Authors: Lena Hampton
Copyright 2013 by Lena Hampton
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidence.
This book was produced using
to Mary for encouraging me to cut up her magazines
Manuscript Edit & Review:
“No! That ring will never be on my finger again!”
Diane’s dark blue Volkswagen tore down the state road that led to Indiana University where she was attending law school. The car clipped along, twenty miles over the speed limit. The angrier she got the closer the gas pedal got to the floor.
“It was a mistake. It will never happen again. Haven’t you ever made a mistake that you wished you could take back?”
“Yes, agreeing to marry you was a huge mistake!” The hurt and the tears had run out fifty miles ago and was replaced with pure anger. That’s when she finally answered his hundredth phone call.
“Calling off the engagement and running away like a child is your mistake.”
“I am not acting like a child!” she yelled childishly into the phone.
For Thanksgiving Diane had wanted to surprise her fiancée of four months at his apartment in Chicago. She was the one surprised when she walked in on him with one of his fellow resident physicians, making something other than sugar cookies on the kitchen counter of his apartment. All she could do was scream and throw the ring. Her horrible aim was perfect. The ring landed in the garbage disposal, which she promptly turned on.
“This was a mistake, a one time thing. It’ll never happen again,” he said, his tone mimicking sincerity.
“I don’t know that this was a one time thing. This is just the first time I’ve caught you, but I suspect it’s not the first time you’ve been unfaithful.”
“You have no proof I’ve ever been unfaithful before.”
She noticed he didn’t deny cheating previously. “If this is the first or the fiftieth time it doesn’t matter. Once is enough for me. If you’re cheating during the engagement, why would I expect you’d stay faithful to me once we’re married? You would probably cheat during the honeymoon!”
“Maybe I wouldn’t cheat if you weren’t so strongly protecting your title of last virgin alive.” His gentle pleading mode had just run out and he was entering the “my-cheating-was-your-fault” mode.
Diane responded the only way she knew how. She held the phone directly in front of her mouth and screamed then hung up. She threw the phone on the passenger seat and the car was now going fast enough to qualify for pole position at the Indy 500.
A few minutes later her mother’s ringtone erupted from her cell phone. After breaking off the engagement, she drove to her parent’s house in search of sympathy. Instead she found a mother that wanted her to go back and apologize to Dr. Philanderer and a father that did not want to stand in direct opposition to her mother. Her mother was already upset. If she ignored her calls any longer, she’d be water boarded and forced into an arranged marriage with Dr. Cheat.
“Diane, Alan just called. He says you will not even let him explain.”
“There is no explanation. Anyway, you’re my mother. You should be on my side.”
“I am on your side. I am thinking of the long term. You need to see reason. Decades from now you and my grandchildren will be grateful that I encouraged you to marry Alan.”
“Decades from now he’d probably leave me and your grandchildren for the babysitter.”
“Nonsense, you will not have a babysitter, you will have a nanny.” Her mother stated, not disputing the probability of the future affair.
“Mother, I caught him cheating,” she said exasperated.
“He is handsome and successful. Women throw themselves at him and he will not always be able to resist. Men like him cheat, but they always come home. As his wife you will need to forgive him. If necessary, buy jewelry to dull the pain.”
Diane thought she would look like Mr. T by their first anniversary. She was trying hard not to do a quick count of her mother’s jewelry. It was difficult for her to see her father in the same light as Dr. Insincere. She liked that. She decided Dr. Insincere would be the new name for her former fiance because that’s exactly what he was, someone with an advanced degree in insincerity. Before she could respond the phone emitted its final beep and died. The beep saved her from another insane comment from her mother like advice on picking out a husband’s girlfriend.
It hit her that the emotion she was feeling was not actually anger or pity, but relief. She wanted to marry because she fell head over heels, not because it looked good on paper. She was finally able to date again and this time she would wait to bring him home. Her mother would not be allowed to hijack her next relationship.
Her mother had grown up poor. She was the first to attend college and graduated with a degree in education and with the all important M-R-S in front of her name. Then the Cosby show came on the air and she saw a doctor and a lawyer as husband and wife and Diane’s path was set. When Dr. Insincere came along Diane thought he was cute and he was oh so charming. Her mother saw the medical student as the fulfillment of the Cosby Show destiny she’d planned for her attorney daughter. Her relationship had long passed its expiration date. She stayed because she drank from her mother’s Huxtable Kool-Aid.
About three months in Diane was ready to call it quits. Then three years later he was about to start his residency in Chicago and wanted her to move there with him and delay law school. Being a lawyer was the only part of her mother’s plan that she was excited about and didn’t want to give it up. She especially didn’t want to give it up for someone she didn’t love.
Rolling in the Deep by Adele came on the radio and Diane turned it up as loud as she could. This was the perfect song to sing off key at the top of your lungs in the car while driving away from a breakup. The engine emitted a sudden knock louder than the sound of the radio. The needle on the speedometer was rapidly going down though her foot was increasing pressure on the accelerator. She slowly coasted onto the shoulder of the road.
The phone was lying on the passenger seat dead. It would not even power up long enough to get a text out. That’s one more reason to never forgive Dr. Insincere . He talked her battery dead and now she was stranded on the side of a desolate road, late on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving with no way to communicate. She should have been cuddled up on a couch flipping through one of the many bridal magazines her mother has inundated her with. Picking out a wedding dress was the more exciting than the idea of marrying him.
