It was only because I was driving that I didn't stop and puke every mile of the 379 miles from Bridgeport, Connecticut to Stuben's Mountain, West Virginia. Even Meg's hand on my thigh, warm and light and rubbing little circles every now and again, didn't settle my gut like it usually did. She talked brightly about the stuff we were passing, the dogs at work—she's a vet tech—and the book she really thought I'd love because of all the disemboweling, but I could tell that she could tell that I wasn't resting gentle. The dips and swells as we got within sight of the mountains didn't help matters. By the time we got off the pavement and onto the gravel about five miles from the family cabin, all I wanted to do was curl up in the trunk on the furry quilts like one of Meg's rescues while she drove us back to Bridgeport, to the apartment over Blackstone Coffee that we didn't quite share. Even though she slept over nine nights out of ten, Meg had promised herself never to move in with anyone she'd known for less than five years.
We could have curled up in my big bed under the front window and cuddled until I got my nerves back, and then rung in the New Year with some inverted suspension in the kitchen, possibly a flogging scene in the living room, and a few hours of predicament bondage, rather than with my family on a mountain in West Virginia, while they did the sort of things that family usually does that passes under the guise of loving concern, but under any other circumstances would be considered psychological torture of the most cunning and extreme degree.
As we took the curves in the final few miles before the cabin, Meg took my free hand and squeezed.
"I promise I'll behave," she told me. "What's the worst that can happen?"