Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
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but her eyes not. Then Cliff withdrew. “Hey, Vickie, I’m hungry. And this floor is getting hard.”
Vickie sighed. “You’re a man of creature comforts, aren’t you Mr. Hawkesclyffe
she said, opening her
one comfortable creature.” He skittered away when she took a swat at him.
She laughed. “I’ve never seen you move like that.”
“I thought you
said you were hungry ,”
she said ,
“Well, since you eat all my food anyway, I suppose that’s only fair
. Just kidding,” she said when his
face fell pitifully.
You only eat most of it.”
They went to a local 24 hour restaurant. Cliff ordered the biggest meal on the menu
Vickie did, too, stating
, “The best defense is a good offense.” They also ordered bread sticks and mozzarella balls as appetizers, and malted milks with the appetizers. Cliff demolished half the bread sticks and cheese balls in one minute. Vickie timed it.
“You’re losing your competitive speed
“Can’t help it, eating with you. Now, maybe if you challenged me more
“What, by hiding my food? By making it harder to identify?”
“How about by distracting me?”
Vickie blushed. Why could she only think of one way of distracting him?
only makes you ravenous afterward.”
Her jaw slacked, and for a moment, she couldn’t answer. “What?”
“Kids. You know, children. How many are you going to have?”
She blushed again. How did they get back on that topic? “I mean to raise. Two parents to raise kids. I figure by myself, I could handle one. Maybe if my spouse likes to work with kids, we could have two or three.”
“And a dog.”
“And a house with a white picket fence. But I’d need the husband first. I don’t think I’d enjoy taking care of all of that by myself. It’s enough to get
dishes done every week.”
“Every week! You dust muffin. My dishes get done daily.”
He shrugged. “I use paper plates.”
looked at him, considering. “How many kids do you want?”
“I guess.” She suddenly felt very uncomfortable with the whole conversation. “It’s supposed to rain tomorrow
,” she said, abruptly changing the topic.
He sighed almost inaudibly. “Cold front moving through, I expect.”
Was that aimed at her? Luckily, their soup and salad arrived then, and Cliff was momentarily distracted. When he surfaced, Vickie was ready for him.
“Did you notice Tess today? She was walking around like she was on cloud nine. Didn’t hear a word I said.”
“Oh, yes, I’d mentioned our
little talk to John. I expect he asked
Spoilsport. What good was an exciting secret if someone knew it already? “Why didn’t you tell me?”
would tell you.”
“Tess was about as coherent as brain‑damaged BASIC
,” she said, just a bit irked.
thought love was supposed to make you energetic.”
“Only for certain things.”
had she gotten on that topic again?
“Speaking of which, how about we go to my place after this? Much better showers.”
“Is the mat any softer?”
yourself , Vickie. I have a
real, live bed.”
“I bet it’s a water bed, you being a handsome bachelor, and all.”
“Nope. Just a plain old bed. I had to argue forever with Mum just to
get a queen size.”
interested in this body . Later,
they were interested in the
money as well. I don’t
“Someone to love me.”
There it was again. Only this time, she knew he at least returned her interest
not her love. She opened her mouth to say it.
The waitress dropped Cliff’s hot plate in his lap.
up, astonished. Then he yelped as the scalding gravy seeped through his pants
leg. The waitress , embarrassed, tried to blot the gravy with a napkin, but Cliff pushed her away. He closed his eyes, then,
moments later said calmly, “ everything’s
fine . I think we’d
like our check now.”
the table by this time, apologized profusely. “Your meal and
your wife’s is on the house, sir.”
As Vickie helped a wounded Cliff back to the car (they had taken the red sports car today) she suddenly realized what the manager had said. Your wife. It had sounded so natural, she had hardly noticed at the time.
‘Grow up Vickie. It’s not natural unless you have a ring on
“You’ll have to drive.” He handed her the keys, his lips thinned and clamped together.
She was immediately concerned. “I thought you were okay!”
“No. I’m in pain.”
“Oh, Cliff, we should have gotten that leg in cold water, right away.”
“It’s all right. We’re close to home. I have some first aid things there. You remember the way, right?”
She thought, ‘how could I forget anything do to with you?’
But she just said, “Of course,” and climbed into the driver’s seat. Cliff eased himself into the passenger side as Vickie attempted to start the damn beast.
She flooded the engine, so she had to push the accelerator pedal to the floor. Then it started, roaring to life so suddenly she pulled her foot immediately off the accelerator. The engine coughed and died. Cliff muttered something about really being in pain now, but merely smiled at her when she looked at him. A thin smile, but she wasn’t going to be picky while she was fighting with this miserable machine. They would have taken her car, but she had been floating in the afterglow of…the engine hummed into life.