Elvis Takes a Back Seat

Elvis Takes a Back Seat by Leanna Ellis Read Free Book Online

Book: Elvis Takes a Back Seat by Leanna Ellis Read Free Book Online
Authors: Leanna Ellis
an earphone. “What?”
    â€œYour feet! Do you mind not putting them on the King?” Stu would have been horrified.
    She looks at her feet, pops her big toe, then slowly pulls them away from Elvis’s shoulder. “Whatever.”
    â€œThanks.” But I know she’s already tuned me out.
    A blast of a car horn jerks my attention back to the road where I drifted out of my lane and into the next. I wrench the steering wheel to the right and try to breathe. I remember how my mother rode with me as I practiced driving before I turned sixteen. Most of the time she clutched the side door and shrieked whenever she thought I was slow on braking. But her sister doesn’t seem to have a care in the world right now. Rae leans back, her head tilted to absorb the sun’s rays, caught up in the moment. I wish I could be so carefree.
    * * *
    BY THE TIME we reach Greenville, we’ve stopped once and are behind schedule. Ivy needs bathroom breaks more oftenthan a toddler. Other drivers keep checking out Elvis in the back seat, doing double takes, then honking. Some wave and point like they’re trying to make sure I know Elvis is hiding in my back seat. Like I don’t know this. More truckers have blasted their horns at us until my nerves are frayed.
    â€œDo you think you’re going to be able to do this?” Rae asks.
    â€œDo what?”
    â€œSay good-bye to Stuart.”
    â€œYou mean to Elvis.” I shrug. “I’ve already …” My throat tightens. I’ve already done the impossible. Haven’t I?
    â€œYou had a happy marriage. For a long while.”
    â€œYes.” Feeling the sticky barbs of truth, I turn the questions back on Rae. “Were you ever married?”
    â€œNo, no.”
    â€œWhy not?”
    â€œIt’s not as if I never had offers. Handsome men. Wealthy, affluent. Oh, the men I’ve known.” She sighs. “But I never loved one enough to sacrifice my freedom. I like adventure.”
    â€œMother always said I should meet a man at church.”
    â€œIs that where you met Stu?” she asks.
    â€œNo. We met while I was on a date.”
    â€œWith another man?”
    â€œBen.” I glance back at Ivy, not sure I want her to know this about her father. “It was a setup. A mutual friend at the church we both attended hooked us up. And while we were at dinner, we ran into Stu. He was on a date with someone else.”
    â€œFruit basket turnover,” Rae laughs. “I always thought men at church were boring.”
    â€œBen wasn’t boring. I don’t really remember whathappened. But we never went out again. And soon Stu started calling. I guess I figured Ben wasn’t interested.”
    I think back on the twenty years I was married to Stu. It took me along paths I would never have ventured on my own. “Don’t you think marriage can be an adventure?”
    â€œMaybe.” Rae readjusts her sunglasses. “With the right someone. But I know how painful loving can be.”
    I nod, knowing the pain, the sacrifices mingled with the joy.
    â€œAfter …” Her voice drifts, her gaze seems to be looking more in the distance than the smattering of car dealerships we are passing. “Well, I never allowed myself to love deeply again. The pain,” she waves her hand, “was too much.”
    â€œI know. I don’t think I’ll ever marry again either. It’s too hard to let go.” I think back to my mother, who never spoke of lost loves or the pain of losing my father. “Who was it that broke your heart?”
    â€œI did.” She taps her chest. “And my heart never recovered.”
    â€œHow is that possible?” I ask.
    â€œHey!” Ivy interrupts. “It’s raining.”
    At that moment a raindrop plops against my scalp, then another fat one hits my arm. Up ahead, dark clouds bump together. We seem to be reaching the edge of a storm. “We

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