The day she first saw him, it was early spring and too beautiful not to ride. Melanie Pritchard had been out on the trails riding her horse, Joey, and was on her way back up to the barn. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught movement, and followed it to the round pen. Someone was in there with Rogue.
Huh, she thought to herself. Who is that? It had been some time since anyone had tried to do anything with that horse. Good luck, mister. Rogue was a basket case. Melanie didn’t quite know what his problem was. Pressley had brought him back from the annual mustang round-up in Unadilla last year. He was beautiful; a dusty, wild looking dun, and the craziest thing she had ever known. Melanie herself was part of the line of failures in training him since he had arrived six months ago. She had barely managed to get a halter on him and considered it a major triumph.
Melanie watched with interest as Joey walked up the hill. The man was standing with Rogue and as she got closer her curiosity grew. When Joey reached the round pen, he stopped and snorted. His ears pricked forward; he was just as interested she was. The man turned to Melanie and caught her eyes as she leaned down and patted Joey’s neck. Her heart sped up and jumped into her throat. It wasn’t his attractiveness that did it. It was his eyes, something about his hazel eyes and the way he looked at her. Dark hair showed just underneath his cap. He was broad and muscular, and he was smiling at her.
“Hi,” she said simply, because it was literally all she could get out.
“Hello,” he returned, grinning at her. “Great day for a ride.”
“Hmmm...” Melanie answered, trying to get her brain to function. “So, are you the next lucky contestant to try to train Rogue?”
“You make it sound so enticing.”
“How long have you been working with him?”
“Oh, not that long,” He answered.
“How’s it going?” Melanie’s mouth felt dry, and she wondered if the man could tell there was something wrong with her.
“Fine so far, I guess,” He told her, smiling. “We’re just getting to know each other. I’m Mario.”
“Mario,” she repeated. “Are you Italian?” she asked bluntly.
“Not really,” he answered, half smiling.
“Well good luck Mario,” Melanie said and turned Joey toward the barn. Her brain felt clouded and slow and she wanted to get back to the barn and away from this man who was making her feel so odd.
“Hey lady!” he called after her as she started away. When she looked back at him she was hit again with a wave of intense and mystifying attraction. “I told you my name, what’s yours?”
“Sorry,” she laughed, chagrined. “I’m Melanie.” She smiled and turned again toward the barn.
“See you later, Melanie,” he called to her back. It took all of Melanie’s effort not to turn around again. Instead, she waved her hand at him, without looking back.
When she got into the barn she slid off of Joey’s bare back and stumbled backward, almost falling. The horse turned and looked at her.
“Oh, shut up Joey,” she said roughly. Her heart was still hammering. She slipped the reins over his head and led him to the wash rack. Her hands trembled as she unhooked the buckles and slipped off his bridle. He pushed the bit out with his tongue and waited for her to rub his face with a towel. When she just stood there staring he rubbed his face against her chest.
Melanie came back to reality abruptly and grabbed the towel from a hook on the wall.
“Sorry buddy,” she said, rubbing his face. What the hell is wrong with me? Shaking her head, she put Joey’s halter on him. She picked the bridle up and methodically rinsed the bit off, trying to put the man out of her mind, concentrating on rubbing Joey down and brushing him. Her mind began to drift as she walked him back out to the pasture but she wrenched it back and refused to let her eyes wander back to the round pen. Melanie fed Joey his apple over the fence and kissed him on the nose, but as she turned back to walk to her truck, she looked to the round pen before she could help herself.
On the way home, Melanie tried unsuccessfully not to think about Mario. She was perplexed at the rush of feelings she felt when she saw him and embarrassed about how she had conducted herself. She couldn’t believe she been so flustered that she’d actually been rude. What an idiot I am, she thought, the memory of her behavior stinging her.
That was not the worst of it though, not by far. Until just a short time ago, Melanie had been certain of her loyalty to Jim. She still noticed other men, but only just. She had never given a second thought or glance to anyone. Melanie really had eyes only for Jim, despite certain troubling things that had begun to appear since they had been married. Was this some sort of mental escape? That didn’t feel right. The feelings she had were completely unbidden; they had taken her by surprise.
