New cover, new story - totally rewritten and updated!
A shared car ride home goes awry for Tyler the jock and Supernerd Eliot when they get lost in the dark on a country road and their vehicle stalls. Luckily, they find the Halfway House Hotel, where a series of odd events seem to conspire to bring them together.
“Good evening, gentlemen,” the rather statuesque woman said softly. She had a dark brown wavy hair that scraped her chin as she moved and a warm, welcoming smile. “My name is Alicia and I’d like to welcome you to the Halfway House Hotel. How may I help you this evening?”
“We’d like two single rooms, please,” Eliot said politely, noting their hostess wore a similar garb to the woman he’d seen a few moments earlier. Except her blouse was plain and she wore a gaily patterned scarf around her neck.
Alicia scanned the open register on the desk in front of her, running her finger down the page, and shook her head. “I’m sorry, sirs, but there are no single rooms left. In fact, we’re completely book—oh, wait. I do have one room left, we had a cancellation about half an hour ago and it’s not been crossed out yet. But it’s a double, would that suit?”
“Are there any other hotels around here?” Eliot asked, worrying at his lower lip with his teeth. A double? With Tyler? Not if he could help it. Before Alicia could respond, Tyler interjected.
“We’ll take it, thanks.”
“What?” Eliot smiled at the receptionist then said to Tyler. “Can I speak to you for a minute?” Tyler rolled his eyes and followed Eliot a few steps away from the desk, where Eliot lowered his voice, so they wouldn’t be heard. “It’s a double!”
“So?” Tyler sighed, seemingly unconcerned about the implications of a shared room. “I don’t know about you, but I’m tired, hungry, and I am not dragging my ass and your suitcase back down that damn driveway. It’s one night and, as long as you don’t snore, it’ll be fine.” He grabbed Eliot’s forearm and urged him back to the desk. “Is the restaurant still open?” he asked, blatantly ignoring Eliot’s discomfort.
Alicia nodded then turned the register to face Eliot. “Yes, the restaurant is open until ten, and may I recommend the steak? It’s delicious.”
Eliot filled in their names and the address of the university. It was an antiquated way of registering, in fact he couldn’t remember ever having checked-in like this before, and he questioned it.
“This is rather quaint,” he said, gesturing to the register. “No offence, but most hotels are computerized nowadays, aren’t they?”
“None taken,” Alicia replied with a dismissive wave of her hand. “I believe they are, yes. Unfortunately, technology is taking a little longer to catch up to us here.” When Eliot had finished filling in their details, she turned the register back to herself and noted the time of check-in. “There, all done. We do ask for payment up front, for both the room and dinner. If you don’t mind.”
“No, of course, not. That’s fine by us, right Eliot?” Tyler covered a yawn, clearly wanting to get to the room as soon as possible.
“That’ll be $50 in total.”
“You mean $50 each.” Eliot was confused.
“No, $50 in total.”
“That’s fine,” Tyler said, cutting Eliot off. He took out his wallet and pulled out a fifty, which he handed over to Alicia with an apologetic smile. “You’ll have to forgive my friend, it’s been a long day.”
Alicia laughed politely, gave them a receipt for their payment, then picked up the old-fashioned hand bell on the desk and shook it. The sound echoed around them. One of the other doors off the reception area opened and a tall, thin, pale-skinned young man in a crisp red uniform approached the desk.
“This is our porter, Michael,” Alicia said as she handed the porter a key. “These gentlemen will be staying in room twenty-one. Michael will show you to your room, but please don’t hesitate to ask should you need anything.”
“Thank you.” Tyler again answered for them both, much to Eliot’s consternation.
“By the way,” Alicia called as they followed the porter, who had picked up both their suitcases, toward the stairs. “Enjoy your stay.”
“I’m sure we will,” Eliot replied.
“Oh, I guarantee it.”