so long as you’re prepared to deal with the consequences,” he said plainly.

“You mean our families and the town?”

“No… if you want tonight to be about tonight,” he began, nodding at her comment. There would be cause for concern if any of them caught wind of what had just happened.

“No,” she said cutting him off. “Not tonight. I’ll admit it’d been awhile since Eric and I been together intimately – even before your coming home, but not tonight.”

“But some night,” he finished. It wasn’t a question, it was inevitable that it would happen. They had so much history and still cared deeply for one another. “Then the question will become do you want it to be a casual thing, or something more?”

Sighing, Aracely straightened up and let her hands fall in front of her on his chest. “I don’t think I could ever do casual. You know that. I’ve always been an all or nothing girl.”

“Then we can have it all,” he smiled, “Eventually. I’ve waited 10 years Aracely, I can wait a little longer while be both sort ourselves out.”

“In the meanwhile I want to continue to fuck with everyone’s heads,” she smiled.

“Oh of course,” he smiled back as he took her hand and kissed it. “But you do realise that we won’t be able to spend much time together while we’re in town. If our families see us together, they’ll get suspicious.”

She nodded. “Well, I do go into the city twice a week, sometimes three, to meet with different companies as well as work some time in the hospital. It’s not a lot of time, but I’m sure we can have dinner at that diner or something then.”

“We could always meet here some nights too, when we’re not busy,” he added with a hint of hope in his voice.

“We could, but we also have to make sure that neither of us are followed. I actually wouldn’t put it past Lisa or Hayley to send Steve or Bobby after us.”

“The camaro can outrun Steve’s rusted out old shit box, easily. And Bobby drives a Prius… soooo…”

Aracely laughed. “Still, they would know it’s you just by the racket the thing makes. You think you can get to my house on foot if you were to come over?”

“Without being seen?” he asked as he lifted the arm to the t-shirt he was wearing and pointed to the USMC tattoo he’d gotten during a very hazy night on the 7 day pass in Vegas.

She nodded but pursed her lips. “They also have a lot more practice in the woods hunting around these parts than you in the last ten years.”

“Yeah, Steve told me about the not so dead raccoon story,” he grinned. “I’ll be careful.”

“You know where my house is now? Not my parents, but mine?”

“Actually it’s the one thing my sister has not talked about when the subject turned to you. Don’t tell me its one of the new houses that were built a few years back? The ones that had the town divided?” he asked, remembering his mothers letters and his fathers tale about how he and half the town managed to save a large portion of the forest surrounding the town from development.

“Not those, but it is new. On land that I bought from the Millers that died off when we were kids and went vacate throughout high school.”

“I remember the land,” he replied. “I look forward to seeing the place. Because I doubt you’ll get to see mine anytime soon.”

She patted him on the cheek before moving to get off him. “Come on. I’ll show you it now. It’ll be easier to do that now while we know the others are all at home.”

“Alright,” he smiled as he flipped himself onto his feet before following her back to his car.”It’s a shame your truck doesn’t have tinted windows… and no, I’m not laying in the trunk…”

“Trust me. You’ll be fine. Give me my keys,” she said as she made her way back up to the truck.

Deactivating the alarm and the central locking systems, he tossed the keys over to Ace and slipped into the passenger seat. Checking his phone he had received several more texts from his sister, but the calls had stopped.

“What does she have to say now?” she laughed as she adjusted the seat and mirror before turning the truck on and pulling out onto the road.

Answer me, I’m gonna kick ur ass when you get home, you’re a dick!, the expected responses,” he replied. “I’ll be sleeping with one eye open tonight, that’s for sure.”

“Fun times,” she said and nodded towards the middle console. “Check my phone? We’re actually not that far being at this end of the town already.”

Picking up her iPhone, he opened up the messages. “Come on hon, answer me. At least tell me how the date’s going… and oh yes My brother is such a dick!. Why is it that she’s only angry with me?”

“Because you’re so easy to be mad at?” she grinned. “We’re on the outskirt of the back end of my land now.”

“All this is yours?” he asked with a frown, “How much have you been earning? No intern would earn enough to afford all this.”

“Combination of savings and loans. Plus a large chunk from my winnings from a girls’ weekend in Vegas during Spring Break the last year before graduation and I started Med School,” Aracely said as she looked back out the window. “I figured if there was anything I was going to really invest in, it would be my home as I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”

“So you’ve been to Vegas,” he said with a raised eyebrow before grinning. “Nice of you to let me make an ass of myself by mentioning it earlier.”

She looked over at him and shook her head. “I did nothing of the sort. I didn’t say that I was never there, nor did you ask.”

“Well when I mentioned that I should never take you to Vegas, you could have said that you already hustled the strip for enough cash to pay for all this,” he grinned. “Aside from your win did you have fun?”

