Darkness shrouded the car, the only sign of civilization, the patch of asphalt framed by the headlights. Paul and Mary spoke softly as the lights of Adamsville came into view. Taking Mary to dinner in the city seemed to have taken her mind off the horror of recent events.
Paul jerked his thoughts back to his driving when Mary grabbed his arm in a death grip, nearly causing him to drive off into the soft desert sand.
“Did you see that?” Mary pointed towards town.
“I don’t know, Mary. What is it you saw?” Paul pulled the car to the side of the road and cut the engine. He peered into the darkness but didn’t see anything unusual.
“I saw lights on at the Adams place! Why would there be lights when Adams is d-d-dead?”
The pale green glow of the dashboard lights emphasized Mary’s pallor. She trembled so violently the seat shook with her. Paul unbuckled his seatbelt, slid out from behind the steering wheel, and wrapped his arms around her.
“It’s probably nothing, or maybe some of his relatives showed up to clear the place out.” His words lacked the ring of conviction.
“I suppose that’s it.” Mary pretended to go along with his ploy, but her trembling hadn’t lessened, and she clutched his shirt like a lifeline.
“We could walk over and ask them who they are and why they’re there.” Paul’s attempt at a teasing smile was more of a skeletal grimace.
“What if it’s thieves …or worse?”
“I’ll tell you what. I’ll call the cops when we get home and have them go over and check it out.”
With a sigh of relief, Mary snuggled into Paul’s shoulder. “Sounds great!” She turned her face up to let him take her lips. Her sudden release of panic made him wonder if it had all been a ruse to make him stop the car. As he lost himself in the sweet, softness of her lips, he showed her his gratitude for her resourcefulness.
Adams and his well-lit house lost their urgency, replaced by soft sighs and fogged windows. Minutes passed before Paul caught a glimpse of the clock and pulled away to straighten his shirt. Dropping one last kiss on the tip of her nose, he returned to his seat, buckled his seatbelt, and drove the rest of the way to Mary’s house. How was it he’d only just started seeing her as more than a friend? Chatting idly the rest of the way, Paul stopped the car at the curb, shut off the ignition, and slid across the seat to kiss her softly. He walked around to Mary’s door, took her hand and helped her out, using the motion as an excuse to pull her into his arms for an...