Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 42
“Do you think she’ll be alright?” Lin asked Girlfriend.
Girlfriend stirred the eggs in a large skillet. “I’m sure Tiger Lily will be just fine.”
Lin felt bad. “Gosh, I wasn’t even thinking about Tiger Lily. I know she’ll be okay. I’m worried about Myra. She almost seemed frantic about the dinosaurs and sounded convinced that Clive’s presence, and therefore our presence, was killing the dinosaurs. I think she snapped.”
Girlfriend added a little milk to the skillet of eggs. They both grabbed the counter as the car lurched slightly.
“Sorry!” Sam yelled back. “Having a hard time driving with just one hand.”
“Don’t worry about it!” Girlfriend yelled back. She said quieter to Lin, “I think Myra allowed her emotions to run away from her and she’s also mentally exhausted. Personally, I think we’ll all get to that point. I’m surprised that the rest of us are holding up so well.”
Lin didn’t want to tell Girlfriend about Tiger Lily’s episode the day before when they had first set out. It didn’t feel fair to talk about someone who was presently in no condition to defend herself. “I guess you’re right. This is a little weird.”
“Little? Lin, this is insane. I had to stitch up Sam from dinosaur bites and claw marks, and he’s still driving us deeper and deeper into this nightmare. I don’t want to go further. I want to go home.” Girlfriend spoke in a plain, matter-of-fact tone in which Lin couldn’t detect any fear. She shook her head. “But Doc asked us to save his son, and right now, that’s taking priority over my own fears. I mean, what’s going to happen to us inside this car?”
Lin gave a wry smile. “I guess you’re right.” She held out a plate for Girlfriend to serve the eggs. Once she’d served some eggs, Lin pulled the bacon out of the microwave and a slice of toast from the toaster. “Anything else?”
“Oh, Sam likes Tabasco on his eggs.”
“Okay.” Lin looked in the fridge, but didn’t find any hot sauce of any kind.
“Don’t worry about it. If he’s hungry, he’ll eat. Actually, tell him to eat it anyway because if he doesn’t, those antibiotics will eat into his stomach.”
“What about Tiger Lily?”
Girlfriend thought for a moment. “You might want to go ahead and wake her up. Be careful though. I’m sure that little incident shook her up a bit. She might lash out when she wakes up.”
“I’ll be careful.”
Lin set the eggs down on the console next to Sam. He slowed the car slightly and looked up at Lin. “Thanks.” He nodded.
Lin flushed. Even after all that happened, she still felt embarrassed to have him look at her, even though his eyes never left hers. She had almost suspected that he might look at her breasts as if he could see though her shirt, but he didn’t. She liked that about him.
She asked. “Can I get you anything to drink?”
“No.” Sam looked to where he had a bottle of water. “I’m good. Thanks.”
She smiled at him and turned to wake up Tiger Lily. She had rolled onto her side, her bad arm on top. Lin reached down and stroked her hair.
“Tiger Lily,” Lin whispered. “Tiger Lily.”
She groaned softly. Lin kissed her on the head. “Wake up, sleepy head.”
Tiger Lily bolted upright and screamed. Sam lurched to a stop and grunted in pain. Tiger Lily tried to catch herself on her bad arm and fell back onto the bed.
“What happened?” Girlfriend yelled from the back.
“It’s alright,” Lin shouted back. To Tiger Lily she asked, “Are you alright?”
“I was having a terrible dream. One of those things was chewing on my arm. Killing me. It was so real.”
Tiger Lily looked down at her arm and screamed again. Girlfriend ran into the room and Sam rotated the car’s seat around to see what was happening. Tiger Lily winced when she saw Sam’s bandages and then pulled her legs up onto the bed when she spotted the dead troodon on the floor of the car, lying where Sam had killed it.
“What happened?” she asked, her body shaking and quivering as she pulled her knees into her chest with her good arm.
Lin sat on the bed next to Tiger Lily’s feet. “Everything is going to be just fine.”
“What the hell happened? The last thing I remember, one of those things jumped out of the water and bit me.”
“It’s dead now. Sam shot the one outside. This one got inside and Sam killed it too, but it bit him.”
Tiger Lily looked at Sam’s shoulder and leg and twitched. She twitched again when she looked at her own arm and started to cry. Lin scooted up on the bed and hugged her. It pained her to see Tiger Lily in such mental torture over what happened. She could only imagine what she was going through. Pangs of guilt tore at her very being. She convinced Tiger Lily to come along in the first place, even though Tiger Lily had said it was a bad idea. Suddenly she thought that Tiger Lily may be right.
“It’s going to be alright. It’ll all turn out just fine.”
Tiger Lily tucked her head into Lin’s neck and cried.
Sam’s chair whirred and the car started forward once again. Girlfriend returned to the kitchen. Lin gave Tiger Lily a slight nudge and soon they were both lying together on the bed wrapped in each other’s arms.
“I want to go home,” Tiger Lily burbled.
“I know. I know. We won’t be here much longer. Maybe only a day or two.” Lin tried to keep the quaver out of her voice, but she wanted to cry with Tiger Lily. She wanted to remain calm and try to assure her, but found it difficult. Instead she said the only thing that came to her mind. “I love you.”
Tiger Lily’s sobs softened and stopped. “What?” With her good hand, Tiger Lily wiped her nose and eyes.
Lin froze. She’d said it out loud, hadn’t she? And Tiger Lily had heard her. Had she thought she wouldn’t hear it? Perhaps that her crying would cover up the sound of her voice? Lin wanted to crawl away, but there was nowhere she could hide now. It was out there.
Why had she said that? Why would she say anything like that? She’d only known Tiger Lily for a short time and didn’t even have the slightest inkling if she thought of her in the same way.
Tiger Lily started to pull back to look at Lin, but Lin held her tight. She couldn’t look her in the eye. Not now. What if Tiger Lily didn’t feel the same way? What if Tiger Lily was only friendly in her flirting way? What if she’d totally misunderstood how Tiger Lily felt and acted? Maybe she would only think it was a sisterly type of love. Maybe she would think that Lin said it as a way of reassurance.
Tiger Lily pulled harder and pressed her face into Lin’s. Their lips met with a force that Lin hadn’t expected. She’d never kissed anyone before and hoped that Tiger Lily wouldn’t notice. She hoped that Sam wouldn’t notice. What if he was watching?
She ignored all her fears and gave into the kiss, Tiger Lily’s warm tongue twisting and pressing against hers. Her whole body felt warm and relaxed. She hoped it was doing the same thing for Tiger Lily.
They pulled apart, each gasping for air. Tiger Lily gave Lin a warm smile. “I love you, too,” she said softly.
They lay together, face to face, and just stared into each other’s eyes. They intertwined their hands and legs and just stared. Lin loved the way Tiger Lily’s deep, dark-brown eyes stared back with loving intent that said “If only we were alone.” Parts of Lin’s body — parts she’d never given much thought to – spasmed at the thought.