They were in and out of the hardware store in a matter of minutes and on the ride back, they resumed their conversation.
"So now its your turn," Carol said with a smirk.
Daryl groaned. "Knew this was coming. What do you wanna know, Sweetheart?"
"Ummm… tell me about your family… where you’re from, tell me a little more about you.”
“Not much to tell. I’m the youngest of three boys. Merle's the oldest, then there's Axel, then me. Im originally from Senoia, had a pretty decent childhood. Folks are still livin' an' healthy thankfully.” He then told her a little bit about Merle and some other details about their family background and how he ended up looking for his brother in the first place.
Carol told him she knew all about not having the best of family circumstances but making the best of it and revealed a bit more about her background with Ed and some details about how she ended up in Georgia as well as about her divorce from Tobin, how she started writing in the first place and that she was in Savannah to finish up her latest book. But before long she wanted him to get back to telling her more about himself. She was fascinated by him; she’d never met a guy quite like him. He was so gorgeous and he really seemed so honest and simple, like a breath of fresh air; NOTHING at all like the men she’d met since her divorce.
“Well it ain’t that much more to tell,” Daryl said with a shrug, before proving quite the opposite. “I attended the Atlanta Vo-Tech Center and got certificates in Construction, Plumbing, Electrical Engineering and Carpentry. I love workin with my hands. Fixin' and buildin' things and just helpin' good folk. I own a piece of the family business… its doing good too. My grandparents left me their old farmhouse just outside Atlanta. It aint fancy or nothing but I fixed it up real nice. Big old place, 5 bedrooms plus a fully furnished attic space with just me and a big old barn and stable out back. Lotta mature fruit trees in the land too; got peach, pecan, cherry, pear and apple. Got 5 nieces and nephews... Axel's kids, they come over sometime... I let em run wild on that land out back near the little creek just like we did when we were kids. Good catfish and trout in that creek year round. Got a dog named Cherokee, mix breed coonhound & Irish Setter I think… one hell of a huntin’ dog. And I got a pair of horses named Lila & Jake, She’s a blonde Palomino and he’s a chocolate brown American quarter horse/paint mix. Cherokee’s over at Axel's place while I’m outta town; the horses are stabled down in Woodbury but I get over there to ride ‘em and spend time with ‘em from time to time. Once I slow down with work a little I’ll bring ‘em on back home. Got married one time. Her name was Cicily. We were in love but we were WAY too young ya know, it just didn’t work out. Been datin’ here and there but nothing serious in a while. I admit I been lookin' though. No kids… I love ‘em, just aint never been blessed with none… yet. I like to cook a little, grilling mostly. And ummm… well I don’t know? Guess I sound kinda boring, huh?" he shrugged.
“You don’t sound boring at all, Daryl… You’ve got a great life. Doing what you enjoy for a living at least. Michonne also told me you like to watch old movies. What else do you like to do for fun? And I love both horses and dogs by the way!”
"Well, I like to swim a little, get in some wild game hunting during deer season and hit the gym from time to time to try and stay in shape, ya know?"
"I can definitely see that," she flirted.
"Stop," he murmured shyly at being complimented. “But I work so much I barely have time for it. Umm... I guess my favorite pastime is riding my motorcycles. I got a Harley and a Hayabusa, one of those Japanese racing sport bikes. T-Dogg & I used to go up to Myrtle Beach for Harley Week and then stay on for Black Bike Week the following weekend with some friends in his bike club every year but I been working so damn much I haven’t had time to get away these past couple of summers."
“Gotta make time for what you love. All work and no play makes Daryl a dull boy. If riding is what you truly enjoy, you need to do it more often!”
“You like to ride?” he asked her, then turned red as a beet when he realized how it sounded (even though at that moment he had an unbridled fantasy of letting her ride him... bareback at that!)
“Thought you’d never ask,’ Carol thought to herself and swallowed hard because she’d ALMOST blurted it out. ‘This sexy man is gonna be the death of me,’ she thought to herself. “Honey, I love to ride,” she replied with a smirk.
“You do?” he gulped.
“Oh yeah... Riding's one of my favorite past times,” she said with a wink. “I just climb on… and let these babies roll!” she said winding her hips in her seat.
His icy blue eyes flashed in surprise and he seemed hypnotized by the motion of her hips. “Bikes… I meant riding bikes…” he said sheepishly.
