Chapter 5

A few days later, Avery returned to the tent site after working some hours as an extra crew hand for a local removal company, cleaning out a hoarder's house following his death.

The skies were dark and threatening.

"It's supposed to downpour for the next few days," Avery told Vanessa as he stepped through the tent flap. "Why don't we get a motel room?" He suggested.

"That's pretty extravagant, don't you think?" She asked from where she sat on her side of the tent.

"I don't want to be stuck here in a monsoon," he said. "I don't mind spending some money for some comfort."

"But it's your car money," she worried.

"It's okay," he said. "We deserve a break from this Swiss Family Robinson act of ours."

Vanessa didn't feel like she was in a position to argue so she went along with Avery's plan. They packed an overnight bag and headed for the motel strip by the interstate rotary, stopping at a drug store on the way to pick up some supplies. Vanessa bought a razor and some shaving cream, Avery got some junk food and soda along with a few toilette items.

Vanessa assumed they were going to check into the Motel 6, the cheapest place on Motel row but Avery insisted that they enjoy the comforts of the more upscale Hampton Inn.

"That's expensive," she protested.

"They have a pool," Avery grinned.

"We don't even have suits," she sighed.

But again she didn't feel like she was in a position to debate him so they checked into the impressive Hampton Inn, even though they looked out of place in their ragged and dirty clothes.

"Get a room with one queen bed then," she suggested. "That's cheaper."

Avery threw her a look. "You sure?"

"We've been sharing a tent for months, Avery," she said, rolling her eyes.

Vanessa was happy once they escaped to the privacy of their room. She fished out her supplies from the drug store bag. "I'm going to go take a three hour shower followed by a four hour bath," she announced. "I'm going to shave my legs, the wad between my legs, my armpits, and anything else I deem necessary," she added.

Avery laughed as he watched her disappear into the bathroom, glad that she finally was able to enjoy some simple basic comforts. He kicked off his shoes, stretched out on the bed, turned on the television, and fell asleep with the remote still in his hand.

"Avery."

Vanessa's voice drew him from his sleep. She was standing at the foot of the bed wrapped in a towel, her pat-dried hair hanging off her shoulders

"Your turn," she said. "Hopefully, there's some hot water left!"

He wiped the sleep from his eyes and got off the bed. "Thanks," he said.

"Enjoy," Vanessa told him as he headed for the still steamed up bathroom.

And he did. He took a long hot shower, became clean shaven for the first time in forever, and even clipped his toenails that were curled around the end of his toes. He washed his clothes in the bathtub (as Vanessa had done) and hung them on the rod with hers to dry. He stepped out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist to find Vanessa lying on the bed (still in her towel) watching television and munching on some Cheez-its.

"I ordered a pizza for delivery," she said. "It's raining out."

"Okay," the contented Avery replied. "Sounds good."

He headed for the soft chair in the corner of the room.

"You can join me on the bed," Vanessa reasoned. "You paid for it."

He shrugged and joined her on the mattress, watching television until there was a knock on the door. Avery answered, paid for the pizza (and tip), and he and Vanessa enjoyed the meal on the bed, not talking much while they watched some mindless movie on the tube. When they were done with the pizza, Vanessa went into the bathroom to wash her hands and Avery picked up the trash and placed the 'do not disturb' sign on the outside of the door, hoping for a good 12 hour sleep in the comfort of the relaxing room.

Vanessa stood looking at herself in the bathroom mirror. Was it time to put the moves on the gentlemanly Avery who had respected her boundaries and treated her with respect? Was she willing to risk the humiliation of his rejection should he resist her advances? Sooner or later she needed to find out if they were sexually compatible if they were going to continue this strange journey they were on together. She sucked in her breath and walked out of the bathroom.

Avery was standing in front of the television with the remote in his hand staring at whatever it was that was on the screen.

"Avery," Vanessa said.

He turned to look at her and his eyes went wide when she reached up and unloosened the towel around her chest which promptly fell to the floor. She had definitely shaved every inch of her body – that much Avery could see! She purposely stepped up to him and their lips met before either had a chance to think about it. They kissed passionately and Vanessa wasted little time sticking her tongue into his mouth.

