A Short Story by
Cobus Vermeulen

             TOMMY LAY motionless in the Hospital bed. There were a few people around him, but none of them said a word to each other. They did what they could in keeping themselves warm while the ice-cold snowstorm, once more picked up force outside.
            Everyone was looking at the other, each remembering what their part was, which lead to Tommy ending up in Hospital.
          It was only Tommy, who was lying there, in a coma, doing what he could in retracing the events which almost led to his demise.
            If he were to stand tall, waking up out of the coma and knowing what happened, it would be essential for him to work through what took place.

             WALKING INTO the loft, from the University Library, Tommy remembered only then to switch on his phone. He wasn’t a straight A’s student but knew that he couldn’t waste his parent’s money and not finish his studies either.
            He and Annie hooked up a while back. She wasn’t an immediate distraction to his studies, but then she was doing everything she could in making sure that he never could forget her for too long either.
            “Okay, at last, a message from Annie.” Tommy thought, never being too worried about keeping connected with everyone all the time.
            “Have you heard from Annie yet?” Billy asked the moment when Tommy heard the sound on his mobile’s message alert.
Tommy looked at him, not too sure why he of all people was more worried about Annie than Tommy, her boyfriend, was.
            “Didn’t you guys have another fight before she left for the Holiday Resort?” Billy asked, “I’m just looking out for you bro.” he reacted fast, not sure what was going on in Tommy’s head.
            “You’re the one that told me that I don’t know her that well. Still, you know her better than I do and you’re not willing to lay some of that knowledge on me either. Brow. That doesn’t sound like you’re really looking out for her or me, in the least.” Tommy told him, not too happy with this situation.
            Both had their issues with this. Billy didn’t want to ruin the chances Tommy could have in getting to know Annie. Still, he wasn’t willing to tell Tommy any of what he knew. Having mentioned far too much, but couldn’t unsay, what he had already.
            “I know you don’t care for my thoughts on this, but then I still believe you should get to know her in your own time,” Billy repeated himself, looking like a cat, on a hot tin roof – “Are they okay? I heard from the weather channel; there’s an icy-cold storm heading our way. It might not pass them, so if you wanted to get up there; find out what she said and pack, you better get cracking to get there before the storm hit.” Billy told him, feeling far too uncomfortable with the situation.
            “With Tara and the rest there, I would only be a nuisance to her. There are other girls there as well. Can you imagine, with me there and their boyfriends not allowed, they would have a fit.” Tommy told him, only then looking at his phone.
For a moment there was silence while Billy wondered what Tommy saw.
            “Is something wrong?” Billy asked cautiously.
            Tommy didn’t react, just looked at the phone and then dialed into his voice-mail. He didn’t look at Billy, just walked to the window – looking at the constant change in the weather.
Billy could do little, walking over to the Television, flipping to the weather channel.
            “Hi Tommy, this is Tara. Yes, I know that you would have liked Annie to have called you by now, but this is not the case. If you’re not alone, only listen.” Tommy heard the cryptic message; “If you come up here, I don’t want Annie knowing that I’ve called and if you’re not coming up here – then we’ll have to talk about this whenever I see you. Do not mention this to anyone, unless you don’t want to know the truth of the matter. Let’s just talk, and then you can choose what you would do yourself.” she said, cutting the call, not having more to say.
            Billy still stood there, unable to read Tommy’s face or his actions.
            “Are you going up there or what?”
            “Apparently… I am going up there,” Tommy said, plastering a fake smile on his face when he looked at Billy; “Women… you cannot live with them, and you cannot live without them. What the hell is wrong with us in most instances?” Tommy asked him, hiding the message very easily from Billy.
            “Did you get enough studying for the exam next week? You do know, if you fail any one of the tests, your parents will not pay for rent, landing us on the street?” Billy asked, knowing Tommy knew this very well.
            “They’d at least allow me to re-write if that is possible and then, they do know it’s my freshman-year; it’s not High School anymore. Thus, things are a little harder at the get-go.” he told Billy, “I’ll pack and then get going. I want to be up there long before the weather turns foul.”
            “Yeah, you’d better hurry. Unfortunately, I cannot go with you. It would have been a blast. Some of the girls might like to fool around. But that would only get me into more trouble.” Billy joked while Tommy started packing in his room.
            Tommy didn’t react to this and just got his things together. Still, he realized that Billy wasn’t himself in the least.

