The pizza hadn’t even arrived yet when Tripp walked back in the door. I had been sure he was going to screw a stranger. “You’re back?”
He shrugged. “I decided I’d rather have pizza instead of a beer.”
Something was up. He wouldn’t rather have had pizza than get laid. Tripp was a bit of a man-whore. I had figured this out pretty fast. Women liked him and he liked them right back—for about two or three hours, then he was gone.
“Why are you really back? You never choose pizza over . . . beer.”
A crooked grin tugged at his lips and he shifted his gaze over to me. “By the way you just said beer, I’m going to assume you know what I’m normally up to when I step out for a drink.”
I rolled my eyes. “Uh, yeah.”
Tripp sank down on the edge of the other bed. “Well, tonight I was thinking about something and I thought we might need to talk more than I needed a beer.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond to that so I just waited.
The knock on the door stopped him from going any farther.
“Pizza,” he said, standing up and going to pay for the pizza. I had also ordered a two-liter soda. It wasn’t beer but it came with the special.
I watched as he set the pizza down on my bed and grabbed the two plastic glasses by the ice bucket and fixed us a drink. I had been thinking we needed to talk, too, I just wasn’t sure when we would get the chance. Before we got any farther away from South Carolina, I planned on telling him we should go there.
“Meat lover’s. It’s like you knew I was coming back,” he said.
“No. The special tonight was a large meat lover’s and a two-liter soda for fifteen dollars. I went with the special.”
“Lucky me,” he replied.
“Talk, Tripp. I want to know what’s more important than beer.”
Tripp let out a small chuckle and took a drink of his soda. Then he settled his green eyes on me. “Impatient, aren’t you.”
I didn’t reply. I just raised my eyebrows to let him know I was still waiting.
“We need to go back to South Carolina. I need to get back to my job and I can get you hooked up with a job, too. I have a place there and it will be good for you to stay in one place longer than a day and think about stuff.”
Not what I had been expecting him to say.
“Okay,” I replied.
He stopped chewing. “‘Okay’? Just like that?”
I nodded. “Yeah, just like that.”
He finished chewing his bite of pizza and swallowed. “Why do you always surprise me? All the damn time? You’d think I would be used to it by now.”
I took another bite of my pizza and shrugged. I hadn’t realized I was going to be so easygoing about it either. I wasn’t going to stay there permanently, of course, but I could work there awhile and save up some money. Then I would hit the road again.
“There is one thing I want to do first,” I told him.
“Go through Georgia and see my best friend, Braden, and her husband, Kent. I haven’t seen them in a while and I’d like to stay at their house for a couple of days.”
Tripp nodded. “Sounds good. I can get a place at a hotel in town and you can stay with them.”
“They would be happy for you to stay with them, too,” I assured him.
Tripp smirked. “Yeah, well, that sounds nice but honestly, I could really use a couple of nights to have some . . . beer.”
The small bubble of laughter was fast and unexpected. Tripp’s smirk turned into a pleased grin, and I laughed for the first time since I’d left Rosemary.
Later that night, I had just started to fall asleep when I heard Tripp get up and walk to the bathroom. I thought he was going to take a shower but I heard him talking to someone. Who would he be calling after midnight? Then I heard my name.
I eased out of bed quietly and tiptoed close enough so I could hear what he was saying.
“She wants to stop by her friend’s house in Georgia first. . . . Yeah. . . . I said yes. Damn. . . . Near Myrtle Beach. It’s safe. I swear. . . . Probably need some more, yeah. . . . I’ll call you. . . . I said I would call you. Go to sleep.”
I hurried back over to the bed and crawled back in. Who had he been talking too? Was there a girl back where he lived? Had he left someone behind to come help me? No. That couldn’t be it. He slept with too many women. Maybe it was just a friend.
“Della?” Tripp’s voice surprised me and I almost responded. Then I realized he was checking to make sure I was asleep. I didn’t say anything.
It must have been a friend of his wondering when he’d be home. But the “safe” comment—that was weird. I closed my eyes and decided to let the exhaustion take me. I would think about this tomorrow.