Chapter 1: Stragglers
Elisabeth was walking along the trail with Claire, her abnormally
tall, messy blond haired little sister, when she first heard the
voices. Elisabeth stopped and nearly caused Claire to fall over
backwards behind her.
Am I going insane? she thought. I must be. Who could
be out here in the middle of no where? Wait. Didn't Rick say he
had dropped off a few guys who'd never crossed the trail before?
What was it that he said? "I brought over a couple guys that had
never been to the lake before but they seemed pretty confident
that they would make it to the end of the trail. So just keep an
eye out for a group of guys wandering around in there, would
you?" That was it. So did they really get lost along the
"Scott! I thought you said you were sure this was the way? What
happened to being an expert tracker?" said a voice from somewhere
in the forest.
Wait! There it was again!
"Well, I may have exaggerated a bit." refuted another disembodied
The voices seemed to be getting closer, coming from up ahead and
a ways to the left.
"Hey, you guys lost?"
Elisabeth heard her dad call out. She could just
see him through the trees, for she and Claire had fallen behind
him and her other sister Laura when Elisabeth had stopped. Her
father, Jim, was a fairly tall skinny man with plain brown hair
cut in a sort of messy, boyish fashion. This and his still young
face made him look quite young for his age.
"Yeah! Do you think you could point us in
the direction of George Lake?" one of the strangers called
Wait a minute! No, it can't be. I could
have sworn . . . but no. What am I thinking? What are the chances
of him being out here in the middle of a forest in the wilds of
Canada? Not very good.
She heard a crash and the sound of people
forcing themselves through the forest when she first caught a
glimpse of bright orange. The strangers must have found their way
back to the trail and her dad. She knew it was unlikely but she
couldn't help but hope and quickened her pace. She quickly caught
up with Claire who had gone around her when she stopped in the
middle of the trail.
"Yeah, that's where we're headed. Why don't
you guys just tag along with us for a bit?" she heard her dad
"Thanks. That would be great!"
She was sure it had to be him. There was no
mistaking his voice.
But wait a minute
here, she told herself,
don't get too excited.
It may just be your over-imaginative
brain trying to give you what you
want, so don't be too disappointed
when it isn't him.
But she still couldn't wait to catch up
with Jim, Laura, and the new arrivals.
"Claire, hurry up!" Elisabeth said to the
figure in front of her and was greeted by a branch being flung
back into her face. She shoved Claire back in retaliation, "Come
on! Hurry up! Don't you want to see the guys who somehow managed
to get lost in here?"
"Yeah, I guess." Claire responded
grudgingly and began to walk a little faster. After what seemed
to be an eternity later, they finally caught sight of Laura's red
Pooh Bear backpack.
"Wait for us!" Claire whined.
The group stopped and turned around.
Elisabeth gasped and froze.
It can't be. The odds are
But it was.
Before her stood a group of three men. Well, two boys and one
man. The man had a tall and gangly figure. He had short messy
black hair with flecks of gray throughout it and light, gentle
blue eyes. He had a goofy grin on his face and looked like one of
those guys who could have anything happen to him and would still
be laughing at the end. Next to him, on the left, one of the
teenage boys stood at an average height. He was muscular but not
buff, with short ginger hair and freckles. However, Elisabeth
didn't even give a second thought to either of them. She was
entirely focused on the third member of their party.
The boy was extremely tall, 6'6" or 6'7" perhaps, and was
impossibly thin, but it wasn't awkward on him. He seemed
comfortable and confident with himself. His hair was short and
jet black, much like his father's would have been when he was
young. However, despite his good looks, it was his eyes that drew
her attention. They were a sharp, intense blue that showed
calculation and intelligence yet, somehow, at the same time were
deep with emotion.
"Chase?" She managed.
Chase and his companion, who she now realized was Scott from her
biology class the year before, had looks of shock on their faces
mirroring Elisabeth's exactly.
"Elisabeth?" Chase paused for a moment as if trying to comprehend
that she was really there. He was stunned, shocked, amazed, and,
most importantly, happy beyond all reason.
What is she doing here? he wondered, a bit confused.
Not, that I'm complaining but what are the odds of coming
across her in the middle of a forest in Canada? I must be
"What are you doing here?" He asked, still trying to comprehend
Elisabeth was taken aback. What was she doing her? She
was the one with a cabin on land that had been in her family for
the past century! A better question would be 'What was
he doing here?'
"My family owns a strip of land along the edge of the lake. We
come up every summer to see family and hang out at the lake." She
hesitated. "Why are you here?"
Chase looked at her blankly for a moment and Scott answered, "We
came to camp."
"We heard about it from some old family friends who live up here.
We've been meaning to come up for a while. It sounded nice."
Chase said, seeming to have recovered himself.
"It is." Elisabeth said quietly, nodding her head.
"I take it you know each other?" Elisabeth's dad butts in.
"Yeah, sorry. This is Chase, Scott, and . . .?" She looked at the
third new member to their group questioningly.
