They have their first fight the day after they pick up Sam.
"Let's take him back," Danielle says when they're getting ready in the morning. Brittany is squinting into the hotel bathroom mirror, putting on her lipstick. Dani was ready ten minutes ago, but Britt hates getting up in the morning and puts it off as long as possible. ("After all," she said, the second night that they were on the road, flopping down backwards onto the scratchy hotel comforter, "it's not like we have to get up in the morning and go to class!" Dani laughed, still full of exhilaration and disbelief that that they'd gotten this far. She agreed, kissing Brittany's neck, and the conversation derailed rather quickly after that.)
Britt laughs, purses her lips at her reflection, and then glances at Dani in the mirror. Dani has her arms wrapped around her waist and is pointedly glancing off in another direction, not watching her get ready. Britt caps the lipstick and puts it on the sink. Sam isn't here. He'd been a gentleman, taking the second double bed without even being asked, and this morning he'd risen with the sun ("Old habit," he said, quirking a smile at Dani, who hadn't smiled back). He's getting them some breakfast from the convenience store down the street, giving them a bit of privacy.
"I thought you liked Sam," Britt says, sounding a bit wounded. Dani bites her lip, pushing back a rawness in her throat that suggests tears. Britt can make her cry without even trying, without intending. Danielle doesn't like it. Back at school, she was the sensible one, the calm one. Now that they're on the road, she feels like her emotions are out of control. It pinches at her, like her mother scolding her for not being feminine enough ("How do you expect to find a husband when you dress like a teenage boy?" her mother asked her the last time she came home from St. Anne's Boarding School for Girls, and Dani, dressed in holey jeans and an Aerosmith t-shirt, just shrugged).
"I do like him okay," Dani says, hating that her voice is wobbly. Britt comes over and sits down on the bed next to her. Their hips press together and a small part of Dani's mind still marvels at how well they fit together, how comfortable she is on this bed with another woman. "I just., I.... We were doing okay on our own, right? We don't need any boys."
Britt took Dani's hand in hers and leaned over to kiss her cheek. They were both silent for a few minutes. Dani resists the urge to look over at Britt. She's afraid of what she'll see on Brittany's face, afraid that Brittany will be giving her that same condescending smile that she usually reserves for her mom and men who never have a clue that they're drooling over her for nothing.
"You know I wasn't serious about him, right? It was just a bit of fun," Britt says, and Dani is just so mad that her free hand balls into a fist. She lets go of Brittany's hand and gets up off the bed, stalking over to stand by the door, as far away from Brittany as possible.
"Yeah, well, I think he's planning your wedding," Danielle says, meanly enjoying the way that Brittany frowns. She doesn't really believe that. She doesn't blame Sam for wanting to escape his life. She couldn't imagine how tedious it would be driving a tractor all day.
"Look, if you didn't want to hang out with him, why didn't you just say so?" she asks, sounding frustrated, but Dani can't answer that question. She goes along with Britt because it makes her happy, and most of the time that's enough to make Dani happy too. This whole plan was Brittany's idea from the start. She's been saying it ever since they got together in ninth grade, that as soon as they both turned eighteen, they were running off to Hollywood. Dani agreed because it always made Britt smile. She hadn't expected that Brittany would actually follow through, but here they are five days after Britt's eighteenth and two thousand miles from California (which is eight hundred miles closer than they were last week).
"Because you did!" Dani fires back, and Britt rolls her eyes, crossing her arms. Dani crosses hers too. At that moment, there's a knock on the door, and Sam's voice comes through, muffled but cheerful.
"I found the gas station," he says. "You girls ready yet? If not, can I come in anyway?"
Britt laughs, ignoring Dani's pointed look. "Uh, not yet..." she calls out to him. "Go ahead and eat at the rest stop, we'll be out in a few!"
"Are you sure?" he asks politely, somehow not feeling the force of Dani's anger as currently directed at him. She wants to bang on the wall and tell him to go away forever, but he'll just want to know why. And maybe Britt will try to override her, and she can't stand that idea. It makes her feel like crying again.
"Sure!" Dani says, turning toward the door, her voice too high. "We're almost done!"
After a moment's hesitation, he answers, "Okey-dokey," and he clomps off to the little rest area that's almost across the street from the motel. Dani breathes a sigh of relief and then turns back to Britt. The tension between them had faded, and after a moment, Britt laughs.
"'Okey-dokey'? Is he serious? We need to get rid of him, ASAP," she says, tossing her hair back and finger-combing through a knot at the end. Dani wants to kiss her and crosses the room to do so. She kisses her hard and Britt kisses back, lifting a hand to tangle it in Dani's hair.
They've been through a lot on this journey, and Dani is already figuring out how to structure it for an autobiographical piece that she direct when she breaks into the business.
First, the escape in broad daylight, the way that Dani walked around for half a day with two hundred dollars, all of her savings, tucked in her sock, concentrating on that odd lump all the way through History and English. During morning service, she prayed to the Virgin that they'd be okay, even though she isn't quite sure what she believes about God. It was still comforting.
They borrowed the convertible from Britt's sister's husband, which is where most of their funding had gone. For five hundred bucks he agreed that they could drive around for a couple of weeks while he and Britt's sister were on vacation. Dani isn't sure how he's going to get it back after that, but she didn't ask, just listened as Britt told him where to park and took the extra key.
The first night was the lowest spot before now. They'd held each other's hands as they stood at the payphone and called their parents. No one had reported them missing yet -- they'd gotten Missy to pretend that they'd gone back to their rooms early, sick. Dani's broken her mother's heart half a dozen times, at least if her mother tells it. But it still ached when she hung up the phone, unable to bear another minute of recriminations and demands to come home. They're both eighteen now. There's little their parents can really do. After that, they'd gotten a friendly older man to buy them some alcohol and gotten drunk on bad beer. Dani kissed Britt, tasting the sharpness of the alcohol, and although they'd made love, it was not as fun or frightening as it had been before, sneaking a few hours in Dani's room when her roommate was away, or stealing a few minutes here and there in the second-floor supply closet.
The hardest part about it will be filming the stripping scene without getting an R-rating. Then again, maybe Dani will keep that memory for herself.
When they finally pull apart, Britt's mouth is bare and Dani knows that hers is smeared with lipstick. She lets Britt wipe her chin off, smiling a little. Then Britt goes back into the bathroom to re-apply it.
Dani watches her girlfriend bent over the sink, and she enjoys the view. There's still two thousand miles to go before they make it to Hollywood, and she knows that Britt is going to be like nothing they've ever seen there. Maybe she'll get a part too, who knows. But she's ready to find out.
They go out together to break the news to Sam, and after a quick detour to take care of that, they're on the road again. The wind is rushing in Dani's ears and Britt is singing along to the radio under her breath. Dani is dozing, enjoying the sun on her face and slowly drifting off.
"Love you," Britt says, without glancing over. Dani opens her eyes to see the hint of blush on Britt's cheeks, and she knows that Brittany doesn't wear any. She smiles sleepily.
"Love you too," she says, and Britt's smile is more brilliant than the sunshine.