I was hiking through the Sahara Desert. My mouth was so dry. Why didn’t I bring any water? If only I could get a drink, maybe my head wouldn’t feel like a freight train was tearing through it.
Speaking of trains, why did it feel like I was on one? The bed was moving. I fought through the haze covering my eyes and immediately regretted opening them. Sunlight poured in, searing through my aching head like a lightning bolt.
Shit. Reality seeped in like water in a leaky basement. I had too much to drink the night before. Craig and Julie were at the hospital. I was alone with Abe. We were going on without them. Just the two of us.
I sat up and pushed back the covers. Why did I sleep with my hoodie on? I never did that. And I usually wore shorts to bed. But I was wearing pajama pants. No wonder I was so hot. I couldn’t even recall going to bed.
A wave of dizziness washed over me when I tried to stand up. The RV was definitely moving. I grabbed my phone from the nightstand.
I stumbled into the bathroom and turned on the shower. I didn’t want Abe to see me like that. My reflection was frightening. Bags under my eyes, dried drool on my chin, and a rat’s nest on top of my head.
I relished the feel of the hot water as it coursed over my body. Why did I drink those coolers? I knew better. I could handle beer, but for some reason, those fruity cocktails got the better of me. Probably because they tasted so good that I chugged them.
I could only hope I didn’t make a fool of myself in front of Abe. Bits and pieces of the night before filtered in. Did he carry me to bed?
By the time I finished in the bathroom, I’d erased all physical remnants of my hangover. I pulled on a pair of jean shorts and a light pink tank top, and headed up to the cockpit.
“Good morning,” Abe said without taking his eyes off the road.
I plopped down in the passenger seat and raked my eyes over his sexy body. His Bon Jovi t-shirt clung to his abs. Baggy denim shorts sat low on his hips. He pushed some hair off his forehead and glanced over at me.
I knew something had changed the second our eyes met. The playfulness was gone. No hint of the heat from the day before, when he’d been about to kiss me in forest. Before Julie screamed.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“Just outside Nanaimo. We’ll be getting on the ferry soon.”
“Why didn’t you wake me up? I would’ve helped you get the RV ready to go.”
“I didn’t need help,” he replied, his cold tone sending shivers down my spine. And not the good kind. “You needed to sleep off your hangover.”
“How bad was I last night?” I asked, cringing.
He shot me a surprised look. “You don’t remember?”
“Not really. What did I do?”
“You didn’t do anything. But you sure are talkative when you’re drunk.”
“Uh-oh,” I whispered.
“Yeah. Uh-oh sums it up pretty well.”
“What did I say?” I asked, dread seeping into my bones.
“We’ll talk about it later. Right now, I’ve gotta concentrate on getting this thing on the ferry.”
“Okay. I’ll leave you alone.”
I rose from the passenger seat and walked slowly back to the bedroom.
What did I do? Oh my God. I was such an idiot. I finally had my dream guy within my reach, and I blew it.
I sat on the edge of the bed and concentrated, willing my brain to do a recall of the night before. I remembered stopping at the liquor store. Downing three coolers in a very short period of time. Lying on the couch. Inviting Abe to sleep with me.
I told Abe about my inability to have an orgasm because of what I saw that night when I was fifteen.
No wonder he was acting weird. I told him I was a frigid freak. Of course, he wasn’t attracted to me anymore. What guy would be after a confession like that? And I had to spend five more weeks with him in an RV. This trip was turning into an epic disaster.
I buried my face in the pillow, fighting the tears that wanted to spill out. Cheyenne Carson was not a crier. Never had been. I was tough. I had no choice, growing up with four older brothers. And I wasn’t about to start now. Certainly not over some guy I barely knew. I closed my eyes and let sleep take me away.
Something touched my bare shoulder. I swatted at it. Probably that damn mosquito that was buzzing around the bedroom before I fell asleep.
Okay. Maybe not. Mosquitos don’t talk. I opened my eyes and found Abe sitting on the side of the bed. “What’s up?” I asked in a gravelly voice.
“We’re on the ferry. Obviously. Since I’m in here, and not behind the wheel.”
“Oh yeah,” I laughed, rubbing my eyes. “Duh.”
“Do you want to grab a bite? We’ve got two hours to kill.”
“Yeah. Sure. I’m just gonna grab a sweater in case it’s chilly up there.”
After we got our food, Abe led me to a private table at the back of the outdoor patio. It was really windy out there. But the wind wasn’t the only cold thing blowing across our table. Abe was really stewing over my drunken confessions. Or at least I assumed that’s what the pickle up his ass was about.
“We need to talk,” he said, pushing his tray aside with his lunch unfinished.
“Okay,” I agreed in a small voice, praying for a big gust of wind to come and blow me right off the ferry.
He scrubbed his hands over his face and cleared his throat. “Last night, you said some stuff.”
“Yeah. It’s starting to come back to me,” I said. “Any chance you can just forget everything I said?”
“No.” His blue eyes burned into mine, his mouth set in a thin line. I couldn’t tell if he was angry, or horny, or what.
“You don’t have anything to be sorry for, Cheyenne,” he said, his voice softening.
“Then why are you mad at me?”
“I’m not mad at you, sweetheart. But I think we need to stop things from going any further between us.”
My heart sank. Tears burned behind my eyes. I had to get control. It wasn’t like I was being dumped. I never had Abe. So why did it feel like he’d ripped my heart out and stomped on it?
“Okay,” I whispered, using every ounce of strength in my body not to burst out crying.
He sighed heavily. Apparently, I wasn’t doing a good job of masking my feelings.
“I promised Craig I wouldn’t hurt you. After what you told me last night, I realize that is exactly what would happen if I acted on my attraction to you. I don’t do relationships, Cheyenne. I can’t offer you anything other than a casual fling that would end when this trip is over.”
“I know that, Abe. I just got out of a two-year relationship. I’m not looking for anything long-term either. I was hoping a fling with you would be the cure to my problem.”
“Oh wow,” he laughed, rubbing his hand over his heart. “That stung. You just want to use me for sex.”
“That came out all wrong,” I said, relieved to see a smile on his face.
He reached across the table, linking our fingers together. “Are you sure you want this? You say you’re okay with a no strings fling now. But what if you change your mind?”
“I won’t,” I said with more conviction than I felt. But I had to make him believe I wouldn’t fall for him. This was my chance to live out my teenage fantasy. To resolve my sexual problems. Abe was the answer. If I could learn to have orgasms with a man, I could finally start looking for Mr. Right.
The only problem with that plan?
I’d already found him.