Chapter 41 & 42
Rickie was whistling as he drove down Jalan Bako from the marina. The inspection on the gas derrick was completed quickly; he met the two consultants and they struck him as an odd pair. The petroleum geologist, John, was knowledgeable and chatty but had that slick feel of a used car salesman. The woman, on the other hand spoke very little and only the bare minimum number of words to create an appropriate response. Still, it looked like the drilling would begin by Thursday or Friday, and Rickie was well pleased with the entire crew.
Rather than linger on site and eat with the team, he took the boat to the marina and headed back to the city. It would still be dark by the time he got there, but maybe he could convince
Meaghan to go on an evening stroll, if she had finished shopping with Sethe.
He tried calling her cell phone, but it immediately went to voicemail. He left a message anyway; if she was still at the house, it would be only proper to offer her a ride home. Her sister Tina would be with them, too, but Rickie knew after the party, he had her full support to court Meaghan.
Meaghan. When he looked back, it was less than a month since they first met at that dinner party; now it seemed that he could barely tolerate a single day without seeing her.
Yeah, he had it bad.
He came out of his ruminations to find himself in front of the house. After he parked the SUV in the carport, he picked up the inspection report and strode into the house. The downstairs was quiet, so he went up to his father’s apartment. There he found the elder Ahmad on a couch, reading a paperback novel. The older man looked up at the sound of Rickie’s knock and broke into a smile.
“There’s my son. How did everything go today?”
Rickie greeted his father, and then handed him the envelope containing the inspection report. “We are actually a little ahead of schedule, and we should begin drilling the prospect at Tower # 3 in two days. It’s all in the report. Is Sethe back?”
His father’s eyes sparkled. “She hasn’t returned yet. She called to say she was dropping the girls off at their house and would head straight home afterwards. Do you miss your sister that much?”
“No, no, I was just curious. Well, I’m going to head to my room.” Rickie hugged his dad and turned to go, but then his father spoke.
“Sit down for a moment, Rick. I’d like to talk to you about your young lady.”
Rick sat down on the sofa, and tried a little misdirection.
“I don’t own Sethe, and if I did, I’d sell her to a circus.” His attempt fell flat as his father’s zeroed in on him, and he felt like he was in the crosshairs of a sniper.
“Son, you know who I’m talking about. En Meaghan Torno, with whom I spent a very good supper before she and your sister went out.” Rickie felt sweat breaking out on his face and resisted the urge to rub his palms on his trousers as he waited for the other shoe to drop.
“I like her.” The older Ahmad allowed a small smile at his son’s expression. “She isn’t like your customary woman, and her sister is, um, unusual as well. I enjoyed their company; you need to bring her here more often, to relieve an old man’s loneliness. That’s all I’m going to say about today.” He looked at the mulish expression on his son’s face and almost laughed out loud. “Go, and have a good night. I’ll see you at breakfast.” He finally allowed himself a chuckle after his son left.
~ ~ ~
Meaghan collapsed on her worn sofa, and winced as her bottom connected with one of the supports under the cushion. Her feet and back were aching, and she wanted to take a warm shower and go to bed. She pulled the pins out of her hair, allowing it to fall down her shoulders, and massaged her scalp.
Supper had gone surprisingly well. JoAnne had chatted amicably to both of them, and Meaghan was charmed by the elder Ahmad. Sethe and Tina, it turned out, liked many of the same music artists and idols, and the conversation flowed easily between everyone. She couldn’t help but wonder why she wasn’t interrogated, given that Rickie’s father had to know what was going on between her and his son.
Her phone rang, and the object of her thoughts was on the other end.
“Hello, Rickie. How was the trip to the coast?”
“Never mind that,” he impatiently replied, “are you alright? Did my father bother you?”
“Do you think he would interrogate me over salmon? Your father was a perfect gentleman, and I had an enjoyable time. Sethe just dropped us off a couple of minutes ago, and it was a marathon session of shopping. I could barely keep up with those two.”
Rickie relaxed incrementally. Meaghan sounded a bit tired, but not upset or unhappy. He was afraid she might feel intimidated, but it appeared that the evening went well.
“I’m glad. I just wished I had been there, you know, just in case.”
Meaghan laughed, a sound which never failed to make him happy.
“Should I be worried that I might end up on the ceiling of a headhunter lodge? It was fine. It would have been wonderful to see you, of course.” Her voice dropped to an intimate level, and Rickie felt the impact in his gut. He took a deep breath to slow his unruly heart.
“I’ll see you at work tomorrow, Meggie. Pleasant dreams.”
“You too, sayang.”
Both wore silly grins as they completed their bedtime rituals.