“Hey sleepyhead,” he said, handing me a coffee when I sat up.
I looked over at the clock and noticed it was just after 6.
“You're starting to pick up my sleep schedule,” I yawned, taking a long drink of the piping hot coffee, and flinching as it burned me tongue.
Jason shrugged, “just means we can get on the road faster, since I'm all showered up and ready to go.
He was indeed ready to go, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans that were well worn, and fit him snugly. Not that I, in any way, noticed. Nope.
I downed some more of my coffee and dragged myself out of the bed, headed for a hopefully hot, but probably lukewarm at best, shower.
“Can I drive today?” Jason asked, sitting down on the spot I had just vacated and pulling a hash brown complete with paper wrapper out of the bag.
“Sure thing,” I replied, just before closing the bathroom door, “it's not like we have insurance anyway.”
I could hear him chattering on about how he was a great driver and had never once wrecked his Camry. Teasing the hell out of Jason was a good start to the day. It could only go downhill from here.
By the time I was clean and dressed, Jason had pulled out the atlas and was studying our route.
“It looks like a long day of driving,” he said, tracing the route on the full country map.
“We'll have to stop again,” I replied, following along as his finger reached our destination, “we can't exactly show up at this guy's doorstep in the middle of the night.”
“I want to be with you when you meet this guy,” Jason said, rolling the book back up and sticking in my bag that was resting half open on the bed.
I shook my head, “no Jase, I don't want you getting hurt or something if this guy turns out to be a psycho.”
“And that's exactly the reason I'm coming with you,” he replied, rubbing a hand over his shorn head in what was becoming a habit.
I gave him a stern look.
“Um, the psycho part, not the me getting hurt part,” he added, after going back over the conversation in his head, “I don't want you getting hurt either.”
“Jason, I've been stabbed in the stomach and I'm still okay,” I said, pulling up my shirt to emphasize with the image of the white stitches, which were still holding on, despite numerous showers.
“You're not indestructible, Trish,” he said, and his eyes started getting the sappy look that I knew from experience meant there would be no swaying him from his decision.
Jason was, on occasion, completely overprotective of me. I wanted to be annoyed, but this time it might actually be a good call.
“Fine,” I said, and he had a look of triumph on his face, “if it'll shut you up.”
“Oh Trish, you know you love the sound of my voice.”
“If it won't shut you up, I'm taking it back,” I threatened, closing my bag and pulling the strap onto my shoulder.
He mimed locking his lips and throwing away the key.
“If only that were true,” I replied, dodging when he threw a wadded up napkin at me.
I headed for the door.
“You should clean that up,” I said, as I stepped through into the dim early morning light.
The napkin went flying past me and I snickered, “and work on your aim.”
Oh yeah, definitely a good start to the morning.
We spent the rest of the day on the road, stopping for food and gas as infrequently as possible. The taurus got decent gas mileage, so the cash wasn't in danger of running out anytime soon. Maybe by the time this was all over, I could still afford to get out on my own after graduation. That was, assuming I wouldn't be spending the rest of my life in prison.
Every time I saw a cop, I would point it out to Jason, and we would both hold our breath until we had passed them, or in one case that almost gave me a heart attack, been passed by flashing lights and loud sirens. I was starting to feel like a spy, given that every time Jason would take a crazy route to avoid a cop car he would mutter about evasive maneuvers. Either a spy, or a character from Star Trek, which he had made me watch practically an entire series of in reruns when he had his crush on one of the actresses. Something must have sunk in, though, because we managed to make it through an entire day of his driving without getting pulled over or in a wreck.
We crossed over into Wyoming at around 7 pm, as I was pulling on a long sleeved shirt over the t-shirt I was already wearing. The weather had gotten chilly, and the heater on the car worked about as well as the radio, which was to say, it mostly made the car colder. Jason pointed out the Welcome to Wyoming sign that displayed the name of the state in large letters above a picture of a guy on a horse. At least it wasn't a guy holding a gun.
We were still at least five hours away from our final destination, so I told him to keep driving for a while. I'd have to pay more attention as it got later, if only to make sure he didn't try to put us up at the Four Seasons or something. If there even was a Four Seasons in this state. Stretches of nothing sprawled out from both sides of the highway, flat until it hit some hills far off in the distance. If I ever really needed to get away just for the hell of it, this would definitely be one place I could go. The cars on the highway had thinned out, the occasional motor home passing us going in the other direction, separated from our two lanes by a large grassy median. I tried to keep the conversation flowing to stay awake, longing for Jason's loud radio on this endless stretch of road. Actually, I was probably longing for a cd player. Who knew if any stations even reached out here.
I curled up a bit further into my shirt as we chatted and the sky grew darker, night coming on again. Jason finally reached back into the backseat, one hand on the wheel, and grabbed a dark green jacket from where it lay on top of a pile of his stuff he had dumped back there before we left the motel early that morning. He handed it to me, and I put it on.
“Thanks,” I said, and he flashed me a smile.
I felt instantly warmer, the smell of his soap wafting up from the material. I pulled it tighter around myself and looked out the window. Still more nothing, and we were getting closer to not being able to see anything but the road ahead of us as night fell. The darkness was absolute, and I was reminded of a trip I took with my parents to the ocean before my mom left. We had driven out to the coast of Delaware, cruising down alongside the ocean in the dark. I had been scared to death when I looked out the window on the driver's side and saw nothing but pitch blackness. I had thought it was the end of the world, and my dad had spent at least half an hour convincing me that it was just the ocean, and I would love it once the sun came up.
The same scared feeling started to overcome me as I watched out the window, seeing nothing but my own reflection in the darkness. Jason's voice pulled me out of my thoughts, and I turned around to face him, putting the pitch black behind me and focusing on his face for the rest of that night's drive.
I made him pull into a motel when we got close enough to Lander to stop for the night. It was just past 11, a decent hour us, and I went through the check-in process again. This time my name went into a computer along with my vehicle information. I tried not to be paranoid. If the cops were looking for us, they probably hadn't even found the Camry yet. We were just wanted for questioning, and there wouldn't be a massive manhunt for that. I hoped they hadn't upped it to murder.
The night manager was another teen about my age, but she was a lot friendlier than the previous two. The room was a little pricier as well, but I had no idea when we would find another motel, and we were close enough to our goal that I was willing to spend $50 for a bed for the night.
I pulled Jason toward our room, which was second from the end this time, room number 11. This motel only had 12 rooms, but they were definitely bigger than the room we had stayed in the night before, judging by the outside.
When I flipped on the switch, Jason clapped me on the back.
“Much better,” he said, looking around at the clean carpet and sitting area, “this is living in style.”
“Oh yeah, we're high rollers now,” I replied, dropping my bag in a chair and letting the door shut behind me with a slam.
“There's even a coffee pot,” he exclaimed in a happy voice, holding it up for me to see.
It sat on the bathroom counter, which was in its own area outside of the bathroom itself, and it was paired with two small porcelain mugs and some packets of generic coffee.
“You're in charge of making it in the morning, then,” I replied, laying down on the bed, “I think being the passenger is even more tiring than driving.”
“Naw, my level of alertness is directly proportional to the massive quantities of caffeine I have been drinking throughout the day.”
“Small words, please,” I grumbled, my face turned into the pillow, “too tired to listen to long words.”
“Or complete sentences,” Jason added, and I could hear him set the coffee pot down and close the door to the bathroom.
I was asleep before he finished his shower.