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Excerpt from Learning Trust

Mitch reluctantly headed inside after her car pulled out of sight. It didn’t feel right having Becca drop him off. Dumb.

This was one of the safest places in the world. Most residents didn’t even lock their doors at night. He shrugged it off and let himself into the garage.

Everything had been put away neatly from the work day. A rigid rule with him; tools were locked away, everything unplugged and cords coiled. At first, his few part-time employees had laughed. Now they were in the habit themselves and it did save time the next morning to know everything was where it belonged. It didn’t hurt that his power bill went down as well.

He locked the outside door and headed for the stairs. His apartment took up the entire second story of the place. One big room, he had his furniture, what there was of it, in “areas” with plenty of maneuverability. He unlocked the door at the top of the steps, which opened into his living area, consisting of a leather couch and an armchair facing the entertainment center. He’d built the piece of furniture himself and liked the way it had turned out.

To the left sat a small table which made up his dining room. He’d picked up most of his furniture from Goodwill. The kitchen had the requisite appliances and shelves that he had installed himself. There was the laundry “room” and the bedroom area. The bath and closet had been walled off and took up the entire back wall.

He hadn’t made his bed that morning. He was much neater at work than up here, and a few clothes littered the bed. No one had to know he’d had trouble deciding what to wear tonight. Geez, you’d think he was fourteen again. But he couldn’t deny something about her pulled at him. Not just her body, which was damn fine. No, there was a vulnerability but also a maturity that didn’t seem to fit together. He definitely wanted to get to know her better. How long would she be here recovering?

Tossing his jacket across the couch, he glanced at his watch. She probably hadn’t made it home yet. He hadn’t joked about wanting her to call, and wondered again at the protective stance he’d taken. Was it all from finding her sleepwalking? There was more to the story, but he didn’t feel as if he should press.

He’d give her a couple more minutes, but he’d meant what he said to her. He would go over there to check on her if she didn’t call. He sat on the couch to remove his boots and looked up at the picture hanging on the wall above the TV.

A photograph of his Dad and him, standing in front of the garage graced the wall. The place had recently opened, and Dad beamed at the camera. Mom had taken the picture. Brand new, the sign was clean and shiny in the sunlight. He needed to repaint it. He’d allowed it to fade a little due to other priorities.

He jumped slightly at the sound of his phone ringing and snatched it out of his pocket. “Hello?”

“Becca here, reporting in as ordered.”

“About time too.” He tried to sound stern. “What took you so long?”

“Not much, obeying the speed laws, walking in from the car and of course, throwing all those deadbolts.”

He huffed, but the chuckle ruined it. “So you’re all locked in.”

“Yes. You wouldn’t really have come over here, would you?”

“I would have. I don’t allow my dates to wander off by themselves.”

“Allow?”

“Oops, that did sound a trifle chauvinistic, didn’t it?”

“You think? Well, thank you for worrying about me, and for the wonderful evening.”

“Look,” he broke in before she could say goodnight. “I don’t really have to wait until Tuesday to see you again, do I?”

There was the tiniest pause. Was he pushing? Not usually his style.

“Since you’ve fed me twice now, what if I fix dinner for us tomorrow night?”

“Excellent  idea. I’d enjoy it.”

“Any allergies?” He could hear the smile in her voice.

Augmentin, but I doubt you’re planning to serve that.”

“Um, no, not part of the menu I’m thinking about. What’s a good time for you?”

“I close at five unless there’s an emergency. I should probably shower. Six-thirty?”

“Sounds perfect. I’ll see you then.”

“Night, Becca.” He broke the connection and leaned back. She sounded as though she meant it, enjoying their time together over at Wayne’s. It was nearly a home to him and he was there often.

His face darkened when he thought of Cynthia. She had been glaring at Becca. He’d chanced a quick look while they were dancing. He shook his head. One of the few drawbacks to living here.

Yes, he knew Cynthia had tried to get his attention more than once since he’d moved back. The breasts were new and maybe something about the nose. He hadn’t been interested in a long term relationship with her before he left. He certainly wasn’t interested now.

He and Cynthia had dated the last couple of years in high school. Even then there had been a grasping quality to her. She’d been quick to jealousy and possessiveness. He had been honest from the first that he had every intention of going away to school.

He had no doubt it was the main reason she’d slept with him. Somewhere in the back of his hormone addled brain he’d known to be careful. She’d assured him she was on the pill and maybe she told the truth. That wasn’t enough for him and he’d used protection every time they’d been together. He had never wanted to be one of those guys stuck here with two or three kids in a dead-end job.

He had come back to help out Dad, but it had been his choice. As a family, they had even discussed selling the garage but Mitch had been insistent he wanted to keep it going. Besides, they had thought Dad would recover enough to help out.

Dad had come over often during his recuperation. Most afternoons after lunch, Mitch would pick him up. He would sit in the sun and give Mitch advice about all kinds of things. Dad might not have had a formal education, but he knew his way around any engine ever built and he was good with people.

No, coming back here had been the right choice. If, sometime in the future, he decided to move on it would be his choice as well. Cynthia wasn’t going to run him or Becca off if he had anything to say about it.

He got ready for bed with thoughts of Becca—and the feel of her body against him as they danced—in his head.

 

 

 

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