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An Offer He Can't Refuse

Dave Horton

An Offer He Can't Refuse

another Mike Claymore Mystery: Carlyle





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80331 Munich

Chapter 1 July 7th

Ode to Mike's Blue Beast

Out of the mists late one night, she came to haunt my dreams. 
     She showed me pleasures and passions beyond my wildest dreams. 
     I struggled in her depths, hard and long, a welling up and a birth, 
     I would never be the same, changed forever on this earth. 
     And now she's come to rule my life, my tower, my fate, my berth. 
     My bright and shining, fire breathing, smoke belching Kenworth.

A novel by David Horton

Copyright 2000

 

 

 

Chapter 1 July 7th

 

It’s hard to believe that Sam will be a year old in two weeks. Mike ponders over the last year as he watches his daughter sleeping peacefully in her crib. It’s five am and the morning sky is bright through the bedroom window. He smiles at the shadowy forms in the bed he has so recently vacated. He inspects his other daughter in her smaller crib. Emma is seven months now.

In the bed sleeps Mike’s wife, Marlene and his mistress, Trudy. Shannon or Sam as they affectionately call her is Trudy’s daughter and Emma is Marlene’s. Marlene is the 31 year statuesque brunette who measures up to within a few inches of Mike’s six foot one while Trudy is a diminutive five foot 22 year old vivacious blonde bombshell.

Mike is dressed for work as he slips from the room stopping a moment to peek in his son’s room. Rick is 12 now and has the native cast and nature of his father. He is also growing up tall like his metis father. He is Mike’s pride and joy, his first born and only son with the possible exception of a sickly child born to Nina, an ex-friend’s wife. Mike doesn’t think of him often.

Next a quick peek in on his daughters, Shelly and Jan. Shelly will be 10 in two weeks as well, while Jan is 8 years old. A third head in the bed is Trudy’s other daughter, Crystal who is 7 years old. He smiles as he regards their sleeping heads then goes on down the stairs. He pours himself a tall glass of orange juice and gulps it down while looking at the clock. The eastern sky is turning to gold as the sun is trying to clear the mountains east of Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia (BC), Canada. Mike sees the sky out of the kitchen window. It galvanizes him to collect his briefcase and bedding by the side door landing and head out to his car in the driveway.

He decides to enjoy the clear cool air this morning so he lowers the top on his ’69 Candy Apple red Mustang while it purrs warming up. He walks around his vehicle inspecting any new scratches or possible rust spots as well as the condition of his tires. Satisfied he sinks behind the wheel and backs out onto Marshal Road watching carefully for any traffic. Instead of the freeway to Port Coquitlam (Poco) he decides to take the route north of the Fraser River so he heads for the Abby-Mission Highway.

With the wind blowing his hair he finds the traffic light this early in the morning and allows his thoughts to examine this last weekend. They had spent the weekend in their trailer out at Sunny Meadows nudist retreat and even though it rained part of Sunday had a good time. Marlene and Trudy had got on so well all weekend that Marlene insisted she stay the night instead of making the run back home to Chilliwack. Mike was happy to spend one more night with his two favourite ladies.

Trudy’s new housekeeper, Anna was working out well so now they would have a chance to see how she handles things in Trudy’s absence this morning. He knows the employees will call his house in Abbotsford if they have problems. He and Trudy are partners in the security firm of Mike Claymore Security Investigations. They operate the Chilliwack office from their home on Clarke Drive in Chilliwack. As well as his Abbotsford head office at his home he also has a Langley office operated by a team that have worked for him some time. He continues to drive truck part time because he loves it and because of the freedom it allows him to unwind while on runs throughout BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Kamloops and Sicamous is where he is heading this Monday morning.

Meanwhile the house back on Marshal Road is quiet and the two forms in his bed shift restlessly. Trudy attempts in her sleep to snuggle back against Mike, as she is accustomed to do spooning her back against his chest. Marlene stirs in her sleep and throws a leg over her as she does with Mike slipping her arm over Trudy. Trudy snuggles back to her and stirs at the unfamiliar shape. She awakens and struggles to get free of Marlene’s leg and arm.

“Hey, stop that! Marlene, wake up!”

Marlene opens one eye, “Oh, he’s gone, isn’t he?” She flops on her back.

“Yeah, it looks like it. Did you wake up when he got up?”

Marlene stretches, “Uh huh, I vaguely remember him kissing me when he moved my leg off him.”

“Gee, you got a kiss. I didn’t.” She sounds despondent.

“Ha! I saw you guys when I was up nursing Emma in the night. You got a lot more than a kiss!”

Trudy’s face breaks into a bright smile. “I sure did! He was so slow and gentle with me. It was fantastic!”

“Oh, shut up!” Marlene bounces up out of the bed and heads for the washroom. Trudy snuggles down into the blankets with the smile fixed on her face. After a minute or two of reminiscing in her mind she slides out of the bed to check on her daughter. She pulls the blanket up around Shannon’s chin and whispers, “Sleep sound, Sam.” She glances in on Emma next to make sure she’s okay.

She grabs her robe and throws it over her shoulders on her way to the bathroom. She pushes open the door saying, “Are you going to be long?”

Marlene is standing nude in front of the full-length mirror on a white bathmat with one arm up over her head. She is working with a Lady Schick electric razor under her arm as she watches in the mirror. “I won’t be long.”

Trudy watches her, “Marlene, does Mike object to body hair? Have you noticed what Mike likes best?”

“He hasn’t complained about this.” She continues shaving under her arm.

“I never had to shave my armpits. See how light and fine the hair is there.” Looking at her in the mirror Marlene nods. Trudy goes on, “I think he likes that but I’m not sure down around my pussy. How do you do yours? It looks natural and so striking, the black on white.” Trudy is looking down in the mirror.

Marlene thinks about it as she works under her arm. “I remember when I had Rick they shaved me and I decided then to not go through that again.” She giggles, “Mike thought a shaved pussy was a hoot but I don’t think he liked it in the long run. I let it grow back in but keep it trimmed. I keep the area around the lips shaved and trim the bush to keep it neat. I try to retain the original triangular shape but soften the points.”

“It looks like a natural triangle.”

Marlene chuckles, “You should see Janine’s. Her auburn bush is thick and wavy. She trims it into a perfect triangle but I noticed she has it shaved around her vulva. She says she doesn’t like a lot of hair down against her lips. That’s how I feel, too.”

“I have this fuzzy bush so I trim it but there is some around my lips.” She parts the soft golden nest. “Maybe I should trim that a bit more. I like the feel when Mike slides in it.”

