A few hours later, I woke up and Eve was nowhere to be seen. I glanced toward the bathroom. Its door was opened far enough for me to see that it was apparently empty. As I often do, I surmised the worst. Filled with guilt over what had almost happened last night, Eve must have left before I'd awakened. Damn, where could she be?
I jumped out of bed, discarded my bathrobe, and rushed to the nearby chair for my pants and shirt.
Before I could put either pants or shirt on, I heard a strange noise. From far behind me, I heard a groan that sounded like it had issued from an elderly man. I turned to see Eve, standing by the bathroom doorway, carrying the bedspread.
"Eve! Where'd you come from? And why are you holding that?"
She raised her arm, lifting the bedspread higher. "Oh, this? I thought that maybe I could ditch my winter coat, and wear this as a cape."
"Remind me to tell you about my adolescent crush on the actress who played Batgirl."
"Why am I not surprised? Anyway, I was in the bathroom."
"But the door was wide open, and--"
"You just couldn't see me. I was in the bathtub!" I looked at her uncomprehendingly. "It's where I've been sleeping for the last two hours or so."
"You woke me a couple of hours ago. It was already light out -- it's about nine o'clock now -- and I woke up because you were tossing and turning in your sleep. And... moaning."
"Uh-huh. It sounded like you were having a... umm... a really sexy dream, if you know what I mean."
"I figured the dream might have been the result of the last three nights' worth of... frustration... and..." She laughed. "Anyhoo, I thought I'd give you some privacy."
"Oh, good grief!"
"So, since I was still pretty tired... I slept in the bathtub. But the way I feel now, I regret it!"
I ignored the fact that I was still only wearing my underwear, and walked right over to her. Once I got there, I gently instructed her to turn around. Without even questioning me, she did so. From behind her, I began kneading her shoulders and neck.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, almost immediately.
"I'm sorry, did I hurt you?"
"No, silly. I meant, 'Oh, that feels good!' Don't stop!"
I vigorously rubbed her shoulders for a few seconds more before saying "I could give you a full massage... If you trust me."
Eve turned slightly so that she now faced me. "If I trust you, dear? Dan, after everything that happened last night... and everything that didn't happen... I think I'd trust you with my life."
Heh. If it hadn't been for her "I trust you with my life" comment, I might have been offended. It's nice to be thought of as trustworthy, but with a woman as desirable as Eve... Well, I was certainly no eunuch! Did she think it had been easy to hold back when I had wanted her so badly?
Eve turned away from me once again. Then, without another word, she stepped forward, toward the bed. She cinched the belt of her bathrobe tightly around her waist and knotted it, then casually shrugged off the top of the robe. The entirety of her well-toned back was revealed to my admiring gaze.
Eve lay face-down on the bed, as I stepped forward to the side of the bed and leaned over to begin massaging her arms, neck, shoulders and back. After several minutes of my attentions, accompanied by her plentiful "oohs," "ohs," and "aahs," I carefully lifted the hem of Eve's robe and folded it to cover her backside so I could work on her feet, calves, and thighs. Then, after several minutes of that, I returned to lavish even more attention on her shoulders and back.
After about half an hour of the total treatment, when my hands' movement finally began to slow, Eve started to snore! But then she giggled and said, "Just kidding, Dan! Now... Is this where you want me to turn over?"
"You're still kidding, I assume?"
"Yer darned skippy! But you'd like it if I weren't, right?"
"Heh. Don't expect me to lie and say you're wrong, doll!"
"Just wondering. I thought that maybe you'd gotten a long enough look at my 'goodies' to satisfy you... before you finally covered me up this morning."
I was suddenly glad Eve wasn't going to turn over. That way, she wouldn't see how red my face had gotten.
* * * * *
I decided to get cleaned up, and looked around for my duffel bag. I even peeked under the bed, and when Eve asked what I was searching for, I told her. "Oh, I brought that into the bathroom with me last night when I showered."
"You did? I didn't notice."
"Uh-huh. I was going to see if any of your shirts or t-shirts were long enough for me to wear as a nightshirt, but I got... distracted."
"Distracted? What do you mean?"
