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CHAPTER 10
Exodus

The nearer they got to Dallas, the heavier traffic became, actually bringing them to a halt three times. Once they got off on 45 to go south, traffic had lessened because, by then, most honest people were at work.

A bit south of Dallas, Dan asked where was his map.

“It’s in the glove box, Danny,” said Linc. “I wouldn’t leave you mapless.”

“Ah, yes. Ah, yes,” said Dan, as he brought forth the map and unfolded it. “Hmm. . . .”

A few minutes later Linc said, “I’m trying to drive, Dan. Will you keep that blasted thing” [the map] “out of my face, for Christ’s sake!”

“Is it blocking your field of vision?” Dan asked innocently.

“Oh, just a little. Fold up the damn thing!”

“But I thought I was going to be navigator.”

“You are. Just fold up the parts of the map you won’t be needing.” Linc put his finger on California and said, “Fold up that part. We won’t be going anywhere near California.”

“How ‘bout Arizona?” asked Dan.

“Fold it.”

“New Mexico?”

“Fold it.”

“You’re sure taking away a lot of our options, Linc. Look--half the damn country is gone!”

“You can fold up all of Canada, too, Dan.”

“Jesus.”

Dan folded and folded, making sharp creases against his knee. When he was done, he had a manageable map consisting of Texas and the Gulf states. Still, he couldn’t help feeling shortchanged; he figured the bigger the map, the more impressive his title of navigator.

“There,” said Linc, seeing what Dan had done. “That’s more like it. Now I can actually see where I’m going.”

Later, passing an unobtrusive town called Leon, Dan asked, “Where’d you say we’re going? Florida?”

“Yeah,” said Linc. “Jacksonville. The beach. The waves. The sun. The whole damn kit.”

“Then I think our friend Pete gave us a bum steer,” said Dan.

“What do you mean?” asked Linc.

“What I mean is, how in the hell do we get east, going south? Christ, Linc, these places we’re passing should be folded up!”

“We turn left at Houston, Dan.”

“Which way is left?”

“East.”

“Hmm,” said Dan, locating Houston, his eyes then progressing over the map, from Houston to Jacksonville.

“What did you want to do, Dan? Did you want to drive through neighborhoods all the way to Florida?”

“Not especially.”

“Don’t you think it’s a better idea to take the highway?”

“It just seems like the long way around, to me, that’s all.”

“Pete only wanted us to get a look at some scenery. We’ll probably get a good look at the Gulf by going this way. Man, I can’t wait to get a look at the old Gulf of Mexico! Woohoo!”

Jamie had been asleep in the back seat up to just a few minutes before. Longing to join in, she had been listening to the boys’ nonsense about the map. “How far a drive is it, Dan?” she asked, raising her voice to make herself heard above the rushing wind that swept through the car.

“Gee, Jamie, I forgot to bring my dividers,” said Dan. Linc laughed a little at that.

“Smart ass,” she said. “Can’t you guess about how far?” She yawned lazily, stretching her entire frame, extending her feet beneath Linc’s seat.

Dan said, “Navigation isn’t mere guesswork, Jamie. Navigation is a science--a science not easily made understandable to a layman like yourself.”

“Smart ass,” she repeated. She sat up straight, locating her face in the rear-view mirror, trying to make her hair conform to her wishes--a futile effort, due to the wind gusting though the car.

“It looks like about 500 damn miles, Jamie!” barked Dan. “Are you satisfied?” (This was Dan’s way of saying he had no idea how long a drive they had in store for them.)

“Thank you,” she said sweetly.

“Listen, Jamie, you shouldn’t whine so much. You’ve got it pretty soft back there, not having to navigate--or even drive.” He turned around and looked at her in the back seat. “You just let old uncle Dan worry about the how fars and the which ways,” said uncle Dan.

“Oh, mister navigator,” she sneered, enjoying Dan’s sense of humor.

They drove on down the highway.

“You got anything to eat back there, Jamie?” asked Dan. “Anything sweet?”

She felt inside her plastic bag and found an orange. She lobbed it over the seat, displacing Dan’s map with a loud Thwack.

“Ha!” she laughed.

“Oh, that’s perfect, Jamie, just perfect. I just about had a series of shortcuts planned out that would’ve cut our drive in half.”

She reached over, softly slapped the back of Dan’s head, saying, “I’ll bet.” Then she leaned up between the boys’ seats.