“Yours is like a halo.” She reaches way down and touches her between her anus and her vulva. “It wouldn’t hurt to trim or shave it back there.”

“How do you reach that?”

“I sit in front of the mirror and stretch one leg out.” She demonstrates sitting on the mat. “See, you can bend the other leg like this and spread them. It not only allows you to see better but also it taunts up the skin for shaving.” She runs her fingers in that area. “Hmm, feels a bit stubbly.” She uses the Lady Schick.

“I never used an electric razor. I use Mike’s if he doesn’t catch me when we’re on the road.” She laughs, “Don’t tell him!”

Marlene shakes her head as she works the razor over the flesh.

“It started one time when he was shaving in the sleeper. He lathered me up with his shaving cream and used his safety razor to clean up some of the fuzz between holes. We were joking around but it worked really well so…” she shrugs.

Marlene brushes her hand over Trudy’s bush. “It’s so fine and light it looks just like a golden crown.”

“I use disposable safety razors to make it oval… well, more egg shaped and then trim it so it doesn’t get too long. Does it look natural?”

Marlene pulls back and inspects her. “Uh huh, it does look natural for you. I think it makes you look younger down here.” She hesitates then adds, “It’s even hard to tell you’ve had children. Your whole pussy looks small. Mike likes that, eh?”

“You mean because I’m tight?”

“Shit, I can make it tight for him!”

“Marlene, it gets bigger when he gets me excited. It feels like a flower opening up for him. The lips pout out heavily and they get longer, too. After we have sex it is nearly twice as big.”

“Mine does that, too. I guess it comes with age. Mine doesn’t close up so much between times. See, my labia are heavy now and very sensitive. I like to rub them on him when we sleep at night. We wake up all juicy and ready to go.” She laughs as she lightly rubs the lips.

“Do you do that when you’re sleeping?” Marlene nods. Trudy asks, “Doesn’t it wake him up?”

“I do it in my sleep so I don’t know. I don’t think so. He’s never complained.” They both laugh.

Bending over her Trudy tentatively places her hand on Marlene’s pubic hair. “It seems to be wiry, sort of soft and springy.” She parts the hair and brushes over the lips. “Do you get wet easy, too?”

Marlene grins, “Put a finger in and find out!”

Trudy grins, “Should I?”

“It won’t bite you.”

Trudy slips a finger between the outer lips. “Mmm, it is getting wet. How come?”

Marlene slips her hand up sliding the palm under Trudy’s vulva wiping it and brings it forward. She shows Trudy, “How come?” She laughs lightly and slides the arm up around her hips drawing her closer. She kisses the flesh inside her thighs and looks up at her.

Trudy smiles in surprise, “Oh Marlene!”

Marlene licks her thigh and then kisses her crowning bush. “Haven’t you ever done this?” She licks Trudy’s labial lips slowly.

Trudy trembles and says in a quavering voice, “Not since I was a kid.” She opens her legs a little more for her. “Oh God!” She runs her hands through Marlene’s hair. “Oh! Oh!”

Marlene is licking her inner lips and now licking around her clitoris as well. Her hand on Trudy’s hip pulls Trudy down beside her. Trudy experimentally pats Marlene’s springy bush then moves to touch the lips that quiver and part with welling up juices. “Oh, you are wet!” She shivers, “Oh Marlene! Touch it or do something! I’m going to explode!” She kisses the hot wet lips in front of her and Marlene eases them to her as she plays her tongue over the hard bud. Trudy moans as she burrows with her tongue to find Marlene’s clitoris. Marlene moves her hips to help her.

She clamps her thighs on Trudy’s golden head, “That’s it! Lick it, little one! Oh yes!” She raises herself up on her knees and wiggles Trudy’s clitoris with her tongue. She has to hump her back so Trudy can lick her because of the difference in height. Trudy is licking frantically now and she can’t hold her bottom still.

Marlene eases up and licks her thighs letting Trudy bring her closer to her orgasm. She can feel it building and she knows Trudy is very close, too. She kisses her knees and down to her vulva again. She feels her hips swaying with Trudy’s movements and she can feel Trudy’s arms around her thighs.

Trudy pushes up arching her back to open herself fully to Marlene’s mouth. She moans and sucks on Marlene’s prominent hard clitoris making her cry out. She slips her tongue inside Marlene licking and feels her shaking.

Marlene feels Trudy inside her and knows she has to lick her clit again now. Her tongue finds it and she licks it. She rolls sideways drawing Trudy with her and crying out as she feels spasms overtaking her. Trudy moves quickly on all fours to find her mouth and kiss her as she jambs one leg between Marlene’s to rub her vulva on Marlene’s. Mashing the two together they ride the orgasms kissing and fondling each other.

Lazily Marlene whispers, “I see yours does get bigger when you’re excited; a lot bigger!”

“Oh Marlene, what would Mike say?” Trudy looks guilty.

“Don’t worry little one. He would urge us on. He did Janine and I on the Alaska cruise.” She smiles.

“He saw you?”

She laughs, “He was in bed with us.”

They fondle each other’s breasts and nipples each knowing better than any man could what the other needs.

Mike is between Mission and Port Coquitlam (Poco) driving on the Lougheed Highway north of the river. He is heading west and swings off just short of Poco on the Mary Hill By-pass for a few blocks to Kingsway. West again on Kingsway he continues passed a few warehouse shipping yards to the Canadian Pacific Express and Transport (CPX) shipping yard.

As he pulls in the lot he can see his tractor near the back of the yard. He pulls through the parking lot into the yard itself and drives back between the garage and warehouse to the tractors lined up by the back fence. The sun is up now and everything is steaming where it’s rays touch dewy surfaces. He pulls in by the high boxlike K100 Kenworth with the luxury sleeper, his steed on ten wheels.

Climbing the ladder to the cab he tosses in his bedding and briefcase before dropping back to the ground. Circling the truck he checks tires and looks for liquid leakages. He tightens the bleeder valve on the air pressure line. Satisfied he climbs again to the cab and enters.

He drops into the air ride seat and slips the last garage inspection sheet off the dash. He smiles as he turns the key. Pushing on the clutch and lightly placing his right foot on the accelerator he thumbs the starter button. It spins over cranked by the giant twin batteries far under his seat providing 24 volts of power. Then it catches and the cab rocks with the explosions in cylinders below. Rough at first it barks and rumbles throwing out a huge pall of black smoke that hovers and wafts away across the yard. Mike smiles at the sound. He sets the throttle on the dash and eases his clutch foot up checking at the same time by touch that it’s out of gear.

