tagMatureHow I Spent My Summer Vacation

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

bymabsls©

I've been working on this story for months. It has become a labor of love. Being a middle-aged man, I like stories where an older man and younger woman fall in love, and that's what this story is about. But I will also admit, I'm also a sucker for romance, and that's where this story could also be. Finally, there is love making in this story, but I think it is far less graphic than my other stories have been. It's important to the storyline, but it's not the main focus.

I do hope you enjoy it, and I'll apologize upfront if it's a little emotional in places. It would appear that I also like a little bit of tragedy in my stories.


**********

Steve Adams was just pulling out of the grocery store parking lot on his way home. It was the first weekend in June. School had been out for a week, and he had decided to grill up some nice steaks that evening to celebrate finishing another year. He had mixed feelings about it. When he was married, they would have several friends over for an end of the school year party. He loved to cook and grill for his friends. Now that he was on his own, he didn't really want to spend time with anyone else. This year he had planned on a quiet evening with a nice steak and a beer. He would save the other steaks for leftovers.

He had only driven a half-dozen blocks when he saw a car pulled over to the side of the road, with a driver that was obviously upset. A young woman was standing behind the car with the trunk open and her face in her hands, clearly crying.

Steve had been raised to always help out anyone that was in trouble. As he passed the young lady's car, he pulled over to stop. He wasn't sure how he would be received, but he knew he had to try to help her. He stepped out of his car, and started to walk back to see what he could do.

"Miss, are you okay? Can I help you?"

Her head snapped up at his voice, but she couldn't get out any words. She continued to cry as she dropped her face back into her hands.

He stepped closer, reaching out to touch her on the shoulder. "My name's Steve. What's wrong miss? Is there something I can do? Someone I can call?"

Suddenly the girl was in his arms, crying on his shoulder. She was blubbering as she cried. He couldn't understand most of what she was trying to say. The only things he could catch between sobs were "Oh, Mr. Adams," "don't know what to do," and "flat."

He let her cry for a few minutes, holding her as she soaked his shoulder with her tears. He was stroking her hair, trying to calm her, "It'll be alright. Don't worry. I can help change your tire, and then we'll get you back on the road."

He carefully extracted himself from her grasp as he asked, "Which tire is it? Let me take a look."

She continued to cry, her body shaking with each sob, but she managed to point toward the front, right tire.

He walked around the side, saw the tire, and said, "Well, it's definitely going flat. It's probably fixable, but you can't drive on it. I can change this in no time, and then you can take it to a garage to be fixed. Let's see what you've got in the trunk."

She was finally starting to calm down a little as they stepped back to the open trunk. Steve showed her that the trunk had a false bottom. He quickly lifted it to get out the jack and spare tire, and took them around to the front of the car.

He lined up the jack, and started to lift the car off the ground. While he was working, she came back around the car to watch him. He would occasionally look over at her. She looked somewhat familiar, but he couldn't place her.

"I know this probably sounds strange, but I feel like I know you. I just realized you called me Mr. Adams, so you must know me."

"Well, you do know of me, but we really haven't had a chance to get to know each other very well."

He paused in his work and looked at her, more puzzled than before.

"Mr. Adams, I'm Amanda Jones. I'm the new 6th grade Math teacher."

"Oh, shit, I knew that. Sorry about that. It's just so different seeing people outside of school." He hoped she didn't know the truth. He barely remembered her being introduced as a new teacher at the beginning of last year. Since he taught 8th grade English, he usually wouldn't even see her at faculty meetings.

"Well, I'm also not at my best today, so it's not a surprise that you didn't recognize me."

"No, it's my fault. I'm often in my own little world. I don't pay much attention to other people these days."

Amanda sniffed a couple of times again. She was finally starting to get herself under control. "Why is that, Mr. Adams? I mean, I always thought you were one of the cool teachers. I know I wasn't in your class, I had Mrs. Lind, but I really wished I would have been in your class. You joked with everyone. You always seemed to take an interest in every student whether they were in your class or not. I have to admit you were one of the reasons why I decided to become an education major in college. And then I was really excited to be back teaching where I grew up, mainly because you were still there. But I did notice this year that you were more withdrawn. You were still friendly to all the kids in the hall, but it wasn't quite the same."

