(Continued from Geneva – 4)
She was at the top of the hill near a beer tent still intent on watching the show as she moved sideways toward the parking area. He approached her while she was in the halo of the tent’s light.
“Hey neighbor”, he said.
It took her a short moment to register who he was.
“Oh, hey…” she said distracted but he didn’t know if it was by the music or something else.
“You OK?” He asked. “You all set?”
She shook her head and looked at her phone. “I don’t know-so much goddam drama. You saw…”
“You got a ride?”
“She’s my ride…we all came together.”
“That will be a fun ride home.”
“Right-I know.” She paused and looked toward the stage. “Do you have a cigarette?”
“No sorry…I bummed one off you earlier remember?”
She shrugged, “Right, right…”
The band on stage was winding up their set-there would be one more coming on around 10:30 then all hell would break loose in the parking lot. He’d seen enough for the day-had enjoyed the music and honestly enjoyed the company of the girls he was never with. Talk about a low pressure date!
“Hey, listen. I’m going to bolt to try to get ahead of 25,000 people in pickup trucks all jamming the same road. If you need a ride…where you going anyway-north?”
“Uh, north? East maybe? Pittsburgh.”
“That’s my direction. I gotta go through there. If you want a ride, I’ll take you where you want to go.”
He caught her look. Good-she wasn’t reckless. He had closed the space between them to be heard in the general din so he leaned away just a little to give her some space. “Honey,” he said in the first true flirt of the day, “I was sitting nose-to-cheek with your dancing booty for the last eight hours. If I was going to bite, I’d have done it way before now.”
She smiled. “I wondered about you. Hoped you were enjoying yourself.”
“The show was great”, he said. “And I liked the music too.”
She looked down the hill toward the stage and back the way they had come. Was she hoping for or dreading seeing her friends looking for her? She glanced toward the parking lots to the brake-light parade of a steady stream of early-leavers.
“Text them. Tell them you ran into a friend and he’s taking you home.”
“The amount of time we spent together today is like three dates worth.”
“But we never talked!”
“Sounds more and more like my dates.”
She grinned tightly and her eyes flickered. She reached out maybe to punch his bicep or pinch him-but lost her nerve. Ended up just pushing his forearm but he felt the touch in the back of his throat.
“Better than saying a strange older man picked you up…”
She sent a group text to everyone that was on the blanket, hit ‘send’ and slid the phone into her pocket where it almost immediately rang. She sighed and answered.
“No, Chel, I’m not getting into the car with her. Enough already. Guy I knew from college. No, we’re already gone. I’ll see you when I see you and tell Brittany not to call me because I’m turning my phone off.”
“Good job. Now I’ll get you home and you won’t have to deal with them until you want to.”
“Well, here’s the thing…”