Stacy went up to the door and rang the bell. She felt a little nervous to meet his father, especially since Nick described him as grouchy. She also felt pretty sore from working the last two days, and she took note that under normal circumstances, two days of work would have been an easy week! The time at Emporia seemed to last longer, and she was grateful she had a couple of days to recover from it. Except, she had volunteered herself to do more hard work somewhere else! It certainly would have been easier to go to the library and jot down the name of every record company in Nashville, but she motivated herself to push through the pain because she was dying to see what Nick said about her in his new song!
Nick answered the door and gave her a dashing smile. Stacy tried not to swoon after seeing him in his jeans and a tight tee shirt! He looked good in his work uniform too, but this definitely suited him more. Evidently, he had been checking out her outfit too because he questioned, “Are you okay with getting these clothes dirty?”
“Oh, my ex gave me these,” Stacy told him. “I’m not sure why I brought them to Makawee at all! I’d love an excuse to throw them away and replace them!”
Nick chuckled and invited her inside. Stacy saw an older man whom she could only assume was Nick’s father watching television. She remembered that Nick had mentioned that he was legally blind, so she figured he listened to the television like a radio show instead of actually watching it, but his head still craned in that direction as if he were watching like normal. Nick introduced her, “Dad, this is Stacy.”
“How are you, sir?” She took his hand so he could shake it.
“Sir?” he echoed. “It’s been a long time since anyone called me sir!”
“I could call you Mister Rolland if you prefer,” Stacy offered.
Mister Rolland laughed heartily. “I like this one! What happened to Janet? Did she run off with some millionaire?”
Nick had a pronounced frown at that comment. “She’s at home. She’s fine.”
Even though Stacy secretly enjoyed the fact that his dad didn’t seem to like Janet, but she didn’t like the tension between Nick and his dad, so she cleared her throat and asked, “So, what are we working on today?”
“We’re going to work in the backyard first. Come on.” Nick motioned for her to follow him outside.
Stacy addressed Mister Rolland, “It was nice to meet you, sir!” before she followed him out.
The backyard mostly had overgrown grass in it, but she also saw dandelions sprinkled around the area as well as an old riding lawn mower parked under a shade tree. Nick explained, “Before we mow the lawn, we gotta fix the mower.”
“Okay,” Stacy complied. “What’s wrong with it?”
Nick replied, “It just needs a tune up.” He went to a cabinet by the door and pulled out a toolbox. He then went to the riding lawn mower and popped open the hood. He handed her a flashlight and requested, “Can you shine this where I work?”
“Sounds easy enough,” Stacy responded.
Nick grinned. “Don’t think your whole day will be a cake walk like this!” Stacy laughed, and then Nick began to work. As he began repairing the mower, he brought up, “You know, this reminds me of the song I wrote.”
Stacy felt thrilled that he decided to divulge this information, but she was confused as to what any of this had to do with a song about a girl. “Why is that?”
“It’s called Motor Run,” Nick reported. “Do you wanna hear it?”
“Of course!” Stacy eagerly anticipated this, though she didn’t totally understand how ‘Motor Run’ could describe anything romantic.
When Nick started singing, it all became very clear! The song described a car that thought it worked fine until a woman came along and juiced it up so it ran like a racing machine. She could easily see the symbolism of a man who thought he had a good life until someone came along to add excitement and ignited his passions. She had expected to hear something with that kind of a theme, but she got a jolt of surprise at the sexual innuendos interlaced throughout the lyrics! Combining that with his sheer talent for music created quite the spell on her!
When he finished, he turned to her and inquired, “So, what do you think?”
Stacy couldn’t speak because of how much the song had seduced her! Just looking into his eyes, she got the sense she hadn’t imagined an attraction between them after all! The temptation to wrap her arms around him overwhelmed her, and she was nearly shaking just trying to hold herself back. Just inches from him, she momentarily forgot why she hesitated at all, but suddenly, Janet’s face flashed in front of her and she couldn’t do it. She pulled herself away and sighed happily, “Wow!”
“You liked it?” Nick sought confirmation from her.
Stacy couldn’t possibly say how she actually felt about his song! She felt ninety percent sure he wanted her romantically as well as physically, but until he said it out loud, she didn’t want to voice her own feelings and embarrass herself. Plus, he still had a commitment to Janet, and she couldn’t live with herself if she became the other woman. She began to doubt her theory a little more since he always went home to her. If he had deep feelings for her, Stacy thought, she wondered why he didn’t break up with Janet. In her opinion, she was a much better match for him than her, but it didn’t seem like he had any intent on leaving Janet. That sobered her up enough to give him a more elaborate account on his song, “You have another hit on your hands! It’s catchy, another chart topper for sure! Though, I don’t think you could pair it with Charlie’s song!”
Nick joked, “So, it’s good I didn’t sing it the other day in front of his memorial?”
“Uh, yes!” Stacy agreed. “I love it though! When you play in front of an audience, people will really eat it up!”
“Where do you think I should play this time?” Nick pondered.
“I’ll have to think.” Stacy didn’t want to admit that his song made it hard for her to think in a wonderful way!
Nick closed the hood on the riding lawn mower. “Do you wanna take the reins?”
“I’ve never used one of these! Maybe you can teach me when there isn’t a bunch more chores to do. I can get started on something else while you mow the lawn,” Stacy suggested.
“Okay, could you get started in the bathroom then?” Nick requested.
“Sure! I bet I’ll get it done before you finish the lawn!” Stacy dared him.
“Challenge accepted!” Nick competitively hopped onto the riding lawn mower while she ran in the house.
Stacy found the bathroom, which already appeared fairly clean to her. She stared at it for a while as if it would somehow tell her how to begin, but she didn’t have any clue what to do until she noticed a puff of cat fur. She asked Mister Rolland, “Excuse me, where do you keep your broom?”
“It’s in the kitchen closet,” he answered. “Wait, are you gonna sweep the bathroom?”
“Well, yeah…” She had found the broom and felt pretty confident about her plan until he said that.
“You gotta clean the tub, toilet, and sink before you sweep and mop,” Mister Rolland advised her, “Unless you wanna end up doing it twice!”
“Oh, sorry!” Stacy apologized. “For the last five years, my ex-husband had a maid come in once a month to do all this. I didn’t realize just how long it’s been since I cleaned anything for myself! I guess I kind of forgot how!”
“Let me help.” He got off the couch, and she scampered over to the bathroom. He directed, “Reach into the cabinet under the sink and look for the powdered cleanser.” Mister Rolland continued to give her instructions throughout the process. Stacy didn’t mind because she needed the help. Mister Rolland seemed to enjoy himself too. While she was scrubbing the toilet, Nick came inside and peered at them curiously. Mister Rolland addressed him, “We got this under control. Why don’t you get lunch ready?”
“Sure!” Nick seemed a little surprised at his father’s demeanor but he didn’t question it.
Stacy commented, “Thanks for this cleaning tutorial!”
Mister Rolland responded, “No, thank you for the help! Besides, it’s nice to feel useful.”
“I know how that feels!” Stacy related. She understood why he may have been grumpy previously. It’s not easy to ask for help after living independently for so long! She struggled with that herself, actually. She didn’t want to get too personal with someone she hardly knew though, so she changed the subject, “So, did you grow up in Makawee?”
As Mister Rolland talked about where he grew up, she kept cleaning as she listened. She could tell his mood had totally gotten elevated by this, and when she glanced over to Nick, she saw him smiling appreciatively. She knew at that point that while she didn’t get a chance to look for a new job or earn money to pay for her divorce, she had found something meaningful that made her feel really good about herself, a feeling she hadn’t had in a very long time!