"First of all, please call me Steve. We're colleagues now. When we're in front of the kids, we call each other Mr. Adams and Miss Jones, but when we're on our own like this, it's Steve and Amanda, okay?"

"I'd like that. Thanks, Mr. Adams, I mean, Steve. That's been one of the hardest things this year, realizing I'm not a student in the school anymore. It's taken all year, but I'm finally starting to feel like a grown up."

"Being back where you actually did grow up probably doesn't make that much easier. For what it's worth, I had the same problem. I bet you didn't know I grew up here, too. I really struggled the first year. But Mrs. Lind took me under her wing, and helped guide me along. She retired a couple of years ago. That was tough for me."

"I keep hope it will get easier, but right now I'm not holding my breath. And this week hasn't helped." She started to cry again.

Steve had just gotten the flat tire off the axle, and laid it on the ground next to the car. "Amanda, what's wrong? I'd come give you a hug again, but my hands are filthy right now."

Sobs started to wrack her body again. "This is one of the worst days of my life. I don't want to talk about it." She turned away from him and continued to cry.

Steve's father had died a few years earlier, but at times like this, Steve would sometimes hear his father's voice in his head. 'Young man, I thought your mother and I raised you better than this. This poor girl needs your help. You need to drop what you're doing and do everything you can to get her life on track. You know it's the right thing to do, so do it.'

Without thinking, Steve said out loud, "Yes, dad."

Amanda looked up at him with a puzzled look on her face. "What did you say?"

"Sorry, that wasn't supposed to be out loud. It's just that I occasionally hear my father's voice in my head reminding me to act like a gentleman in situations like this."

She said with a slight hesitation to her voice, "Okay..." She still looked at him a little funny. "I mean, you're changing my tire. Isn't that the gentlemanly thing to do?"

"According to my father, that would be just the first step. Step two, after I get your car running again, is to have you follow me to my house, where I will prepare you a nice dinner. I'm grilling steaks tonight. I've got more than enough to share. And before you ask or try to refuse, this is not a date. It's just one friend inviting another friend to dinner to try to help her forget she's having a really terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."

She smiled at the reference. "I always loved that book."

"You obviously have great taste." He liked her smile. He hoped he'd see it more. "So, you'll come?"

She smiled again. "Yes, I think I will." She looked directly into his eyes, "Friend."

In a few more minutes, he had the spare firmly bolted in place, and he eased the car back to the ground. He quickly put the jack away, and dropped the flat into the trunk.

"My house isn't far away. It's just about 2 miles west on this road, and then about 4 blocks south. Let me have your cell phone." He started to type his number into her phone. "Just in case we get separated."

They got in their cars, eased into traffic, and ten minutes later they were pulling into Steve's driveway.

As she got out of the car, Amanda exclaimed, "I love this neighborhood. It looks peaceful and quiet."

He just smiled. "It really is. I don't know, sometimes, I think it might be too quiet."

She wandered up the front walk. "I love your house, too. And you have quite the touch for gardening."

She couldn't help but notice that a cloud crossed his face as he stopped walking. He turned and looked around the yard, and then finally said, "Thanks, but all the credit for the garden goes to my wife, Becky. If it had been up to me, it would have been grass all the way up to the edges. Much easier to maintain." Amanda saw him reach up to brush away a tear. "After Becky died, I couldn't stand to let it go. I had to keep it looking just like she left it." He turned back to walk in the house.

Amanda started to tear up a little again, but for the first time in days, it wasn't because she was feeling her own pain, it was empathy for someone else. She followed quietly into the house.

Very little was said as Steve put away his groceries. When he was done, he turned to look at Amanda. "It's still a little early to start cooking. I wasn't planning to fire up the grill for a couple more hours. While we wait, let's sit on the patio and chat. Would you like a beer or a glass of wine?"

"A beer would be good."

