SAME AS THE OTHER CHAPTERS: This isn't about sex. There wll be mistakes. And it gets too detailed at times. Read and enjoy if you're looking for a story about people having their lives changes.
I awoke the next morning alone in my bed. In my grogginess I wondered if I had dreamed that Regie was in my bed when I went to sleep. As I became more aware, I realized that she had actually been laying against me. And I remembered the thoughts I had as I drifted into sleep. I made my way to the bathroom. I relieved the pressure on my bladder and turned on the shower. I allowed the water to be a little cool, hoping it would shock me back into reality. I shaved and dressed, wondering if the two ladies were asleep. I peeked into their bedroom and saw Madie curled up with her bunny. Regie was not in bed. As I walked down the hall, I smelled coffee. I assumed Regie was in the kitchen.
“Good morning,” she said as I walked into the room. The smell of fresh coffee filled the air. She walked to the refrigerator, took out the grape juice, and poured me a glass full. Handing it to me she said, “I hope you slept well. I know I did.”
“Yeah, I slept well.” I sipped my juice as I watched her move around the kitchen. There was already a couple of mugs sitting next to the coffee pot. She seemed very comfortable as she removed dishes from the dishwasher and put them away. For an instant the thought passed through my mind, “She is quite a young woman. I want her in my life.” As quickly as the thought came, I dismissed it. It was followed by another thought: “What would a beautiful young woman like her want with a man like me?”
“I hope the coffee is okay. I really don’t know how you like it.” She smiled as she poured the steaming liquid into a mug and brought it to me.
“I’m sure it is fine.” I took the mug. “Thank you. This is nice.” She poured herself a mug and sat down at the table. “You are a special young woman,” I said as I looked at her. I was not sure why I said it. I realized that she was so different from the girl in the backseat of her mother’s car less than a week ago. This morning she was wearing a pair of the “dress” jeans she got at the mall. She had on layers of T-shirts. The top shirt was a teal blue. The under shirt was white. She did not look her age. She seemed more mature than a seventeen-year-old teenager.
“I don’t think so,” she said, blushing slightly. “I feel like I’m backward and don’t fit in anywhere.” She sipped her coffee. “But I do thank you for letting us stay here. I know we have turned your life upside down.”
I smiled and reached out for her hand. “Regie, now that you and Madie have been here these few days, I have realized something. I didn’t have much of a life. I think I needed it to be turned upside down.” We looked in each other’s eyes. She smiled. I smiled. There was something of a connection in the gaze.
“I’m sleepy,” Madie said as she walked into the room, clutching her bunny. Instead of taking a chair, she walked up to me and sat in my lap, laying her head against my shoulder. I had the strangest feeling. As natural as that must have seemed to her, it felt natural to me. She cuddled against me as I drank my coffee.
“Hey, sleepyhead,” I said to her. “You’ll be getting ready for school at this time soon.”
“I know,” she said as she nodded. “I’ll be awake in a minute.” I put my arm around her and looked at Regie.
“I think she likes you,” she mouthed to me in a whisper. She squeezed my hand. “I do, too.” Regie stood. “How about some breakfast?” I agreed. “Madie, go wash up and get dressed.” Her little sister got out of my lap and left the kitchen. I realized that for most of her life, Regie had been her sister’s caretaker. She was more a mother than Judy ever was. Regie had protected her from the men her mother had brought into the home. As I watched Regie preparing breakfast, I admired her. She was indeed a remarkable young woman.
We ate breakfast, brushed our teeth, and planned the day. I decided we would go to the Valencia school about midmorning, after classes had started. I called the school to see if that fit into Ellen Bank’s schedule. The secretary told me it was fine. I went out to the barn to take care of some chores. I decided I needed to order some hay for the horses and check on my cows before we left for Arizona the following day. I would take care of those things after we visited the school.
Ellen was waiting on us when we arrived. I gave her all the papers we found that had to do with the schools the girls had attended. Ellen glanced over them. “Madie, you’re in the fifth grade, I see.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Madie said. “I had to leave school because we moved.”
