Second Chances – Part 2
She just wanted to get out of there and away. She was far too comfortable in his presence and that bothered her. ‘Just take the money so I can get out of here!’, she thought anxiously. Once he did take it, she scooted out of there as quick and calm as she could.
Once on the road, she couldn’t help but look in her rear view mirror often. She saw him stand there and watch her until she couldn’t see him over the hill. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly trying to calm herself. Her pulse was coming down and she felt flushed. She was stressing about something but it would elude her just as she thought she might grasp what it was. About an hour or so later down the road, she realized she’d left her hat on his truck.
Soon Ben was running along at speed as the land leveled out some. Several vehicles passed him as he drove on toward Wichita Falls as he built up speed. The sun now just a half-disc on the horizon behind him. He felt tired. Tired and hungry. The visage of Lora flashed through his mind and he felt more alone than he’d ever felt since his family passed away. That thought triggered memories of his wife and daughter. His wife of 21 years of marriage and his 11 year-old daughter. He saw them clearly in his mind as he remembered how much he loved them and tried hard to support them with his work. She was a housewife who was tall, slender with black/silver hair. She was 8 years older than he but they never bothered with the difference. They loved each other tremendously and that was all that mattered. His daughter was pretty with long straight light blond hair and blue eyes. She was great at math and loved to read and write stories. Ben thought when he was home she would read to a story at bedtime to both of them instead of either reading to her. She always loved to read to them. Good times camping and fun at the beaches of North and South Carolina were some of the best times he had when home. Train rides to Charlotte and back and a steam train in the mountains near Waynesville, NC were the best of all.
Then one day, Ben’s world was shattered. He was on his way to Denver with a load when he got a call from his father and was told the news that his wife and daughter were killed in a car wreck some hours before. He was almost to Kansas City and decided to park his truck at the carrier he contracted with and flew home. On his flight home he stared out the window from his seat in the back of the plane. He was practically oblivious to the nice stewardess that sat with him during the non-stop flight trying to console him.
As he remembered the past he didn’t see the scenery or the road or the sun set behind him. When he came to his senses it was dark and he was rolling into Wichita Falls. He found the truck stop, pulled in and maneuvered his rig into a parking slot. He felt he was on automatic and disconnected from himself. When he shut the engine down, the silence would seem deafening as it did most of the time but this time he didn’t hear it or feel it. He felt numb and just sat there staring out the window at nothing.
Several minutes passed before he “woke up” again. His sharp hazel eyes scanned the parking lot before getting out of his chair. He stood to his full six foot-four height topped by dark brown hair that was blond in his childhood and stretched. He was broad in shoulder with somewhat narrow hips and trim waist. His arms were strong having built up over the years of flatbed hauling throwing straps and chains over the loads to secure them as well as loading and unloading refrigerated trailers. Climbing on and lifting tarps to the top of the loads gave him strong legs and back as well. At the moment though, he felt totally helpless. Ben grabbed his shower duffle with a change of clothes climbed down and headed for the main building.
After paying for his meal, Ben went to the shower kiosk and swiped his rewards card for the free shower he received for purchasing fuel at another one of this truck stop’s locations. The machine spat out a ticket with his shower code and a proceeded to the monitor to find which room he was assigned. Getting the information from the monitor, Ben headed for shower room number 13. Once inside and the door locked he stripped off his clothing, started the shower and climbed in before it was even warm. The cold water shocked him awake but didn’t move out of the cold spray. An adjustment for temperature was made and he stood in the spray letting the water rain down on him working some of the tightness out of his shoulders and neck.
Some time earlier Lora drove into Wichita Falls not long before dark. She was tired, hot, miserable and thirsty. All she wanted now was to get clean and sleep. On the way into town, she found a tire shop near the mall where they typically were located. She bought four new tires to the salesman’s delight, but it took them more than an hour and a half to do the job even though there was only one other car in the service bays. When she asked what was taking so long she was told either the mechanic was on a road call or they couldn’t find him or some other excuse. For the first thirty minutes waiting she noticed the salesman and the other men leered at her without so much as trying to hide it making her very uncomfortable. She walked across the parking lot to the shopping center and window shopped hoping they would hurry up if she weren’t around to be seen. After about forty five minutes, she came back and only two tires had been mounted and balanced. She wondered then if they were trying to make some excuse to keep the car overnight. Finally she went to the manager and demanded they finish her car immediately as she was behind schedule and in no mood for their stalling! The manager apologized and informed his mechanic to hurry it up. Amazingly the car was done finished in fifteen minutes. She paid her bill and drove off thanking only the manager.
Lora checked into a hotel and upon finding her room, entered and dropped everything to the floor with a dull thud. She closed, locked and chained the door shut then fell back on the bed exhausted. She stared at the ceiling wondering why hadn’t she just gone to Amarillo. Then for some reason, Ben’s face popped into her head. She was startled at the thought at first but then thought it was from the trials of the day. She got up, picked up her suitcase and dumped it on the bed. She tried to open it but couldn’t at first as the combination locks spun out of position preventing the latches from opening. She thumbed the wheels around to the correct combination and opened the suitcase to retrieve a bag of soap, shampoos and shaving products she kept handy for road trips. She undressed and let everything fall to the floor where it may. Still wearing her sandals, she grabbed her bag of soaps and went to take a long deserved shower.
