Chapter 2

  • Chapter 2

    Olivia woke from a dream about children playing in a garden with no flowers to find herself stretched out on a couch in a strange room.  She shoved aside the blanket and went to the window.  Downstairs was a pool with the usual accessories surrounded by a fence.  She was in a hotel.  Where was her car?  Where was Alec?  There were some new clothes on the chair next to the couch and the bed was made.  The clothes weren’t hers so they must be his, she thought.  She went to the closed door and knocked softly.


    He exited from the doorway with a towel wrapped around his waist and brushed past as if she wasn’t even there.  He went to the pile of clothes asking, “So what do you think I should wear?”

    “You didn’t have any luggage Alec, where did this come from?”

    “There are a few stores nearby,” he said, “I didn’t think you’d mind if I borrowed the car and went and bought a few changes, considering we are riding together and all.”

    She noticed a tattoo on his shoulder as he turned to face her.  The only thing she’d ever seen like it before had been on some apothecary tools she’d bought once simply because they were old and were a novelty.  “How long have we been here?”

    “It’s almost eleven in the morning, I thought you should sleep.”

    “Okay,” she said slowly, “so exactly where IS here.”

    “Exactly,” he said, “we are at the Holiday inn in Monte-cello, as you put it.”  He grabbed a red flannel shirt and some jeans and disappeared back into the bathroom before she’d had time to tell him she needed to go.

    “Why did you stop here?” She yelled through the door.

    “Because this is as far as I was authorized to drive,” he replied, “remember?  You said you’d bring me this far and then pay me back for lunch?”

    “I thought you were riding with me to Santa Fe.”

    “I told you I would, but you didn’t confirm it, so I stopped here, just to be on the safe side.”

    She went to the kitchenette and poured herself some coffee he’d made earlier.

    Alec finally came out of the bathroom and she saw that he cleaned up pretty well, red was a good color on him.

    Olivia took her turn in the bathroom, noticing from the package in the trash that he’d bought himself some briefs as well as the other clothes.  She supposed he hadn’t been lying about his car being stolen.  When she emerged from the bathroom she saw he’d also bought a travel bag and was loading his new purchases into it.  “Am I riding or walking?” He asked.

    “I decided to let you go with me,” she said, “now let’s go find an ATM so I can pay you back what I owe you.”

    “You take care of the room and we’re square.”  He said.

    This time her card worked when she used it.  “Good,” she thought, “at least Ed hasn’t tried to stop payments on my card.”

    “Breakfast?”  Alec asked.

    “I don’t eat breakfast,” she replied, “but if you do we can stop somewhere.”

    “I’m good,” he said as he got into the passenger side of the car.

    Olivia dug through her purse and found an aspirin; she washed it down with the last of yesterday’s cold coffee.  “Did I say anything stupid?”

    “You were a perfect gentleman,” he said with a smile.  With that, she oriented the GPS to Santa Fe and started the car.

    “I suppose I should gas up before we leave town,” she said as she adjusted the seat back to her height and once again, when she got gas, her card was accepted.  She had them add two cups of coffee and since she didn’t know how Alec took his coffee she left it black but took enough condiments with her in case that wasn’t how he drank it.  “Do you need anything before we leave town?” She asked him.

    “I can’t think of anything,” He replied.

    They had been on the road for about forty five minutes towards Dove when Olivia’s phone let out the beginning of “Lunatic Fringe”.    “It’s mom,” she told Alec, “be quiet.”


    “Olivia honey, I just talked to Ed.”  Her mother began.

    “What did he want?”  She asked.

    “Actually I called him to find out when you’d left.  He said something about you saying you were going somewhere else?”  Her mother sounded concerned.

    “There are a few places I want to see before I get there Mom.”

    “I wish you’d told me, I was expecting you within a couple or three days, you know I worry.  Especially being a lone woman out on the road like that, anything could happen.”

    “Maybe I need some time Mom.”

