At this point in time I was in a very dark place in my life.
As I stated at the end of the previous chapter, it was almost six years before I saw Tiffany again, and I spent most of the intervening years involved in a string of short relationships and flings that all ended up being as brief as they were unsatisfying. Now don't get me wrong, in that time I had some incredible sex, but for whatever reason none of them could even come close to doing for me what that one night trapped in the ferris wheel with Tiffany did. No matter how many women I brought to my bed I couldn't help but compare them to those few minutes where Tiffany and I basically masturbated each other to orgasm, and you know what? None of those other women could hold a candle to my sweet, inexperienced cousin.
The intervening years also brought a great many changes in both my and Tiffany's lives. My parents moved back home to Louisiana to be closer to my grandparents, and after I got out of the navy I moved back to Louisiana to be closer to them. Once there, I found a job as a diesel mechanic and settled into my new life as a civilian, with all the headaches that entailed. Both Sarah and Tiffany graduated from high-school and went off to college. Sarah went to a university there in Arizona, studying health and fitness while Tiffany moved out to California to attend a christian university studying education. I found all of this out from my grandparents because I had not talked to Tiffany since we last saw each other in Corpus Christi
The events in this chapter occurred on the week surrounding the fourth of july in the summer of 2001. At this time I was twenty seven years old and Tiffany was about to turn twenty one.
It was about three-fifteen on a wednesday when I got the call that sent my life spinning out of control. I had been at work since five in the morning when the repair shop I was employed at opened and I was cleaning up for the day before going home. I was wiping the oil off of my tools when a voice crackled out over the intercom, "Josh line one, Josh line one."
Reluctantly I walked over to the shop phone, and, picking up the receiver, pressed the button that would connect me to the call.
I recited the required phone answering spiel from memory saying, "Cummins Diesel Repair, this is Josh. How may I help you?"
I heard my grandmother's voice coming from the phone say, "Hey, Josh, this is your grandma, Abilene."
"Hey, grandma. Everything okay?" I had to ask because, for the most part, my family knew not to call me at work unless there was an emergency.
"Everything's fine, sweetie," she assured me, "Im just calling because your uncle Tom and cousin Tiffany are going to be staying with us next week for the fourth of july and we would like you to come over for dinner when they get here on Monday night."
When her words reached me and had a few seconds to process, I felt the bottom drop out of my stomach. All the progress I had made in forgetting about that night with Tiffany had just been completely undone by a few simple words from my unknowing grandma. Icy cold dread coiled itself around my spine and settled in for the long haul, but, curiously, mixed in with that sensation was a sort of nervous thrill of anticipation. I was both terrified and excited at the prospect of seeing my cousin again.
As I tried to cope with these new feelings I realized that my grandmother was still on the phone, waiting for an answer. "Uh, sure thing, grandma." I mumbled into the receiver, "I'll be there."
"That's great, honey," she replied enthusiastically, "I'll call your uncle Tom and let him know you're coming. Dinner will be at five."
"Okay, grandma. Well, I better get off the phone. if I don't clock out on time the boss man will give me an earful."
We said our goodbyes and I hung up the phone. Then, slowly, I walked to the locker room to change, all the while trying to come to terms with the fact that on monday I would once again come face to face with the one girl in the world who I both wanted to see more than anything, and desperately wanted to avoid.
After I got home and showered, there was still a lot of daylight left so I decided to call Kaitlyn, the girl I was seeing at the time, and see if I could go to her place. Kaitlyn was just the latest in a long parade of women, but she was by far the one that I had had the most fun with. She was about five-nothing, and maybe one-hundred pounds, with jet black hair cut shoulder length and eyes whose color changed every week via contact lenses that she bought online. She was also covered in tattoos and piercings.
When I asked if I could go to her place she said that was fine and that she had just started making dinner and I could eat there if I was hungry. I was, in fact, very hungry so I readily agreed, thanked her, and hung up the phone. After that I hopped into my car and made the thirty minute drive to her apartment.
When I made it to her place and she opened the door to let me in, I was happy to see that she was having one of her good days. You see, Kaitlyn was severely bi-polar, and, while on a good day she was an amazing person to be around, if you caught her on a bad day it was enough to make you fear for your life. There have been more than a few occasions where I had to wrestle a knife away from her to avoid being stabbed.