“Jamie,” said Dan, “I’d like to see you make it five--no, four miles down this highway, without my steady guidance to show you the way. Yeah, I’d really like to see that. I think that would truly be something to see.”

She ignored him. She leaned back, beginning to remove her sandals.

“Look, Jamie--” said Dan. He was holding the wildly flapping map out the window, threatening to let go of it. “What do you think about this? A little unnerving, isn’t it?”

Linc said, “I paid six bits for that map, Dan, and if you let it go, I’ll break your arm in six different places.”

“Oh, shut up, Linc. I’m just teaching her a little lesson.”

“I wish you would let go of it,” dared Jamie. Then she placed on top of the seat before her, right beside Dan’s head, the prettiest female foot imaginable.

“Oh, you do, do you?” said Dan, turning to face her, but about to find her bare foot where her head had been, “Listen, Jamie, I could make it to Californ--”

“We’re going to Florida, mister navigator,” she corrected, wiggling her toes.

“As I was saying . . . I could make it to Florida just by glancing up at the stars. You and Linc, on the other hand, would be stranded--up a creek, if you will.”

In keeping in the spirit of their sparring match, he shoved aside her foot, pretty as it was. She let it land with a thud on the floor.

“But it’s daylight, Dan; I don’t see any stars up there,” she said, sticking her head out the window and glancing up at the now clear sky.

She pulled her head back in and gathered her hair as one black mass and flung it back, causing Dan to pause in response to what a lovely gesture that was. He said:

“In daylight hours I go by bird migrations.” Linc laughed out loud when he heard that.

“OOPS!” said Dan. “It almost got away from me that time, Jamie!”

“Oh, pull your stupid arm and your stupid map back inside,” she said.

“But before I do that, I want you to tell me just how you and Linc would manage without me being around to serve as navigator. Yeah, I really want to hear that. I want to understand that for once and for all.”

“You mean with me as navigator?” she asked.

“Yes, you. Remember, I’m nowhere around; I’ve never been born; I don’t even exist.”

“I’d tell Linc to turn left at Houston, and then I’d sleep all the rest of the way, because my job would be done.”

That silenced Dan. She had one this skirmish.

“Want an orange, Linc?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

She fished in her bag and produced another orange. “Coming over,” she said. She lobbed the fruit over the seat; it landed between the two boys.

“Peel it for me, will ya, Dan?” said Linc.

“Oh, swell,” said Dan. “Like I’m not already doing everything as it is.”

He dutifully did as Linc asked, chunking the pieces of rind out the window. He handed Linc the orange one slice at a time because Linc didn’t want to gum up his steering wheel.

The three pushed on and made their left at Houston. And just beyond the city limits they stopped at a roadside park. While the other two stretched their legs first, Dan ran to the restroom, nearly bowling over an elderly gentleman when he hurried through the door. It was a good thing the man had heard Dan coming, because he had just enough time to duck behind the nearest stall.

After everybody was finished with the restroom, the three of them sat at a picnic table next to another table, at which sat a couple and their two boys. Highway traffic roared past beyond the service road giving access to the rest area. Nearly tame blackbirds scavenged for whatever crumbs they could find beneath and around the picnic tables. While waiting for their mother to set out their lunch, the two boys taunted and chased the birds, finally ridding the place of them, driving them to the sanctuary of ancient pecan trees soaring behind the restrooms. They voiced in a loud screeching cacophony their displeasure at being driven from their secondhand feast.

“You have anything else to eat, Jamie?” asked Dan.

“I didn’t know we were stopping to eat right now,” she said. “I have a sandwich for each of us out in the car; there’s some more fruit, too.”

“I’ll get it,” said Dan. “I’m about starved.” He ran to the car and ran right back with the plastic bag of food.

Jamie told them she had made peanut butter because she thought those would keep best in the hot car. Dan opened the bag, took out an apple, and bounded it across the table to Linc. It rolled off the edge of the table.

“Good catch, Linc,” said Dan. “I hope some dog hasn’t wet there.”

With a groan of fatigue, Linc bent down to pick up the apple. He wiped away a chip of gravel imbedded in its flesh and then shined it on his shirtfront.

Dan reached back down in the bag and pulled out an orange. “I’ve already had an orange,” he said. He rolled the piece of fruit to Jamie, who fielded it cleanly. Linc applauded her. He liked her and considered her an able foil to Dan.

