As the cab sat in traffic leaving Chicago, Ferris thought about what she was leaving behind; who she was leaving behind. So many other women out there would have killed for a chance to marry a man like Calvin; become a rich, lazy housewife.

"They can have him then," she stated.

"I'm sorry?" Avery asked from the driver's seat.

"What?" Ferris asked

"You said something I didn't quite hear."

"I did?"

Avery let out a short laugh. "Yeah. Daydreaming?"

"Something like that," she nodded.

"So are you going to tell me why you passed out at the airport and needed to so desperately get out of Chicago?"

"It's a long story."

"It's not a short car ride to Rockford. We have a few hours in this traffic."

Ferris looked at him through the rearview mirror. The expression on her face showed sadness, even emptiness. And then behind it all, Avery could see a spark of something. A spark of life and determination. Who was this girl? What the hell was she running from?

"I'm honestly not a fugitive, if you're wondering," she smiled a bit.

"It crossed my mind."

"I'm just running away from life. And the road happened to become the best way to go for now."

"It's definitely not the quickest way to another place. Although I'm assuming you weren't really planning on a small place like Rockford, were you?"

"No, not really."

"Somewhere more exotic?"

"Why would you think that?"

"A pretty girl like you, cold season it is right now here in the city. I'm sure you get out every winter to more naturally apply a tan."

"If you're insinuating that I am some rich girl who vacations every chance she gets just because she can, you're wrong."

He knew he had crossed a line.

"If I were trying to get away from something, then why would I go the one place everyone apparently already assumes I would go?"

"Good point." Avery turned his view to the road.

A few minutes passed in silence.

"I'm sorry."

Ferris looked back to the rear-view mirror, searching for Avery's eyes.

"I didn't mean to suggest that you were, uh...," his voice caught in his throat.

"It's fine."

"I've never been in this situation before, and my mouth started working before my brain."

She smiled a little.

"How long do you think it'll take to get up there?" she asked. "I'd check on my phone, but I'm afraid to turn it back on." She breathed in a heavy sigh as she remembered all the people back in town who were no doubt calling or texting her.

"I'm guessing we'll be driving for a few hours at least with traffic."

He looked back and saw her pondering over her phone. The sighs becoming more frequent.

"Just chuck it out the window."

Ferris thought for a moment but decided to simply slip the phone back into her purse.

A few hours later the cab came to a stop in a driveway of a quaint little home in Rockford. Ferris had fallen asleep and not noticed that they had arrived at the end of the line. Avery killed the ignition and sat quietly. He cleared his throat after a few minutes to see if he could rouse her out of slumber.

She didn't move.

"We're here," he said, giving Ferris a jolt.

She looked around for a moment, trying to adjust to the surroundings. She had forgotten she was in a cab.

"Where's here?"

"My house."

Ferris was immediately on edge. It never occurred to her until this moment that she had never told him where exactly to take her. But she wasn't expecting him to have taken her to his home.

"No need to be scared. I just happen to live up here. Unfortunately," he chuckled. "I can take you to the bus station, or the train station, or a hotel. Just let me know."

Ferris didn't say a word. She slowly began doubting the choices she had made that day. The choice to run away from what could have turned out to be a perfectly matched marriage. The thought made her laugh. There was no way in hell she was going to be happy marrying that man. This, so far, seemed to be the better choice.

"I could have taken you straight to the train station, but I was thinking that I was pretty hungry. Are you hungry?"

She nodded. It was just after five o'clock and Ferris hadn't had a bite to eat since the night before.

"I know a great place, if you'd like to join me."

She looked up again, this time he was turned to her, his arm across the back of the bench seat. His eyes were a striking blue and didn't have a bit of mystery in them. He looked into her emerald gaze and started to lose track of his thought. He cleared his throat again, but this time he was nervous. This was a new situation for the both of them.

"I think I'd like that," she responded.

Avery nodded. "Mind if we take my car?"

"Your car?" she seemed a bit confused. Weren't they in a car?

"Yeah," he pointed to the newer model Ford hatchback in the driveway next to them. "As much as I love this cab here, I'd prefer to cruise out here in my own ride."

"Right," was all she could say. She realized that she should probably get out of the car. They weren't going to get to too far if she just stayed in the cab. She opened the door and stretched her legs out. With her back to the car she stood up and stretched her arms straight up above her head. Avery watched her ever elegant move as she combed her fingers through her golden blonde hair.

"Ready?" he asked as he pulled her suitcase from the trunk.

She nodded.

He put her suitcase in the backseat of his car, and then sat down in the driver's seat and waited for Ferris. She stopped at the back door. Looking into the backseat, she noticed aside from her suitcase, it was strewn with clothes, shoes and a gym bag.