Patiently watching his instruments he waits until the sound of the engine smoothes out then eases the throttle back. He pushes the door open farther and climbs back down to the ground waving at another driver that arrives down the line. She waves back as she goes to her Mack. He can’t remember her name but he knows she’s a city deliveries driver. He drives back to the parking lot and parks the car.

Walking back to the gate he stops to chat with the Commissionaire on duty. He tells Mike of any road hazards reported by other drivers coming in during the night. Mike heads for his rig when he sees the Mack backing up to her load in the outgoing line up. He flips his jacket over his shoulder and soaks up some of the early morning rays as he ambles across the yard.

Back behind the wheel he again scans his instruments before letting out the clutch and scooting across the yard in a series of shifts. He brakes at the door to the terminal and gets down again. Upstairs in dispatch he looks over his bills. One long box to Kamloops then bob tail to Sicamous and pick up two pups. He calculates four hours to Kamloops, two more to Sicamous and six back plus stops for lunch and hook ups: about fourteen hours over all. He thinks he might stop in Kamloops or Merritt on his way back to rest.

Jerry, the dispatcher asks, “Have you got your bedding with you?”

“Yep, always do.”

“Those two in Sicamous may not both be there. You might have to go up to Golden for one or wait there for it to get in.”

“Okay. I was thinking of a stop in Merritt on my way back anyway. See you tomorrow.” Jerry waves at him as he leaves for downstairs. He gets a sandwich and chocolate milk from food machines in the lunchroom. Then he climbs up the ladder to his perch and rolls out around the yard to back up to his load. Once hooked up and fuelled up he pulls out the gate onto Kingsway waving at the Commissionaire.

At the lights he turns west on the Mary Hill By-pass and follows it around towards the freeway. He looks across the fields at the old mental hospital and wonders if they are shooting X-Files over there again today. Then his attention is brought to traffic entering the freeway. He melds in with eastbound traffic and shifts gears fast to stay with the other vehicles climbing to the center of the span over the Fraser River.

Rolling and shifting up on the far side of the center he gets ready to gear down on the hill on the other side. He rolls as fast as he can coming off the bridge and starting the climb. Soon black smoke is trailing him in swirls as he gears down for more power climbing up through Surrey. At the top of the hill there is not much sense in gearing up more than once since he is coming up on the public commercial weigh scales.

He rolls off the freeway and brakes hiss out as he pulls up to the scales. He advances axle after axle until he gets the wave to go ahead. Now he relaxes as again he melds into traffic. It’s light this morning going east but already the westbound lanes are starting to fill with rush hour traffic heading into Vancouver.

He glances at his watch and decides the ladies should be up and getting the kids off to their day’s activities. He dials his cell phone and greets Marlene after only one ring. “Hi love, has Trudy gone yet?”

“Hey lover, where are you?”

“Just coming up on the Game Farm near the Langley exit.”

“Any changes to your orders?”

“Not much. Jerry says he’s not sure if both pups will be in Sicamous when I get there so I may have to wait for them. I’ll still likely be home for supper tomorrow.”

“Okay, Emma’s fussing. Have to go.”

“Hey, what about Trudy?”

“She left. I’m not sure if she will be home yet or not. Bye. Love ya.”

“Love you, love.” He dials Trudy’s cell number.

“Hey, where you at love?”

“In the bank in Chilliwack. I had to stop on my way home. Did you give me all the cheques you had?”

“Yes I did. Are we broke?” He chuckles.

“No, silly. I just wanted to make sure they are all deposited before you or Marlene makes out a cheque on the business account. It’s easy enough to get mixed up as it is. When will you be back?”

“Tomorrow after lunch, I figure.”

“Okay, take it easy and stay away from the wildlife. You know what I mean, the ones in the truck stops.”

“Trudy, you are a suspicious woman.”

“I sure am. It’s because I know you.”

“Take care love.”

“You too, darling. Love you.”

“I love you, too.” He punches ‘end’ as he sees Abbotsford’s first exit ahead. He mulls over in his mind with whom he might like to spend the night and dials Veronica Summerfield in Agassis. It has been about three months since he last saw her. She enjoyed their first run to Calgary and on into Saskatchewan last time. He enjoys the thoughts of her in the sleeper with him tonight.

A sleepy voice says, “Good morning.”

“Veronica? It’s Mike.”

“Who?”

“Your truck driver prince.”

“Oh my God, hang on!” In a few minutes he hears, “Mike! Are you there?”

“Yep, right here love.”

She whispers, “Marv was beside me on the bed getting dressed. What’s up?”

“Is Marv your prison guard boyfriend?”

“Yes… didn’t I tell you his name? It’s actually Marvin.”

“I don’t think you did. Want to go on a run with me?”

“Yes!”

Mike looks askance at the phone, “I didn’t say how long or where yet.”

“Okay, how long? Where?”

“Just overnight. Kamloops, Sicamous and back home.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

“I’m by Chilliwack on the freeway. Do you have time to get ready?”

“I’ll meet you out by Bridal Falls.”

“Uh, I’ll be there in about half an hour. Can you make it?”

“Yep, but wait for me if I’m late. See you.”

Mike hears the dial tone. He clicks ‘end’ and puts the cell phone in the charger. He thinks back on her physical attributes: brunette with green eyes and very white complexion, born of Kurdish parents from Armenia, not too experienced with men and easily blushes all over. He’s happy he caught her home.

The flat fields of the valley give way to rolling highway after Mike passes Chilliwack and he is soon busy shifting gears up and down in hilly conditions. He seldom checks the tachometer as he shifts relying more on his ears and the vibrations of his steed. Things level out a bit just passed Mount Cheam and it isn’t long before he sees the Kiddyland at Bedrock Village and just beyond Bridal Veil Falls. He signals for the Agassis exit and uses it to get on the access road to the falls.

He doesn’t see her and doesn’t know her car so he parks on the shoulder. Climbing down he uses this opportunity to check the trailer brakes and tires. He sees the older mint green Volvo station wagon pull in and park in the falls parking lot near him at the front. She waves frantically at him until he responds with a wave of his own.

She hauls an overnight bag out of the rear hatch of the wagon and comes over the curb running to him. She drops it and throws her arms around his neck. “Oh Mike, I’m so happy to see you!” She kisses him and he slides his arms around her holding her in the kiss longer. He lets her go and she is blushing scarlet as she gasps, “I thought you’d forgotten me! It’s been three long months. I have so much to tell you.”

Mike chuckles, “Okay, let’s get you up top first.” He gets her bag and takes it up to her door where he tosses it up on the console. He looks down and she is climbing behind him. He steps up and turns to give her a hand. When he pulls her inside she throws her arms around his neck again and brings her lips to his in a long passionate kiss.

