Chapter 5

Reed emailed me a story entitled "Searching for the Body" which was about two teenagers who volunteer to join a search group looking for a missing boy.

The first day of the search becomes, in essence, their first date as Jami and Palmer end up paired together in a larger group of searchers.

The boy is not found on the first day and so the teens return for a second day of looking, now mentally preparing themselves to find a corpse while, at the same time, becoming attracted to one another as they get to know one another through conversation.

By the fourth day with the boy still missing, Jamie and Palmer know the search has turned into a (body) recovery mission and that reality causes them to confront the seriousness of life and death.

"Are you prepared in case we find a dead body?" Palmer asks Jami.

"Yeah," she replied. "But I'm praying we don't."

"This is kind of like that movie Stand by Me," Palmer said. "The four friends go looking for a dead body."

"And become better friends," Jamie noted.

"Is that what we're doing?" Palmer asks hopefully.

Other searchers found the body a few days later deep in the woods and Jami bursts into tears at the news.

"I wanted to find him alive," Jamie sobs. "I wanted to think life has happy endings so his family wouldn't have to suffer."

But they both feel guilty because they knew they kept searching so they could be together. A four day date.

Were they selfish in their quest – looking for love instead of being concerned for the missing boy?

The last day of the search had been a miserable one with rain and Jamie and Palmer are covered in mud and guck when they head home. They take a shower together at Jami's empty house and Palmer is happy that his search for Jami's body is complete.

"Where do you come up with these story ideas?" I asked Reed when I went into his room to offer my feedback on the story, taking a seat in the corner arm chair and admiring Rebecca still hanging on the wall.

"A kid got lost on Mt. Griffin a couple of years ago," Reed explained. "They found him okay but I saw a photo in the newspaper of some of the searchers and two teenagers were among them so I went with that."

"Are you lonely?" I asked.

Reed gave me a funny look. "Everybody's lonely," he said.

"Especially now," I agreed. "I'm surprised how much I miss and worry about my parents."

"I would never disrespect you," Reed said.

"What?" I asked, confused.

But then I realized that he noticed me staring at Rebecca again.

"I know you wouldn't," I said.

"Would you ever pose for Sydena?" He wondered

"There's always the possibility," I teased.

"I shouldn't be putting such ideas into your head," Reed realized.

I laughed. "Do you think I could be better?"

"Of course," he grinned.

I was looking at Rebecca who was looking back at me. "Is Rebecca sheltering in place?" I asked. "Is that why she's here?"

"She's here because I'm lonely," Reed stated openly.

"Everybody's lonely," I said, repeating his earlier line.

"Especially now," Reed agreed, repeating mine.

We were scheduled to make a grocery run so I took a shower and changed into my clothes.

"I hate wearing this thing," I said, putting on my mask when we reached the store.

"I think you look sexy in it," Reed replied as he climbed out of the car.

It was the second time he had flattered me with a compliment. I smiled beneath the mask as I got out of the car too and we did the shopping together.

When we were walking to the car with the groceries, my mask slipped down my face.

"I can see you nose!" Reed laughed, making it sound like he had seen one of my privates.

"Shut up," I smirked.

We put the groceries away when we got home and Reed went back into his room.

Was that the end of it?

I went into my room and, without even thinking about it, I took off my clothes, put on my mask, and walked naked into Reed's room.

"How do you think I look now?" I smirked beneath the mask as I stood before him.

His eyes went wide and I flopped onto his bed on my stomach, looking back over my shoulder at both Reed and Rebecca in my similar pose.

"I'm glad I'm sheltering in place with you," Reed told me with a huge smile on his face as he finally abandoned his chair and joined me on the bed. "Show me your nose," he said.