Chapter Six

"Run and Hide"

As Diana stepped out of the house she was glad to see the rain had stopped.  With her clothes clutched to her chest she began to run, hesitating for just a second when she realized she’d forgotten some of her things, including her shoes.  But there was no way she was going back inside to face more humiliation.  He knew where she was staying surely he would send her things to her.  

As she continued to run barefooted, in nothing but his shirt, she began to cry.  “What a sight I must be.  What a stupid fool I am.”  The tears ran down her face unchecked.  Fortunately the B&B was close and her run was short with no onlookers.  As soon as she reached the wide front porch she pulled on her skirt that was only partially wet now.  She remembered the cushioned bench off to the side and thought it might be the best place to rest till someone came back and unlocked the door.  

“None of this would have happened if you’d just gotten the keys and not worried about being wet.”  The street was quiet and her voice echoed.  “There you go, yell out like a mad woman and have the neighbor’s call the police.  That would top the night off perfectly.”  Diana checked the door one last time, finding it still locked she folded up the remainder of her clothes and used them as a makeshift pillow.  She didn’t think she’d be able to rest, much less sleep after her night, but as the sun touched her face and a soft click sounded in her foggy mind, she realized she’d slept without moving all night.  

She slowly sat up; stretching her tight muscles, fearing what she’d see when she finally opened her eyes.  “Dear Lord please don’t let it be him.”  Just as she finished her silent prayer she looked up to find no one there, but the front door ajar.  “Thank you!” she whispered.  She gathered her things and went inside.  Still no one was present but she could smell breakfast cooking.  She jogged up the stairs realizing just a few steps up how soar she was from her impromptu run and awkward sleeping accommodations.  “I just need a long hot shower.  And a ticket back home.” She sighed.  

After her shower, she dressed and packed, realizing she was starving and owed the husband and wife who ran the place an explanation she headed down stairs with suitcase in hand and a rehearsed story about why she was outside all night.  She left her bags at the front door and headed towards the dining area.  She was greeted by the hostess, “Oh dear, what happened last night.  We came home this morning and found you asleep on the bench.  Did you forget your key?  Oh this is just awful.  We’re so sorry we weren’t here.”  She wrung her hands together and looked down.

“Oh please don’t worry.  It was my fault.  I left my keys and it was too late to bother the owner for another set.  I slept just fine.”  She felt terrible for lying, but how would she explain what did happen.  Just as she finished her lie the host came around the corner rolling her suitcase; “Did someone check in this morning?”  His wife looked at him unsure, “That wasn’t there when we came home.”  Diana knew it was her turn to speak; “It’s mine.  I think I’ll be cutting my trip short.  I’ve so much to do at home and this didn’t turn out as I had planned.  I mean, well, I was able to see the major sights I wanted, so there really is no need to stick around.”  She knew she was stumbling over her words and they both looked skeptical but what could she say?  “I was stood up for a date and then jump the very next guy I saw, only to be turned down. I’m humiliated and just want to crawl back to my place and continue the yearlong pity party I was doing so well at.”  

“But you’ve paid for a month; it’s not even been a week.”  “I realize that, and I want y’all to keep the money.  I just need to get home.”  …and hide in my home till my ‘vacation’ has ended and I’m forced to face my family and friends again.  What a sad thought.  To dread seeing those that love you, this was her life now… just sad.  While having a pity party in her head the husband and wife were asking her a question; “Excuse me, I drifted.  Maybe I didn’t sleep as well as I thought.”  She tried to smile at them but was pretty sure it came across more as a grimace.  

“Please let us make up for last night.  We can give you a discount or extend your stay for free?”  They didn’t get it.  She just wanted to leave.  It wasn’t their fault.  She felt terrible for making them question their hospitality.  The wife was still wringing her hands and the husband looked upset for his wife.  “This is our first year at this; she’s wanted a B&B for ages.  We’d hate to think we failed you.”  Oh great, now the guilt.  Was that a tear in her eyes?  Oh for heaven’s sake she was going to have to stay.  But that didn’t mean she had to go anywhere.  She could hole up in her room here… right?  

“Oh please don’t get upset, I’ll stay.  I was just homesick.  I’ll be fine.”  She grimace/smiled again and sat at the breakfast table.  “Besides, the food here in divine, at home I’d just cook up some boring breakfast of toast and coffee.”  She looked over at the buffet table to make sure there was in fact more than toast and coffee.  Glad to see a mound of varies food she genuinely smiled back.  “I’ll stay.  I’m so sorry to distress you.  I’ll just call my family today and touch base.  That should cheer me up.”  Which of course she had no plans of doing, but maybe that would help ease their worried minds?  

The husband and wife smiled, he took her bags and said he’d place them back in her room while the wife made her a plate.  Great, she sighed to herself, now what? 
As Diana finished breakfast and felt confident she’d calmed the hostess down about her leaving early she headed back to her room.  She had no plans for the day and figured she’d just read over the books she had bought and drown herself in research.  “Maybe it’ll take my mind off the embarrassment of yesterday.”   

As she placed her foot on the first step she noticed the sign still in the window from last night with the managements address and phone number.  “Oh dear lord what if Alex shows up with my things, how will I explain that?!”  She felt her heart start to race and realized she’d have to make sure that didn’t happen or find her embarrassed even more.  “Tangled webs.”  She sighed. 

