Culver:A Motorcycle Club Romance Novel(2)

By: Meg Jackson

Which is also why, incidentally, I was planning to go into criminal psychology when I went to college in the fall. Becky and I were both going to University of Montana, while Alicia would start out at Missoula University of Technology: we were all staying home in order to save money and avoid taking out loans, which made this trip to Las Vegas even more special for us. We weren’t really getting the chance to have the whole going-away-to-school experience, so we were trying to make up for it by having the best post-high school summer we could.

Which meant that we had all taken part-time jobs that would require minimal commitment and time spent at work, as opposed to the past few summers when we all worked as much as we could to save up. This summer, we were going to take it easy and backpack, camp, swim, and chill our way to September.

We’d picked Las Vegas out of some idea of tradition: after all, where else should you go if you want to signify your transition from childhood to (relative) adulthood? Of course, we weren’t quite adults yet, but our fake IDs (the graduation presents we got ourselves) said otherwise!

As the landscape changed from mountain to flatland to desert, I marveled at the alien nature of the landscape, wondering at how I’d lived 18 years without ever really seeing so much of America. To tell the truth, my family almost never left Montana, unless it was to hop over to Wyoming, which is really just like bigger, emptier Montana.

We’d been on cruises and to the Caribbean, but only to resorts, never getting the chance to really explore the landscape or culture. It seemed like I was travelling for the first time ever: that I was being reborn as a smarter, wiser, more worldly, more cultured, deeper individual. Why did I think you could find enlightenment in the most notorious city in America? Who knows: all I remember is feeling like this was going to change me forever, that I would come back and entirely new and better person. I was right about half of that, anyway.

Las Vegas has a tendency, in pop culture, to rise from nowhere like a phoenix from ashes. One moment you are staring out onto the highway, into the desert haze, and the next moment you are seeing the sparkling, green glimmer of Emerald City – except that instead of having horses of a different color and helpful barbers, there are cocktails in every shade under the sun and narrow-eyed dealers (of both cards and other less-savory past times).

I’m here to tell you that this isn’t just something they talk about to make the place more romantic: that is really exactly what it’s like to suddenly come upon Las Vegas after hours of driving under the dark, desert sky. It just about hits you in the face, especially if you’re a carful of 18-year-old farm girls from Missoula, Montana. We literally had to stop the car, pull over to the side of the road, and get out to collect ourselves

“Damn,” said Becky, encapsulating all our reactions in one perfect word. We giggled, but none of us dragged our eyes away from the city skyline for a moment.

~ 3 ~

“I still don’t want to leave before doing what I came here for!” Alicia cried as we lay next to the hotel’s pool, the midday sun pounding down on us. We were sipping huge, elaborate Bloody Mary’s and feeling very adult about it: we were also all making a very big deal of being hung over, even though none of us had really gone overboard.

The hotel was even more stupendous and ridiculous than we had expected. Our parents really did go all out: it was a New York-themed hotel, with a roller coaster and a replica Statue of Liberty, as well as a miniature Central Park and even a little model of Greenwich Village. The girls and I joked that we were really getting to see two cities for the price of one!

It was our third morning in Las Vegas, and we still had five luxurious days of lounging, gambling, drinking, and eating at the all-inclusive buffet. Becky had managed to convince us to spend one night outside the city, exploring the mountains that flocked the city, but the rest of our days were full of a whole lot of nothing, which was exactly what we wanted. After all, when you don’t have anything planned, you can really be up for anything.