If there was one thing that Melanie never did, it was lie to herself. It was in her nature to be scrupulously honest and that included honesty with herself. She couldn’t, wouldn’t, pretend this hadn’t happened. The best she could do, she decided, was to try not to think about it at all. Hopefully she would never even see Mario again. But the thought of that made her feel a twinge of disappointment that she couldn’t deny. She chuckled, mentally chiding herself for being so dramatic. What a silly woman I am, she thought. Getting all worked up over meeting an attractive man. I was just surprised by it, is all. She sighed as she turned into her driveway, relieved to put it out of her mind.
Pulling into the garage, Melanie found that despite Jim’s assurance earlier that day that he would be home when she got there, he was not. Boris, however, as always, came running into the garage as she was pulling in, tail wagging, full of exuberant affection. At least someone was there, and happy to see her.
“Hey puppy,” she said to him, patting him. He was certainly no puppy; he weighed in at well over a hundred pounds and from the vet’s guess was somewhere around 2 years old. He had showed up at the barn one day, ragged and skinny, followed her right to her truck, and jumped in as if he knew her. Melanie thought maybe he could tell what a sucker she was. At any rate, he made a great running buddy, and though he was huge and scary looking, he was really a marshmallow. He looked like a giant pit bull, tall and heavily muscled; no one would be brave enough to find out if he was dangerous. She thought now about taking him for a run, but dismissed the thought immediately, knowing that the whole run would be spent thinking about what had just happened at the barn. Melanie did most of her thinking on her runs. Now was not the time for that.
She went to the kitchen and started chopping vegetables for soup. When the soup was simmering, she sat down with her book. After reading for a while, she looked at the time; it was 8:30 and she realized she hadn’t heard from Jim since she left for work. She scrolled through her recent calls and touched his number.
The phone rang until it went to voice mail. She decided to try him when dinner was done. He didn’t answer that time, either. By the time she tried again, it was well after 9:00. That call was also unsuccessful, so Melanie gave up on trying to reach him directly and called the restaurant where he managed the bar. After several rings, the floor manager finally answered.
“Hey, Dan,” she said when he picked up. “It’s Melanie. I’ve called Jim several times and I haven’t been able to reach him. Is he still there?”
“Yeah, he’s still here,” Dan answered. “He’s behind the bar. Karen called in and he stayed to cover her shift.”
“Okay, thanks Dan. Would you tell him I called and to please check his phone?”
“Sure thing Melanie,” Dan said and hung up.
She put the phone down and let out a stifled scream, resisting the urge to throw her phone across the room. Boris jumped up in alarm, then came and put his head in her lap and stared up at her, wagging his tail.
“Sorry buddy,” she said. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I guess it’s just you and me for dinner.”
She went to the kitchen and fed the dog before bringing her soup to the living room and sitting down on the sofa and turning on the television. She settled down to watch it and eat her soup, inviting Boris onto the couch with her when she finished. She must have been feeling lonelier than she realized, because Boris was definitely not allowed on the furniture.
Melanie started awake in her dark living room, still on the couch, the TV obscenely loud and bright. Her first feeling was worry, followed by anger. She picked up her phone and called Jim. When he answered, it only increased her anger. He was drunk.
“Oh hey, Melly,” he said when he answered.
“Jim, what the hell?” she asked. “Why aren’t you at home? Where are you?”
“I’m still here at the bar,” he said. “I had to stay here and cover for Karen.”
“I know that, Jim,” she said. “But why are you still there now?”
“Well, you know....” He trailed off and sighed. “I just........... I got to talking with some of the customers and they bought me a couple of shots and you know how that goes.”
“Yeah, I know exactly how that goes,” Melanie answered. “Now you are drunk and you are spending the night at the fucking bar.”
“Naw, I’m not spending the night at the bar cause you’re coming to get me,” he responded.
“Jim, it’s two o’clock in the morning. I’m going to bed. You stay there at the bar. I hope you enjoy sleeping in a booth and working tomorrow morning hungover in the clothes you slept in.”
“Aw, Melly,” he protested.
“Good night, Jim,” she said and hung up the phone. She went to bed with Boris and let him get on the bed and under the covers with her, another forbidden act.
The need to run was raging when Melanie woke up. She opened her eyes and found herself staring directly into Boris’s.
“Good morning puppy.” His tail thumped the mattress. “You want to go for a run today?”