He can feel the heat from her face on his and radiating through her clothes on his hands as her hot flush runs rampant. She pulls herself free and casts her eyes down.

Mike clears his throat as he pulls her door shut. He climbs over the console by going behind her seat and she follows to prop herself up on the console by him. He looks over at her car; “Are you sure you want to leave that there. It’s out front and easy for anyone to see.”

“It’s okay. Let’s go.”

He looks steady at her and she lowers her gaze turning red again. Then she peeks up at him with her broad grin and the two deep dimples in her cheeks show up spotted with freckles. “Well, let’s go!” she urges.

Mike selects a gear and they are soon rolling into traffic again. It is cool and shady here in the shadow of the mountain and the falls. It will be for quite a few miles. As they settle for the long haul Veronica can’t contain herself.

“Where have you been? I hoped you would call sooner.”

“I only haul on a part time basis and my wife does go with me some times. I haven’t had all that many longer hauls. You’ve been on my mind a lot though.”

“I wanted to tell you I’m going to have a baby. Isn’t that something?”

“You are? When did you find out?”

“I don’t think it’s yours, I think it’s Marv’s. The doctor thinks I’m two months but it could be three. In that case it might be ours.” Mike glances at her red face and then down her form. “No, it doesn’t show yet. I want it to be yours but I don’t think it is.”

Mike says nothing but minds his driving.

“Oh and I’m getting married. We haven’t set a date yet. We aren’t sure if we want to wait until after the baby is born or do it now. But he proposed and I said yes.”

Dryly Mike comments, “You’re full of news.” He glances and she is mildly blushing again.

She stretches, “I wanted to tell you right away but you didn’t call.”

“Veronica, we are only friends. Isn’t that what you agreed to?”

“You said you would always remember me.” Her voice is lower.

Mike places a hand on hers on the console, “I do remember you. I think of you often but I have a busy life.” He brings his hand back to the gearshift knob.

“I know you have a wife and a mistress. That’s a lot to think about.”

“And I have a security business to attend.”

“Yep and a new office in Langley.”

He looks quick at her, “How’d you know that?”

“It’s in the new phone book.”

“Oh.” He gears down as they start the grade up into the Coquihalla Pass. Traffic is still light and the four lane highway is in excellent condition so they make good time.

“Can I put my stuff with yours?” Mike nods with a smile.

She pulls her bag through the curtain behind the console and disappears with it. He studies the summer foliage as they climb higher in the pass. Near the summit the trees are full of blossoms. It is springtime up here for a very brief season. It’s getting quite warm in the cab and Mike undoes his shirt. He moves around in the seat wiggling to pull it out at the waist.

“Let me see if I can get it.” He feels her hand on his back and his shirt is pulled out of his pants at the back. He glances back with a smile. She smiles back and leaves her hand on his shoulder.

He notices she is in a light cotton top and shorts now. “You changed? Is it getting warm back there?”

“Warm enough it was making me sleepy. That’s why I came back up here.”

“I’ll turn on the air conditioning.” He fiddles with a knob and then an adjuster. He holds his hand over a vent and smiles. “It won’t get much hotter now.”

It actually starts to cool down as they climb and the air gets cooler outside. Soon they make the summit and Mike stops to check his brakes for the downhill run into Merritt. He circles the load checking tires and brake adjustments with her right behind him. She says, “Last time we were here it was snowing. Remember?”

“Last time we ran into a lot of snow.”

He boosts her back up the ladder to his door and she grins down at him as he follows. “Were you peeking up my shorts?”

“Uh huh,” he winks at her and she blushes.

Belligerently she says, “I don’t care. You can if you want.” She climbs on the console and Mike takes his seat. Soon they are descending and Mike is busy cautiously braking and using the backpressure of the Jake brake to slow them. On the level spots they get a break from the barking of the brake to chat. Mike checks his watch.

“We’ll be in Merritt by eleven. Do you want to stop for an early lunch?”

“Is Bambi still working there?”

Mike nods.

“Let’s skip it.” They look at each other and nod together laughing.

Mike says, “Kamloops for lunch then. It will be a little after twelve.”

She pipes up, “I’m buying.”

“No way.”

“I insist! You can buy supper.”

“Okay. You must be working more now.”

“I had a month steady with the RCMP. The receptionist had a baby. They offered me her job but I said no. I like it as a temp employee better.”

“I’m surprised you get that much work in a small town like Agassis.”

“I get called a lot to the prisons. We have both the minimum and the max you know.”

“I know. How do you like working there? I suppose with Marv at the max you enjoy working there?”

“It’s just a job.”

Mike is concentrating on the steeper grade now as they near the tollbooth and gears down using trailer brakes to come over a slight rise and roll towards the booth. He pulls in and shows the gal his company card. She registers the toll and he pulls away again.

As they start the downgrade again he checks the setting on the air conditioner. Veronica is back in the sleeper so he tries not to use the Jake brake as much. He knows it’s barking is loud in the cab. While wheeling along a ridge he spots the far buildings of Merritt in the distance. He feels her presence again and glances her way.

“Do you want some gum?”

Mike grins, “I don’t chew, I don’t smoke and I don’t drink much either. No bad habits! Well, hardly any.” He laughs.

“I know, none except me. How many ladies of the road do you have, Mike?” She sounds shy but resolute.

“A few.”

“That’s not a number. I know about Bambi. Who else?”

“Oh, three or four, I guess.”

“Smile if you’re lying.”

Mike can’t help but grin and she laughs. She persists, “Do you have anyone else in Merritt?” He shakes his head. “How about Kamloops?” He scratches his head. “Aha! You do have one there. What’s her name?”

He shrugs, “That’s Helen. She works on computers on her own but she’s pregnant now and running only with the guy she thinks is the daddy.”

“Could you be the daddy?”

“Naw, it was when I hadn’t been with her in quite a while.”

“Isn’t she on the pill?”

“She was when I was with her. I don’t know why she went off them.” He hadn’t thought of that.

“Anyone else in Kamloops?” He shakes his head. “How about Salmon Arm?” Again he shakes his head. “Vernon?”

“Nope.”

“Sicamous then?” Mike says nothing. “Aha! Caught you! Who is she?”

“Haven’t you got anything better to talk about?”

She rubs his arm: “Tell me! What’s her name?”

“Whose name?”

She slaps his arm, “Your lady in Sicamous.”

“Wanda.”

“Wanda, eh? Where do you see her?

“She works at the Husky Truck Stop. She’s head waitress on the night shift.”

“Hmm, she’ll be on when we get there. You tell her I’m your wife.”

