Locked up with the Badboy.

I take a seat on the floor in front of him, "What?"

He combs a hand through his dark hair and sighs, "This is a maximum security prison, the people here have killed babies, shot up schools , killed multiple partners and run crime rings and you, are saying that I'm mean? "

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25. Older.

We ride until the day grows dark, stopping off at pitsburg Louisiana. A town that isn’t a town, more like a village with a big library and supermarket. “So you’re finding dinner right Ben?” I say as We both stretch out our legs.

“Totally,” he grins, “I’ll even find us a place to stay.”

“I’d like to see that.”

So off Ben goes, disappearing into the neighbourhood. I hide our bike in the middle of a shrubbery, then sit at a park bench in front of a lake. Strangely I’m not worried that Ben has just disappeared on me. I know he’ll be back, eventually.

While I wait, I think, going back to my old life worries me, I know I’m not the same but… I did kill my brother. Chris died because of me.

Each of my fingers wraps themselves around the arm of the bench, And then I’d run away. Why? I think of Nigel, the guy that stalked me. I wonder what happened to him.

Thoughts cross my mind, birds fly overhead and I grip the seat tighter and tighter. Someone calls my name, I turn my head, I freak out.

“Chris?” I call.

“Ben.” He replies. “Now come on, people are staring.”

As I stand up, I spin around turns out there’s no-one watching. “Beeen.” I can feel my hands shaking.

“Come on anyway, I’ve found us a place to stay.” He takes my hand, and half running drags me to a house where an old lady peeps from her door a phone in her hands, “This is Katrina.” Ben says, waving his hand in front of me.

“And you’re in love right?” The woman asks, a frown on her face.

“Absoloutely!” Ben replies for the both of us, giving me a slight nod.

“Yeah…” I back up, “Um, yeah two kids in love.”

She considers us for a moment then pops her dentures out, “Okay, whatever. I have nothing worth stealing anyways.” Her voice mumbles without the dentures but  she opens the door.

I flick Ben a glance, and whisper, “What the heck are we doing here?” The door opens and the woman peers at us, the ugly expression unfolding on her face for just a moment. She pops her dentures back in, “Right this way please.”

As the senior leads us through a maze of cat posters and antique tea-cups I can’t help wondering what Ben’s got us into now,  from an attack by violent gang members to tea with a grandma. And Yes. I think to myself, there is tea, steam leaks out of the spout of a doily-knit kettle.

“Take a seat both of you, help yourself to the ginger-slice.

Ben takes a piece, I don’t. The grandma stares at me, Ben stares at me and tries to subtly nod toward the ginger slice. “You don’t have to eat it.” The grandma says, actually meaning, If you don’t eat it things are gonna get real.

I pick up the slice and take a bite, instantly all the awkwardness in the room dissolves. Her ginger crunch is much too sweet for me, Ben appears to like it though. As she’s pouring us tea Ben puts on the charm, “That’s great ginger crunch, the best I’ve had in my life.”

She mutters a quick thanks, so he continues, “Yep me and Katrina would have been lost without  you, we were going to sleep outside in the cold.”

She hands us a cup of tea then gets the kind look on her face again, “How long have you two been together?”

I take a sip of the tea, it’s pretty good. “Oh, only a m-“

“-Years,” Ben interrupts, “Two years.”

Susan shakes her head, young people move so fast now days. And what a way to spend your honeymoon…”

I give Ben The Eyebrows. He pretends not to notice.

“Well it’s five O’clock.” She says, “May as well start cooking.”

She struggles to her feet and Ben offers. I chill in the chair and read a few Knitting annuals. When laughter comes from the kitchen I know that Ben’s won her over. “What a darlin.” Susan calls him, “What a Darl.”

Ben sleeps on the couch and I’ve got a mattress on the floor, “No Funky-stuff,” She says with a wink as she turns off the lights. Ben pretends to be asleep for five minutes, then slowly reaches an arm down from the sofa to touch my face.

“You’re such a charmer,” I say, grabbing his arm.

“Is that why you married me darlin?” Both of us giggle.

I run my fingers over his palm, it’s rough and growing calloused from clinging to handlebars all day. “How long are we going to be able to keep this up Ben?”

My hands slide up his arm as he reaches down the run a hand through my hair. “I dunno Clara, maybe a month, maybe a year? How long did Bonnie and Clyde get?”

“They got a couple.” I kiss the back of his hand, I’m trying not to cry. I really don’t want to cry.

“Clara, are you crying?” He asks.

“Not really.”

His body lands beside mine, he places a kiss on every tear that falls from my eyes. Which makes me even sadder. “I don’t want us to end,” I say as his hand finds mine.

His fingers intersect mine, they’re warm and reassuring. “We’re not going to end Clara. I’ll never let you go.”

“But if the police catch us, if O’vo find us…”

He sighs and places his forehead against my cheek, “I don’t know Clara. They’ll separate us, they’ll kill me.”

“No chance of a normal life?”

“Not as long as you’re with me.”

We sit quiet for awhile, I think about what Ben has said, I think about the future; about having none. “You couldn’t have told the police all O’vo’s seceret when you were like 80?” I ask.

I can feel his grin, “That isn’t stylish enough.”

A question burns within me, stopping for a moment I ask, “Ben do you love me?” At the same time says yes, what then? My heart gives a crazy leap, What if he says yes? What then?

Ben squeezes my hand, “Clara…”

“Yeah, it’s okay, don’t worry I was just curious.” My heart drops, not as bad as I thought it would, I guess I was expecting it. Ben kisses me softly on the cheek then climbs back onto the couch. I wait until I’m sure he’s asleep before whispering, “I love you Ben.”

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