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woman in the passenger seat as they swerved within inches of us. She pointed her finger like a gun at us, like the whole thing was funny.

“Janet floor-boarded it right then and got away. My spine was cold and tingled for hours after that.” She her head a hard side to side shake and looked up to Matt. Her eyes glistened with tears of fear. “Crazy, her and them. We could have been killed. Unfortunately I am dependent upon her for my return to San Francisco.” 

She plopped her drink down and planted her elbows on the desk. At this point her second soda was about one third full.  

“I think that I want to savor this coke. I want to stay in here as long as I can.”

“Well for him, and me, she’s not too much. In fact, after she leaves, and we’ll joke about her.” He paused and added, “It’s getting late. You should check in over there.”

Her forehead fell forward into the palms of her hands.    “I don’t think I can spend another night with her. We’re using her car, I pay for the motels. Well you may have noticed, for other things as well. All side expenses are mine, agreed upon in a moment of weakness.”

At that moment the thought of separate rooms seemed luxurious.

“It wouldn’t be worth it to me,” Matt said. “I’d just take the bus to San Francisco. One goes through here every morning.”

A vision flashed in her mind: She was in the gray belly of a bus, sitting against a large sweating man who showed too much interest.

Janet entered, opened her little purse and withdrew a slip from its gray silk inside. “Steph,” she ranted, “have you ordered yet? I have it here.” She waved the paper in her left hand, and thrust her right for the phone, demanding, “Let me have it.”

Stephanie saw herself stand and move across the aisle to sit next to the elderly woman, traveling alone, a big red purse on her lap.

She pushed herself up from the table and said, “I ordered the right thing. Now I’m going to get a room, a shower and something to eat.”

If she wasn’t in the belly of the bus before, she was now.

Minutes later Matt was shuffling away from the BMW, his arms pulled taunt as ropes, his fingers clamped on the grips of two large suitcases. The two women followed, each carrying smaller bags.

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