“Can’t. She’s met my wife.”

“Will she tell her about me?”

“Nope, but she’s not going to be happy if she sees you.” He chuckles.

“Do you want me to stay in the truck?”

“Do you want to stay in the truck?”

She thinks about that. They fly by Merritt and start the upgrade along side a huge ranch. It goes on for miles as they drive the ridge overlooking it.

“I’m going in with you. You’re with me and she’ll have to respect that. Any more in Sicamous?”

“One other. She’s a real estate sales lady that meets me occasionally at the Husky. Yeah, and Wanda hates her guts!” He laughs. “So does my wife.”

“You live dangerous, don’t you? Your wife knows you had sex with her?”

“Not for sure but one night when we were in there she came in and was drunk. She did some heavy flirting with me and wouldn’t believe me that Marlene was my wife. My wife gave me a rough time in the truck after that and still mentions it when we are in Sicamous.”

“She knows then. Women can tell these things. What’s the lady’s name?”

“Mavis.”

“Okay, any more? I mean in Sicamous?” Mike shakes his head. “Well, that’s four counting me. How about Revelstoke? Oh yeah, and the Okanogan?”

“Which?”

She grins, “Okanogan.”

Mike shrugs, “Beatrice in Penticton. That’s it.”

“You’re sweet on her. I can tell. How about Revelstoke then?” He shakes his head. “Hmm, Golden?”

“My brother lives there.”

“No lady friends?” Mike says nothing. “Who is she?”

“Corrine.”

“That’s six! That’s a few? That’s half a dozen!” She shakes her head. “Hold on, you gave me her name too fast. Who else in golden?”

“You should get a job with the cops as an interrogator.”

“Don’t change the subject. Who is she?”

“She isn’t available any more.”

“How come?”

“She’s living with my brother. She’s his common law wife now.”

“Really? You’re still sweet on her though.”

Mike smiles, “Yeah, she has three kids by me.”

“Really? You got her pregnant three times? How come?”

“It was twice, she had twins the first time. It was actually two sets of twins but one miscarried. It’s twin died of SIDS after it was born and home a few months. She was pregnant with quadruplets. I foolishly got her pregnant again while she was nursing the twins.”

“God, it’s a good thing your brother rescued her from you.”

Mike shakes with silent laughter at her opinion. “At that time she was married to a friend of mine.”

“I guess that’s what friends are for, eh?”

“Don’t be too harsh in your judgement until you hear the full story. I caught my wife with him first. Her and I were just teaching them a lesson.”

“What a lesson! Is this where you’re dropping the trailer?”

Mike backs up to the dock in Kamloops. “Yep, I just drop it here and we go for lunch. You must be hungry by now.”

“Starved.” She makes a funny face as if dying.

“Be right back.” He goes to unhook the trailer and take in the bills. When he comes back she’s not in sight.

“Hey Veronica, are you back there?”

She pops her head out through the curtain, “Yep, have you dropped it?” Mike nods. “I stayed out of sight.” She points offhand to the corner of the windshield where the NO RIDERS sign is posted.

“Thanks. It’s the insurance company that insists on that. The company leaves it up to us but tells us not to get caught.” He pulls out of the yard and across town to the highway again. Heading east he watches for the Ponderosa and pulls off on the access road just before getting to it. He declares as they park, “Let’s eat!” He reaches for her hand and helps her down off the console.

When she comes outside she says, “Whew, it sure is hot here!” She clamours down ahead of him and waits for him. By the time they reach the restaurant she wipes sweat from her brow but as they step inside the air conditioning cools them again. “I never realized how hot it was out there. Your air conditioner works good in the truck.”

They both choose the salad bar for a light cool lunch. As they enjoy it she asks, “Does your wife run around on you a lot?”

Mike shakes his head, “She only did that because she was lonely. I’m away on the road a lot.”

“You forgave her, eh?”

Mike mulls that over. “I’m not sure it was necessary. She never asked me to forgive her and I never thought of it. I love her and she loves me. I do recall us saying we were sorry and such but I never felt she had betrayed our love. She was just lonely. We’re all human.”

“What a quaint way to think of it. What about the kids though? Do you ever see them?”

“Whenever I’m in Golden I try to stop.”

“Do they call you daddy?”

“Nope, my brother is their daddy. They call me father and I love them. I think they love me. I know they respect me.”

“How old are they?”

“The twins are two and my son is…” he peters out. “Let’s get out of here.”

She pays the bill and they go back out into the heat. She comments looking at the tractor, “It looks funny without a trailer on behind it.”

Mike checks that everything is secure on the fifth wheel and decking then climbs up to find her sitting on the console. He looks at his watch as he takes the seat behind the wheel. “We should be in Sicamous by four and back here by six or seven. I plan to stop back in Merritt for the night. It will be after dark by then.”

“That Bambi better keep her distance.” Mike looks and she is blushing again but looking determined. He pulls out onto the access road and at the corner on out onto the highway. He goes though the gears quickly getting them up to highway speed. She relaxes across the console resting her head on her hand.

“How do you know your wife isn’t out with someone today?”

“For one thing she has the children. We have a seven-month-old daughter as well as three in school. For another I trust her to not discard our love. That means even if she is with someone else she keeps me in her heart like I do her.”

“I have to think about that.” She says it seriously and Mike notices she appears to be actually thinking about it. After a while she asks, “What about your mistress?”

“What about her?”

“You love her, right?” Mike nods. “Isn’t that a betrayal of your love for your wife?”

Mike shakes his head. “When I make love to you then you are my world. Does that take something from my wife? I don’t think so.”

“But it’s cheating on her.”

“What am I cheating her out of?”

“Her trust.”

“How?”

“She trusts that you will reserve yourself for her only.”

“To the exclusion of whom?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, can I also love my mother or my siblings?”

“Sure. You know that!”

“How about her folks and siblings.”

“Don’t be silly! You’re evading the question. You don’t have sex with them!”

“Oh, so this is a question about sex, not trust?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, how does my having sex with you deprive my wife of sex? She’s not here to have sex with.” He grins, “Let me ask you a question. Did you enjoy that lunch we had?”

She regards him suspiciously, “Yeah, I enjoy fresh summery salads. I enjoyed it very much.”

“So did I!”

She grins and her dimples deepen, “All right, I know you didn’t deprive her of having lunch because we enjoyed it together. Is that what you’re saying?” Mike just grins. She insists, “But that’s not sexual intercourse.”

Innocently Mike asks, “Don’t you think I could enjoy a banquet of you?” She turns deep red and looks out the windscreen at the road ahead.

