“Why does that surprise you?  He was a good friend of mine too.”  He replied.

“I figured with Daytona coming up, you would have no time to fly home on such short notice.”

Bonnie looked at him.  He was wearing a light blue dress shirt and black slacks.  He looked very polished and professional.  But she didn’t see that.  She saw Tony the way she remembered him…a skinny kid with braces, a bad mullet, loads of insecurities and a million dreams.  She had seen him all over the television over the years, but honestly?  He looked better now at forty than he had ever looked.

“So, do I at least get a hug?”  He asked, arms wide.

“Oh my God, of course you do!” 

They wrapped their arms around each other, holding on tight.  A flood of memories and emotions flooded over her.  His hug was the same.  Hell, he even smelled the same!They pulled apart, both surprised at the energy between them.  Tony’s shyness kicked in.

“Sooo, would you like to grab a coffee, take a ride?  Play catch up?”  He asked quietly, his eyes warm.

“Why don’t we head back to my house?  I live a couple of miles away from here.  You can follow me, OK?”  She said.

“Sure, that would be great.  Let’s say our goodbyes and head out.”

Once they said goodbye to Heather and Bobby’s family, they headed out into the blustery Indiana night.

“Ya know, it was 82 degrees in Daytona today.” Tony said though gritted teeth.

“Ugh, I’m so over winter!  I may have to hide in your jet before you leave!”  She said laughing.

Tony followed Bonnie back to her house, a cute little three bedroom cape.  It was small, but all that she and Lexie needed.  The front porch was on and the house was quiet.  It was still early.  She assumed Lexie was still studying with Emma.  She unlocked the front door, turning on the hall light.  She silently thanked God she had the foresight to clean her house the night before.  Binky came barreling out of the bedroom, meowing a loud greeting to them.

“Would you like something to drink?” she asked as they walked into her kitchen. 

 “What have you got?” he asked, peering over her shoulder.  The room suddenly felt fifty degrees hotter.

“Not much I’m afraid.  Coke, water or milk.  Shopping day is tomorrow.” She said with a chuckle.

“A coke is fine.  You have a nice place here.  Do you live here alone?” he asked.

“Nope, I live here with my daughter Alexia.  I call her Lexie for short.  She’s at her friend’s house studying.  She’ll be home in a little while.”  Bonnie said.

“Really?  I never knew you had a kid.  How old is she?” he asked, surprised.“Lexie is eighteen.  She’s a senior, high honors, National Honor Society.  She’s sweet, funny and an amazing kid.  She’s leaving for college in the fall.”  She said as Tony followed her into the living room.

“What’s her major?”

“She’s going to study biology, with the hopes of becoming a veterinarian.  I’m so proud of her.  She turned out better than I ever expected.”  Bonnie said with a smile.

“Look at her mom.  No wonder she’s amazing.  Is she as pretty as you?”  Tony asked with a lopsided grin.

“Prettier.  She has green eyes, not boring brown eyes like me.”  She sighed.

“I’ve always thought your eyes were beautiful.  I could always tell your mood by looking at them.”  Tony said softly.  They sat quietly, staring at the floor, neither knowing what to say next.

“You know Bonnie, I never forgot you.  I’ve always wondered what you were up to.” Tony said with a touch of regret in his voice.

“I never left town Tony!  I still work at Jack’s for God’s sake!  I know everyone.  If you really wanted to find me, all you would have to do is ask.” She said annoyed.

“I never wanted to bother you.  Our break up wasn’t…easy.  I know we had to, but it took a long time to get over you.  It’s hard leaving your best friend behind.” He said sadly.

“You and I both know we would have killed each other in the end.  We grew up and grew apart, as simple as that.  The deeper you got into racing, the further apart we became.  You had room for only one love in your life.  I lost, racing won.”  She said as she mindlessly picked lint off the couch.

“Shit Bonnie, when you had Lexie, why didn’t you call me?  I could have helped you out.  Where’s her father?  Is he in her life?”  He asked.

“No idea.  I went though a wild phase after we broke up.  I drank way too much and had a few one night stands.  She was the result of a condom gone wrong.  I have no regrets.  She’s the best thing to ever happen to me.”

