Scotty wished Christina had protested harder. But she accepted her therapist and sponsor's advice and she packed her duffle bag the following morning after preparing Scotty a final breakfast. She cried all through the meal and she clung to him desperately in the foray as her sponsor waited for her outside in the car.
"Mr. Scott," was all Christina could get out before she rushed from the house, leaving him behind to wallow in her absence.
It would have been easy for Scotty to fall back into his former miserable ways, feeling old and sorry for himself, lonely and unwanted, but the truth was Christina had given him his life back. He still had his limp and he was still lonely, but the gift of Christina stayed with him in the coming days, weeks and months and he used her scent and the memory of her touch and feel, and the wonderment of her lovemaking to give him the confidence and energy to continue on.
He was in Johnny C's diner most nights for dinner. He volunteered at the front information desk at the Blue County Medical Center. He assisted an old pal who was now an instructor at the tech school. His life had meaning again but that didn't mean Scotty didn't miss Christina every time he came home. Still, he made connections at the diner. The middle aged waitress (Polly) working most nights was very nice to him. He got to know the (other) regulars too and he thought about asking Polly out but he wondered if that would violate the memory of Bonnie. Plus, he held out hope that perhaps Christina would return to his life in some way.
Scotty kept an eye out for Christina whenever he was in Greenville but their paths never crossed. The half-way house could be anywhere and who knew how often she was out in public. Six months had passed and Scotty was accustomed to his new routine without Christina.
Scotty was seated at the counter of Johnny C's Diner one evening eating his supper when he sensed a presence. He glanced up from his hamburger and fries to see Christina standing behind him with a huge smile on her face.
"Hello, Mr. Scott," she said warmly.
Scotty nearly fell off his stool at the sight of her and Christina laughed at his reaction as she took a seat on the stool next to him.
"Coffee?" It was the waitress Polly asking, giving the younger woman a suspicious look.
"Sure," Christina said pleasantly. "And a slice of apple pie, please."
"How'd you know I was here?" Scotty wondered once Polly was gone.
"I saw your car out front," Christina smiled.
"It's really good to see you," Scotty said, feeling a longing bubbling to the surface.
"You too," she smiled as Polly returned with the pie and coffee.
Scotty could see the funny look Polly was giving Christina. "It's okay, Polly," he said. "We're old friends."
"Can't be that old," Polly remarked critically as she stepped away.
Christina gave dagger eyes into Polly's back before glancing at Scotty. "Something going on between you two?" She asked.
"I'm a good tipper," Scotty smiled, taking a sip from his milk shake.
They could both feel eyes on them and perhaps a whisper or two seeing the regular Scotty chatting with the unfamiliar younger woman.
"She used to be my Home Care Worker," Scotty explained in a loud voice. "The house is a mess without her!"
It wasn't really. Scotty had done a good job keeping up with the chores and cleaning, motivated not to turn into a couch potato again no matter how much his leg ached. He kept his focus on Christina.
"What brings you to Hillsboro?" Scotty asked.
"To see you, of course," she grinned, gesturing to the front window. "I have a car now."
Scotty noticed the ten year old yellow Toyota Corolla parked next to his vehicle.
"Have you missed me?" Christina teased.
Her hair was a little longer and slightly darker but otherwise she was unchanged. She was wearing a white turtle-neck sweater underneath her winter jacket with brown corduroy slacks.
"It's good to hear your laugh again," he said. "I'm glad you're here."
"Me too," she smiled.
"How are things going?" "He asked, genuinely curious.
"Good, good," Christina assured him with a wide grin. "I have a job at the Recovery Center doing computer stuff with clients."
"That's good," Scotty replied. Congratulations."
"Thanks," she smiled. "I'm happy."
"Are you happy?" She asked, not taking his eyes off of him.
Scotty glanced away and let out a sigh. "I'm doing okay," he said bravely.
Christina leaned in closer and whispered while staring at Polly at the end of the counter. "You sure there's nothing going on with you and her?" She wanted to know.
Scotty glanced Polly's way. She was in her late forties, a nice person but battle worn and worn out from her life – divorced with two adult children. The thought of asking her out crossed his mind but he never acted upon it and now he was glad for that.
"She keeps looking at me like I'm some sort of slut," Christina noted.
"I'm just one of the regulars," Scotty explained. "She watches out for everybody."
"So," Christina said, sitting up straight again as she ate her pie. "They want me to move out of the half-way house."
"Really?" Scotty asked with excited surprise.
"I thought you might like that," Christina smiled. "They need the bed. They say I'm doing great and that it's time to move on."
"Move on or move back?" Scotty challenged.
She looked at him again. "Would you have me?" She asked.
"In a heartbeat," Scotty assured her.
Christina patted his thigh underneath the counter. Scotty reached his hand out and caught her palm, giving it a squeeze above his leg.
"I've felt like I've been missing an important part of my life," she said.
"I didn't realize what there was to miss until you left," Scotty replied. "But I've made the effort to at least try to live my life even without you."
Cristina looked at him with a huge grin on her face. "I guess you don't miss my cooking though," she teased, gesturing at the diner.
"Every day," he assured her. "I truly did miss you, Christina."
"Do you still think I'm too young?" She tested.
"No," he answered knowingly. "Do you think I'm too old?"
"I never thought that," she reminded him.
He nodded in agreement. "I don't care about what other people think. I only concern myself about what is best for me now."
"And what's that?" Christina asked (although she already knew the answer).
"You," Scotty answered. "You take my breath away and you make me feel young again."
"If it makes you feel any better, the half-way house was really good for me," she said. "I'm really solid in my recovery now."
"That's good," Scotty assured her.
"You almost done?" Christina asked, gesturing toward his nearly finished burger.
"Yes," Scotty said.
He paid the bill to the disapproving Polly and left the diner with Christina, feeling hopeful and renewed as they held hands walking to the cars. Christina followed him home in her car and he led her into the house, once again holding her hand.
"You are a dear sweet man," Christina told him as she led him into his bedroom without even asking if he was interested.
She wasted little time undressing and Scotty watched in admiration.
"It's been very lonely without you," Scotty admitted as he undressed too.
Soon they were both naked on the bed kissing and engaging in prolonged foreplay.
"I want an orgasm!" Christina announced as she straddled him, reached behind her to get a hold of his penis and directing it under her ass and toward her womanhood.
She moaned loudly when he entered her and she leaned over to kiss him as they made love for the first time in six months.
"I so want you," Christina whispered through her heavy breathing.
"I want to grow old with you," Scotty said, his breath hitched.
She smiled with contentment. "You have my permanent Home Care."