“Oh, great. Just what I wanted,” said Dan, as he pulled out a banana. “I hate bananas--especially ones that aren’t yellow.” He held up the banana: “Just look at this black thing. . . . Thanks a lot, Jamie. Thanks a whole lot. Man, this sucks.”

Jamie said, “You’re the one dividing up the food.”

Dan only glared at her, but had to turn his face to hide his smile. She told him he could have her orange.

“I don’t want your crummy orange. I’m sick of oranges--and that’s about all there is in damn Florida.”

He again rummaged through the bag. This time he pulled out one of the sandwiches.

“This is hot,” he growled. “Who can eat a hot peanut butter sandwich? Did you leave this bag sitting right in the sun, Jamie? Real smart.” He flung the sandwich toward Jamie’s place and said, “You get this one.”

“Thanks,” she said indifferently.

Then, having felt of the other two sandwiches in the bag, Dan said, “They’re all hot! This is a regular feast you’ve prepared for us, Jamie.” He kicked off his shoes and went over and sat alone in a shady, grassy spot. He jerked a weed stem from the ground and thrust it in his mouth.

“Are you having a fit?” asked Jamie, eyeing Dan and laughing at him, reckoning him to be in a testy simmer.

“I’m waiting for my ol’ sandwich to cool off,” he said.

He glanced at the young family sitting at the next picnic table. Their big motor home with its Louisiana license plates sat baking in the sun along the road before them--an expensive looking rig for such a work-a-day family, thought Dan. He stood up, stretched, and walked over to them.

They were feasting on fried chicken. It was the most golden and succulent fried chicken Dan ever remembered seeing--or smelling, for that matter. Each of them also had before them individual containers, out of which they took heaping, plastic spoonfuls of gravy-doused mashed potatoes and chilled cole slaw. The four of them ate with rapt single-mindedness, and nothing seemed to distract them save the several and relentless flies that dared try to light on their food, all of them quickly repulsed by a deft flick of the wrist or swipe of the hand. Dan marveled at what lives those boys must lead--riding around in that fancy motor home, gorging themselves on such glorious and plentiful fare.

“Hello,” he said. “Where are y’all from?” In order to find out if they might be burdened with any leftovers, Dan casually leaned over the tub of chicken and looked inside. His eyes grew wide when he saw plenty of chicken there.

“Hello,” said the father. “Baton Rouge.”

“Well, you people sure do know how to travel in style,” said Dan, indicating the motor home. “Where ya headed?”

“San Antonio!” said one of the boys. He looked about eight years old, his brother nine; and but for the difference in their sizes, one might mistake them for twins.

“Hey, I was there once. My friend over there . . . see him? the one who looks like he thinks he knows everything?” said Dan, cocking his head toward Linc. “His family took me there once for a vacation.”

“Y’all like some of this chicken?” asked the wife. “We’ll just be throwin’ it out, otherwise. These boys won’t eat anything between meals.”

Dan tried to contain his glee. He didn’t want these people to consider him beholden to them. He said, “Lady, we wouldn’t mind helping you eat that chicken--I can see that it’s more than the four of you could ever eat, and I think it’s just a terrible crime for food to go to waste, especially with all the hungry kids in the world. Do you know I’m waiting for an old hot, lousy, peanut butter sandwich to cool off, just so I can bring the horrible thing up to my mouth? See, that just goes to show you that I would do anything to keep from wasting even an old hot sandwich. I guess I’m just made that way.” Then, in a confidential whisper, he said, “That girl with us left all of our stuff sitting right in the sun--everything we had to eat in this whole wide world. She may look real pretty to you, but she isn’t real smart.”

The wife laughed and told her oldest boy to slide the tub of fried chicken down to Dan, which the boy did after cinching one last drumstick for himself. “Greedy little guy, isn’t he?” teased Dan.

Linc and Jamie had heard most of the conversation, and at the mention of the fried chicken, their mouths had begun to water. Dan brought over the tub of chicken and held it up in front of Jamie so she could make the first selection.

“Thank you, Dan,” she said prettily, a warm breeze blowing her dark hair across her face. She took a thigh, got her hair under control with her free hand, and sunk her teeth into the bird.

Next Dan went to Linc and said, “Will you join us, Lincoln?”

“Don’t mind if I do, Daniel.”

