"Annie, you know this is a bad idea, you don't even know this guy!"
I sighed, big sisters, no matter how much older you got you were still their younger sibling, there forth their responsibility. I tied my red hair back with a hair tie, and sighed again, dressed in worn thick work jeans, under those a pair of long johns, and two long sleeved thermal shirts, a warm fleece jacket, and a bulky black jacket, filled with soft rabbit hair in the hood. I crouched down and zipped up my travel back pack that was filled with blankets, flint, matches, canned food with pull tabs on them, some dehydrated food which would be brought back to life by water, two canteens, a flash light, extra batteries, my camera, pencils, a sharpener, two small notebooks, and a recorder.
I attached my rolled up tent, sleeping bag, a pan and pot onto the clips of the travel bag, and hitched it up on my back, I grabbed my gloves and hat pulling them on, and stuffed my mittens in my pockets. Since I had no car, Callum would be picking me up, we met online for hiker fanatics, and since Quine had no interest in hiking I had to find someone to go with, last time I went alone I was lost for a day, finally finding my way back down Mount Hidden. It was called that because many things were hidden on that mountain, and was hard to find your way around there. I was going back but this time with a friend.
Quine wasn't happy with me because I didn't 'know' Callum, and I had taken up on his offer of going up the mountain with him before I even met him. I read the reviews of his other hiking partners on hikersconnect.org, he was polite, nice knew what he was doing, charming, and was an interesting man to listen to, apparently he talked a lot, but not about anything mundane.
"Quine, I know what I'm doing, please just trust me." Twenty years old and I still couldn't do anything without being lectured about it.
"Just be careful Annie! That's all I ask, you know how to immobilize him if he does anything, right?" Quine's turquoise eyes were wide and concern, she pushed blonde hair back, and took my shoulders in her hands.
"Yes Quine, I know. Please believe that I know what I'm doing, and can handle myself, but in any case, I'll be careful." Quine pulled me into a hug, and kissed my cheek, she smiled at me.
"Good! Come and have some breakfast before you leave, I can hear Sara up, and I bet she'd want to say goodbye to her aunt before she goes." I turned from my room, and out into the hall, the stairs were dangle from my room, and I followed Quine down them, I landed on the bottom step, and turned right and into the kitchen.
Sara was at the table, her eyes droopy, mouth slackened into a contented frown, and her spoon pushing around oatmeal in her bowl. She chewed on a piece of toast thoughtfully before her eyes lifted to us. Sara's golden locks were pulled back in a pony tail, pale corn silk colored and in ringlets of curls that tumbled down her back, her eyes of hazel studied us briefly before a little smirk tugged upon the corner of her right lip. Dressed in white tights a pair of black buckle shoes, a jean one inch strap dress, and a long white sleeved shirt under the dress, she finally grinned at us.
"Momma, you haven't convinced Aunt Annie not to go, have you?" Quines worried and frustrated frown met both our stars, and she sighed.
"You know your Aunt Annie, there is no convincing what so ever with her."
Sara chuckled almost chocking on her toast, Quine trotted over as fast as she could with her four month pregnant belly in the way, and patted Sara's back firmly. Wearing newly bought black yoga pants, a long sleeved gray turtle neck shirt, and fuzzy socks, she kissed Sara's check, her love for her daughter shining though her eyes,
"Even I could have told you that Momma." Quine laughed to herself for a moment, then became somber again. Rubbing her belly, she took a long breath.
"Honey, where did your Daddy go?"
"In the bedroom, he was talking to himself about too many ties to chose from..."
Quine came back over to me and hugged me once like she had before.
"Eat some breakfast and take care of yourself, if you'll excuse
me, I have to go save Dan again."
And with that she waddled off out of the kitchen and down the left side of the stair case, where the hall to the bedrooms and other rooms were. Like Quines workout room, Dan's office, their and Sara's bedroom too.
I sat down across from Sara, and scooped the big bowl of oatmeal from middle of the table, and laid down a huge scoop in my plate, and throwing a few pieces of toast on, I ate it all quickly, but was left alone to eat for the last few minutes before I had to finally leave. Callum would be picking me up outside at around eight, and it was seven fifty now.
