Ambrose held on to her and reveled in her nearness, her touch. He closed his eyes and breathed in her sweet scent. What if we can never be like this again? What if this is the beginning of our last times? “We’ll be all right.” He kissed the side of her head. “We’ll be all right, Barbara.”
Father Landover approached Ambrose and Barbara, causing them to reluctantly break apart. “I’m sorry for upsetting you. That was not my intent.”
“I know.” said Ambrose. “Where can we get the test done?”
“I know where.” said Barbara. She giggled. “You’re not going to believe it, though.”
Ambrose gave her a questioning look.
“Take a random guess.”
“You don’t mean—”
“Sure do! The Cardboard Box.”
He laughed. “What don’t they have there?”
“No one really knows. They can only speculate.”
His chest hurt as if he had erratically broken ribs. If I can’t marry her. If I can’t be with her. If she and I can no longer have these sweet happy moments.
If I have to move on, how will I move on?
Father Landover must have picked up on Ambrose’s thoughts. Or maybe Ambrose’s stricken expression gave him away. “Don’t jump into any pits of despair just yet. Get tested, get the results and then, God willing, you’ll be able to get on with your wedding plans.”
“Thank you, Father.” said Barbara.
Ambrose shook his hand. “Thank you.”
The priest clasped his hand over Ambrose’s. “I will pray for you. I will pray for you both.”
Ambrose watched Barbara fumble around the inside of her purse trying to find her keys. Her keys were already in her hand. “You’re tired.”
She yawned in response.
“It’s two o’clock in the morning. Let me drive you home.” said Ambrose.
“Umm. I don’t think that’s a good idea. You have bad relations with cars.”
He grinned. “Bad relations, huh? Well, that’s putting it way too mildly. I’m wide awake. You aren’t. I can do this.”
“I hate to be the one to say it, but umm, I’m not so sure you can.”
“I can. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”
For a moment, he felt lost in her smile. He stroked her face with the back of his fingers. He thought about the priest’s questions about hurting her, belittling her, raping her. He imagined her crying and cringing and cowering from his touch.
It made him feel sick.
“I’ll do whatever you say, Barbara.”
“Well. If you’re going to put it that way.” She handed over the keys. “You’re going to do some practice runs in the parking lot first.”
“Once I feel confident enough in your driving skills, then we’ll hit the road.”
I never want to see her cry again. “That’s fair enough.”
It took him several tries to understand that he did not need to stomp on the pedals that hard.
Eventually, he caught on to that and other basics and she relaxed.
Barbara finally let him venture out into the real driving world. She lowered the passenger seat and fell asleep.
He drove through the darkness with his gaze riveted to the road.
There was no one else on the road. He was the only car. But he had heard horror stories about deer herds popping out of nowhere to wreck vengeance on mankind’s cars and roads. He didn’t want Barbara’s peach Mini Cooper to become another statistic.
She sighed and murmured something unknowable in her sleep.
He looked over at her.
Her ballerina bun.
He thought pleasant thoughts about gently undoing her hairstyle and letting her hair loose about her shoulders.
I’d kiss every strand. Every—
His eyes widened in horror.
The field on the right side of the car was now directly in front of the car.
He swore and frantically turned the steering wheel.
Darned rotted blasted corrupt filthy stupid beast of a junky junket of a—
The car returned to the middle of the road.
He sighed with relief.
I’m glad she missed that. She’d never let me drive again if she had seen that.
From that point on, his eyes were glued to the road.
No matter what.