"The Drive" by plumeriandeity, Chapter who knows/who knows:
He looked at his watch. She would be here in two minutes. He flicked his gaze over his desk and made sure everything was in order. His laptop was turned off, shut. The papers in his in-tray were in his out-tray. The digital clock flashed 9:00 AM. He glanced at his watch again. The digital clock was a minute too fast. He smiled to himself as he picked up the envelope that was leaning against his marble pen stand. That had been a gift from her as well, he remembered as he pulled out the personal stationery from the envelope. His eyes took in every word and they smiled a little, every little curve of her writing making them happy.
He heard the tires crunch the gravel of his driveway and he hurriedly pushed the letter back in the envelope, a smile appearing on his lips. He looked at his watch once more and his smile grew wider. She was never late. His mobile rang as he grabbed his coat and he flicked it open without even checking to see who was calling.
“I’m on my way,” he said and flipped it shut. He grabbed his keys from the cherry table that sat in the foyer, threw one quick glance around before exiting. He pulled the door shut, pressed the key into the lock and twisted the knob a couple of times to make sure it was indeed locked. She honked the horn once and the smile returned to his lips as he dropped the keys into his jacket and walked over to the car, his newly polished shoes crunching the gravel.
“Hello you,” she smiled at him as she rolled down the passenger window. “You’re late.”
“I’m not,” he disagreed amiably as he opened the door and slid in. He gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “I was just making sure everything was put away.”
“Ah of course,” her eyes gleamed knowingly. “The perfectionist ever at work.”
He tapped his forehead lightly and shrugged. “Guilty.”
She laughed lightly and rolled up the window. She shifted gears and pulled out of the driveway. He looked out the window and gave his house a last look before it disappeared as she turned into the main road.
They did not talk for a few minutes. She turned on the radio. There was a smooth jazz station on and he pursed his lips. He detested this sort of music that softened the heat and passion that jazz stood for. As if sensing his distaste, she immediately shut it off and sighed deeply.
“You can listen if you want,” he said amiably, although it was the last thing he wanted.
She sent him a sideways smile.
“I know you can’t stand it,” she replied. “Don’t worry. I don’t really like music when I drive. It doesn’t allow me to think.”
“I think that’s why most people enjoy music on their drives,” he pointed out. “Let’s you free your mind a bit.”
“I don’t think I fall in the general category, my dear,” she said lightly. “You ought to know better than that.”
He didn’t say anything but nodded slightly before gazing out his window again. Green fields rolled past, cows grazing in the wide pastures, sheep bleating as farmers rounded them up. He could see an orchard further down the way and he had a dear pleasure to walk among the trees, see if the apples were ripe enough this season.
He loved the country. He had lived here for the past three years now, in his little cottage, away from prying eyes and distractions. It was the perfect getaway. He had pulled out a critically-acclaimed first novel after moving to the country and he was working on its follow-up. He had two more chapters to go before he could claim it was a finished piece of work. He was thrilled with his effort so far.
“Book going well?” she asked as if reading his thoughts. He faced her and nodded as he cleared his throat.
“Nearly done with it,” he said. “Few more chapters and I’ll have it sent to the editor once more, have a look see and then we’ll get the final word.”
“But he likes it so far?”
“I believe so. They’ve trusted me with a sequel and I think it should be ripping.”
“Rather overconfident, aren’t you?”
She did not say it in a sarcastic or rude tone. She said it knowingly, with a smile in her voice.
“I thought it best,” he answered. “I’d rather feel it’s going to be a bestseller than a flop.”
“That’s the spirit,” she said, looking at him briefly. Their eyes met and he felt his breath catch in his throat. He began to say something but his voice was hoarse and he coughed once. But the moment had passed. She had turned her eyes back to the road.
That reminded him.
“Where are we going?” he ventured.
She smiled at him.
“It’s a surprise,” she said, her husky voice emanating excitement. “I do hope you like it.”
“I’ve been looking forward to this day since I received the letter,” he said warmly. But she did not look at him again. Her lips formed a smile once more but it was forced. He could tell. He could always tell.