How’s your week going?
I have a pretty large chunk of excerpt for you today. ^^
“I can’t wait to get into the shower,” Lea said, walking through the sliding doors.
Emily followed her, nodding her head in agreement. “Same here.”
Her tank top stuck to her back and she hated that feeling. There had been a problem with the air conditioning in the Orlando Airport baggage claim hall, and they’d had to wait in the suffocating, humid heat.
“We made it out!” Lea said, raising her arms. “And it’s just as hot here.”
Grinning, Emily replied, “Let’s just find our car and get to the hotel.”
Lea pointed to a sign on their right. “Looks like we have to go that way.”
Emily squinted. She had a hard time reading the sign because of the sunlight coming into the garage. Luckily, Lea seemed to know where to go. Emily let her take the lead and wondered about her sunglasses instead.
Had she put them in her backpack? She hoped she had. It had still been dark when they had driven to the airport this morning, so she hadn’t had a reminder to pack them. But she would need them for the drive to the park and hotel.
“Got it!” Lea chirped, proudly pointing at a red car in one of the parking spots.
Emily caught up with her, looking at the small hybrid Full Circle Games had rented for them. “Cute and sensible,” she said.
Lea nodded, holding out her hand. “You have the keys?”
Emily placed her suitcase near the trunk of the car and fished the car keys out of her back pocket. She handed the device to Lea.
“I guess they’re not really keys anymore,” Lea commented as she pushed a button that made the car’s lights blink. Another push of a button and the trunk popped open.
“I guess not,” Emily said, lifting her suitcase.
“I don’t know why but this sure brings back memories,” Lea said, the damp skin of her shoulder brushing against Emily’s as they put their luggage in the trunk.
Emily smiled while she rummaged through her backpack. “Yeah, I know what you mean.” Her fingers probed for the leather case with her sunglasses. She finally found it and pulled it out, relieved.
She straightened and found Lea watching her intently. Emily’s heart still fluttered when their gazes caught like this.
“I guess it’s our first real trip together since the road trip,” Lea said, her eyes twinkling.
“I guess so,” Emily said, frowning. “That’s kind of sad, though.”
“Why?” Lea asked.
Emily shrugged. “It’s been a year. Why didn’t we make time to do this sooner?”
Lea pursed her lips as she thought. “I guess we were busy building a new life together.”
“Yeah,” Emily said, nodding, “You’re right.” She reached for Lea’s hand. “Let’s not wait this long again. I love going on trips with you.”
Lea’s fingers entwined with hers. “I love going on trips with you too.”
They beamed at each other, still standing by the open trunk.
“Ready to hit the road?” Emily asked after a few more seconds had passed.
“Hell yeah,” Lea said. “Okay if you drive?”
“Fine by me,” Emily responded, letting go of Lea’s hand to close the trunk.
“I want to answer a few emails from Claire before I go offline completely,” Lea explained, sounding a little guilt-stricken.
“That’s fine,” Emily said, opening the door and taking the driver’s seat. She put the car key in the cupholder and got out her sunglasses. The heat in the car wrapped itself around her like a suffocating blanket.
“I promise I’ll tell her after we get back from the trip,” Lea said after sitting down. “About us moving in together.”
Emily turned in her seat.“Love, why are you uncomfortable telling Claire that we’re moving in together?”
Lea’s eyebrows shot up. “What? I’m not…” she started to say but then shut her mouth. Her cheeks reddened.
It hurt Emily to see Lea struggling like this. She didn’t know why she had put her on the spot just now. Maybe she saw things more clearly now that they were out of their daily lives?
Emily and Claire still didn’t get along all that well. Sure, they tolerated each other’s company, but there was little to none genuine affection between them. Not that Emily hadn’t tried to get along. She had.
But Claire still seemed unwilling to accept Emily. And Emily actually understood why. Lea and Claire had been the type of friends that spent time together almost every single day.
Now, Lea was spending some of that time with Emily. When Claire called with a last-minute invitation, Lea no longer dropped everything to join her. At least not every time. Emily couldn’t blame Claire for struggling with that.
What worried her were Lea’s attempts to keep each of them happy at all times. She avoided talking about Claire whenever she was with Emily. Emily assumed she was doing the same by not mentioning her too often around Claire.
“She’s your best friend,” Emily said, after deciding to take a new approach. A drop of sweat rolled down her cheek and she rubbed it away. “I don’t want you to feel like you can’t be in touch with her when you’re with me, okay?”
Lea slumped back into the passenger seat. “Okay, but… I don’t want you to feel bad.”
Emily found Lea’s hand and pulled it into her lap. “Why do you think I feel bad?”
“Because you and Claire don’t get along?” Lea answered hesitantly.
Emily smiled patiently. “You mean because Claire doesn’t like me.”
Lea winced and kept quiet. She didn’t need to say it out loud.
“Lea,” Emily said calmly, “I’m not hurt because Claire doesn’t like me. I know it must be hard for you. But for me, it’s not. I’m used to people not liking me.”
Lea chuckled softly, looking down at her hand in Emily’s lap.
Emily traced the lines of Lea’s palm all the way down to her wrist. When Lea didn’t say anything for a few more moments, Emily decided to drop the topic for now. Lea would open up when she was ready, Emily knew.
“Let’s get on the road,” Emily said, putting her sunglasses on. “Do you mind if I put on some music while you work?”
Lea met her gaze, eyes filled with relief. “No, not at all.”