Chapter 35 | The Road Trip
𝐍 𝐎 𝐀 𝐇
Tapping my fingers to the beat of the music that plays from the car radio against the steering wheel. The car cruises along the highway as we are halfway through our eight-hour journey to Lake Tahoe for Liam’s wedding tomorrow. Taking my eyes off the road, I glance at the passenger seat, seeing Ava curled up in a ball, sleeping soundly. Even with her hair in a messy bun, that is coming undone, no makeup as well as bike shorts and one of my jumpers, she still looks beautiful. Having left this morning so we can get to the hotel in the afternoon and settle in, Ava fell asleep quickly, considering she hated waking up early in the morning.
Getting a little hungry, I decide it’s best to turn off the highway and try to find a diner nearby. After stopping for McDonald’s breakfast this morning, it was past lunch and we still have a long drive ahead of us. Pulling into the closest town, I park up in the parking lot of the diner. Turning off the engine, I turn to Ava and shake her a little.
“Ava, baby, wake up. You hungry?” I ask, knowing that would work and I was right. Her eyes open at the mention of food, making me chuckle. “I’m offended you won’t wake up to me but food,” I tell her and she sticks her tongue out at me.
She stretches in her seat. “How long was I asleep for?”
“Couple hours, I was getting hungry and figured you would be too. I found a diner for us. Good sleep?”
“Hmm, I can drive later if you want to rest for a bit,” Ava offers as we get out of the car.
I shake my head. “I’m fine, not all of us need an excessive amount of sleep.”
Her heated glare rests on my face. “You’re mean when you’re hungry.”
I laugh as we walk inside the diner. Not too many people sit inside, the quiet atmosphere a nice change to the busy McDonald’s from earlier this morning. Waitresses in uniform walk around, carrying plates and drink trays. Tending to the customers who are happily enjoying the food. The diner reminds me of one of those old style ones, as do the outfits of the waitresses. Sitting down in the booth, we pick up the menu.
“Babe, you had pancakes this morning,” I remind her, and she looks at me, smiling sweetly.
“You can never eat too many pancakes,” She argues and I chuckle, shaking my head.
“Welcome to Carrie’s Diner. What can I get you?” A waitress around our age asks us, or well asks me, considering she isn’t even paying attention to Ava. I look at Ava, who rolls her eyes, making me smirk.
“I’ll have the American burger and some coffee...babe, how about you?” I ask Ava, placing my hand over hers, showing the waitress I’m off limits and have no interest. Ava smiles, realizing what I’m doing.
“Pancakes, please, with some coffee as well,” Ava sweetly smiles. Even though I know she doesn’t like the girl flirting with me, she’s still super sweet. The girl rushes off as soon as Ava gives her order, clearly annoyed. “Why do you have to be so handsome?” Ava pouts, making me laugh. “I’m gonna put a paper bag over your head.”
“If it makes you happy, I will. You realize I’m not the only one who gets attention, you’re beautiful baby, and I’m not the only guy that notices.”
“No, but you’re the only one who matters. And the only one who gets to kiss me,” She says, making me chuckle.
“Come sit round her,” I tell her scooting closer to the window and she sits in my side of the booth with her legs stretched across mine and her head resting against the booth looking down at our laced hands that I’m rubbing my thumb over. “Did you talk to your dad last night?” I ask her, knowing she talks to him a lot, which is sweet.
“Yeah, he wants me to tell your brother and Emery congratulations on getting married, and he wants me to tell you good luck.”
“Good luck?” I ask her, confused.
“When I was younger, I hated doing road trips. I got bored easily, and we took a trip down to Cape Cod one weekend. I made him stop so many times for food, it was only a four-hour drive,” She tells me and I laugh. “I’m not as bad as I used to be though, shut up.”
“Well, to stop that from happening, we’ll go stock up at a seven eleven. I saw one not too far away,” I tell her and she nods. “We should do trips like this more often. Just the two of us.”
“Yeah, that’d be nice.”
Running my thumb over her hand, I bring up the topic that has been on all of our minds since the other day. “So uh Hannah and Dylan.”
“I swear are we dumb? Like none of us noticed,” Ava says, and I chuckle. “They’re kind of cute together though. They balance each other out, and it’s clear Dylan adores her. This will be good for her, she deserves someone as great as Dylan and vice versa.”