Deciding that I would be going without free fruit, and those dried cranberries, and raisins in my bag weren't gonna satisfy me for very long, so before I had to start getting my vitamin C from dried fruit, I picked up an orange, and paced around the kitchen while peeling and munching on the slices of orange. Throwing away the orange peel in the garbage disposal, I yanked my gloves and mittens back on, I walked down the left side of the stairs, and took the first room on the right, Sara was there, sitting in front of her vanity brushing her hair humming to herself. She was an unusually six year old, too smart for her age, and too outspoken for her own good. I walked up to her, and dropped a kiss on her head, I gave her a quick hug and said,
"Watch out for you mom for me, you know she can go a little nutty sometime, 'specially with the baby coming. Help your dad keep her semi sane, huh ma cherri?" Sara nodded her head, and kissed my cheek before motioning me away.
"Go Aunt Annie, a life time of adventure is just starting. Tell your 'friend' I said good luck with his work." I felt my spine stiffen at Sara's eerie message, she was how you say, very good at connecting puzzles together, and had a strange way of knowing what was gonna happen, even before it began.
"I will pumpkin, take care little one." I kissed her one more time, and turned to leave, checking in on Quine and Dan, I interrupted a make out session, but no matter, saying my good byes it wasn't even fifteen seconds later when I had turned, and started to walk out of the room and down the hall that I heard a long yet terribly suppressed moan as Dan must have taken her lips back into possession.
Making my way though the living room and to the door where my black knitted neck warmer was, and my warm brown hiking boots, I shoved my feet in them, and tied them up, I busted out of the door, yelling another goodbye, and shutting the door behind me. I walked through the newly fallen snow to the end of my sister's cobble stone walkway, and crossed my arms to wait. After severally calm minutes with only few athletic joggers trudging by, the early daily commute and the slowly working post man carefully stopping at each and every mailbox and places different types of letters to the nice suburban people of New Port, Connecticut, a old used green Volkswagen turned onto the road, and pulled out in front of me, parking after a second.
I yanked open the back door, and threw my backpack in the back with Callum's, and opened the front door, before sliding in. The air was warm, and blowing towards my cold bitten face, I turned my eyes, and head towards the driver, and almost died on the spot. Callum Devon had to be one of the most handsomest man I had every laid my eyes on. Medium brown hair down to his ears, deep honey brown eyes, a chiseled chin, sharp cheek bones, and a bright crocked smile. Having a gray hat over his head to cover the top part of his hair, he held out his hand to me, his eyes twinkling at me as he looked me over up and down.
"Callum Devon, at your service. You must be Annie, it's very nice to finally meet you." I stuttered out a brilliant response.
"Wow yes, met you too nice." I winced at myself, and muttered out a quick apology. "Sorry, don't talk well with new people, I'm a writer for a reason." I gave him a lop sided grin, and laughed nervously, twisting my hair in my pony tail around my finger.
Callum chuckled, and brushed my cheek with the back of his finger before he pulled away and gave me his own grin, looking a little sheepish himself, he said cheerfully,
"Well time for the great hike, I'm excited for my new work that will surely come out of this travel up the mountain. What about you?" I sighed, and leaned back in the chair, I took my seat bucket, and clipped myself in, I told myself to breath, and answer his question, whatever the question was, I wasn't paying much attention, his charming smile was intoxicating, and I had an almost inability to take my eyes away from it.
"I'm looking forward to my notes from the trip itself, and the great pictures I'm sure to get out of it. This will help me either put this into my book for my adventures, or as my little niece said to me that this would be a life changing adventure, maybe it'll be it's own book. Who knows, the possibilities are endless." I smiled, and looked into Callum's honey eyes, his honest interest and open mind flattered me, he was listening to my rant, I tucked my hair back behind my ear, and blushed, watching him from the corner of my eyes.
"We should get going if we want a good decent start today, it's going to take a few days to get to the top, I have plenty of food for us, just in case you run out, I have lots of roman and granola bars, plus a twelve pack of vitamin water. Plus a few emergency candy bars, king sized Hershey and toffee crunch, I remember reading on your page it was your favorite type of candy." I blushed some more, my mind spinning into itself as I gushed to myself, 'he got me my favorite candy bar, and he deliberately remembered it!' I took deep subtle breathes, and thanked him on my small breath of air I had left, he had given me none to work with now, how was I suppose to constraint breathing on the mountain with the high climate?
I might be dead before the adventure even really starts, huh, killed by being breathless with lust, who would have guess?
* * *
"Well, here we are." Callum said as he shut off the Volkswagen's engine, I twiddled my thumbs together as Callum looked at me with expectation, I finally turned my head to look at him and felt a smile tug on my lips.
