Andrew shakes his head, smiling. “Well, she’s definitely a character, I’ll give her that.”
Still hearing my phone buzzing against the couch cushion, I ignore it and step up to Andrew, wrapping my arms around his waist.
“Are you sure you want to do this with me?”
He gazes into my eyes, placing his hands on my cheeks. “I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life, Camryn.”
Then he starts to pace.
“I always felt this…this…,” his eyes are intense, concentrating, “…this hole…I mean it wasn’t an empty hole, there was always something in it, but it was never right. It never fit. I went to college for a short time, until I sat back one day and said to myself: Andrew, what the f**k are you doing here? And it clicked in my head that I wasn’t there because it’s what I wanted, I was there because it’s what people expected, even people I don’t know, society. It’s what people do. They grow up, go to college, get a job and do the same shit every day for the rest of their lives until they grow old and die—just like you explained that night you told me about yours and your ex’s plans.” He swings his right hand out as if slapping the air. “Most people never see anything outside where they grew up.” He’s pacing harder, stopping only every now and then when he wants to put emphasis on an important word or meaning. He hardly looks right at me; he seems to be saying all of these things to himself more, as though a river of answers he’s been looking for all his life are finally flooding his mind and he’s trying to take them all in at once. “I was never really happy doing anything….”
Finally, he looks right at me.
“And then I met you…and it was like something just went off in my head, or it woke up, I-I don’t know, but….” He stands in front of me again. I want to cry, but I don’t. “…but I knew that whatever it was, it was right. It fit. You fit.”
I go up a little on my toes and kiss his lips. There are so many things that I want to say, but I’m overwhelmed by all of them and can’t choose.
“I guess I need to ask you the same question,” he says. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
My eyes smile warmly up at him.
“Andrew, it’s not even a question,” I say. “Yes!”
Andrew smiles so brightly at me that his devilishly sexy green eyes glisten.
“So then it’s official,” he says, “we’ll leave here tomorrow. I’ve got money in the bank to get us by for a while.”
I nod and smile and say, “I’ve not really earned the money I have in the bank and I’ve always used it sparingly because of that, but for this, I’ll use every dime of it and when it runs out—”
“Before our money gets close to running out,” he interrupts, “we’ll work on the road, just like you mentioned before. We can play at clubs and bars and at farmer’s markets.” He laughs out loud at the idea, but is quite serious. “And we can even work in bars and restaurants cooking and washing dishes and doing the server thing and…I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.”
It all sounds like a crazy dream gone rampant, but neither of us cares. We’re living in the moment.
“Yeah, before it runs out is definitely a better plan,” I say, blushing. “I don’t want to end up a panhandler or sleeping behind dumpsters or standing on street corners with Will Work for Food signs.”
Andrew laughs and squeezes my shoulders in his hands.
“No, we’ll never get to that point. We’ll always work, but not in one place for too long and never doing the same thing over and over.”
I look into his eyes for a moment and then wrap my arms around his neck, kissing him passionately.
Then he grabs his keys.
“Come on,” he says tilting his head back and holding his hand out to me. I take it. “First thing’s first: I’ve got to check on my car. She must be missing me!”
Porn magazines and a car revered as a woman!
I just shake my head laughing under my breath as he pulls me toward the door. I snatch my purse from the floor nearby and we head out.
OUR FIRST STOP IS where Andrew left his vintage 1969 Camaro and I see my first real stereotypical Texan when we pull into the garage where Andrew apparently used to work.
“Y’know I fired yer ass, right?” a tall man wearing a cowboy hat and black cowboy boots says walking outside to meet us. He had been standing in the open bay talking to another man who actually looks more like a mechanic.
He shakes Andrew’s hand and pulls him into a man-hug, patting his back.
“Yeah, I know,” Andrew says, patting his, “but I had to do what I had to do.”
Andrew turns to me.
“Billy, this is my girlfriend, Camryn. Camryn, this is my ex-boss, Billy Frank.”
My heart leapt when he called me his girlfriend. Hearing him say that definitely had more of an effect on me than I imagined it could.
Billy reaches out an oil-stained, rugged hand and without hesitation, I shake it. “Nice to meet you.” I smile.
He smiles back; his teeth are crooked and yellowed probably from too many years addicted to coffee and cigarettes.
“Well ain’t she a beaut,” Billy says grinning over at Andrew. “I’da skipped out on m’job too for a girl like that.” He playfully punches Andrew on the arm. He turns back to me. “Has he been treatin’ ya right? Boy’s got a mouth on him that’ll slap yer momma backwards.”
I laugh lightly and say, “Yeah, he does have a mouth, but he treats me wonderfully.”