"Oh, Vanessa," Avery sighed, moving his mouth to her neck and kissing her softly along her collarbone.

Vanessa sucked in her breath. How long had she been waiting for his touch? Avery wrapped his arms around her torso and she melted into him. She wanted to feel all of him against her body so she reached down and tugged at his towel which fell to the carpet. She pressed her breasts against his chest and her groin into his member. He moved his head down and kissed her breasts, running his tongue in circles around her nipples and Vanessa breathed with relief, now knowing that he indeed wanted her.

She fell back on the bed on purpose, taking him with her. Avery was moaning her name and she was delighted to know that they had the whole night to be together, naked and happy, finally making love and – at least for the moment – forgetting their circumstances.

"Now we're hobosexuals," Avery told Vanessa much later, as they lay cuddled together in the dark of the room, exhausted from their seemingly non-stop lovemaking.

"Finally, something I can be proud of," she joked.

They spent two days in the Hampton Inn forgetting that they were homeless and in no hurry to return to the tent. They ordered takeout food, watched television, talked about their hopes and dreams, and enjoying each other's company – but eventually the fantasy had to end and they needed to return to the reality of their lives.

They didn't talk much as they hiked back to the tent that smelled of mold and musk upon their return and two days later they were drying cars at the drive-through car wash on a bright and sunny Saturday morning. Vanessa tried to keep her game face on but she was discouraged and depressed thinking about her wonderful time with Avery at the Hampton Inn – a fantasy come true – but now everything had turned back into a pumpkin and Vanessa wasn't sure if she could go on living like this – homeless and hopeless, even though she knew Avery loved her.

An expensive large late model SUV emerged from the car wash and Avery and Vanessa both jumped from their chairs to use their rags to dry off the excess water from the vehicle's surface. The tinted window on the driver's side opened and a middle aged balding man stuck his head out.

"Avery?" He asked with surprise. "Avery Randall?"

Avery looked at the driver and reacted with embarrassed surprise. "Oh, Hello Senator," he said sheepishly.

"What the hell are you doing here, Avery?" The Senator asked with surprise.

"He works here," Vanessa said with annoyance. "Who are you to ask?"

"Calm down, Vanessa," Avery pleaded. "This is State Senator Stu Morrison. His campaign is the one I worked on last year."

"Did you know you had a homeless guy working on your campaign, Senator?" Vanessa wanted to know. "Did you know he lives in a tent?"

"I did not," The Senator stated with a mixture of amazement and admiration. "All I knew was this was the hardest working most knowledgeable campaign volunteer I've ever come across."

"Thanks, Sir," Avery grinned. "It was an honor to be a part of your effort."

The Senator stared at Avery with disbelief. "I'm just out with the kids running errands and stuff," he explained. "Why don't you stop by the office on Monday?" He suggested. "I have a staff opening and I think you're just the guy to fill it."

"Thank you, Sir," Avery responded politely and professionally. "I'd be happy to interview."

"To hell with the interview," The Senator replied. "We'll just do the required vetting and background check and the job is yours," he said. "You interested?"

"Definitely," Avery smiled.

"Marc Olsen runs the local office," The Senator said. "Meet with him at nine. I'll give him a call."

Avery stepped closer to the SUV. "I really appreciate this, Senator," he said.

The Senator stuck his hand out the opened window and shook Avery's hand. Then he looked beyond Avery at Vanessa who was eying him having finished wiping down the car.

"There's always hope, young lady," he said.

Her jaw dropped but she didn't say anything as the Senator drove off. Avery turned and looked at Vanessa with a huge grin on his face. "Do you know what this means?" He laughed.

"We're not going to be hobosexuals anymore?" She deadpanned.

Avery swept her into his arms. "No more tent! No more odd jobs! No more homelessness. We're going to be normal!"

Vanessa couldn't respond through her tears of relief and joy. "I love you," she said as she clung to him for dear life.