“Yes. But you have good grades and your reading seems to be higher than your grade level. That is very good.” She looked at the young girl. “I’m glad you have these records. I think you’ll be a very good student.” Madie smiled and looked at me. The excitement in her eyes was obvious. “Now, let’s look at your records,” Ellen said as she began scanning Regie’s documents.
Regie looked at me. She seemed worried. I wanted to reach out and take her hand but resisted that. I winked. She forced a smile.
“Well, you are a senior it seems.” Ellen was flipping through several pages of documents. “Regina, from what I can tell here, you almost have enough credits to graduate. I’ll have to do some calculations but it looks like you could earn enough credits by the end of this semester to qualify for graduation.” She looked at Regie. “Of course, you will be required to work hard to do that. You’ve already missed a couple of weeks of school.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Regie replied. “I’ll do my best.”
“Your grades are good. I think you can do it.” Ellen looked at me. “When can they start classes?”
I explained about the need to go to Arizona. I asked if the following Monday would be okay since we would not be returning from there until late Thursday at the earliest. Ellen agreed.
“I’ll make copies of these records and I’ll need to contact their former schools to fax me official copies for our files. But I believe all is in order.” She looked at the girls as she stood. “And, let me welcome you to Valencia school. We are looking forward to having you as students here.” As we moved to the door, Ellen added. “By the way, while you’re here would you like to see your classrooms.”
“Oh yeah,” Madie said with excitement. “I mean, yes ma’am.” We walked down the hall to a classroom. Ellen opened the door quietly. There were seven students sitting in desks arranged in a semicircle.
“This will be your class, Madison. All these students are in the fourth through sixth grade.” Janie looked up and saw Madie. She waved. Madie waved back.
“Look, there’s Janie,” she said.
We walked to another door. “This is your class, Regie,” Ellen said as she opened the door. There were nine students-five boys and four girls. “You’ll balance things out,” she said. She turned to Regie, “I expect the girls will like that. And I think the boys will be happy to have you as well.” Regie blushed.
I’m not sure how to describe the feeling that came over me. Not having experience in the area, I didn’t know if I was feeling like a father who was anxious about a daughter being around high school boys. After the thoughts I had the night before with Regie laying in bed with me, I decided I was jealous that I would have competition. Ellen’s voice brought me back to the present.
“So, what do you think, Scott?”
“They’ll do fine, Mrs. Banks.” I felt calling her by her last name in the school was appropriate. “I know they need to be here and get their education.” Ellen escorted us to the door leading out of the building.
“We’ll see you Monday,” she said with a wave.
We got into the SUV and headed toward the garage. I wanted to take care of the car before we left town. Mitch was at work. Judy’s car was on the trailer where I put had put it. The hood was still up. Mitch called Ralph to tell him I was there. He arrived in ten minutes. He hitched my trailer to his truck and we followed him to this lot. We were able to push the car off the trailer. Because it was empty, I had no problems taking the trailer to the ranch behind my SUV. We returned to the house. I changed into work clothes. The girls decided they wanted to help. I gave them the task of rubbing down the horses, putting fresh water in their barrels, and raking out the stalls in the barn. I figured they may as well learn what it’s like living on a ranch. I called the friend who provides most of my hay. He assured me he would have plenty at my place within the next two weeks. After lunch I allowed the girls to saddle their own horses. I helped put the saddles on their mounts, but they each tied the cinch as I watched them. They did it well. We rode to the areas of the ranch where the cattle usually gathered. The girls became more comfortable with their horses as the afternoon passed. We returned to the corral and put the horses in their stalls. I wanted them inside while I was away. We made sure there were plenty of food and water until we returned.
We all pitched in to prepare a supper meal. After we ate and cleaned the kitchen, we watched tv. I was going to sit in my recliner but decided the sofa would be best. Madie sat on one side, Regie the other. Eventually, I had an arm around both as they nestled against me. There seemed to be a need for them to do that. I knew the next couple of days would be hard for them. As I watched tv, my thoughts went to what life would be like for them in the future. If they were able to stay with me, I knew it would be better than what they had in the past. I smiled to myself as I realized, my life would be better, too.
