Chapter Forty-Five

After We Fell

chapter forty-five




Yikes, it dropped at least ten degrees out here,” Robert says to me as we step out the door. The cold air smacks me, and I wrap my arms around myself trying to stay warm. He looks over at me with a little frown. “I wish I had a jacket to offer you . . . I also wish I could offer to drive you back, but I’ve been drinking.” With a playfully horrified look, he adds, “Guess I’m not very gentlemanly tonight.”

    “It’s okay, really,” I say with a smile. “I’m pretty drunk, so I’m warm . . . That makes no sense.” I giggle and follow him down the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. “Although, I should have worn different shoes.”

    “We could trade?” he jokes.

    I gently push against his shoulder, and he smiles for what has to be the hundredth time tonight. “Your shoes look more comfortable than Hardin’s; his boots are so heavy and he always leaves them by the door, so I . . . never mind.” Embarrassed by what I just started talking about, I shake my head to stop myself.

    “I’m more of a sneaker guy,” Robert says, letting me know it’s okay.

    “Me, too. Well, not a Again I laugh. My head is swimming from the wine, and my mouth seems to let out every single thought that crosses my mind, nonsensical and all. “Do you know which way the cabins are?”

    He reaches over to steady me as I almost walk into a parking block. “Which cabins? This whole town is full of them.”

    “Um, well, there’s a street with a small sign and then like three or four more cabins, then another street?” I try to remember the drive to the restaurant from Ken and Karen’s place, but none of it makes sense.

    “That doesn’t give me much to go on”—he chuckles—“but we can walk until we find it?”

    “Okay, but if we don’t find it within twenty minutes, I’m going to a hotel.” I groan, dreading the walk and the discussion Hardin and I are sure to have when I arrive. And by “discussion,” I mean full-on, knock-down, drag-out verbal brawl. Especially when he finds out that I’ve been drinking with Robert.

    Suddenly I turn to look at him as we walk through the dark. “Do you ever get sick of people telling you what to do all the time?”

    “No one really does, but if they did, I would.”

    “You’re lucky. I feel like someone’s always telling me what to do, where to go, who to talk to, where to live.” I let out a breath and watch it turn to steam in the cold air. “It’s getting on my nerves.”

    “I’m sure it is.”

    I look up at the stars for a moment. “I want to do something about it, but I just don’t know what that is.”

    “Maybe Seattle will help you.”

    “Maybe . . . I want to do something now, though, like run away or cuss someone out.”

    “Cuss someone out?” He laughs and halts to bend down to lace his shoe. I stop walking a few feet ahead of him and look around at my surroundings. Now that my mind is racing with all the possibilities of potential reckless behaviors, I can’t stop it.

    “Yeah, cuss out someone in particular.”

    “You probably should take it slow. I know cussing someone out is pretty wild and all, but maybe start with something a little lighter,” he says. It takes me a moment to comprehend that he’s teasing me, but once I do, I see the humor in it.

    “I mean it, though. Right now I just feel like doing something . . . crazy?” I pull my top lip between my teeth, pondering the idea.

    “It’s the wine—it’s pretty strong, and you drank a load in a short amount of time.”

    We both laugh again and I can’t seem to stop. The only things that bring me back to normalcy are the canteen-style lanterns hanging from a small building nearby.

    “That’s our bar,” Robert informs me with a nod toward it.

    “It’s so small!” I exclaim.

    “Well, it doesn’t have to be huge when it’s the only one in the town. It’s a load of fun. The bartenders dance on the bar and every­thing.”

    “Like Coyote Ugly?”

    His smile brightens. “Yes, only these women are all over forty and have a bit more clothing on.”

    His smile is infectious, and I know what we’re doing next.