           TOMMY MADE sure to fill olé faithful, the Jeep’s tank to the brink. Not too sure what he would have to pay for up there and what not. Thus, being stuck there without transport to get back would be terrible, especially if Annie was about to score him some freebies while he was there.
           “Man oh man, you look like you’re ready to go camp in a blizzard.” one of the men said, looking at the fully stocked Jeep.
            “Yeah, well, going up to the resort and there could be a chance I’d have to camp out at some point. You never know. Need to be prepared.” Tommy told the older black man, who looked through the window and walked off.
            Paying for the fuel, Tommy got in, taking along some snacks – he drove off, not having to race the weather; but keeping an eye on it though.

           ANNIE WALKED hastily all over, looking for her best friend, Tara. The resort wasn’t crowded at all, but everyone still had to work. There were a few guests who enjoyed the snow and would stay around for as long as they could.
            “Have any of you seen Tara?” she asked one of the two girls there.
            “Isn’t she working at the sauna?”
            Before either one of them could say a word to her, Annie bolted from there, heading to the sauna. While she was on her way there, the phone rang. She stopped and looked at the Caller-Identity. Not sure she wanted to answer, for it wasn’t Tommy.
            “What do you want now?” she asked irritated.
            “Hi to you as well… what’s eating you?” he asked.
            “What is eating me? What is eating me?” she asked very loudly, walking past some of the guests.
Keeping the phone in hand and did what she could in apologizing, not wanting to get fired for being outwardly rude.
            The moment she walked out of their sight and earshot, “You’re the one who is supposed to make sure that we’ve got enough time! I have to get a text from Tommy that he’d be seeing me in due time. What happened to our plan?” she asked, going a little crazy on her way, down the hallway.
            “That is exactly the reason why I’m calling you. He got a message, I have no idea from whom, but then choose to come up there.” Billy told her, “I had suspected that it was from you, but the way you’re going on, I can just assume that you didn’t call or leave him a voice-mail?” he asked her.
            Hearing this, Annie stopped dead. She looked up and down the hallway, seeing there was no one there. She groaned at what Billy had told her. Not that she could make too much noise and once more look up and down the corridor. There was no one coming, only Billy on the other side, wondering what was going on.
            “I’m still here. You had better pray that Tommy doesn’t know and that he’s not coming here to ask me about it. You’d better just hope he doesn’t know!” Annie told him.
            “Who do you think would have told him? Who would even know?”
            Annie stood irritated, not sure, seeing the sign for the sauna – “I can think of a few, but I’m going to the one I suspect would be right at the top of the list. I’ll call you when I call you.” she told him, dropping the call and steamed off even more frustrated!

            TOMMY REACHED well past halfway. While he drove, he kept a close eye on the approaching weather.
           “Just what is going on, that I’ve got no idea about?” Tommy wondered, not getting any kind of good feeling about it.
            By now the road had four very distinct tracks up and down. Tommy played some old music which his grandfather taught him to enjoy. The Jeep had an old radio and tape-deck. Thus, even his parents’ tapes were used – in a manner of speaking, keeping all of them close to his heart.
            “I really hope that Tara isn’t starting something out of spite.” Tommy shouted, concentrating on the road ahead of him.
            He had more than ample time and would arrive sooner than he suspected. Without any traffic and nothing standing in his way, he would be there by lunch at the latest. Just then, he saw that there was light snow starting to fall. The weather had changed over the last month, but this was a storm of note, which was heading their way.

