Lil had just covered the bruises with makeup when she heard her husband park his car. She hurried into the kitchen and busied herself at the sink.
Bob entered the kitchen through the back door. “Hey,” he muttered, taking off his jacket.
“Hey,” replied Lil, washing celery.
Bob looked over her shoulder. “What’s for dinner?”
“I’m going to make some tuna salad for your lunch tomorrow, but I thought we could go out to dinner tonight. I’m tired.” She didn’t want to add that she was stiff and sore.
Bob made a face. “I’m tired too. I don’t want to go out. Let’s take a rain check for this weekend.”
“I really need a break. I’ve watched our grandson all day while you played golf. I want to go out.”
Bob shrugged. “I’m staying in and so are you. I want to eat soon.”
Lil’s husband frowned, and, grabbing the paper, went into the den. He turned on the TV. “Get me a beer,” he called from the den.
Lil grabbed a bottle from the fridge, opened it, and took it into the den. “Bob, I want to talk to you,” she said, handing over the beer.
He took a swig. “I wish you had poured this into one of my special mugs in the freezer. You know I like my beer in a cold mug.”
“Bob, I want to talk to you,” she repeated.
“Go ahead and talk. What’s stopping you?”
“Can you at least look at me?”
“What for? I can hear you fine.”
Lil was silent for a moment, looking at her hands. She tried to rub off some age spots before speaking. “When did you stop being Robert and turn into Bob?”
“Huh.” Bob glanced at Lil and then turned back to a baseball game on TV.
“When did you stop being Robert? I married Robert and then ended up with Bob. When did you become Bob?”
“That’s a stupid question,” responded Bob, taking another swig of his beer.
Bob picked up the remote and flipped the TV channels. “I don’t know what you’re yammering about.”
“Yes, I know. You see, I don’t think we are the same people as when we got married. You’ve turned into another person. You are no longer Robert, the man I married. Robert would never hit me.”
Bob winced. “I said I was sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I just got mad. You were talking too much.”
“I seem to be talking too much lately.”
“Maybe if you shut up, then you wouldn’t aggravate me.”
“I see. It’s my fault.”
“This is silly talk. Take a pill and calm down,” he advised. “While you’re up, get me another beer.”
“I used to be someone. I was Lillian then. I used to march for women’s rights. I protested. I wrote letters to my congressmen. I had opinions. I used to stand up for myself. I used to be Lillian.” She glanced at her faded housedress. “I used to wear high heels and short skirts. Now I wear garbage like this.”
Bob shot Lil an irritated glance. “All this over not going out to dinner. Jeez. I cry uncle. We’ll go out.” He shook his head before returning to the TV.
“You used to love me.”
“Jeez. I still do,” Bob replied, still watching TV. “I’m trying to watch the game.” He yawned.
Lil sat for a long time staring at Bob.
“This is getting creepy,” stated Bob. “Are you going to get me another beer?”
“I think I need a vacation. Let’s go somewhere.”
“I hate traveling.”
“I’ll go alone then.”
“Yeah. Anything,” yawned Bob. “Get the beer now.”
“So it’s okay if I go on vacation?”
Bob nodded. “Yes, please. Go somewhere. Rest up. You need it. In fact, I think I’ll take a nap myself now, speaking of rest.”
“I’ll get you that beer.”
Lil rose and went into the kitchen. She took a cold beer out of the fridge and opened it. From her pocket
she took two sleeping pills, crushed them, and then dropped them into the bottle. She gave the bottle a swirl before returning to the den. “Here’s your beer,” she said as she handed Bob the bottle.
“Thanks.” He looked disappointed at the bottle. “It’s not in a mug. You know, the ones in the freezer.” He took a swig.
Lil stood watching him. She hoped she had not put too many pills into his beer, but she needed Bob to fall asleep quickly.
“I feel so sluggish,” murmured Bob, struggling to stay awake to watch TV.
“I’m going on vacation now.”
“Okay,” chuckled Bob. “Whatever floats your boat.”
Lil left the den quietly as Bob shook his head.
“Wo . . . men,” mumbled Bob, nodding off.
Forty-five minutes later, Lil left the house with a battered suitcase, a huge roll of hundreds, twenties, tens, and fives hidden in her bra and a secret credit card in her purse.
Bob didn’t hear Lil drive away, as he was fast asleep in the den with the TV blaring.
Lillian checked into the Pink Flamingo Motel located on Key Largo, the first of the big islands of the Keys.
“Your name, please.”
“Lil, Lillian. No. Jill St. John, I mean.”
The clerk raised an eyebrow, as Jill St. John was the name of the actress in the Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever.
“How long will you be staying with us?” asked Eva Hanover, the owner of the Pink Flamingo Motel, aka the Last Chance Motel.
Lillian thought for a moment. “I really don’t know.”
Eva Hanover glanced over her computer and was startled when she noticed bruises on Lillian’s arms and cheek. She glanced back at the computer. “I see,” replied Eva. “Will someone be joining you?”
Lillian shook her head. “I don’t think so. I’m running away, you see.”
“I hope it’s not from the law,” Eva half-teased.
Giving a faint smile, Lillian replied, “No. Nothing like that. I’m running away from my life.”
Eva nodded and bit her lip. “Been there myself. Miss St. John, if someone should inquire about a Lillian?”
“You’ve never heard of her.”
Eva glanced at the bruises on Lillian’s arm. “I understand. Since you are running away, I’ll put you in Bungalow Five. It has a very nice view of the ocean and the pool. You’ll enjoy the sunsets from your deck.”
“That’s very sweet.” Lillian pulled five hundred dollars from her wallet. “I’d like to pay in cash please.”
Eva smiled. “Don’t mind at all. Here is your receipt. If you wish to stay longer, just let me know. And to make things simple, you keep the name Lillian. You are a friend of Jill St. John, who is renting Bungalow Five and you are handling all transactions for her.”
Lillian gave Eva a huge smile. “That would make things easier for everyone, I’m sure.”
“It helps to keep as close to the truth as possible.”
“Just one more thing. Since you didn’t have a reservation, can you tell me why you chose the Pink Flamingo Motel?”
“The sign. I liked the pink sign with the bird flying.”
Eva gave a brilliant smile. “I love that sign too. It’s from an old hotel built in the forties. I rescued it from a junk pile.”
“Well, it’s very cheerful and I need that at the moment.”
“I hear you. Hope you have a good stay with us.”
“Thank you. I plan to enjoy myself.” Lillian walked out of the office and headed toward her assigned bungalow.
Eva watched Lillian from the window. “I know that hangdog look,” Eva murmured to herself. “I hope she finds this place healing.”
Eva didn’t have to worry.
Lillian already felt a heavy load had been lifted off her chest. She breathed easier and, though she was frightened, she was determined to rediscover the woman she had once been.
GASPING FOR AIR
Series: A Last Chance for Love Romance, Book 2
Publisher: Worker Bee Press
Length: 134 pages
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