Linc selected a small wing.

Dan said, “Why do you always do something like that, Linc?”

“Something like what?”

“Take a little bitty ol’ wing or a puny little neck when there are about a hundred breasts and thighs in there to eat.”

“Well, Dan, I’m sure gonna finish this sandwich Jamie went to the trouble of making, so I won’t be needing much more than this little bitty ol’ wing.”

“That suits me fine--just means more chicken for me,” said Dan.

Dan sat down beside Jamie. He put his elbows on the table and rested his chin on his hand, just inches away from her face. He stared at her for a moment, and then he moved behind her ear a stray strand of her hair, the same way he had seen her do a dozen times that day. He said, “You know I only tease you, don’t you, Jamie?”

Peeling a bite of skin from her chicken, she said, “I know it, Dan. I like teasing with you.” She popped the bite into her mouth.

“Just checking,” he said. He reached for the bucket of chicken and moved to the bench across the table from Jamie.

The two little boys had begun to horse around on the grass. As children so often do, they occasionally looked toward their new friend [Dan] for approval of their antics. But Dan was too busy with his fried chicken and staring furtively at pretty Jamie to even notice them. In fact, the only time he took his eyes off her was when she glanced over at him, both of them engaging in that sport of trying to peek without being seen peeking.

The boys’ father stood up, stretched, and then walked over to the motor home. Soon he returned hefting an ice chest abundant with sodas. (He would have let the three youngsters go out to the motor home and select a drink for themselves if his two boys didn’t have it in such disorder.) He set the chest down by the kids’ table, threw open the lid, and told them to help themselves to whatever they liked. Jamie, Linc, and Dan each selected their favorite and thanked the generous man. The man then took a can of root beer for himself, sat down on the table, and rested his feet on the bench. His face showed the fatigue of a man too stubborn to let his wife share in the driving. He took out his cigarettes and a box of matches. He leaned to one side and lit a match off the seat of his pants. “Where you kids headin’?” he asked.

“Florida,” said Linc.

“Y’all splittin’ up the drivin’?”

“No, mister,” said Dan. “Linc would never let anybody drive his ol’ heap. I’m navigator myself.”

“And what’s she?” asked the man, pointing a thick finger at Jamie.

“She just sits in the back seat looking pretty,” said Dan.

She smiled, a bit embarrassed. She liked Dan saying that.

“Where ya stoppin’ for the night?” asked the man.

“New Orleans,” said Linc.

“You’re not stayin’ for awhile in New Orleans, though?”

“Just overnight,” said Linc.

“Then you’d do better to stop at Baton Rouge tonight. It’ll be easier for you to find a place to stay; and with just one of you drivin’, you’ll be beat by the time you get there.”

“Thanks, mister,” said Linc. “That sounds like a pretty good idea.”

“We saw a wreck a little ways back . . . a bad one. I’m bettin’ the poor man fell asleep.”

Linc told him his idea was sounding better all the time. He said they were in no great hurry.

“Listen,” said the man, “are you kids fixed all right? Do you have the money for a place to stay tonight?”

“Yeah, we have money,” said Linc.

“You sure now?”

“Yeah. Thanks, though.”

The man stepped down from his perch and carefully snuffed out his cigarette in the gravel beneath the table. He returned to his family.

Jamie hurried up to him and said, “Thanks for looking out for us, sir.”

“Forget it. You kids be careful. And don’t you go bein’ too much of a back seat driver.” She gave him one of her sunshiny smiles and returned to her friends.

The man carried the ice chest back to his vehicle. He walked back to our youngsters and said, “I think we’re about ready to hit it.”

“How about a quick look at that rig you’re driving?” said Linc, always, always curious.

“Sure. Come on. It’s a damn mess, though.” Then he said to his wife: “Hon, you about ready? I’m just gonna show the kids the trailer real quick.”

The man led the kids inside the trailer. He hadn’t been exaggerating about the mess. There were hundreds of the boys’ baseball cards on the floor: some in neat, precarious stacks, but the majority of them scattered all about, so the kids needed to be careful where they trod. Linc couldn’t resist; he got down on his knees and took up a stack of cards.

Though it had been many years since he had himself collected cards, he still, from time to time, would take his own cards down from the shelf in his closet, remembering all the innocent times he and Dan had divided the cards up into teams and played a wonderfully simplistic game Linc had invented himself, a game requiring only the cards, one die, four coins representing the bases and home plate, and a game board upon which Linc had lovingly printed thirty-six possible results for each batter. What fun they had!