“I know... I was talkin' about bikes too!" she lied with a smirk.
“No ya weren’t, liar!” he laughed. “I mean… well, you know what I mean,” he couldn’t help chuckling and she burst into laughter as well.
“I know, I know…” Carol laughed. “You just look so adorable when you’re embarrassed.”
“Stop," he laughed and blushed again.
“I mean it. And I love to ride motorcycles too… well I did once. My dad and my oldest brother, Mickey ride bikes; in fact Mick used to take me out for rides all the time but I never learned to drive one myself. Then Sophia’s dad, Ed… well I told you a little bit about him… he rode too. He got some fancy racing sport bike from his dad for doing well his first semester of college. I was a little scared to ride on the back of the thing with him because I’d recently found out he’d started drinking a lot around that time but he insisted that I go out with him to test ride his newest toy. He promised he’d go slow but then once we were out a little ways in the Baton Rouge countryside he took a detour down a back road and before I knew it he was flying damn near a hundred miles an hour on the mostly dirt and gravel terrain. The road had a bunch of winding curves and Ed started revving the engine, popping wheelies and swerving the damn thing on purpose with me on the back without a helmet and it scared me half to death. He was driving recklessly and he thought it was so funny when I started crying and begging him to slow down and my whimpers and tears only made him go even faster. He was laughing so hard he wasn’t paying attention and before I knew it he’d hit a rock slide and ended up ramming into a deep ditch, damn near flipping the bike and we both fell off. He'd nearly killed us both but thankfully the bike didnt land on top of us. I weighed next to nothing back then... if I hadn’t been holding on to him so tightly I probably would gone airborne. The bike started smoking and he began cursing like a sailor when he realized that he’d burned out the engine and caught a flat tire on the sharp rocks in the process. Those were the days just before everyone had cell phones and we ended up having to hitch hike back to town, covered with bruises and scrapes. Ed's father got the bike repaired of course but I was so traumatized I swore I’d never ride anywhere with him on that thing ever again. I should’ve dumped him after that because that was just the tip of the iceberg of his increasingly crazy behavior, but I found out I was pregnant with Sophia not long after that incident happened and I stayed with him out of obligation until I came to my senses and left him a few months later. I haven’t been on the back of a bike since. I miss it sometimes though. It was so much fun when my brother took me but Ed totally ruined it for me. He ruined a lot of things… may he rest in peace.”
Daryl could see the hint of a long forgotten sadness appear in her eyes for a brief moment as he stared intently at her and he suddenly felt an overwhelming feeling of rage toward Ed. He’d never felt that strongly over a woman he barely knew in his entire life as he felt for her in that moment. Carol wasn’t his but he felt compelled to protect her for some reason.
“I hate to say this ‘cuz I didn’t know your’ daughter’s daddy from Adam," he growled, "and I never speak ill of the dead, but I don’t hold my tongue when something don’t sit right with me and that Ed sounds like he was a bonafide asshole when he was above ground. A man that’d scare his woman like that, do her any harm or even RISK doing her harm for a laugh ain’t no man. In fact, he ain’t worth the spit it would’ve taken 'fer me to cuss him but his ass is still lucky I weren’t there all the same. Carol, I would’a beat the white off of him with my bare hands then I would'a kicked his ass from there to Timbuktu and back. And a bike ain’t no toy! It’s a machine that's due the utmost respect. Jus' like a woman. Ya gotta respect it before ya even think about puttin' yer hands on it! The both of ya could’a been killed… just like that,” he said, snapping his fingers. “But I don’t care 'bout him, none… and he’s gone on anyways, but I’m startin’ to care ‘bout you... A LOT... as a friend.” He then added quickly even though he already knew he wanted more. “You’re a real nice lady Carol, ‘bout as nice as they come. I just met ya but I can tell ya got a good heart and any man that can’t see that or would ever try to hurt ya… well, he just don’t deserve ya.”
"Daryl... I think thats the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me!" Carol’s heart absolutely melted after his little speech and as she leaned over to peck his cheek in thanks she squeezed his thigh affectionately. “Sorry!” she then said removing her hand like it’d been burned. His strong thigh muscle felt heavenly but it gave her an electric shock.
