Nowhere for Christmas
Anything can happen on the road to Nowhere…
A journalist and single mother, Avery is used to being in control though she tries to remind her-self to let God take lead in her life. Eli, her son, is happy as long as he has his music, plenty of food, and the occasional adult on which to practice his rapier wit. Gavin, a virtual stranger, is a photojournalist who mysteriously dropped off the scene a few years ago.
The trio ends up together for a Christmas road trip to the small town of Nowhere. An eight hour drive in arental car turns into two days of misadventure and calamity as bad luck seems to stalk them. They get a flat tire, the bumper falls off, the car overheats – and that's only the beginning! Along the way they meet some interesting people – from a bait shop owner who moonlights as a mechanic to a chatty preacher's wife and a highway patrolman whose wife and mother can't agree on the best way to remove a skunk's stink.
Hungry, cold, and tired, the three finally reach Nowhere only to discover the town is nothing like theyexpected. They learn that reaching their destination doesn't necessarily mean the journey has ended.
Gavin's at the coffee shop on Central between Edith and Arno.
Clicking her fingers on the phone, she sent another message. How will I know
He's sitting outside. Grey stocking cap. With luggage.
A short while later, Avery was pulling their car up in front of the coffee shop. Only in Albuquerque would a coffee shop be painted the color of terra cotta and have dried chile peppers hanging from the ceiling.
She got out of the car and gazed at the front of the coffee shop. A nip in the air had encouraged all other patrons to enjoy the indoor atmosphere of the establishment.
Avery took note of the man as she approached. He was younger than she'd expected. With the stocking cap pulled down low, she couldn't get a look at his hair, but the scruff on his cheeks and chin was black as night. She couldn't see his eyes behind his sunglasses, but he had an angular face, a strong chin, and… he was drinking a fruit
A bright yellow frozen beverage. At a coffee shop. In December. I'm going to have to make allowances for his artistic temperament. I get it. But is this necessary, God? Sticking me with a man who goes to a coffee shop and doesn't order coffee? You're laughing at me, aren't
Pulling her it's-okay-if-you-don't-love-coffee smile out of storage, she approached the man. She held out her hand and said, "Mitchell sent me. Ready to go?"
He put down his blindingly bright beverage and ran his eyes up and down her figure. His sunglasses kept his eyes concealed, but his perusal still made her uncomfortable. When he made no move to shake her hand, she began to wonder if she had the right person. "What's your name?"
"I'm Gavin," he said. "Who are you?"
Eyeing his luggage, she took note of the oversized backpack and two large hard-sided cases she assumed held camera equipment. This has to be Gavin, but what if it's not? What if this guy murdered Gavin and stuffed him in an alleyway, then sat down in his spot to lure me into a false sense of security so he can do away with us, too, at his leisure? Homicidal tendencies might explain the yellow drink.
Before the man had time to sneeze, Avery whipped out her cellphone, took a snapshot of him, and texted it to Mitchell. Is this him?
She imagined the man blinking his eyes in surprise behind his dark glasses.
Artsy isn't exactly the first word that comes to mind here. He was wearing black jeans, a grey jacket hanging open to reveal a like-colored sweater underneath, and a grey scarf wrapped around his neck a couple times. I thought artists wore lots of color. Guess that's what I get for assuming. He makes me think of a beatnik.
Avery's phone chirped at her, and she glanced down at it. Yep. That's Gavin.
Again frowning at the man's fruity beverage, she tried to shake off the feeling of dread swirling through her stomach. Straightening her shoulders, she held out her hand for a second time and said, "Hi Gavin. I'm here to pick you up and head to Nowhere."
He cracked a smile this time and said, "Heading to Nowhere – isn't that a country song?" Then, looking behind her, he asked, "Where's Avery?"
She stole a look behind her at the white car. What was he expecting? A limo? She gave him a puzzled look, brows drawn together, and said, "I'm Avery. Avery Weston."
Gavin jumped up out of his wrought-iron chair, knocking it back. "You can't be. Avery's a man."
Avery scratched her head and said, "I've been accused of a lot of things, but that's not one of them."
He turned the tables on her then, taking her picture with his phone, presumably to verify her identity with Mitchell.
Eli, evidently tired of waiting in the cramped confines of the car, climbed out and said, "What's the holdup? At this rate we won't make it to Nowhere till two in the morning. Come on, people, daylight's burning!"
Gavin glanced from her to Eli. Then his phone vibrated, and he peered down at it. The part of his face she could see through the pseudo-beard flushed. His hand clenched around the phone in a death grip before relaxing.
"I don't travel with women. I thought I was riding with a man named Avery and his teenage son."
Eli's eyebrows shot up. "You thought Mom was a man? That's awesome. Wait till I tell Grandma and Grandpa! They're going to love it!"
Avery watched as Eli immediately began texting. Great. Now I'm a topic of gossip between my son and parents.