Finally she pleads, “Mike, I want to understand how you think. I want to ride with you after I get married. Hell, I’m going to but I want to know how to make it right!”

“If you feel guilty about it, don’t do it. It will only cause you heart ache.”

“How do you love both of them?”

“I have room in my heart to care for them and many others. Marlene is number one and Trudy a close second. My son is next, I suppose but all my kids have their place in my heart.”

“What about the one in Golden?”

“Nina too, most certainly and our children.” He expands on this. “When my son Michael died of SIDS it tore a piece out of my heart that can never be replaced. Only the sure knowledge that he is now with my mother on the other side keeps me going and the need others have for me helps.”

“So you love more than one woman?”

“Profoundly.”

“Good!” She mulls that over. “You know I love you and Marv. I do, I love you both and I don’t know how to explain it otherwise. It was bothering me. I want to marry him but I want you for my ‘mister’. Do you love me?”

Mike squirms, “I don’t know you that well yet. I care for you very much.”

“How do you care for me?” She is peering intently at him.

“I worry about your well being and I miss you when I don’t see you.”

She murmurs so he hardly hears her. “That’s good for a start.”

It’s after three when they roll through Salmon Arm. They are making good time without any trailer. Veronica has let her head slip down on her arm and fallen asleep. Mike drives with care to not disturb her. When they had come to Chase he had reached to adjust the air conditioner and when they get out passed Salmon Arm he shuts it down all together. Another twenty-five minutes and he is swinging into the Husky Service Center in Sicamous.

He has to cross the bumpy yard behind the service center to look over the trailers in the back lot. Veronica stretches her arms and smiles at him. He finds it hard to take his eyes off her smile. Among the short trailers called pups he finds the one he is looking for by the large numbers on the top front of them. He goes on looking for the other one but it’s not there.

Mike parks at the end of the row and keys his cell phone memory. He selects CPX TO and dials.

“Canadian Pacific Express and Transport, Otobico Office. Si vous desirey le service en Francais pressey doux maintenant. Can I help you?”

“Twenty-one, please.” He waits.

He hears, “Central Dispatch.”

“Mike Claymore in Sicamous, British Columbia. I have 2342 here but no 2817 yet. Any idea where it is?”

“Hang on, Mike.” Mike waits and makes funny faces at the phone to amuse Veronica. She giggles as she watches him.

“Mike? The transfer broke down just out of Golden. Calgary has another tractor out to bring it to you. Sit tight, it will be about three hours.” He hesitates, “It’s mountainous there, isn’t it? Better make that four hours.” Mike rolls his eyes.

“Okay central. I’ll be hunkered down until it gets here.” He puts the phone in the charger.

“Did you turn off the air conditioner?”

“Yep, about half an hour ago. Are you too warm?”

“Nope, just right. I didn’t feel the breeze from the vent. What do we do now?”

“We could go for an early supper.”

She nods, “Yeah or what?”

He grins and winks at her.

“Oh.” She looks at the curtain and turns red. She looks back at him with a broad grin and nods towards the sleeper.

Mike reaches out and takes her hand. He fondles it and lightly scratches her palm. By her crimson colour he knows she’s aware of what it means and her eyes sparkle. She nods again pulling him to her. He slides out of the seat and leans over her to kiss her. She pulls herself around so she can press her body up to his and her legs slip around his thighs. She whispers hoarsely, “We better go in the sleeper.”

She untangles her legs and slips back through the curtain holding it open for him. Mike follows and sits on the bed to take off his boots. She nudges him with her hand and turns away. He reaches up and undoes her bra for her. She turns back to him and holds the bra in place with one hand as she undoes her shorts with the other. Mike reaches for the light switch but she stops his hand.

“I want to see you, Mike. I want you to see me.” Mike can see her legs are red as her face. She grins her magic grin of dimples and sparkling eyes as she lowers the bra slowly. She kicks off the shorts then plays with the waistband on her sheer panties. She wiggles her hips and lowers the panties on one side then the other, then a bit more on each side then slips them down and kicks them away. She turns slowly for Mike’s inspection then asks, “Please hold me, Mike.”

He gets up and takes her in his arms. She places her head on his chest and presses herself to him. Her head comes up and her lips seek his. She mashes her hips to his and moves them to better feel his hard erection in his trousers. She leans back and Mike has to hold her from falling, as she undoes his shirt buttons. She spreads it open and undoes his belt buckle then the catch and zipper. She pushes his pants down passed his protruding shorts. She fondles him and comes forward to kiss him again. As they kiss her fingers insinuate themselves inside his shorts and she pushes them down over his hips and farther. She moves her arms around him pulling him to her, lifting one leg to slide him between hers and clings to him with lips locked to his.

“Oh,” she moans, “I forgot how big you are.”

Mike lifts her up and lays her on the bed. She gazes at him from head to toe and her eyes move slowly back to his erection. She reaches out to touch it then fondle it, her eyes following its pulsing jumps as she touches a sensitive spot. He leans over her and lets her play watching the gathering excitement in her eyes.

She whispers, “How can you keep from ejaculating? When I do that to Marv he blows his load.”

“Practice and control, I guess.” He discards pants and shorts.

“I’ve been trying to help him become a better lover. He can hold off until I come sometimes but I know it’s hard for him. I try to get him to do more foreplay but then I touch him and pop, he goes off.”

“All you can do then is take a rest and start over.”

“He says he can’t. He told me that no man could do that.” Her eyes twinkle, “I almost told him that you can.” She giggles and runs her finger over the head of his erection collecting fluid. She smears it over the throbbing head and more oozes out so she spreads that around, too. She becomes preoccupied with smearing it down the pulsing shaft then rolls her hand around it. She gets a dreamy look in her eyes as she slides her hand up to the tip and then down to his sac a few times. Mike grits his teeth and plays his fingers in her hair. She leans forward and kisses it then lays back for him to come to her.

Mike leans close to kiss her and his hands caress her body all over. He leans closer and places his knee by her hip. He kisses her eyelids gently and touches her nose with his lips. His hands find her breasts and knead them coming closer and closer to her nipples. He kisses her earlobe and takes it into his mouth to nibble lightly then kiss under it. She slowly twists her body to press hard against his knee. She moans deep in her throat as his fingers roll her nipples against his thumbs.

She squirms to try and get one leg passed his knee so she can get her legs around him while his lips cover hers again. She quickly lays back again as she feels his fingers playing over her inner thighs. Her breath comes in short pants as she feels his fingers rubbing her wet nether lips. She arches her back to his hand and he seeks her clitoris with slippery fingertips. She shudders and collapses then arches again to his touch. Relentlessly he teases with his fingertips between her legs until she gasps, “Mike! Oh Mike! Can’t stop! Oh! Oh!!” The last oh is drawn out.

