Looks like we are having a sleepover tonight.
Finally, after a couple of hours in observation, the doctor lets me go. Without saying a word, Duke pulls up to a fast-food restaurant in town. it looks like it’s the only one around.
Duke gives a gruff, “Do you like cheeseburgers?”
“Yeah.” I nod.
“This place makes the best. Fries?”
“What do you want to drink?”
“Coke, I guess.”
He looks at me like he expects me to say something else. “What kind?”
“The cola kind?” I reply, confused.
“Sorry. Down here, every soda is just called Coke.”
“Well, that’s dumb,” I say.
He cracks the smallest of smiles. “I guess it can get confusing.”
“Well, I guess just regular Coca-Cola is fine.”
He orders for us, and I reach for my wallet.
“I’ve got it,” Duke says, pulling out his own.
“You don’t have to do that.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Once again, I could argue, and usually, I would. But I’m tired and hungry and just ready to be home. I figure I can just hand him some cash later on to make up for it.
Duke pays and hands me the bags of food.
Twenty minutes later, we are back at the house and sitting at the kitchen table. I open my cheeseburger and take a bite.
“Mmm. Damn, you’re right. This is really good,” I say.
“Best burger in town,” he replies while taking his own bite. “Not that there are a lot of options.”
“Thank you for the food. I meant what I said, though, if you need to go, I’ll be fine.”
“The doctor said you need to be looked after. I intend to do that.”
“Is this like a military thing?” I ask.
“I’d like to think of it as a decent human being thing.” There’s that hint of a smile again.
We’re both silent for a few minutes while we eat. I try not to dwell on the fact that Duke looks like some sort of sexy linebacker while I look like ten miles of bad road. I find myself staring at him much more often than I should, but he barely ever makes eye-contact with me. When his eyes do happen to find mine, they are cold as ice, yet somehow burn like fire all at the same time. It makes no sense at all, but I want to solve the riddle known as Duke Samson. What’s under that thick exterior of his?
Soon, we finish our food, and I say, “Maybe with you here tonight, I’ll feel safer. I swear this place is haunted.”
He cocks one of his eyebrows. “What makes you think that?”