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 trail?
“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 voice.
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 back.
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
“Yeah, that’s where we’re headed. Why don’t you guys just tag along with us for a bit?” she heard her dad answer.
“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
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
“Wait for us!” Claire whined.
The group stopped and turned around. Elisabeth gasped and froze.
It can’t be. The odds are astronomical!
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 it all.
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
“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
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. “What?”
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 path splits.
“Laura, can you go see if the fishing club finished fixing the dock?”
“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’ buttons.
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 accusingly.
“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.
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