The fact I couldn’t pump gas had never crossed my mind. Until now. My tank was so empty I’d coasted into this small service station in some beach town in the middle of nowhere. Laughing at myself I listened as Braden’s voice said “I’m not available. If you want to reach me I suggest you hang up and text me.” Her voicemail. She was probably in a plane. I was going to have to figure this one out all on my own.
I stepped out of the small faded red Honda Civic. Luckily I’d pulled up to the gas tank on the correct side. There was the little door I knew the nozzle went in. I had seen Braden do this before. I could do this. Maybe.
My first problem was I couldn’t figure out how to open this little magical door. It was there. I could see it but it had no handle. I stared at it a moment then glanced around to see if there was anyone else near me who didn’t look scary. I needed some help. It had taken two solid years of counseling to get me to speak to strangers. Now I did it often. Braden really had more to do with that than the psychologist I’d been forced to see weekly. She’d forced me to learn to live.
I had the quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” by Franklin D Roosevelt, taped to my bathroom mirror. I read it daily or at least I had been for the past three years. I silently quoted that in my head and my body relaxed. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t my mother. I was Della Sloane and I was on a road trip to find myself.
“You okay? Need some help?” a deep smooth drawl startled me and I jerked my head around to see a guy smiling at me from the other side of the gas pump. His dark brown eyes appeared to twinkle with laughter as he stared back at me. I didn’t have much but I did have some experience with guys. Enough to know even when they were gorgeous, like this one, it didn’t make them a good person. I’d lost my virginity to a smooth talking southern boy with a smile that made panties drop all over the place. It had been the worst experience of my life. But this one might be helpful. He wasn’t offering sex. He was offering to help me. At least I thought he was.