    “Dear heaven, you aren’t thinking of going back are you?  You know if they’ll do that once they’ll do it again Olivia.”

    “Mom, did it ever occur to you that another woman was the least of my worries?”

    The phone was silent for a moment, then her Mother said, “Well if you aren’t worried about the other woman then what are you worried about?”

    “Do we have to talk about this now Mom?”

    “I know you well enough to know that if we don’t talk about it now then we may never talk about it, what happened to make you listen to me for a change?”

    “Mom, remember when I was going to find someone else to date because he couldn’t give me children?”  Olivia asked.

    “Yes.”  She replied.

    “Mom, do you remember what you said?”

    “Vaguely, I think I told you he might be planning to fix that.”

    “Mom, he told me if I wanted a baby that I should find someone and get pregnant.”

    There was more silence on the phone, and then she said, “What did you say?”

    “I didn’t say anything Mom, what could I have said that would have made a difference?  He doesn’t and didn’t love me Mom; he couldn’t have said that had he loved me.”  Olivia hesitated and there was no sound from the other end of the phone.  “Do you understand?”

    “Well when do you think you’ll be home?”

    “I don’t know Ma.  Soon enough.”

    “I’ll keep the light on for you and please, please, call me every night to let me know you are okay and where you are.”

    “I love you Mom.”

    “I love you too.”  She hung up the phone.

    “You don’t have any children?”  Alec asked.

    “I don’t want to talk about it okay?”

    “He didn’t want any children?”

    “Alec, he told me he already had his kids.”

    “Oh, I see.”

    Alec chose Fleetwood Mac from her CD collection and didn’t say another word for quite a while.  Olivia was in more of a Shinedown mood but the rules of the road are that the passenger gets to be the DJ, or at least those were the rules of the road when she’d been younger and had lived around her own friends. 

    It was well after lunchtime and Durango was up ahead, Olivia decided it was time to eat and the road signs promised to have a good selection of places to go.  Denny’s won.

    She parked the car and they went inside.  The predictable thing about food chains is that no matter where you are, there are no surprises.  “I’m going to the restroom, I’ll meet you at the table” she told him.

    Alec chose a table near the window with the car in full view and the waitress brought him a menu.  “I’ll need another” he told her. 

    “Can I get you anything to drink?”

    “Cola will be fine.”

    By the time the waitress re-appeared with the other menu Olivia was at the table.  She anticipated the question and said, “I’ll have coffee with sweetener and creamer thank you.”

    Alec had a cheeseburger and fries but Olivia ordered breakfast for lunch, nothing heavy, just eggs, hash browns, bacon and some toast with plum jelly.  They didn’t talk much as they ate and Olivia ordered a large cup of coffee to go.  “We going Dutch?” She asked. 

    “Only if you plan to tip well,” he grinned.

    Her card wouldn’t work in the machine.  “I don’t understand, it worked the last time I used it.”

    “I got it,” Alec said.

    Once in the car Olivia decided to call the bank.  “I need to speak to someone about my card; it seems to be temperamental lately.”  They fielded her call.

    “Hello, may I help you?”

    “I hope so.  My debit card works sometimes and it doesn’t work sometimes, is there a problem?”

    “Let me see……..”  The woman pulled up her account after she gave her information.  “It appears that your husband has set the account not to pay out on anything less than forty dollars.”  The woman sounded as confused as Olivia was.  She continued, “That’s strange, normally it’s the other way around when a customer wants to set a restriction.”

    Olivia hung up without saying a word and dialed Ed.  “What’s the big idea setting limits on my card?”

    “You aren’t going to nickel and dime me to death Olivia.  You can have gas and somewhere to stay till you get to your mother’s house, that’s it.”

    “What am I supposed to do for food?”

    “You can eat on the road when you buy gas like we did when we came here.”  She hung up on him in exasperation.

