Authors: Nancy Radke
(Also includes a short story, The Prettiest Gal on the Mountain
Praise for TENNESSEE TOUCH
“Here’s a man searching for a worthy woman, but she uses Mace on him.” KS
“A touch of mystery and a touch of humor. I really enjoyed it from beginning to end.”
“Some men just have that touch.” Gail P.
“Another page turner.” Bobbi N.
Table of Contents
It was the first time Alison had ever talked to anyone on the freeway, at least talked to them in this way. She had to admit, there were some advantages in knowing American Sign Language.
The red Jetta had appeared from nowhere, coming up behind her at a fast clip. Rules of the road demanded that she move out of the far left lane and let it pass.
Knowing she shouldn’t take her bad mood out on other drivers, Alison switched on her turn signal, indicating a lane change. Seattle drivers were usually courteous and a car quickly slowed down, allowing her to move over. She did, and the red Jetta accelerated, moving up beside her.
The young man inside glanced over and thrust his hand through his open sunroof. His fingers flashed, and Alison blinked. What gesture was that? Was he being rude?
No. He was finger spelling. "Thank you."
Laughing to herself, Alison responded, lifting her left hand above her half-opened window to sign, "You're welcome."
The Jetta swerved, was straightened, then slowed abruptly to hold to her speed. He hadn’t been expecting an answer. She could bet on it.
"Hello. Hello." He rolled down his passenger-side window, so she could see him better, as his hands formed the words.
Well, hello to you too
, Alison thought. This was fun, and she felt her spirits lift. She rolled down her window the rest of the way, so the slightly tinted glass would not interfere with vision.
“Hello,” she signed back to him.
"Nice to meet you." He flashed a friendly smile, a broad grin that reached from ear to ear.
"Nice to meet you," she returned.
"Are you from around here?" he signed.
"No. Just visiting."
Alison glanced back at the road to make sure she wasn’t saying an unwelcome hello to a motorist in another lane, then looked back at the stranger. Intrigued by the conversation, she continued to sign to him.
"I'm A-l-i-s-o-n." She spelled the letters out.
"-o-g-a-n." He had started to spell the word before he had his hand high enough for her to see.
He finger-spelled the letters more carefully this time. "Logan."
"Got it." What do you say next, to a person in a car alongside yours? "Are you going far?"
"To the airport. My plane leaves at nine."
Alison glanced at her car clock. It was only five P.M. "Why so early?"
"Nothing else to do. I don't know anyone in Seattle...except you."
"You could go sightseeing."
"I have. I went to Kirkland and wandered through their art galleries."
The words actually came out, "Go Kirkland, art house, look look," but as an interpreter for the deaf, Alison had no trouble with American Sign Language. Using ASL, she had spoken to people across a room, carrying on a conversation uninterrupted by the crowd—but never on the freeway, with their cars traveling side by side down the inner lanes. It was a unique experience.
The freeway. She glanced around, suddenly realizing something was wrong. She had passed her exit.
Also, the line of cars on her right were zooming by, but the cars behind him and her were following at the sedate, forty mile pace they had slowed to. No cars in front of them.
They were holding up two lanes of traffic.
"Look behind you," she signed, embarrassed.
He did, then shrugged his shoulders eloquently. "Oops. Forgot them. Take the next exit," he suggested. "I’d like to talk some more."
Should she? It was full daylight. She could stop in an area where there were people around.
"Okay." She slowed down, letting him move in front of her, then hit her right turn signal. He moved on over and she followed. She could see the rental car markings on his license plate, and mentally reminded herself that he was not from around here. She needed to take some precautions.
She had been depressed; in need of a quick way to take her mind off her brother's situation. This had done it.
The far left lane of traffic sped up as Logan pulled over, the first few drivers honking with quick beeps and friendly waves as they passed by. The middle lane did the same as Alison moved to the right, and she felt her face flush. She hadn't realized they were providing so much entertainment.
The radio station was playing a carefree song, and she hummed along with it as she drove, tapping her fingers on the steering wheel. She had turned it on to cheer herself up, but it looked like Logan had taken care of that.
He was good-looking in a rugged sort of way, but Alison knew better than to judge by looks. She had been disappointed in men who were good-looking and in those who weren’t. The type of men she seemed to attract were only after one thing, and that didn’t involve love or marriage.
The stranger intrigued her. She laughed delightedly. It was just what she needed to take her mind off the visit she had just had with her mother and brother.
The radio interrupted its music to give football scores. Keeping her eyes on the road, Alison frowned and reached over to move the dial.
That season again.
It felt like football took up half the year. She advanced the dial and got more scores. The fall madness had begun and it wasn’t even fall yet. She hated this time of year.
Squinting against the bright sunlight to keep the Jetta in sight, she followed Logan onto the Northgate exit, happy to get off the freeway and away from the curious drivers that had willingly stayed behind as they talked.
He drove onto Northgate Way and turned the Jetta into a handy parking lot.
He uncoiled from behind the wheel, a well-dressed man in tan denims and a short sleeved turquoise polo that deepened the color in his blue eyes. He yanked the keys out with him, shut the door and met her halfway.
She was tall, five-eight, but still had to look up at him. "If you're going from Kirkland to the airport, what are you doing here, driving south on I-5?" she asked, fingers flying as she signed the words. Now that she was off the freeway, no longer speaking car to car, she didn’t feel so on stage.
It wasn’t the first time she had stood in a parking lot using ASL. People walking by glanced at them, but didn’t stand and stare.
"I took the long way around on 405. Drove some of the back roads. I almost missed my exit and headed toward Canada."
"I did miss mine. I planned to take the one earlier."
He grinned. "I'm glad you didn't."
"What happened? Your knuckles?" She drew a question mark, pointed to him, then tapped her own.
"Nothing much. I was playing football."
"Ugh." She made a face for that word. "Football. Don't mention it."
"You don't like the game?"
She shook her head emphatically. "No! My brother played college ball. He was injured. Paralyzed. His girl left him...she couldn't take the stress. It ruined his life. He’s living with my mother and her fourth husband and it’s really a bad situation." She signed the facts. Sharing life stories in sign language was a lot faster than speaking it.
"I'm sorry. But it was just an accident. It could have happened some other way. Car crash."
"I hate the sport! It's too violent."
"It does have its share of injuries." He shifted his weight, as if uncomfortable with the subject. "I know this is really crazy, I’ve never met anyone like this before—on the freeway—but there’s a small fish restaurant nearby. A fish market. Would you like to come?"
“Well...” She waggled her fingers.
“I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable with this.”
“It’s just that...”
“Look, I know you don’t know me, so drive your own car...follow me over. It’s just a few blocks.”
"That sounds fine." Her mother's second husband had tried to force her into sexual situations, and she preferred her distance.
"I'll stay right behind you," she signed. "We don't need people honking at us again."
"Right. Although...they didn't honk until after I moved over." He paused, looked at her with astonishment, then said, vocally, "You...heard them...honk?"