"I'm Jack, Chase's dad and founder of our little trip here." he
said extravagantly, and held out his hand. She took it, expecting
a handshake, and was utterly flabbergasted when he bent down and
kissed it. She had no idea how to react. The only other
person who had ever done that had been a man who was
utterly insane and the older brother of her friend and crazy art
teacher Annie. She hadn't known how to react then either. This
was definitely going to be an interesting trip. Who would have
thought that silent, observant Chase would have a dad that was
his total opposite!
She looked over at Chase to try and gauge his reaction and was
surprised to find him scowling at his father and quite agitated,
with Scott trying not to laugh at his reaction by his side.
"Well," said Jim, "We should probably keep moving. Sharon will be
worried if we aren't back before dark."
And so they set off with Jim, Laura, and Jack out in front
followed by Scott and Chase, with Claire and Elisabeth bringing
up the rear, again. However, within a few minutes they had
repositioned themselves. Claire had started complaining, so Jim
and Jack hung back with her, leaving Elisabeth, and Laura, with
Chase, and Scott up front. Elisabeth led the way.
They came to a 'fork in the road' and Elisabeth paused for a
moment then continued down the left trail.
"Hey," said Scott. "You sure this is the right way?"
"Yeah. You can take either route. This one is just less muddy
than the other right now." Elisabeth responded with confidence.
"You're sure?" Chase didn't want a repeat of before when they
were lost in the forest.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure." she said as she kept on down the path.
"Pretty sure? Aren't you worried about being wrong and
getting lost?" Chase had thought she was the type to double check
things, not just throw herself into something without thinking
"No. I have been walking this trail all my life. The first thing
that came to mind was that it didn't matter which way you go, so
I trust that. Besides, if I am wrong I'll realize it before long
and we can just turn around." She kept walking but stopped when
she realized Laura was the only one with her. She turned around.
The boys exchanged glances.
"Alright, wait for my dad then. He will just tell you the same
thing." And with that she turned around and continued down the
trail with Laura at her side and disappeared around the bend.
Great. Chase thought. Now she's mad at me. But what
if she is wrong? I don't want to go stop her but then I
can't just let her go off alone with only her little sister to
help her if something happens!
She probably is right, if what she said was true about her
crossing this trail her whole life. Ah, what the heck! And
with that he ran after her.
She heard him coming long before she saw him beside her. She was
so glad he trusted her enough to follow her. She flashed him a
grin when he finally caught up.
"I really hope you know where you are going!" he said.
"Me, too!" she respond with a grin. And she really did hope she
was right. She would be horrified to be wrong about this after he
decided to trust her.
Before long they reached the place where the path splits and goes
to the old dock one way and the old boat house the other.
"We should wait here." Elisabeth said, coming to a stop where the
"Laura, can you go see if the fishing club finished fixing the
"Yeah, sure." she said and trundled off down the left path. Laura
was a short stout little girl of thirteen with soft blue eyes and
thick ash blond hair tied in a braid behind her head. There were
little wisps of hair escaping all around her face making it look
as though she had a halo around her head when she stepped out of
the trees and into the sunlight. This was particularly ironic
because she loved to get up to mischief and press her sisters'
The moment Laura disappeared around the corner Elisabeth was
suddenly acutely aware of the fact that she was totally alone
with Chase with nothing to occupy herself with.
"So," Chase began awkwardly, realizing the same thing. "You come
up here every summer?" he asked cautiously.
She nodded. "My grandparents own a strip of land around the lake.
We come up to visit with our cousins and other family. We mainly
just hang out together." she replied.
"So you're up here with other family now?" he inquired.
"No. Not yet. We came up for a week by ourselves first. Everyone
else will be up here in a few days."
He nodded just as Laura came bounding back up the trail putting
an end to their feeble attempt at conversation.
"It's fixed." she announced.
"Good." Elisabeth replied cheerily.
A silence followed this and they all stood there for a moment
awkwardly, not knowing what to do next when suddenly the rest of
the group came around the bend.
"Ah! There you are!" exclaimed Jack. "We were starting to wonder
if you took a wrong turn!"
Scott smiled apologetically at Elisabeth.
"Did you see if the dock was fixed?" asked Jim.
"Yeah. It's fixed." She responded, her gaze lingering on Scott
"Good! Now, Jack and I were talking and we decided that instead
of them just camping over here that we would take them over to
the other side with us where there are a multiple of good
clearings they could stay at or maybe we will lend them a boat
and they can go to an island to stay. So, since you three are
coming with us why don't you go set your stuff down on the dock
while Elisabeth and I go get the boat? It's just down that path
there. Laura and Claire can show you."
Laura and Claire took off down the path while Chase and Scott
exchanged surprised looks at the fact that Elisabeth was going to
go help get the boat instead of one of them because, you know,
they are guys after all, and then followed the two young girls
down the path. Jack stumbled along behind them.
Elisabeth took one last look at Chase disappearing down the trail
then followed her father down the other path.
It wasn't long till they reached the boats and were on their way
back to the dock. Jim cut the motor and Elisabeth grabbed hold of
the dock. The boys tossed in their bags and then everyone jumped
Chase took the seat next to Elisabeth.