*I am going to be LATE!!* she thought to herself impatiently.

Aly was getting more and more frustrated with the traffic. It had come to a bottleneck on the bypass as everyone and their brother seemed primed to get out of town for the New Year's Eve celebrations.

Sitting in her car she drummed her fingers on the steering wheel in rising agitation. How she had ever managed to get away for the party was still a mystery to her, but at this point she didn't care.

Her good friend Trace had managed to throw a party together and Aly happened to be in the area for a business meeting. Volunteering to help with the decorations and refreshments had come instantly.

Knowing how much she hated driving at night, Aly scheduled the meeting for earlier in the afternoon hoping to beat the traffic out of town. *Yeah...RIGHT!* Aly thought to herself ruefully.

Taking a deep breath and deciding to make the best of a bad situation, she reached for a cassette and slipped it into the player. As the music blared out from her static-filled speakers, she started moving to the beat and drumming along with her fingertips against the steering wheel.

Trying in vain to blank her mind to the encroaching darkness, Aly decided to make some new year's resolutions. With a wry smile, she spoke her first resolution aloud to herself against the blaring music, "I resolve to leave earlier for any and all activities in the upcoming year!!"

Laughing aloud to herself she felt the tension ease somewhat and all at once the traffic began to inch forward once again. *It's about time!!*

Jockeying for position, Aly spotted an opening between a large van and a sport utility vehicle. Maneuvering her small Civic into the gap with ease, she pressed the accelerator and leaped ahead of the larger vehicles. Smiling wickedly to herself she surged down the highway and into the night.


After a while, the traffic had thinned considerably and Aly had no trouble following her sketchy directions to Trace's house. She lived out from town a good distance in the country. Aly used the time to think up some more resolutions and laughed at some of the sillier ones she managed to put together:

1) Don't obssess so much on that TV show... LFN!! (as IF!!)
2) Spend more time in Real life... yeah RIGHT!!
3) Read a good book... at least ONE!!
4) Smile. It doesn't hurt THAT bad!!

Laughing so hard her eyes were watering, Aly looked into the glove compartment for a tissue. When she sat back up she glanced into the rear view mirror.

*Strange..... that car is coming up mighty fast.....*


A cold sweat was breaking out on her forehead.

Looking back and forth between the road ahead and the rear view mirror, Aly felt the panic and sense of dread fill her like a bad taste in her mouth.

The car had been following her now for almost 25 minutes and no matter how fast she had managed to push her Civic, the car stayed put. It was easy to spot due to its unusual headlights. One was aimed slightly higher than the other one and shone right into her eyes from the mirror.

Aly decided to take a detour up ahead towards a small township in the hopes of mixing in with some heavier traffic and losing the vehicle that was seemingly trailing her.

*Time for another resolution* she thought to herself. Gripping the steering wheel to keep it from slipping in her sweat-slicked palms, she cast about for a resolution. Looking once more into the mirror, she saw that the headlights to the harrassing vehicle were further back... but still there.

*Okay... okay. I can do this!!* Seeing a group of vehicles up ahead she stomped on the gas pedal and saw the needle of her speedometer hit 90 ( is ONLY a Civic!! LOLOL!!)

Merging in with the traffic, Aly looked into her rear view mirror and saw the trailing vehicle fall back considerably. Laughing nervously to herself she wiped one palm on the leg of her jeans and then up and across her forehead.

Speaking aloud to ease the nervous tension, she made another resolution, "Don't go out after dark.... ever again!!"

Laughing at the absurdity of that resolution, Aly followed the other cars for a short while and then decided she had best start back-tracking to get to Trace's at least in time for the actual party.

Reaching down she turned the radio on and heard that the count down to the new year was already under way. It had gotten much later than she had realized in her panicked flight.

Turning her Civic back towards the country, Aly looked into the rear view mirror quickly, nervously. Nothing. She let her pent-up breath out with a loud *Whoosh*, not realizing until that moment that she had even been holding her breath. Deciding she needed a break she spied a small store at the intersection ahead and pulled into get a Diet Coke.

Just as she stepped from her Civic, she felt an odd sensation at the back of her neck... almost like she was being... watched.


Trying hard not to look around into the darkness, Aly surged into the store through the front door and practically ran to the rear corner near the drink cooler.

Luckily there were a couple of other late nite shoppers in for beer or whatever they needed to ring in the new year. Aly stood and tried to calm herself. Taking a few deep breaths she laughed at her own foolishness and turned to select a Diet Coke from the cooler.

Just as she reached for the door handle, her hand was covered with a large male hand. Turning slowly towards the stranger, Aly prepared herself to verbally lash the insolent stranger... only to find the words dead on her tongue once she locked gazes with the crystal-clear green eyes staring back at her.