Dylan and Hannah have been exclusive for a couple of days now, it’s taking us all some getting used to considering before now they had only bickered, which they still do. But now they’re acting like a couple and it’s not something we’re used to seeing. Especially since the guys and I had never seen Dylan in a relationship before.
“I still say she’ll murder him first chance she gets,” I shrug jokingly, and she laughs.
“Ok so we have the pancakes and the burger plus two coffees,” A new waitress says putting our food down. Guess we scared the other off. We thank her as she finishes putting everything down “You two are such a cute couple passing through?”
“We’re heading to Lake Tahoe, my brother is getting married.”
“Isn’t that sweet, well I’ll let you lovebirds get back to breakfast and back on the road,” She smiles before walking off.
“Guess we scared the other away, huh?” I ask Ava, and we burst out laughing before digging into our food.
“Grape me,” I say to Ava, opening my mouth. She giggles before taking one out of the packet, feeding it to me and I catch her fingers on purpose making her laugh. We have been on the road for a while now and thankfully are almost there. We have spent the entire trip singing to random tunes on the radio very badly, I might add. Stopping off to restock food which Ava mostly ate, a lot of flirting, touching, joking around and talking.
Why is she feeding me grapes? When I took my hand off the wheel to get food, she had told me not to do that and to have both hands on it, so she decides to feed me while I drive.
“Don’t get used to me feeding you,” Ava tells me, and I chuckle. “How much longer till we’re there?”
“Ten minutes. I’d hate to be in my parents’ car right now. Between the twins and Luna an eight-hour drive won’t be fun,” I say and she laughs. “The cabin was a struggle.”
“Have you spoken to Liam? Is he nervous about tomorrow?”
“Shitting himself. I think he’s got it into his head that the music will start, the doors will open and she won’t be there.”
“She wouldn’t do that. Now he’s being dramatic,” Ava teases and I laugh. “He’ll be glad after tomorrow and they’re married, she’s stuck with him for life then. Their wedding idea seems nice, having it at Lake Tahoe.”
“Yeah it is, my family aren’t traditional in any way so it’s not like they had to have it in a church. Ever thought where you’d get married?” I ask, curious.
“I’ve never really thought about it. I mean I used to when I was younger like lots of girls, I dreamed of getting married in Hawaii. Either on the beach or some flower gardens,” Ava explains. “But as I got older, I realized it doesn’t matter where you get married as long as it’s with the right person. How about you?”
“Probably a big wedding. I mean I have a big ass family. Honestly, as long as your happy I don’t care where we get married.”
“You wanna marry me?” Ava asks, and I look over at her to see her smiling.
“Last time I checked you are my girlfriend,” I say, placing my hand on her thigh, squeezing gently. “And I know we haven’t been together long but I don’t see myself with anyone other than you,” I say and she smiles, leaning over to kiss my cheek.
“Me neither,” Ava whispers in my ear, nipping on it with her teeth. “Eyes on the road, mister,” She giggles, pulling away and I focus my eyes on the road.
“Such a tease,” I mumble but hear her giggle, knowing she heard me. Soon enough we’re pulling up outside the hotel. The tall building overlooks the lake, in which the wedding ceremony will take place. Ava gazes up in amazement as I pull out our bags and lock the car door.
I laugh. “Come on, let’s check in before you combust.”
Heading into the hotel, the inside is just as luxurious as the outside. It doesn’t surprise me that Emery and Liam picked this place. Telling the receptionist we’re here for the wedding, she hands us our room key before we head up to one of the higher floors that apparently my whole family is staying on. Opening the door, we head inside and I place our bags down as Ava walks around. She runs and jumps on the bed, sighing at the comfiness. Kicking off my shoes, I run and jump on the bed as she squeals when I land on her, hovering above her more like so I don’t crush her.
“I thought you were going to crush me,” She pouts and I chuckle, shaking my head before leaning down to kiss her. “We have dinner to get ready for with your family.”
Huffing, I climb off and pull her up off the bed as we start to get ready.
“Ready for dinner?” I ask Ava standing in the bedroom, buttoning up my shirt for dinner. The rest of my family, had arrived not too long after us and we all decided, including the groomsmen and bridesmaids, to have dinner together. Since it’s the last time, Liam and Emery can see each other before the wedding.