"I found a piece of paper with the words to your song on it..."
"Oh, so that's where I left it!'
"Yes. And I read it before I took my shower." She paused and looked at me. "I was hoping you'd let me keep it."
"Maybe that's not such a good idea, doll."
"No? Why not?"
"Well, when you get home... I mean, I assume you are going home... Am I right?"
She closed her eyes and nodded. "I think I should, at least for now."
I didn't know whether "at least for now" referred to Eve's hopes for her and myself, or for herself in general. But it was obvious that she still intended to work at saving her marriage.
"Well, if you bring that song home, and Russ finds it, won't he ask questions?"
"Why would he? It's just a song." I can only imagine what she must have seen on my face, because she quickly added, "Oh, Dan, don't get me wrong! To Russ, or almost anyone else, it would 'just be a song!' A beautiful song, yes, but... just a song. To me, it's a beautiful memory, of a sweet, sweet man."
As you may have guessed, that certainly pacified me... for a moment.
I looked at her for a long moment, then spoke. "You realize we have to leave here today. I don't have the weather as an excuse to keep you with me any longer."
She chuckled. "Yeah, that was pretty sneaky of you, arranging that blizzard after you spotted me at the truck stop!"
"I'll get you back there, and we'll put some gas in your tank, and after that... well... I guess we'll talk about that when the time comes." I laughed bitterly. "Time. That's really the enemy, here, isn't it?"
"What do you mean?"
I explained my thoughts, purposely stressing the word "time" for effect whenever I used it. "You and I had only so much time that we were snowbound. You only had so much time that you could be away from your husband. And you haven't had time to fall in love with me, as I have with you. But I really believe that if you did have the time to do so... you might. Might. Look at last night. It was only your high moral standards that kept you from making love to me."
"Is that supposed to be funny? The line about my 'high moral standards,' I mean?"
"No, doll, no! I meant it as a compliment. You're an amazing woman. I think you're remarkable! But I don't think I'm being egotistical saying you wanted me, almost as much as I wanted you."
"Almost as much?"
"Heh. You're a very attractive woman, and sexy without trying to be so. You have no idea how much I wanted you. And still do. You're certainly no easy score, doll, so the fact that things went even as far as they did makes me think there's something there that maybe you don't even know about. But even if you were in love right now, I don't think you'd tell me. Not in words, anyway." I paused, suddenly wishing I had a lit cigarette in my hand. "The best time for us would have been ten years ago or so, before you took the steps that put you where you are today. And by 'today,' I mean in your life, not in this room!"
"Thanks for the lesson, professor. Do you always think things through so thoroughly?" I gave with shrug, and a little tilt of my head a la Art. "My goodness, you sound like we'll be walking out of each other's lives forever when we leave here, and it doesn't have to be that way."
"Of course not!"
You're wrong, doll, I thought, but I decided to drop the matter until later, and only answered her with a smile.
I went to take my shower, and when I came out of the bathroom, Eve was once again wearing the outfit she'd worn on the night I met her.
She and I headed over to the restaurant for breakfast. We were the only customers. Even Millie was absent. Art took our order himself, went to prepare it, and served it to us when it was ready. While we were eating, he sat down to join us.
"So," I asked him, "When's checkout time?"
Eve looked at Art and said, "I believe Millie told us it was ten o'clock, right?"
Art looked at her and nodded, then glanced at me with a crooked grin. "Yep. Same time for deadbeats and freeloaders."
Eve looked pointedly at her watch. "It's already after ten."
"Oh, so? Well, I guess we can just let that slide," said Art.
"We really do have to be going," I said. Eve and I stood; so did Art.
"Not so fast, youngster! You said you'd teach me that song you ended your set with last night."
There really isn't time for that, I thought. Then something occurred to me, something which I didn't dare suggest to Eve, although one look at her face told me that the very same thing had entered her mind. She looked at me sadly, and nodded.
She reached into her purse, fished out the song I'd written, and handed it to Art with a slight expression of loss on her face.
"So, whattya think, old-timer?" I teased. "Any chance you can use those to help you fake your way through it?"