The man was shoulder to shoulder with her and was regarding her with mild amusement. Aly tried in vain to loose herself from his grasp. He merely pulled her hand down from the cooler handle and held it fast in his own. Aly stared at their locked fingers absently, then looked askance at the stranger.

He smiled slowly and opened his mouth to speak. His voice had a very unusual accent and the sound of it sent shivers up her spine.

"Excuse me... do you have any Grey Poupon?" he said mischeviously.

Aly stared open mouthed and then laughed as well at the commercial catch-phrase. As the two laughed together the tension eased out of her and she felt herself relax. The man released her hand and allowed her to open the cooler and select her drink. He moved over to the coffee pot and fixed himself a large cup to go.

Turning towards the direction of the check-out stand, Aly couldn't help but admire the finely sculpted physique of the handsome stranger. It almost seemed as if she should know him. He looked vauguely familiar. He was still smiling as she paid for her drink and made her exit.

He paid for his coffee and followed her out and found her standing next to her Civic. Aly fumbled with the keys and dropped them into the parking lot.

Bending down to pick them up, she noticed that the man had moved to stand beside her. Rising to meet his curious gaze, she leaned back onto her car and lifted an eyebrow. Unable to resist any longer she voiced her question: "I am sorry... but do I know you? You look almost familiar."

The look of shocked amusement that crossed his face passed so quickly that she thought she must have imagined it. He reached up to rake his fingers through his short hair as it had fallen forward onto his forehead.

At that very moment, Aly sucked her breath in sharply. The knowing smile was quickly replaced by an impassive blank stare as he looked at her with his best *Michael* face. Aly dropped her keys again.

Roy bent down to retrieve them and rose back up to see the shocked look still frozen on Aly's face. He turned and unlocked her door then reached for her limp hand and pressed the keys into it.

He finally spoke. "I see you recognized me, non?" Laughing at the look on her face he extended his hand to her. "Hi. My name is Roy. And you are....?"

*Get a grip Aly!!* Aly snapped herself out of her stupor and took his hand and smiled to hide her embarrassment. "Nice to meet you Roy. My name is Allyson... Aly for short."

Shaking her hand slowly he replied, "The pleasure is all mine... Allyson."

Aly felt her knees turn to jelly and leaned into the car to steady herself.

Roy released her hand and took a sip of his coffee. Moving to the rear of her car he looked at it closely, then came back to Aly.

"I just realized something. I have been following you for some time tonight."

Aly dropped her Diet Coke into the parking lot.


*OhmyGAWD!!* Aly thought to herself in confusion. *Roy Dupuis has been following me!!*

As she ran that thought over and over through her mind she could not figure out why on earth this man would be following her in the first place!!

He had stooped down to reach down under her car as her bottled drink had rolled beneath it. He found the Diet Coke and stood back up and handed it to her.

Taking a moment to collect her thoughts, Aly took the drink and thanked him. He smiled and took her by the hand and led her to the rear of her car. Telling her to wait a moment, he moved to the drivers door and reached in, turning the lights on. He joined her once again and pointed to the left rear tail light, which was out.

" I noticed that your tail light was out and I was trying to signal you or catch up to you to warn you. It is dangerous because your turn signal does not work either. I noticed that while following you."

Aly was speechless. She leaned down to inspect the light closely and saw the water condensation collected inside the light. Shaking her head, she rose back up and kicked the car.

Turning to Roy she saw that he was laughing. She laughed as well at the absurdity of the entire night and explained her actions to him. "My trunk leaks. The water runs down into the tail light and shorts it out. I had it fixed... I thought!" They continued laughing as Aly moved back to the door of her car. She had to get to Trace's at least before midnight!!

Roy held the door for her and closed it firmly once she was inside. Aly rolled the window down and thought a moment before asking, "So... what's a nice guy like you doing on a night like this?"

Roy squatted down and put his elbows in the window opening and looked her in the eyes, "I don't know.... what did you have in mind?"

With a slow smile she leaned over to unlock the passenger door. Roy moved around the car and climbed in, closing the door. Turning to her he lifted an eyebrow as Aly started the car and the music blared from her speakers. Turning the volume down considerably, Aly asked, "Want to go to a party?"

Roy reached over and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. With his fingers lingering for a brief moment on her cheek, he answered, "For a while. Then... who knows?"

Leaning across the seat he brushed his lips across her cheekbone in a feather-light kiss. As the blood rushed to her face in a red-hot surge, Aly threw the car into gear and left the parking lot in a mad dash, dust and gravel flying up behind them.

As Roy traced odd patterns across her shoulder from where his arm was positioned behind her seat, Aly made a last resolution to herself, *Get out after dark.... as MUCH as possible!!*


Alphabetical Index

This story copyright 1998, Aly
Used by permission