He took one look down the highway, then hurried across, hoping to reach the motel before the suitcases pulled his arms from his body.
At the counter inside the restaurant, where all the motel business was done, Matt watched Stephanie pay for a room then head for the door. His heart fell. She hesitated, and muttered an explanation, half to herself, half to him, “I’m going to be out of a job when I get back. I can endure one more night.”
Seeing her hand on the door as she smiled just disheartened him more, but then she paused, her throat gulped, and she forced words out that sent him floating again, “How about we meet back here for dinner in an hour?”
Matt heard his voice say, “That’s great,” and was sure that he was smiling stupidly.
“Ellie, I’m in six,” Matt told the clerk. “Probably be more comfortable sleeping under my jeep.”
She laughed and said, “I owe you two nights for the work you did on the air units. You get what you pay for I guess.” Looking at the women’s retreating figures, she added, “I’ll throw in dinner and breakfast and we’ll call it even.”
“Make that dinner and breakfast for two and you got a deal,” he replied and left to take a shower.
When Steph returned, the waitress gave her a guiding nod toward the rear. He was there waiting for her.
“You said that a bus goes to SF every day?” she asked.
She laughed, nervous and unsure. “I’ll probably end up on it.”
“I’ll drive you to San Francisco,” Matt offered impetuously. He would have. He would have done anything to hold onto her a bit longer, hoping for even longer.
Her smile faded toward dreamy longing. She wanted to, but could never ask it of him. She left it there, a gallant offer, unmarred by the foibles of execution.
Having made her decision, her tensions rushed away like fog before a breeze, and for the first time in days she was enjoying herself. Around her, the room was filling with the voices and laughter of people who had come off a hard day coercing a living where no one had any right to expect one. They were all happy to forget it over a beer and conversation with a friend. In that, she could empathize with them and though she was not part of their world, it filled her with a sense of adventure.
Matt and Steph talked, ordered, talked, ate, and talked on, both of
them noticing without comment that Janet