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The idea had been for Zoey to fly out of Logan Airport in Boston, and that way she and Lucas would have an extra three hours together while he drove her there, hours to fill with talking and laughter and tenderness.
That had been the idea, Zoey reminded herself. But it hadn't exactly worked out that way. Instead it was more like two people who wind up sitting next to each other on a bus, both secretly wanting to read their
paperbacks but feeling obligated to make conversation. Zoey supposed this was mainly her fault. It seemed like every sentence out of her mouth began with, "In Washington ...," or even worse, "In California...," and each time Lucas gave her a reproachful look.
And she wondered if Lucas really needed to be making a six-hour drive today, when tomorrow he would have to be up at dawn to work on the boat. She glanced at him. He had dark circles under his eyes, and his wonderful blond hair hung' lank and lifeless. Zoey sighed. This drive had been a bad idea, and now it was nearly over. They were only a mile or so from Logan Airport.
"So, um, listen," she said softly, touching Lucas's arm. "I'm sure Nina and Benjamin will -- will hang out with you a lot."
They passed a sign for the airport, and Lucas eased the car into the exit lane. "Great," he said under his breath. "When I go away, I'll be sure that you're babysat by my brother and my best friend:
"You don't have a brother," Zoey teased.
"Or a best friend," Lucas muttered.
Zoey swallowed and stared out the window. A minute later they were following the signs for departing flights. Zoey looked up in surprise as they passed a sip forshort-term parking.
"Don't you want to -- " she began.
Lucas pulled the car to such an abrupt halt at the curb that she had to brace her arm against the dashboard. He threw the car into park and unbuckled his seat belt.
"Don't you want to come inside?" Zoey asked. She hated the pleading tone in her voice, but she couldn't seem to stop herself.
Lucas was already out of the car, lifting her heavy suitcases onto the sidewalk.
"Lucas, my plane doesn't leave for another hour and a half," Zoey said.
Lucas slammed the trunk shut. "I know, but it's another three hours back for me," he said stonily.
Is this really Lucas? Zoey thought crazily. Is this really the person I love?
"Well, I -- if you think if you want -- " she floundered. She stood on the sidewalk next to her bags, amid the roar of cars, with frantic people rushing by her. A hot rush of exhaust fumes creased the cream-colored linen jacket she was wearing. She had chosen this outfit with so much care, wanting to look cool and sophisticated as she arrived in Washington and yet fresh and sexy when she said good-bye to Lucas. But A she felt now was hot and wrinkled-and abandoned.
"Lucas -- " she began again, but he merely bent his head and kissed her. And Zoey felt-even hurt and confused-the same thrill she felt every time he kissed her.
She tried to hold him. "I love you" she whispered.
A horn honked, and Lucas disengaged himself from her He gave her an awkward wave and got in the car Zoey watched in disbelief as he put the car in gear and drove out into the airport traffic. It wasn't possible. Lucas was leaving her, without spending the last-possible minute with her? Without saying he loved her?
"Hey, miss, you need help with those bags?"
Zoey turned. A porter was looking at her irritably.
"No, thanks," she murmured. "I can manage." She picked up a suitcase in each hand and began struggling forward. Not only were her suitcases incredibly heavy, she was having difficulty seeing through her tears. She stumbled and twisted her ankle in her stupid cream-colored pumps. The tears were flowing freely now
She felt someone tugging at one of her bags. The porter, she thought dismally, and I have no idea what to lip him, and he'll probably yell at me.
But it wasn't the porter, she realized suddenly. At least she hoped it wasn't, because he'd set down the bags and wrapped his arms around her from behind.
"I'm sorry," Lucas whispered into her hair. "I'm sorry, and I love you, too, and I'm just being selfish by not wanting you to go, and I would love to come into that airport and buy you a cup of coffee, and wait at the gate with you, and be the last person waving as your plane takes off."
"Lucas," Zoey whispered. She turned around andhugged him, kissing his neck. "Should I stay?"
He squeezed her tight for a moment. "No," he said at last. "You go, but come back to me."
"Oh, yes," Zoey said against his chest.
Lucas picked up both her suitcases in one hand -- I Must have really weak arms, Zoey thought -- and slipped his free hand around her waist.
"Come on," he said, leading her toward the glass doors. "Did I ever tell you about the time I sat next to this woman on a plane who offered me $175 to jump out of a cake at her bachelorette party?"
Zoey laughed. "Why $175?" she asked. "Why not just go up to two hundred dollars."
"She said I'd make more in tips." Lucas said with a straight face.
Zoey laughed harder and stood on tiptoe to kiss him. She wondered if it was possible to miss someone while you were still with them, before you even said goodbye...