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"Would you like to take a walk along the water with me?" Alden finally broke the silence.
I smiled and shook my head. He reached for my hand and led the way out of the restaurant and into the back courtyard of the hotel. We walked hand in hand along the path by the water then took a seat on an outdoor bench. Alden never let go of my hand.
"Ginger, what will you do now? Will you finally give up in this quest of yours?"
"No. I mean...I don't know. I just don't think I'm ready to go home yet. There's not really anything there for me anymore."
"What about your friends?"
"Oh, God, they must be so worried that I haven't called!" I jumped up and off the bench, but Alden pulled me back down.
"Calm down. They called looking for you and I answered your phone. I didn't give them any details other than the fact that you were sleeping off a hang over and that in my opinion the guy was a loser."
"Great. I'm sure everyone was thrilled to hear that I had found another one. More free drinks for them."
"Actually, they were more thrilled by the fact that I was here with you." Alden let go of my hand and moved his arm across my shoulders. He sat back and smiled.
"Alden, what did you say to them?"
"Hey, it wasn't what I said to them that matters. It was what they said to me." Alden's smile grew bigger and his eyes danced with laughter.
"Well, I know my friends pretty well, so I can just imagine what they said. I should just apologize now and cover my ears so you can’t tell me anything they said."
Alden laughed and pulled me toward him. "Too late! I'm going to tell you everything because I think you can use the laugh. Who's words of wisdom do you want to hear first?"
I leaned in and rested my head on Alden's shoulder. "I don't care. Surprise me."
Alden tilted his head so that his was touching mine. "Well, Gail thought that I should take full advantage of your drunken stupor and have you committed. Grace thought that I should take advantage of you in other ways. Linda wanted to know if I had undressed you before putting you to bed and if I had, were you wearing 'granny panties' or not. Bonnie wanted to know what my intentions toward you were.
Everyone thanked you for the free Ginger-rita and said to remind you that the scoreboard is now tied at three winners and three losers.
Oh, and some guy named Brent wanted you to know that his new blog is a big hit."
"Brent stated a blog? Is it about me?" I sat up so that I could see Alden's face.
"I'm sorry to say that it is, but the good news is that you now have quite a following. People are logging on to get updates on your adventures and then posting their own stories."
"Did he use my real name?"
"Not your last name. Just, Ginger. However, he did give details about your career and the bar your friends hang out in and the town where you live."
I leaned back on the bench and wanted to cry all over again, "That's it. I can never go home again. What am I going to do?"
Alden pulled me to him and wrapped both of his arms about me. "I don't know about you, but right now I feel like I could spend forever right here on this bench."
If only that were possible!