“This is nice.” We had left Hidden Springs three hours earlier and my comment had finally broken the unspoken silence that had been hanging in the car like a dense fog. Tuck had insisted on driving, his hands grabbing the wheel tightly, arms straight out, eyes focused on the road, and expression strained. It boggled my mind how the person you knew better than anyone else could become a complete stranger in a matter of years. I thought that was something that happened to other couples. But not us. We were solid. Weren't we?
He finally rewarded me with a small smile. “Yeah.”
I'm not sure when exactly it had happened, but we had drifted apart. Somewhere between Conner being born and now, we had somehow ceased to become lovers and transformed into roommates. Many nights, I would wake up to comfort a crying baby and my husband's side of the bed would be empty. Was he having an affair? I would hold him, as if willing him to come back to me, but he stood in my arms, with a rigidity that was completely devoid of any emotion or affection.
Maybe the stress of another child was putting more pressure on him to work more. I was overjoyed when I found out I was pregnant with Josie and had planned on going back to college when she was old enough for preschool. Tuck soon began working longer hours, coming home later and later. A small kernel of suspicion had begun to fester in my mind. The garage closed at seven o' clock on the weekdays. When I asked him, he told me he had started making house calls for the extra money. But surely people do not need their oil changed at two in the morning.
His refusal to account for his whereabouts began to drive me mad. I searched his pockets, hoping to find hotel receipts, condoms. I started smelling his clothes, desperate for a whiff of perfume, but could only detect deodorant and a faint hint of motor oil. I'm not proud to admit this, but when those trails turned cold, I placed a few calls to Yume No Shima, to see if Kimmie or Zane would divulge anything. I'm sure I must have sounded like a raving lunatic, but they both reassured me that Tuck loved me and that everything would be okay. No, everything was not okay. I wanted my husband back.
When Tuck had first suggested the trip to Lucky Palms, I had flat out refused. First of all, who would take care of our babies? That had bought me a little time, until he came home one day and announced that our regular babysitter, Megan could watch Conner and Josie the following week. I had fretted that such an extravagant trip would cost too much but those fears were also soon quieted. Tuck had accumulated quite a bit of vacation time in the past few years and he apparently had been saving a decent amount of money between overtime in the shop and the house calls. I finally broke a week ago, when he had grabbed me by the shoulders and looked deep into my eyes.
“C'mon, Ramona. I know things between us haven't been good for a minute, but I miss you. And I know you miss me, too.”
At this, I had finally caved, and with that, packed my bags and prepared for a week in Lucky Palms.
* * * * * * * *
"What do you think?" Tuck gestured to the tiny room that would be our home for the next few days. We were staying at the Salty Springs Resort. It wasn't a five-star hotel by any means, but it was clean and we were together.
"It's perfect," I said, staring up at him. And it was. I had my husband for the next seven days. We could have been staying in a cardboard box for all I cared.
"Damn straight it is," he whispered, brushing a stray lock of hair from my eyes.
And then he kissed me, and it was like we were teenagers all over again, with the entire world before us.
* * * * * * * *
After we had broken the bed in properly and gotten cleaned up, we set out for some sightseeing. There was a SimFest at Performance Park...
then we got massages at Silver Swallow Day Spa...
and ended the day at Diamondback's.
* * * * * * * *
Tuck and I wandered the city hand-in-hand, taking everything in. Every morning we made love and then set out, something different to do every day. We had been in Lucky Palms for almost three days when suddenly, our paradise was turned completely upside down.
"Baby," Tuck said, "I think someone's at the door."
"I'm closest," I told him, standing up. "I'll get it."
But the face on the other side of the door belonged to the last person I would expect.
"Good evening, MRS. Whitney," Jay Caldwell smirked. "I'm here to see Tucker."
"Of-of course," I stammered, stepping back so Jay could come in. "He's just relaxing."
He sneered at that. "I'm sure he's been doing a lot of that lately."
Tuck had stood up as soon as he heard Jay's voice. He walked over to them, acknowledging Jay with a slight head nod. "If you excuse us Ramona, I believe we have a few things to discuss." And with that, he walked out of the bungalow, with Jay close on his heels.
* * * * * * * *
They walked to the recreation room in silence. Tuck hadn't been a bit surprised to see his boss. But stopping in like that just would not do. What was Ramona thinking? Did she suspect anything?
The two men sat down and stared at each other. Jay was the first to speak. "I'm willing to bet you's can't smoke in here, yeah?"
Tuck shook his head.
"Cuz I got one hell of a migraine," Jay grumbled.
"So what do you want?" demanded Tuck. "What was so fucking important that you had to show up to the resort and disturb my wife?"
"Ooh, flex like that again," snickered Jay. "Have you's been working out? You're looking pretty jacked."
Tuck ground his teeth. "Just get to the fucking point, Jay. Ramona's got to be wondering what's going on."
"You're so busy playing house, you forget the real reason you're here. Don't you's remember, TUCK? Dante Savaglio, that name ring a bell? What the fuck, man?!" exploded Jay.
"I'm sorry! We just had another kid, work's been keeping me late and then I have to go run your shit. I got Ramona out here and it's been so long since we could talk without biting each other's heads off. It just felt so good to be with her."
"I always knew that bitch would get in the way," complained Jay. "Okay, straight up, you's gotta meet him. Tomorrow night. Lucky Palms Casino. You's can bring Ramona. She can entertain Savaglio's broad."
"So everything depends on tomorrow night."
"Yeah, so don't be fucking it up. We're about to hit it big."
Tuck sighed. "Fine. We'll be there."