I never meant to stop. Stopping was not a part of the plan. I was supposed to keep driving no matter what. It was freezing. The temperature was way below zero and the snow was still coming down thick and fast. I was just another guy. Another guy heading somewhere for the holidays, a guy dressed up in a business suit with a couple of bags in the back of the van. The radio kept me sane, kept the adrenalin and panic at bay. Christmas songs played one after another, bringing with them that nostalgic feeling of candy canes and tinsel. Everyone sounded happy. Everyone was
happy. Christmas was the time of year where people believed in change and world peace.
Change. That was one word to describe the stunt I’d just pulled. It had started off as a simple idea, something to be laughed at and then forgotten but somehow the thought stuck and it had snowballed, gaining more and more momentum until I threw caution to the wind and just went for it. I guess Christmas time makes us all do crazy things. We can go about all year being pessimistic and broken-hearted but when the sparkly trees and tinsel come out, everyone starts to believe in life again.
You begin to dream again, to wonder whether it’s not too late to have a good life. You start to think that a new year can be a fresh start; a chance to shake off the last year’s mistakes and start over. I hadn’t quite decided if what I’d done was a mistake yet. To a normal person it probably would be but to me, it seemed worth it. Nobody had gotten hurt, right? Nobody’s life had been messed-up beyond repair. Justification came easier than I expected it to.
The roads were empty, people were smart enough not to take cars out in the icy weather, even if it was just four days before the twenty-fifth. I thought of the shoppers in the cities, people buying all those material things for friends and relatives who probably wouldn’t even like them. Christmas gifts. Scented candles, reindeer sweaters, lanterns, fruit cakes, wines, bath bombs, and all the new tech. Next year it’d be the same, just in different wrapping paper.
In a way, I missed it. Yes, I missed getting variations of the same gifts year after year. I missed having that family Christmas. But I wasn’t welcome. I was well aware of that and I wasn’t going to try and argue about it. It had been so long since I’d seen them all that I’d forget their faces unless I looked at a photograph. I hated it. I wanted to be back there, even if I wasn’t the perfect son or brother. Even after all the goddamn fights and arguments, after the…
“What the fuck?”
A movement cut through my train of thought. I peered through the windscreen, the wipers throwing snow off every half-second. I could see the shape of someone standing by the side of the road. A car had skidded off. I wanted to drive on but I didn’t. After all, it was Christmas. I couldn’t leave whoever it was stranded out there. Besides, maybe some good deed would go a long way. My sister used to tell me that karma came back around. I needed good karma to cancel out the bad so I slowed the van to a halt and threw open the door.
“Hey! You okay?”
No answer. Thank god, I was wearing boots. I left the van on and walked over. It was a woman.
“Can I help?”
She whipped her head around to look at me almost defensively.
“What do you want?”
I took a step back and held my hands up. “Nothing. I just wondered if you needed a hand.”
She was small, with an anxious look, too anxious for someone that young. Her face was partially covered by a woolly scarf and she looked cold. Her eyes were big, brown and warily suspicious as she looked me up and down before glancing at my van. Eventually she seemed to realise I wasn’t out to hurt her.
“I just… went off the road. Can’t move the damn thing.” Her breath rose in a cloud between us.
“Uh-huh.” I took a cautious step forward. “Yeah. Looks pretty stuck.”
Pretty stuck was an understatement. The back tyres were almost fully buried in snow and the angle at which it had gone off was unbelievable.
“You need a tow truck.”
She sighed. “Yeah. Phone’s dead. You got one I can use?”
I reached into my pocket but then remembered I no longer carried it on me. “No, sorry. I can give you a ride though. Drop you off at a gas station?”
She hesitated. I would have had her down as some little daddy’s girl but her car was old and her clothes looked like they came off the high street rather than any fancy place. No make-up either. Nothing to detract from those soft, fairy features and big eyes.
“I guess that’d be okay.” she said hesitantly.
“Chill out. I’m not a serial killer.”
She gave a small smile. “I guess that’d be unlikely. What are the chances of two serial killers meeting in a snowstorm?”