    Alec started to speak and Olivia put her hand up to stop him.  “Don’t,” she said, “Just don’t.”

    She called the bank again and got someone on the phone, “This is Olivia Garfield and I need to ask someone how I can lift the limits on my card that have been imposed by my husband.”  She waited and then finally they transferred her to a financial planner.

    “Ms. Garfield?  You will need to come in person to fill out a waiver to lift the limits set by your husband which you can do since your name is also on the account.”

    “Mr. uh……..”

    “Maxwell, just call me Max.”

    “Mr. Max, I am miles away from the bank and can’t do that at the moment.”

    “I’m sorry then Ms. Garfield, you will have to abide by the limits.  You can pay for charges over forty but not more than one fifty.  Perhaps you can get your husband to return to the bank and fill out the appropriate paperwork?”

    “I don’t think that will be happening Max, but thank you anyway.”  She hung up the phone.

    “I wonder if he pulled out any money,” Olivia muttered as she went through her app to look into her account balance.  “Half,” she said, “He took out half and he’s dictating how I spend the other half.”

    “May I speak now?”  Alec asked.

    “Yeah, go ahead.”

    “I don’t know what to say!”

    Olivia started the car and drove into the business district looking for a gas station and found one.  She pulled in to gas up the car.  When she came back she was putting some loose cash into her wallet and Alec grinned.  “Precisely,” he said.

    Olivia got back out onto the highway headed southeast toward Santa Fe scolding herself for the next ten miles for not foreseeing that Ed would take half, for not doing that herself in the first place and for letting herself trust him.  Alec listened without interrupting as he hid a smile that could easily have become laughter.

    She reminded him of someone but he couldn’t put his finger on whom.  “It doesn’t matter,” she finished, “I wouldn’t have done it differently anyway and if I had I’d have probably gotten robbed,” she glanced at Alec, “no offense intended.”

    “None taken,” he paused, “do you always do that?”

    “Do what?”

    “Argue with yourself about what you should or shouldn’t do?”

    “Doesn’t everyone?”

    “Not out loud,” he chuckled, “So what are you going to do?”

    “For starters,” She said, “Nothing.  I don’t know what I need to do or what I want to do.”

    “Are you going back eventually?”  Alec was curious.

    “Alec, he has a mistress, he has his children, he has his family and he tells me lies.  Do you know that when we first started dating he asked me if I would have his baby?  He did that knowing he couldn’t have any more children.  Just as I suspected then and know now, he uses words to manipulate people. Those words don’t mean anything to him; they are just tools to manipulate other people.  If I can’t trust him, how can I make a life with him?  Especially when it means giving up the main thing I’ve always wanted?”

    “What’s the main thing you’ve always wanted?”  He asked.

    She sighed, “Someone to love me unconditionally, I think you only have that if you have children.  With men, it’s always conditional.  If you step out of the boundaries they set, then it’s over.”

    “So what are you going to do?”  Alec asked again.

    “I suppose I’m going to live my life, wherever that takes me.”

    “Were you happy with Ed?”

    “I was content with Ed, but I was lonely with Ed if that makes any sense.”

    “You think having his baby would have changed that?”

    Olivia smiled.  “I used to have this dream that I would have a man who loved me and have his children and we would live happily ever after.  I’ve just about decided that half of that would be enough.  Children love their parents no matter how they get treated.  I’ve seen abused children still loving their parents and wondering why they couldn’t be loved back.  I suppose,” she said, “Like I said, I’m looking for unconditional love and I’ve learned you don’t find that in a marriage, but just maybe, you find that in your children.”

    “So you don’t care what kind of man you have children with?”

    Olivia glared at Alec, “If I didn’t care what manner of man I have my children with, I would have already had children when I met Ed.”

    Alec was browsing through her music when Olivia requested Shinedown, he complied and angry rock filled the empty space in the car.  It was easier for her to be angry than hurt.  “I’ll deal with the hurt later,” she thought.