Lora turned on the shower and waiting for the hot water. She removed her sandals and stepped into the tub to rinse off and after getting the washcloth, began to wash the dirt and sweat from her. Once done she pulled out her razor and gel from the bag and lathered up her legs. After finishing she shaved under her arms and started on her crotch. She had shaved it all off months ago but she decided she wanted a finely trimmed patch down there and shaved everything else bare for bikini wear. The tingly feeling she got from shaving her sex was divine and she felt more energetic. Ben’s face flashed in her mind again but only for a moment. She let her right hand drift down her stomach and her fingers touch the freshly shaved mound. Her left hand raised and cupped her right breast slightly. Her lips parted as she closed her eyes and leaned her head back as she grazed her fingertips over her clit. Her body was smooth and still taunt for a woman of 38 and she could easily pass for a woman ten years or so younger.
Her delight was rudely interrupted by her cell phone’s loud, obnoxious ring. She was startled and shook her head cursing. She let it go to voicemail and now that the feeling of delight had left her, she rinsed off quickly and shut off the water. Lora dried herself then collected her soaps and razor and laid them on the counter to dry. She looked up seeing herself in the mirror and noticed the angry frown she wore. She stood up to her full four foot, eleven inch height to view herself. She liked that she could still turn heads but didn’t like the leers that went with them sometimes. She thought she was good enough for that asshole of a husband and did everything to please him. When she got pregnant with their first, his attention waned. It was all she could do to get his attention after the baby was born. She’d worked out and bought sexy clothes and he didn’t seem to pay much mind. By the time their third was born, he was all but ignoring her but she kept her body in good shape and continued to do whatever to try and please him.
She scrutinized her 34C-24-34 body by turning around and striking different poses to see her body from every angle she could and noting faults. She felt her breasts were a tad large for her small frame but she liked the fact they didn’t sag like a couple of sacks of doorknobs. In fact, they didn’t sag at all. They had always been that way. Not pert but firm and full. They bounced and swayed a little when she turned quickly and was pleased they were suspended in the right place. Not too low and not too high. It was relief to her that she didn’t need surgery to help them out.
Lora turned around to view her backside. She reached back and lifted the cheeks of her ass up and let them drop. They wiggled. There she had a nice, well defined shape. “No bubble or saggy butt today.”, she mused. She of course knew all of her flaws and no matter the effort, she still couldn’t resist self ridicule. A little extra crease here, another wrinkle starting there. Was all that neglect from her Ex making her feel so critical of herself?
She dried her chestnut hair, which dropped to the small of her back, until it had the slight natural waviness she liked. She tied it back into a ponytail with three elastic hair bands and brushed her bangs. All of this just to go to bed without waking up to a hair scare day. She’d brush it again in the morning but she felt better when she went to bed trying to feel better about herself.
Lora remembered her evil cell phone had a message and retrieved it. She was still naked as she pulled her voicemail up and sat down on the edge of the bed crossing her well-toned legs. The number on screen wasn’t familiar and she thought maybe it was a wrong number or a telemarketer. After hearing that she had accessed her voice mail box the message played: “Um. Hello Ms. Lora? This is Ben Logan.” She caught her breath putting a hand to her mouth as the phone slipped from her other hand and bounced to the floor while the rest of the message played.
Ben started getting dressed in fresh clothes after his shower and shave. He put on jeans and a dark blue T-shirt. After putting on socks and stamping his feet into his boots once again, he reached for his shaving kit. He noticed the cash on the counter and remembered Lora giving it to him. He also saw something else too. He picked up the two bills and unfolded them. Folded in between them was a business card. By the look of the uneven fold, it had to have been jammed between them and accidentally picked up in his pocket. He unfolded the card and his eyes grew wide. On it was the name LORA H. MCKIE, R.N. It was her business card and his pulse quickened. He noted the fact it had a registered nurse symbol on it. The address on the card was in Phoenix and must have been for the hospital she told him she assisted at. ‘Assisted? Curious.’, he thought. On it were three numbers. Only one was labeled with ‘C’. He put the card in his wallet and stuffed the money in one of the front pockets of his jeans and made haste to clean up and get back to the truck.
He couldn’t remember ever walking so fast through the truck stop or through a parking lot as fast as he did this time. Nor could he remember doing it for the anticipated call he was to make except to his wife when he would announce when he was heading home. He was even breathing a little harder than usual even for this pace. He dismissed it as being out of shape since taking a month off the road. Once back in the truck he threw his duffle onto his bunk. He pulled out Lora’s business card and his heartbeat stayed up if not notched up even more. He was excited at the prospect of hearing her voice and as he pulled his phone out, he suddenly had doubts about calling her. He wondered if she might consider him stalking her all of the sudden. Maybe she was asleep. Maybe this is an old card and the phone number wasn’t right.
