Love Me Like That(10)

By: Marie James

I shrug my shoulders. “I don’t have much.”

My hope that he would keep within the boundaries set by social norms in regards to what’s considered appropriate topics among strangers is broken when he asks, “What are you running from?”

I whip my head to face him and find him watching me with a raised eyebrow. You wanted to talk to him, don’t get pissed when you’re uncomfortable with the topic.

“Boyfriend trouble,” I answer honestly.

“Enough trouble to make you leave town?”

“Enough to leave the state,” I retort quickly.

“Wish running was always that easy,” he laments as he takes another sip of his whiskey and I notice for the first time the glint of the fire off of a wedding band.


I drain my glass without a second thought and mentally slap myself for ogling this married man’s lips.

“When do you expect your wife to make it? After the storm?” I watch for his reaction, but his blank stare into the fire gives me nothing.

“She’s not coming,” he finally replies as he pours another glass and tops mine off.

I drink immediately. Trouble in paradise it seems.

He sets down his glass and stands; clearly I’ve said something to piss him off.

“I’m going to go get a fire going in your fireplace upstairs, so you don’t freeze to death tonight.” He clicks on a small flashlight he’s pulled from his back pocket and makes his way out of the room.

I’m stuck with this man for the next God only knows how many days and a few hours in, and I’ve already pissed him off somehow. I toss back the remainder of my drink and close my eyes. Not like I have anywhere else to be or anywhere to go for that matter.

Although my legs and feet are steady, I can tell from the haze of my vision and the mild swimming in my head that the whiskey has already taken hold. Trudging up the stairs, I cuss under my breath at this whole fucked up situation.

When do I expect my wife?

I never imagined that conversation coming up and it sure as hell isn’t a conversation I’m having tonight, with a complete stranger no less. I should never have asked the questions I did. I opened the door without even knowing it.

I hit my knees in front of the hearth in the guest bedroom and slowly begin to get the fire going. The wood supply is sparse up here as well. Another thing to add to the list of stuff to buy. Not buy, add to the list to email. You won’t be leaving here.

Before long, the fire is raging, and I let the warmth engulf me even though nothing is strong enough to reach the iciness in my veins. I can’t imagine anything in the world strong enough to return me to the man I was just a few short years ago. Knowing I can never go back is one of the nails in my coffin. Knowing I will never have what I once did is the catalyst for being in this cabin.

I sit for a while longer but realize, unplanned or not, I still do have a guest downstairs, and I’m in her room. From the way she was staring into the fire, I have no doubt she wants to get away from me as much as I needed to leave just a few minutes earlier. I climb to my feet and sway slightly; my time at rest allowed the alcohol to take a stronger hold of me.

Using the tiny beam of light from my flashlight, I make my way down the stairs and back into the den where I find London with her head back and her eyes closed. Thinking she’s asleep, I reach out to pull the empty glass from her hands.

The movement startles her, and she gasps at my close proximity as her eyes snap open.

“I didn’t mean to scare you,” I apologize taking a step back.

She grins at me sheepishly and then…then she bites her fucking lip. Her green eyes sparkle in the flickering light of the fire and my hazy, alcohol-impaired mind uses this moment to remind me of her luscious ass.

I close my eyes briefly and try to convince myself that her reaction to me is in my mind, and my thoughts are only because of the excessive amount of whiskey I’ve consumed in a very short period of time. That, along with the crushing loneliness that always haunts me, is clandestine.

“Your room should be comfortable enough for you to sleep in.” I take another step back from her and set her empty glass on the table.

She seems to be studying my face. “It’s very kind of you to let me stay here.”

I reach my hand out to her. “It’s not like I could’ve left you to die in your car.”

She smiles at me and takes my proffered hand. “I suppose not,” she whispers as I gently tug her into a standing position.

The momentum of my actions and her alcohol intake leaves her ability to balance a little skewed as well. She falls against my chest and uses her hands to steady herself. The flex of her fingers against my shirt does not go unnoticed.