            WALKING INTO the sauna, Annie didn’t find Tara. She was running in circles, and everyone she spoke to was in the dark about Tara’s exact whereabouts. At long last Annie walked into their room and heard the water from the shower running.
            “You must be kidding me, showering this time in the day?” Annie said, boiling in her skin.
            She had built up a sweat over the last few hours, and Tara was getting herself refreshed. Just then, while Annie tried to find Tara’s phone, did she get out of the shower and walk into their room. Tara stopped, not suspecting anyone to be there and got a pretty good fright at that.
Tara looked at Annie, seeing that she was standing far too close to her things.
            “Okay now, what is going on?” Tara asked, not covering any part of herself.
            Annie had to think fast, “Do you mind getting dressed; I’m really not interested in girls in the least.”
            “Why would you then be bothered? Not only that, what are you going through my stuff?” Tara asked, looking Annie in the eyes – making sure she didn’t get to anything else.
            Acting really Kio, Annie moved out from between the two beds, putting up her hands up, boiling even more so.
            “Now then, what’s going on that you’d want to go through my things?” Tara asked irritated herself.
Annie didn’t look at her, trying to find the best way of covering herself in her actions; but getting to the truth as well. Only then did she turn around, working very hard to come up with something perfect. Tara was dressing slowly, knowing that she bugged the life out of Annie when she was naked.
            “You really do like to irritate me like this, don’t you?” Annie asked, not playing it cool after all.
            “At least you’ve got the balls, as little as they are – but then you’re not going to play it cool or nice, got anything you’d like to ask me?” Tara wanted to know, smiling happily at this.
            “Well then, if you suspect something is coming,” Annie started, “I might as well suspect that it was you then?” she said, not seeing any reaction in Tara’s face, eyes or actions.
            “What are you accusing me of, just so I’d know?”
Tara was a cool customer, dressing while she waited to see what Annie would do.
            “There’s a massive blizzard coming our way, and now Tommy is on his way here. If he has a good journey, then he could arrive here in a short time.” Annie stared at her again, “But then you know he’s on his way here don’t you?” she asked, boiling and willing to physically assault Tara by now.
            “I know for a fact that I’m not psychic, but then as you said – suddenly I know that Tommy is coming here? Just how would that be?” Tara asked, dressing still – “I could suspect, he would like to come to visit his girlfriend? But then I would have guessed that he’d come here sooner. So now, you don’t want to see him or would there be a reason you wouldn’t want to see him?” Tara asked her, enjoying turning the table on her.
            “I know it’s you that called him, I’ll prove it as soon as I get your phone and then we’ll have the proof!” Annie said, realizing Tara walked closer to her.
She took her mobile and handed it to Annie. Standing there, looking at her, not making any other moves.
            “Firstly, I didn’t call Tommy. He’s coming and would probably be here sooner.” she said, smiling happily – “Secondly, I’d like to know what you’d even try, but worse for you. When he’s here, you’ll have to act as happy as you possibly could be; seeing that you don’t even want him here.” Tara told her, “I’m thrilled that I’m not you. So then, have a look, and you tell me how I could make a call from that phone when; it’s broken?” she asked Annie, seeing that Annie turned pale.
            Tara grabbed the phone from her and threw it on the bed. Finish dressing and made sure that all her things were nicely packed away. Just if Annie had the idea of doing anything else, she would know the slob had been there.

            SINCE THE last time Billy had spoken to Annie, he’d called three more times. Neither time did Annie answer. The only thing he could do was keeping an eye on the weather. It was well past twelve and almost one o’clock when Billy did get a text from Annie – Tommy had arrived.
            Pulling the Jeep to the back, where he’d only once before parked. It was the last time he was there, coming to visit Annie at that time as well.
The moment Tommy got out of the Jeep, one of the girls, the youngest between them, walked up to him.
            “What… are you crazy?” she asked him almost hysterically!
            “Did Annie send you to me, she’s a little busy getting her facts straight?” he asked, not in the mood for their foolish games.
She just looked at him, not sure if she wanted any part of the brewing trouble.
            “Of all the places you could have been, you choose to come here?” she asked, turning around, walking back into the warmth.
            Tommy didn’t stay outside, there was an icy-cold wind, which leads him to the last part of the way. Pulling his jacket close even more, while the cold was doing all it could at injecting itself on the young man.
            The moment Tommy walked into the door, there was a night to day difference, between the inside and outside conditions. He didn’t stand on snow anymore. There was a thick carpet, the width of the hallway and enough light to shine all the way. The most obvious thing he realized was that it was much warmer inside than out. There was no wind which wanted to rip his clothes off his body, and he could actually hear himself think. The cold was kept at bay beyond the doors.
            The few people he saw inside the resort; they didn’t even take notice of him. There were only a few guests and those he saw; knowing with his clothes and where he stood – he wasn’t one of the guests.
            “Talking about crashing a party.” Tommy thought, “Just wonder where Annie would be?” he asked, walking into the building.
The young girl who spoke to him briefly, she wasn’t in sight and just as he arrived at the front desk; a few more girls were walking past him. Tommy saw that none of them even cared for him, to say the least; they only looked at the part of guests.
            “Just what do you have to say for yourself, Mister?” Annie asked Tommy, standing well away from him, needing to read his manner before she did a thing.
            The moment he turned, she reluctantly walked up to him and kissed him. She had to rapidly change over into girlfriend mode. She had to act very convincingly, not dropping the ball and allowing Tommy to suspect her of anything.
            “I wanted to see you… what? Should I not have come?” he asked her, keeping it casual, but suspecting everything from the moment he heard her voice.
            “No, I didn’t say that. But then, you do know that I’m working here. It’s not like I can leave my job and entertain you.” Annie told him, holding onto him for as long as she could – not wanting to look into his eyes.
            “I’ll maintain a low profile. To say the least, everyone here must get ready for this storm.
That said, I cannot believe that the Manager would not let you guys prepare.” he told her, pulling away and looking at her – “If there’s nothing to do, you and I can spend some time together. Even if it’s only sitting, looking at a fire, by one of the many fireplaces.” Tommy told her, looking intently at her.
            Both would try reading each other’s actions and faces as best as they could, while they were in each other’s company. Their little game of action and reaction.

