Chapter 34: Off-Road Motel
I pulled open the car door, juggling the bottle of hair dye in my other hand. I’d never dyed my hair before, Mum said it made your hair go dry and basically killed it slowly. I used to tell her, “Well we’re all dying anyway, so what’s the big deal?” I don’t know why I said that because it didn’t really make any sense. I guess I just wanted a lame excuse to dye my hair, and now I’d got one.
Blue eyes met mine, as I hopped up into the passenger seat beaming.
“I swear you’re like a little kid sometimes.” He muttered, starting the engine.
We stopped off to get some gas, before making our way back onto the quiet road. I had no idea where we were, but it reminded me of a derelict town in a dystopian novel. Or like we’d just driven our way into a zombie apocalypse.
“You know what Miles?” I bit my tongue. Wow, it felt strange saying his name aloud, but I loved it all the same.
When he’d told me, I was so shocked and happy that I kind of just stared at him dumbfounded for a while. There was something about his name that just... clicked. And after so long not knowing it, I felt like I’d won the little game he was playing. It was all part of this charm he had, this rugged, ‘you go by my rules’ personality.
He was the best kind of douche.
“What?” He replied, smiling slightly. I could tell he liked hearing me say his name, just like I did when he said mine.
“I’d be happy if my dad lived here. Somewhere lonely and dull.” I bit my tongue.
“Yeah, but you do realise that probably won’t be the case.” He warned me, knowing that I needed to hear it.
“Yeah. I know.” I didn’t want to say what I already knew was coming. What I feared the most about going to see the father who’d never been one to me.
“You are probably going to hate me for this, but I don’t think we should go looking for him tonight. It’s almost 2 am and I fear for our lives if I carry on driving this car for any longer.”
“Okay.” I sighed, anxiety tightening my chest. “Where are we going to go?”
“We can find a motel?” He raised his eyebrows, eyes glinting.
“Yeah okay.” I nodded, chest tightening.
That was all we needed to say, as the lost hours of sleep caught up to us and the fatigue was welcomed by our bodies. I felt my eyes slipping shut, unaware of how much time had passed.
My mind wandered restlessly during my broken hours of sleep, Nala’s words circling my head like a merry-go-round. Everything made sense now, how overprotective Mum always was. She told me it was because of Nala, but really it was because of her own messed up life.
“Wake up sleepy head.”
And there was his voice. The voice of the one person I had left.
I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, opening them to see a small building through the window of the truck. It was dimly lit by street lamps, and had a rusty sign hanging at the front that read ‘Off-Road Motel.’
Pushing open the car door, I sat and watched Miles admire the run down building in front of him, before stepping out into the cold air.
“Well, I like the name.” Miles pointed out, dragging the duffel bag out of the back seat and dumping it on the floor.
“This is uh-” I tried to find the right word for the building that stood before us.
“I’d say it’s ‘Retro.’”
I gave a light laugh, “Yeah, let’s go with that.”
“Huh,” Miles turned around and stared at the windows of the truck, tilting his head to the side, “Blacked out windows.”
I span around to face the truck, “Yup.” I nodded, confused at how that was relevant to anything.
“At least if we fuck in the car no one will be able to see us.”
And there was my confirmation.
“What did you just say?!” I ran to catch up with him, stifling a laugh.
Miles turned around and grabbed my hand before pulling me through the doors of the motel.
“You know what I said.”
His hand was clammy as we walked to the front desk, eyes not leaving me until a gritty voice diverted our attention. The receptionist was an elderly woman with bushy grey eyebrows and a twitch.
" ’fore I give you two keys to a room I need you to convince me that you aren’t wasted.” Her voice was thick with an accent I couldn’t recognise.
I had to look closely at her before I realised she was being serious.
“Uh Okay, how do we do that?” I answered politely, deciding that I was going to do the talking judging by the amused look on Miles’ face.
“Walk in a straight line,” she ordered, eyes heavy with sleep, “You first.” She pointed to Miles.
I watched him walk effortlessly in a straight line, before turning around and doing a sarcastic bow. The woman nodded, face the epitome of boredom. Miles gave me a gentle push, and I mimicked what he’d done, feeling like an idiot.
" ’First time I’ve had two young en’s like you come in at the early hours and not be pissed.”
The woman gave a chesty laugh, before placing some keys in Miles’ hand. “I’m assuming you won’t want separate rooms?”
I went to shake my head, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. If Mum could see me now, she’d be shouting at me to take a single room.
“Men are nothing but trouble.” She once told me. “They’ll use you, tell them they love you and then throw you out like tomorrow’s trash.”
“No thanks.” Miles answered for me, confidence lacing his tone.
“That’ll do ’ya then.”