It was a perfect morning for running. Dressed in her sports bra and running shorts, her hair braided down her back, Melanie grabbed Boris’s leash. He ran whining to the front door. After clipping the leash to his collar and stepping through the door, she gave Boris, who was sitting patiently on the threshold, his signal and he followed her out the door. She shut it behind her and was off into the misty morning.
Boris couldn’t have been a better running partner. He not only kept up with her, he was usually a little ahead of her, encouraging her to go faster. Because he was so intimidating she could run anywhere, anytime, without worrying about anyone giving her trouble. Sometimes they ran in the woods on the Greenprints trails through Woodstock in the early mornings or late evenings without a second thought. Today they ran through her subdivision, Melanie waving at her neighbors as they passed by on their way to work.
Now that she was running, her mind began to wander, first to the previous night. She fumed over Jim’s sleepover at the bar. It certainly wasn’t the first time it had happened. Why last night, of all nights? Why, when she needed him to come home and be a good husband, did he do the thing that she hated the most? She had managed to keep herself busy, managed to stay present and in control of her thoughts, but now that she was out running, ruminating, she was thinking things that she didn’t want to be thinking; not about the day before, not about the new horse trainer. Melanie was thinking the terrifying thought that, if she was honest with herself, she had been thinking before she met Mario. That maybe she should not have married Jim.
She couldn’t quite remember what had initially attracted her to Jim. He had typical, American, guy next door looks; fairly attractive but not particularly memorable. She hadn’t thought too much of him at first. He bought her a shot one night when she happened into his bar after work, then a drink, and then had asked for her number. Melanie had discovered that he was fun, and soon they were dating. After a couple of years, he asked her to marry him. She had said yes because she loved Jim and because she wanted to get married.
In all honesty, she had begun to doubt on their honeymoon. They had had a small fight that had turned into a large one. Jim had disappeared afterward and shown back up with a six pack which he proceeded to drink by himself. That was when the alarm bells had gone off. The seeds of problems, maybe big ones, had been there, but alcohol had never been one of them. He didn’t take her seriously at all when she tried to talk to him about it. Melanie didn’t judge Jim, she didn’t deride him, but she did not want to take the trip to rock bottom with him. He’d barely responded to anything she’d said. He hadn’t seemed mad; she couldn’t tell if he was embarrassed. She figured that probably he just thought she was full of shit. The possibility that he may be an alcoholic was terrifying to her and what was worse was that she had had no idea. They hadn’t lived together before they married. They had drank together from time to time when they were dating and everything had seemed fairly normal. She beat herself up for a while about it, as she had done many times before. How could she have made such a mistake? Now they were married, and what could she do? Divorce him because she was afraid he might be an alcoholic? Melanie didn’t give up that easily and had really meant it when she said “I do” to the ‘as long as you both shall live’ part of her wedding vows.
Now there was a new wrinkle. Melanie had met this man, and from the moment she looked in his eyes she felt something, which only confused her and complicated her doubts about Jim. Now she was wondering if she was seeing him in a worse light than she would have, justifying to herself her feelings for this new man, whatever they were. Melanie had never in her life felt herself unable to formulate a sentence, to create a coherent thought. She had never felt herself drawn to someone that way, as if she had to look at his eyes. That was why she hadn’t turned around when he’d said goodbye to her. She couldn’t look at him again.
Melanie wondered if Jim was awake yet, and she hoped his head was pounding. She hoped he was stiff and sore from sleeping wherever he had slept, on the floor, in a booth. A watch was the only thing she ever took with her on her runs, and only occasionally that. Running was her escape; she liked to focus on her stride, and let her mind wander, listening to her own breathing and Boris’s footsteps, his toenails clicking against the pavement. Not having her phone with her, she didn’t know if Jim had bothered to call her, if he was awake.
When Melanie got home, she checked her phone and found (surprise) no missed calls. She tried not to fume as she got ready for work, listening to the radio, deciding which route to take based on the traffic. As she backed out of the garage, she called Rainey.
Rainey Smithfield was her best friend. She was petite and curvy, with blond hair and blue eyes that had a sparkle and mischief that was irresistible to not only men, but to just about everyone. People liked her, despite her tendency to be honest to the point of bluntness. They had known each other since child hood, gone to Georgia State together, and then both taken Emory’s paralegal course. Now they both worked for lawyers in separate practices in Atlanta. Rainey was the person that Melanie knew she could tell anything to, with no judgment and that it would go to the grave. Rainey was crucial to Melanie’s sanity.