She started to walk to the front door to snag the sign when the husband came around the corner and started to pull it off.  “Do you mind if I take that?  I would love to contact the management and let them know how much I appreciate y’all.”  He looked worried.  Probably concerned she’d say something about her sleeping on the porch last night.  To reassure him she finished with; “I want to let them know that y’all helped me through my homesickness.  Would you mind?”  He seemed partially satisfied but was hesitant to hand her the paper, but did so anyway.  “Thank you so much, for everything.”  

Practically running up the stairs she went straight to the safe to retrieve her phone.  “Okay now what?  Do I call and humiliate myself further?  Should I open with, ‘Hey, this is the chick that threw herself at you last night, remember me?  Yes well I just lied to your employees and now I have to cover my track because I’m a big fat lying hussy.”  That should work.  A deep sigh and she realized she could save herself the added shame and just text him.  Not that it wasn’t still humiliating to ask a man who rejected you to please be discreet about dropping off your shoes and purse… heavens what else did she leave behind?  Thoughts of leaving the country crossed her mind again.

As she turned her phone on she saw 16 voicemails, 25 texts and countless emails.  One marked urgent from her mom.  “This is why I put it away.”  Now she’d have to reply to them all or feel the added guilt of ignoring her family and friends.  But first the text to Alex; “Forgot a few things.  Would you mind leaving them outside your door?  I can pick them up later.  Thank you.”  She wanted to ask when he’d be gone so as not to run in to him, but thought that would be too much.  Just hitting send on that simple text had her heart racing.  “Please don’t respond.  Please.  Just do it.”  And when would she check?  And how would she without him seeing her?  Really, going home would be so much easier.  

With that awful task done she started to reply to texts.  Most were just asking about her flight, her room and what she’d seen so far.  Some were regarding her plans when she got back while others were from the new owners of the bookstore.  She’d told them to keep in touch and she’d be happy to answer questions, but every time she did she was a little more heartbroken about the sell.  When did her life go askew?  She knew the answer, but still asked herself the question daily. 

After the texts, emails and most of the voicemails were answered she felt better, a little less isolated.  Just two more voicemails left to listen to.  The first she expected, Mitch telling her he couldn’t make their date.  At least he seemed upset and clarified a bit of what happened.  “I hate calling this late in the day, but something’s come up with the family I need to handle.  I have to catch a train and mobile service is sketchy.  I’ll call when I get back.  We’ll reschedule soon.  I’m so sorry.”  Okay, so he didn’t explain it all, but he did try to call her first.    

The last voicemail was unexpected and made her heart stop; “I tried to catch you last night and get your things to you.”  So he wouldn’t have to see her again?  “I wish I could explain what happened, but please know it’s my fault.  I started something I couldn’t finish and I’m sorry for that.  I mean, I’m sorry I started it, not that I couldn’t finish.  I could have, but it would have been wrong… and I’m ballsing this up.  I can get your things to you tomorrow.”  The voicemail ended and she panicked.  “I hope he got my texts first.”  She sent up a silent prayer and decided that the she might be better off sitting out on the porch just in case he didn’t get her message in time.  

Diana grabbed her purse and stuffed it with her research notes and cell phone.  She figured she could sit outside a while just in case he stopped by and intercept him before he came inside with her things.  If he didn’t show up in the next 30-minutes she’d walked to his place and see if her things were on his porch.  “This is not what I wanted to do today.”  She hurried down the stairs, checked to make sure she had the keys, and eased out of the front door so as not to draw attention to her.  Just as she turned from latching the front door she ran head first into a wall of chest.

She instantly knew it was him.  She took a second to compose herself.  She noticed in his hand was a bag of her things.  Without looking up; “Thanks for getting these to me.”  Still not looking at him she reached for the bag, careful not to touch his hand.  He moved just a fraction of an inch causing her hand to brush his.  She knew she’d have to look at him.  Very slowly she did.  Not knowing what she’d say when their eyes met.

When her eyes had traveled the length of his body and avoiding his eyes was no longer an option, she closed them for one brief second and then looked him straight on.  He didn’t hesitate.  “I got her text on the way over.  I thought about going back and dropping them at the door, but I’m running late for work.”  She just shrugged her shoulders.  “No worries. Thank you.”  She tried again to grab the bag.  He shifted his weight to the other foot and used the movement to pull the bag out of reach again.   This time she was angry, what game was he playing?!  

“If you’ll just hand me the bag we can be done with this awkward situation, unless you’re enjoying yourself.  Then you can just leave them on the porch and I’ll come back for them later.”  She started to turn back inside when his other hand stopped her with a firm hold on her upper arm.  “I just need to know that I’ve not hurt you.  It wasn’t my intention.”  She stopped herself before rolling her eyes, but not before he caught the contempt in them.  “It was my fault.  I saw you that first day and every day after and couldn’t get you out of my head, so when you showed up on my door step soaking wet… I didn’t think, I just reacted and I can’t apologize enough.”

The mortification just kept getting worse.  “It’s fine.  I promise not to show up on your doorstep again and I’ll do my best to avoid you these next few weeks.  Deal?”  She chanced another look at him.  He didn’t look satisfied.  If anything he looked hurt.  “Deal.”  This time he handed her the bag.  With the other hand on the door knob she said thank you and walked inside.  She didn’t notice him watching her through the front door window with longing in his eyes.

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Still a work in progress, but thanks for reading.