Chapter 37: Bestseller
He promises himself that he will drive any distance for her. No matter where they end up. Because it’s about the journey, not the destination.
It’s cliche but it’s true.
“I think you have a kink for dying hair.”
I admired my new hair in the wing-mirror of the truck, watching the sun catch it every now and then and make it glisten. Certain strands looked golden in the light, and I felt like a princess.
He shook his head, laughing, “I have many kinks Kirsten, but I can assure you none of them contain Hydrogen Peroxide.”
I kicked my feet up onto the dashboard, sprawling out on the leather chair. I felt a little bad for not offering to drive, but he’d insisted on leading our little road trip. He seemed to know the roads better than I did.
“What kinks do you have then?” I ripped off the bottom of a receipt that was laying on the dashboard. It was the one from the garage we’d stopped at on the way to the Highway Cafe. Already it seemed like a lifetime ago.
“I’ve already told you I’m a lift shagger.” He said it so casually, so earnestly that I almost believed him.
“Yeah, yeah.” I rolled my eyes, scrawling an address onto the receipt.
It was the address I vaguely remembered hearing one night, when Mum was screaming at Dad to never set foot in the Valley again. Those phone calls were a nightly occurrence for days on end.
I really hoped I was right and my memory wasn’t deceiving me. Miles estimated it was going to take two hours at least to get to where my mind was telling me, and what were we supposed to do if he didn’t even live there? What if he’d moved house? We wouldn’t know the town or anyone in it. We could end up anywhere.
“Here you go,” I handed it over to him. “And I just want to warn you now, I have no idea if it’s even still lives here ...”
He peered at it, eyes curious.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong. That’s what road trips are about. Driving without thinking, to a destination with no purpose.”
“I just don’t want to waste your time.”
“Wherever we go I don’t care. As long as it’s with you.”
He stole a glance at me.
“You’re such a charmer aren’t you?” I teased.
“I know. They should put me in those teen romance books, I’d be a bestseller.”
“Yeah, you probably would.”
We fell into laughter as we turned countless corners, winding down the roads that stretched out in front of us. I leaned over and turned on the radio, preparing to fill the hours ahead. A song we both knew played through the speakers.
Miles turned it up, tapping his foot to the beat the music. He rolled down the windows, letting a gentle breeze fall into the truck like the leaves in autumn.
I looked at him as I began to sing, louder than I ever had before. He laughed at me and shook his head, but it wasn’t long before he started singing too.
We were out of time and off pitch but it didn’t matter. Not when we were singing at the top of our lungs, speeding down a country road with the windows rolled down and the radio on full blast. I had to blink. Once. Twice. It really did feel like a moment in the movies, two careless teenagers on top of the world. Reckless and with nothing to lose, two people falling in love.
I could barely get the words out through the laughter, and when he reached one hand out to me I took it straight away. Our fingers intertwined together as the song came to an end, but the laughter and the excitement of it all didn’t even begin to fade.
His hand was clammy and so was mine but I didn’t care.
I didn’t recognise the next song that came on, and by the look on Miles’ face, neither did he. I turned it down before collapsing into the car seat, trying to get my breath back.
He wiped a bead of sweat off his forehead before turning to face me. I gave him a look of warning, about to tell him to get his eyes back on the road before he spoke.
“You look so beautiful.”
I gave a slight gasp, unsure of what to say. I thought about the last week, about every moment we’d spent together up until now. How had it happened so quickly?
“I know that was really random but-” He stumbled over his words.
“No. Thank you. It meant a lot.” I interrupted him, happiness overwhelming me.
He nodded before turning his eyes back on the road.
“Is it the blonde hair?” I joked.
“Yeah. I’m digging the blonde hair.”
The air stilled around us as we settled into a comfortable silence. I listened to the purr of the engine and the sound of his breathing as I watched the trees pass by in a blur. I don’t know when I fell asleep or how long I was asleep for, but the next thing I knew was opening my eyes to a completely different surrounding.
For a split second I forgot where I was, expecting to be curled up in my bed at home, until he came into view and everything came flooding back. He pulled open the trucks door and leaned over me, hand brushing against my waist.
He unclipped my seatbelt before giving me a hand to get out. I took it, blinking away the sleep in my eyes.
“How long did it take?” I questioned, steadying myself on my feat and scanning the lines of houses stood before us.
“Just over two hours.” He confirmed, shutting the door from behind me.
“How long was I asleep for?”
“Two hours.” He smiled.
We were in a suburban area, completed with hedges and freshly painted gates with stone pathways. It was perfect, everything down to the detail. The complete opposite to where Nala lived.
I noticed the sign across the street. ‘Gravelstone Drive’ written in big block capitals. Well, at least we were down the right road.
“It’s... fancy.” Miles clarified, and the look in his eyes told me that he was just as overwhelmed as I was.
“It’s perfect.” I whispered, turning around in a circle to get another look. My neck strained to see the houses, that stood tall side by side.
I breathed in the smell of freshly cut grass and barbecues. I suddenly felt sick at the thought of my dad inside one of these houses, cooking dinner for a family I’d never met in a life I was never welcome to be a part of. I imagined two children, a boy and a girl, playing make believe in their own playroom, filled with expensive toys and finger paintings.
And then I imagined my mum, alone at home waiting for me to get back, wallowing in a pit of misery and worry. Little did she know was that I wasn’t coming back to The Valley, not for her or anyone.
I began to feel angry, at her for making me want nothing to do with her, and at dad for not being there to keep her company. Tears filled my eyes and I willed them away, throat burning.
“So what now? Shall we just knock on all of the doors and see who answers?” Miles stood with his hands by his sides, kicking the gravel with his shoe.
I nodded, barely able to choke out a simple “yes.”
“Okay.” He took my hand in his and pulled me up to the first house.
He rapped on the door, straightening his back and setting a confident look in his eyes. It was better than what I could do.
It didn’t take long for a light to flicker on in the porch and for the door to pull open.
“Hello, sorry to bother you. We are looking for Mr Green.”