“That’s early enough. Waiting for the bus to California?” he asked as he pulled up a chair.
“Pancakes,” he told the waitress as she approached.
“No,” Stephanie replied and unfolded the newspaper to the classified section. One ad was circled with heavy pencil marks. She pushed it toward him.
“Do you know anything about this place?” she asked.
“Tonopah? It’s a smallish old mining town as far from any place important as a town can be.”
“So why would a nursing position be open there?”
“There’s a regional medical center. You know people get hurt out here, too. They need a place to go.” As an after thought he added, “Or the mine might be looking for a nurse.”
“I’m going there to interview. Does a bus go from here to there?”
“Round about, you would have to go to Vegas, wait there for two or three hours, then ride back to Tonopah. About two hundred miles round trip, it’s only sixty miles straight. I’ll drive you. But I’ll warn you, if you take that job, you had better be prepared to entertain yourself. There aren’t lots of canned activities out here.”
She thrust her finger toward the BMW across the highway, “I need a change; too many people like her. If it doesn’t work out, I can always go back. You probably get to Tonopah, don’t you?”
“I’ll make a point of it from now on. The jeep doesn’t have air-conditioning, so we should eat and go.”
She smiled and squirmed sideways in her chair to glance at the pay phone near the front door.
“I have to make a call,” she apologized, then her crystal blue eyes met his as her lips curved into a bitter-sweet smile. “I need to tell someone that I’m not coming home.”
They were gone before Janet was up. Stephanie laughed as the hot dry air dragged through her hair and the tires sang on the tacky asphalt. She hung her hand out, airplaning it on the breeze.
Matt paid no special attention to the battered pickup that followed them; most traffic followed the highway without diversion.
In Tonapah, Matt dropped her off at the employment office, then went to look for a place for her to stay. The pickup driver waited until Matt was gone, then limped toward the employment office door.