If I Were the Last Man Alive
Chapter 21: Jamie's Story

Copyright© 2014 by Number 7

While I was sleeping in air-conditioned comfort and taking hot showers, Lori was struggling to simply survive. It didn't seem right. I was even more determined to make her life better.

I thought she was pretty, even as she looked in our initial meeting. Now that she'd cleaned up, she was really and truly beautiful. I could lose myself in her blue eyes. She had one of those faces that make you look twice. Maybe it was the Irish nose, or maybe it was her smile, which lit up an entire room.

I had to be careful. Since Arthea died, I wasn't interested in any woman I'd met. But now I could barely take my eyes off Lori. As we strolled down Main Street, I felt an odd contentment. I wanted to hold her hand or have her put her arm through mine and lay her head on my shoulder. I wanted her to flick her amazingly attractive hair, that glistened in the setting sun, over to the side and smile again. Part of me wanted to pick her up and hug her so tight she lost her breath. Part of me wanted to run and hide.

Arthea and I had been very touchy people — always holding hands, linking arms or touching our heads together as we walked. When we walked our puppies, we each held a leash with one hand and either held hands, or hugged each other's waist with the other.

Some days I ached inside to hold her once more. Many nights I reached for her in my sleep.

When she was dying, Arthea repeatedly told me to find someone else after she was gone. She threatened to haunt anyone who wasn't as kind to me as I was to her. I think she meant it.

I felt no guilt about my attraction to Lori. I thought Arthea would have approved. Lori seemed pensive as we approached the car. She seemed lost in her thoughts as we drove back to the boat. "Penny for your thoughts," I asked as we neared the car.

Her smile illuminated her whole face and spilled over to the rest of her. "I was thinking about how amazing it is that just a few hours ago, I thought I wouldn't live much longer and how quickly everything changed. If you hadn't come along when you did, I don't know if I could have kept going. I just don't."

"You don't have to be afraid any more," I said, hoping to keep her from crying again. "God has us in His plan, and I think He intends only good for us. Otherwise, why leave us alive when everyone else is gone? He must have plans and we'll have to wait until He makes them clear before we'll understand."

She rubbed her chin as she considered my words. "How long have you been a Christian?" she asked.

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