Andrew’s eyes smile at me from the side.
“Well, if’n he ever gives ya any trouble, ya know where ta’ find me. Ain’t nobody ‘round here that can put him in his place like I can.” He grins over at Andrew.
“Thanks, I’ll remember that.”
We leave Billy Frank and walk through the bay and then exit a side door that leads out into a fenced area where cars are kept. I know immediately which one is his even though I’ve never seen it before except camouflaged in the tree bark of Andrew’s tattoo. It’s the nicest one on the lot. Dark gray with two black racing stripes down the center of the hood. It looks a lot like his dad’s vintage Chevelle. We weave our way through a maze of cars and he opens the driver’s side door after checking out the body from front to back on each side first.
“If she hadn’t needed some work when I decided not to take a plane to Wyoming,” he says as he runs his fingers along the door frame, “I would’ve driven her instead of taking that bus.”
“Well, not to think badly of your girl here,” I say, smiling and patting the hood, “but I’m glad she wasn’t up to drive you herself.”
Andrew looks at me, his face lit up the same way I see it more and more every day.
“I’m glad she wasn’t, either,” he says.
For a brief moment, I think about where either of us would be right now if that had happened, if we never met. But brief is long enough because thoughts like that wrench my stomach. I can’t imagine never having known him. And I never want to.
“So, are we going to be driving this one instead of the Chevelle?”
Andrew chews on the inside of his mouth, thinking it over. He stands at the open door with one palm lying flat against the roof. He pats it once gently and looks at me.
“What do you think? What do you want to do, babe?”
It’s my turn to chew the inside of my mouth in contemplation. I hadn’t really considered that the option would be mine to decide. I step up closer to the car and peer inside, checking out the leather bucket seats and…well, that’s really the only thing that I check.
“Honestly?” I ask, crossing my arms.
I look back at the Camaro again, mulling it over.
“I kind of like the Chevelle,” I say. “I love this car—it’s badass—but I think I’m just more acquainted with the other one.” To make my case more solid I point at the seats. “And how would I lay my head on your lap, or sleep in the front with seats like that.”
Andrew smiles gently and rubs the roof of the car as if to assure her that it’s nothing personal. He pats it one more time and then shuts the door.
“Then we’ll take the Chevelle,” he says. “I’ll just drive her home later and park her.”
Andrew takes me out to eat and to a few random places he likes to go on Galveston Island. And then after rush hour traffic, he gets a call from his mom.
“I’m nervous,” I say on the passenger’s side as we head toward her house.
He wrinkles his eyebrows, looking over at me and says, “Don’t be; my mom will love you.” He looks back at the road. “She’s not one of those stuck up bitches who thinks no one is good for her son.”
“That’s definitely a relief.”
“Even if she was,” he says, grinning over at me once, “she’d still love you.”
I fold my hands together within my lap and smile. Doesn’t matter; he can talk her up all he wants about how sweet she is and it won’t do a thing for the nervous feeling in my stomach.
“Are you going to tell her?” I ask.
He glances over. “What, about leaving?”
He nods. “I’ll tell her, otherwise she’ll worry herself over me straight into therapy.”
“What do you think she’ll say?”
Andrew chuckles. “Babe, I’m twenty-five. I haven’t lived at home since nineteen. She’ll be alright.”
“Well, I just mean…you know…the nature of why you’re leaving and exactly what we plan to do.” I look away and back toward the windshield. “It’s not like packing up and moving to a different city; even my mom could handle that kind of news. But if I told her I planned to travel all over to wherever and that I was doing it with a guy I met on a bus, she’d probably be a little freaked.”
“Probably?” Andrew asks. “As in if you tell her?”
I look right at him. “No, I’m definitely going to tell her. Same as you, I think she should know…but, Andrew, you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I do, babe,” he says and flips on his left blinker and turns at the stop sign. “And you’re right; it’s not exactly normal.” Then he grins across at me and instantly it provokes a smile on my face. “But isn’t that one reason why we’re doing it? Because it’s not normal?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Of course, the biggest reason is because of the company,” he adds.
Two more blocks of cozy, suburban-style houses and white sidewalks with kids buzzing by on bicycles and we pull into the driveway of his mom’s house. It’s a one-level with a pretty flower garden that wraps around the front side and two puffy green bushes on both sides of the sidewalk leading up to the front door. The Chevelle purrs into the drive behind a white four-door family car parked inside the wide-open garage. I look at myself real quick in the rearview mirror to make sure there are no boogers on my nose or any lettuce in my teeth leftover from the chicken sandwich I had earlier and Andrew comes around and opens my door for me.