I laughed, a real laugh, the kind I hadn’t done in weeks. It felt strange almost, too loud.
“Is there space in your trunk?” she asked.
Instinctively, I stiffened but she didn’t seem to notice as she opened the trunk of her car and hauled out two large suitcases and a third smaller one.
“Yeah, sure.” I headed over to the 4x4 and popped open the trunk. It was pretty empty. One holdall of clothes and the two zipped up hockey bags. I took her cases off her and stowed them in. We got into the car, her in the passenger seat. All along I’d told myself not to talk to anyone, not get involved with anyone. It was meant to be just me. Me, the car, and my bags. And now it was me, the car, my bags, a pretty girl and her bags too. Still, I figured she wouldn’t be around for long.
“So what’s your name?” I asked as I started the car up.
“Gabriella,” she said, maybe a little too quickly.
“Gabriella,” I tried it out, liking the way it sounded. “So what do I call you? Gaby? Ella?”
“Anything you like,” she said softly. “I don’t really mind.”
Wham!’s Last Christmas came to an end on the radio and the hourly local news update began.
“So what’s your
name?” Gabriella asked.
I considered coming up with a fake name, an alias, but she was just a girl. She wasn’t a cop or someone likely to get me in trouble so I told her the truth. “It’s Leonard.”
I frowned, and glanced at her. “What do you mean?”
“If only you had an extra ‘o’ on the end of your name, it’d sound awesome.”
“Wha-? Leonardo? That sounds fucking pompous.”
“And Leonard sounds geeky. Like the guy on Big Bang
?” I frowned.
! The TV show? Sitcom? Like Friends
but about these science nerds. I can’t believe you’ve not heard of it. It’s like one of the most popular-”
I cut her off. “Hey, be quiet!”
The newsreader on the radio had caught my attention and I reached forward and turned up the volume.
“…police have confirmed that the city branch of Portman Bank was robbed at midday today, by an armed and masked suspect. Nobody was hurt doing the incident but it is thought that the robber made off with a large amount of cash during one of the bank’s busiest weeks of the year. And finally, the weather remains hazardous with the public being advised not to drive
“Bad weather, so what?” Gabriella groaned. “Tell me something I don’t know.”
I laughed humourlessly, held tight to the steering wheel and drove on through the falling snow.
The weather didn’t get better. The road wore on, the steering felt light as the tyres negotiated the patches of ice. I felt tired, my eyes constantly flicking to the rear-view mirror to check for flashing police lights.
“Do you want me to drive?” Gabriella asked.
“No, I’m good.”
The only reason I refused was because if she’d taken over, I would have probably fallen asleep and besides, I had no idea where we were headed. I just wanted to get as far away from the city as possible. I half wished I hadn’t picked her up. I didn’t know where the nearest gas station was and I had this feeling she wasn’t going to disappear very easily. On any other day, I would have been happy to have met a girl like her, but she’d come along on the one wrong day of the year.
The snow wasn’t getting any lighter and eventually the road wove back into civilisation. There was a pub. It was one of those old, farmhouse kinds; mock-Tudor frontage and a number of trucks and cars parked up beside it. A small neon sign stuck out, flashing on and off with the word ‘ROOMS’. The place had clearly seen better days but I couldn’t see any other shops or houses so I pulled up and switched the engine off.
“Is it okay if I drop you off here?” I asked.
She leaned past me to look at the pub. “I guess. Do you think it’s open?”
Light gleamed from every single window, and she was asking me if it was open? I decided to humour her.
I opened the door of the car and was greeted by a gust of freezing wind. The weather was getting worse.
Gabriella followed me into the bar. It was cosy, with wooden furniture, a pool table and antique framed adverts lining the walls. There was a dartboard and a Pinball machine. It was all surprisingly welcoming.
Not that I could stay there. No, I needed to keep driving before anyone caught up with me. If I got away before dawn, they’d have no chance. But it was dark outside and I was pretty tired.
“Don’t go yet,” Gabriella said, sensing my indecision. “Have a drink. I’ll buy. Because you kinda saved my life.”