That night I slept alone. Madie was sleeping with Regie in one of the guest rooms. I decided that if they were able to stay with me, I would suggest that they each have their own room. I would also allow them to decorate them as they wanted. I found it strange that I was becoming accustomed to their being in the house after such a short time. I showered and dressed, checking on them before I went to the kitchen. Madie was still asleep. I heard the shower cut off as I walked down the hall. The bathroom door opened as I passed it. Regie stepped out, wrapped in a towel.
“Sorry,” she said. I glanced at her quickly. I did not hold my gaze because I did not want her to think I was leering at her body.
“It’s okay.” I smiled. “I’ll go fix the coffee. We need to leave pretty soon. We have a long trip.” I turned to walk down the hall as she stepped toward the bedroom. I wanted to look back but did not. “Behave yourself,” I said to myself. If what I wanted to happen actually happened, I would have to be very careful. I needed to control my urges.
Regie and Madie got dressed. We ate breakfast and packed bags for at least three nights away from home. I could not imagine any reason for our needing to be away that long but I liked to be prepared for possibilities. That was the result of my military experience. We traveled in the SUV and made good time. We stopped for lunch and bathroom breaks. Arriving in Phoenix, we checked into the motel where I had made reservations. I called the Coroner’s office and got directions.
It was late afternoon when we arrived at the city morgue in Phoenix. We were ushered into a room by a young woman wearing a lab coat. The room was small and contained a table and chairs. There was what appeared to be a window with a curtain pulled closed, blocking any view. After a few minutes we were joined by a man who introduced himself as Dr. Paul Vick. He told us that the curtain would be open and we would be able to identify the individual. I appreciated his sensitivity to the fact that these young girls were about to identify their mother’s dead body. The three of us stood at the window as he opened the curtain. Judy’s body lay on a gurney with a sheet covering her up to her neck.
As soon as Regie and Madie saw her, they both burst into tears. I placed my arm around them. Regie pulled away and took a seat at the table. Madie turned to me and buried her face into my chest. I nodded to the doctor and he closed the curtain. The girls cried for several minutes before any words were spoken. The doctor expressed his condolences to the girls. Madie sat beside Regie and they held each other. The doctor excused himself, saying he would return in a few minutes. When he came back into the room, he had a bag.
“These are their mother’s personal effects,” he said. “Again, I’m sorry for your loss.” He left. The young woman who had escorted us to the room remained. I asked him if I could talk to the doctor privately. He nodded. I left and followed the doctor down the hall, getting his attention.
“Dr. Vick,” I asked, “what about a burial?”
“You may contact a funeral home if you wish.” He paused. “It is the usual procedure that unclaimed bodies that are not being held for any criminal investigation are donated to the medical school.”
I thought for a minute. “Can you recommend a funeral home?” He led me to his office and handed me a sheet of paper. On it was a list of names of mortuaries and funeral homes. I assumed this information was provided to others in a similar situation as ours. He allowed me to use the phone to contact one on the list. On the third call I reached a funeral home that was willing to take care of the arrangements. I explained the situation with Regie and Madie and the need to return home by the weekend. The representative assured me that a private internment could be arranged by the next day. He told me the costs and I agreed to pay for the service. After he gave me directions to his funeral parlor, I returned to the girls.
“I think we should go now,” I said. “I’ll explain what we will do next.” We sat in my SUV before leaving the parking lot. I told them about the funeral home and the private service the following day. They both nodded without speaking. The reality of their mother’s death had finally been realized. She would no longer be a part of their lives. As hard as their lives had been, I was relieved. I knew that in time, these two girls would move on with life. There might even be some fond memories they would have to share in the future. For the moment, they needed to grieve.
We returned to the motel. We walked to a nearby fast food restaurant for a meal. We spent the evening at the motel watching tv. Regie went through her mother’s personal effects. There was a small purse containing a billfold. In it were her driver’s license, social security card, photos of the girls, and one hundred-sixty dollars in cash. She took the purse to the other room. When she returned there was little conversation.