“Wait, what about your mom?  Didn’t she help you?  Wasn’t she happy becoming a grandmother?”  He asked.

“As if!  That bitch ditched me for some young hottie with big bucks and a Harley!  Told me forty was too young to be someone’s grandma.  So she took off and moved to sunny Florida.  Whatever.”  She spat angrily.  

“So, do you speak to her at all?  Does Lexie know her?” he asked, incredulous her mother could be so heartless.

“I get the gratuitous fifty bucks in a Christmas card every year and the occasional phone call.  Nice, huh?  Can we please change the subject?”  She asked bitterly.

“Sure.  I’m sorry.  I figured since she had you young she’d be more helpful.  I just didn’t think…”

Bonnie cut him off.  “Yeah, like I said, whatever.  I did fine raising her with the help of my friends.  I really don’t care anymore.”  She said softly.  Tony didn’t believe a word she was saying.  She was still hurting all these years later.

“What about a boyfriend, Bonnie.  Are you seeing anyone?”  Tony asked.

“No, and honestly?  I’m OK with that.  I thought I was in love a couple of times, but guys don’t want the responsibility of being an instant dad.  I work, read, go out with friends.  I lead a quiet life.  Unlike you!  Do you ever rest?”  She said smiling.

“Not really!  I have so many balls in the air, I’m afraid if I slow down, I’ll drop one.  It’s really a lot to deal with.”  Tony said softly, some of his old vulnerabilities showing.

“And what the hell is up with your ladies man reputation?  If the rumor mill is true, your life is one big orgy!” she said teasingly.

“No, no, no.  I’m not having as much fun as the internet leads you to believe.  At least not anymore.  When I was younger, I could have put a revolving door in my motor coach!  Bonnie, the pit lizards throw themselves at you!  It’s insane!”  He said laughing.

“So you’ve mellowed out I take it?” she asked.

“Oh yeah, I leave the lizards to the young guys.  I’m the same way as you.  I like my quiet nights.  Regroup, relax…focus on my upcoming race.” He said.

“Have you ever fallen in love again Tony?” Bonnie asked hesitantly.

“Like what we had?  No.  Not even close.” He looked at her seriously.

Bonnie got up abruptly, taking the empty glasses into the kitchen.  Tony followed her, leaning against the counter as she washed them.

“Makes me wonder if Bobby has a hand in this.  Bet he’s smiling up in Heaven seeing us talking again.  It killed him when we split.”  Tony said.  “I think this is what’s called kismet.”

“Kismet?  What’s that?”  She asked, looking over at him.  He was smiling.

“Kismet is fate, or destiny.” He said softly, stepping closer. “Something that is meant to be.” 

Bonnie felt the air leave her lungs.  He was standing toe to toe with her.  She hadn’t felt a rush like this in many, many years.  His brown eyes had her mesmerized.

“Let me see if I remember correctly.  Your sensitive spot is…” he lifted her hair, placing a gentle kiss just below her left ear…”Here.”

Bonnie sighed and involuntarily shuddered.  It had been way too long since a man had made her feel this good.

Tony stroked her cheek gently with his thumb.  “I have to get going.  Want me to pick you up before the funeral?  We can spend the day together before I fly out tomorrow night.” He said.

“Can I see your new house?  Hard to believe we used to ride on that property when we were kids.  Now it’s yours!” Bonnie said.

“I know.  It’s pretty cool!  We can stop by here and change, then jump on the quad.  Sound good?” he asked happily.

“Sounds like a plan.”  She said as she walked him to the door.

They stood there like awkward teenagers, staring at the floor.  Tony spoke first.  He lifted her chin, looking her in the eyes.

“May I?”  He asked softly.

“You may.” She whispered back.

Tony leaned down and gently kissed Bonnie on the lips. 

“I’ll see you in the morning.  Remember…kismet.” He said with a wink.

“K.  Drive safe.” She said as she closed the door behind him.

She walked into the living room, exhaling as she flopped on the couch.  She looked over at her cat.

“Binky, what the hell just happened?”


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