Sitting in the passenger seat, her eyes glued to the service station door, Stephanie recalled that she had wanted time away from her life in San Francisco, a life that had begun to wrap around itself, the private getting interwoven with the professional, making them indistinguishable and unmanageable. The seven day trip was to give her distance, and with it, perspective. She had never expected that Janet would provide her with definitive perspective.
They slid toward the shade of the gas pumps, the clutch out, Janet tapping the brake. Stephanie signed. With the final scene of the drama about to unfold, she loosened her belt and turned to pull a near empty water bottle from the compost heap in the back seat—clothes, food bags, and romance novels, all Janet’s, except for the water bottle. Steph’s bags were in the trunk.
“Don’t do that!” Janet shrieked, “Leave the seat belt on. I don’t want you banging your head into the windshield and suing me.”
Stephanie grabbed her bottle anyway and swigged down the last mouthful.
Yes, Janet had shown her everything she needed to know about Greg Jacobson, her boss, and Greg Jacobson, her boyfriend. Greg was about a twentieth as needy and entitled as Janet, but even that was too much. She had sensed that about him when she let herself slip across the line. Everything that had happened since proved her right. Now there was no half measure, it had to all end, boyfriend and job, in one collapse.
She was concerned, seeing the two cowboys. Janet, in her current state of mind, probably Janet in any state of mind, was incapable of dealing with these people. If this disaster was going to end, getting her home so she could end the larger disaster, then Stephanie needed to take control.
Her fingers wrapped around the door handle as she peered out the window. Neither cowboy wore the station insignia, however one appeared calm and confident; the other, wadded magazine in his hand, seemed frustrated.
Like a demon, Janet sprang from the car, her little gold trimmed black purse clutched in her fist, her mouth thrown wide, gurgling out a primal cacophony of incoherence demands. Stephanie bolted from the other side her hand raised and waving. The eyes of the confident cowboy drew to her. Janet’s bellowing attracted the nervous one.
When Matt saw Stephanie, everything else faded. He froze,
speechless, his mind muddled, disbelieving that her turquoise eyes
calling out to him. His pulse accelerated as