            TARA WALKED up to them. She knew very well how mischievous Annie was with everyone she wanted to use. Thus, it turned her stomach to see just how she played everyone around her.
            “Hi there,” not giving any reaction to Tommy.
            “Hi, aren’t you supposed to be at your job or something?” Annie shot at her, not trusting Tara in the least.
            “I would have been, the only problem is this;” she said, looking at them – first Tommy and then Annie; “There’s something you did or didn’t do. But then, the Manager is looking for you.” Tara told her, turning to walk away.
            For the shortest moment, Annie stood there. If the Manager saw Tommy, she would lose her job. There was nothing else for her to do, but to ask Tara for help.
            “Tara…” Annie called her, seeing that she stopped and looked at them, “I cannot take Tommy with, I know that you’re busy, but can you take him back to our room?” she asked, “Just show him where we’re at, and then you can go to work.” she asked, looking as uncertain of this as Tommy was of her.
She looked at Annie, not even acting, she wasn’t in the mood for any of it!
            “I take him there. I do not entertain him, and I’m not waiting for you to come back either.” Tara told Annie, not waiting for them, walking off.
Tommy looked at her and then back at Annie.
            “Would Tara’s fiancé know about me being here already?” he asked, not really worried.
It was now that he could speak with Tara, finding out what it was that she wanted to tell him.
            “I’ll be there as soon as I can, just maybe, if you behave – we can share the room.” she told him, looking at Tara walking away, not trusting her in any which way – “Just drop him off and that’s it… you hear.” calling after her, not sure if Tara cared in the least.

            THE MOMENT the two turned the corner, walking away from Annie; they heard the wind really picking up. The cold was affecting even the building, and it sounded more like they were on a massive wooden ship, the building was cracking and pressing against the wind.
            “Your message sounded very vague and strange.” Tommy started, feeling the tension between them.
            “Yes, I had no idea things would turn out as crazy as they did. But yes, when we do have that time, we do,” Annie wanted to say, seeing Fred walked out of the connecting hallway.
Immediately Tara stopped and looked at him.
            “Hi there, who is this? Where you’re off to?” he asked, not looking happy at all to see Tommy with her – “You said that we’d finish our conversation, when will that be and what are you doing with him?” he asked very jealous.
            Tara looked at Tommy and then back at Fred. She didn’t even smile at him and didn’t care what he was doing.
            “Tommy, Annie’s boyfriend – this is my ex-fiancé. He’s been demoted to the position of less than nothing!” she told Tommy, looking at Fred and making sure he understood what was going on – “We’re leaving, and if we speak, you’d better be up to the task!” Tara told him, boiling in her skin.
Tommy looked at him and then saw her walking. He didn’t say a thing to Fred, just walked faster to catch up to Tara.
            “And no, you’d not want to know what is going on back there.” she told Tommy, even before he got a chance at asking anything.
Turning into the next hallway, the cold had seeped into the building already. Everyone was dressed warmer than Tommy was and even so – it was still cold inside the building.
            “I hope you brought warm clothes. Doubt you’d get out of here when you suspect.” Tara told him, opening the door to their room – “There’s her bed, you might as well make yourself comfortable, and we’ll see just what takes place within the next few hours.” she told him, “We’ll see just when we’ll talk. What you make of it, that would be up to you.” she told him, walking out of the room before he could even utter a word.
            Tommy placed his bag on the floor and lay on the bed. For the time he was still okay, then the cold even reached in there, and he could feel the temperature dropping.
            “Why do I get the feeling, this wasn’t such a good idea after all.” Tommy said, getting up and getting something warmer to dress in.
Before he found what he was looking for, there was a knock at the door.
            “What would the odds be?” he thought, smiling and walked to the door.
Before he opened it, he looked business-like and suspected almost anything. It was Fred who stood there. This Tommy suspected and looked at him, just the same as he looked at Tommy.
            “I have no idea what you’re doing here, but I do hope that you’re not thinking of making a move on Tara.” Fred said, happy that he got the first blow in.
            “Seriously, you do know who I’m here to see. Just what are you thinking about, I’m with Annie.” Tommy told him, seeing that Fred was looking for more of a confrontation.
            “I know guys, I’m one of them!” he started again, “I know that if you can have something more, especially on the side – most guys wouldn’t think twice in getting themselves some. Just so you’d know if that was to happen. You and I would go a few rounds, and I know that you’d not walk away from that.” Fred said, feeling like a man, with the threat that he left.
            “Would that be all?” Tommy asked, already bored out of his mind of the idiot before him.
            “You’d better check yourself, or I’ll do that for you.” Fred said, not worried about Tommy’s comeback.
            Tommy just looked at him, waiting to see if Fred had more to say. Just standing in the doorway and waiting to see when at the soonest he could close the door.
            “Luckily they’re sharing a room; otherwise it would have been bizarre that he was able to come here, knowing where I’d be.” Tommy thought, seeing that Fred wanted to say more, but there was nothing he could play off from Tommy’s side.
            “You better watch yourself, or it would be you and me.” Fred repeated himself, willing for there to be more.
Only, Tommy wasn’t willing to flex anything in the least bit, especially for Fred of all people.

