Dax had been up all night driving, so when he began to swerve along the road, I made him switch to the passenger seat. Moving the seat up, I situated the rear view mirror to my eye level and pressed on the gas. Dax quickly fell asleep, night turned into morning. With only thirteen hours to go and without the distraction of Dax, I found the drive incredibly peaceful. The lush green landscape that occupied cows and deer slowly turned into dessert, filled with cacti and tumbleweed, snakes and roadrunners. It was hard to believe that climate and scenery could change so drastically in one country. After another few hours, Dax reawakened and yawned, stretching his long tattooed limbs.
“How close are we?” He asked hoarsely, running his fingers over his face to wipe away the sleep.
“About nine hours.” I replied simply, nodding my head along to a song I had found when flipping through radio stations. He was quiet for a long time, I thought he had even fallen asleep.
“How’d your talk with Riley go?” He finally spoke up and I felt a sudden burst of shyness.
“Good, I suppose.” I bit my lip, keeping my eyes on the road.
“He told you what he did?” He pressed, his voice sounding strained.
“Yes,” I nodded, “And I broke up with him.”
“Oh,” Dax mumbled, “I’m sorry.”
“It needed to happen.” I gnawed at my lip, find the right words. There it was again, the shift in the air. Something hot and dense, like I was going to burst. When the gas light flickered on, I eagerly exited the interstate to get to a gas station. I need a drink. With Dax pumping gas into his car, I shuffled into the dingy gas station, the air conditioning wafting me like a glorious antarctic breeze. The cashier sent me a hello and I made my way to the refrigerator section. Sprite, Fanta, Mountain Dew, Coke, Pepsi; there’s too many to choose from. I opted for the Pepsi and made my up to the counter, just as Dax walked in. In the bright light of the afternoon sun, I was able to get a full view of his tattoos, each one looking beautiful on his skin. I wanted to get to know each of them.
“Gas and the soda.” Dax said, nodding toward me with the bottle in my hand. The cashier nodded and typed our items into the register.
“You kids on a road trip?” The cashier questioned while Dax handed him the money.
“Something like that.” Dax chuckled, collecting his change and shoving it into his back pocket.
“You don’t mind all those tattoos?” The cashier craned his neck around Dax to look at me. My cheeks heated and I shook my head.
“No, I like them.” I mumbled, letting my hair fall in front of my face to hide my coyness. Dax’s lips quirked slightly into a smirk.
“You two are a sweet couple, have fun on your trip.” The cashier smiled and for some reason, neither Dax nor I corrected the man. We walked out to Dax’s car in silence, me holding my soda and him holding his keys. I slipped into the passenger seat and leaned into it, closing my eyes and trying not to smile. Dax seemed silently happy too, so I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want this moment of bliss to pass.
We arrived in a small town called San Sebastian Bernal. The streets were made of cobblestone and the buildings were old and beautiful. Near the outskirts, Dax pulled into the driveway of a large pueblo home made of earth and clay, etched with designs and painted with vibrant colors of yellow and turquoise. Dax collected our bags from the trunk and I followed him up the pathway that led up to the home. When we were a couple feet away from the door, several people poured out of the front door.
“Mi hijo, mi hijo!” An older woman threw her hands around Dax’s middle, pulling him close. I smiled at the interaction between them, Dax embracing her warmly. “Mi hijo está en casa!” A younger woman followed close behind, her hair jet black and her skin glowingly sun kissed.
“Bienvenido a casa, hermano.” She said, joining in on the hug. Everyone stopped at the sound of a little girl’s laugh and Dax bent down just in time to catch her in his arms.
“Oh, mi hermosa sobrina!” He cooed to her, kissing her cheeks repeatedly. I stood awkwardly in the background, watching their sweet homecoming like it was a movie.
“Daxon, ¿quién es?” All four of them looked back at me, Dax’s mouth picking up in a slight smirk as I blushed.
“Todos, esta es Jane.” I waved at Dax’s introduction, gingerly flicking some hair out of my face.
“Es maravilloso conocerte, querida-” The older woman began to say before Dax stopped her.
“No, no mamá, Jane no habla español.” The two women looked between each other before giving their attention back to me.
“It is... Very nice to meet you, Jane.” The younger woman prompted, holding out her hand to me, “My name is Darcy, I am Daxon’s sister and this is my daughter Emilia.” She lifted the toddler into her arms. The beautiful little girl smile brightly, black curls covering the top of her head. I couldn’t help but smile back at the dimpled child.
“Hello, Darcy,” I waved at the toddler, “Hello, Emilia.” A small hand reached out and touched my cheek.
“Hola.” Emilia giggled, squeezing my cheek gently before squirming out of her mother’s grip and running inside the house. The older woman stepped in and pulled me in to a tight embrace, her small figure stronger than I had expected.
“Hello, Jane, I have heard very much about you.” She said as she pulled away. “Come inside, you must be exhausted.” The two women hurried inside, leaving Dax and me standing in the pathway.
“You brought me to your family’s home?” I cocked an eyebrow at him.
“It’s the only place I trust.” He shrugged and picked up the bags once more, nodding toward the door. “C’mon.” I followed him inside and he showed me to the guest bedroom. The bed itself was a twin sized mattress covered in a homemade quilt, a handcrafted dresser was flush against the wall with a mirror on top. A beautiful mural of the sun was painted on the ceiling in bright oranges, yellows, and reds.
“It’s lovely, thank you.” I said, unpacking some of my things into the dresser. Dax stood in the door for a moment, watching me. “What?”
“I don’t know,” He chuckled, playing with his fingers. “I guess I just never thought I’d see you standing in my childhood home.” Unsure of how to respond, I sat on the bed and watched the floor. “I realized I forgot to pack you something to sleep in so,” He pulled his grey short sleeved tee off and handed it to me, “I’ll leave you to unpack.” Standing stunned for a moment, I shook my head to gain reality and grabbed the landline phone, dialing Vivian’s number.
“Hello?” She answered.
“Hey Viv, just wanted to let you know you’re on my shit list.” I hissed, closing the guest room door.
“Little old me?” Vivian cried innocently, “Why’s that?”
“Maybe because I spent the first have of the drive to Mexico listening to your sex playlist with Dax” I growled lowly, falling backwards into the bed.
“I know!” She squealed happily. “Did anything happen between you two?”
“No! Was that your plan?” I whisper-yelled, trying to control my hysteria.
“Obviously! We want you and Dax to get together already. It’s borderline annoying that you haven’t.” She said, pushing blame onto me.
“I know.” I sighed exhaustively, wiping sweat away from my forehead.
“Wait, you agree with me?” Vivian sang in disbelief.
“Yes,” I laughed, missing my best friend. “But I should get going. I don’t want to rack up a huge long distance call bill for Dax’s mother.”
“You’re at his family home? Oh my gosh, Jane, something is going to happen between you two, I know it.” I rolled my eyes and shook my head, my cheeks beginning to ache from my smile.
“I really have to go, Viv. Love you.”