It was a reasonable question. He still didn’t like it, but answered. “No.”
She screwed her face up. He refused to ask her the same in return. Not because it hadn’t occurred to him, just out of respect. Besides, if she had, he didn’t want to know.
She looked in his eyes to see whether he was lying. Then asked, arching an eyebrow, “Why not? I’m sure women have been throwing themselves at you.”
He didn’t feel pressured. Lesli was just being Lesli. “Know what? You gon’ be jealous or die. Whether you have a reason and when you don’t.”
She smiled. “You know, I think I actually like Helen St. James. And the youngster. They have a great deal of regard for you.” That sounded good. He wasn’t, though, looking forward to her and Faith meeting again.
“Les?” What am I supposed to do next time you pull a disappearing act?”
“I’m perfectly serious. Who saw this coming? What’s to say it won’t happen again? To tell the truth, I’m starting to wonder whether you some sort of headcase.”
She smiled that incredible smile, warmhearted, wizened. “What gave you your first clue, Sherlock? Women in my family historically are nutty as fruitcakes. You’ve met my mother. Her sister’s clinically insane. Has papers to prove it.”
“Lesli, this isn’t exactly encouraging.”
“Live with it, big boy. Where else are you going to get a woman this good?” She straightened up, got serious. “It’s not going to happen again. So help me.” Then winked.
He hung his head, then looked up at the ceiling and finally just sat back and wondered why he’d never had any better sense than to get mixed up with this woman. Much less fall in love with her. Life, he guessed, was funny that way. Then he jumped up: “Damn!”
He had to get back to Butch and Sundance. They’d needed to be fed, watered, and have their litter changed. “Baby, I have to go.”
“Can I come?”
“Sure. Long as you shake a leg. Butch and Sundance’ll be glad to see you.”
“You brought them?”
“Well, I’d’ve left them with a certain someone. But, she weren’t around.”
She punched his arm. “Alright already! You going to keep rubbing it in?”
“Not another word. Promise.”
He went out in the yard and said goodbye to her father. While she was upstairs trying to make peace with Mari. Keith left feeling good about how he stood with them. Not all that sure about where things stood with Lesli, but hey, nuts or not she came back. And did so on as close to bended knee as a strong, independent woman gets.
So far as Keith was concerned, all was right in the world. They called for a cab, got to the site.
When they got there, Luis was moving in with Lola. Keith dropped Lesli off at the bus. Then helped Luis with his gear. As they got the last of it relocated, Lola showed Luis to his bunk, then stood back and quietly stated, “Bring the first underage ho’ up in here, you and her both will be on the side of the road so fast your head won’t stop spinning for a week. You hear me?”
“Baby, yeah, I hear you.”
“Don’t ‘baby’ me! Everybody on this job is lucky you and Keith didn’t wind up behind bars. And I bet he had enough sense not to have anything to do with it. You know what that kind of publicity would do to all of us? And the band has barely got started! I mean it — keep your nose clean.”
Luis, for once, had the good sense to keep his smart mouth shut. Keith actually felt sorry for his friend. He sure wouldn’t want to have to answer to an angry Lola Rodriguez.
He went to the bus. Now his quarters, all to himself. Well, himself and her: Lesli was quite comfortably ensconced in the easy chair, sipping an ice-cold Corona. She looked around, swept the surroundings in with arm gestures and whistled. “Talk about a chick palace. The women must flip for this place. So, where’s the driver?”
“Barney? He won’t be back for another hour at least. Went for a dinner break. Then, after that, knows some people in town. Why?”
She gave him a wolfish grin. “Why do you think? Does this door lock?”
He smiled. “Sure does.” With that she hopped up and soon had him out of his clothes.
Next week: Lesli tags along.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.