I had arranged for adjoining rooms with connecting doors. There was a king-sized bed in each room. I assumed the girls would share a room; however, after they showered and dressed for bed, they returned to my room and were laying on my bed to watch tv. I didn’t object. I knew they were feeling sad and needed to be close.
“I’m sleepy,” Madie voiced as the show we were watching ended. Without hesitation, she pulled the covers aside and got under them. Regie was wearing the same pajamas she has worn earlier. She looked at me.
“It’s okay,” I said. She crawled under the covers, laying between Madie and me. I put my arm out and she cradled against me. I cut off the light and held her. After a minute, I felt her body shaking. I heard her sobbing. I pulled her close as she cried herself to sleep.
The next morning I woke up with Regie laying with her backside spooned against me. My arm was laying across her. He had cradled my forearm up to her body. As I became more awake, I realized that my hand was pulled against her breast. I could feel its softness. I had a difficult time not moving my fingers to feel its fullness. I slowly pulled myself away. Crawling out of bed, I went to the bathroom. I showered quickly and was at the sink shaving with a towel wrapped around my waist. There was a knock on the door. It opened. Regie looked in.
“Are you decent?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. She stepped in. I looked at her. She leaned to me and carefully kissed me, avoiding getting shaving cream on her face.
“Thank you,” she said. She turned and walked out, closing the door. I finished shaving and went into the room. Madie was still in bed. I dressed in the semi-darkness of the room, not wanting to turn the light on. I put on slacks and a sport shirt. I brought a sport coat just in case there was a burial service. I decided to wear it without a tie. Regie came in. She had her towel wrapped around her, covering her bra and panties.
“Do we need to get dressed?” I told her that I had. She said she would put on the dress she had gotten the week before. She woke up Madie. They went into their room. Within twenty minutes, they returned to my room. Regie was wearing an ankle length dress that was a soft blue color. It was not one that most men would consider sexy. To me she looked older than her age. Madie was wearing a knee length skirt and dark green blouse. Both girls were very pretty and feminine looking.
We skipped the free breakfast offered by the motel and ate at a restaurant across the street. By the time we finished and brushed out teeth, it was time to go to the funeral home. I checked the directions and put the address in my GPS. We arrived about ten a.m.
We were led to a parlor room. There was an unopened casket against one wall. The girls sat down. I made sure they were okay before I went to the office. I paid for the grave plot and the services being provided with a credit card and joined the girls. After a few minutes, the man from the office came in and asked if we wanted to open the casket. Regie shook her head. The man then asked me to move my vehicle to the side of the building so I could follow their hearse to the grave plot. We walked to the SUV without speaking. Both girls were crying softly. We followed the hearse through the cemetery. We watched as several men removed the casket and carried it to the grave, setting in on a frame over the grave. They moved away as I stood with the girls next to the casket.
“Do you want to say anything?” I asked. They cried for several minutes.
“Bye, Mama,” Regie finally said. “I hope you are okay.” She began to sob.
“Bye, Mama,” Madie said through her sobs. “I’ll miss you.” Both girls turned to me. I put my arms around them and we hugged each other. We finally separated and I directed the girls to the SUV. I had also arranged for a marker to be placed in the ground with Judy’s name, date of birth, and date of death. It would be put in place later. We returned to the motel without speaking. The girls continued to cry.
When we entered my room, Regie and Madie went into their room. I pulled their door almost shut. I thought they needed some time together without me. I changed into jeans and a golf shirt. It was almost noon when the door opened and the girls came into my room. Their eyes were red and swollen.
“Does this mean we can stay with you?” Madie asked.
“I guess so. At least as far as Arizona is concerned.” I looked at them. “We still need to see about what the agency says at home. But I don’t really see any reason why you can’t live with me.” I looked at the girls. “Why don’t you change if you want. We’ll get something to eat.” They changed and we found a popular chain restaurant. As we ate, we talked about the rest of the day.