After I shut the door behind me, without waiting for any of the pleasant chatter she liked to engage in, I walked straight to her and pulled her in for a passionate kiss, practically crushing my mouth against hers.
"Well, someone's in a good mood." she said with a devious smile, indicating my cock, which was already straining against the fabric of my jeans.
Opting for actions rather than words, I simply pulled her to me again, resuming the kiss, and this time alternately massaging her tongue with mine and biting her lower lip. Kaitlyn let out a guttural purr of pleasure and, breaking the kiss, dragged me to the bedroom where she practically threw me onto the bed.
Without any attempt to make it even slightly sensual, she quickly shed all her clothes, and then climbed onto the bed and did the same for me. Once we were both naked she straddled me, positioning the head of my cock at her already wet entrance, and sat down on it. Impaling herself to the hilt in one smooth motion. She then began bouncing up and down on it and before long she was letting out loud, high-pitched grunts with each down stroke.
Now don't get me wrong, it felt incredible, but it was taking far too long for my liking. Today I was looking for a hard, fast fuck and nothing more, so I flipped her over onto her back and began pounding her for all I was worth. I grabbed her legs and spread them as far apart as I could without hurting her to let me penetrate deeper, and for the first time I felt the head of my penis slam into her cervix. While I actually found the sensation to be somewhat pleasant, she reacted like I had shoved a red hot poker into her vagina, practically climbing up the wall to get away from it.
I muttered an apology and waited for her to calm down before I resumed fucking her, going slower this time and shortening my strokes to avoid a repeat of what had just happened. Within a few minutes we had found a new rhythm and she was once again letting out high pitched grunts of pleasure with every in stroke. I knew she was close to cumming when she wrapped her legs around my waist and her arms went around my neck, so I redoubled my efforts, once again pounding into her for all I was worth, but this time taking care not to bottom out and was rewarded by her screaming expletives into my ear as the loud slap of skin on skin filled the room.
"OH GOD JESUS FUCK! OH JOSH! FUCK ME HARDER! OH MY GOD! DON'T STOP! FUCK!"
After several repetitions of that she finally came and let out a high-pitched, piercing wail and collapsed onto the bed. Since I was getting very close myself I just kept right on pounding her until I tensed up with my own orgasm, shooting a huge load deep inside her. I collapsed on top of her and we both lay there for several minutes, panting and covered in sweat from head to toe. Then I heard Kate say, "Shit! Dinner!" at which point she scrambled out of bed and, still naked, ran to the kitchen.
After getting dressed, I wandered out into the living room to watch Kaitlyn do her thing. She was an interesting sight, wearing nothing but an apron and busily moving about the kitchen, stirring some things and moving others.
Without looking up from her work, she spoke, saying, "Care to talk about it?"
I sure as hell did not want to talk about it so I simply replied, "Talk about what?"
She briefly glanced up from the pot she was stirring to give me a steady look, before bending back to her task and said, "Josh, we've been dating for almost six months now, and that is the first time that...THAT...has ever happened."
Damn. One of these days I was going to have to find out how the women in my life always seemed to know more than they were supposed to. But since there was no way I could tell her the truth I threw out the first thing that came to mind, saying, "Nothing, really. It's just been a long day and I needed to relieve some stress."
She wore a glassy eyed smile as she replied, "Really? You should relieve some stress more often. That was...intense."
I laughed and said, "That's one way of putting it."
Kaitlyn finished preparing dinner and as we ate we chatted about our respective days, and eventually I got around to telling her about how my grandma had called and invited me over for dinner on monday evening.
Casually, without even glancing up from her food, she said, "You know, that dinner on Monday would be an excellent time for you to introduce me to the rest of your family."
She had brought up this very subject several times before, and I had shut her down. I did the same this time, saying, "Dammit, Kate, we've been over this. You know I can't do that."
"Why not?!" she said, clearly frustrated at being denied yet again.
"Like I have told you before. My family would not approve of you, and I would rather not put you through that ordeal if I can avoid it."
"And what, exactly, is it about me that they wouldn't approve of?" she asked, one eyebrow arched. Which meant that I would have to choose my words carefully or risk violence.
"They are all very prim and proper, straight-laced type people, and I know they wouldn't react well to all of your tattoos and piercings and the way you dress."
She calmed slightly, and said, "Okay, I can understand that, but do you really care if your family approves of me or not?"