He really was handsome, he yanked his hat off to pull his semi longish hair into a pony tail, and pulled on his own, but store bought neck warmer, and tugged his hat back on, his gaze met mine for the first time since we met. "You know, I don't think I'll be able to contrate on this trip." My puzzled frown met his slight teasing, he laid his hand on my arm, and rubbed his thumb along the thin bone of my arm.
"Why is that?" I asked, kicking my eyebrow up in confusion, he chuckled at me squeezing my arm warmly.
"Your just too beautiful, how am I suppose to watch and record this mountain when your distracting me?" I stammered out incoherent noises, some might have been words, but non of them made sense nor could be made into sensible sentences. I felt a heat stain my cheeks, and i looked away from his tempting grin, and into my lap, which with my fidgety thumbs was very entertaining at that point in time. "Red, are you all righty?" Red. He gave me a nickname, a flicker of warmth set off in my stomach and started to make my whole body heated and tingly.
I took a deep breath and finally answered,
"Yes, I'm fine, your comment just took me by surprise." Callum drifted down my arm and took my hand, parting it from its friend in distraction. I watched him from the corner of my eyes, he lifted my left hand to his lips and kissed it like a gentleman.
"I like taking you by surprise then, that's a very lovey shade of red you wear on your cheeks, well besides that flaming red hair of yours." I kept blushing harder and finally looked back up at him and smiled, still feeling the heat of my cheeks, I felt them go darker as I took my other hand and twirled it in my hair. I murmured out,
"Thank you Callum."
He let go off my hand, winked at me, and opened the car door, rolling out of the car, he threw the car keys down under neath the front seat, and slammed the door, I took this as my cue to do the same, and opened the car door, I stumbled out, almost falling on to the ground, I huffed at myself and stood up, slamming the car door I watched Callum pack some loose things into his pack, and tighted all the straps on his rolled sleeping bag and sleeping mat.
I grabbed my own back pack, throwing it on my back, and pulled out a packet of beef jerky from my coat pocket, I ripped it open with my teeth, and shut the back door closed. I walked around the other side of the car, and waited. Watching Callum bend down in the car to fix his bag, I was rewarded with a very nice view of his firm butt cheeks, and the twitching muscles in his back. I chewed on a piece of jerky thoughtfully until her started to come up from his bent position, I swirled my body to the direction of the mountain, and kept an eye on Callum from my peripheral vision.
He stood up and winked at me, I blushed, he couldn't have known! Then again he might have saw me ogling him from the reflection of the other window. I pulled out a long piece of jerky and held it out to him, he took it, and smiled at me at he bit into the jerky.
"You know sooner or later, I'm gonna give up being distracted by your beautiful and just kiss you." He took another bit and chewed it through before he admitted, "Not yet though, just thought I'd warn you." And with that he started his way towards the trail at the base of the mountain, I fanned myself and whispered,
"I'm not gonna be cold on this trip at all if he keeps doing this to me."
* * *
Wow, this place was beautiful, although it really didn't compare to my little fire cracker standing beside me, her pony tail whipped behind her, the bright red of her hair was so tempting, I just wanted to twist my fingers in it, and kiss the back of her neck. Shaking my head, and trying not to imagine her naked and flushed beneath me, I watched her quietly as she snapped a few more photos, some of the looming mountain some of the landscape below, either the town or the field of forest on the base of the mountain.
She turned her head back to look at me, her face was flushed pink, her dimples deep and smile wide, she laughed loudly at me as suddenly a clump of snow slid from a tree branch and fell on my head, as I sputtered the snow out of my mouth, and started to shake it off my face. Annie was in front of me without me even noticing, she leaned towards me, and I thought she was going to kiss me, I strained to stay where I was and let her do what she wanted to do. Her mouth was so close to mine, she grinned at me, and pulled a twig out of my own pony tail, she winked at me with a little giggle and turned away from me once again.
What a little tease.
* * *
It was time to settle down for the night, and I was worried about how I would react to Annie laying next to me in the dark, warm, and lonely looking. I gulped, watching her start to build the fire after she had collected the wood for it, I sighed to myself, and set up the tent. She had detached her tent from her bag, and let me get to work on it. Rolling a thick mat onto the ground first to make the floor of the tent more comfortable, I put the tent up. Sliding the last pole into the loops of the tent, I felt a tension on the end of the pole, Annie was pulling it towards the ground, and held it by the small metal loop of the pole, she grabbed the last metal stake and hit it into the ground with the rock I had been using to do just that.