            JUST THEN Annie walked around the corner, seeing that once again, Fred was behaving as only he could.
            “Great, what does that idiot want?” she asked, walking even faster getting to them.
Out of the corner of his eye, Fred saw someone coming, and when he saw her, he jumped.
            “Great, who is coming now, someone he’s clearly afraid of.” Tommy smiled, seeing that Fred didn’t like the way he enjoyed the situation – standing well inside the doorframe.
            “Be really careful, I’m not done with you yet.” Fred said, and then he faced Annie.
            Tommy popped his head out, seeing that it was Annie heading their way. It wasn’t all that good, but he clearly saw everyone’s reactions. It was like a living soap-opera which played out right before his eyes.
Annie saw him looking at her and then he looked at Fred.
            “Are you boys playing nicely?” she asked, doing what she could, getting Fred to play along.
            “Yes, just came to see if your boy here has settled in.” Fred said, barely playing along – “I know we’ve got some terrible weather coming our way.”
Annie looked at Tommy, not speak with Fred at all. She moved past Fred – not allowing him to touch her at all. Leaving Fred to walk away.
            “You packed something warm, did you not?” Annie asked, walking past Tommy into the room, smiling while Fred slowly walked away.
            “So happy that I’m rid of that idiot…” Tommy thought, noticing that Annie was really drawing his attention now.
The further she walked into the room, she got herself undressed, and when Annie stopped at the bathroom door, she was butt-naked. Knowing very well that if she got his attention off everything else; she might just save the situation.
            “What are you smiling about?” she asked him, “What, do you not like what you see? Do I not do it for you anymore?” Annie asked, not sure what was going – stressing about it more than she should.
            “I just remembered the first time that your parents found out that you’re not a little girl anymore. When they found us in the Jeep, without a shred of clothes on. When you found out how intensely fun, fooling around could be.” he told her, smiling – “This could be our last time together, why would I not enjoy the fruits one last time.” Tommy smiled still, walking over to her, allowing her to help him get undressed, moving slowly into the bathroom.
            The shower was running by the time that Tara walked into the room. They’d been in there for almost an hour, and they had no idea in their minds, at washing themselves.
For only a moment Tara stood there, looking at the two and then walked out of the room.
            “Whatever I’d tell Tommy, there’s no way that he’d believe the truth about her. I might as well leave it be and then see what would happen.” Tara thought, closing the door behind her.
Fred walked up to her, seeing that still, she was in no mood for him and his antics.
Tara knew very well that he wasn’t looking in on her. Fred was afraid of what Annie was doing with Tommy alone in the room, not suspecting they were in the shower.
            “What do you want?” Tara asked, boiling at the very sight of him.
            “Sorry that you’re still angry with me,” he started.
            “You’re only sorry that you got caught. To say the least, if that didn’t happen, then you’d have been in the Heavens – having your bread buttered, jammed and eaten from both sides.” Tara told him, not allowing him any more room.
            “The manager told me to gather up everyone in the resort. The storm might pass in the next day or so, but until then; everyone is sleeping in the main dining room.” he told her, not sure if she would believe him – “There’s going to be a constant fire, and he’s going to take a head count.” Fred said, not even aiming to move closer to her.
            Tara looked at him, smiling happily at this. Then she walked off, not worried about a thing he might come up next.
            “Where is the stiff and Annie?”
            “You’ll have to call them out of the shower, that is if you’d have the balls at going into the room!” Tara shouted while she kept on walking.
There was a great deal to do before the main dining-room was ready for them to use. Thus, Tara knew well enough that she had a great deal of work to help out with.
Just around the corner, Tara stopped and looked back.
            She saw that Fred took hold of the door-handle, he didn’t dare walk into the room. He was utterly stunned, not sure what he was to do. He couldn’t stay there, and he couldn’t go inside.
He didn’t knock on the door but then moved back to the other wall, leaning against it.
            “Yeah, that could happen when your piece of ass, on the side, has her boyfriend to deal with.” Tara thought, seeing that Fred was beside himself – “If you do the wrong thing, Tommy would know what is going on, and your little secret would be out.” she thought, keeping on smiling at the sight of this; “Long gone are the days that I’d care for you or worry what might happen to you.”
            Happy with the situation, angry with Fred for using her and intent in setting things right – Tara left there. Walking faster now, knowing that they’d be looking for both of them. She didn’t care for this much, but they were undoubtedly stuck there for the time being.