"I'm not home a lot. I keep a lot of stuff in my car. Were you wanting to sit in the back?"

"I guess for now, yes."

He smiled. "Don't worry. I don't bite."

Reluctantly she got into the front seat.

"Does this whole thing weird you out a bit?" Ferris asked as they pulled up to a place called Dana's Diner.

"It did at first."

"But now we're going out to eat."

"What's wrong with that?"

"I just figured you would have ditched me at the train station by now and gone on about your business. I also never thought I'd go out to dinner with my cab driver."

"I don't make it a point to ditch any of my fares. Miss, you are my business."

"What does that mean?

"You needed help. I could tell from the second I laid my eyes on you." She started to open her mouth to speak. "Now I don't mean you looked helpless, or like a charity case. I just knew. You are overwhelmed for some reason or another, and I guess I decided to be your knight in shining armor. In a really strange way," he laughed.

She smiled at him, her first real smile since she walked out of the church in the middle of downtown Chicago.

"This is definitely the strangest situation I've ever been in." She leaned her head back into the headrest. Breathing in deeply with her eyes closed. "But at this point, I can't really go back."


"What are you running from?"

"A forced existence."

"Ah, I see. That explains it all." He joked.

"If you were me it would."

"Well, let's go inside and get something in our stomachs. I'm starving. Maybe I can get some more out of you once I've force fed you some of the best food in town."

Ferris was nervous to order anything in front of Avery. It was the first time she had really seen him straight on in any type of good light, or straight frame of mind. His hair was a perfect shaggy blonde, and his build was absolutely, perfectly masculine. He wasn't too bulky and he wasn't too scrawny. She hadn't ordered food for herself in what seemed like ages. Calvin always took it upon himself to order her food. He liked being in control, and as strong as Ferris felt she was, she wasn't strong enough to tell him to stop.

"See anything deliciously greasy and fatty you'd like?" Avery asked.

"I uh... I... wow," she said looking at the menu.

"Not your kind of food?"

"No, no, I love this stuff. It's just... it's been a while since I've..." She trailed off and once the waitress came, she put in an order of a cheese burger with fries.


"What?" she said coyly.

"Of all the amazingly bad for you things you could order here, that's what you choose? Just a cheeseburger and fries?"

"Yeah. Just a cheeseburger and fries."

"Well, at least you didn't order a salad."

"Man, you sure don't think too highly of us Chicago girls, do you?"

"I'm sorry," he laughed. "I really am. I just... yeah, you could say I don't necessarily get along with the girls there."

"And that makes me the same as them?"

"I guess it makes me guard myself."

"Guard yourself," she echoed.

Ferris reached into her purse to grab her phone. It was still turned off and she held it in her hand contemplating what to do.

Avery watched her green eyes as they searched every inch of the phone. Her thumb made a phantom sweep over the face. He wasn't sure exactly what she was thinking but it was obvious she didn't want to turn on the phone. There was something terrible in Chicago that she was running away from. He hoped she would tell him more, but the possibility still existed that this was the last hour he would spend with her. Where she wanted to go was still a mystery. And when, that was even more pertinent.

"Chili dog with bacon cheese fries and extra hot sauce on the side," the waitress said as she placed two plates in from of Avery.

"Cheeseburger and fries" as she presented Ferris' plate in front of her. "Would you like anything else?"

"I'd love some ranch," Ferris responded.

"You?" she asked Avery. He shook his head in decline. She nodded to Ferris as she walked away from the table and behind the counter.

"So you're not from Chicago?"

"No," Avery answered. "I just work there from time to time."

"Did you grow up here?"

"Did you grow up in Chicago?"

"I did."

"I grew up on the West Coast. I moved out here a few years ago. To help a friend."

"Did you ever want to move down to the city?"

"Never quite had the nerve to make the move."

"Is there something down there that bothers you?"

Avery looked at her blankly.



"The reason you stay so guarded, as you say. The girl who broke your heart."

"The girl who-"

"Here's your ranch, my dear," the waitress interrupted.


"So Ferris," Avery changed the subject.


"You live in Chicago and your parents named you Ferris."

"You caught that, did you?" she smiled as she ate a fry. "I think they saw it on a date or something. It's iconic. And I suppose I should be as well. High society these days calls for originality. Couldn't really have named me something boring like Helen or Carrie."

"Well those are just terrible names regardless."

Ferris laughed. Looking down at her plate, "I love my name." Then bringing her eyes up to meet Avery's.

"I do, too."

For a while Ferris forgot what brought her here to this place with this man. There was absolutely no pressure. She was comfortable.

For the first time in a very long time she was allowing herself to be herself.