I don’t know about you, but it’s been a while since I’ve steamed up my Saturday- a month-and-a-half to be more specific. It’s been rough, but I think the chaos has died down enough to let the steam roll in again. In case your memory is a bit fuzzy, please visit the first post of this Steamy Saturday series. And if you’re new here- well, you don’t have much catching-up to do!
I clutch his jacket tighter with every bump and curve. He’s driving fast, and I worry that the moment I lose my grip around Mitch’s sculpted body, I’ll fly off the back of the bike and into the claws of whatever might be chasing us.
After following the shoreline of Lake Michigan for nearly an hour, we finally slow down as we turn into a small motel with a faded wooden sign that reads, “Whispering River Motel.” Without saying a word to me, Mitch parks and climbs off the bike. I quickly follow him into the main office. He speaks with an older man behind the desk, who’s warily glancing at the license and credit card Mitch hands him. Meanwhile, I pull my drowsy gaze across the lodge-inspired wallpaper and to a rustic, bear shaped clock that tells me it’s 11:33 pm.
Okay, so maybe we were riding for more than an hour…
Anxiety trickles into my blood as I realize that, wherever I am, I’m a great distance from my home…with a man whose last name I have yet to learn.
“Alright, Mr. Glazebrook. Will this be a standard room or the lovers’ sweet?”
“Standard with two beds,” Mitch quickly responds while tapping his fingers on the desk.
“All we have left are single beds, sir.”
“That’s fine.” He slowly exhales, but it doesn’t relieve the visible tension from his body.
“Here ya go,” the man says while handing a single key to Mitch. “Room thirteen, the last one on the right.”
Before we walk to the room, Mitch returns to his motorcycle and grabs a small black bag from the hidden compartment. As we walk into the musty motel room and turn on the flickering wall sconces, Mitch promptly closes the door behind us. He tightens all three locks and then glances through the curtain at the nearly empty parking lot. After a few seconds he turns to face me, his furrowed brow softens a little.
“How are you?” His eyes are on mine, but I know his attention is elsewhere.
“I…I’m fine,” I cautiously reply while sitting on the edge of the bed. He slowly paces around the room as if he’s searching for something.
“Look, it’s been a rough night. You should get some sleep.” Mitch walks to the other end of the room and pauses at the large window, looking out into the woods behind us.
“Aren’t you going to tell me what the hell happened back there?”
Still facing the window, I notice the back of his head slightly pivoting as he peers between the trees. “There’s not much to say at this point, Abby.”
“What are you talking about?” I burst up from the bed and approach him. “We almost got killed…by things we couldn’t even see. You blew up the bookstore, for heaven’s sake!”
He quickly turns on his heel and, placing his hands on my shoulders, pushes me away from the window.
“We’re not much safer here than we were back there, alright? You need to sleep while I figure out what the hell to do next.”
“I thought you said this was your life. Why don’t you have a plan?”
“This life is too sporadic to allow for planning,” he snarls. I sit back down on the bed and watch as his skin reddens, his veins surface, and his pacing quickens. “You think I knew they were tracking me? Like it was my plan to get you in the middle of all this?” He runs his hand through his hair before tightening it into a fist. “Any other time, I’d be fine. But now that you’re here, it makes my job a hundred times more difficult. Not only do I have to find out what the hell is after me-us, but now I have to watch both of our backs.”
“Sorry I’m such a burden,” I snap, “Just take me to a bus station, and I’ll get out of your way.”
Mitch stops in his tracks and takes a deep breath before sitting next to me.
“Look,” his voice softens, “I’m not behaving like I should, and I’m sorry for that. Thing is, I wasn’t lying back at the bookstore when I said that anyone that get involved with me and this lifestyle always gets hurt. It’s hard enough trying not to get myself killed.”
“Okay, then I’ll just go home, and you won’t have to worry about me anymore.”
“That’s the thing, Abby…” He turns to me with a look of defeat. “You’re already in this. The second they saw us together, they branded you with a kill tag. Not just them, but all the other wretched things out there have just added you to their hit-lists. There’s no compromising or exceptions. Once you’re a target, they won’t stop until you’re dead.”
My stomach drops as I realize the deadly reality of everything. This isn’t just some fantasy or weekend fling. My fate is marred and in the hands of a complete stranger. Everything that I thought was myth and fiction is now a haunting possibility. Shivering, I wrap my arms around my stomach. Seconds later, Mitch takes off his jacket and places it over my shoulders.
“Am I ever going home, back to my regular life?”
Mitch doesn’t respond. All that’s to be heard is the faint squeaking of the wooden motel sign, swinging back-and-forth in the evening breeze. With nothing left to say, I move to the head of the bed and slide beneath the covers. Mitch turns off the light and sits in the chair beside the window, still facing me.
“You can sleep in the bed too,” I mention, noticing the faint glow of the street lamp accentuating his stoic features, which I strangely find comforting.
“I’m going to keep a lookout and determine our next move.” His eyes scan the parking lot before returning to mine.
“You’ve got to sleep sometime.” I worry that my persistence is exposing my desire for his body to be next to mine.
“I will when you’re safe.” I know there’s nothing left of this discussion.
“Alright…Goodnight, then.” I close my eyes and replay this awkward, yet intense, sequence of events with this mysterious man. My heart sinks as I settle in to this cold, lonely bed. I’ve always been independent, but this is a rare time in my life where I could really use some support. But then I remember that I’m nothing but a liability to him.
As I drift off, I peek between a sliver of my eyelids.
Mitch’s gaze drifts across my face, the hurricane in his eyes now turned calmed waters.
Thank you so very much for steaming up your Saturday with me! To be honest, I had to de-steam this post a bit to make next week’s even hotter! I truly hope you enjoyed this, and I hope your weekend is filled with steam, spice, and everything nice!