Chapter 10 - Price
Several guests lingered longer than I’d hoped, but I tried to be polite. When I put the alcohol away, the last of the hangers on got the hint and said their good-byes. I switched the music and lights off and sat in the dark, listening to the waves wash the shore. If only they could wash away memories and hurts. Rover came upstairs and put his head in my lap. His big brown eyes let me know he felt my pain. I rubbed between his ears. When he figured I’d felt sorry for myself long enough, he got up and pawed at the door. He was ready for his bed, so I got up and went to mine too. I lay there reliving the look in Joan’s eyes when I rejected her. She’d never understand now that I was only trying to protect her.
I’d been young and in a hurry back in my younger days. I had no desire to leave another woman crying in my wake. Joan had been drunk. Her inhibitions were down. I couldn’t in good conscience take advantage of her state. Besides, the woman had me in her thrall. I wanted her sober when we got together. I’d be damned if I’d let myself be another regret in her life. It was obvious that she’d been hurt before. Why was being a gentleman so much harder than being the jerk I was when I was twenty?
I’m not sure when I fell asleep, but when morning came, my body was as tired as if I’d pulled an all-nighter. It took a mighty act of will to put the leash on Rover. I’d promised Vince I’d meet him for a run, so I dressed and stepped into my trainers. Rover had obviously had a good night’s rest. He jumped around my legs and barked playfully. Each yelp was like a knife to my aching head. It wasn’t Rover’s fault that I’d had too much to drink the night before, so I refrained from chastising him for being happy. He ran down the stairs ahead of me, straining at his leash.
Vince was warming up with stretches when we met up.
“Mornin’ captain,” he said with a mock salute.
“You must have slept better than me,” I said.
“Like a baby. No guilty conscience here.” He started jogging, and Rover and I kept pace.
“Must be nice.”
“To sleep or to have no guilt?”
He smirked, and we jogged about a mile before saying anything else.
“You into that hot babe from last night?” he asked as we approached the sand dunes where we norma...