I figured one drink couldn’t hurt. We headed over to the bar and perched on the timeworn wooden stools. The bartender was an old guy with tattoos, a beer belly, teeth that had to be false and rings on all of his fingers. Despite it all, he looked like a pretty nice guy.
“Hey folks,” he said. “What can I get you?”
“Surprise us,” Gabriella said playfully. “But that doesn’t mean the most expensive thing.”
The guy laughed. “I’m not that kind of person!” He turned away briefly to collect glasses and bottles and then set them down in front of us. “Oh and just to let you know - the cops were here. They’re closing the road. And the snow’s not looking good so I guess you’re gonna be here all night.”
I felt my heart drop. “Are you kidding?”
“No.” He frowned though he looked amused. “Why, you got someplace to be? At least you’re with your girlfriend. And this place isn’t so bad.”
Neither of us corrected him on the ‘girlfriend’ assumption. I started to wonder how long I could stick it out in the bar without arousing suspicion. Then I thought of the bags in the car. Jesus Christ. I took a large gulp of whatever the bartender had set down in front of me. It tasted like some citric version of eggnog.
He smiled and I was struck by how easy it was to get on someone’s good side, simply by complimenting them on something they were proud of.
“I’m Micky,” he said, extending a hand.
I shook it. “Leonard. And this is Gabriella.”
We sat at the bar for hours, talking to Micky who clearly loved to talk. He told us his entire life story and to be honest, it was pretty interesting. He’d been married six times, had six kids and went to flea markets to buy rings.
“So do you folks want a room?” he eventually asked.
“Yeah. Sure.” I said, though the alcohol had vanquished any fatigue. Truth be told, I just wanted to get my bags somewhere I could see them.
Micky gave us a key and showed us to a basic double room. Pine bed, pine wardrobe, pine chest of drawers. A small television and a DVD player. The floor was stripped-back floorboards but there was a rug and the bed sheets looked clean enough.
“I’m just gonna get my bags,” I said to no-one in particular.
“Get mine too!” Gabriella called after me.
I headed back outside into the snow, the wind biting my face. I couldn’t remember it ever being so cold. I hauled the hockey bags out of the trunk, threw the holdall over my shoulder and carried it all to the room. Gabriella was sitting cross-legged on the bed, idly channel hopping.
“You play hockey?” she asked, with a raised eyebrow, as I set the bags down on the floor.
I went back outside to get her cases. They weighed a ton. I frowned. I knew girls liked clothes but surely she was taking it a bit far. Her two large suitcases felt like they contained bricks. In a moment of curiosity, I paused. Glancing around to make sure I was alone, I lay one of the cases flat down in the trunk and popped it open. My mouth fell open. It wasn’t clothes. It wasn’t shoes. It wasn’t bricks. It was like a mini sex shop. The case was packed to the brim with various sex toys and aids; vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, lingerie, cock rings, lube, plastic pussies, not to mention a range of erotic novels, porn magazines and DVD’s.
I didn’t quite know how to react. She hadn’t told me about any of this, but then again I hadn’t asked. It was shocking that a girl with such an innocent disposition would be carrying around cases full of all this… all this… smut. I shut the case and hauled it out of the trunk along with the two others. I figured they contained more of the same, but I didn’t have time to check. Besides, I already felt guilty for snooping. I slammed the trunk shut and locked the car, before staggering back to the room.
“You know, your cases weigh a ton!” I said, as I fell through the door. “You could have helped me.”
I leaned over to set them down on the floor and it was only then that I realised Gabriella was no longer sitting on the bed. She was crouched down over one of the hockey bags, and she turned to look at me, her expression a combination of shock and curiosity. The bag had been unzipped, revealing the bundles of cash within.
“What the hell, Leonard?”
She reached into the bag to touch the bills, like she wasn’t sure they were real. They were real alright. I could practically smell that distinctive scent of money, the paper, the ink, the promise that comes with having so much cash.
“I… I can explain.”
She just stared at me.
“Look, we all have secrets, okay? Don’t look at me like that. It’s not like you’ve been totally transparent.”
She frowned, like she was trying to figure out what I was referring to and then she seemed to realise and she glared at me. “You looked in my cases! That was private stuff!”
