The Long Road Home(10)

By: H.D. Thomson

Clarisse opened her mouth, then closed it. What was the point of arguing? It was the truth.

John swung around and called over one shoulder. “Meet us out at the car at 7:00, and don’t be late. We’ve got a long way to go tomorrow.”

Her gaze narrowed at his retreating back. She’d kill Laura. Tonight, just for a second, she’d actually been mooning over him like some love-crazed teenager. Well, not again. She sank against the doorjamb. Oh, hell! Who was she trying to fool? John still retained the power to turn her mind and body into a quaking mass of need.


A steel clamp of pain banded around her thigh and calf, squeezing the muscles and tendons till she shot up from bed. After groping around for the lamp’s light switch, she found her pain pills on the nightstand and slipped from the covers.

She lurched to the bathroom, grimacing with each step. Even with a full glass of water, both pills felt like huge gritty stones going down her throat. Fully awake, Clarisse sighed and gave up the attempt to go back to sleep. She glanced at her watch. Not even one in the morning. It was going to be a very long night.

Craving chocolate and ice-cold soda, she snatched her silk housecoat draped over the nearby chair and shrugged into it. She found the ice bucket and opened the door.

In the brightly lit hallway, she remembered her key. Catching the door before it latched shut, she turned. Her gaze fell on a man and woman down the hall. The couple was plastered together in an intimate kiss. The pain in her leg and the craving for sugar vanished.

John stood with his back against the wall, one hand cupping Vivian’s shoulder. Vivian, her mouth fastened onto his, raked red nails into his thick, wavy hair and clutched him to her. Clarisse remained chained to the spot, her gaze locked on the couple. Her stomach twisted into a hard knot of pain.

With Vivian’s mouth still affixed to his, John opened the door and backed into their room. Wanting to remain unobserved, Clarisse stepped quietly into her own room and heard a feminine giggle. Disgusted, she closed her door. The sound of John and Vivian’s door closing immediately followed, vibrating through the hotel walls. John must have kicked it shut with a foot in his hurry to get to the bed.

Appetite gone, Clarisse locked the door and tossed her housecoat back on the chair, not caring if it fell to the floor. She sat on the double sized bed, stretched out her legs and leaned back against the headboard. So they were making love. What did she care? She was over John. It shouldn’t matter.

Through the wall, Clarisse heard voices, faint yet loud enough for her to distinguish between John and Vivian. She dragged in a lung full of air, blocking the sob that rose to her throat. She bit her lip and searched frantically for the remote control. When she found it on the nightstand, she turned on the television and increased the volume.

The television didn’t help. Her overly imaginative mind played out the scene in the adjacent room. Limbs entwined in a hungry embrace, questing hands roaming over sweat glistened bodies.

She remembered how she used to love to skim her fingertips over the large muscles of John’s chest and hover at the buckle of his belt until he sucked in his breath. The corded muscles of his stomach would contract and ripple in anticipation. She had reveled under his unmasked passion, feeling beautiful and every inch a woman.

She squeezed her eyes shut. A yearning for the touch of John’s hands and mouth surged through her body. She gasped aloud. What was wrong with her? Where was her self-control?

Determined to forget her feelings for John, she flipped through a late night talk show with guests she didn’t recognize, a rerun of a sitcom she had never liked, and a B movie of aliens and screaming humans. Disgusted, she turned the television off. Silence covered the room. Not even a whisper penetrated through the wall behind her head.

Clarisse slid under the covers, rested her head on a foam pillow and tried to sleep. The pills must have taken effect, for only a dull throb ran the length of her leg. Soon, the polyester covers and silk nightgown twisted around her waist and legs. After an hour, she gave up all attempts at sleep and found her book. But reading couldn’t soothe the restlessness racing through her mind and body.

Maybe playing a little solitaire would do the trick. She got up and retrieved a deck of cards from her purse. Shuffling them, she ignored the loneliness hovering over her shoulders. She’d been on her own for a number of years now. There were many times she enjoyed the peaceful, quiet moments away from the needs and expectations of others. But tonight was different. With John and his lover next door, with the constant intrusion of her imagination of their lovemaking, she found the silence a mocking, unwelcome visitor.