Groundswell: Chapter Nineteen

“I’d invite you in for a drink, but the vending machine is out of order.”

Candy shut the car off and opened her door.

“What are you doing?” Logan asked her.

“I’m coming in.”

“No you’re not. I’m going to bed.”

“Come on. Stay up and talk for just a little while, maybe? I don’t feel like going home to an empty house just yet.”

“Yeah,” said Logan. He sighed. “I can understand that. Come on.”

A man perched on the railing outside of his room stared at them as they walked across the motel parking lot.

“Someone you know?” muttered Logan.

“Shut up.”

“You know, like one of your regulars or something.”

He was Laughing. She wasn’t. “I said shut the fuck up. Men are so fuckin’ dumb, I swear!”

He turned to her when they reached the door. “I’m sorry. Really. That was totally inappropriate and uncalled for.”

“You really think my standards are that low?” She punched him in the arm.

“No. Just a joke. A bad one, but the joke was that, you know, of course you wouldn’t have slept with that guy. It’s implied.”

She shook her head. “No wonder you’re divorced.”

“Ouch. That hurts worse than the punch.”

“Good. We’re even, then.”

Logan unlocked and opened the door and motioned for Candy to enter. The room smelled of mildew, cleaning products and stale smoke. He turned the AC on, savoring the blast of cold, musty air that emerged from its rust-speckled vents. He took off his hat and set it on the table. He removed his new gun from his jacket holster and hung his jacket up alongside three others just like it on the clothes rack next to the sink.

When he turned around, Candy was stretched out across the bed.

“Come take a load off,” she said, patting the mattress.

“Do you think that’s appropriate for partners?”

She shrugged. “Simon and Simon were a gay couple and it worked for them.”

“Simon and Simon was a TV show, and a bad one, at that. Also, they weren’t gay.”

“Relax,” she said, laughing. “Don’t be so touchy. I’m not trying to have sex with you or anything, don’t worry. I just kind of want to be… you know. I don’t know, close? To someone. Does that make sense?”

It did indeed, and Candy looked warm and soft and inviting. The way her hands caressed the top of the comforter made the hair on the back of his neck stand up, and her legs were silky smooth.

He went to the bathroom and changed into his pajama pants and a T-shirt, came back and slipped into bed alongside her.

She moved up against him, draping her arm over his chest and nestling her head under his chin. She smelled good. Really good.

“This is nice,” she whispered.

“Yeah.”

They laid together in silence for nearly ten minutes, listening to the hum of the air conditioner.

Logan could feel the damp warmth of her breath on his chest, through his shirt. He slipped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer to him.

She angled her head upwards to look at him, and their lips pressed briefly and lazily together. She smiled, closed her eyes and exhaled.

It’d been a long time since Logan had experienced the affectionate touch of a woman. Too long. He hadn’t so much as pursued a one-night stand since the divorce. Candy was the only woman besides Helen he’d had physical contact with in years, and he hadn’t realized how much he’d been missing it. Tears filled his eyes, and he widened them, trying unsuccessfully to contain them and keep them from spilling over onto his cheeks.

Helen. She’d felt like this, in this beginning. Before she went cold.

Without thinking, he planted a gentle kiss on the top of her head, and they fell asleep together, cool and content.

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