Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 50
Lin stared out the window and watched the sunrise. It felt wrong. She’d barely known Myra Tolie, but not having her go with them didn’t feel right. Obviously there was nothing they could do for her now, but it didn’t change the fact that they should do something. Just leaving felt wrong, and left Lin feeling strained.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Tiger Lily asked as she hugged Lin from behind.
They’d long since discussed Lin’s wealth and she’d managed to get Tiger Lily to come to terms with it. Why did relationships have to be so hard? And were she and Tiger Lily really in a relationship?
Tiger Lily kissed the back of Lin’s neck, which sent goosebumps down her body and she shivered. She placed a hand on Tiger Lily’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “I’m just wishing we were done and going back, is all.”
“I know how you feel, but we did agree to do this. We need to see it though. I guess that’s just how I feel. Even though I was a little freaked out earlier, I hate to sign on to do something and then not get it done, you know.”
“Yeah. I guess.”
“Look, I think Sam will be awake soon, and Girlfriend has been driving for a few hours. Why don’t we make some breakfast? Maybe a good hot meal is what we all need to get our spirits up. Something beside just sitting and waiting.”
Lin frowned. “I don’t think food will take my mind off of what happened to Myra.”
Lin started to cry and Tiger Lily turned her around and hugged her tightly. She buried her face into Tiger Lily’s neck and hugged back just as hard. She could feel the repressed twitches in Tiger Lily. She was fighting back her own tears. Lin reached up and stroked Tiger Lily’s hair and they both had a good cry.
When they finally parted, Lin gave a small laugh to break the tension and wiped the tears away from her eyes. “Maybe food will help.”
Tiger Lily also laughed and they both set about preparing cans of beef stew and canned beets.
“I hate beets.”
“They’re a great diuretic though,” Tiger Lily teased.
“Oh, that’s all I need,” Lin said and laughed.
“This is probably the healthiest you’ve eaten in years. I know if I had been on my own as a teenager I’d be having ice cream for dinner every night.”
“Actually, I never really learned how to cook, but I did pick up a couple of my mom’s recipes and can make some wicked dim sum.”
“You can cook?” Tiger Lily looked seriously surprised.
“Of course. I burn a lot of stuff and end up eating junk anyway, but I try. Didn’t you see my kitchen?”
“Yes, but I didn’t think you actually used it. I guess now that I know you’re rich, I figured you wouldn’t care about things like that.”
“No, it’s money I don’t really care about. I mean, I’ve always had it so it’s not like it’s something that controls me. I guess that’s why people who are born into money don’t have trouble with hanging onto it whereas people who win the lottery end up broke before they know it.”
“That kind of makes sense, I guess. I just figured if you’ve got it certain things really don’t seem as important.”
Lin shrugged. “I’m still a person.”
“And a person I love.” Tiger Lily leaned in and kissed Lin.
Lin raised her hands and grabbed Tiger Lily’s head and returned the kiss twofold.
“Wow, where’d that come from?” Tiger Lily asked once they separated.
She felt her cheeks flush. “I guess I just got caught up in the moment. I don’t know. Maybe it’s being closed up in this car for so long.”
“I’m not saying I mind. Not at all.”
Lin suddenly felt like hiding. She knew it wasn’t anything wrong that she’d done, but it was how Tiger Lily had reacted. It was as if suddenly things were moving too fast again. She wanted to get outside and get some fresh air to clear her head. Her emotions were all over the place. She’d never had this happen before and didn’t know how to deal with it. Her stomach twisted and she wanted to be sick.
Tiger Lily put down the spoon she was stirring the stew with and helped Lin to sit down. She was talking, but Lin couldn’t hear anything except her heart pounding in her ears. She tried to say, “I’m fine,” but nothing came out of her mouth.
Tiger Lily disappeared for a second and returned with a cold towel and put it on Lin’s forehead. The relief was instant and Lin’s head cleared.
Lin shook her head. “I don’t know. Everything just…”
“You just sit there and relax for a minute.”
Tiger Lily returned to the stove and removed the stew from the flame and did the same with the beets. Lin watched as she prepared the plastic bowls and served up four servings and prepared to serve a fifth.
“Only four,” Lin said.
“What?” Tiger Lily looked at her confused then it sank in. “Oh, that’s right.” She looked at the other bowls, shook her head, and then served the rest of the stew in the four bowls.
“Should we go up there and eat with them?” Lin asked.
“I think so. We may need to feed Sam.”
“Oh my gosh! He’s still strapped down.”
“I hope he’s not awake yet,” Tiger Lily laughed and they both took up the bowls and rushed to the front of the car, Lin’s head clearing more as the moved.
“Breakfast is served,” Tiger Lily said as they walked into the front cabin.
Sam rolled his head to the side and watched them, but his eyes didn’t look like they were focused on anything. Tiger Lily took a bowl to Girlfriend and Lin took one to Sam. She untied the straps, but he didn’t make any effort to sit up, he just mouthed “Thank you.”
“Let me help you sit up so you can eat.”
Lin put her arm under Sam and pulled hard to get him into a sitting position. It took all the strength in her left arm to do so, but she did manage to get him into a sitting position. Tiger Lily, after leaving a bowl with Girlfriend, started placing the pillows behind Sam so he could sit unassisted.
Girlfriend brought the car to a stop and got up with her bowl and sat at the foot of the bed. “How are you doing?” She rubbed Sam’s leg.
She stopped rubbing his leg and looked down at her bowl of food.
“We’re almost there, Sam.”
“Almost where?” He asked in a quiet voice.
“Almost to Clive. We should be there in a few hours.”
“What? We’re still going to get him?” he sounded mad, but he could barely get the words out.
Tiger Lily interrupted. “We promised Doc that we’d bring his son home and we’re so close now, we have to get him. After all that’s happened, we need to see this through.”
Sam’s glare was telling. He didn’t want to go on. It was perhaps only Tiger Lily that did want to continue. She had to convince Girlfriend to turn the car around, and Lin really didn’t want to spend any more time here than they absolutely had to; going to retrieve Clive certainly was more time. Tiger Lily must have felt what they were all thinking.
“Look, we’re almost there. We get him, we go back. No more stopping, no more sight-seeing, nothing. We do what we came here to do and it’s done. We all can go back to our normal lives. It’s only a couple more hours. We’ve already been here for days and all of us have suffered to get him. We can’t have gone through all of this for nothing, right?”
Sam sighed his acquiescence. The poor man had been beaten into submission by the situation and couldn’t take any more either. Lin could see that on his face. He looked as if he’d aged twenty years in the past few days. She wasn’t sure he could take any more. Maybe they should have put something in his stew to make sure he’d sleep until they got back. The pain he must be in.
Lin ran a hand over his head and he closed his eyes. “Sam, it’s the right thing to do and it’s almost over. Nothing else is going to happen. I’m sure of it.”
Sam looked up into Lin’s eyes as if he were pleading for her to be right. She hoped she would be proven right.
“Then let’s eat and go.”
They all ate in silence. When they finished, Girlfriend took over the controls of the car once again and they continued on their way.