Riding Out The Storm
The roads were becoming treacherous as she pulled in to the well lit parking lot of the truck stop diner. From the looks of all the trucks in the parking lot, things were going to get even worse. She had noted over the last few miles there were less vehicles on the road, so when she saw the lights of the diner from the interstate, she figured it was time for her to get off the roads also.
She made her way through the gusting north winds and felt the sting to her face from the wind driven snow and freezing rain. The lot was slick and she was glad she had worn her boots today. She had chose to wear her long denim skirt and the added layer of sweater. Even with her coat buttoned high about her neck and the scarf wrapped around her face, the wind bit right through her.
She made it across the lot and in the front door of the bustling diner. There were truckers and travelers everywhere; not an empty seat to be found. The waitresses were busy running hot coffee and food to the patrons. Children were running about playing the few games available, and parents were attempting to get them back to the tables to eat. There were truck drivers all about the room, so sitting together, talking and laughing; others sitting alone with laptop computers. A passing waitress told her there were no empty seats or tables, but if she didn’t mind sharing with someone, she could probably find a place for her to sit. She told her that would be fine, she wasn’t looking to interrupt anybody’s solitude, just a place to sit and get something hot to drink. The waitress told her to wait there a minute and she’d be right back.
The waitress soon came back and told her there was a seat at a booth in the back with one of the truckers. She said he stopped there every time he came through and he was a quiet gentleman who was also very kind, never rude, loud or demanding. If she didn’t mind, he had said he would be glad to have her sit with him. She nodded that would be fine and followed the waitress to the back. As they neared the table, the gentleman stood up and held out his hand to her. She took it and he raised it to his lips and gave the back of her hand a light kiss. She felt a blush rise in her cheeks. Without missing a beat, he reached to help her take her coat and scarf off, then lay them on the seat, out of her way.
He introduced himself to her and told her he could call him Nila, as that’s what all his friends call him. She looked at him with a questioning look and he explained that he enjoyed vanilla wafers. That caused her to laugh lightly, and the first hints of awkwardness disappeared. He had a charming smile, and easy laugh. He made her feel comfortable right off. The waitress came back by to ask what she would like to order, and she asked for a cup of decaf, no cream or sugar and a glass of ice water. She had to have her ice water; the ice to cool her coffee just enough to take a few sips without burning her mouth, and the ice to chew when the coffee and water were gone.
She told him since they were exchanging names of what others called them, he could call her Teddy. When he asked how she came about that name, she explained that it came from her love of Teddy Bears.
They chatted easily for the next few minutes, the storm still raging outside. When the waitress brought her coffee and ice water, she also brought Nila another carafe of coffee. He told her she was the sexiest waitress he had ever met, and she rolled her eyes and said, “Nila, I know you well enough to know you say that to all the waitresses.” He hung his head in mock shame as they began to laugh. As she turned to walk away, she told them she would be back in a short time to see if they needed anything.
After the waitress left, she apologized to him for interrupting his privacy and told him that she would not be offended if he got back to his computer, she would not disturb him. He looked at it and shook his head. I play around on that puter to keep myself out of too much trouble and to keep up with friends I have online. Other than that, it’s something I can put away and forget about, especially when I have such lovely company sitting in front of me in real time.
They sat there for what must have been a couple of hours, she really didn’t know, because he had her laughing, and in stitches much of the time. He told her of experiments he had tried, of people he had met online, tales of his time on the road. He was easy to listen to, and easy to talk with. Some of the tables and booths around them had cleared, and she wondered where the people had gone. He explained to her that there was a small motel on the back side of the diner. He saw her face drop and asked her what was wrong. She explained that she hadn’t thought about where she would be staying tonight, and she was sure all the rooms would be taken by now.
He chuckled a bit and said, “don’t you worry, Honey Bunch. If you trust me, you can share my room. I have two beds and I only need one of them. You are more than welcome to use the other.”
“I couldn’t ask you to do that for me”, she said.
“You didn’t ask, I offered, so it’s settled”, he said.
“Thank you. That’s very kind of you, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the offer,” she said.
“You’re very welcome. And as it appears to be getting rather late, I am going to get ready to head off to that room and lay down, hopefully falling asleep soon. Do you have a bag that we need to bring in?”
“I do need to run out and get my bag. It won’t take a moment.”
“You sit there, give me your keys, tell me which is yours, and I will get the bag for you. You don’t need to be out in that weather.”
She handed him the keys, told him where she had parked and where her bag was in the car. He was quite the gentleman. He definitely squashed the image that so many had of truck drivers. In fact, she had noted the truckers here tonight all seemed to be very friendly.
He came back in a short time later with her bag and one of his own. He came back to the table and left a tip on the table, then held out a hand to help her from the booth. She turned back to get her coat and purse, then turned back around and told him she was ready, but she needed to pay her bill first. He told her not to worry, it was already taken care of. She started to protest when he held up a hand and told her a simple thank you would suffice. She thanked him and told him how much she appreciated it.
He placed a hand on the small of her back and began to lead her from the diner. As they were leaving, the waitress wished them a good night. She thanked her for finding a spot with such a kind person to sit with. The waitress grinned and winked at Nila as she said, “tell me if you still feel the same way in the morning.” Teddy was sure there was a private joke between them regarding that statement, but she never questioned it; she allowed him to continue leading her from the diner and toward the motel.
