Glen had the distinct sense that he was in dutch with Molly.
Distinct sense, hell, he had messed up and he knew it. She wasn’t shy about wearing her irritation on her sleeve, and between the Allard, the embarrassing incident the night before, and Glen’s decision (after she had fallen asleep) to sleep in the other bed, she was positively frigid in the morning. Glen told himself it was because she wasn’t looking forward to another three or four hundred miles in the Allard, but in his heart he knew that the car was the least of her concerns.
Aware that it wasn’t really the problem, he nevertheless focused on it. He showed her the sunblock and hat he’d bought, and talked aimlessly about the car while they packed quickly. Glen was thinking about the feel of her lips, of her body against his, and of the groundless panic that had made him push her away (and that he regretted tremendously) but he spoke of none of these things. The car was safe territory. Molly could be angry at the car, and even if he had to take the brunt of her stony irritation, it was the Allard that was the problem, and it would be solved as soon as they got to Woodford.
Unless, of course, they actually did end up dating. Having a sig-other who hated your special car was an untenable situation. He’d have to find a way to get Molly to forgive the Allard for being as uncivilized as it was. He thought he could, and it was easier to daydream about doing that than to think about the unresolvables he’d created last night. Easier than considering his reasons for acting the way he had, and much easier than trying to explain them.
If you truly want her, he thought, she’s going to have it out of you eventually.
“Why don’t we get some breakfast?” Molly asked, interrupting his thoughts at a difficult moment.
He managed a smile–he was glad she’d distracted him, in fact–and said, “We haven’t got much time. Can we get something to go? Compromise?”
She looked like she was going to refuse, then shrugged. “Do you think we’ll make it the rest of the way today?”
“Barring a mechanical disaster, yes.”
“That’s a relief. My butt can’t take much more of that. People really raced those things?”
So she’d been listening to him. Glen had half-expected her to tune him out while he talked about the Allard. He picked up the single bag that held their dirty clothes and some of the snacks and moved to the door. Between the bag and the supplies he’d bought, there wasn’t going to be much space for Molly’s feet in the shallow footwell. The Allard had no trunk to speak of.
She stopped at the mirror to check for stray smears of sunblock. The clothes he’d bought fit her well enough. He could sense that she didn’t quite think so, but was being polite about it. Personally, Glen thought she looked great. He wasn’t sure if the jeans showed off the curve of her hips better than what she’d been wearing before, or if he was just noticing it more. All she needed was a jaunty bow in her hair, like she’d been wearing when he first met her, and the drive would have looked like something out of a dream to him. Never mind that the wind would likely rip a bow right out of Molly’s hair once they got up to speed, or that the Allard’s British Racing Green paint was flaking off in potato-chip sized chunks, revealing dingy gray aluminum underneath.
“No puddles of oil,” Glen said as he removed the tarp. “That’s a good sign.”
Molly nodded. “I’ll go check out,” she said.
He folded the tarp while she was gone, crushing it down as far as it’d go. It was still going to take up too much space in the cramped cockpit, so Glen decided to leave it behind. He opened the hood and did a quick inspection of the Allard’s engine, and as he finished Molly returned.
“Glen,” she said, “about last night.” She phrased it like a statement, but from the way she left it hanging it was clear she was asking a question.
“I’m really sorry,” he said. “An inch higher and you’d have had one hell of a shiner.”
“I don’t bruise easily. But that’s not what I was talking about.”
He sighed, looking into the engine bay as if there might be an answer on the valve cover. “I know.”
She waited several seconds for him to answer. “Okay, you don’t have to tell me everything you’re thinking.” Yet, her tone added. “Give me monosyllabic answers if you want; I can handle those, I have a brother. But tell me one thing. Did you get caught up in the heat of the moment, or was that something you honestly wanted?”
“I…” Glen checked the plugs, reached down and ran his hand along the cool header. “I was there with you,” he said.
“Why did you stop?”
“You got hurt.”
“Bullshit.” Her voice popped like a whip. “What’s going on, Glen?”
“I’m not sure.” He busied his hands with closing the hood and reattaching the Dzus-type twist fasteners that held it closed. “I think I like it, though,” he added in a softer voice.
“It’s a step,” she said. “But I don’t do silent angst, okay?”
He frowned. “Do we have to talk about this now?”
Molly shook her head slowly, her eyes not leaving his face. “We most certainly do not.” She paused as if she was going to say something else, but Glen slipped behind the wheel before she could. He didn’t want it to seem as if he was starting the car to make further conversation impossible, but she probably took it that way nonetheless.