Mike patiently sucks on a nipple and rubs her around her clitoris as he feels her let go. She shakes her head back and forth while arching up to him. She cries his name over and over. Mike eases up as she starts to calm down and lets her get her breath.

He stretches out on the bed beside her and holds her. After a while she whispers, “Oh Mike, that’s what I have to teach him. If he could do that for me I wouldn’t care if he came as soon as he got inside.”

Mike lifts her leg and pulls it up on his hip so he can rock her and rub her with his erection. She rocks with him and watches him. “Oh Mike, that feels so good. It would feel better inside though.”

“Patience, love.” He continues to rock her and rub her sometimes changing his hip position to slide over her opening and then back to rubbing her clitoris. He kisses her dimples and the bridge of her nose, then her chin and under her chin. He sees her mouth opening slackly and fire growing in her eyes as her breathing comes faster. He times it so that when she comes again he is ready to slip inside. Ever so slowly he presses in and pulls back to let her adjust then advances again.

She struggles to get on top of him and he holds her patiently advancing a little at a time as she opens to him. Finally she collapses in his arms and whimpers, “Please push!” she gasps, “Push it in!” Mike lets her get her breath and then rolls over on top of her. She wraps her legs up around him and he pushes against her cervix firmly but not too hard. He eases back and again forward to advance another half inch until he feels the blockage again. He pushes again and makes more progress. Once more ease back and push feeling her stretch in length to accommodate him. He’s all in. He holds it there feeling the harmony of being one with her. He slips his arms under her and blends with her holding her close. Their lips lock to each other and she squeezes him with her legs.

Slowly he starts to move in her and pulls all the way out to slide in deep again. She pushes her hips up to him. He slips back out again then drives in deep as she comes up to meet him. He sets up a rhythm of long steady strokes and she meets him thrust for thrust. He knows this will result in him coming quickly but now he doesn’t care. He only hopes he can hold out long enough to detect the tremors in her indicating she is coming with him. He reaches down to suck on a nipple and lets his fingers slide between them to rub her clitoris as the rhythm continues.

She shudders and he knows she is close. He relaxes and let’s the pressures build in him. Her legs squeeze his hips as she senses his building urgency and she increases the tempo thrusting up her hips faster. She looks up into his eyes and screams out his name throwing her arms around his head. In her she feels the dam break and she feels his hard push at the same time. She screams again gyrating her hips in frenzy. Mike holds her and empties his seed deep in her. He jerks with a secondary spasm and then a third before he feels drained.

He rolls to the side bringing her with him and stays buried in her. He smoothes her brow and kisses her forehead breathing in gasps. They cling to each other and slowly calm down breathing easier.

“Oh Mike, I love you heart and soul.”

“I love you too, my sweet one.”

“You’re just saying that.” She watches him. He nods agreement and kisses her. She muses, “I think you do love me right now after we’ve just made love together.” She kisses him. “But will you love me an hour from now?” He kisses her. She mumbles, “I doubt it.” She kisses him. “Do you want to go eat?” He kisses her and moves slowly inside her. Her eyes light up in surprise, “Oh yes!” She kisses him passionately.

Nearly an hour later they go for supper and they both have good appetites. She has both hands on his arm and walks with her head close to his as they cross the yard. She smiles at everything he says and agrees. In the café Mike surveys the room looking for a table in a quiet area. She clings to his arm and whispers, “I’m going to the little girl’s room to freshen up. Be right back.”

Mike points out the table they will use and she nods as she pulls away letting her hands trail on his arms before dropping them. She rushes away and Mike goes to the booth in the corner.

“Who’s that trollop?” It’s Wanda’s voice and Mike knows it without turning to look. “Don’t try to tell me that one’s your wife, too!”

“A delightful young lady that likes to ride with me named Veronica.”

She snorts, “Likes to ride you is more like it!”

Mike turns to face her. “Now Wanda, don’t be that way. She’s just out sightseeing with me.”

“Ha! I saw the besotted look on her face and those dreamy eyes filled with afterglow. I should know!” She tosses two menus on his table. “I saw your truck out there two hours ago, too!” She turns away and departs calling over her shoulder, “Coffee?”

Mike shakes his head and watches her leave in an agitated state. He opens the menu and tries to read it.

“Anything good and filling in there?” Veronica slides into the booth on the bench beside him moving her hip against his. Mike opens the menu letting her read it with him.

“I guess you don’t need two!” Wanda snatches the second menu from the table and takes it to a man at the counter.

Veronica whispers, “Is that Wanda?” Mike nods and studies the menu. “She seems upset. Is it me?” Mike looks around to see where she is and nods again. She speaks low, “Too damn bad!” and wraps her hands around his arm again perusing the menu with him.

Wanda comes back to the table all business like. “Have you decided what you want?”

Mike asks, “What’s the special?”

She says saucily, “Chef’s surprise.” She leans close, “It’s really Veal Parmesan with a side of spaghetti and meat sauce. It’s quite a platter.”

Mike’s eyes light up as he looks around Veronica, “That suits me to a tee. How about you, Veronica?”

She speaks to him rather then Wanda, “Darling, that suits me, too.”

Wanda glares at the back of her head. “And to drink?”

Mike holds up a finger, “Coffee but don’t bring it till I’m done eating.”

“I know that, Mike. What about her?” She stabs her pencil at the back of Veronica.

Veronica turns and says sweetly, “Just a glass of cold water, please.” She turns attentively back to Mike. Wanda makes a fist and shakes it behind Veronica’s head so Mike can see. She stomps off around the counter.

Veronica puts her head close to his and asks, “Are we still going to stop for the night?”

“I plan to get some rest back around Merritt.”

“Goody, we can cuddle up then. I want to wake in your arms like we did before on the prairies.”

Mike grins, “Did you leave your pyjamas home this time?”

Her face goes red as she says, “Uh huh.” She toys with the muscles in his forearm with one finger. “Marv thinks its uncivilized to sleep nude. He tried it but complained so I didn’t insist.”

“Maybe he feels cold without pjs. Try putting your leg and arm over him while he sleeps or even drape yourself on his side and sleep with your head on his chest. That might make it better for him.”

She nods, “I’ll try that but he likes to sleep over on his side and seems to want me to do the same. He works long shifts sometimes: lots of overtime. He gets real tired.”

“Well, give it a try on the weekend when he’s not so tired.”

Wanda slats a glass of water in front of Veronica spilling a few drops. “Spaghetti will be just a minute!” She leaves.

