The long ride to Royal’s house was filled with easy banter. Though he’d just done twelve straight hours at the hospital, he didn’t feel tired at all now. This newfound energy had everything to do with his present company.
“Is Tess walking yet?” Royal asked, sticking to the script that Delia had set forth from the beginning of their ride. A script that included tidbits about her children and her store, nothing about her as an individual. He wondered why.
“That girl has been walking since she was nine months old,” Delia replied as she turned onto his street. “All my children walked before their first birthday.”
“Make the next right,” Royal said, giving additional directions to his home. “How is your daughter’s vocabulary?”
“Good. Sometimes too good.” Delia made the right onto his street. “The other day Tess asked me if her butt looked too fat in her jeans.” She chuckled and added, “Which was a direct echo of something her grandma asked me just the day before.”
Royal burst out laughing. “That goes to show you how careful we have to be around children. I imagine you have to be extra careful around that young lady. I’d love to see her again. As you recall, the first time I met Tess she was protesting leaving your cozy womb for a cold delivery room. Very loudly, I might add.”
Delia laughed. “I remember. I knew then that she’d have strong lungs. The child can hold a mean tune, too.”
“Now I really want to see her again.” Royal pointed to the third residence on the left. “I live in the red brick house over there with the horseshoe driveway.”
Delia slowed up and turned into the long driveway that led to a stately two-story home situated far back from the road. “Nice house. As for seeing Tess again, just tell me when and I’ll have my mother bring her by your office. I’ll send along a few pictures as well.”
“Thanks,” Royal replied, hiding his disappointment. He’d wanted Delia to personally bring Tess in to see him.
Delia looked straight ahead now, too distracted by her own disappointments to see Royal’s. Her eyes glistened with tears. “I just wish her father could have seen her,” Delia said more to herself than to him as she parked in front of his house, but kept the engine running.
Royal reached over and patted her right hand in comfort. “Growing up without a father can be tough on a kid. But I’m living proof of how effective a good mother can be.”
“Thanks, Dr. Seeger. You always make me feel better.” Delia blinked away her tears and turned towards him with a smile.
“I try to, Delia.” Royal prudently removed his hand, lest he touch her all over. And that smile she just gave him made a man want to trace it from corner to corner with his tongue. But he refrained in wisdom. The timing wasn’t right yet.
Delia’s breath hitched at the sound of her name on his lips. Royal had never called her by her first name before. She liked the way he said it, as if her name was precious to him or something.
“I think I should go now,” Delia said, no longer able to trust herself around him. Royal was a little bit too handsome in close quarters. A lotta bit too sexy even from a distance.
If only Delia’s bladder hadn’t chosen that exact moment to make itself known. “But first I need to use your bathroom. May I?” With Royal living out in the boondocks, she was afraid she wouldn’t make it home in time. Or even to the nearest gas station, which was only ten minutes away.
“Of course. You can use anything I have,” Royal eagerly replied, opening the passenger door as if he couldn’t wait to show her the inside of his house.
“Thanks.” Delia exhaled in relief and turned the car off. As she followed him inside a few short minutes later, she had the strangest feeling that she was…home?
© 2008 by Suprina Frazier