“Girls, I know you are sad. And I don’t want you to think I don’t understand that your need to grieve.” They looked at me. “But, would you like to go shopping or maybe go to a movie.”
“A movie would be fun,” Madie said. “I know one I want to see.” She gave the name of an animated movie that had just come out. It was some great adventure experienced by forest animals. Regie said it would be okay. After our meal, we went to a nearby mall with a multi-screen theater. The movie Madie wanted to see was playing and we were in time for an early afternoon matinee. I bought tickets, popcorn, and drinks. Madie sat on the edge of her seat throughout the film. Several minutes into the movie, Regie reached over and took hold of my hand. We held hands until the movie finished. I felt like I was on a high-school date.
We decided to walk around the mall following the movie. We had giant pretzels as we strolled through the after-work crowds. Madie held one of my hands as Regie hooked her arm through mine. We returned to the motel after getting hamburgers to go. We ate and watched tv. The rest of the evening passed quickly.
At bedtime the girls went to their bathroom for showers. I showered and slipped on my boxers, getting into bed. I was watching the news when Regie and Madie came in. Madie seemed to assume that sleeping in my bed was the thing to do. She jumped onto the bed and climbed between the sheets. Regie was a bit more hesitant. Her expression was asking if it was okay. I smiled and motioned with a nod of my head. She smiled and climbed across Madie and her bunny and laid next to me. Within minutes, Madie was sleep, breathing deeply. I turned off the tv and cut off the light on the side table. As I did, Regie turned toward me. She lifted her head, indicating she wanted my arm under her. As I complied, she cuddled against me, laying her leg over mine. She placed an arm over my chest.
“Thank you for taking care of everything,” she said softly. I turned my face to look at hers.
“I’m sorry this had to be done. At the same time, I am glad that I was able to help.” I kissed her forehead. Regie reached up and put her hand to my face. She raised up and kissed me softly on the lips.
“You are a very nice man, Scott.” She smiled. She kissed me again. This time she lingered. When our lips parted, she whispered, “I don’t know much about love, but I think I love you.”
“Regie, I know this is crazy, but I know I care for you, too.” I smiled at her. “I’ve been in love once before. What I feel right now is as close to what I felt then as anything I’ve felt for years.” We kissed again. This time our lips parted and our tongues touched. There was no overwhelming passion, just the sharing of a soft, gentle kiss. As our lips separated, she laid her head on my shoulder and pulled herself closer. I turned toward her, wrapping by arm across her. We went to sleep holding each other.
I woke up when Regie moved. We had both turned during the night. I sat up in bed and looked down at her. She was on her back, looking up at me. She smiled. I touched her face.
“Did you sleep?”
“Uh huh,” she said softly. “It was nice.”
“Yeah, it was.” She was pretty, her head on the pillow and her hair spread across it. “I guess we need to talk.” It was obvious she knew I was referring to our words just before we went to sleep.
“I guess we do. But right now I really don’t know what words to say.”
I nodded. “I feel the same. So, maybe over the weekend we can find some time to talk about what is happening.”
Madie stirred, yawning and stretching. “Is it time to get up?” she said sleepily.
“Just about. We have a long trip ahead of us today.”
We got out of bed. I headed to my bathroom; Regie and Madie went into their room. We joined up again about thirty minutes later. Our bags were packed. We decided to use the motel’s continental breakfast bar and take something with us. I checked us out and we were on the road toward home in a matter of minutes.
We stopped at a diner in a small town for lunch and arrived in Valencia late on Thursday afternoon. After we unpacked, we let the horses out of their stalls to get some exercise. Regie and I raked out the stalls while Madie tended to the horses. When I walked out of the barn, I saw this little girl riding Lady bareback. She was holding on to the mane and talking to Lady as the big animal trotted around the corral. I could not believe how quickly Madie was picking up the skill of riding. It appeared that she and horse had developed a bond.