“I’m ready,” I hear Ava say and look up to see her now out of the bathroom, standing there beautiful as ever. Smiling at me with her painted red lips. That would look awful on everyone else, but look enticing on her. She stands in a deep v-neck champagne color dress that reaches her mid-thigh and is backless, plus some long heels showing off her mile long legs. “You look handsome,” Ava smiles, looking me up and down. She walks over to me, finishing buttoning up my shirt for me before leaning up to kiss me.
“You look stunning,” I tell her, pulling back wrapping my arms around her. “So beautiful,” I mumble before leaning back down to kiss her deeply as her hands move to my hair. “Do we have to go to dinner?” I mumble against her lips as she giggles.
“Yes we do,” Ava says, pulling back and laughing. “This is why you can’t kiss me when I wear red lipstick,” Ava says, wiping the red lipstick off my mouth. “Now I have to re-do mine,” She pouts before wandering back into the bathroom, my eyes on her the entire time. What did I ever do to deserve her?
After reapplying her lipstick, I ruined, which I kind of wanted to do again so I could kiss her. We head down to the dining area and like everywhere else in the hotel, it’s fancy, which is why we had to dress up. Seeing my family there I knew we were late because I had spent a while kissing her, which they did not need to know, but by the smug looks on my brothers and his friends’ faces they figured out why we were a little later than everyone.
“Finally, you’re here. Move out of my way, you’ve kept this precious girl from me for too long, and I’m still mad I had to find out about your relationship at the Championship game. No phone call or anything, your mother had to tell me,” Grandma says, hitting my arm with her purse repeatedly.
“Ow!” I say every time before she rolls her eyes and goes to hug Ava. “Well, if I didn’t think you loved here more before I do now.”
“Hi grandma Rose,” Ava smiles, hugging her back and hugging my grandpa who comes over for a hug. Clearly my family loves her. “I can’t believe you didn’t call her,” She tells me smirking, knowing she’ll rile my grandma up more and I’ll probably get hit more.
“That boy. You look beautiful deary, my grandson does not deserve you if he can’t call his own grandmother,” Grandma says and I look at my family pleadingly as they all smirk, letting me face the wrath of her alone. “Although I am so happy you’re both together now, I knew it would happen,” Grandma says.
“You have a serious gambling problem,” I say.
“Do not test me,” Grandma says, pointing her purse at me as I clear my throat. “I should probably hug you too.”
“Nice to see you too, grandma,” I chuckle, kissing her cheeks. “Sorry for not telling you,” I apologize, and she waves me off, making me glad she’s not mad at me. “Sorry we’re late, Ava takes forever to get ready,” I lie, placing my hand on Ava’s back leading her to the table sitting down in the two empty spaces.
“Please, it’d take me double the time to make look as good as her,” One of the bridesmaids, Emery’s friend Carla says.
“These are my bridesmaids and friends Carla, Lorraine, and Chloe. This is Noah’s girlfriend, Avalon,” Emery introduces and Ava smiles.
“We’ve heard a lot about you. He wouldn’t stop gushing and gushing at the tux fitting, pretty much ran straight out as soon as he found out you were at the hospital,” Nathan smirks and I roll my eyes. “Ava this...Ava that, he’s a lovesick puppy.”
Everyone laughs, and I scoff. “I did not say that. There are witnesses too, some help they are, though they’d lie to embarrass me.”
“Aww. You were gushing about me,” Ava says, and I roll my eyes.
“Whipped,” Hunter coughs, making everyone laugh.
“Why the hell are you idiots here?” I ask them. “Unfortunately, these are my brother’s friends Nathan and Hunter. This is Avalon.”
“Who is way out of your league,” Nathan says and everyone laughs.
“I knew that anyway,” I shrug, not even arguing otherwise. I hear Ava awe, and she smiles kissing my cheek before wiping away the lipstick she left.
“Big day tomorrow,” Ava says to Emery, who is practically beaming. “You still have time to back out,” Ava not to subtly whispers to her, making us all laugh.
“Gee thanks Ava,” Liam says, taking a sip of beer.
“I think we should cheers to the almost wedded couple,” Mom says.
“To you two being forever married, or however long before Emery gets pissed at you and kills you,” Nathan says, making us all laugh and Liam slap him upside the head.
“To the happy couple,” Grandma rolls her eyes and we all cheers. Putting my drink back down I move my hand under the table to take Ava’s in mine and she smiles at me.
Way too good for me.