“You on your way to work?” Rainey asked when she picked up the phone.
“Yep, gonna be a hell of a day, but I need it to be,” Melanie answered.
“Oh yeah, what’s up?” Rainey asked, as Melanie knew she would.
“Well, you’ll never guess what Jim did last night,” she plunged right in.
“Got drunk and didn’t come home?” Rainey asked, but it wasn’t really a question.
“Bingo. And you know what’s worse? I think I am going to go crazy. I’m doubting my own doubts now.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Rainey responded.
“Well, I met someone yesterday, and I...I don’t know, I just...I felt something and now I’m wondering if I’m somehow making Jim out to be worse in my mind than he really is to justify these feelings I’m-”
“Wait, you met someone? A man? Where? Who? What kind of feelings?”
“One thing at a time,” Melanie laughed. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk about this. I don’t even want to think about this. But I can’t help myself. I met this guy at the barn yesterday, he’s a horse trainer, and Rainey, I’ve never been drawn to someone like this before. But what if I’m just trying to mentally escape-”
“Oh please,” Rainey interrupted. “Don’t be ridiculous. We both know that things were starting to look bad with Jim before last night. Before he got drunk and didn’t come home, which you definitely did not make up. We can talk about that later. What I want to talk about now is this man you met.”
Melanie sighed. “Well, he was in the round pen training a horse, a crazy horse by the way, and when I came riding up on Joey, I didn’t really think much of it, but when I got up there and I looked at him, when I saw his eyes, I just…I don’t know. I was so drawn to him, especially to his eyes. Rainey, I couldn’t even make my brain function, and as a result, I may have been a little rude.”
Rainey laughed. “No way. How do you mean?”
“Well, I just talked to him about the horse he was working with, mostly. He told me his name, which is Mario, and I just blurted out, ‘are you Italian?’ I could have died. I didn’t even tell him my name. I just said, ‘Good luck Mario’ and rode away. He had to holler at me to ask me my name. After I told him and started away again, I couldn’t even look back at him. I was afraid I’d turn into a blithering idiot.”
Rainey laughed again. “So, what’s he like?” she asked. “What color were those eyes?”
Melanie couldn’t help sighing again. “Hazel. Dark hair, I could only see a little bit of it under his baseball hat, maybe curly. He had a few days’ worth of beard, tall and broad shouldered, and girl, his arms....oh my goodness. He’s...easy on the eyes.”
“Sounds like it. I want to meet him.”
“Ha!” Melanie laughed. “I hope I never see him again. I have never been so confused and befuddled before.”
“You don’t really mean that,” Rainey said.
“No, you’re right,” Melanie agreed. “I guess I really don’t. I do and I don’t. What’s wrong with me?”
“You are going to have lunch with me today so we can discuss this further,” Rainey said.
“No, I can’t, I have to have lunch with Donald today, we have a lunch meeting with clients.”
“Well, we are meeting for happy hour then, and I’m not taking no for an answer. There’s no good reason not to.”
“I guess not,” Melanie said. “But I’m not sure I want to keep talking about this. I’m trying not to even think about it. It’s too confusing. I feel too guilty.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Rainey said. “So you’re attracted to a guy, big deal. You might never see him again. Maybe he’ll give up on the horse and disappear forever.”
Melanie groaned. “Okay, we can talk over drinks today, I guess. I need to vent about Jim anyway.”
“Okay, well, I’ll see you after work then. Where do you want to meet up?”
“Let’s go to the Flat Iron and sit outside and drink beer,” Melanie suggested. “It’s dog friendly; I brought Boris to work with me, I’m dropping him off at doggie daycare near the office.”
“Okay, that works. Let’s do it.”
“Alright girl, I’ll see you after work. Jim’s calling in. Let me let you go.”
Melanie hung up with Rainey and answered the other line. “Hello Jim. How’s your head?”
“Fine,” he answered. “I wasn’t that drunk. I could’ve come home.”
“You know you couldn’t have. I don’t need to remind you that if you ever get picked up for drunk driving I’m going to let you sit in jail as long as possible. Anyway, you are on your own tonight, I’m meeting Rainey for drinks after work.”
