Debra! You’re dead! Van is NOTHING you made him out to be. I’m sitting at dinner listening to him ramble…it’s all white noise now…I tuned out over ages ago. You said he was hot! He’s a 7 only because he has a Rolex and resembles Chris Evans…everything else screams Republican. I bet he masturbates to women like me. I’m SO out of his league! No more blind dates! You know my type…where’s his edge? He’s blah!”

Janelle hit send, tucked her phone away, and regrettably turned her attention across the table to Van. Half an hour later, he was still talking though the conversation became marginally bearable with each compliment, which Janelle, accustomed to being the center of attention, greedily lapped up. She resumed texting when the conversation shifted away from greatness her.
Debra replied: Be nice. He drove hours to meet you. And you insisted on driving up a day ahead of us. Not so adventurous anymore, are you? We’ll see you tomorrow evening, depending on the weather.

“The weather?” In all the confusion, Janelle hadn’t noticed the storm brewing outside. Just then, the restaurant hostess warned of severe weather, and closed the eatery. Her planned escape thwarted, Janelle was now stuck in a log cabin in the middle of the Sierra Nevada with a man she secretly loathed.

Back at the cabin and resigned to her fate, Janelle, in a gesture of kindness after her childish behavior, offered Van her preferred side of the bed – a bed large enough for a small army. Ever patient, Van was under no illusion. Unlike Janelle’s whorish ex Michael who described her as a pretentious self-serving bitch, Debra believed Janelle’s self-obsession grew from insecurity. Janelle was striking, a little short and curvy, with a beautiful deep olive complexion, large dark eyes, and a wealth of thick chestnut hair which she pulled back into a knot. Since her breakup, she’d gone natural; something Michael violently opposed.

“Why are you walking around with a nappy head?” Debra told Van how Michael’s words had cut Janelle to her core. “Tread lightly. Janelle is more sensitive than she appears.” She forewarned. Van was her boyfriend Ben’s lifelong friend she’d met while visiting Ben’s family in Del Norte County, four hundred miles north of Napa County where they lived. Debra needn’t worry – Van’s history with the jaded type was par for the course and Janelle didn’t intimidate him nor would he go out of his way to impress her. For him, their weekend would affirm his belief that the right woman was worth the wait.

Lights out, Janelle forwent the sexy lingerie she’d purchased for the occasion, and slipped into bed wearing a knee length tee-shirt. Van stripped down to his boxers and crawled in beside her. Though their chemistry meter read zero, she expected Van to try his luck. To her dismay, he went fast asleep. The weather worsened as the hours ticked by. Janelle stared up at the pitch black ceiling, unable to sleep. Van didn’t stir.  

“Van?” she tapped his back. “I can’t sleep.”

“Really? You woke me up to say you couldn’t sleep.” Van grunted slightly annoyed. “I thought that only happened in films.” He turned onto his stomach, clutching his pillow. “Just close your eyes…count sheep…go to your happy place…” his voice tapered off.

Janelle tossed and turned, kicking herself for seeking the attention of a man she deemed inferior. She thought he was full of himself, but found herself caring about what he thought of her, which is why his indifference both comforting and conversely unnerving. Janelle possessed keen observation. Nevertheless, Van Young was an enigma, an open book yet utterly unreadable. His hazel eyes seemed to bore under her skin in search of sustenance and reduced her from femme fatale to femme banale with the bat of his thick lashes. She hadn’t wowed him with charm or compulsory first date dribble. In fact, he greeted them with only mild concern. He wasn’t like any man she’d known; when she spoke, he listened intensely. And though Janelle feared Van might unlock her inner doors, this unassuming man intrigued her.
Janelle rolled over, her stomach on Van’s back. “Hope the weather let’s up.” Her bare legs rubbed his. His muffle wasn’t exactly what she’d hoped for. She outlined his back muscles. “I’d hate to drive home in this mess.”

“Janelle? Is there something you need?” His patience hung by a thread. “Have I missed something? It’s…” he patted the nightstand blindly searching for his watch – he replaced it after straining to read the time. “…it’s almost midnight and I had a very long drive. If I’m making you uncomfortable, I’ll sleep in the other room. Debra and Ben won’t be here until.”

“You’re fine,” she said honestly. “It’s been a rough day. Or maybe it’s the weather. I can’t sleep.” 

“Come here.” Van rolled onto his back and Janelle burrowed into his side. He sighed deeply and stroked her coils. “You should wear your hair down. Your curls are pretty. They’re all ‘I am woman, hear me roar.’ Grrr!”

“Did you just growl? You’re crazy.”

“Yeah, well, your feet are cold so I guess neither of us is going to the prom this year. Go to sleep.”