I chuckled and replied, "If I did I wouldn't be dating you right now."
"Then what's the problem? I just don't see how you expect our relationship to move forward when you won't even let me meet your parents."
To this day, what I said next is one of my biggest regrets, because, while true, I worded it in an unnecessarily hurtful way.
I said, "And at what point, exactly, did this become a relationship? I told you on day one that you were just a fling."
"For Christ's sake, Josh, that was six months ago!" she screamed, "Forgive me for thinking that you might have felt an actual human emotion or two in that time!"
"And what the FUCK is that supposed to mean?!" I screamed back.
"Don't give me that shit! You know exactly what I'm talking about! When we're not fucking all you ever do is drink and walk around like a fucking zombie!"
I think what hurt the most when she said that was the fact that it was mostly true, so I simply said, "You know what? Fuck this. I'm done." and with that I stood up and headed for the door.
Behind me, Kaitlyn kept screaming, and, from the sound of her voice, it was obvious that she was holding back tears.
"Fine! Fuck you! I don't ever want to see you again!"
As I reached the front door, I opened it, and, turning, mustered the biggest fake smile I possibly could and said, "Likewise, darlin'" and then turned around and walked out, slamming the door behind me.
Once the door was closed I could hear Kaitlyn let out the tortured, body wracking sobs that she had been holding back, and even though I felt like a monster doing it, I walked to my car and drove off. On the way home I stopped at a gas station and picked up a case of beer, and when I finally walked through the front door of my dingy little rent house, I cracked open a bottle and took a long pull, not caring that it was warm. Then I sat down on the couch and continued drinking while I watched the television. I didn't stop drinking until I ran out of beer.
The next morning I was over two hours late for work and when I finally came shambling in like the zombie Kate had accused me of being, the service manager called me into his office.
"Why were you late?" he asked without looking up from his computer screen.
"Sorry, I had a little bit too much to drink last night." I replied.
This time he did look at me as he said, "Again? Jesus Josh, that's the second time just this week. Everything okay?"
"I'm fine." I lied.
He studied me more closely, saying, "Josh, I know what fine looks like, and that ain't it. You sure you don't want to talk about it?"
I laughed and replied, "No offense, Charlie, but if I ever do talk about it, it won't be with you."
"Fair enough," he said, nodding his head, "Listen, son, you're a hell of a worker, and I'd hate to have to fire you, but if you keep this up that's exactly what'll happen."
"Yeah. I know." was all I could say.
"Look, why don't you take today and Friday off and use the long weekend to get your head on straight, then come back on Monday ready to get some work done." he said, taking pity on me.
"Sure thing, boss," I replied, "And...thanks...for not prying."
"No problem, Josh, just remember that my door is always open if you need to talk about something."
"I will." I replied, and then I turned and left his office, heading back to my car. On the way there one of my coworkers spotted me leaving and called out,
"Hey, what happened to you, man, that little firecracker of yours keep you up too late?"
I laughed and shouted back, "No the firecracker and I broke up!"
"Damn, another one bites the dust, huh?" he asked.
"What can I say, man?" I replied, "Too many beautiful women and too little time!"
Ignoring whatever he said next, I ran back to my car and made the drive home. Because I was getting a killer hangover, as soon as I got back to my place I crawled into bed and stayed there for the rest of the day and most of the next.
The weekend flew by much faster than I would have liked and before I knew it Monday had arrived. By some miracle I woke up early and actually made it to work on time, and on that day I worked harder than I ever had before, talking to no one, and instead, bending to job after job. My boss took notice and, though I'm sure he knew that all was still not well with me, must have decided that this was preferable to me drinking excessively and showing up late, so he left me alone. It wasn't until much later that I, myself realized that I was concentrating so hard on my job to avoid thinking about my impending reunion with Tiffany.
All too quickly, three-thirty arrived and I headed home to get ready. Even though I was dreading what was about to happen, I still took a little extra time to make myself look good, trimming my goatee which had become unruly, and even going so far as to style my hair with some gel. By the time I had finished getting ready it was four-thirty, so I walked out the door and drove to my grandparents' house.
When I pulled into their driveway I saw my uncle Tom's car parked against the curb, and had to take a deep breath and let my heart rate, which had been jack-rabbiting right along for the entire drive, slow down. When I felt I was sufficiently calm I got out of my car and walked to the front door feeling for all the world like I was walking to a guillotine.
