“Where you going, Mac?” Judah called from the back storeroom of the shop.
“I forgot to pick up the tech shirt order,” he yelled back over his shoulder. “I’ll be right back.”
Judah shook his head. MJ Outfitters was celebrating their first full year open, yet Mac still treated the business like it was day one, at times. Bethie passed by a scrambling Mac as he exited, her hands too full with a large cake box to do anything, but yell a hey as he passed.
“Where’s he off to?” she asked Judah.
“Forgot the shirts,” said Judah, taking the cake box from her and kissing her cheek. “Thanks, babe.”
Bethie put her hands on her hips and surveyed the shop. “It’s looks great.” She wrapped her arms around Judah’s neck and kissed him. “It’s nice to see you. You’ve been so absorbed with the shop and the tours and this.” She raised her arms and indicated all the celebratory additives. “You and Mac have done a wonderful job here. I’m so proud of you both.”
“Yeah, but me mostly, right?” he teased and swung her around in a circle. “What time is Liam getting here?”
“He was going to go home, shower, change and then head over. He said he’d bring the laptop so Jay can be on Skype with us.”
Judah stopped and thought for a moment. He looked confused. “Where’s Jay?”
“He went home to see his dad. Remember?”
“Right, right, I was out doing that gorge trek when he left.”
Bethie smirked and nodded, picking at a packet of energy gels. She made a sour face and stuck out her tongue as she examined the flavors. “Do these sell well?” She tossed the three pack back onto the counter.
“Great. Can you stack those promotional flyers over by the door? I want people to see what tours we have running this summer, right away. I can’t wait for us to do the Rift this year. I was thinking we could film it and post it as a vlog on the store’s website.” Judah’s enthusiasm was flying high.
“That’s an awesome idea. Jay would love to head that project. Liam could edit it and have it posted in no time.” Bethie’s excitement increased as they worked side by side. The thought of them all being together always gave her joy. Since leaving college, it seemed they had less and less time to be a group.
“When is Jay getting back?”
Bethie talked around a mouth full of tacks, while she pinned up streamers around the refreshment table. “I think Sunday morning. Liam’s going to pick him up and then we can head over to their place for dinner. Can you get someone to cover for Mac so he can be there too?”
“I can cover.”
Bethie’s joy deflated like a popped balloon. “Wait, you don’t want to be there?”
“It’s not that, I just think one of us should be here. It’s the start of our second year. People will have questions.”
Bethie laid the pushpins on the table and stood with her arms crossed. “You’ve missed a lot of events, Jude. I mean, I know you want the business to thrive, and it is, but I’m starting to feel like an adventure widow and we’re not even married.”
Judah gave her his best puppy dog eyes. “I’ll come by as soon as the shop closes after six, promise.”
Bethie scowled. “Last time you promised that, you ended up missing dinner and ordering a dozen new survival water filters.”
“They were a great product. Survivalists and Preppers alike, are loving them.”
Bethie took his arm in her hand, focusing him on her words. “Promise me, you won’t get sidetracked. It’s important. Jay’s been gone for three weeks. We need to be there when he gets back. You know how hard it is on him after visiting his dad.”
Judah kissed her forehead. “I’ll be there.”
Mac came back breathless. A huge box cradled in his arms. “I got ’em. Just made it too. The printing place was about to lock up for the weekend.”
“If you’d done it Wednesday when they called to say they were ready, you’d-”
“Yeah yeah, I know. I’m not the amazing Judah Morgan.”
Judah glared at him. “Just unpack them and put them over there.”
Mac made a playful punch at Judah’s upper arm. “You can’t fault me for being distracted by a hottie. If you all haven’t noticed, I’m the unattached one.”
Bethie raised her eyebrows. “I thought you were seeing that Sarah girl from the gym.”
“So you’re seeing two girls?” Bethie asked.
Mac slapped his chest and then opened his arms, puffing himself like a peacock. “Plenty to go around, Evans. You want some?′ he teased and chased her around the displays.
Bethie squealed. Judah stepped between them and tossed a handful of shirts at Mac. “Enough play, fold, Eugene.”
Mac caught the shirts and held up his hands, grasping multicolored MJ Outfitter’s shirts. “Hey now.”
“Quit goofing off. We have a lot to accomplish before we open in the morning.”
The bells on the front door jingled and Liam walked in cradling his laptop. “Hey.”
“Hey, Liam,” the three greeted in unison.
“I’ll help as soon as I get Skype up. Jay should be calling soon.” Liam set the laptop up on a nearby counter and opened the screen, typing in the address and adjusting the volume.
“Tell him when he calls, no more shirking his part. I could use some extra hands folding this stuff,” complained Mac.
“Yeah, if he was here he could show you how to do this the right way.” Bethie shoved him over and started to refold all the shirts Mac crumpled up.
“Maybe put those in color order and by size, so-”
The laptop made a ringing noise. “It’s him,” called Liam.
Everyone gathered around.
Mac draped a tech shirt over his chest and tossed on a Black River rafting cap and a pair of sunglasses before stepping in front of the screen. “Hey hey Ja-”
The large screen on the laptop showed an older man with bright green eyes and an older version of Jay’s features. “Oh um, Liam?”
Liam stepped in front of the computer. The good vibes in the room dropped through the floor. “Mr. Keller?”
“There’s been an accident.”