"Do you want to drive?" Edward asked as they left the coffee shop and back to the near empty parking lot.
"Sure," she said moving to the driver's side door.
After she slipped the bag of magazines behind the seat, she drove the truck out of the lot and continued driving north.
She adjusted the heater and nodded as he said to keep driving on I-5 until the border and then from there it wasn't too far to Ashland.
"Is that where we're stopping?," Kari asked as the sky continued to brighten.
"There's a decent hotel with a few restaurants and a coffee shop," he added as she sipped at her latte.
"Then what?," she asked trying to not let nerves stain her words.
"I'm going to take a shower and get some sleep and you can do whatever you'd like, provided it is in the room with no phone or computer."
"I guess I'll get some reading done," she said in a tone that he couldn't quite interpret.
"They have jacuzzi tubs and there's this," he said holding up the bottle of amber colored alcohol he had purchased earlier.
"Then I guess I'll get some reading done, in the tub with a glass of that," she said trying not to smile as he waved the bottle a few times back and forth before replacing it in its paper bag coffin.
He settled the bottle behind his seat where it wouldn't be too knocked around. They both relaxed as she turned the volume up as the sun continued to rise. The border check was quick and routine, she felt some sense of relief when at least his driver's license had an Oregon address and accurate first name.
"Not too much further," she said as she passed him back his plastic license.
"About twenty minutes," he mumbled as he glanced at the dashboard's clock.
The shared silence continued until she exited I-5 and made her way to Main Street, he pointed out a few sights as she slowed for a red light and again for a few stop signs.
The low musical strains of Peter, Paul and Mary sounded from the bottom of Kari's purse and Edward was tempted to sing along to the tone for a moment. "Might as well get the wedding ring while you see who's calling."
"It's not a call, it's my back-up alarm clock," she said as she snaked her hand into her purse and silenced the phone.
He looked over the time on the truck's radio. "It's early for a Saturday."
"I jog in Golden Gate Park on the weekends."
"You go to the city on your days off?"
"Not all of them, I work four ten hour shifts a week but always spend one day at home with a pot of coffee and catch up on the DVR."
"Always?," he asked in a curious tone.
"Absolutely, for years now I've had sort of the same routine," she said without too much embarrassment.
"All day, one day a week you do nothing but drink coffee and watch TV all day?," he asked with what sounded like a mixture of disbelief and hope.
"Yeah, I usually lay in bed and have a never empty cup of coffee and eat whatever's in the fridge and catch up on my shows, news or whatever movies I've recorded."
"You do this alone?," he asked giving her a sidelong glance.
"Yes, all by myself," she lamented in a mock and dramatic tone.
"Would you like company one of these lazy days?," he asked making her forget how to speak for a moment as her mind worked for any response.
"I'm not sure if we have the same ideas of what spending the day together means."
"What do you think I want?," he asked with an increased awareness in her growing discomfort at the conversation topic.
"I'm not completely sure at the moment but maybe we can revisit this later," she stated.
"Later?," he asked chuckling. "As in never?," he added.
"Later like this evening," she said with what sounded like a whine and she immediately cringed at the sound of her own voice.
"Later, as in dinner this evening?," he pushed. "My treat," he added.
"Only if we split the tab," she said and held out her hand while keeping her eyes on the speedometer with the early morning Highway Patrol who had been behind her since the last intersection.
The patrol car passed them with its lights on as a car swerved off the road ahead, Edward tried to hide his relief at the officer's departure and told Kari to make the next left turn.
"Till this evening," he said with a genuine smile and gripped her hand.
"You still need to get the ring," he said as she neared the hotel's parking lot.
She cut the engine and pulled the small velvet jewelry box from the bottom of her purse before they both opened the truck doors.
She walked slowly with the ring box and slipped the chilly band onto her left ring finger. The small diamond captured every bit of sunlight it could and shone as brightly as possible.
A sad smile filled Kari's face as she looked down at her hand.
"Are you okay?," he asked coming to her side, concern in his voice.
"Oh, yeah sorry, its been a long time since I have worn a ring on this hand and it makes me remember good and bad things. I just need to put my feet up."
"I'll make you a drink when we get to the room," he said and let her take a minute to absorb the hotel.
The stunning structure was near the center of town and was once painted a bright white that was now a little dull around the edges.
Despite the paint breakdown, the hotel was surrounded by lush greenery that boasted glossy leaves with large red blossoms.
"This is beautiful, why'd you call it decent?," she asked as her eyes took in the glorious stone architecture of the tall hotel."
He laughed and shrugged, almost embarrassed "I thought if I talked it up too much that you might find flaws."
"Well, it could use a fresh coat of paint," she said with a smirk and walked towards the glass doors that opened to the spacious lobby that was dominated by burgundy wall tapestries.
He shook his head as he followed her towards the lobby doors, he couldn't help but let his eyes start at the crown of her head and make a slow and lazy trail to the scuffed heels of her shoes.
Her slacks had faint pinstripes and he thought with a frown, left far too much for the imagination.
Standing behind the concierge desk was a slender blonde with a cheery expression despite the time.
Her smile widened to reveal an even set of white teeth.
"Good morning, welcome to the Summer Grove Hotel. My name is Juliet, how may I help you this chilly morning?, " she asked with enthusiasm.
"Good morning to you Juliet, I'm hoping to book a room for my fiancé and I," Edward started to say and then pretended to catch his spoken error.
"Sorry, honey," he said putting his arm around Kari and pulling her close to his side before continuing to smile across the polished counter at Juliet.
"We just got married yesterday, it still doesn't seem real," he added laughing and Juliet beamed and pressed her hands together.
"Oh congratulations," she said and started typing on a grey keyboard. Her artificial nails were long and painted a bold maroon, they clicked over the letters and her smile widened as she looked at the screen.
"You're in luck, we have a couple suites left with two-person tubs and you can add the romance package for only $199 more," she said with a dazzling smile and proceeded to list the items in the romance additional charge that included a bottle of champagne, a bouquet of red roses, chocolate truffles and other treats.
"Well, what do you think honey?," Edward asked squeezing her closer to his side.
She cleared her throat and looked up at him returning his smile, "that sounds wonderful."
Juliet was happy to run Edward's credit card for the room deposit, he nodded as she explained that he would be billed when he checked out. She also told them there was a 15% off coupon for one of their "preferred" restaurants which were listed on another piece of paper.
Kari gave a parting smile to Juliet after she passed over room keys, she found herself conflicted as she walked with Edward towards the elevators.
Half of her had hoped that when Edward went to pass his credit card that he would have to let go of her, the other half hoped he wouldn't. She had found herself enjoying being pulled against his body. He had smoothed his hand down her arm and then slide to settle around her waist.
When it came time to pay, Kari had to struggle to not smile when he didn't need to lessen his touch. With every passing second she seemed to notice more of him.
As she stood there pressed against his side, she let her eyes linger on the light stubble that had seemed to appear out of nowhere and how he strong he felt in even the gentlest of gestures.
As they departed the concierge desk, he had moved his hand from Kari's waist to grasp her left hand. Edward had not wanted to release her but it was difficult to walk in that manner. He squeezed her hand as the elevator door closed and the numbered keys flashed on as they ascended floors.