"Do you have a preference? I frequent a couple of microbreweries, and I try to get a good variety of styles. I have a nice red, or would you prefer a hefeweizen or an IPA?"

"I don't really know what any of that means, so how about if I trust you?"

He smiled again, the clouds at least temporarily pushed back. "Looks like I've got to teach the new teacher something else. Our first lesson will begin with a nice Irish red ale." He pulled a couple of bottles out of the fridge, grabbed a couple of glasses off the shelf, and filled them before handing one to Amanda.

"I don't really don't know much about this. You don't have to be fancy. I could just drink out of the bottle."

"I'm going to credit that to being young and inexperienced. Believe me, you will enjoy the flavor much more drinking it this way." He handed her a glass, and guided her through the French doors onto the patio.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, taking an occasional sip of their beer. Finally, Steve decided to break the silence. "Amanda, what did you mean when you said this was one of the worst days of your life? What's going on?"

She hesitated, took a sip of beer, started to talk, paused again, and took another sip. "Tell you what, I'll tell you my story if you tell me yours."

Now it was his turn to hesitate. "Why do I get the feeling that we're both going to tell a heartbreaking love story?" He shrugged his shoulders. "You first."

Amanda took another sip of beer. "I'm probably going to need more of these before the night's out. I don't know exactly how to start."

"Just start at the beginning."

"No, actually, I think it's best to start at the end. So, I said that today was ONE of the worst days of my life. Tomorrow is probably going to be THE worst day of my life."

She glanced over at Steve as he looked both puzzled and concerned.

"See, tomorrow was supposed to be my wedding day. Right this very moment, I should be helping to decorate the church before the rehearsal."

She heard him say "Oh, my God, I'm so sorry."

"Hey, don't worry about it. Instead, I get to recover from a flat tire by getting drunk on the patio of a good friend."

Steve quickly spoke up. "I was happy to change your tire, and I'm going to let you cry on my shoulder as much as you want. I'll feed you, and teach you how to drink beer properly, but mark my words, I refuse to let you drown your sorrows by getting drunk. It doesn't help. I know, I've tried."

He saw her wipe more tears from her eyes. She noticed the concerned expression on his face. "Don't worry, these aren't tears of sadness. Well, they're partially tears of sadness, but they're also tears of happiness. Right now, I'm very happy to have you as a friend looking out for me. I think you're about the only friend I've got right now."

"That's a little unexpected, and a little sad, too. I think it's time you told me the whole story."

She nodded her head, and brushed away more tears. "I met John about two years ago. I was just starting my senior year. We literally ran into each other at the student union. Like so many college students, we were paying way more attention to our phones than we were to where we were walking. After picking up everything we dropped, and laughing about how silly the whole thing was, he asked if he could take me to dinner. The entire time we were together he treated me nicely, but looking back now, he was also always a little reserved and distant."

"The first couple of dates he picked me up and dropped me off at the main lobby of my dorm. After our third date, he would walk me to my room. After a couple more dates like that, I asked him if he minded meeting my roommate, Katie. She had been my best friend since 1st grade, and I think I wanted her approval before I went too far. It seemed to go well. In retrospect, that may have been my first mistake, but how would I know that?"

Steve couldn't help but comment, "I don't think I'm going to like where this is headed."

"Oh, just wait, it gets better." She took a bigger drink of her beer. "We continued to date all through my last year of school, and a week before graduation he proposed to me. I am sure that I loved him, but I can't honestly say that I ever fell in love with him. It never seemed to be deeply romantic. I never felt like I was swept off my feet. I think the best way to describe it is that we got engaged because it was expected."

Steve shook his head. "That, again, sounds so sad."

Amanda nodded her head. "Yeah, it is. So, anyway, I graduated, got the job here, and moved in with my parents for a couple of months until I could find an apartment. SHIT! I completely forgot about that. I'm going to have to find another place to live. My lease only runs through the month of June. I didn't need longer because I was going to be getting married."

"Maybe they'll let you extend the lease."

"No, they told me a month ago, they already had somebody ready to move in. They were even hoping I'd move out early so they could repaint it. Damn it, this day just keeps getting better and better." She took another drink, and then realized what she'd said. "Oh shit, Steve, I didn't mean it like that. I really am glad you were there to rescue me."