They each took their turn in the shower. He told her to go first as he was pretty quick in the shower, and she looked like she could use a long, hot shower. She gratefully stepped in to the bathroom and turned on the hot water. As the jets hit her back and head, she felt the tension of the day and the drive leaving her body. She was grateful to Nila for offering to share the room with her. She shampooed her hair and added the conditioner before lathering up and washing away the day. She loved the smell of her cocoa butter bath soap, it always left her feeling refreshed. She stood under the showerhead, washing away the soap and conditioner, closing her eyes and letting the jets beat against her skin. She loved a shower with lots of pressure and this one definitely had it. It dawned on her she had been in here for quite a while, and he was probably waiting to get in so he could get showered and go to bed. She turned the water off and stepped from the shower, grabbing a towel and drying herself completely before wrapping the towel around her wet hair. She grabbed her nightie from the bag and slipped it on, then reached for her robe and pulled it on over her shoulders.
She walked out into the room and told him she hoped she left him a little warm water. He laughed and told her he was sure there would be plenty, he didn’t require a lot. He asked if she felt better, and she said that she felt like a new woman. He smiled and headed off to the bathroom.
She pulled the hair dryer from her bag and began drying her hair. When done with that, she got out the lotion and began applying it to her legs. Nila stepped from the bathroom just as she was beginning to rub it into her arms. He came and got the bottle from her and said, “here, let me get that for you.” He began rubbing the lotion into her arms and shoulders. His hands were gentle and left her feeling even more relaxed than the shower had. He squeezed a little more lotion into his hand and began applying it to her back. When he had finished he handed the bottle back to her and she placed it back in her bag.
They sat and talked for a while longer, although they were both yawning more than talking. Finally, she told him she could no longer keep her eyes open. He agreed that he was fighting hard to keep his open. They said good night and he turned out the light.
When they awoke the next morning, the storm had passed and the roads were being cleared. They got dressed and made one last check around the room to see they left nothing behind. Certain they had it all, he picked up their bags and they left the room, heading back to the diner. When they got there, the room wasn’t nearly as full as last night. They got a booth, ordered their coffee, and chatted again.
The waitress from the previous night passed their table and she asked Teddy if Nila had behaved himself last night. “Like a true gentleman”, Teddy replied. Nila looked at the waitress and said, “See, I told you I could behave once in a while.” She walked away laughing, and Nila just sat shaking his head. “She always gives me a rough time when I stop here. I don’t know why I keep coming back for this kind of abuse.”
“I think you enjoy it.” Teddy stated.
“You’re right, I do.”
They drank their coffee and had breakfast, all the time talking and laughing. When the time came for them to get ready to leave, he asked if she had an email address that he could keep in touch with her, or a phone number he could call and visit. She told him she would give him her email address, but she wasn’t comfortable with giving out her phone number. He told her he understood and that was fine. He just wanted to keep in touch and if they were ever in the same area again, he would like to have dinner with her again. She told him she would enjoy that, also. She wrote her email on a napkin and slid it across the table to him. As he reached for it, he took her hand in his and again kissed the back of it lightly. She smiled as she let him continue to hold her hand until the waitress came back with their ticket. She began to reach for it with her free hand, but he reached out and pulled it from her reach. “A gentleman never lets a lady pay for her meal.”
“Thank you, again, Nila. You are a very sweet man, and I’m glad I got the chance to meet you and know you.”
“Come on, Honey Bunch, let’s get you out into your car and get it warmed up and cleaned up. You can wait in the truck while I clean the windows. It’s been running for an hour now, so it will be warm.”
“I can’t let you clean my windows for me. At least let me help.”
“Nope, wouldn’t hear of it. Now, give me those keys again, and you go get in that truck right behind you, but be careful, the step may be a little slick.”
She watched as he cleaned the snow and ice from her car. When he had them all cleaned, he came back to his truck and helped her out. When her feet were on the ground, she stood on her tiptoes and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you, again, Nila, for being such a sweet, kind gentleman.”
“You’re welcome, and thank you for being such lovely company last night and this morning. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful woman to spend the night with me. And I behaved myself.”
Teddy giggled, and said, “I’m sure you behave yourself at all times.”
“You would be wrong, Teddy. Now, I need to get back on the road, and you need to be extremely careful out there. Which direction are you going?”
“I’m heading south”, she said.
“I’m going north, so I won’t be able to keep an eye on you, but I’ll radio some buddies and tell them to keep an eye out for the lady in the white Toyota. “
“If we ever get the chance to meet again, Nila, I would enjoy it greatly.”
“I would enjoy it also, Teddy. You are wonderful company, and I am glad we got the chance to know one another.”
“You be careful out there, Nila, I want to see you again sometime.”
“I’m looking forward to it, Teddy.”
Before she turned to get in her car, she reached up and gave him a hug and a kiss to the cheek. He hugged her back and kissed her cheek also. He opened the door of her car and held it for her as she got in. He closed the door behind her, and she rolled the window down and told him again to be careful. He waved to her as she pulled slowly from the parking lot and headed south. He walked back to his truck, climbed in and headed north. As he drove along, he kept in touch with his buddies heading south, who were keeping a close eye on the little white Toyota with a Teddy Bear behind the wheel.