tagRomanceThe Road Home

The Road Home


Nick Hollister drove his ancient Caprice Classic down the desert highway, having left his world behind only a few hours earlier. The radio was broken, and he lost himself in the reverie of the road. It was after nine, and the wind pulled the car as if to tear it from the highway and toss it into the desert.

When he saw the sign announcing a rest stop, Nick realized he was going to have to pee soon. He pulled in and parked, and jogged through the gusty wind to the brick and cement toilets and relieved himself amid the cloying stench that seems to permeate all public men's rooms. He finished and stood in front of the metal mirror, looking at himself as he washed his hands.

His eyes were red rimmed and haunted, the normally light brown irises looking like mud. He hadn't shaved, and stubble coated his cheeks and chin, making him smile ruefully, because he knew he couldn't grow a real beard even if he tried. His face was long and thin, with a strong jaw and an average nose. He used to be considered handsome, but not now. Now he just looked tired. Tired and run down, like his life.

Nick stepped from the men's room into a strong gust that made him stop and lean into it. There didn't seem to be anyone around, save the semi's, dark and dead looking, in a far off lot. Wanting to grab some coffee for the road, Nick jogged over to the enclosure that housed several coin operated vending machines.

There was a woman there, a young woman, a girl. She looked at Nick warily and he tried to look as though he was ignoring her as he put his change into the coffee machine. He could see her reflected in the plastic surface of the vending machine, watching him. She was huddled in the corner of the enclosure, seeking some small shelter from the weather. He saw that she wore blue jeans and a cream colored sweater, with a jean jacket, and black high top sneakers. Next to her was a black nylon backpack, like a kid carries their school books in. She had short brown hair, and aside from looking wind blown, she wasn't dirty or messed up. She was actually kind of pretty.

Nick took the hot waxed paper cup from the receptacle, switching hands quickly against the scalding heat. He took a sip and burned his tongue on the acrid brew that wouldn't qualify as coffee in even the cheapest dive. He turned to hurry back to his car when the girl spoke.

"Where're you headed?" she asked, not rising from her squat in the corner.

"East," Nick replied, and he stepped out into the wind and hurried to his car as quickly as he could without spilling the scalding hot coffee on his hands. He got to the car and set the cup on the roof as he fumbled with his keys, and a strong gust pushed the cup over and spilled the coffee down his windshield. Swearing, Nick got the door open and was in the process of sitting when the wind picked up again and it began to rain. Nick was half soaked by the time he pulled the door closed, and he couldn't see anything at all through the windshield as the rain pounded loudly on the roof of the car.

Nick sat for a moment, then started the car and turned on the wipers, which cleared his vision for a second or two before the rain obscured it again until the next swipe of the wipers. He turned on the headlights and she appeared suddenly, standing in front of his car. It was the girl, thoroughly soaked and standing helplessly, hugging her backpack against her body.

The sound of the rain on the roof of the car was a thunderous racket, broken only by the sound of the wipers sweeping back and forth. Nick looked at the girl, standing alone and helpless in the rain, and he leaned across the seat and unlocked the passenger door.

The First Night

They drove in silence, the heat turned all the way up to combat the soaked girl's shivers. She had taken off her jacket and tossed it in the back seat with her backpack, and in the darkness of the car Nick tried very hard not to notice that the girl's jeans looked painted on, and she had nice legs. Her sweater was tight against her body, showing off her chest, full and round and, Nick was certain, very soft and warm.

Nick was hot, but he knew the extreme heat was the only thing keeping the girl from convulsing. He knew what would help, but there was no way he was about to suggest she change out of her wet clothes, assuming there was anything in that backpack to change into.

The distraction of the pretty girl was not welcome, as the wind continued to tear at the car, and visibility was next to nil. They had been driving for nearly and hour when he saw a lighted sign in the distance, a motel, and the vacancy sign was lit. Without consulting the girl, Nick pulled in to the parking lot and turned off the engine.

"I'm going to get a room," he said, not looking at her. "If you want one you're welcome to come in with me." Without waiting for a response, Nick threw open his door against the weather and he rushed inside the office. There was one room available, a double, and Nick took it. The old man behind the desk assured him that weather like they were experiencing happened rarely, but when it did it never lasted to morning.

