I returned to my room alone, tossing and turning as I ruminated over why all of a sudden he’d turned cold. Chance had sent me so many signals today that he wanted me. We’d opened up to each other. We’d laughed. He’d told me I was pretty. Maybe I misread everything. Maybe he was just being nice. Maybe he was attracted to me but didn’t really want me for himself. Maybe the crying freaked him out. I was more confused than ever. The only thing that seemed certain: by the end of this trip, I was going to end up hurt.
The next morning was awkward, but not the type of exciting awkward we’d encountered yesterday in the tent. I’d slept like crap, and last night’s rejection that left me feeling sad had morphed into anger. We sat at a Waffle House filled with truckers and retirees. I stirred my coffee and let the spoon clank loudly on the table.
“Everything okay, Princess?”
“Fine.” I avoided eye contact and stared out the window as I sipped my coffee. It was bitter…and so was I.
Chance leaned back against the booth and splayed his arms along the top of the seat. “I may not be an expert in women, but I know enough about them to know that fine means definitely not fucking fine.”
“Well, apparently you don’t know me. Because fine means fine.”
He ignored me and continued with his analysis of one simple word. “And the speed at which the fine is delivered is directly proportional to the level of pissed off.” He drank his coffee and tipped the mug in my direction. “And your fine came pretty damn quick.”
The waitress interrupted as we glared at each other. “Everything okay here?”
“Fine,” I snapped. My response came so fast and sharp, the waitress was taken aback.
“Sorry. It’s her time of the month, and she gets like this.” He shrugged, and the waitress looked at him apologetically. I think she actually felt sorry for him.
I waited until she walked away. “Could you not do that?”
“Make up stories about me.”
“I’m not sure it actually was a made up story. You’re quite the fucking bitch this morning. Maybe that’s your problem. Is it your time of the month, Aubrey? Is that what’s bothering you?”
“I’m not a bitch and no…that’s not what’s bothering me.”
“So you admit something is bothering you then?”
“What is this, a deposition? Are you a lawyer now? I thought you were an ass model.”
Chance glared at me; I glared right back. At least I’d sufficiently pissed him off enough to shut him up for the rest of our meal. We ate in unhappy silence and then Chance took the goat for a walk before we started back on the road.
He took the first shift driving. Five minutes into the trip, my phone was buzzing. Harrison’s name flashed on the screen. “Aren’t you going to talk to loverboy?” He asked facetiously, but I answered with honesty.
“No. I make it a point to only be an idiot once. He showed me who he truly was with his actions. It doesn’t matter what he says with words now.”
His eyes flashed to mine and then back to the road. We were quiet for another hour after that.
“What do you think about another detour? Sin City for a night or two?”
It made me sad to answer, but spending two more nights with him wasn’t a smart idea. I was already feeling something he wasn’t; putting some distance between the two of us was the right thing to do. “I should probably just get to California.”
He actually looked sad about my answer, which confused me even more. “Okay. If that’s what you want.”
Hours later, knowing it would be our last full day together, a feeling of melancholy settled in. We stopped to fill up and, as usual, Chance was sucking on a Pixy stick when he returned to the car.
“Want one to suck on?” He whipped a fistful of long purple sticks from his back pocket.
“You sure? You look like you could use a good suck.” He winked at me.
“Why do you do that?”
“Eat sugar?” We loaded back in the car. Chance was driving again.
“No. Make remarks with sexual innuendo to them all the time.”
“Guess my head is always in the gutter when I’m around you.” He pulled away from the pump and navigated out of the parking lot.
“Except last night.” I mumbled under my breath, apparently louder than I intended.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Can we not rehash last night? I felt like an idiot enough. You don’t have to pretend to be attracted to me to make me feel better today. I’m a big girl.”
“What?” His brows drew together. “Is that what you think? That I’m not attracted to you?”
I shrugged and rolled my eyes.
Chance muttered a string of curses and pulled off to the shoulder of the road. We hadn’t even made it a mile since the gas station stop. At this rate, I’d never get away from him. He threw the car into park and got out, slamming the door hard behind him. The whole car shook with the strength of his anger. I watched from inside as he paced. He tugged at his hair as he walked back and forth on the dirt, grumbling something to himself. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but I didn’t need to in order to be sure it was a whole lot of four letter words.
What the hell was he angry for? Because I called him on his crap? Because I’d made him feel bad for rejecting me? I was glad he was pissed…because so was I. After a few minutes, I got out of the car, too.
“You know what, get over yourself. Someone finally called you on the little game you play. Being rejected sucks,” I scoffed. “Although, I’m sure you don’t know the feeling at all.”
Chance stopped pacing and stared at me. The muscle in his jaw ticked and he looked like he was near blowing. I wanted him to blow.
“You know what else? Plenty of men find me attractive. I don’t even care that you don’t. You’re no different than Harrison. Saying one thing and doing another.”
Well that did it. The explosion came. Although, it definitely wasn’t the one I saw coming. Chance stalked to me. He looked so angry. I backed up until I was against the car with nowhere else to go. Then he invaded my personal space. One arm reached out on either side of me, caging me in between him and the car. He lowered his face to mine and spoke with our noses only inches apart.
“You’re right about one thing, Princess. I’m not attracted to you.”
I refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing tears, although inside my heart was slowly breaking. Then he continued.
“Attracted was what I was when I saw you that first day in the store. Playing with that little bobblehead. I thought you were beautiful. Gorgeous even. But now, I’m not attracted to you anymore. Now that I’ve gotten to know you, it’s not attraction.”
I wanted to tell him to go screw himself. But even as he was saying terrible things to me, I was mesmerized by him. The way his eyes turned from blue with a hint of gray to gray with a hint of blue when he was angry. The way his chest heaved up and down and damn if he didn’t smell good, too. I stood there and waited for the rest of his rant. Because, let’s face it, I wasn’t capable of doing anything else.