             THE MOMENT Annie and Tommy walked out of the room, she saw that Fred apparently just arrived.
             “Hi there,” he said, not sure how to act around Tommy.
            “Fred, Tara’s not here.”
            “I know, she’s busy with the rest in the main dining room.” he said, behaving jittery, “The manager wants everyone there. He’s counting all heads. So, if he didn’t know your buddy here was coming, then he’d know it now.” Fred told her, “There would be a constant fire, and as soon as the storm passes, we’ll see just what we’d need to do, getting the resort back into the business.” he told them, unable to make eye-contact with Tommy.
            “That’s actually a good idea. Making sure no one wanders off and no one freezes to death.” Tommy said, “But then, you might get some lip because of me.” he told her, pulling her closer, hugging her with one arm.
            Tommy picked up on the tension between the two. Seeing that Fred had already acted so strange. Then he felt that Annie wasn’t really as happy to see him. Before she would have hugged him almost always, but he could feel that she was uneasy around both of them.
              “Do we need to take extra bedding or something like that?” Tommy asked, “Are they moving beds in there and do you guys have a double bed we can use?” he asked, “I can almost see what it is that Tara wants to tell me, the only question is this – how deep does their little secret reach?” Tommy wondered.
He took Annie’s hand and pulled her long, walking away from Fred and felt that she wasn’t too happy at this either.
She stopped dead, and Tommy allowed her to pull her hand clear of his.
            “What is the matter now?”
             “Fred and Tara are having trouble. I don’t want her to know that I’m talking to him, see if I can help out. She is there, and if you can see to keep her from coming here, then I can see just how well their issues might be smoothed over.” Annie told him, “If they are still upset with each other, the atmosphere in there wouldn’t be good for anyone.” Annie told him, doing all she could in staying.
Tommy smiled at her, slowly walking up to her.
            “Sure, I did sense there was something strange with each of them. See what you can manage.” Tommy told her, kissing her as passionately as she would allow him to.
Knowing that Fred was looking, knowing that if Fred was right and Tara tell Tommy – it would be their last weekend together.
            Once more he took the breath from Annie and left her just there, wanting more. Not that they could, but this was something that Tommy knew about her. If he got her going, there was no stopping her.

            TARA WAS busy with the other staff when Tommy alone walked into the main dining room. She didn’t see him looking at her, but she could clearly feel the intense look of him, on her.
She stopped and saw that he walked directly to her. She saw that he had more than suspicions and there was no more fooling around with the truth.
            “How long?”
She didn’t dare lie to him, knowing the way she found out, it was bad enough.
            “I really don’t know, but they’ve been going on with this behind my back as well.” Tara told him, then she saw the two came to a running stop inside the door.
Tommy didn’t even look around to know.
            “It just got worse.”
            “I really don’t care about them. You could have told me more on the phone and not left me stuck up here with the two lying assholes.” Tommy told her, furiously.
            “I walked in on them,” Tara started – “She swore to me that she’d tell you and decides what exactly she wanted to do.” Tara told him, with tears just welling in her eyes, “I don’t care for Fred anymore. But then, as you say, for more than just the time being I’m even more stuck here than you are.” she explained, seeing that they didn’t walk closer.
            Tommy turned around, looking at the two. They moved further into the room, making sure to stay clear of them.
            “Yeah, for her to choose what she’d like to do? That might take a year if she can draw it out that long.” Tommy said, not looking at Tara – “She could have stuck around until my inheritance paid out, that might be part of the deal here. Having as many flings along the way and keeping me going. Then, the moment she’d been waiting for, she would do whatever she can in getting as much of the money as possible.” Tommy said.
            “You believe she’d go that far?”
            “I’m here, and you’re her room-mate. Still, she’s got no issue at having your fiancé or cheating on me either.” Tommy told her, turning around – “Annie would do absolutely whatever she needs to do, getting what she wants or believe what she can get. That I can promise you.” he told her, turning and walking out of the main dining room.
            Tara turned and kept on helping. Doing everything she could, ignoring them. This while the two were so worried about Tommy, they just staying clear of both.
            “What do you think will happen during the night?” Fred asked, being a little coward.
            “I know him well enough, if he were going to do something, he would face you head-on. He’s not going to sleep in here, and there’s nothing anyone can do in changing his mind.” Annie told him, holding onto Fred more fiercely than he expected.
            “So, for the time being, we keep out of their way. What happens when the storm is over?” he asked, still worried sick.
            “Just don’t get in his way. He could, just out of the blue, seeing you away from here, knock your light out.” Annie told him, “But then again, here – we’ll be safe from both of them.”