"Why, sure. Heck, I'll prob'ly play it better than you do."
"Maybe so!" I said. "And you'd better at least give that a shot." Art looked at me seriously when I softly added. "No imitating me when you do it, either. Make it your own, grumpy."
"I will, Woody. I'll try, anyway." There was an uncomfortable moment when I thought the old man was going to hug me, but thankfully, it passed. Heh. "You two better not leave without stoppin' by the office and sayin' your good-byes to Millie, or she'll send Lenny to fetch you back!"
"Lenny again?" I exclaimed. "The elusive offspring? I don't think you two even have a son!" I joked.
Art ignored that crack. "Oh, before I forget, hotshot, I got a little somethin' for you, too." He pulled an unlabeled Coricidin bottle out of his shirt's breast pocket and handed it to me.
"Art... I wasn't expecting anything like this..."
"What did you expect? My Dobro?"
"You know what I mean. I can't take this..."
"Course you can, dummy. It ain't expensive. And you think I don't got a spare? I got about a dozen of 'em. But they don't package Coricidin like this no more. Haven't for about ten years or so. So take good care of it."
"You better. Keep it with you, too, and from now on, whenever you start kiddin' yerself and forgettin' you're a musician, pull this out. And then reach for your guitar." I didn't think it was a good time to mention that I didn't even own a guitar any more. Another uncomfortable silence passed before Art said "But get your own durned Dobro!"
Before we left, Eve looked at Art with a mischievous glint in her eye. "Gee, Art, nothing for me?"
"Oh, I got somethin' for you, honey," he said, and he hugged her.
Eve and I walked out of the dining room and onto the walkway that led to the office. Before I could open the door, it was opened by a tall man who I figured to be somewhere around my age.
The man was uncommonly good-looking. In fact, he was so handsome, he was almost pretty. Tightly-curled blonde hair of medium length, light blue eyes, clean-shaven... I cast a glimpse at Eve. She was openly staring at his face and well-muscled physique. Hell, if I'd been a woman, I probably would have been staring at him in the same way!
He flashed a perfect smile at us and shook Eve's hand, then mine, as he said "You must be Mr. and Mrs. Casey, right?" She and I nodded. "I'm so pleased to finally meet you both!" Then, to me alone, he said "I'm really sorry I didn't get to see you perform the past two nights, Mr. Casey. Mom and Pop said you really got a rise out of the supper crowd!"
Mom and Pop? "You're... Lenny?"
"Guilty as charged!" he said, laughing brightly and flashing those perfect pearly-whites of his again. "I really have to run, but I'm sure glad I got to meet you two. 'Bye now!" And off he went.
I looked at Eve, as she finally managed to turn away from his retreating figure to enter the office before I did. "You can stop drooling now, doll."
"That's what you think," she said, as Millie smiled at us from behind the desk.
"You two lovebirds finally leaving us?" she asked, in greeting.
"I'm afraid so, Millie," I answered. "We just said our farewells to your grumpy old husband."
Millie shook her head and grinned at me. "Oh, stop. He's an old softie, and you both know it. In fact, I'm betting he gave a hug to you" -- she pointed at Eve, and then at me -- "and gave you a handshake!"
"Well," said Eve, "you're half right. I got a hug, but Dan didn't get a handshake."
"I didn't really need one," I said, absently fingering the Coricidin bottle in my coat pocket.
"Well, I got a hug for both of you!" she said, coming out from behind the desk to deliver them, as promised.
After a few minutes of small talk, Eve and I returned to Room 47 to collect what few belongings we had. Then we headed to the "heaterless" Corvette.
"Dan, how good are the odds that you'll be able to find your way back to the truck stop?"
"Honestly? Not too bad. I have a fairly good sense of direction, and most of our way from there to the motel was straight driving anyway. All I have to do is account for the difference in travel speed between the night of the blizzard and now, when the roads are relatively clear."
"Whatever you say, professor," she said with an impish grin.
Not surprisingly (to me), I did find the truck stop after about an hour and a half of trial-by-error driving. Its parking lot was predictably clear of snow...
But Eve's station wagon was gone.