“Its ok,” Daryl said quietly... He'd felt it too!
They then both immediately changed the subject, opting to focus on much lighter topics but it was obvious that some strong feelings were developing between them rather quickly; quicker than either of them had ever felt before and they weren’t showing any signs of stopping.
Before Carol knew it they were back at the beach house. Daryl replaced the wire and the A/C suddenly came on full blast, FINALLY cooling down the property.
“This feels so good,” Carol moaned as she stood in front of the living room vent. “Daryl I can't thank you enough. You’re a life saver!"
“Stop... There was nothing to it,’” he replied shyly. “Now I guess I’ll get outta yer hair and leave ya be,” he then added sadly. “It was really nice meetin’ ya Carol.”
“You too! Like I said earlier I hope to see you around before you head back to the ATL. I wish I had a way to thank you for everything.”
Daryl stared at the cleavage exposed in the front of her tank. ‘I can think of a few ways,’ he thought to himself. ‘One of which includes letting me bury my face between those perfect tits of yours, and another involves you wrapping those sexy thighs of yours around my head…’ He shook his head to clear his heated thoughts and when his eyes met hers they stared at each other expectantly and Daryl knew he had to man up. Michonne wouldn’t steer him wrong and she’d told him that Carol was indeed looking for someone. He dug deep to get the courage to simply ask her out. He knew he HAD TO at least give it a shot. He didn’t want the night to end because he could feel the strong vibe growing between them. A shred of hope deep inside gave him the feeling that she wouldn’t turn him down so he just went for it. He nervously bit at his thumb. “Ya know Carol, I was really enjoyin’ talkin’ to ya… so much I don’t wanna let ya go just yet. It’s so much more I wanna know ‘bout ya. So, umm… if you weren’t gonna be too busy later on, well after I go get a room somewhere, would you maybe wanna hang out with me tonight? I mean if you don’t have no plans, maybe we could get a late dinner someplace?” ‘Please don’t have any other plans, please, please don’t,’ he thought to himself.
“You mean like dinner… as in a date?”
“Yeah,” he replied holding his breath.
“Then in that case… the answer is YES! I don’t have any other plans… and I’d really like that Daryl. In fact I’d love to hang out with you,” she said with a smile.
“Ya would?” he asked almost in disbelief.
“Sure I would,” she replied with a reassuring smile. Then in that moment, their eyes met again and Carol suddenly decided to just be bold and adventurous for once, and like Michonne said, it was all about taking chances. “Umm… Daryl, this may sound a little forward… I mean we just met and all but… well… hell! We're both such good friends with Michonne. I know she won't mind. Why don’t you just stay here?”
“HUH?” he looked at her incredulously.
“Well, Michonne said you’re family to her and staying here would save you a couple hundred bucks at least. And we could finish talking...”
Daryl looked at her in disbelief. Michonne had said she was sweet but this took the cake. “Carol… you don’t even know me!”
“I know! But I trust Michonne and she said youre family. There's plenty of space here and I know you won't do me any harm.”
“Of course not. I didn’t even mean like that though. I just meant I can't believe you're this nice. Just surprised that’s all! This is awful sweet of you but I can’t possibly impose. I won’t put you out like that! You’re on vacation! Finishin’ yer book! I just know I’d get in ‘yer way. Love talkin’ to ya. Don’t wanna distract ya though…”
“You won’t distract me, and you won’t be in my way… this house has another guest bedroom and a suite in the pool house... I’m gonna be out by the pool writing most of the time, and you can come and go as you please. You said yourself you’ll only be here for two days so you’d be no trouble at all. I'll be here until next Monday! I know we just met so it may be a bit awkward so you can stay in the pool house if it makes you feel more comfortable. It’s fully furnished with cable TV and now that the A/C is working again, it’ll be just as comfortable out there as it is in here but it’s totally up to you. And I don’t mind making meals for two for the next couple of days. I always end up cooking way too much anyway.”
Daryl thought about it. It was crazy. It was INSANE but he had to admit he really wanted to get to know her for some reason so he figured he better agree to it quick before she changed her mind.
“Alright… Ill stay. In the pool house... but only if you’re 100% sure.”
“I’m sure! Now go get your stuff!” Carol didn’t know where in the hell this new boldness had come from but she knew Michonne’s recent advice had something to do with it!