            BEFORE ANYONE knew what happened, Tommy walked into Annie’s room, taking all his things and walked out of the resort itself.
            The snow was falling hard by now, and with the wind blowing constantly, it was hard for him to get to his Jeep.
            Tommy had all his warm clothes on, which he’d brought. Seeing the Jeep and getting it started was the easy part.
            “This would be a tale to tell if I get myself home through this storm.” Tommy thought, pulling away and taking it easy.
            The heater was running full blast, and he could just about see enough, getting away from there.
            “I just wonder how long it would be before anyone would figure that I’m not there anymore.” Tommy thought, using the GPS navigation and what he could remember from the road up.
            “Not that she’d care; but then why in the world didn’t Tara help get this issue sorted out when she found out? I could have done so much by now!” Tommy thought, listing to music while he took it very carefully on the road.
            Concentrating hard on the road, Tommy started to smile. At least he survived Annie, not sure what plans she had up her sleeve when the time arrived.
            “Billy was so worried. Who is there that she might not have had a thing with? Which of my pals did she not take on a wild ride?” Tommy asked, gripping the steering, his knuckles turning white.
            “There would be far too many of them who would stand in line to have something on the side. Not that either one would tell me, why would they? She’d enjoy herself too much with everyone willing to jump to the opportunity!” Tommy said loudly, the further he went the louder he got.
          “At least she’d get a clear picture when they find I’m not there anymore.”

            JUST BEFORE twelve, Fred walked in from the cold. He had to man-up and knew very well that Annie wouldn’t let him touch her if he didn’t make sure of it.
            “Tommy did leave. I have no idea, but if he’d left when we got to the dining-room; he could be off the resort road by now.” Fred told her, not knowing how they’d react.
            “I’m sending a text to Billy, as soon as he sees Tommy, killing him on my behalf!” Annie said, only one tear rolling over her cheek.
            “What? You’re still with him too?” Fred asked upset.
            “I don’t want anything to happen to either one of you. That is it,” Annie told Fred, seeing that Tara walked up to them.
            “He left didn’t he?” she wanted to know.
They didn’t have to answer her, she could clearly see the truth in their reactions.
            “Have Billy heard from him?” Tara asked next.
            “If the message gets out, then we’ll have to wait and see.” Annie said, not sure if Billy would react – she was after all not there with him as she promised.
            “Wow! Just another one of your fine messes! For as long as we’re still here, neither of you better give me any kind of grieve!” Tara told them, “Thus, just so you’d know, we’re through!” Tara told Fred, aiming to hit him when he got out of the way.
Walking away from them, she headed to the manager’s office, getting his satellite phone. The manager walked up to them, seeing that Annie and Fred had no idea what to tell him.
            “What do I hear about someone coming here to see you and now? Now he’s gone out in this horrible storm?” the manager asked, looking very displeasing at them.
            “There’s been a little hick-up.” Annie answered, worried not only of him but as well for Tommy’s sake, while she frantically tried her best in contacting Billy.
            “Why did you let him leave?” the manager asked, while Fred became her shadow; “What? Did you guys have a fight and now I’ll be the idiot who allowed someone out in this weather! Not only that, what if he dies? What would I tell the owner?” the manager asked, seeing that Annie had no idea what to tell him – “Are you just going to stand there? Are you two a couple now, aren’t you?” he asked Fred, seeing that the young man didn’t react at all.

