What has come before:
Well, it's complicated...
It's January of 1996.
The narrator of our story, "Woody," is a New Englander in his mid-thirties who was about to make his way home from Iowa when a blizzard hit. He had just met a thirtyish young woman named Eve at a truck stop. Her reasons for being there, as opposed to being at home with her husband, are as yet unclear.
Eve had no money with her, so when her car wouldn't start due to lack of fuel, Woody offered her a chance to sleep in his car -- actually, his sister Julie's car -- in the truck stop's parking lot. Unfortunately for both of them, the borrowed Corvette's heater was useless.
* * * * *The Corvette had an automatic transmission; its gear shifter was between the seats. I put my foot on the brake and reached down to put the car in reverse gear, and felt something made of cloth on the shifter. I looked down, and smiled. It was Eve's bra! She'd brought it with her. Cute, I thought, echoing her earlier remark. I tossed it into the small area behind the seats, and started backing up. The car fishtailed a bit in the snow. That was a bad sign, I thought.
Eve woke up immediately. "What are you doing?"
"We have to find a better place to sleep. This heater's no good!"
She started playing with the controls on the heater, to no avail. "Oh, dear," she said, the way I'd say "Oh, shit," or worse. "This heater's no good at all!"
"Thanks for clearing that up, doll."
I was on the highway by now, and the driving had already gotten a little touchy. I was not looking forward to roaming around aimlessly in this crap!
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"We have to find a room for the night... and don't read anything into that!" I snapped.
"What about my car?"
"It's parked at a truck stop, Eve. There are trucks and cars parked all over that place, covered with snow. No one will think twice about it, I promise." I glanced over at her. "Do you know of any cheap lodgings around here?"
"Well, I sure don't! I'm not from around here."
"Don't I know it."
"Meaning what, exactly?"
"Are you kidding? Your Northeastern accent, the Connecticut plate on your car... I mean, your sister's car..."
"Oh. Gotcha." I smiled at her. "You're very observant, you know that?"
She smiled back. "Thanks. Uhhh... Watch the road, Woody."
I must have driven for over an hour before I found a motel. The manager -- an elderly guy with a totally bald head -- walked into the cramped office and sniffed at us like he was trying to see if we were drunk.
"Whatcha doin' out this time o'night?" he asked suspiciously.
"Well, we were headed back to New England, but didn't want to take any chances in this snowstorm."
He stared at me as I signed my name in the register book, prefaced by "Mr. and Mrs." so he wouldn't think we were two sinful souls using his precious motel as a trysting place.
"Any food around here?" I asked, as he pocketed my money and unceremoniously threw our room key on the counter.
"What, you want room service now?" he asked, sarcastically.
"I just wondered!" Grump.
"Sandwich machine by the swimming pool area... which is locked, by the way."
"The sandwich machine is locked?"
"No, the swimming pool area is locked!"
"Aw, shucks. I was hoping for a swim before retiring." Eve lightly kicked me in the leg.
As we walked toward our room, I spotted the sandwich machine a few yards away. We stopped at the door and I handed Eve the key. "Here, doll. Let yourself in. I'll be right with you."
"I can't believe you're still hungry."
"I'm not." She stared at me. "But you are, aren't you?" She continued to stare at me, open-mouthed, as I walked away from her. I looked back. She was still staring at me. I made an odd hand gesture which meant "Get in the room!" and she finally did so.
When I entered the room, carrying a ham sandwich and a mid-sized meatball sub, Eve was still fully clothed and seated on the room's single, plushly-upholstered chair. The room was lit by one light, which was on the wall above the bed's headboard. "Okay, what's wrong?" I asked her.
"What's wrong? This room is a single! There's only one blasted bed!"
"It's a good-sized bed," I offered.
"It's still one bed!"
"Well, what did you expect? If I'd asked for two beds, The Great Baldini would have asked more nosy questions! He probably would have thought we were going to push the beds together, and call seven or eight of our drunken buddies here to have an orgy!"