When I rang the doorbell my grandmother answered, and after giving her a hug and a kiss on the cheek I walked down the hallway and into the living room where I found my uncle Tom sitting on the couch. After likewise greeting and hugging him we talked for a few minutes until I heard a familiar voice behind me say, "Hey cuz. It's been a while."
I turned to face Tiffany, and, just like in Texas six years ago, all I could do was stare and try not to let my jaw hit the floor. The intervening years had definitely been kind to her and her beauty had grown more refined as she matured, and now, it seemed, she had completed the transformation from very pretty teenager to drop-dead-gorgeous woman, who would make most men turn away with a rueful smile, saying, "She's way out of my league." Her hips had grown slightly wider to give her a nicely proportioned yet subtle hourglass figure, and her breasts had continued to grow from the average B cup they had been to what now looked to be a large C cup, possibly a D.
"Hey, Tiff, it has been a while. How have you been?" was the best response I could come up with.
"Good, and you?"
"Not too bad."
As we continued talking I could tell that she was happy to see me, but at the same time she was keeping her distance and being cautious, like she was nervous and didn't really know what to say. I could relate because I was feeling pretty much the same way, myself.
After we had exhausted or reservoir of idle chit-chat Tiffany said, "Hey Josh, can you help me? I need to get one of my bags of the top shelf of the closet and I'm not quite tall enough."
As she led me down another hallway to the room that she was staying in I figured that her request for help was just a ploy so that we could speak more candidly. My suspicions were confirmed when, as we reached her room and I entered the closet to retrieve the bag she pointed out, she said, "So, are we still pretending that the ferris wheel incident never happened?"
Without looking back I said, "What ferris wheel incident?"
She said, "That's what I thought." and then turned and left without saying another word, and the flat, cold tone of her voice felt like a knife twisting in my gut. Sternly telling myself that it was for the best, I set down the bag she had wanted and walked back to the living room to rejoin the family.
Shortly after that my parents arrived and we all sat down to dinner. I sat directly across from Tiffany at the table, but she flatly refused to so much as look at me and neither of us spoke throughout the meal. Needless to say, that didn't go unnoticed.
"What's gotten into the two of you?" she asked, "Normally, y'all are off in your own little world and chattering like monkeys by now."
Sadly, she was right. Even as children Tiffany and I had always been extremely close. So close that when we got deep into conversation we had a tendency to accidentally ignore everyone else. But if my grandma only knew just how close we'd gotten in that ferris wheel six years ago, well, her reaction would be interesting to say the least, and not in a good way.
I spouted out the first lame excuse that came to mind, saying, "Well, grandma, we haven't seen each other in a long time. It's just taking a little bit for us to get back in the swing of things."
Judging by the looks I got from everyone at the table, nobody was buying it, so I decided to just keep my mouth shut and passed the rest of the evening in silence. As soon as I could without insulting anyone, I took my leave and headed home, feeling more depressed than ever. Things between Tiffany and I had gotten out of hand during the family reunion in Texas, and now my attempts to force things back to the way they had been before had succeeded only in alienating and angering my cousin Tiffany. What made it worse was the fact that there wasn't a damn person I could turn to for advice. Since I couldn't figure out what to do to make things right I decided to just ignore the problem until Tiffany and her dad left town again on Friday. I would have to see her one more time on Wednesday when the entire family went to fireworks show the city held every year, and after that I could go back to my life and forget that any of this had ever happened.
Naturally things didn't turn out that way.
Wednesday night eventually rolled around and everyone met at the park in the center of town to watch the fireworks. The first half of the night went far better than I had expected. I had successfully avoided any awkwardness with Tiffany and was beginning to think I could get through the night unscathed. That's why it caught me completely off guard when my mom decided to bring up the subject.
"Did you apologize to Tiffany yet?" she asked without looking over.
"Apologize for what?"
This time she did look over and said, "For whatever you did that hurt her feelings so badly."
"What? What makes you think I hurt her feelings?"
"Don't play dumb, Josh. It's obvious that there's something going on between you two, and at dinner she was the one who looked pissed and you were the one who looked guilty. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out."
I hung my head, asking, "Was it really that obvious?"
"Yes." was the only reply I got.
My mom studied me carefully for a few seconds before saying, "Mind if I ask what it's about?"