“Uh… and my bags aren’t private?”
“Oh god.” She sank back to lean against the bed. “I can’t… I don’t… look; it’s not what you think.”
“To be honest, I haven’t even thought anything. I just… I don’t know.” I ran my hands through my hair. “Maybe I should explain. About the money.”
I turned and locked the door.
Telling the story was easier than I’d expected. I’d worked at the bank. Been fired from the bank for some negligible reason. Planned to rob the bank. And then followed through on the plan.
Gabriella’s story wasn’t particularly shocking. Her friend owned an upscale sex shop in the city. She’d worked there until the friend started making losses and eventually the landlord shut up the shop and the two of them were left with a bunch of inventory which they really didn’t need.
“I sometimes sell it at bachelorette parties.” she explained. “I was planning to use it as Christmas gifts but then I realised, I don’t really want to give anyone a gift.”
She opened one of the cases and frowned. “Except you, maybe.” She picked out a packet of cock rings and tossed them at me. “Happy Xmas, Mr Bank Robber.”
I laughed. “I don’t need them.”
“You might do. You know, when you get caught and locked up in jail and you suddenly realise gay sex is awesome and you can hardly control yourself.”
I glared at her, deadpan. “Shut up.”
She laughed. “Well, what do you expect? The cops are obviously gonna catch you. They’ve set up roadblocks. You can’t hide the cash. You didn’t think all this through very well, did you?”
“Well, as a matter of fact, if I hadn’t stopped to help your skinny ass out, I’d probably be home free.” I snapped.
“Yeah, right.” She flicked absentmindedly through an edition of Play Hard
. “To be honest, I’m your only hope. The cops are looking for a guy, about your height, looks like you. They’re not looking for a guy with a super hot girlfriend. I could be a pretty good distraction.”
“So how are you gonna help me?” I asked, not clear on what she was talking about.
She shrugged. “I don’t know yet. It’ll come to me. Maybe I shouldn’t have drunk so much.”
She stood up with a DVD in her hand and put it in the player. “Meanwhile, I think we should watch a movie to pass the time.”
I stared as she sat down on the bed, waiting for the movie to load.
“Are you for real?”
She frowned at me. “Erm… yeah. Last time I checked.”
“And you want to watch a porn movie? Now? With all this around?” I gestured at the cash.
“Well what else do you want to do? Sit and worry about it? For god’s sake Leonard.” She rolled her eyes.
I didn’t have any viable argument, so I sat down next to her, leaned against the headboard and said, “What’s the movie called?”
I smirked. “Classy.”
She shot me a glance. “Well, it’s made for guys like you so I don’t think you can judge.”
I snorted derisively. “I don’t watch porn.”
“Why not? Married? Girlfriend? Boyfriend?”
“None of the above,” I said. “Porn objectifies women. It’s not right.”
She laughed at that. “I objectify men. Michael Fassbender? I don’t see him as a man with anything other than an awesome body. Does that make me ‘not right’?”
“Yeah, but… you’re different.” I said.
She laughed again, but more softly. “I guess that’s true.”
The movie was classic trash. Loads of hot girls with huge tits in some seedy prison with a bunch of hung prison guards. It was the kind of thing that should have repulsed me, but it turned me on. Porn always does that. You want to turn away from something that’s so wrong yet you can’t help yourself. You have to look and get turned on by eighteen year old girls being fucked by guys who treat them like crap.
“It shouldn’t be so hot, should it?” Gabriella said, and her voice seemed to come from a distance. I tore my eyes away from the screen to look at her. She had a dreamlike expression on her face as she watched the movie and her hand had disappeared beneath the waistband of her jeans. In that moment, she looked hotter than even the best porn flick.
It was surreal. I had never expected I’d end up in a pub in the middle of nowhere, watching porn with a girl I barely knew.
“You like that? Huh? You fucking like that
?” The arrogant voice of the on-screen prison guard made me look back at the screen.
“She fucking loves it,” Gabriella said, watching wide-eyed as the guard thrust in and out of the girl’s cunt. “At least, if it was really real she would.”
