He started the engine and the radio came on. What she heard made her gasp with joy that overwhelmed her quietly blossoming lust. “Oh my god I love this song! It’s Cyndi Lauper! Do you know it?”
“No, never heard it before.”
“Oh sure you have, c’mon sing it with me!” She sang along with the radio. “You’re calling to me, I can’t hear what you said.” She shimmied in her seat and leaned close to Oliver, singing, “You say go slow; I fall behind. The second hand unwinds.” She sat straight in her seat and belted at the windscreen, “If you’re lost you can look and you will find me…”
“Oh dear god.”
By the time they arrived at Charlotte’s house, the song was over and Oliver had pushed a series of buttons that prevented her from turning the radio back on. She turned on his emergency flashers instead, and he left them on, insisting, “You’ll only turn them back on if I switch them off, so I won’t even bother.” She giggled at the truth of this.
The car slid to a stop and they sat in silence for a moment while Charlotte patted the door looking for the latch.
“Let me walk you to the door,” Oliver said, and he reached across her to pull the lever. He left his arm pressed across her abdomen, trapping her. Once more, she wondered if events were conspiring against her.
“Afraid I won’t find my way?” Charlotte put her hand over Oliver’s–to find the latch or to touch his hand? “Aha! There it is.” And she tugged the lever under his hand to release herself from his car, his arm, his presence.
“I just want to be sure you’re safe,” he said.
Charlotte struggled with her seatbelt and then with the pavement, saying, “See, this is Annapolis, not New York. A woman can walk all the way from a car to her door without fear of assault.” She braced herself with both hands against the car frame and put her bare feet experimentally on the pavement. Purse in one hand, shoes in the other, she stood, wobbled a little, and then made her perilous way toward the door.
Oliver was followed her. Charlotte dropped her shoes on the porch, pulled her keys from her purse and started poking at the lock. After multiple failed attempts, she started to chuckle at her uncoordinated fingers. She rested her forehead on the door and kept trying to fit key to lock, but the more she tried, the more she giggled, and the more she giggled, the more difficult the task became.
“Would you like some help?” Oliver was smiling at her giggles and her increasingly erratic attacks on the lock.
“No, no, I want to get it myself!” she insisted merrily, but her giggles grew wilder and her assaults on the lock more hopeless. Finally she snorted with laughter and slipped into uncontrolled fits. Helpless, gasping, she handed her keys to Oliver and leaned against the house, mouth open, shaking with silent laughter. Oliver open the door and held it wide.
“You’re drunk, darling.”
“I really am,” Charlotte gasped through her giggles. “First time in years!” She stepped toward the door, grabbing his arm for support. She stood close to him and leaned her head on his shoulder, still giggling madly.
“Well it’s extremely alluring, as I’m sure you can imagine. Now get yourself inside the house before the angels of my better nature get the shit beat out of them by the devils of my truer nature.” With this, his arm went around her waist and he seemed to make some effort to chauffer her into the house. Charlotte responded to the warmth of his arm and her ambivalence dropped away. Hell, if he was leaving tomorrow, why not fuck him? She pressed her breasts against his chest and looked up at him coyly.
“Oh come in, you useless bastard,” she grinned.
“I can’t. I can’t, darling, I’ll go to bed with you and I’ll feel horribly guilty about it, and I’ll leave tomorrow and then we’ll both hate me.”
“No, we’ll go to bed and then you’ll leave tomorrow and we’ll have had one night of fun and no harm done. Okay?” She tried leading him into the house by his arm, but he resisted.
“No, darling.” His voice was chilled, quiet, and it acted like cold water splashed on her face.
“No…” She watched his face, waiting for the punchline.
“Despite all my natural inclinations, no. It would hardly serve my interests to take advantage of you in your present condition.”