It held the tent down by the loop, she made sure it was in the ground well, and
went around the tent, and checked all the other stakes. Noticing that each one was firmly in, she smiled at me, and opened the door, she threw in her sleeping bag on the right side, and her two blankets on the sleeping bag, she let me do the same, and we finally sat down with an contently noise.
The fire crackled soothingly, and she stretched out her legs on the logs we found to sit on, Annie looked at me with a funny little look, it was long and speculative, she gave a sigh like she was sad about some realization. Pulling her pan out she opened a can of hash, and baked the pan in the fire, she waited a few minutes for the flames to die down enough just to have the hot ember going, she then pulled the tab of the can, and hit the contents of the can onto the hot sizzling pan, and grabbed a spoon from her bag, she smashed it all down until they covered the pan, then she sat back again and watch the pan with a slight thoughtful gaze in her eyes.
"Annie?" Her eyes lifted from the pan, and smiled at me, her unusual eyes of violet held warmth and deep thoughts, she seemed like she just came back from a very far place.
"Yes, Cal?" She gave me a nickname? That was a new one, she must have like mine for her so she gave me one. I took a deep breath, and twiddled my thumbs together, I was nervous because I wasn't sure I really wanted to know what she had been thinking, but my curiosity about her won out on me.
"What were you thinking about?"
"My sister I guess, and Sara, also a bit about you and the landscape." I lifted my eyebrow up and smirked.
"You were thinking about me?" Annie blushed, she muttered under her breath, and then nodded at me.
"Yes I was, but don't let that go to your head, you didn't fill up my head..." Much. I could just hear her finish that sentence in her head, like she knew I knew she blushed harder, and cleared her throat, stirring the hash again, she had browned up one side of the food. I looked down at my thumbs and sighed.
"It wouldn't go to my head, at lest the one your thinking of." I murmured to myself, she started to cough, I looked back up at her fast, she was grinning and trying not to giggle, she was even more bright red than before.
"That!" She yelled at me, still trying not to giggle, she held her hand over her mouth for a moment. "was a dirty move! I thought you were polite?" I chuckled, and leaned closer to her over the embers of the fire I said,
"I'm polite to people I feel nothing for, you on the other hand only bring natural reactions to me, and those get muddled in my brain until I just have to say something. And even more so since you gave me such a good entrance for that joke; fantastic really..."
Annie was finally started to lose her red blushing color, she tucked her now loose hair behind her ear, and looked into my eyes. She gave me a smirk and said to me,
"Your lucky I like you or I would have hit you for both of those comments!" I laughed, and stood up, I walked around the fire, and tugged Annie to her feet, her body was almost flushed to mine, I bent down, and rubbed my nose against her cheek, and gave it a quick peck.
"I like you too you know." And with that I pulled away from the now blushing once more Annie, and went to my bag, I pulled out my hunting knife and twine. "I''m going to set up a rabbit trap so tomorrow we may have some rabbit meat for breakfast, do you eat rabbit?" She nodded at me.
"Although the idea of eating thumper is very unappealing I do like eating rabbit meat, go on, and don't get lost, I don't wanna have to go look for you." She tip toed her way over to me, and kissed me on the cheek, she took the tiniest almost unnoticeable sniff of me, and pulled away. "Be careful."
"I will Red, don't worry so much about me." I turned away from the woman that enchanted me more than anything ever had, and bounded my way into the woods.
* * *
Once I came back to camp, the fire was almost out, and had half the hash still on the pan, I used the spoon that was still in the pan, and shoved the hash into my hungry belly, after I finished that, I pulled out a juice box, a granola bar, and some of my own homemade deer jerky. I ate the granola bar in two bites, had three pieces of the deer jerky and chugged down the juice box and half of my newly filled water cantin.
I stumbled towards the tent, unzipped it, and yanked my boats and socks off outside the tent, and place them right by the door, I crawled in the tent, and zipped it back up. One of my blankets was rolled into a pillow for me and the other was layed over my sleeping bag, I stripped to my long underwear and slid unde neath the blanket and sleeping bag.
Annie's hand was thrown out and next to her limp hand was a small notebook and pencil, I closed my eyes, and kept myself away from her. She was sleeping in any case I took deep calming breaths and slipped into dream land where Annie was in my sleeping bag, and not hers...