“Yes, I did. Look ahead,” she pointed ahead towards the darkened hill that led up to the driveway that wrapped around the side of the relatively modern house.

“Holy… and I thought Lisa’s place was big,” he gaped. The darkly stained wooden paneling seemed to blend the house amongst the trees quite nicely. It wasn’t an eyesore like one of the developments.

“Yeah well, I when I worked with the contractor in designing it, I wanted something to grow into if I had a family and all. I didn’t want to have to more work later, to add on so I figured get as much in as I could in the beginning. It really doesn’t feel as large on the inside.”

“That’s because you had Saunders and his gigantic ego living with you,” he said plainly. “Maybe once you start your family, the place will feel different.”

“Hm,” she hummed as she glared at him for mentioning Eric again. Driving up the driveway, she pressed a button on the dash that opened the garage door that revealed a finished inside and the truck that Eric used to drive parked there having had been returned by the Sheriff’s office.

“Did you consider my offer to fix up the second truck?” he asked as he checked over the damage. “If you decide to sell it on, it’d get more money if it’s fully repaired.”

She shrugged. “I really haven’t decided on much with it yet. I was thinking of keeping it around though when it comes hunting season for Steve to use because he got that piece of shit matchbox car. If you want to work on it, be my guest. I won’t stop you.”

“Cool,” he grinned. “You know, I’ve been wondering what to get them for the baby shower. Would you consider letting me buy it from you? I could fix it up and give it to them for when the baby comes. I don’t trust the shit-box around children.”

Aracely was already moving towards the door further into the house and grinned back. “Isn’t a baby shower supposed to be something for the baby? You know that he will be looking to go off-roading.”

“I’ll buy the kid a good car seat and get a DVD player installed. That way Steve’ll be forced to sit through all the cartoons and educational shows that babies and toddlers are supposed to watch,” he grinned.

“If you repaint it and all to make it not look like it used to be Eric’s, yeah sure. Come on,” she waved him in.

Stepping into the house, he was stunned. The walls were a little spartan, which he was surprised about because of Aracely’s love for art. The decor was simple and plain, very warm and inviting. “Uhh… do you want me to take off my boots. I know your Mom was famous for that.”

“My mother had her collection of rugs all over. I’m more hardwood everywhere but the bedrooms so you’re fine,” she smiled. “Except if your boots are muddy, they get left downstairs. There is a small room with the washer and dryer in there with some extra pairs of slippers for guests.”

Checking his boots, they had traces of mud and sand. “Wonderful,” he said as he unfastened his boots and carefully removed them. “Uhh, would you mind?” he asked before handing them to her. He didn’t want to go barging around her house, taking over.

Aracely looked from him to the boots and back. “Yes I mind. You don’t have to be so proper. Just down the steps and to the right. I’ll wait right here,” she smiled.

“Alright,” he said as he made his way downstairs to the laundry room. When he opened the door, he was greeted by a shoe rack filled with her shoes, boots and a few pairs of slippers, the other rack, presumably Saunders, was empty save for pairs of feminine and children’s slippers. With a sigh, he picked up the pair of sky blue slippers and slipped them on. They were a little tight and had a single pink flower on each lip. “Uhh, do you need yours?” he asked as he looked for what he thought could be her slippers.

“No. I already kicked mine off while you were looking the truck over,” she replied to him before moving off towards the dining area where she had her wine stock.

Jason was about to leave the laundry room and his boots behind when he noticed the other door. Curiosity got the best of him and he opened it to reveal a roomy looking storage basement. Currently it was filled with all sorts. Box files, outdated medical text books, some unused exercise equipment.

Switching off the light and shutting the door he went back upstairs. “Uhh… where’d you go?” he asked as he reached the top and couldn’t see her.

“Dining room,” she called out as she poured them each a glass of wine. “I don’t have any beer, sorry.”

Following the sound of her voice, he walked into a spacious sitting room. The furnishings were very contemporary. They weren’t too flashy and made the room come together quite nicely. He imagined children playing on the floor of the room as Aracely, Lisa and Hayley had coffee. Smiling he moved deeper into the room to find a piano.

“Don’t tell me you finally got around to marking learning to play an instrument off your list of things to do before your 35th birthday,” he grinned as he opened the glossy wooden lid and played a few notes.

“Actually no,” Aracely answered as she walked back in with their wine glasses. “That was Eric’s originally but I paid him cash for it just so that I could keep it.”

“I always wanted something like this. My grandfather had a piano, taught me how to play on our monthly visits,” he explained before he stopped playing and closed the lid.

“Well you’re more then welcome to come play with it as much as you like.”

“Thanks,” he smiled gratefully as he took his glass. “I’m a little out of practice, but I’ll definitely take you up on your offer.”

She shrugged. “Well, let’s see. Obviously this is the sitting room. The dining room is this way with the kitchen on the other side that leads into the family room on the other end. The layout on this floor is kinda like a circle path.”