Well, at least the radio still worked. The music would keep her company until a good Samaritan pulled over and called for help. It was too cold to walk. Plus, she did not really feel comfortable being a woman walking alone along the side of the road. She especially did not feel comfortable being black walking in southern Indiana alone on the side of the road. Just before she went home for break she saw a news story of some idiot that was passing out the Klu Klux Klan’s newspaper on the basis of practicing his first amendment rights. She was fairly certain that he had a gun or two to practice his second amendment right too. Those were probably the only amendments he knew because two was as high as he could count. He was probably the odd man out on his thinking, but she did not want to find out she was wrong the hard way.
A half an hour later snow started to fall and her hat and scarf were pulled so close together that only her eyes could be seen. It was like a burqa for cold women instead of those maligned because of their gender. Regardless of what anyone says about global warming being fictitious, it being this cold with a chance of large snow accumulations in November proved something.
No cars had passed by her. She frequently checked that the hazard lights were on; they were. She closed her eyes and prayed that someone would come along. Preferably a state police officer, make that a female state police officer. This was yet another reason to not forgive Dr. Insincere . Finally, after over an hour of waiting a vehicle pulled up behind her.
It was a big black truck with the spotlights on the top. Was that a gun rack? Yep. That was also a confederate vanity plate. They say you should not look a gift horse in the mouth, but she was debating which was worse, dying of hypothermia or dying from some torture at the hands of a racist hick. It was a tossup but the guilt Dr. Insincere would have if her body was found frozen on the side of the road had great appeal. That’s assuming he knows what guilt is.
She said a quick, yet heartfelt prayer that this stranger would not do her any harm. She also prayed again for that female state trooper to come along. She cracked the window enough to see and hear, but not enough for a gun barrel to fit through. The eyes looking into her car were so mesmerizing blue that for a few seconds she wasn’t afraid at all.
“Hi. Ma’am? Did you need some help?”
The deepness of his voice tickled her ears and warmed her from inside. She pulled the scarf down from her mouth and the hat up to her hairline revealing her face. “No thank you. Someone’s on the way,” she lied out of fear of her skeleton being found five years from now next to twenty other women who suffered the same fate. “Thank you for stopping sir. That was very kind.”
When he had walked up to the car he was unsure if the driver was a male or a female. The driver was bundled so tightly that it was hard to determine, but he hoped that a man would choose frostbite over wearing pastel koala bears on a scarf. When she revealed her face there was no doubt that she was a woman. A quite beautiful woman with pretty brown eyes and full soft lips.
Snow had begun to accumulate on the window and it was awfully cold. He hoped her help would be here soon. “If you pop the hood, I’ll take a look. I’m a mechanic of sorts. Well, I’m pretty good at fixing anyway.”
After a few minutes of looking at various things, he returned to her window. She’d unwrapped a little and he could see more of her face. Her skin was smooth and brown like a freshly unwrapped Hershey’s bar. “My guess is it’s your fuel pump. I can get you a tow and give you a ride.”
A look of fear crossed her face. “Thanks for the offer, but someone is on their way. Thanks for looking under the hood. I only know where the wiper fluid goes,” she nervously joked and smiled.
He’d never seen anything more inviting than that smile. He smiled and tried hard to think fast on his feet about how to prolong this. He did not believe this was a chance meeting because he did not believe in chance. “Well, I’ll wait until your ride comes. Do you want to wait in my truck with me? It’s warm.”
She stared at him thinking for a long time. “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. My mother told me not to get into cars with strangers.”
His smile made her breath catch. “She sounds like a smart woman. Well, my momma taught me to help a person in need, especially if that person is of the female persuasion and beautiful. I’ll still wait to be sure you get off safely, but take my jacket to help keep you warm.”
He removed his jacket. After a moment of hesitation she rolled the window down just enough for it to squeeze through.
“You’re welcome.” He stood looking at her for a tad more than necessary before heading back to his warm truck.
The jacket was still warm from his body and smelled good. It was not the smell of too much expensive cologne like Dr. Insincere . It was a natural, subtle and inviting scent. It smelled like a hug at the end of a long day. After he returned to his truck she realized she should have not accepted the jacket. If he’d returned to his truck with it maybe he’d pull off and someone else would come to help. The cold must be affecting her brain.
The jacket was wrapped tight around her and she felt something with some weight to it in the pocket. Hesitantly she put her hand in, praying it was not a gun. Ration would say it was not heavy enough to be a gun, but a frozen brain does not use ration. The object was a cell phone, a fully charged cell phone. The snow had continued to fall and covered her back windshield.
All her numbers were stored in her dead phone. She didn’t even have her AAA card to call for a tow. The only numbers she knew by heart were her parents, Dr. Insincere and the landline for the barely off campus apartment she shared with a roommate. Calling her parents was out for many reasons. Her mother would probably only send help if she agreed to call the calling-off off. Her dad would lecture her on being stranded on the side of the road without a working cell phone. Dr. Insincere was out of the question for obvious reasons. Hopefully, her roommate had not left for the holiday yet. Quickly she dialed the number, but with no luck of an answer.
There was no feeling in her toes and the jacket had lost its warmth, but not its smell. The snow was accumulating quickly. Heat was starting to sound inviting even if it did mean her eventual demise. She had to admit he did seem very polite and nice. Instead of being a comfort to her, it instead made her that much more leery of him. The last nice and polite man she met was Dr. Insincere.
When she began to shiver uncontrollably and could no longer feel her fingers, she knew it was decision time. She thought about calling the police, but this was not an emergency. Not trusting her fate to herself she prayed that this man, whose name she’d been too scared to get, would get her home safely and that he had no nefarious intentions. She also prayed he was still there. She couldn’t see because all the windows were completely covered with snow. She pressed the numbers 9-1-1 and slipped the phone back into the jacket’s pocket.