I shook my head and replied, "I wish I could tell you, but it's a personal matter between Tiffany and I."
"Okay, I won't pry, but can I give you some advice?"
I laughed bitterly, saying, "God, you have no idea how much I would love some advice right now."
She only smiled at me and said, "Man the fuck up and tell her that you're sorry. Whatever disagreement you all are having, it's not worth drifting apart over."
I started to tell her that it wasn't that simple, but I stopped before I even got a word out because I realized that she was right. It was exactly that simple. I could either come to terms with and accept what had happened, or I could keep doing what I had been doing for the last six years and lose Tiffany forever. It didn't take long for me to make a decision and with a grateful hug to my mom I stood up and went in search of Tiffany.
I found her shortly after that sitting in the grass and patently ignoring the colorful display above. She had her knees drawn up to her chest and her shoulders were hunched, making it perfectly obvious that she was in no mood for company. Regardless, I approached her and quietly said, "Hey, Tiff, can we talk?"
"What is there to talk about?" she responded without looking at me. her voice had a hoarse quality to it that made me think she had been crying and the knife in my gut twisted a little more.
"I want to apologize." I said simply.
"For what? she asked, and I could practically see the bitter sarcasm dripping from every word, "Since nothing ever happened there's no reason for you to be sorry."
Ouch, I suppose I deserved that. taking it in stride I said, "True, if nothing happened then I have no reason to be sorry, but since something very definitely DID happen, I feel I should apologize for acting like a stupid child."
She turned to face me for the first time and the red, puffy appearance of her eyes confirmed that she had indeed been crying, and said, "I'm listening."
She obviously wasn't going to make this easy on me, but I had already figured as much so I bulled right ahead, saying, "Look, Tiff, after what happened I was scared and confused and more than a little ashamed, and to tell you the truth I still am, but that's no excuse for the way I have been acting so I'm sorry and I can only hope that you'll be able to forgive me."
She stared at me silently for a few minutes, and just when she opened her mouth to speak the night came alive with light and thunder, signifying the finale of the fireworks show. We both turned our eyes upwards and watched as the last blooms of color faded from the night sky and people began gathering their things and heading for their cars. In the distance, I heard our own family calling to us that it was time to go, and coming up beside me Tiffany said quietly, "Stay the night at grandma and grandpa's tonight. I think we have a lot to talk about after everyone goes to bed."
Without waiting for a reply, she drifted past me and rejoined our family who were waiting in the parking lot. I passed the ride home and most of the rest of the night in relative silence, lost in thought and speaking only when spoken to. When everyone, including Tiffany, started wandering off to bed for the night I assumed that Tiffany had decided to leave our discussion for the next day, so I settled in for a night on the living room couch. About an hour later, just as I was entering the gray area between sleep and waking, I heard soft, shuffling footsteps padding towards me and opened my eyes to see Tiffany beckoning me to follow her. I let her lead me back to the room she was occupying and, upon entering, she closed the door and turned on the light then sat down next to me on the bed.
"So," she said.
"So," I replied. it seemed that neither of us really knew where to begin.
"Josh, do you regret what we did?" she asked, looking down at her feet.
I took a moment to think, asking myself if I really did regret it or not. The truth was that part of me, the sane, rational part, was screaming "hell yes!" while the part of me that wanted to get lost in the sapphire depths of her eyes was not only screaming "hell no!", but "let's do it again!". And that is exactly what I told her (minus the part about eyes and getting lost. I have my dignity.) Then I added, "Look, I haven't thought about anything BUT that night since it happened, even though everything I've been taught tells me that I'm a sick, twisted freak because of it."
Tiffany smiled and said, "Well I guess that makes both of us sick, twisted freaks then."
"So you enjoyed it too, then?"
"Oh my god, Josh, that was the single most amazing thing I've ever experienced. I never knew that anything could feel that good."
"Yeah, that's about how it was for me too."
"Then what's the problem, Josh?"
"Are you serious Tiff?!" I asked in a harsh whisper, "We're related, and family isn't supposed to do that kind of thing with family. Hell, they're not even supposed to think about it."
"Josh, I don't care about what we are or are not supposed to think and feel," Tiffany said, raising her voice a little, "Give me one good reason why we can't be together, and don't give me any of that crap about how we aren't supposed to feel this way.."
