Just when Nick was about to sing, the phone rang. Stacy felt deflated when he answered it. “Hello? Oh, hi honey.” Stacy’s heart sunk when she heard that Janet had called. She had made a real connection with him, and and he had been on the brink of showing her something deeply personal before she butt in. She had no idea what kind of song writer he was, but she had a feeling it would be really amazing. Nick actually sounded pretty disappointed too, “Yeah, I can pick some up on the way home. I’ll wrap up soon… ‘Kay, bye!” He turned to Stacy with a glum face. “I gotta go.”
“It’s okay!” Stacy replied supportively. She secretly wished he blew Janet off and stayed with her, but she realistically couldn’t ask him to do something so drastic.”I understand.”
“I’ll see it for you next time,” Nick promised. “Can you meet me at the same time on Monday?”
“Yeah, absolutely!” Stacy agreed immediately. She felt a lot better since she not would get to see him again but he sounded a lot more enthusiastic about the project now. She liked to think he harbored some excitement at the idea of spending time with her as a person, but she knew that was wishful thinking.
“Great!” He beamed at her, and she tried to keep her composure while she inwardly was melting. As they got up, he told her, “Hey, thanks for making me do this!”
“Happy to help!” she obliged. She nearly fainted when he reached out to give her a hug! She very willingly hugged him back, relishing in the heat generated from his body and the hold of his strong arms. A part of her wanted to stay like that longer, but her practical side pulled herself away at the right moment.
She followed him out, and when they gout outside, he had expected her to go right to where the parking lot stood, but she began to move forward to go across the lawn. He looked at her curiously, so she explained, “I don’t have a car right now, so I gotta take the bus.” They both saw the bus zoom past them, and Stacy frowned at how long it’d take to get home.
“Do you want a ride?” Nick offered.
“Sure!” Stacy accepted. She couldn’t believe her luck! Besides the fact she got to skip a tedious bus ride, but she would get another ten minutes or so with him!
The only vehicle left in the lot was an old truck with faded light blue paint, so Stacy didn’t have to ask which one belonged to him. Nick apologized, “Sorry it’s not pretty!”
“I like it!” Stacy complimented. Nick stared at her skeptically, so she iterated, “No, really! It looks cozy! It reminds me of high school.”
As he opened the passenger door for her, he commented, “Yeah, that’s when my dad got it. He took real good care of it. Came in handy, my old car was a piece of junk!”
As they both buckled up, Stacy inquired, “Did you buy it from him?”
Nick replied, “No, he’s legally blind now. So, where to?”
“oh, I live off of Davis and Portland,” she informed him, and then she conversed, “So, what high school did you go to?”
“Harrison,” he answered while concentrating on driving. “You?”
“Makawee High. I wish I went to Harrison!”
“Why? It wasn’t that special.”
“I heard they had this cool band in the late sixties!”
“Oh!” Nick chuckled. “Were you into that kind of music back then? That’s kind of surprising!”
“Why do you say that?” she questioned.
He remarked, “You just seem like you were one of the popular girls- smart, by the book, prim and proper… I figured maybe you were into The Four Seasons or Neil Diamond. You probably sang it out loud before your student council meetings!” Stacy laughed. “Am I right? You were class president, huh?”
“Treasurer,” she answered. Nick also laughed, but she corrected him, “Don’t get too cocky! You were right on the fact I was the classic overachiever. But, secretly, I was always attracted to the rebels! I loved the Beatles, Three Dog Night…The Rolling Stones…”
“Really?” Nick reacted amusedly. “You were a secret bad girl?”
“I was!” Stacy remembered fondly. “I did all the straight laced stuff to get into college, but honestly, all I wanted to do was be a groupie! There’s just something magical about truly talented musicians, and I wanted to get lost in their world! I went to college in Nashville hoping to make that happen, but I got too wrapped up in my studies to ever get serious about that idea. I saw most of my friends forgetting their careers and just marrying men with money, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. I wanted to make my own money ’cause if I became too dependent on a man and something happened to him, I’d get screwed…” She trailed off realizing she had landed herself in the very situation she worked so hard to avoid.
Nick could sense what ran through her head at that moment, so he said, “You know, I can understand how that music fits your personality now. You’re a real gutsy person!”
“I am?” Stacy had expected him to say something sympathetic, but she didn’t expect to hear anything with a tone of admiration!
“Yeah,” Nick stated firmly. “Most girls wouldn’t have had the courage to walk away like that, but you were willing to start over with nothing! That’s brave!”
“Thanks!” Stacy felt herself blushing furiously. She always felt foolish for landing herself in this situation, so she hadn’t really thought about it like that before. They arrived at the small intersection by her house, so she directed, “Oh, turn left here and then make the first right. I live there on McIntosh.”
“You got it!” Nick turned on his turn signal as he waited for the red light. “Seems like a nice neighborhood.”
“Eh, it’s nothing but houses. It’s pretty boring!” Disappointment rang through her as they turned and she got closer to home. She loved talking to Nick, and it seemed too soon for their conversation to end. Nick looked as though he shared her sentiment as she told him, “My house is that one with the police car on the right.”
After Nick pulled over to the space in front of her house, he dismally commented, “Back to reality, huh?”
“Yeah..” Stacy had to remind herself that it wasn’t a date, and she concluded she had better get out quickly before she tempted herself too much. As she hopped out, she said graciously, “Thanks for the ride!”
“No problem! See you Monday!” Nick smiled warmly though the rest of his body didn’t convey happy feelings. Stacy flashed him a grin and quickly peeled herself from the truck. It wasn’t easy to walk away since he hadn’t drove off yet. She figured he was the type to watch and make sure a woman got to her house safely, a thoughtful value that made her ache for him more. When she got to her front porch, she turned around and waved goodbye to him. He waved back and pulled away as soon as she entered the front door. She watched him drive off through her peephole and when he was out of sight, she sighed.
She realized how obvious she was making herself, and she turned around to offer an explanation, but to her relief, no one had been in the room when she did that. She went into the kitchen to see what her parents had left for dinner, and her mom came out from the hallway with a basket of laundry. Barbara greeted her, “Oh, hi Sweetie! You’re home early!”
“I got a ride home,” Stacy joined her mother in the living room as Barbara sat down on the couch to fold the laundry.
Barbara probed, “From you friend? You didn’t hitch, did you?”
“Of course I didn’t hitch!” Stacy sat down on the chair next to the phone. “Where’s Dad?”
Barbara replied, “He went to go get pizza for dinner. Did you and your friend eat anything while you were out?”
“No, I think his wife was making them dinner.” The thought of that made her sad, so she looked around for something to distract herself. She glanced over to the table next to her and saw some letters addressed to her. “Oh, I have mail!” She opened the first one and thought out loud, “Let’s see, the travel agency said…no. Aw, that could’ve been fun!”
“Maybe.” Barbara shrugged. “People can get so picky with their travel arrangements. You would have to put up with a lot of guff just to get a few discounted vacations.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right.” Stacy opened up the second letter. “Oh, not a job offer or denial. Someone’s trying to sell me car insurance!”
Barbara laughed, “They need to fire whoever is in charge of getting their leads!”
Stacy chuckled, but she saw a letter that sobered her up instantly. “Ugh, Emporia! I really didn’t need a rejection letter after that horrible interview! ‘Course it wasn’t as awful as Stereo Hut!”
“Why? What happened at Stereo Hut?” Barbara inquired. Stacy’s face turned pale when she saw what Emporia had sent her. “What’s wrong, Stacy?”
She couldn’t believe what she just read! It made no sense to her, and it almost sickened her to say it to her mom, “I got the job!”