Veronica looks at the water indignantly, “Don’t bother leaving her a tip!” She uses her napkin to soak up the water and looks around for Wanda. She catches her glaring eye and calls, “Another serviette over here, please.”

Wanda tucks a napkin under her arm and picks up the two platters from the kitchen serving counter. She struts around to the table and puts the platters before them. She lifts the glass of water and swabs the bottom of it with the wet napkin then leaves the fresh one by Veronica’s plate. “Will there be anything else?”

Veronica sweetly says, “We’ll let you know.” In this way she dismisses the ill-mannered waitress and turns to her meal. If looks could kill Veronica would be curling up a crispy brown ash about then as Wanda turns away. Mike winches inside and turns to his supper as well.

All in all it’s a delicious enjoyable meal and they can’t help but compliment the cook in describing it to each other. They finish off with a dish of French Vanilla ice cream and coffee.

As they get up to leave Mike makes to leave a tip but Veronica scoops the bill up off the table and pushes it in his shirt pocket. “Don’t you dare leave her anything! She’s lucky I didn’t ask for the manager!”

Mike gives in to her but whispers, “She is the manager.”

They go to the till and Mike pays the bill. Veronica admires a display of figurines under the till in the glass case. She asks to see a small leprechaun sheltering under a toadstool and Wanda brings it out.

She’s delighted with it. “Darling, look how detailed it is. It’s almost lifelike.” She turns it up and stamped on the bottom is Sicamous Husky Service Center, Sicamous, B.C., Canada.

Mike asks, “Would you like to have it?”

She grins her dimpled best. “Would you buy it for me?”

“Done.”

Mike pays Wanda and she grudgingly admits, “You have good taste. I like that one the best, too.”

Veronica turns her smile on Wanda as they leave.

She clutches the small purchase in it’s box as she grasps his arm across the yard with her other hand. “I will always think of this day when I look at this elf. I will turn it up and think of you in Sicamous.” She giggles, “My own little Mike.”

“Mike!” It’s Wanda calling from the back door of the café. “Phone!”

Mike swears, “Damn! I left the cell phone in the truck. Be right back.” He trots back to the restaurant kitchen door and Wanda points to the phone on the counter off its hook. He picks it up and says, “Mike here.”

“Mike, it’s Peter in T.O. Will you find 3424 and take it to the coast instead of 2817. There’s more trouble on the road.”

“Nothing serious, I hope.”

“Burnt out axle on it. Damn flat tire caught fire and shredded. It’s in Golden at the Husky Center and Calgary is sending out a mechanic.”

“Okay, that’s three four two four, right?”

“You got it. Sorry for the delay. Good luck.”

“Thanks Peter, take care.”

He hangs up and Wanda places her hand on his ass running it slowly down his leg and up the inseam. “When you gonna be back?”

Mike grins, “Maybe next week. Behave and I’ll be here before you know it.” He gently removes her hand and goes out the back door.

She calls, “Alone, I hope!”

Mike waves as he heads across the lot watching the trailers for 3424. He spots it and notes it’s position in his mind.

“Was it your wife?” Veronica comes to meet him.

“No, central dispatch in Toronto. It’s in Otobico actually just out of Toronto. They gave me another trailer in place of the one that’s coming.”

“More trouble with it?”

“Yeah, it’s in Golden with fire damage from a flat that caught fire. It will be along in a few days when the mechanics get to it from Calgary.”

“Why don’t they get it fixed there?”

“CPX won’t pay to have anything fixed on the road if they can do it themselves. They sit in Toronto on flat land thousands of miles away and some young dispatcher out of college who has never seen the inside of a truck tells us how to drive. One fellow earlier asked me if it was mountainous here.” He laughs.

She goes up the ladder ahead of him and looks down with a grin as she flips her hips back to sway her skirt out for him so he can see her scantily clad bottom. She disappears inside with a giggle. Mike follows her and catches her behind his seat. He hauls her to him with one arm to kiss her and with the other he slides his hand deliberately up under her skirt to fondle her. She breaks from him laughing in sheer delight as he drops behind the wheel.

Before the sun sets Mike is back on the road with both pups behind. He climbs the grade out of Sicamous and Veronica looks out over one arm of the Shuswap Lake watching a houseboat. When they break around wooded mountain shoulders the setting sun turns the winding road ahead to strips of gold. Mike dons his darkest sunglasses and tips them up on his forehead in shade.

Twilight deepens and the low mountain ridges turn mauve as they near Salmon arm. Mike puts his sunglasses away and turns on clearance lights. In the deeper shade of mountain shadows they swoop down the hill at Chase and come out on the flats by the river rolling for Kamloops.

When they finally spot Kamloops it’s the lights of the city that give it away. The rush hour is long over so driving is easy and fast. Mike gears down quickly on the long grade around the city climbing to the plateau and the waiting commercial weigh scales. He pulls in behind two others and advances slowly until they get the high sign.

He notices the highway conditions sign reads “Coquihalla Pass in good condition. No construction delays”. He runs through the gears leaving his plume of invisible black smoke trailing behind in the night.

Veronica pours them coffee and asks him the time.

“A little after eight. We’ll be in Merritt by nine or nine-thirty.”

“It’s been a wonderful day, Mike. I love travelling with you.”

Mike takes a slurp from his coffee. “Don’t you get bored with the long miles?”

“Not with you.”

He knows she’s blushing. “Thanks for the coffee.”

On each upgrade cars stream by him in the fast lane but on the flat he can stay with traffic. He even manages to pass a few other trucks more heavily laden that him or with less power. He’s glad to see the far off lights of Merritt when they top a hill because fatigue is beginning to take its toll. He rolls his head and tenses the muscles in his shoulders to stretch them as they slide down the long low grade into the Nicola Valley.

They round a bluff and the lights of Merritt blaze across the foreground below them while the black on black shadows of the Coquihalla Pass loom in the background. Mike moves his hips in the seat stretching his legs as he yawns. “There she is! Merritt!”

“Oh, I see it.”

The lumbering behemoth with one flashing eye in the corner of many eyes penetrating the night moves from the slick highway over the concrete apron of the exit and descends on the quiet mountain town of Merritt. It roars into the yard of the truck stop breaking with hissing crashes that shatter the stillness of the night. Circling the yard it comes to rest at the end of the line up of other giants of the highway. It’s lights die in sets and all is quiet darkness except for the purr of idling diesel engines.

Mike takes her hand and lets her pull him behind her over the console into the sleeper. A dim light lights the interior and they undress each other in hushed quiet. He turns back the covers and she slides under them reaching for him. He flicks the switch casting them in darkness.

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