The Story of Us - By Susan Wiggs
My mother always warned me about men on motorcycles, so I suppose that was why, as a fresh-faced college girl in the 1980s, I found them so intriguing. Bikers in general, and Steve Bennett in particular.
On the day I met him, I had no idea a great adventure awaited us. On that day, in fact, I was feeling lost. This was pretty unusual for me, for I had spent my whole life up to that point doing what was right. I got good grades in school because it was easy, and because it pleased my parents. I dated Travis Hunt because he was kin to the Hunt brothers, and in Texas, that meant money and prestige. I attended Trinity University in San Antonio, because it was exclusive and according to my parents, I’d be likely to meet the “right” sort of people.
It was the summer of my junior year, and I’d managed to bitterly disappoint my family by failing to attain, in addition to my B.S. in business, the vaunted “Mrs.” degree they wanted for me. Although I still had a year to go, I felt the weight of their expectations pressing like a yoke across my shoulders. When you’re the only child, you bear so many hopes and dreams alone, it’s a wonder you don’t collapse.
I had no idea at the time that my life was about to change. The spring semester had just ended, and I went home for the weekend to laze around Eagle Lake with two of my sorority sisters. The three of us drove the sun-baked back roads of the Texas hill country in RaeLynn Cullen’s cherry red vintage Ford Fairlane convertible with the top down and our shirts off to display bikini tops that would make the Delta Delta Delta house mother blow a gasket if she knew.
The three of us—RaeLynn, Trudy Long and me—had a favorite swimming hole on the north shore of the lake near the revival camp of the Halfway Baptist Church. In May, the sun was still a kindly presence in the wide blue sky rather than a roar of deadly heat, which it would be when August arrived. The spring-fed waters of the lake were downright chilly, and we took our time easing in.
I put off the inevitable plunge by sitting on the dock for a while, staring out at the flat, bright water and thinking of nothing. The sun warmed my head and a light breeze shimmered through the trees, and I busied myself by contemplating my toes. I’d tried a new shade of polish called Tangerine Dreams and I liked it a lot. The fact that I was thinking about nail polish at all was a pretty darned clear indication of my own discontent. Here I was, twenty years old, a mature college girl, and for the life of me, I couldn’t decide what to do with myself.
“We can’t make up our minds between Cozumel and Acapulco,” said RaeLynn, who’d been my best friend since fourth grade at Edenville Elementary. She was quitting school to marry her boyfriend, who had just graduated. “Dallas says the golf is better on the west coast of Mexico.”
“It’s a honeymoon,” I pointed out, squeezing a tube of sunscreen and rubbing the sweetish scent of coconut oil on my shoulders. “He shouldn’t be thinking about golf at all.”
RaeLynn laughed. “You have no understanding of the male brain, Grace McAllen.”
“She’s right,” said Trudy, outgoing president of the Tri Delts and my second-best friend. A year older than RaeLynn and me, she possessed the special, almost Yoda-like wisdom of a brand-new college graduate. “You don’t, Grace. How is RaeLynn going to shop if he’s not out golfing?”
“He can go shopping with her,” I pointed out.
“That’s about as likely as me playing golf,” RaeLynn said with a laugh. “We’ve got it all worked out, Grace. Marriage is one big process of negotiation and compromise.”
“Then it’s no wonder I’m one of the few in the house who’s going to get through college without getting married. I’m not into negotiation and compromise, much to my parents’ despair.”
Trudy took off her sunglasses to put lotion on her nose. Her brown eyes regarded me with a kindness so sincere it hurt, almost. “So they still haven’t forgiven you for dumping Travis Hunt last semester.”
The sting of my parents’ disapproval over my broken engagement to The Perfect Man was unexpectedly intense. According to my parents, I had blown an opportunity for high society, the best of everything, a golden