“Melanie, what? I didn’t see you last night and now you’re not coming home until late?”
“I don’t know when I’ll be home, Jim. I haven’t had drinks with Rainey in a while and it’s not my fault you didn’t see me last night. I brought Boris with me this morning so if you wonder where he is, he’s with me.” She doubted he’d even notice the dog was missing.
“Fine,” he said sullenly. “I guess I’ll see you whenever you get home.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t be too late. It’s a weeknight and I have a lot going on this week. There’s vegetable soup in the fridge if you get hungry.”
“Okay, bye,” he said, and hung up. Melanie put down the phone, pulled into the doggy daycare and dropped off Boris before heading to work. All through the day, even during her lunch meeting, she couldn’t stop thinking about Mario. Talking to Rainey had done Melanie in. It had opened up a door she was having a very hard time closing. Don had even stepped on her foot under the table during lunch because she hadn’t been paying attention to what the client was saying. By the end of the day she was mentally exhausted and confused and not at all sure that she wanted to talk to Rainey about any of it, but she knew that she would. She had a mad hope that if she just talked to Rainey that she could somehow make sense of it.
When she got to the Flat Iron Rainey wasn’t there yet so Melanie sat out on the patio with Boris and the waitress brought out a water bowl for him before coming back with a pitcher of beer. Melanie didn’t wait to pour herself a glass.
“Cheers,” she said to Boris, holding up her glass. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a man walking down Flat Shoals. She felt him looking at her and watched him turn and head toward the patio. He approached her, smiling and saying hi.
“Hello,” she said, hoping he would keep going, into the restaurant, but he continued coming her way, until Boris stood up and turned toward him. Boris was wagging his tail and totally relaxed, but the man’s eyes got big and he turned back around and continued down Flat Shoals. She repressed a smile as she raised her glass to her lips and patted Boris on the head. She spotted Rainey coming across Glenwood and waved at her. When she got to the table Melanie stood up and hugged her.
“I see you’ve gotten started without me,” Rainey said as she sat down. She looked at Boris and gasped. “My Lord, he’s a behemoth. What have you been feeding that animal? Small children?”
“Hardee har.” Melanie responded. “Dog Chow. I should buy stock in them. He just scared off a suitor. Thank goodness.”
“What did he do?”
“Just wagged his tail and looked at him.”
“I guess that’s all it takes. He’s a monster. How much does he weigh?”
“Last time I took him to the vet he weighed 120. I buy two bags of dog food every time I go to Sam’s. Jim’s always saying he’s eating us out of house and home, threatening to ‘take him for a drive.’ He knows I’d kill him though. Boris is the best dog I’ve ever had.”
“Alright, enough about the damn dog,” Rainey said and Boris jumped in her lap and licked her face.
“No!” Melanie said, yanking on his leash and pulling him off her friend. “Down,” she told him, pointing to where he’d been lying beside her chair. He laid down obediently. “Stay.”
“So, how’d it go with Jim?” Rainey asked, pouring herself a beer.
“Well, it wasn’t a long conversation. I told him I was meeting you for drinks and he gave me a little shit about it.”
“Hmm. Are we eating? We should get something, don’t you think?”
“Oh sure, probably,” Melanie answered, pouring another beer.
“I’m not letting you off the hook, Melanie,” Rainey said, smiling over the top of her glass. Tell me more about this Mario. Mario. All I can think of is the little guy from the video game.”
“Well if you saw him once, it would take care of that image. I’ve pretty much told you everything already. I talked to him for all of three minutes.”
“Huh,” Rainey said. “So you talked to him for three minutes and you can’t get him out of your head. Interesting.”
“Not interesting, maddening,” Melanie corrected her. “I have got to stop thinking about him. It’s ridiculous. I’m married, and for all I know, he is too.”
“Did you see a ring?”
“No, but that doesn’t mean he’s not married, and anyway, I honestly didn’t even look for one. I never would have thought to. All I could think was that I needed to get away from him. I literally couldn’t make my brain function properly.”
“Melanie, I know that you have a tendency toward the dramatic sometimes,” Melanie narrowed her eyes at Rainey, “but I’ve never known you to have a wandering eye. You’ve always been loyal and faithful. You weren’t out trolling, you weren’t looking for someone; you just ran into this guy and were hit with these feelings. I think it’s significant.”
