Abruptly, he stopped yawning and looked down at her, as though he knew very well that she was watching him. “That’s your story for tonight. You wouldn’t like to change your mind about…you know?” He nodded toward the empty side of the bed.
Sam shook her head no.
Then, as though it were the most natural thing in the world, he bent to kiss her lips. But Samantha turned her head away. When she looked back at him, he was bending over her, staring at her.
“Sometimes you remind me of those high school girls that you take out to drive-in movies. You go out one night and spend the whole night kissing and, after hours of work, finally getting your hand under her blouse. The next time you go out you think you’re going to work on her skirt, but instead, she makes you start back at square one: She won’t even let you kiss her.”
In spite of herself, Samantha giggled. She could easily imagine Mike as a randy high school boy.
“Tell me, Sam, did the boys have to start over again with you with each date?”
When she didn’t answer him, he handed her the pad and pencil. I never had a date in high school, she wrote.
Mike had to read her sentence three times before he looked up at her in disbelief, then taking the pencil from her he wrote, Have you ever been to bed with any man other than the jerk you were married to?
She didn’t want to answer his question. Why a jerk? she wrote.
“He lost you, didn’t he? Any man who’d do that has to be stupid.”
Samantha laughed, then punched his shoulder. He was lying; he was flattering her, but still, having someone call her ex-husband a jerk pleased her.
“How about a goodnight kiss? Nothing more than that. I’ll keep my hands on your shoulders. Trust me. I promise.”
She wasn’t strong enough to say no to kissing Michael, especially when he was looking at her like that. As he leaned on the bed, a hand on each side of her hips, she gave him a tentative nod, and he sat down on the bed again and put his hands on her upper arms. Slowly he brought his lips to hers.
With each kiss, she experienced wonder that something could be so lovely. As he’d done today, he didn’t force her or try to leap on top of her. She began to sink into his kiss, began to trust him as she slumped back against the pillows, her eyes closed, her body relaxed.
“Good night,” he said softly, and Samantha almost wished he wouldn’t leave.
Getting off the bed, he turned off the light switch and went down the hall.
He asked her to trust him and she was beginning to, but, she thought as she snuggled down into the covers, would he trust her?
It had taken two days, but she had made her decision: She was going to look for her grandmother.
“I am going to look for my grandmother.”
Samantha and Mike were in the bedroom of her apartment. She had slept downstairs in his bed, but early this morning, before she’d heard him stirring in the bedroom next door, she’d come upstairs to get dressed. When she’d come out of her bedroom, Mike had been standing in the living room, waiting for her. He thought she was getting ready to go with his cousin Raine to Maine, and it had taken all her courage to tell him that she wasn’t going, she was staying here in New York with him.
Pretending he didn’t hear her, Mike didn’t even bother to answer. “Montgomery will be here any minute. All of them are punctual, so he won’t be even a minute late. I bought you some chocolate chip muffins for the trip, because if I know the Montgomerys, they’ll feed you something like broccoli and carrot soufflé. Maybe I ought to call Kaplan’s Deli and get you a couple of pastrami sandwiches and a six-pack of beer. Beer’s nice on a trip, and—”
“Mike,” she said softly, “stop pretending you didn’t hear me. I’m not leaving. I’m going to look for my grandmother.”
“Like hell you are,” he said, grabbing her tote bag in one hand and her elbow with the other.
“I am not leaving. And that’s empty.” She nodded toward the tote bag.
“No problem. When you get to Connecticut have Montgomery stop and buy you whatever you need. Better yet, wait until you get to Maine.”
When Mike wouldn’t release her arm, she did the only thing she could think of: She sat down on the floor. “I’m not leaving here and I’m not going to Maine. I am going to remain in New York to look for my grandmother.”
Putting his strong hands on her upper arms, Mike lifted her. When Samantha remained rigid, he set her on the edge of the couch.
“Samantha,” he began.
“It’s no use trying to think of what to say to make me see your side of it. I have made up my mind.”