We walked toward the parking garage I used for work. I was probably just walking that direction out of habit, and Dominic followed. When we got to the entrance, I suddenly realized where we were. “Oh. This is my garage,” I said looking up at the structure. I turned to Dominic, “I’m sorry. I didn’t even realize I was heading this way. Where are you parked?”
“I took the bus here from the store. I can just catch it back.”
“Nonsense,” I said, taking his hand and leading him into the garage. “I’ll drive you to the store. There’s no reason for you to ride that stinky bus.” I felt his grip melt into mine as he fell into stride. It was a wonderful sensation that I hadn’t realized I’d been missing. Michael couldn’t hold my hand anymore, not like he used to, and I never realized the intimacy of that simple gesture until now.
When I chanced a look him, he was smiling at me. I quickly looked away and tried to ignore the fluttering of my heart. The thought and feel of Dominic had my cheeks flushed. I could feel the heat. I knew he could see what his presence was doing to me.
I dug my keys out of their assigned pocket in my purse and pushed the “unlock” button on the remote.
“That’s your car?” Dominic asked with a tone of awe in his voice. “Wow. You must really be doing well for yourself.” He smiled and became playful. “Either that, or you’re in debt up to your eye balls.”
“It’s actually a company car,” I said, opening the trunk of the deep blue BMW and tossing my bags inside. “I would never buy something like this. It’s way overpriced.”
“I bet you don’t mind the bank buying it for you, though.”
We climbed into the car. “Hell no. I love this car. I love it even more since I didn’t pay for it.” The engine turned over smoothly with a soft roar before settling into a purr. I let it warm up for a few minutes while Dominic sifted through my music selection.
He picked a CD and slid it in. I put the car in first and crept out of the garage. At the exit, I waved my card to open the gate and turned onto the street.
We crawled through town, and I asked Dominic if he minded if I took the long way to the store. Of course he didn’t. So I cut through a few back streets, making my way to the main road that was the life-line for Church Hill. I felt like driving so I was going to take the really long way.
Turning onto the road I smiled and said, “Hold on. We’re gonna have some fun.”
“Thrill me, Baby,” he said, gripping the door a little tighter.
I shifted into second and made the turn. Winding each gear to its most efficient RPM, I shifted smoothly, flying through the gears as the car sped down the road. We took the turns with ease and precision. I could feel Dominic looking at me, but at 80 miles an hour, I didn’t dare take my eyes off the road. Anything could happen. Michael was proof of that.
The car slowed as I turned onto a twisting country road for a more leisurely drive. That’s when I finally glanced over at him. He was grinning from ear to ear.
“What?” I asked.
“You’ve still got it,” he said. “After all these years, you’ve still got it. I must admit, I am surprised. After what you told me about Michael and his accident, I never would have thought that you would still drive like that.”
“I don’t do it very often. Sometimes I just get the itch to go. When it comes, I have to scratch it. I’d probably go crazy if I didn’t.” I looked at him again and smiled. “When you need speed, nothing else will do.”
“You always were my best driver. Even if I didn’t want you to drive.”
“Yeah, well, that part of my life is long over. I don’t think about it, and I don’t talk about it. I put it far behind me and moved on. So if that’s why you’re here, tell me now.” I didn’t want him bringing our past to the surface. We were young, reckless, and without a care in the world. Those things combined made for a very dangerous lifestyle. I counted myself lucky to have survived and turned my life around without any repercussions. Michael knew little about that chapter in my life, and Allison would never know unless she started heading that way. I had become a different person since the last time I saw Dominic. And I was hoping that he had changed his ways, too.
Pulling the car off to the side of the road, I turned to look at him. As I turned he placed his hand on mine over the shifter and gently squeezed. Then he met my eyes. That was enough.
“I’m not that person anymore.” He said it simply, though he needn’t have said anything at all. “If you want to talk about it, that’s fine. If you don’t, that’s okay too. But please, Ella, don’t hold it against me. I learned my lesson the hard way.” He shrugged and added, “Maybe I needed to.”
“You wouldn’t let me drive that night,” I said.
“I needed you to drive. Something told me otherwise, though. It was better that you didn’t.”
“You may never have been caught if I’d been driving.”
“Maybe. Or maybe we’d’ve both been caught. Things happened the way they did for a reason. I knew that when they cuffed me. That’s why I cut you off. I thought that maybe some higher-power was telling me I was no good for you. You deserved better.” He looked out the window. “I loved you, but I let you go. I had to.” His head dropped and his voice became tighter. “Losing you was the hardest part of the entire experience. I never quite healed from that wound.”
I didn’t know what to say. He was telling me he felt something that I also felt in some deep part of my heart. A part of me had always been his. Now he was telling me that a part of him had always been mine. After all those years, we still belonged to each other.
I tried to change the subject. “So, you never married?”
“Not once.” He shook his head. “Every relationship after you failed miserably. I found myself comparing each one to you. None of them could measure up, so I’d end it after a couple months. It wasn’t fair to string them along just to satisfy my primal urges.”
The reaction those last words caused in me was shocking. It made me sick with jealousy and remorse. Why, I couldn’t understand. The thought of Dominic with another woman had never hurt like it just did. In fact, that was one reason why we were so good together in the past. Our primal urges, as he put it, had ruled our lives. To put it mildly, we were wild. Besides, I was married to Michael. I shouldn’t have felt that way about any other man.
I pulled back onto the road trying to clear my foggy head. There were emotions stirring in me that I hadn’t felt since the accident. Not the least of which was desire.
Silence invaded the car on the ride to the store. The air inside was becoming stuffy, so I rolled down the windows to freshen it up. One time, Dominic asked if it was ok to crank the music up. I nodded in the affirmative, and the music became loud enough to push my thoughts away for the time being.