Nick raced back to the car and started it, driving over to the room he had rented. When he'd parked, he turned to the girl. "They only had the one room. You're welcome to share it with me, if you want."

"I'll bet," the shivering girl said sarcastically.

"Suit yourself, but you're not sleeping in my car." Nick got out and went to the door of the room, opening it and going inside. He had to close the door against the elements, but he didn't settle in, pacing slowly through the room and wondering if he was really enough of an asshole to kick the poor girl out of his car. He wanted it to be there in the morning, after all, and he didn't know anything about the girl, other than that she was very pretty. Hell, he thought bitterly, I'm lucky if she hasn't jacked it already.

Nick pulled the door open and jumped. The girl was standing only inches from him, had been almost leaning against the door when it had been closed. He stared at her for a few seconds. "Did you lock my car?" she nodded and he stepped aside so she could enter. He watched her walk over to the chair that nobody ever sat in, her soaked shoes squelching with each step, and set her backpack on it, then walk to the vanity area and wash her face and hands with hot water.

Nick felt uncomfortable, not that they were alone, strangers in a motel room, but that he couldn't think of anything better to do than watch her. Studiously ignoring her then, Nick kicked off his loafers and lay on one of the beds, reaching awkwardly to turn on the TV and flip the channels with the remote bolted to the night stand.

He heard the bathroom door close, and the shower started. Nick's body seemed electrified, and he smashed his mind into submission with late night local television. Whenever he started to think his mind would fill with scenarios involving the naked pretty girl with the nice legs and ample bosom. His dick swelled and Nick flipped channels franticly.

The door opened and steam poured into the vanity area, instantly steaming the big mirror. She came out, a towel wrapped around her hips and hanging down to her knees, each step flashing a portion of her lovely thighs. Another towel was draped over her shoulders, the ends falling past and covering her breasts. She walked slowly to keep the lower towel from falling, over to the chair and she went through her backpack and retrieved a brush before returning to the vanity.

She wiped away the steam with her hand, and her eyes met his in the reflection. A blink and he returned his focus to the TV, flipping the channels again. Nick reflected on her body, her lean, softly curved body. Thin waisted, full hipped, softly curved legs, she was exactly like the girls Nick had dated in high school. He laughed inwardly at himself. She was like the girls Nick wished he had dated in high school. She didn't look like any of the street kids Nick had ever seen, she was healthier, well fed, and she was ten feet away from him, naked save for two cheap, white towels.

She raised one side of the towel to her hair and began rubbing vigorously, her exposed breast bouncing and jiggling very pleasantly, her areola small and puckered with the nipple standing like a pink pearl at its center. He watched her breast bounce, then slow to a gentle sway as she rubbed the towel against her head, and then he saw that she was watching him in the mirror again. Watching him watch her.

Nick thought quickly, trying to find any excuse to jump up and leave, or failing that, to be smooth and seduce her. Before he could formulate anything resembling a plan, she climbed onto the other bed, sitting cross legged facing the TV, and began to slowly pull the brush through her hair. The more Nick looked at her from the corner of his eye, the more magnificent she appeared. So beautiful, so young.

"What's your name?" Nick asked, trying to be nonchalant. "I'm Nick."

"Hi Nick," she said, still watching the TV. A full minute passed before she looked over at him, her dark hair falling in front of her eyes. "I'm Brynn."

"Interesting name," he said, "I don't think I've met a Brynn before. How old are you?"

Still looking at him steadily, still expressionless, she said, "Old enough."

A few moments passed in silence, only the TV chattering in the background, and then she turned away from him. Without asking permission, Nick turned off the TV and the light on the night stand, and the only light in the room was from the bathroom, reflecting on the vanity mirror. Nick sat on the edge of the bed opposite Brynn and stripped to his shorts. He pulled back the covers and slipped beneath them, and rolled on his side so she was behind him.