The jail-bitch didn’t love it. She was just another pornstar, a vacant expression in her eyes. She didn’t look real. She looked like an object. Not like Gabriella. Gabriella looked all woman, despite her skinny build and conflicting attitude. She looked warm and inviting. I wanted to put my hand down her jeans, tangle my fingers with hers and feel her wetness.
But before I could even think of how to start doing something like that, she’d crawled off the bed, and was rummaging through her cases of sex apparatus, apparently searching for something suitable. Half a minute later, she emerged with a box and tossed it onto the bed. She kicked off her shoes and wriggled out of her jeans. She was wearing little black panties.
I looked at the box. It was a vibrator of some kind, nothing I’d seen before. All those devices seemed so plastic to me, so alien.
Gabriella sat back down next to me, not even appearing to realise I was there and staring at her.
“Wait,” I said.
She looked at me, faintly annoyed. “What?”
“Aren’t you gonna… take your top off?”
She gazed at me, appalled. “What do you think this is; a private show?”
“Well, what do you
think this is? You start masturbating right next to me and expect me not to feel something?” I shook my head. “Jesus Christ, woman!”
She bit her lip, trying not to laugh. “I guess you’re right. Fine. Have it your way.”
She crossed her arms, grasped the hem of her top and pulled it off in one swift motion, revealing a tiny waist and no bra. I gawped.
“What the hell, Leonard? You never seen a woman before?” she looked half-amused, half-weary at my admiring gaze.
“Yeah but… not like you. All women are different.”
“Whatever. Watch the movie.” she ordered, unwrapping the vibrator, like a kid unwrapping a toy on Christmas morning.
I tried to watch the porn flick but it was hard when something far hotter and more erotic was unfolding an inch away from me. Her arm kept bumping into mine as she pulled her panties down a little and positioned the vibrator.
I literally couldn’t believe she had the nerve to use it right next to me. I kept my eyes fixed resolutely on the screen ahead but I didn’t see anything. All I was aware of was the raw sexuality of the girl next to me, the soft insistent buzz of her toy, and the feel of her warm body. I wanted to fuck her. I didn’t care how; whether it was hard and fast or slow and steady; I just wanted to bury my throbbing cock deep inside her needy pussy. We were both so available and she didn’t seem to realise it.
I shifted, knocking her arm and she frowned at me. “Easy, Leonard.”
“Does it feel good?” I asked audaciously.
She gave me a half-smile. “It feels beautiful.”
“Better than cock?”
I turned and watched her finally, my eyes roving greedily, focusing on the small hand that manipulated the toy around her pussy. She looked amazing. My cock felt like it was going to burst out of my pants.
“Shall I do it for you?” My voice sounded too low, too lustful but I didn’t give a damn.
“Why?” she asked. “Would it make you feel useful?”
Her eyes drifted shut. “Men always went to be in control.”
“Isn’t it better that way?” I ran my hand up her leg, feeling the satin of her skin and thrilling in the heat radiating from her core. My fingers brushed her hand and she opened her eyes, gazing into mine indecisively. I pushed her hand away and took a hold of the vibrator, sliding it in and out of her grasping pussy.
She held my gaze. “We’re not even. You’re still dressed.”
I didn’t need to be told twice. I dragged off my jacket and shirt in record speed before getting rid of the rest of my clothes. My cock was hard, veins pumping, almost unbearably hot. Gabriella’s eyes widened.
“Wow. That movie was a surprising turn-on, right?”
“It wasn’t the movie.” I muttered and moved back between her legs. I wanted to put my mouth on her but she pushed the vibrator back into my hand and I obediently pressed it to her clit, loving the way she started as it buzzed through her hub of sensitivity. I began fucking her with it, watching her face for guidance, holding it deep inside until I took her to the edge time and time again.
“You really like this better than cock?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she whispered breathlessly. “It feels good but then, I kinda miss cock too.”
“Really? Just so you know, I have a cock.”
She laughed out loud, a laugh that sounded too big for her. “God, Leonard. You’re probably the strangest guy I’ve ever met.”