Melanie groaned. “That is so not what I needed to hear.”
“Why not? Weren’t you looking for some reassurance? Or didn’t you want to hear my opinion?”
“No, it’s just that what am I supposed to do with that? Finding someone that maybe I have some sort of connection with but I’m already married?”
“I don’t know, probably nothing, if I know you. You would rather suffer for your entire life than do what you thought was the wrong thing.”
Just then the waitress reappeared. “Do you ladies want anything to eat?” she asked.
“Yes, I’ll have the veggie quesadilla,” Melanie said.
“The Cuban sandwich for me,” said Rainey.
“Absolutely,” the waitress nodded. “Another pitcher?”
Melanie and Rainey looked at each other and then Melanie turned to the waitress. “No, thank you, just a glass of water please.”
“Yeah, me too,” sighed Rainey, pouring the last of the beer into her glass. “It’s a Tuesday, after all.” After the waitress left Rainey turned back to Melanie.
“Well anyway, you may be right. You may never see him again. He may be married. He may have a girlfriend. You are married. But I’ll tell you this: I want you to take me trail riding this weekend.” She smiled wickedly.
“Well you know I am always more than happy to take you riding, Rainey, but he probably won’t be there. I’ve only seen him the one time, yesterday.
“Don’t care,” Rainey answered. “I want to go anyway. We haven’t seen enough of each other lately. Do you think Jim will mind?” She grinned again.
“No, he’s probably working anyway. And you’re right, we haven’t seen enough of each other. Boris would love to go for a trail ride too, wouldn’t you Boris?” Melanie looked down at him. He cocked his head and thumped his tail on the ground.
“Do you have to take that dog with you everywhere you go?” Rainey asked.
“Pretty much,” Melanie replied. “He’s my best friend.” Rainey reached across and slapped her shoulder. “Hey!” Melanie said, laughing.
“So, how have you been, anyway? All we’ve talked about is me all day.”
“Oh, good. Same old same old. Ryan is doing well at work, he just got a promotion. Family’s all good. Work’s a pain in the ass. My new hobby is gourmet cooking. I’ve been watching too much Master Chef. That chef Ramsey is such an asshole but he’s damn sexy.”
Melanie almost spit out the last of her beer. “Really?”
“Oh yeah, I like blonds,” she said.
“Well maybe you can cook for me after I take you trail riding.”
“Oooh maybe, I want to try a new recipe. You like seafood right?”
“It’s my favorite,” Melanie answered.
Melanie hugged Rainey in the parking lot as they were leaving. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” Rainey said as she was getting into her car. “This was good, we are going to do this more often.”
“Sounds perfect,” Melanie answered, opening the door for Boris and letting him jump in. “Have a good day tomorrow.”
“You too,” Rainey shut her door and started her car. She waved as she backed out and pulled away.
When Melanie was on the way home she called Jim. He didn’t answer so she turned on the radio and listened to music, singing along and trying to put the conversation she had had with Rainey out of her mind.
When she came into the house, Jim was asleep on the couch. She left him there while she went to get ready for bed. Boris came and laid down next to her in the bathroom. When she was done, she woke Jim up.
“Are you coming to bed?” she asked him. Boris licked his face as he sat up.
“What took you so long? He asked her. “It’s almost ten. I thought you said you wouldn’t be too late.”
“Well you were asleep on the couch anyway, as I’m sure you would have been even if I had been here. And it’s not that late.”
“So you just now got home and you are going to bed after not seeing me at all yesterday?”
“Jim, I am tired. Once again, it’s not my fault you didn’t see me yesterday. You made the decision to get drunk and stay at the bar.”
“Melanie, I manage the bar and if someone calls in or can’t make it and I can’t find someone else to cover their shift, then I have to do it. I am working.”
“So it’s your job to get drunk while you are working?”
Jim huffed and scowled at her. “The more I interact with and entertain the customers, the more money I make. I had a great night last night as a matter of fact.” Melanie glared at him. “Financially, I mean.”
“Well, that’s great Jim, hope it was worth it. Goodnight.” Boris followed her into the bedroom and curled up on his dog bed. Jim followed her in, too, and lay down with his back to her and didn’t say anything else. They slept with their backs to each other all night.