I handed her both sandwiches. She opened the meatball sub and began eating it. "Instead of that cute little 'Mr. and Mrs.' stunt, you could have said I was your sister Judy..."
"And I could have shown him the car's registration to prove it."
"And what if he'd asked for your ID, Julie?" She frowned. "Thought so. Anyway, a single is cheaper."
She smirked. "And you're the one paying, right?" Like I thought that she "owed" me something now... ?
"Don't start that crap, please? Look, you take the bed, and I'll sleep in the chair, or on the floor, or in the freakin' bathtub, okay? Any one of them is better than the seat of a Corvette."
"You're really serious," she said, stuffing the last of the meatball sub into her mouth. I had to smile, thinking she must have been starving to eat that quickly. I was sure that under more normal circumstances, her eating habits were much daintier and ladylike.
"Uh-huh. Now, why don't you check the closet and bathroom to see if this dump provides any bathrobes, while I fire up the heater?"
"Okay." She smiled at me, shed her winter coat and dropped it onto the bed, and checked the closet. It was empty. She grabbed her purse and walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
Throwing my coat on the chair, I walked over to the heater -- the first room heater ever built, or so it looked -- and started fiddling with the knobs.
A few minutes later, Eve emerged from the bathroom. She was wearing a light blue bathrobe, which looked a bit old, but otherwise presentable. Over her left arm were her clothes. Over her right was another, similar bathrobe, presumably for me. She had her hair up, and somehow managed to look quite lovely. I couldn't help but notice that she had great legs.
One look at my face told her something was wrong. "What." she said flatly.
I couldn't hide the defeat in my voice. "The heater doesn't work," I sighed.
Naturally, Eve walked over to the heater and played with the knobs as I had minutes earlier. Finally, exasperated, she shouted, "It doesn't work!"
"Wow, deja vu," said I. "May I borrow your coat, milady?"
"Yeah, for a blanket!" I lay down on the floor, fully clothed, on my back. "Or not. I'm tired. Good night, doll."
I closed my eyes, and moments later, felt Eve tenderly placing her coat on top of me. "Lift your head, dear," she said softly, and she put one of the bed's two pillows on the floor beneath my head.
Shortly thereafter, she shut off the light. I started falling asleep almost immediately, until she snapped the light back on again a few minutes later. I sat up, eyes open. "What the hell...?"
"Woody, this bed has an electric blanket. And it works. And..." She paused for what seemed like an eternity before finishing her sentence. "the bed is big enough to comfortably fit two."
With almost any other woman, I would have assumed, or at least hoped, that I was about to "get lucky." This time, I knew better somehow. But Eve had evidently grown to like me and -- dare I say it -- trust me enough to let me get some of the only warmth which that freakin' room was going to provide.
Eve left the light on, and turned toward the bathroom door so that her back was to me. The second bathrobe, the one for me, was at the foot of the bed. I stripped down to my t-shirt, socks, and underwear, threw the bathrobe on over it all, and slipped under the covers. I stayed as far away from Eve as I could without falling off of the bed itself.
I didn't even think to turn off the light. I lay there on my back once again, eyes closed, trying in vain to think of anything but the fact that only inches away from me was a sweet, beautiful, intelligent, maddeningly-attractive woman who was either naked or only wearing panties beneath her own threadbare bathrobe.
Of course, as you're no doubt aware, trying not to think of something -- or someone -- only insures that you think about it -- or her -- all the more.
I'll be honest. I couldn't help thinking that if she had reached over to me, I would have shown her exactly how much I desired her, doing my best to balance urgency with the gentle touch I'd expect her to want from me in return. Yeah. If.
Gotta love this mind of mine, you know? I can never turn it off.
It was at about this point in my thoughts that Eve sat up to turn off the light which I'd left on, and muttered, "Oh, dear!"
"What?" I said.
"I... I think I just realized w-why they call you Woody," she replied. Embarrassed, I rolled over onto my side, facing away from Eve as she turned off the light.
TO BE CONTINUED
TO BE CONTINUED