“Nope,” Gunnar said before continuing his conversation with Kirby.
Taylor began to respond to my question, but the man knocked on his truck.
“Hey! I’m talking to you!” the man said to Gunnar.
Then Taylor glowered at the entire group. “Don’t touch my fucking truck, kid.”
The man puffed out his chest, attempting some form of intimidation, but he was so wasted that he failed to look directly at Taylor. He wasn’t completely unfortunate-looking. He had a respectable amount of scruff, and his arms were built nicely enough to fill the sleeves of his flannel shirt.
Gunnar shook his head. “You don’t go looking for a fight if you’re high. He’s just drunk.”
Kirby didn’t seem fazed as she watched the man sway, waiting for what he might say next.
The man was a couple of inches shorter than Taylor, but he didn’t seem to know it. He looked over at Kirby and me. “I’m thinking about crashing your party.”
The men behind him laughed, slapping each other on the shoulders and trying just as hard as their bearded friend to stand upright.
Gunnar stepped down off the tailgate, towering over all of them. All three men took a step back.
“You have a giant,” the first man said, his chin tipped up.
Taylor’s posture instantly relaxed, and he laughed. “Yes. Yes, we do. Now, quit fucking with us, and go back to wherever you came from.”
They chuckled among one another and began to move on, but the bearded one paused.
“Don’t you work at the Bucksaw?”
I wasn’t sure which of us he was addressing. None of us answered.
“I’ll come see you,” he said, attempting to be flirtatious while struggling to keep his balance.
“No, you won’t,” Taylor said, his jaw working under his skin.
The drunk laughed, bending at the waist to grab his knees, and then he stood up, pointing at me. “Is she your girlfriend? I’m sorry, man. I won’t steal her.”
“I’m not worried about it,” Taylor said.
“Sounds like you are,” he said, using the back corner of the truck bed to hold himself up. Then he flattened his hand on the tailgate next to where I sat.
Taylor glared at his hand. “I don’t like you touching my truck. Think about it. What am I going to do to you if you touch my girlfriend?”
“Kill me?” the guy said, trying to stand and back away.
Taylor smiled. “No. I’ll beat the hell out of you until you want to kill yourself.”
The kid paled but quickly recovered, remembering he had an audience.
He began to speak, but I cut him off, “Hey, Jack Daniel’s, you want to keep your face, don’t you?”
He frowned at me, more confused than offended.
“Keep walking,” I said. “These guys are not going to put up with your shit for much longer.”
I glanced over at Taylor, who was staring a hole into the kid’s forehead.
The bushy-faced stranger startled, seeming to just notice that our giant was still standing there, and he stumbled off without another word.
Gunnar relaxed. “We’d better get a move on, Kirby. I’ve decided I’m too tired to go anywhere.”
She giggled at him. “We’re already an old married couple.” She hugged me good-bye. “See you Monday.”
I watched the couple walk to their truck while Taylor eyed the group of drunken boys stumbling down the street. He pushed his tailgate closed and then followed me to the Bucksaw.
Once inside, I shook out my hair and rubbed my hands together as I climbed the stairs. Taylor was quiet but trying hard to be in a better mood. I tried to chat about anything other than moving in together in Estes Park. Taylor would nod and smile when appropriate. The longer I talked, the more his smiles seemed forced, and that only made me angry.
When he saw the irritated look on my face, his grin vanished. “C’mon, Falyn. I said I don’t want to spend the weekend fighting.”
“Just because you’re pretending not to be mad doesn’t mean you’re not upset.”
He looked forward, clearly struggling to rein in his temper. “I got a package yesterday.”
I quietly waited, too aggravated to give in just yet.
“I told my dad you had a VCR. He sent me a tape.” Taylor stood up and went to the counter where he’d left his backpack. He unzipped it and pulled out a VHS tape, holding it up. “Spaceballs. Growing up, I used to watch this with my brothers almost every weekend. It was Tommy’s favorite.”
Taylor’s eyes brightened, softening my anger. Leaning down in front of the television, he slipped the tape from the sleeve and pushed it into the VCR. When he returned to the couch, he put his hand on my knee, smiling the moment the opening credits began. It was a real smile, something he’d been finding hard to do when around me anymore.
The movie was the perfect distraction, allowing us to spend time together without talking, to sit together without addressing the problem.
Once the ending credits rolled, I left Taylor for the bathroom to take a shower. I pulled the curtain closed, relieved not to be in the same room with him for a while.
Does that mean I’m not ready to move in?
As I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair, I cursed myself for knowing exactly how many times I had thought I couldn’t be away from Taylor one more day and how many times I had lain in bed while wishing to God he were with me.
I rinsed the soap off my skin and stepped out onto the bath mat, wrapping the towel around me. The mirror was fogged, so all I could see was a fuzzy shape that was supposed to be me. It was exactly the way I felt. Everything was blurry.
I slipped an oversized T-shirt and crawled into bed next to Taylor, but he wasn’t eager to get my nightgown off of me like usual. Instead, he pulled my back against his bare chest and held me while we both fought the urge to say anything more on the subject.
His body heat seared through my nightgown, and I melted against him. He had already warmed the mattress and the sheets. I wanted him there. Sometimes, I needed it. Going to bed alone after spending even one night with him was miserable.
“Falyn,” Taylor said from behind, his voice sounding distant.
“I just …” He sighed. “I just want to be with you.”
“I know. I want that, too.”
“Just not as much as I do. Maybe not at all.”
“That’s not true,” I whispered. “We just need a plan, and we’ll make one. But it doesn’t have to be tonight.”
He touched his forehead to the back of my shoulder. “How much longer do you want to wait? Just so I have an idea.”
I mulled over his question in my mind. I couldn’t say exactly what was keeping me from giving Taylor exactly what he wanted, but I needed more time to find out. “This summer. Can you give me until then?”
He pushed himself up on his elbow, hovering over me. “To Estes Park?”
He eyed me for a moment. “You sure?”
“Okay, let’s talk. What are you nervous about?”