Until November

By: Aurora Rose Reynolds

Chapter 1

Walking into the lobby of the hotel, the warm air hits me in the face. It’s October and I can already tell that winter is going to be rough. The lady behind the counter looks up from her computer with a look of shock on her face. I can’t blame her. I look like I feel which is crap.

“Oh, honey are you okay?” she asks. I hate that question.

“I'm fine.” I try to smile. “I need a room. Something that’s dog friendly, if you have it.”

“Of course,” she says, looking back down at her computer and typing. “How many nights?”

“Just one.” I lean on the counter, feeling the exhaustion of the last few days catching up to me.

“Room 312 is dog friendly. You just take the elevator to the third floor and take a right. It will be seventy for the night and a fifty dollar deposit for the dog.”

I hand over my card. Waiting for her to finish checking us in, I look down at my new companion. I can’t believe that he saved my life.

From what I can remember, I was attacked and he came out of nowhere, jumping on the guy attacking me. The cops said that if it wasn’t for him, I probably would have been killed or in a coma. Instead, I just had a concussion, two broken ribs and a sprained wrist.

Beast was the first thing I saw when I woke up in that alley with the smell of garbage and urine all around me. I thought I was dead until I heard whining and felt a warm, wet tongue move across my face. I opened my eyes to see a huge face looking down on me like some kind of doggie angel. He stayed at my side while I gathered my strength to get up. He never, even when I stumbled into the apartment to call the police. He was my own personal guardian through every moment.

“Here you go, honey,” she says, handing me the room card. “The elevator is right down that hall.” She points to the left.

“Thanks,” I mumble, ready to get into bed.

“I know that it’s none of my business,” she says and I stop to look at her. “I hope that you were able to get in a few licks before you left his ass.”

“It’s not what it looks like.” I smile and shake my head.

“Mmm humm, honey. If you say so.”

I don’t have it in me to argue with her so I just let it go and smile. “Come on, boy.” I drag Beast along with me towards the elevator while trying to carry my bag. “You can smell everything in the morning when I'm not so tired,” I say through a yawn while pulling him behind me.

When we finally reach our room, I'm overwhelmed by the smell of dog urine. I wondered why they take fifty dollars if they were obviously not using it to get the smell out of the carpet. I’m too tired at this point to care and just happy to have a bed. We could sleep in my car but with all of my stuff stuffed in it, there’s not a lot of room. I take Beast’s leash off and go to the bathroom, carrying my bag with me.

After brushing my teeth and washing my face, I look in the mirror and cringe. I look like a cow. My face is black and blue, my green eyes are red and puffy, my upper lip is cut, and I have so many bruises that even my hair hurts. I pull off my jeans, sweater and bra but keep on my tank top and panties then crawl into bed. Leaning over, I turn off the light. Two seconds later, I feel the bed bounce with Beast’s huge body as he curls into me. And then I'm out.

The sun is shining through the crack in the curtain. I moan and roll over. Beast is lying on his back with his legs straight up in the air, and he’s snoring. He is the strangest dog I’ve ever met. Not that I have a lot of experience with dogs. I’ve always tried to avoid them. When I was four, we went to visit one of my mom’s friends out in the Hamptons. They had a dog that attacked me. I ended up in the hospital with stitches from my eyebrow to the corner of my eye. Ever since then, I’ve had a deep fear of dogs. Including the small ones that everyone thinks are so cute because they look like you could put them in your pocket. My dog, Beast, is not small. I Googled dog photos after I found him and from what I can tell, he’s a Great Dane. He comes up to my waist when he is standing on all fours. I'm five four and when he stands on his back paws, his head is a good four inches above mine. Surprisingly, I'm not afraid of him at all. Actually, I don’t think I would have made it through the last couple days without him.

“Come on, buddy,” I say as I pat his stomach. He rolls his body to the side, looking at me like I'm crazy. “Yeah, it’s time to wake up and get back on the road if we want to make it to Dad’s by tonight,” I say while getting out of bed. He still doesn’t move.

“Whatever. I'm going to shower,” I tell him like he cares. Stumbling my way into the bathroom, I start the shower. As steam fills up the small room, I take off my tank top and panties and climb in. Peeling the paper off the cheap hotel soap, I wash my body. After I’ve washed from head to toe, trying to be careful around the cuts on my legs and arms, I find the shampoo but realize there’s no conditioner. I regret not digging through the stuff in the car last night to find all my bathroom supplies. Getting out and drying off, I try to finger comb my hair enough that I won’t look totally crazy when we make our way down to check out. Not that it will matter, I laugh to myself.

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