We ate supper, cleaned up the dishes, and watched tv. I went through my mail, going to the office to pay some bills. There was a notice about a cattle auction coming up. I would take a number of head to the sale and look for a few calves. When bed time came, Madie made her way to the bathroom. She took a shower, put on her T-shirt, and went to the bed she and Regie were sleeping. While she was showering, I decided I needed to talk to Regie.
“Regie, I think I need to say something to you.” She looked worried. “It’s okay. There’s just something I feel is important to share with you.” She seemed to relax. She sat beside me on the sofa.
“What is it?” she smiled.
“Well, I think we both said something last night that we need to discuss. Maybe we can do that tomorrow or Saturday. But tonight, I need to tell you that I’m not sure we need to be in the same bed for now.” She had a questioning look. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s not because I don’t like being in the same bed with you. As a matter of fact, I feel just the opposite. I like it very much. And that is why I think that right now we need to not do it.” I paused. “I’ve already told you that you are very pretty and I’m very attracted to you. I don’t want to be tempted to do something I shouldn’t.”
“Scott, you wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. And, you wouldn’t do anything that I wouldn’t allow you to do.” She touched my arm. “I’m feeling it, too. I feel for you what I thought I would never feel for man. I know I’m young, but I am old enough to have the feelings of a woman.”
“Then, I think you know what I’m saying. If what we feel is right, it will keep growing and we will have no doubts. Right now, you are still seventeen and I’m forty.” She started to interrupt me. “I know you will be eighteen soon. But for me it’s not just age. I want you to be sure. I want you to know without any doubts that I am the man you want in your life.”
“I understand what you are saying. And I agree that we shouldn’t make love now. But I already know what I am feeling. Scott, I know that I love you. But I will allow it to grow. We’ll wait until it’s right for us.”
“Yes. We will wait until it’s right. Besides, you have school to think about. You don’t need me as a distraction. I’m here for you. I want you in my life.” I pulled her toward me, kissing her gently. She returned the kiss. Our tongue met and the feeling was electric. “Whatever happens, you have a home here.”
She rose and went to shower. I showered and went to bed. There was time for whatever needed to develop to do so. I wanted to be sure that I was the right man for her. The last thing I wanted was to add to her life of hurt and fear. At that moment I didn’t feel like a forty-year old retiree. And I did not consider Regie to be a teenager. In my mind we were just two people who met under unusual circumstances, thrown together by some twist of fate, and were developing a strong affection for each other.
The next morning I was up early. As I drank my coffee, I took care of the paperwork required for cattle that would be taken to the auction. I went to the barn and checked out my heavy duty truck. I cranked it and allowed the battery to charge. I checked the water and feed for the horses, leaving the barn door open so they could get to them from the corral. When I returned to the house, Regie was in the kitchen. She was wearing that short T-shirt again. I looked at her with desire. These were feelings I need to keep a check on.
“Mornin,’” I said as I refilled my mug.
“Good morning. You are up early.” She sat at the table. When she crossed her legs, I could see that she was wearing panties. I was relieved even though I was able to gaze down her shapely legs. I sat at the table across from her.
“How about we check on getting you a driver’s license today?” She looked surprised.
“Do you really think I can get one?”
“You know how to drive. And I suspect you know most of the rules.” She nodded. “Besides, I looked online. You can read through the regulations booklet on line. Once you do that, I think you’ll do okay.” She agreed to do that after breakfast. There was a state trooper who set up a testing station at the public library in Stoner every Thursday and Friday. We could be there after lunch.
Madie came into the kitchen. I was at the counter so she sat in her sister’s lap. “Hey, guys, how about a burrito for breakfast. I make good ones.”
“We never had one before,” said Madie. “What are they?”
I described to them what a burrito was. I explained that I would put eggs, sausage, and potatoes in them. I decided I would not put green chile’s in theirs, but I sure wanted them in mine. They agreed to try one. So as I worked on breakfast, the girls got dressed. By the time they returned to the kitchen, I was ready to put the burritos together. I set two jars of salsa on the table. One was mild; the other not so mild. The girls seemed to like them. Regie tried the mild salsa first. She said it was good. She then put a little of the hot on her burrito. I could tell by her expression it was too hot.