            “I DON’T know just how far down or up the resort road he might be. That is the reason why I’m here, his girlfriend told me that he’d left there well before twelve at night. By now, he should have been down from the resort. Only, I’ve not heard a word from my friend.” Billy said, looking at the man from the rescue unit.
            “I know you’ve told me all of this three times already. We cannot go up on that road, no matter what the situation. We’ve got very little visibility.” the older told him, seeing that Billy really stressed.
Moving closer, “With this kind of storm and with what you’ve told me, when we do go up there, we’ll be looking for his body.” he said, seeing the news left Billy sitting on the closest chair to him; “If he got stuck, in this kind of storm, we’d only go retrieve a body. There is a tiny chance he could survive. I’m really sorry.”
He poured Billy a strong cup of coffee and handed it to the pale looking kid.
          “As soon as the storm lets up enough, we’ll go see what we can find.” he told Billy and walked into his office.
Looking at the computer and the weather report for the next few hours.

            WELL PAST midday the wind calm enough. The men of the rescue unit got ready and only lastly woke Billy for him to come with them.
          “The weather has calmed down quite considerably.” Billy said when they pulled out of the base station.
           “As I told you, we truly pray that we find him, alive. But with the temperature dropping as it did, I cannot even say that we’d find him or the old Jeep you say he’s driving.”
They got going and only after the second turn on the winding road, did they have to stop.
            “What is going on now?” Billy asked, looking from the back seat.
Everyone got out of the rescue vehicle. Only now did Billy see that there was a tree lying over the entire road.
            “I’ll be damned!” the leader said, walking up to the tree.
            “What do you see?” Billy almost shouted too highly pitched, worried out of his mind.
          “There’s the Jeep. Your friend must have gotten here and couldn’t see that the tree was blocking the way. If not, then he might have stopped at our station or even driven to your apartment.” the tallest of the men told him.
            Carefully moving up to the Jeep. Tommy had swerved, avoiding hitting the tree. The Jeep got stuck on the shoulder of the road. It was covered with a lot of snow. No one could see inside and only after scraping some of the snow off, were they able to see better.
Then the door was opened, which moved easier than they could imagine.
            “I cannot believe this, he’s still alive!” the leader shouted, seeing that Billy got to the open door really fast now, “We need a medical evacuation here immediately!” the leader shouted at the rest, moving a few things to get to Tommy.

            IN HOSPITAL Tommy slept for two days straight. Every now and then someone came to see how he was. Still, between all of them, Tara was the only one who stayed with him longer than the rest.
He woke, seeing her sleeping awkwardly in the big chair, in his room.
             “She’s been here more than anyone else.” the nurse told him.
            “I take it,” Tommy started, “I didn’t… completely… get off the road… into town… on my own?” he asked her.
            “You can be fortunate. There are a few people who have been really worried about you. She, most of all. Why would you let your lovely girlfriend worry about you so much?” she asked him, walking out of the room.
            The moment the nurse walked out of the room, Annie walked in there. Seeing that Tara still slept on the chair.
            “I’m delighted that you’re okay. You scared the life out of everyone.” Annie told him, not moving too close to him.
Tara didn’t move but heard what was going on in the room.
            “I wouldn’t have expected to see you so soon.” Tommy told her, lifting his hand to show her to keep her distance – “Before you left for the resort, you were sick.” Tommy said, looking at her – “So, the question is this, who is the father of your child then?” he wanted to know.
She just stood there, shocked out of her mind that he’d puzzled everything out, so soon.
            “It’s neither Billy nor Fred’s, is it?” he asked her, “Not to mention, it’s been a while… seeing you’ve already conceived… there at the resort? So, now what?” he asked her, seeing that Annie had not a word to say.
Tommy looked at Tara, getting a distinct feeling that she was faking it.
            Then he looked at Annie, “I really do hope, for the best for you. But for now, I’d really love it not to see you at all. The rest of my life that is.” Tommy told her, not worried about her reaction in the least bit.
            “I know this means nothing to you, but I’m really sorry that things didn’t work out between us.” she said, walking out of the room, closing the door quietly behind her.
            Tara got up and walked over to him, “You seriously want to tell me that she’s pregnant? Neither one of them suspects that they’re not the father?”
            “Hi there, don’t you have someplace better to be than keeping me company?”
            “Yes I do, but then if I have to be there, without anyone I like, being there with me; it wouldn’t be good any of them.” she told him, kissing his forehead.
            “Aren’t you engaged to be married?”
            “My ex-thinks that he’s the love of her life and I’m not wasting my time on someone like that. So then, it appears that you and I have some time on our hands. Time to get to know you, what do you say?”
            “That would be good, but just let Billy know when you leave here; he’d better get his things out of my place. If you can do that for me?” he asked.
Tommy reached out and took her hand in his, smiling happily for the first time in a long time.

© 2019, Cobus Vermeulen. All rights reserved.

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