Infinity + One
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Clyde worried about the amount of gas we had left, just in case we had to make it through the night before someone found us.
“It’s midnight. I figure it will get light about six or seven, right? We can’t just run the Blazer all night.” He paused as if he didn’t quite know what to say next. He ran his hand down his face, and I suddenly felt like laughing from sheer helplessness. I bit my lip hard, the inappropriate giggle perched at the back of my throat just waiting to jump out. I really was crazy.
"I have a sleeping bag and two pillows, plus those three old blankets. It’s going to get cold when we turn off the Blazer.” Finn stopped again, as if he were uncomfortable, and the giggle escaped through my clenched lips.
“Are you laughing?”
“You are. Here I am feeling like a dirty old man because I’m about to suggest that we make a bed and cuddle up to keep warm, and you are laughing.”
“You were going to suggest we . . . cuddle?” My shock immediately cured the giggling problem.
Finn ran both hands over his face, scrubbing at it like he wanted to erase what he’d just said.
“Okay,” I said in a tiny voice. He looked at me in surprise, and I couldn’t help it. I smiled. A big, wide, you-are-my-sunshine smile.
“You do realize we’re in trouble here, right?” Finn shook his head like he doubted my sense, but a smile teetered around the corners of his mouth. “This isn’t a slumber party with your girlfriends and trips to the fridge for snacks.”
“You will have officially slept with Bonnie Rae Shelby after tonight. You aren’t going to ask me to sign an autograph, are you? Maybe sign your hiney in permanent marker so you can take a picture and sell it to US Weekly?”
“Got a little ego, there, huh?”
I dove over the seat into the back, laughing. “Dibs on the pillow with a pillow case!”
Within ten minutes, we had rearranged Finn’s boxes and our gear between the front seat and cargo area so we could lay the middle seat flat, making it approximately the size of a double bed, an extremely handy feature of the 1972 Chevy Blazer. At least, I thought so. Clyde said it wasn’t a “handy feature,” it was a broken seat, but I thought it was awesome.
We laid the sleeping bag down, topped it with the two pillows, and then shucked our wet shoes, pulled on several pairs of socks each, donned our coats and beanies, and then Finn turned off the Blazer. He didn’t want to open the door and let in the cold, so he crawled over the seat too. Six foot two didn’t fold down very small, but he made it, and then lay down next to me, pulling the layered blankets up and around us.
There was a little adjusting and wiggling until we each found a position we could live with—or sleep with—which ended up being my back to Finn’s chest, a pillow clutched in my arms, and my head on Finn’s left bicep. We lay there quietly, trying to find comfort in an awkward situation. My mind raced but Finn seemed content to let the silence win, and his breath above my head was slow and steady, his weight against my back pleasantly heavy but distracting in a way that made sleep difficult, and the detail that had been demanding introspection all day took center stage.
Clyde had kissed me. Just when I’d thought he was gone, he’d come back. And instead of yelling or pointing his finger in my face, like I’d expected him to do, he’d kissed me. I felt the frustration in that kiss. But I felt something else too. His mouth had been several degrees hotter than mine, and the heat was delicious. He had tasted like toothpaste and buttered toast—a combination that shouldn’t have worked but did, like he’d eaten breakfast, brushed his teeth, and then blown my mind, all in the space of ten minutes. I hadn’t been lying when I’d teased Finn earlier. It was the best kiss I’d ever received.
It had been rough and abrasive, invasive even. No practiced technique, no smooth manipulation. Lips, teeth, heat . . . and hurt. His hurt, not mine, and I felt remorse for causing it and surprise that I even had the power to do so. He’d said he’d kissed me so he wouldn’t kill me. And maybe that was true, but it hadn’t felt like that.
The desk clerk at the motel had been falsely sweet and apologetic when Gran’s card was rejected, and she had oh-so-regretfully told me that she would need a card for incidentals if she was going to rent me another room. She’d also hovered when I asked to use the phone, and I knew then, even if I could convince the woman to take cash, I wouldn’t be staying another night at that motel.
That’s when I’d sat beside the orange Blazer and waited for Finn, knowing I was going to have to explain myself, knowing I was going to have to trust him. And yet, when he finally showed up, I didn’t do either of those things. I couldn’t find my voice, the voice that never failed me. And even though I stood, bags in my hands, and watched him leave, I didn’t try to stop him. I was still undecided. And in that moment, all I could do was watch him go.