Dan sat down in one of the revolving seats and asked the man if he needed a navigator to get them the rest of the way to San Antonio. “Please say yes,” said Linc, looking up from the stack of baseball cards he was thumbing through with such nostalgia for his old cards. Everybody laughed.

There wasn’t much to see inside the motor home; so after Dan had tested every seat, the three visitors gravitated back towards the door by which they had entered. All seven of them then made sure to shake everybody else’s hand, and then the family got in their motor home and pulled back out onto the highway. One of the children waved from a window above an elevated bed in the back of the vehicle. Jamie and Dan started for the car, while Linc continued to wave goodbye to the boy waving from the back of the motor home now rapidly achieving a crest in the access road. Then the vehicle slipped from view beyond that crest--gone, dipping beneath a bridge and then it was back out on the highway, covering ground Linc and the others had covered going the opposite direction. Linc wondered if the kind man would wonder about whether or not the three of them would make it to Florida safely. Surely he would, concluded Linc. He turned and joined the others.

Dan got in with Jamie in the back seat of Linc’s car. Linc said, “What are you doing, Dan? I’m not gonna be playing chauffeur. One of you is getting up here with me.”

Dan grumbled something, got out of the car, and moved into the front seat. “Christ, Linc,” he said, “you need me to hold your hand or something?”

“Just shut up and navigate.” They were back on their way.

Jamie leaned up between Dan and Linc, her elbows resting on their seats. She looked straight ahead through the dirty windshield. To afford himself a better view of her, Dan turned slightly in his seat. He put his arm near hers on the back of the seat, and sometimes, when the road jogged the car just right, their arms touched, causing Dan’s chest to rise as he marveled at the sensations stirring his flesh. It had only occurred to him at the rest area what a truly appealing girl she was.

Jamie didn’t give any sign of being aware of Dan touching her or staring at her; if she was, it didn’t bother her. The wind from the open windows whipped her mad head of hair ten ways at once. Dan watched the fine, dark hairs on her forearm as the wind swept over them, flattening them down to her skin or, sometimes, parting them with a narrow furrow of air. Tiny hints of perspiration showed on the bridge of her nose.

Dan said, “Hey . . . you’re pretty.”

She resisted smiling. She kept up her steady gaze through the windshield.

“Pretty and sweet,” Dan added, hoping for some kind of response from her.

“Thank you, Dan.” She still looked forward. She held Dan’s gaze.

Linc asked her to tell them about her folks. She told them there wasn’t very much to tell.

“Just tell us for the sake of conversation. This is one of those rare times when Danny isn’t jabbering something.”

“But I like enjoying the quiet with you two. Do you really want me to spoil it?”

“Spoil it! Spoil it!” chanted Dan.

“Well, I don’t have any brothers or sisters: it was just me and my parents.

“We never had very much, but they were always real good to me--We weren’t broke or anything, but we had to be real careful about how we spent our money. My dad came from a very poor family, so he was never able to go to college. He was a night watchman--still is, and Mom stayed home and took care of me. That’s about it. There really isn’t anything exciting to tell. That’s why I left.”

“So you’ve kept in touch with them?” said Linc.

“Yes.”

“And old Pete just fell in love with you at first sight and took you away from all that?” asked Linc.

“Well--not to sound too stuck up--yes.”

Dan couldn’t refrain from staring at her. He watched her smooth, moving lips; her expressive, flashing eyes; the sensitivity of her every facial expression; and the way she lowered her eyebrows and looked so serious while considering her responses to questions put to her. He watched. He watched and she further endeared herself to him with all of the qualities that blended together to make Jamie . . . well, Jamie. Dan was rapidly coming to understand how someone could easily fall in love with her. He felt he would suffocate if he missed any little thing she might say or do.

“After I’d seen Pete a few times,” she resumed, “he invited me to live with him out at the lake. That was what I wanted since finding out all the things he had to offer. I went straight home and told my parents how it was going to be. They weren’t too thrilled about it.” She laughed. “They said they washed their hands of me.”

“Why didn’t they just call the cops?” said Linc.

