They were travelling southbound on South Greeley Highway, heading toward Terry Ranch Road. AnnaBeth’s house sat on three acres and wasn’t too far from the Colorado border. Michael felt his eyes droop as they passed the Big Country Speedway. Giant floodlights lit up the arena. He ignored the high-pitched whining of the racing cars and focused on the roads yellow stripes. Neither he nor Chev spoke, each seemingly lost in their own thoughts.

All of a sudden Cheverly slammed on the brakes, whipping Michael forward against his seatbelt. 

“What the hell, Chev?”

Smooth and unwavering, she said, “Holy cheese, what an idiotic truck driver.”

Michael knew his mouth hung open. He was stunned by Chev’s calm demeanor.  

She gave him a quick glance and then said, to the back end of the semi truck, “I’m not going to flip you off. I’m not going to honk my horn . . .” She flicked on the left blinker and sped into the left lane. “. . . I’m just going to drive on by.” And she did, completely disregarding the semi truck that had pulled in front of them.

Michael, on the other hand, did flip him off. “Asshole,” he shouted. Then to Cheverly, “You handled that . . . well. If anything happened to Red . . . or us, I’d have been peeved.”

“Thanks. Glad nothing happened to your car . . . or us.” She giggled. “Staying relaxed in stressful situations helps keep me sane.”

By the gleam in her eyes, he knew she meant more than this moment. She was talking about yesterday, too. Her, Vinny and their botched anniversary date. Those thoughts made him realize he needed more alcohol—needed to be numb.  

“Nothing happened between Vinny and me,” she began.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” He peered out into the darkness, his head resting against the cool window.

“We talked. That’s it. I swear.” She blinked a few times. “I was mad you’d ignored me all day. I figured you’d forgotten.” 

Michael turned toward her. “But the lake, our lake?” Seemed too coincidental. He watched her push a dark strand of hair behind her ears. Admittedly, he was still attracted to her. 

They’d arrived at AnnaBeth’s. The sprawling rambler was bathed in light. Music blared into the night. Chev put the car in first and turned off the ignition.  “I’m sorry, Michael. I promise nothing happened. I’d never do anything to hurt you.” Tears trickled down her cheeks.

A part of him, the part that had gone and made her chocolate-covered sugar cookies wanted to lean over and wipe them away. Tell her not to worry, that everything was okay, all was forgiven . . . “I’ll have to think about it.” 

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