He chuckled a little, and took a drink of his own beer. "Don't sweat it. I know you're having a hard day. Trust me, I didn't take it personally. As for the apartment, I don't know what to tell you, but you do have a little over three weeks left. I'm happy to help you look for something, and I'll be there to help you move when the time comes. That's what friends do."

"There you go again, being the cool teacher that takes care of all the kids. How am I ever going to repay you?"

"You don't. My friendship is unconditional. Deal with it." He lifted his glass like he was toasting her, and then finished the last of his beer. "Can I get you another? Maybe a different style?"

She drank the rest of her glass, and handed it to him. "Sounds good. Maybe something a little lighter?"

He was back in five minutes with two glasses of a rich golden color.

"I brought us the hefeweizen. It's unfiltered, but it's a wheat beer, so it's definitely more light and golden."

She took a sip. "Oh, that's really good. I like that."

"Good, I'm going to make a connoisseur out of you yet."

"Time for part two. So, John and Katie both got jobs here, too. He's an accountant. Considering how reserved and detached he was in our relationship, I shouldn't have been surprised that he'd pick a pretty boring career as well. Katie, my roommate, got a job at the hospital as a clerk processing insurance claims. She got an apartment across town, and volunteered to help John find an apartment in her complex. That should have been clue number two."

She took another drink of her beer. "Oh, this really is good. Anyway, I started into my teaching, and you know what the first year is like. I was so overwhelmed by curriculum and grading and testing and everything else, I didn't have much free time. John was settling into his job, and then before we knew it, it was tax season, so he didn't have much free time. And Katie and I would get together for wedding plans, but since she had the most free time, I just let her do much of the work. She almost seemed to be planning her own wedding, but I was happy not to worry about it, so I just let her.

"I really don't think I'm going to like where this is headed."

She laughed a strange little laugh, "That makes two of us." She took a bigger drink. Steve saw a tear run down her cheek again. "Two months ago, the three of us were going to go out to dinner to celebrate me surviving my first year of standardized testing, and John surviving tax season, just me, my fiancé, and my best friend/maid of honor. I called Katie at lunchtime to confirm what we were doing that night, when I realized that I was so busy that I hadn't addressed the invitations and it was less than two months until the wedding. I started to panic, but Katie said to not worry about it, that she had it taken care of. At the time, I really didn't think anything about it, I just thanked her for everything she had done. She got silent for a few seconds, then said she had to go, and quickly hung up. I guess that should have been clue number three."

"After school, I went home and got cleaned up, then headed to Katie's apartment. I knew our reservations were for seven, but I wanted to talk to Katie a little about what still needed to be done for the wedding. I got there a little after six, and I could tell something was up. I must have been so naïve before. How could I have not seen it before that night? John was already there, and again, he wouldn't look at me. Katie seemed to have a smug look on her face, and with what I now know was a 'freshly fucked' glow.

"Don't tell me. They didn't."

"Yep, I'm afraid they did. But I didn't say anything yet. I waited to see what they would say. We took a seat around her kitchen table, and as usual, it was covered with wedding stuff, including one of 'my' invitations. And, there, right in front of my eyes was the proof that my world was going to fall apart. The invitation didn't have my name on it, it was Katie's."

She burst into tears again. Steve got up, walked over to Amanda, knelt down beside her, and held her as she cried.

"How could I be so fucking stupid? I didn't see any of it coming. I'm just such a fucking mess."

"It'll be okay, sweetheart. You're not a mess. You will survive this." He continued to hold her. After several minutes, her tears started to slow.

Steve took that moment to try to lighten things up a bit. "You know, I used to be a part-time enforcer for the mob. If you want, I can go whack 'em."

Amanda giggled a little through her tears. "I find it hard to believe you were a hitman."

"Would you believe I was a member of a SEAL team? I could take them out in a night strike."

"Nope. Try again."

"How about if I told you I was a minor league baseball player? I could take my Louisville Slugger and knock John's balls right out of the park."

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