“Sweetie, this stuff is an acquired taste,” I said as she drank milk to cool down the effect of the salsa. I had to force myself not to laugh. “You’ll get used to it.”
“Yeah, right,” she was finally able to say. She kicked me under the table. “You could’ve told me.”
“I’m sorry. But, now you know.” We finished eating. Madie and I cleaned up the kitchen while Regie went to the office to read through the driver’s license booklet. Madie watched tv and I went into the office.
“This isn’t so bad,” Regie said. “I know most of this already.” She swivelled the chair to face me as I sat down. We just looked at each other for a few minutes.
“About last night,” I began to say. “I want you to know that I do care very much for you. But I can’t keep from having some thoughts about it.” Regie nodded and waited for me to continue. “I know what I’m feeling for you. But for some reason, I don’t know if it’s right for me to feel it.”
“What do you mean ‘right’?” she asked. “We haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Oh, I know that. What I mean is,” I paused, trying to organize my thoughts. “Is it okay for a man my age to love a young woman your age?” I shrugged my shoulders. “Are there rules about this sort of thing? I know there are laws that protect minors. But I don’t see you as a minor?” I knew the laws of the state. A person of either gender was considered a minor until the age of eighteen. However, the law allowed for a sixteen-year-old to be emancipated if that person was supporting themselves. There were also some exceptions related to military service and some other stipulations. “Legally, you are, since you are not self-supporting or married.” Regie was listening quietly. I continued trying to put words to my scattered thoughts. “But, it’s really not so much about age, I guess. Even if you were eighteen or thirty-eight, my concern is that what we are feeling is real. We’ve only known each other a few days really. I don’t want this to be infatuation.”
“Scott, I think I know what you are saying.” She thought for a minute. “As far as sex is concerned, we could have sex right now and legally it would be wrong.” I was surprised at her words. “But, I’ll be eighteen in a couple of weeks. So, if sex is all we wanted, we could go at it like two rabbits if we wanted after that.” She smiled at my reaction. “Not that this is going to happen.” I sat back in my chair. “You are the only man I’ve ever known who is not wanting to screw me just for sex. You have treated me with respect and kindness. You have taken care of Madie and me, and my mom. I have never believed that a man could be like you.” She paused, “So, yes, there may be some infatuation in what I feel. I really think it is more like overwhelming surprise. But I certainly like what I see in you. And, from what I’ve seen here in Valencia, there are more men like you.” She leaned forward. “But I don’t know them. I know you. And right now, I can say that I am drawn to you, I want to be with you.” I nodded, understanding what she was saying. “But I also know that what I feel is not just infatuation or admiration. I know that I am feeling something that is a part of love if it is not outright love.” She looked at me.
“I can accept that. I believe you.” I smiled. “I guess what I’m really asking for is your permission to love you. I don’t reckon I need the law to tell me what is right. I don’t need the approval of other people. I guess I just need you to say it is okay for a forty-year-old army vet to have feelings for you and that those feelings may just become love from my heart.”
Regie stood. I stood. We stepped toward each other, looking into each other’s eyes. “I don’t just want to be loved. I want to be loved by you.”
“I want to be loved by you,” I said softly, not believing that I was free to say the words. I opened my arms and Regie put her body against mine. We held each other for a few minutes before either of us spoke. “I guess we need to decide what happens now,” I said as her head laid against my chest.
“What do you want to happen?” She looked up at me.
“Let’s allow you to turn eighteen and get you through school until you complete your credits. Then, we’ll discuss what we will do.” She nodded. “By the way, when is your birthday?”
“October 2nd,” she stated. I leaned down and kissed her. She wrapped her arms around my neck, holding us together. I wrapped my arms around her. For that instant, the rest of the world did not exist. After the kiss, we held each other. “I want to be with you,” Regie whispered.
“I want to be with you, too.” We kissed again softly but quickly. I looked into her eyes. “I want you to be in my life from now on.” She smiled and nodded.