She grasped the Chevy’s door handle. He grabbed it before she could open the door. Closing her eyes to prevent any more tears from falling, she drew a deep breath. “I’ll walk from here.”
“No, you won’t,” he said. “You’ll stay right where you are until I park this car in front of Dave’s cabin.”
The road was only a couple of miles long, and she could easily walk it, but knowing Scooter, he’d follow her. She let go of the door handle. “Fine.” The faster she got away from him, the better. If that meant riding the last two miles, so be it. Then, after she climbed out of this car, she’d never set eyes on him again. Ever. At least not on purpose.
Her entire life she’d tried not to be like her sisters because she wasn’t. She was her own person. Not Norma Rose and Twyla’s little sister. Not Ginger’s older sister. Not Roger Nightingale’s daughter. Yet that was who she’d always been. Someone’s something. Someone who had never quite fit in anywhere.
Her stomach bubbled as Scooter started driving again. Not even while passing out condoms on the docks had she been herself. She’d always had to wear a disguise. It was time for all of that to change.
“I’m sorry, Josie,” Scooter said. “I didn’t mean that like it sounded. Just please don’t leave the resort. Not by yourself. If you need to go someplace, call me and I’ll take you.”
She could have pointed out he had a business to run, or that there was nowhere she needed to go. He knew all that anyway. But that wasn’t why she chose not to talk. She was once again remembering what she’d learned long ago. Sometimes words were simply a waste. A complete waste.
“So now I get the silent treatment,” he said.
She turned her gaze to look out the side window, and blinked away a few more tears threatening to fall. One other thing was settling in her mind. Scooter had always acknowledged her as herself and often pointed out things that made her unique. It was all a farce. All the time he’d wished she’d been more like her sisters.
As soon as he parked the car in front of Dave’s cabin, she grabbed the bag off the floor and opened the door. When she’d reached the back of the car, he caught her by one arm.
“Josie, I’ll explain everything when I can, but until then, please, don’t leave the resort.”
She kept her eyes off his face. There was too much sincerity in his tone.
“Fine,” she said, irritated by how easily he could make her break her silence. No one else could.
His lips touched her forehead and her knees almost buckled. She had to press her feet into the ground and hold her breath to keep from collapsing.
“I’ll call you,” he said. “I promise.”
When he let go of her arm, she turned and made a rather awkward, but hurried, dash for the resort, cutting through the trees rather than taking the extra time to walk to the pathway.
She entered the side door and hurried up the back stairway. Thankfully her path remained free of distractions—she had enough internal ones—all the way to her bedroom. There she tossed her bag on the floor and dropped onto the bed.
Not prone to moping or questioning why nothing ever turned out how she wanted it to, she didn’t stay on the bed long. It wouldn’t do any good, and the clock said she’d be expected at the dinner table soon. Grabbing a dress out of the closet, she left her room for the bathroom down the hall.
A quick wash and change of clothes didn’t help much. It might if she was more like her sisters. Fashion, makeup, shoes, jewelry and glossy magazines. All those things made her sisters happy. She couldn’t care less about any of them. She couldn’t care less as to what Scooter Wilson thought, either.
An eerie sensation had Josie lifting her head to meet her own gaze in the mirror above the sink. Though her reflection looked the same as always, she might as well have been looking at a stranger. A brooding stranger. The likeness in the mirror was challenging her, telling her to think again. The mere fact she claimed she didn’t care what Scooter thought told her she did care. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t be standing there trying to convince herself that she didn’t. Slightly taken aback, she shook her head.
The next truth that hit her made her close her eyes and plant both hands on the rim of the sink. She’d seen this in others and couldn’t understand how they didn’t know. Or how they tried to pretend it wasn’t so. Yet here she was, doing the very same thing...and had been for a while.
Goodness, she was a hypocrite, just as Scooter had claimed. The very thing she’d told her sisters to face, she’d been denying.