A wave of frustrated anger washed over me, and I had to take a deep breath before speaking or I ran the risk of shouting at her and waking the entire house. I said, "Tiffany. Pretend for one second that the rest of the world doesn't exist. You know our family. You know what they're like. How do you think they would react if they caught us, huh?"
I could see by the look on her face that she knew as well as I did that they would disown us and never speak to us again before they accepted us as a couple, so I continued on saying, "I'm sorry but it has to be this way. It doesn't matter that I'm in love with you. It doesn't matter that you're all I ever think about because..."
"You're in love with me?" she interrupted, eyes going wide.
Well shit. Now I'd done it.
I let out a heavy sigh before saying, "Yeah, Tiff. I think I am."
"Oh, Josh." she said, her eyes brimming with tears, "I'm so happy you feel that way. I'm in love with you too."
Despite everything, my heart leapt for joy when I heard those words, but it came crashing back down shortly after and I said, "It makes me happy to hear you say that, Tiff, but you see what I mean. We can never be together."
But she didn't see. She didn't see at all, and she said, "Josh. You keep saying that we can't be together. But what I'M saying is that we just can't get caught."
Then she flashed me that devil-may-care grin that never failed to drive me crazy, and the last of my resistance crumbled, and with no ground left to stand on, I fell head over heels. At that moment I knew I would do anything for this girl. All she had to do was ask and I would get on my hands and knees and crawl through hell, and as long as I got to see that smile I would say thank you for the privilege.
I wanted to tell her all these things, but ,being as overwhelmingly inept at verbally expressing emotions as I am, I simply could not find the right words. I decided to let my actions speak for me, so I pulled her in and kissed her. There was nothing urgent or demanding about that kiss. It was simply as tender and full of love as I could make it, and we stayed like that for a long time, just touching and kissing until we fell asleep in each other's arms.
I woke up early the next morning, and crawled out of her bed as quietly as I could, so I wouldn't wake her, and gave Tiffany a soft kiss on the forehead before leaving for work. it was a novel experience to show up to work early and hangover free for once, and when people asked me how I was doing and I replied, "I'm fine." I wasn't lying. All in all things were starting to look up.
After work I went straight back to my grandparents' house, and spent the rest of the day there, intent on spending as much time with Tiffany as I could before she left the next day. That was how I came to be there at dinner when Tiffany's sister, Sarah, called to wish everyone a belated happy independence day, (Apparently she had a new boyfriend, and had decided to spend the fourth of july with his family) I was last in line to talk to her and we had only been chatting for a few minutes when I heard an indistinct male voice on the other end.
"Sarah, is that your boyfriend I hear?"
"Yes, his name is Steve."
"Well that's a nice name. Can I talk to him?"
There was a long pause on the other end before Sarah hesitantly asked, "Why?"
"I just want to officially introduce myself." I lied.
"Oh...okay..." she replied. I could tell that she wasn't really buying it, but in the end she acquiesced anyway.
There was a momentary rustling on the line, and some muffled voices before a male voice said, "Hello? This is Steve."
"Hiya, Steve!" I practically shouted into the phone, laying the fake enthusiasm on thick, "This is Josh Abbot. I'm Sarah's cousin and surrogate older brother."
"Oh, hey. What's up man? How are you?"
"I'm good, Steve, I'm real good. Thanks for asking. Do you mind if I ask you a question, Steve?"
I knew I had him confused and anxious as he replied, "Uh...sure thing man. Ask away."
"Do you believe in God, Steve?"
"Yes sir, I do."
"That's great, Steve, that's just what I wanted to hear. I'm a nice guy, so I'm gonna do you a favor, Steve."
"Yes. You see, if you ever make Sarah cry, even once, and I don't care if it's for something as simple as accidentally stepping on her toe, I'm going to let you meet God up close and personal."
There was a slight pause as my words sank in, then he replied, his voice sounding strained, "Is that a threat?"
"Oh, absolutely. But please don't make the mistake of thinking it's an idle threat, Steve, that would be a mistake."
I heard several voices shout "JOSH!" simultaneously, and I had to try very hard to keep from breaking down into fits of laughter.
Tiffany left the next day while I was at work. She was going to drive hack to Arizona with her dad, and then take her own car back to California from there. I didn't get to tell her goodbye, but this time I made sure to keep in touch, and we talked on the phone almost every day for the two years that we were apart.