“Dad threatened to, but I told him I would run away and kill myself if he ever did that. I still feel bad about saying that. It’s not really fair to say something like that to someone who you know loves you. I guess I was just that desperate; I was pretty wild back then, too. I always did just exactly what I felt like doing. Nobody could tell me what to do.”

Linc said, “You said you’ve kept in touch with them . . . by that, it sounds like you must have come to some kind of an understanding with them.”

“We did, but not right away. Right before all this stuff happened, Mom was in the hospital--it was nothing very serious, just something she had put off for a long time. Her bills wound up being more than my dad could afford at the time. Anyway, to make a long story short, Pete started sending them a check every couple of weeks; he still does.”

“And the checks made everything all right all at once?” asked Linc, in a tone that said he didn’t believe that could be so.

Just for a moment, Jamie marveled at Linc’s insight. His pointed questions helped her to give some order to her thoughts and a better account of her history and actions. She said, “No, it wasn’t that easy. After I’d been with Pete for a couple of months, I called my mom--you know, to try and keep our relationship alive, even if it wasn’t so great back then. Mom said she forgave me, but she said that Dad had mixed feelings about accepting money from Pete. She said it made him feel like a pimp.

“I felt terrible. I love my parents and wouldn’t do anything to hurt them on purpose. I didn’t know what to do.

“Pete was real helpful and positive about the whole thing.” (I’ll bet he was, thought Linc.) “He told me I should call home once a week just to see if things would work themselves out--he called it ‘keeping the lines of communication open,’ or something like that--you know how he is--and well, after a while, they did work themselves out. I made sure I called at the same time every Sunday so they’d know it was me calling. So while Mom had always answered the phone, knowing who it was, after two months, Dad finally answered it. He told me they wanted to start seeing me again, and that though they didn’t like the way things were, they would try to live with it.

“After that, instead of me calling every week, Pete started driving me to the house every two weeks. Now everything is almost back to normal with us. And once I turned eighteen, they even started visiting us out at the lake. And do you know what’s funniest about the whole thing? Mom and Dad like Pete--they’re crazy about him!” (Jamie’s parents weren’t as fond of Pete as she would have Dan and Linc believe. It was more a case of her parents having to have some contact with him--whether they liked him or not--if they were to see their daughter. Jamie was choosing to misinterpret the common courtesy her parents showed to Pete when the circumstances of their being with their daughter brought them in contact with him.)

Linc said, “I just don’t understand what’s so great about Pete’s.”

“It was exciting for a girl like me: I’d never had anything before. I liked him buying nice clothes for me, stuff like that.”

Linc said, “If it was so great, why did you come along with us?”

Jamie laughed and said, “I guess I was tired of the sameness at Pete’s. My mom always said I have more life in my little finger than other people have in their whole body. For the last few months I’ve been feeling like Pete and I were living in a cocoon--a silk one, but that wasn’t enough anymore.

“I know he loves me, but as you guys know, he’s really only interested in one thing. All we ever did was sit around and watch television, get drunk, and take moonlight drives--that is when we weren’t . . . well, you know.

“I’ve got to tell you, when you two asked me to come along with you, it was the best thing that had happened to me in a long time. Before Pete, I had always done everything on my own: nobody ever included me in on anything--”

Dan saw her eyes were misting up; he said, “I’m real glad you came along, Jamie--a lot more than Linc is.”

“Hey,” said Linc, “I’m just up here minding my business.” He laughed and shook his head at Dan.

Jamie laughed, too, and they drove on through the heavy heat.

“How long is this trip--or whatever it is--going to last?” said Jamie. Linc told her they needn’t even worry about that until their five thousand dollars was gone.

“And when the money does run out,” said Dan, “we can just live by my wits.”

“Well, that’ll be a stretch,” said Linc.

Jamie said, “You know, Pete meant what he said about letting us have more money when we need it.”

“I think he did,” said Linc. “He might turn out to be our ace-in-the-hole. But we don’t even need to think about Pete for a while.” He checked Jamie’s reflection in the rearview mirror for her reaction to that last statement. What he said must not have registered with her, because he saw her casting a sidelong glance at Dan. He thought she looked like one young lady without a care in the world. She was a most attractive creature. Time and again Linc turned to his mirror for another fleeting glimpse of her. He kept that up until he felt she had caught him admiring her one too many times, for their eyes had met, the way eyes in mirrors often do. Still, that mirror was a temptation. For several miles it was all he could do to resist its lure.
Continue . . .


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