“It’s nice… I don’t get how you think this place is small. I lived in barracks with 30 other guys that was no bigger than this room.”

“You don’t exactly see what I did when I was planning the design,” she laughed as she walked the route she explained to show him. The kitchen was sort of galley style and while it was rather long, it was also narrow, but at least there was a full bath right off it.

“You’ve done a helluva job, all things considered,” he nodded. “And you’ve got enough land to extend the house as far as you want later on.”

“True,” she smiled. “Want to see the upstairs? And no – that’s not an invitation to stay the night.”

“Perish the thought,” he chuckled. “I promise you, I’ll be a perfect gentleman.”

Aracely raised an eyebrow and nodded. “Okay. Well there are four bedrooms upstairs with three full baths. I was actually thinking of using one of them as a home office or something but the two small ones are kind of odd shaped and the second largest room is without a doubt designated for my guest room.”

“Planning on having the girls over for sleep overs?” he grinned, referring to Lisa and Hayley.

“Its not a bad idea if the guys would be able to manage the kids without going into panic mode,” she shrugged as she pushed open the door to the master.

“Wow…” his eyes widened. “How many throw pillows does one person need!?!” The bed was huge, definitely a king, or even an emperor.

“You know I always slept with a lot of stuffed animals. Now I have my pillows,” she grinned. “My favorite part is the bath and closet.”

“If your shoe rack is anything to go by… I bet you’ll have dozens of pairs of shoes in the closet,” he smiled, picturing the walk-in that she’d fantasised about since she was a girl.

Laughing, she shrugged innocently as she walked in and went to open the door to the bath. Inside there, where she was particularly proud of, was a large spa like bathroom but was also male friendly enough to balance out for all of her pillows she loved so much. A large jetted bathtub sat underneath the large open window and across from there was a double shower with overhead rain style sprays and built in bench on each side of the glass enclosed area.

“Umm… I’d like to book a room… do you accept cash?” he asked, taken aback by the beautiful bathroom. Stepping inside, the tiling, the fittings, everything looked perfect. “Amazing…”

“Considering the kitchen and my bath would be the areas I spend the most time in personally, I went all out where I could,” she explained.

“Well I could never hope to afford all this, even with my savings,” he smiled. “I’m proud of you Ace. You’re doing what you always planned to do.”

“Vegas baby,” she grinned before sipping her wine. “Well, Vegas and the rest of my life.”

“To Vegas and being a damn fine Doctor,” he said, raising his glass to her before taking a sip. “I guess drinking wine is something you picked up in LA huh?”

“Yeah, but a good one,” Aracely said. “So that’s it. My home now.”

“Well, my apartment isn’t nowhere near as spacious as this, it serves me well enough though, at least until I get my own place,” he explained as he looked outside. Although it was dark, he could see quite a lot from their vantage point. “An almost perfect view.”

She went over to look out the window curiously. “What would make it perfect?”

“This!” he said as he stepped behind her and embraced her, taking care not to spill his wine. Resting his chin on her shoulder, he said, “There… now its perfect.”

She chuckled as she let her head rest back against his shoulder. “You know if you want to head up for that dog tomorrow as early as you do, you’re going to have to get some sleep soon. I can drive you back to town or if you want, you can take the other truck already. Up to you.”

“How much was you hoping to get for it?” he asked, “It’s only what? A year or so old?”

“Two, but it doesn’t bother me. Whatever you offer I’ll happily take,” she said. “I have the keys downstairs.”

“Great, give me a couple of days to do some research and I’ll write you a check,” he smiled. Now he just needed a place to repair and repaint it. “I don’t wanna go, but if I don’t, I’ll be a zombie when we go pick up the dog.”

“I know. I’d offer you the guest room but it needs to be sprayed down and sanitized from Eric staying in there the last few months.”

“It’s okay, It won’t take me long to get home,” he smiled, “Hopefully Lisa will have gone to bed by now.”

“Doubt it. There is a small lot behind my office if you want to leave the truck there until morning or just take it back with you. If Lisa asks about it, you can mention that I called you to come take it when I got home or something. You did make the offer to fix it that night anyway.”

“Yeah, I’ll leave the camaro in Joe’s lot for the night, it’ll be fine there,” he explained before reluctantly stepping away. “Thanks for tonight Ace. It’s been wonderful.”

Nodding, she couldn’t help but agree. “It has…Oh! I forgot, and I’m sorry at the same time. But I gave Candy your cell number so she’ll be texting you with a new picture every day for the next two weeks as part of the prank. I figured it would help with Lisa and all if she didn’t back off.”

“Your mind can be a scary place sometimes,” he grinned, “Remind me never to cross you again.”

“Yeah. Well, Eric’s probably itching his ass off on his plane ride and then some,” she smiled sweetly. “I’ll walk you out,” she added with a resigned sigh.

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