“Likewise. I mean, not that you’re a guy. I mean, obviously you’re not, but that you’re also the strangest - ”
“I get it, okay!” she cut me off. “So what do you plan to do with your cock?”
“I’m gonna shove it in your nasty little ass
,” a guy in the movie said, as if on cue.
“No, I’m not!” I denied vehemently. “Unless you’d like that, obviously.”
“I wouldn’t!” she laughed.
“Okay, neither would I.” I said hastily. “I could just, y’know, replace this vibrator with it.”
She smiled. “I guess that’d be okay.”
I dropped the vibrator somewhere on the floor and moved over her, resting my weight on my forearms. “You know, you’re the sexiest girl I’ve ever met.”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re practically there now, Leonard.” she said. “No need for more flattery.”
“I’m just saying,” I said. “You seriously are.”
I finally pressed the head of my cock to her dripping pussy, loving the first contact. It felt so right, so natural, to slide into her, to feel her walls stretch and adjust to my cock until I was buried deep inside her and all I could feel was her heat and her body.
I kissed her then, with my cock already inside her. Maybe it was belated but I wanted to feel her lips under mine, feel if they were really as soft as they looked. They were. She was a good kisser. I began moving inside her, easing in and out of her tight pussy and loving the effect it had on her. I liked to believe I was better than her toy.
I pulled out slowly but couldn’t help slamming deep in again, wanting to take this further, to take it higher. We started fucking properly, her hips rising up to smack against mine and it felt good to release all the pent-up anxiety and forget about the world. It was just me and her. The movie provided all the dirty talk which I was perfectly happy with - I’d never had a particularly dirty mouth anyway. We fucked hard and intensely, slowing when we came close just so we could enjoy the sensations for as long as possible.
Somewhere in the middle, I rolled over onto my back so she was on top, riding my cock with fervour, her fingernails digging into my chest, her eyes not leaving mine the whole time. It felt like it had more meaning than just sex; like there was some connection, something holding us together, dictating our moves to make it a more incredible fuck. Her pussy was perfect, it seemed to clench around my cock in just the right way and her body moved over mine like silk. She was amazing. I wanted to stay in that cheap room forever, my cock buried inside her, her chocolate hair tangled all around us.
Eventually we came, though it still felt too soon. She was just too much. The way she moaned, the way her hips twisted, the shine of sweat on that flawless body… I felt it come hard and suddenly, rushing through my body. I spurted deep inside her, again and again until I had nothing more to give and all I was aware of her was her weight on my chest and the quivers that trembled through the both of us.
“Wow…” she was breathless. “I’ve really missed cock.”
I laughed a little. “I shouldn’t have done this. I’m not the kind of guy who’s gonna give you a great future.”
She sighed softly. “And why would that bother me? This is a one-time thing. Tomorrow we’ll be heading in separate directions anyway. This’ll just be some story we end up telling our friends.”
“I don’t have any friends.”
She smirked. “Me neither.”
We lay there a while, soaked in sweat, not quite wanting to detach from each other. She spoke finally, her voice soft and sweet.
“If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?”
“I don’t know,” I said softly. “Where would you go?”
“Paris. In the movies it always looks so glamorous.”
“Movies are fantasy though.” I said. “When you get there, you realise the people are just the same as they are anywhere else. The Eiffel Tower is just a block of metal.”
She frowned and rolled off me. “So where would you go, cynical?”
I smiled. “Maybe to the desert. I’d want to see one part of this world that hasn’t been desecrated yet.”
“You’d die of thirst.”
“Yeah but can you imagine the sand? The dunes? The heat on your face?”
She laughed. “You miss summer. That’s all. In July you’ll be dreaming of Antarctica.”
“You’re right.” I said because she was.
She was right about pretty much everything. I lay there on that cheap bed and thought about how warm she felt, and how great the sex was and how I wished I’d met her at any other point in my life and before I knew it, consciousness was fading and I was sliding into my dreams.
I woke up to the sound of the local news on the television. The police were apparently carrying out searches of cars heading out of the area. Gabriella was watching, already washed and dressed, her knees hugged to her chest.
