When it was time to leave for church, he shrugged the backpack onto his shoulder.
“You don’t need that,” Eliza said. “You’re coming back here after, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I am. But I want to take this along.”
She shrugged. But later, on the subway, she asked what was in the pack.
“Oh, just a little survival kit.”
She gave him a puzzled look.
“You said the whole church deal is three hours, right?” Eric asked.
“Well, that sounds like a long time, so I brought some stuff.”
“What kind of stuff?” Smiling at him with her eyes bugging out a little, she held out her hand. “Can I take a look?”
He handed her the backpack, pursing his lips.
She unzipped it and looked inside. Soon she was laughing, and Eric was scowling. The pack contained a bottle of water, a bottle of Coke, a paperback novel, a book of crossword puzzles, some magazines, a bag of M&Ms, a portable CD player, and some CDs.
“And when did you think you’d get a chance to use any of this stuff?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I don’t know, exactly. I just wanted to be ready in case I get—you know, bored.”
Truth be told, Eliza wasn’t above sneaking a novel or candy bar into church herself. Paperback novels fit perfectly into her scripture cover, for surreptitious reading during boring lessons or talks. Sometimes she took a copy of Sunstone magazine and read it with the cover bent back on itself, so no one could see. It was a liberal LDS magazine that most members frowned upon, though more people were open to it in Massachusetts than in Utah.
“Well, you could probably get away with swigging the water. And you could probably sneak some of the candy or the crossword puzzles, if you’re discreet. But other than that, I think you’re out of luck. And hey, what about your scriptures?”
“Am I supposed to bring those?”
She held up her scriptures. “Did you think I was just carrying these as a fashion accessory?”
“Okay, I’ll bring ’em next time.”
“Can I have some of the M&Ms right now?” Eliza asked.
Eric ripped open the bag and poured some into her palm. Then he tucked the bag shut and shoved it down under his crotch, so he was almost sitting on it.
Eliza made a sound and looked around, but no one was sitting near enough to see. “What are you doing?”
“I like ’em warmed up. Not so they melt, but so they get a little soft.”
“You’re a strange man, but I love you anyway,” she said. It was the first time either one of them had used the L-word.
“I’ll know you love me if you eat some this way.”
“Gross,” she said, but when he pulled them out a few minutes later, she held up her palm again.
“Hey, these aren’t too bad,” she said, enjoying the way the shell crunched around the soft, warm chocolate. And it was kind of sexy to think she was actually eating his body heat.