He could hear the wind and rain outside now, and her breathing. Her bed creaked, and Nick imagined he felt her climbing into his bed, moving her smooth young body against his, but the light turned out, and in the darkness he heard her pulling back the covers on her own bed. She was quiet, breathing regularly, deeply. And when he was certain she must be asleep, Nick slowly, quietly, stroked his dick until he came, wiping away his cum with a corner of the sheet, and almost immediately falling asleep.

The Second Day

When Nick woke the next morning, Brynn was still asleep, her covers pulled up around her neck. He sneaked out into the early morning sunshine and got the suitcase from his trunk, then went back inside and swapped his previous day's clothes for fresh. He took his fresh underwear and jeans into the bathroom with him and he showered, taking a few moments to stroke another come out of his system, picturing Brynn's body, and specifically her breast, bouncing softly in the mirror's reflection.

He was shaving when she sat up, and she pulled a sheet with her when she rose, wrapping it around her, and passed him silently and closed the bathroom door behind her. Hearing a muffled exclamation, Nick hurried to her bed and searched, returning to the vanity carrying her towels from the night before. The bathroom door opened a crack, and before she could say anything he was holding the towels to the door, where she could easily reach them. They were pulled from his grasp and the door closed again.

She was still showering when Nick checked out, and the older woman acting as clerk told him there was a diner a few miles further along. He went back to the room and saw Brynn had already changed into a short, loose cloth skirt with blue flowers printed on it, and a white tank top that emphasized her chest, not that he imagined anything could make her chest unattractive. She was putting on little brown sandals, and she had packed all of her things into the backpack already.

There seemed to have been a silent agreement made somewhere, because she went to his passenger door and waited as he got in and unlocked it for her. They drove down the highway and found the diner easily enough, and they ate a hearty breakfast, Brynn wolfing her food as though it had been a day or two since she'd eaten. Nick got them both coffees to go and paid, and when they were in the car, the engine idling, Brynn leaned over to Nick and kissed his cheek softly.

He stared at her with a comically confused expression, and she smiled, a bright beautiful smile. Her eyes were green, Nick noticed, a beautiful shade of light green. "Thank you for breakfast, Nick. Thank you for breakfast and for the room last night." She paused and her smile became a little more...knowing? "And thank you for not trying anything last night or this morning. I know how hard is must have been." As they pulled onto the highway, Nick couldn't wipe the grin from his face.

They drove for a while, watching the morning light on the desert scenery, and Brynn rolled down the window and crossed her arms on the door, her head resting on them, the wind blowing her face and whipping her hair. Nick stole frequent glances, the little skirt affording a much better view of her legs than blue jeans had. He found himself imagining how soft they were, and he longed to touch them, to rub his cheek on her thigh, yet there were no stirrings below, no erotic tension. That gave Nick something to wonder about.

Brynn sat back, smiling, and smoothed her little skirt, brushed her hands over her thighs. "Can we turn on the radio?"

"It's never worked," Nick said, not stopping her when she leaned forward and turned the dials.

"What about the A/C?" Brynn asked. It was getting very hot, and perspiration tickled as drops ran down to be absorbed by her shirt.

Nick told her to roll up her window and he turned on the air conditioning, the sudden blast of cold air making Brynn sigh. They drove on into the desert morning, and Nick felt happy. He had no idea why, but he was happy.

"Nineteen," Brynn said, completely out of nowhere. She saw his puzzled glance at her and she laughed. "I'm nineteen. You asked me last night, and I didn't tell you."

"You're not shy" Nick had no idea why he'd said it, but he had been having some difficulty getting the mental image of her in the motel room, dressed only in towels, out of his head.

"Why are you going East? Where are you going?" Brynn asked him, and he allowed her to change the subject.

"I'm going to Chicago. I grew up there." He told her of growing up in Chicago, of being a normal anonymous kid in high school. He found himself unloading his memories, of how he'd attended the university and had enjoyed himself while at school, but every night it was back home to the same old drudgery. He told her about his first love, and of their eventual break up, and his graduation with a B.A. in English.

He had been anxious to escape his life and start new, and had moved to Los Angeles only to discover that there weren't many opportunities for him. He'd taken jobs with various companies, working as a telemarketer, electronics salesperson, a customer service rep for a cable company, and lastly in customer service for an electronics manufacturer. He'd always struggled to make ends meet, giving up anything that might resemble a social life. He hadn't had a date in over three years.

