Here is a simple color study.
Also, here is a dab of Diana:
A Stolen Mom-Van
“Well, you wanted to go to your house. How far is it?” Diana said.
“We’ll have to drive,” Stuart said.
“Uh,” Diana said, for she was not at all sure that any of the myriad cars scattered around the city would function.
“They work. I mean, they did in the versions that I lived through. We could always find a car then,” Stuart said.
“What about keys?” Diana asked.
“Um, I can just, um, steal some keys. That’s what I did before,” Stuart said.
“What, by breaking into people’s houses? Okay. Show me,” Diana said.
They spent a diverting afternoon together, Diana trailing behind Stuart as he investigated what he called ‘promising spots,’ which, as far as Diana could see, meant a house that looked poorly defended with a car out front.
“Ha!” Stuart cried at last, thrusting aloft a set of keys he had fobbed from their latest break-in.
“I still don’t know that the car’s going to start, Stu,” Diana said, following him down the sidewalk to the vehicle, which was a dinged-up mom van in periwinkle blue. Stuart got into the driver’s seat and started the van, which rumbled in a prompt and reassuring manner. “Okay, you win,” Diana said, laughing, and she climbed into the passenger side.
“Yes! We’re driving again! Driving with you is really fun. You haven’t found out yet, because we’ve never driven together for real, but we get along really well when we’re driving. We used to go exploring a lot, and I would find CDs in people’s houses to play for you. It was charming, if I do say so myself,” Stuart said, driving down the quiet street.
“Did we ever sleep together?” Diana asked. She had, in the spirit of adventure and ‘no one else is on the road,’ failed to put on her seat belt, and Stuart noticed at this juncture and pulled slowly over to the curb.
“Buckle, Miss Vassel. I am a model citizen, even with the proverbial lights of government temporarily shuttered. You are being unsafe. Foolhardy, even,” Stuart said.
“You’re different,” Diana said, putting on her seat belt. Stuart started to drive again, heading north.
“I know! I turn chatty and kind in a car for some reason. Um, you asked about us sleeping together. Are you asking because I admitted to lying about everything, so now you think I lied about that, too?” Stuart asked.
He looked and sounded so different from his normal cantankerous self that Diana turned sideways in the seat and stared at him. He grinned at her, obviously aware of the difference.
“I’m so likable, right? I haven’t figured out how to be myself like this any other time than when we’re driving. The second we get out of the car, I’ll turn back into a super mean loser. It’s weird. Oh, but sex. Um, we never slept together, no. Here, you can see my back while I drive,” Stuart said, leaning forward a little. The bloodstained marks of his alien tattoo were a peaceful, glistening blue. “See? I’m totally telling the truth. I also, for some reason, don’t have a hard time holding back on the fibs in a car. Isn’t that wild? Annoying, though, too, because I can’t figure out what it is that makes such a big difference to me. Maybe it’s that I’m in control of the vehicle. We held experiments in that fake timeline, to figure out if it was just being in a car, and if you drove—I taught you how to drive, by the way—if you were driving, I was just as cranky and irritable as ever, but as soon as I was in the driver’s seat, everything was just peachy.”
Stuart sighed, turned onto another street, and kept talking.
“But we never slept together, no. I would cuddle with you on couches a lot, and put my head on your shoulder. That’s as close as we ever came to, like, real snuggling. You wouldn’t kiss me, either. I lied about that, about all the kissing in the fake timelines. There was no kissing at all, aside from the kissing at the very beginning when you were really there. I love kissing you. Even in the tube when I couldn’t feel anything about it, I loved it. I don’t know why. I mean, I love you, so maybe that’s why, but I feel safe when I’m making out with you. Not that we’ve done it enough for me to really—”
“Pull over,” Diana said. Stuart glanced at her with a smile and did so.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, there is drama over the hierarchy in the hunting group.