“I think I’m screwed.” I said softly. There was no way I could get out with two huge bags full of cash, and staying at the pub for more than a couple of days would be way too risky.
Gabriella turned to look at me and smiled. “No. I’ve got an idea. I told you I’d help you, didn’t I?”
Her idea was amazing. She unpacked everything from her suitcases; the vibrators, the books, the DVD’s, and started sorting through what we could use. She emptied the larger boxes and we filled them with cash. We put cash into every available space; stuffed down behind the instructions on various toys, even inside some of the male sex toys. I never thought I’d be reduced to stuffing cash into a fake pussy yet there I was, trying to roll the notes up tighter so more could go in.
We hollowed out all of the books, cutting out the middles of pages and putting cash into the space created. It was the best idea ever. The thick books had more space and once you shut the book, it looked ordinary. It was totally fool proof, unless someone decided they wanted a read of the 21 st century Kama Sutra.
We packed everything back into the cases, neat and organised, the unopened boxes on top. We filled our pockets with as much cash as they could take and all in all there wasn’t much left over. We put all the book pages and other rubbish into one of the bags, zipped it up and left it under the bed. There was nothing in there that was seriously incriminating and we figured Micky would hardly rat us out, especially after the huge tip we left him.
Despite it all though, I couldn’t shake the feeling of unease as we put everything into my car and headed back out onto the road. It was a dark morning, the clouds promising more snow and the roads seeming too busy.
We drove for barely five minutes before I could see a line of cars on the road ahead. At the front were cop cars, their lights flashing and reflecting on the blinding white snow.
I glanced across at Gabriella as I slowed the car to a halt and joined the queue.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked. “I don’t want to get you in any trouble.”
She looked at me and smiled. “Hey, no-one’s getting into any trouble.”
I prayed to God that she was right. The cars slowly inched forward. We were seventh in the queue. Sixth. Fifth. Fourth. Third. Second. The cops were opening the trunk of the car in front, the driver was pissed off.
“What’s the point in this anyway?” I heard him say. “I’ve got places to be, Officer…”
My heart was pounding. I felt Gabriella reach across, her small, warm hand enveloping mine. “We’re going to be just fine.” she murmured.
I looked at her, too scared to respond. The car in front drove on. I rolled down my window and a greying cop leaned down and smiled at us.
“We just need to conduct a quick search of your vehicle,” he began, evidently having said the same thing countless times. “If you’d care to step out and let us take a look in the back, we’ll try to make this as quick as possible.”
I let go of Gabriella’s hand and opened the door. “No problem, Officer. You’ll have to excuse the contents of our bags though. My wife’s a saleswoman…”
I led him round to the back of the car, my stomach churning. I felt the same way I did when I was a kid in trouble at school, worried that the principal would call my parents. I opened the trunk, revealing the bags and cases.
“Do you mind if I take a quick look?”
I shrugged. “No, that won’t be a problem.”
I reached forward, dragged my hockey bag forward and unzipped it. Clothes. Gabriella’s small case. Clothes. The holdall. Clothes. The two big suitcases. I popped open the first one to reveal boxes and boxes of sex toys. The cop leaned forward to get a closer look and started. His eyes widened as realisation dawned. He looked embarrassed. He rifled around a little, colour rising in his cheeks. Wordlessly, I opened the final case, showing him the DVD’s and the neatly packed erotica novels. He swallowed hard and gave me a tight smile.
“They’re not all for us.” I said, trying to bring humour into the awkwardness.
“I see.” He adjusted his glasses, pretended to take some notes, then looked back at me with a forced smile. “That’ll be all. Have a happy Christmas.”
“You too, Officer.”
I slammed the trunk shut, climbed back into the driver’s seat and started up the car. Gabriella waved to the cops. She looked so innocent it was unbelievable. We kept straight faces until we were sure we were out of the danger zone and then she laughed, the kind of laugh that’s contagious. I’d been alone so long, I’d almost forgotten how good it felt to be with someone. But in that moment, I remembered and being with Gabriella felt better than being with anyone else I’d ever been with. I had a feeling we were going to last.
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