After running out of “maybe” he decided to call on the basis that he did have something of hers and wanted to return it. He started punching the number in and her pretty face appeared in his mind. He smiled and hit the ‘Talk’ button to make the connection.
The phone rang three times, then heard her outgoing voicemail greeting. As he listened to her voice, he felt comforted then the beep pronounced it was recording and it caught him off guard.
“Um. Hello Ms. Lora? This is Ben Logan. I found your business card in the money you gave me for helping you with the flat tire. I wanted to let you know you left your sun hat behind and I have it with me. If you like, I can pack it up and ship it to wherever you like. I, uh, hope I’m not disturbing you or anything. Hope you made it to The Falls ok. I guess that’s all I needed to say I guess.”, he said feeling a little tongue tied and disappointed. He paused a few seconds trying to think if there was anything else to say. At the last moment he realized he didn’t give his number and the voicemail automatically ended the call with a beep. ‘Damn!’, he thought. He dare not call again. He hoped his number would show up on her phone.
Disappointed, Ben got up, stepped into the sleeper and unpacked his shower duffle of the dirty clothes putting them in a laundry bag. He put a fresh change back in and put it up in the upper bunk. Looking down he saw the bag had landed on her hat when he tossed it in. He cursed several times as he worked the delicate thing back into shape. It didn’t look bad but it looked to him there were a few more creases in the material than before. He felt bad about it and knew the stores were closed now so buying a new one was out of the question. He hung the hat on a hat hook he wasn’t using and proceeded to make ready to get some sleep. Once in his bunk, he set the alarm and out of habit, shut off the ringer on the phone and fell asleep thinking of Lora.
After she got over the fact that Ben had called her, Lora got up and put on light cotton PJ’s before she picked up the phone. ‘As if.’, she thought to herself. She was getting decent to make a phone call. She smiled to herself at her own vanity. Traipsing around her hotel room in the nude and then covering up for a phone call.
She picked the phone up off the floor and replayed the message. Her heart beat faster as she replayed it again and then again. She hadn’t felt this giddy since going steady with her first boyfriend in high school. She laughed out loud and started giggling to herself. She laughed again at herself realizing she was taken with Ben like her first boyfriend. She was happy inside thinking about him. She played the message over and over fascinated that he wound up with her business card. She hadn’t put it in the money and couldn’t figure out how it wound up in between the folded bills. She thought about her need to get away and why. ‘I felt comfortable and safe with him but I ran away scared.’ She thought. “Am I so afraid?”, she asked aloud. She laid down on the bed and tears began to well up when she thought of him and how he’d helped her with the tire. She thought of the gash in his hand and how guilty she felt about it. She also thought of how gentle and concerned he was for her and how she felt the pang of disappointment when he disappeared from her rearview mirror as she went over the hill. She blinked furiously in vain to keep her tears from running from her eyes. She didn’t sob nor cry out but she did shed tears. After a few minutes reflecting, Lora sat up to grab a tissue off the night stand. She dabbed her eyes dry and wondered how she could be so moved by this man. She had a suddenly terrible thought! ‘Am I desperate and lonely now? Oh God, I’m on a rebound!’
She calmed herself and contemplated in her mind how she reacted to her Ex when they first met. She thought about the boyfriends in her life and the men after her divorce. The years had blurred how she first felt about her Ex other than contempt but she still remembered what it felt like with one guy in college and this felt like that. A lot like that! She also remembered he was the one that got away. Of all the relationships, his was the one she cherished most as well as knowing it was her fault for not catching him. Actually she did catch him. She saw him with another woman in the library and followed them out to the parking lot where they got in what she thought was her car and drove off. She jumped to conclusions and when they were alone later, gave him both barrels. She wouldn’t listen to what she called his excuses and so had made up her mind they were through. She holed up in her dorm room and cried all night and several days afterward off and on. She skipped classes the whole week. When the summer break came she left for her parents where she had a letter waiting. It was from him and it explained everything. The woman was his Aunt and only came to visit on her way out of the country to give him the keys to her car and home. She needed a ride back to her place where a limo was waiting to take her to the airport. He agreed to house-sit for a couple of months because the college was only an hour away.
After reading the letter she felt so humiliated at having done it to herself. She didn’t call him or write to him though he wrote twice more but she threw the letters away. She was too humiliated to face him again. She went back to the college the following year to continue her studies and never saw him again.
She shook herself to reality. Then slowly an idea formed in her head that this could be a second chance. ‘Love at first sight just doesn’t just happen!’, she thought defiantly. Then she slouched. “Can it?”, she said aloud not so sure about what she just denied.
Lora remembered Ben said he would be staying at a truck stop in town when his day was over. She only saw one herself but was sure he would be in town. She composed herself and dialed his number. To her disappointment, it went to voicemail.