"Wow." Brynn was taken slightly aback. "Why are you going back to Chicago?"

"My mom died in an accident a few weeks back, and I need to go back and close things down, sell the house and all of that kind of stuff." Nick glanced down and saw her hand on the seat between them, reaching for him but not imposing. He took her small, delicate hand in his and felt her squeeze softly.

"I'm sorry about your mom." He looked at her and thanked her, and her expression was so sad, so heartfelt, so real. Her eyes were so green... His attention jerked back to the road and he swerved to regain the lane.

After some silent time, Brynn began to speak softly. "My mom died when I was three, and I don't know who my dad is. I grew up in an orphanage, until I was eight, and then I started living with foster parents." She told Nick about the constant shuffling in her early life, moving from family to family about once a year. She told him about the nice families and the one that wasn't so nice, with the foster father who always wanted her to sit on his lap, when she was fifteen.

"My last family was the Tollers, and I lived with them for two years, actually almost three because they didn't have to let me stay after I turned eighteen, but they did. They felt like a real family to me and they were so mad at me for taking off." She turned to stare out the window.

"Why did you leave? Where are you going?" She seemed so tiny, so helpless, though she was only a few inches shorter than his 5' 9". Nick couldn't imagine her making it on her own. She didn't answer, and he didn't press.

He pulled in to the parking lot of a truck stop and they went inside. Nick bought lunch and after she'd finished her burger and fries, she sat back contentedly and smiled at him. "Nick, I need to see the world. I need to be free. I've spent my whole life being shuffled around, one family to the next, and never had any choice in it. I tried to be good, tried to settle down with the Tollers. I got a job as a bagger at a supermarket, and then I was a barista for a while."

"I woke up a couple of weeks ago and knew that I didn't belong there. I packed up everything and closed my bank account and took off. Mary, Mrs. Toller, and I shouted at each other until her face was beet red. She said I was ungrateful, that I had used them," a tear streaked down her cheek, "But I really am grateful. I love them more than they can ever know. I just need to be free."

They were standing at the counter, ready to pay, and the waitress had just arrived to take Nick's money, when a large man stepped in front of Nick and handed the middle aged woman his bill and a credit card. As she ran the card, the big man looked over his shoulder at Nick, leering at him triumphantly, challenging him. Nick glanced at Brynn, who was watching him expectantly, and he shrugged, paying after the big man had left.

It was late afternoon, and Brynn began to sing, softly, and Nick listened but wasn't familiar with the song. She was no professional, there was no doubt about that, but he found her voice pleasant. He suggested a song, but she wasn't familiar with it, nor did she know the next four he suggested. She countered with a few of her own, but not only did he not know the songs, he hadn't even heard of the bands.

They did manage to discover that they were both familiar with easy listening, or "old Music" as Brynn called it. She sang some Manilow and some Boston, and he joined her to sing a Peter Cetera song. They both smiled and laughed, and Nick reflected later, as she slept, that she had made his sadness disappear, for a time.

She had lain down on the seat to sleep, and Nick had at first tentatively touched her hair as she slept, but after an hour or so he had become comfortable enough to comb his fingers through her soft, pretty hair. He was tired, and when another motel presented itself he stopped and got a room.

Nick returned to the car to find Brynn awake, standing next to the open passenger door, yawning and stretching. They drove closer to the room, and Nick was glad to have found a larger chain motel, where the conveniences would be better. They entered the double room and Nick set his suitcase down next to the door, Brynn put her backpack on the unused chair and stood for a moment, looking at the double beds.

Nick stretched and watched Brynn walk to the bathroom, pulling off her tank top as she walked, and reaching back to unfasten her bra as the entered the bathroom and closed the door. Nick was still standing there, stupidly, when the door opened again a few minutes later.

Brynn stepped through the door, naked but for the towel she held to her chest, draping down over the front of her but not covering much. "Do you need anything before I get in the shower?" She spoke softly, seeming so soft, so innocent.

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