Miles took the keys and thanked the woman. I smiled nervously before we walked up the stairs and navigated our room. Miles placed his hand at the base of my back and gently led me forwards. I swallowed hard, keeping my eyes trained on the frayed carpet.
The sound of the key turning in the lock welcomed us into the small but comfortable room we’d be spending the night in. A double bed sat at the centre of the room, the focus of my vision.
Miles dumped the bag next to the door, shutting it and turning to face me.
“What a night.” He sighed, throwing himself down onto the bed.
“I know.” I perched on the end, heart heavy.
“She was a strange woman.” Miles slipped his eyes shut, arms sprawled by his side.
“Mhm.” I nodded.
Miles slowly sat up, edging closer to me. His shirt hung loosely over his shoulder, revealing a faint scar against his gently flushed skin. My eyes trailed over his collarbone, listening to the soft lull of his breathing.
My breathing faltered for a second, as I watched his eyes and the way he looked back at me.
“Do you wanna dye your hair?” He asked, reaching over to run his fingers through the tangled brown.
“Now?” A little burst of excitement blossomed, as I tilted my head to the side and continued to let him play with my hair. For a second I felt like a school girl, all giggly and wanting to grab a strand myself and start twiddling it between my fingers.
“Yes now!” He stood up suddenly, grabbing my hand and pulling me to stand up. “What are road trips for if there isn’t any spontaneous excitement?”
He tucked a lock of hair behind my ear before releasing my hand and stepping away. I smiled, skipping over to the bathroom door which led us in with a creak. The bathroom was relatively clean, or as clean as a cheap motel could get.
I immediately turned on the shower, not even waiting for it to warm up before I leaned over to wet my hair. Miles stood behind me, the bottle of dye in his right hand.
“You do know I’ve never dyed anyone’s hair before right?” He raised his eyebrow, taking the bottle out of the box and peering at the contents as if it were poison.
“Read the directions.” I turned off the shower, flipping my hair to stand up.
“Kris!” He squealed, “You’re like a dog.”
I laughed, shaking my head just to piss him off. He ignored me that time, shirt damp with water. He was reading intently, brows furrowed.
“Look it’s not that hard. Use the brush to put the dye in my hair. Then we leave it to process for however long it says. I’ll wash it out and that’s it. I’ll be a new and improved me in less than an hour.”
Miles stayed silent, slowly unscrewing the lid of the bottle.
“Treat me like a painting.” I clarified, fingers brushing against his skin as I took the bottle from him.
Silence echoed around us for a minute or two, an unsure look darting across his features.
“I don’t wanna ruin you.” He finally spoke, lifting his eyes up to meet mine. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so beautiful.”
I pulled in a sharp breath of air, an uncontrollable smile brightening up my face. Suddenly my mind backtracked to the very first day we met, and flash forward to where we were now.
This total feeling of bliss, of my fantasy coming to life.
Something about him made him seem as if he were written inside the pages of a book, a book I’d been searching for my entire life but one I’d never read before. But he was here and he was real. But most of all, he was mine.
The warmth of his body radiated as he placed one hand on the side of my neck, pulling me closer. I parted my lips, welcoming his body onto mine as he kissed me. At that moment I thought he was going to pull away, but it was only for a split second of air, before he continued to kiss me, tongue slipping between his teeth and teasing me.
It was as if everything had been leading up to that one moment, when we finally found the courage to confirm the feelings we had when I first turned around to meet his eyes. That lingering question I’d been asking myself up until now, are we something more than we’ve been pretending?
Have we been hiding from the reality that there was something between us, something unexplainable, that made this all feel so natural.
Somehow I managed to guide the bottle of hair dye onto the side of the sink, having it been pushed to the very back of my mind compared to a few moments ago.
I felt my back press against the cold stone wall, his fingers drawing circles against my skin and trailing down my back. My back arched as he deepened the kiss, a slight moan escaping his lips. I pushed back, fighting for some kind of power over him, but he dominated me in a way that didn’t feel menacing at all.
I felt safe yet on edge in the most thrilling kind of way. With every gasp of air, I wanted his lips back on mine and his body against me again and again until we had nothing else left to give.
And in the end, we didn’t.
Sparks flying and hearts dancing, we made our way into the bedroom, moonlight filtering through the curtain. I traced his jaw with my finger and watched how his eyes lit up every time I touched him, and the way his body seemed to tense in wanting before releasing into a state of absolute euphoria.
He was so damningly beautiful.
Beads of sweat coated his forehead, dirty blonde hair ruffled. Hours passed, and with every kiss, I fell deeper and deeper in love with my polar opposite.
The Boy That Hates Books.
Finally, we fell asleep in each other’s arms, and I couldn’t help but feel the happiest I ever have.