Through the Mist
Ahead, Jeremy is already at the crest of this hill, a walking stick in one hand. Two days ago, I’d gone along with Jeremy, Allen, and Marie because Marie was trying her best to get in Jeremy’s good graces. He was a jerk, but she wanted him, and whatever Marie wanted, she usually got. It didn’t matter that he was bad news, and no amount of reasoning with her would change her mind.
I sighed. I don’t know why I still talked to her, except that she’d been my friend since elementary school. While we weren’t really close anymore, there was still a connection there I couldn’t seem to shake. Maybe this time next year, when we were at two separate colleges and hundreds of miles apart, her hold on me would fade.
“We’re almost there!”
Assuming I survived this weekend, anyway. Forcing one foot in front of another, I prayed he meant it. Behind me, Allen snickered.
“What’s the matter, Fiona? Tired already? The weekend has barely begun!”
I flipped him the bird without even turning around.
He laughed, and I couldn’t help a small smile from teasing my lips. Allen wasn’t all bad. He was smart, though you wouldn’t know it most of the time, and he was all bark and no bite. As Jeremy’s friend, he had to remain cool, or risk the football team and baseball teams ribbing forever. Under all that though, he was the kid I’d had a crush on since he rescued me from a toad in the fourth grade.
But I wasn’t about to tell him that.
At the top of the hill, I stopped, leaning against a tree. Marie was already making goo-goo eyes at Jeremy and asking for help adjusting her pack for the umpteenth time. Allen stopped next to me, dropping his pack on the ground.
“Why does he keep putting up with that act?” I asked him, waving at the two of them.
“Because she keeps doing it,” Allen said. He took a long drink from his canteen, and I watched his adam’s apple bob up and down. “He’s playing with her. You know that, right?”
I sighed and dropped my head in my hand. “Yeah. But she won’t listen.”
Allen shrugged. “Then it’s her own fault. She’s been warned.”
“Where are we going anyway?” I asked.
Allen stood and took two steps to the left. “Here, look through this break in the trees.” He pointed, and I walked in front of him to follow where his finger indicated.
A white house, or what was once white, sat in a clearing over another ridge, just before it really started to climb to the peak of the mountain. It was still an hour or so’s walk away, but I didn’t like the look of it. A chill climbed up my back, despite the oppressive humidity. “That’s his family’s country house?”
Allen didn’t look thrilled either. “Yup.”
I squinted, shading my eyes with one hand and saw a tiny white SUV parked next to the garage and the indication of a road. Several curses left my lips, and Jeremy and Marie glanced up. I whirled back to Allen, my finger poking into his chest. “There was a road there all along?”
Jeremy started laughing, and Marie’s mouth fell into an outraged “o.” Her face started to turn red, but Jeremy draped an arm around her shoulders. “Don’t be mad, babe. I just wanted to spend more time with you.”
She’s not going to fall for that… but she did. Hook like an sinker. Batting her eyes, she gave him a wide smile. “Then it was totally worth it.”
“Like hell,” I muttered under my breath. Louder, I caught Jeremy’s eye. “There better be a way for us to ride back to my truck on Sunday, or you’re a dead man.”
He laughed again, and Allen patted my shoulder. “Don’t worry, Fiona. If Jeremy doesn’t get you back, I will. Cause I’m not walking all the way back either.”
I looked back at the house and suppressed another shudder. “Are you sure that’s a good place to spend the weekend?”
Allen’s gaze sharpened, and he tilted his head. “Why?”
Without looking at him, I picked up my pack. “Never mind. Just a weird feeling. Let’s go.”
I should have turned around right then.