Friday, February 24, 2012
Its speed week at Daytona.
Don't you ever wish... you could be part of the crowd. So does Janet Duplain...
Arm extended, Janet Duplain held out the glossy, heavy paper and waited for the young man to rip off the end and hand the stub back to her.
“Thank you,” she spoke softly, placing her wallet back into the large shoulder bag before moving through the gate.
Florida was everything they said it would be, if you understood “they” to mean her husband‟s friends who gathered around the TV set out in the den on Sunday afternoons beginning the first of January. She pushed her white-framed sunglasses onto her face and stepped out of the line of human traffic flowing into the main gates of the superspeedway. This trip was to have been the greatest gift a wife could give her husband. Only now, Janet was making it alone.
Janet turned over her palm to glance at the stub. Section X, seat thirty-three in the Lockhart Tower. This shouldn’t be too hard to find. Raising her glance to look at the signs, she merged back into the throng intent on making her way toward the elevator.
A sudden shove to the side caught her off guard. Janet tried to take a short step in order to catch her equilibrium. However, her sandals tangled in the hem of her white cotton trousers. With a frightened cry, she held out her hands and braced for a very painful fall.
Steven Brock was amazed at the speed in which he had gotten through the line. Perhaps it was a good thing his company had purchased those suite seats in the Sprint Tower. He hurried toward the elevator, slowing his gait so as not to step upon the person in front of him. A group of teenagers went rushing past. He opened his mouth to speak, but suddenly one youth knocked into a woman a few feet off to his right. She tottered on her feet only to tilt to the left. He stepped around the person in front of him, who paused. Steven rushed forward and caught the willowy auburn before her knees banged onto the rough pavement.
“Are you all right, Miss?” Steve asked.
Large green eyes flashed uncertainly at him. He offered her his winning car salesman smile and allowed her to catch her breath. “Come on. Let‟s step over here to the bench.”
She nodded, and her body trembled. He led her to the park bench out of the line of traffic. He knelt before her, placed his hands on either side of her and spoke, “Okay, take a big deep breath and hold it for ten seconds then blow it out.”
Her trembling fingers raked the russet curls from her face as she looked back at him. Whatever she was thinking, the young woman could at least follow through with directions.
“M-my sunglasses,” she stated, looking back in the direction of the accident.
“Sit tight,” Steve told her and moved back to the spot, turning until he found the glasses. He bent down, picked up the now twisted frames and brought them back to her. “I‟m afraid they‟re a bit worse for wear.”
He held them out to her, the frames bent, one glass missing, the other cracked.
“Oh,” she breathed.
“Check your pocketbook to make sure nothing is missing,” Steve suggested, knowing that security was good and incidents were rare at NASCAR events.
She pulled her large bag toward her and, opening it, she began to put the contents on her lap. The bag contained the usual—brush, comb, a compact—but Steve did admit he was intrigued when she picked up a keyring with a business card instead of a photograph.
“Nope, it‟s all there.” She looked up at him, a genuine smile lighting her face.
Warmth spiraled up and spread through Steve‟s body, shocking him. He felt…hell, he felt like a teenager asking some girl out for the first time. “I‟m glad.”
He rose to his feet and held out his hand. “I‟m Steven Brock, but my friends call me Steve.”
She dumped her things back into the oversized bag, then grasped his hand with a firm grip and shook back. “Hi, Steve, I‟m Janet.”
An electric current seemed to pass from his hand to hers then back again. Her lips dipped for a second, but she quickly regained her composure as she withdrew her hand.
“I want to thank you for your kindness.”
“Not a problem.” Steve nodded. “Is this your first event?”
Janet turned toward the crowd, paused and looked back at him. Pink crept to her cheeks. “How could you tell?”
He looked down. “Few women wear three-inch heel sandals,” he pointed out.
She laughed. His skin tingled with the melodious sound.
“Next time wear tennis shoes,” he told her. “It‟s much more practical.”
“Yes, I can see that now.”
A gust of wind blew by, and she turned away, keeping the fine gravel from flying into her eyes. The mass of curls shifted, and Steve had to hook his thumbs in the pocket of his jeans to resist the urge to help draw it back from her face. He wondered if those luscious locks were as soft and silky as they appeared.
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