Chapter Forty One
“How did this work?” Amber blatantly questioned as I helped her push Blake’s mattress into the river. With Blake on it. Somehow, he didn’t wake up. He was covered in a disgusting mixture of what Amber had brought, and the smell was the worse thing a nose could be burdened with.
“We tied Xavier to a tree without waking him up, and you question this?” I replied. “The others didn’t wake up either, which was a freaking miracle.”
Jordan was currently sleeping in one of the horrible public bathroom stalls, while Ethan was tied down to a picnic table with rope. Each had their lifetime dose of Amber’s disgusting mixture. I could smell it from a mile away.
“Kinky, huh?” Amber said, wiggling her eyebrows as she saw me look over at Ethan who was still asleep. “Well, besides the shit on him.”
I scoffed. “Duh.”
“Seriously though, are you going to stop being pissy at them and become friends again or what?” she said in an outburst, causing me to laugh. “All jokes aside, do it already.”
“It sounds like you’re on their side.”
“I am,” she proudly declared. “Have you seen their muscles? Hot.”
I shook my head but didn’t answer while I smiled. Her smile faded a little, indicating that she was still waiting for an answer.
“I think..” I said, biting my lip. “I think I will, but I have to talk to Ethan first. At least after he has a shower.”
Amber chuckled. “He’ll need to have at least four.”
Amber set up cameras around the three crime scenes, waiting for the first one of them to wake up. We had decided not to film Jordan, as we couldn’t just stick a camera in a public bathroom. So we waited, betting on who would wake up first. Amber bet that it was gonna be Ethan, but my money was on Xavier. Who hangs vertically from a tree without waking up for more than an hour?
Not Xavier, apparently. He woke up first, confusedly glancing around until he realised that he was in fact suspended five feet off the ground and covered in a garbage smoothie.
“What in the.. actual fuck?” he said, pulling on the ropes that suspended his hands to the tree branches. “Get me down! What did you guys do? What the fuck is this?” he yelled as he wrinkled his nose and gagged. “Fuck!”
Amber burst out in laughter, slightly more humoured than I as I raised an eyebrow. I laughed as well, but not as much as her. The cogs in my brain began to turn.
“Can you..” he started to say before seeing us laughing. “Alright, fine. I totally deserve this,” he said, beginning to chuckle himself. “But seriously, can I come down?”
“Nah,” I told him. “Only non-dickheads can come down from trees.”
“Stef! I love you and I’m sorry and I’ll give you every type of junk food I can find and I’ll do your washing for a week and I’ll stop being an asshole and I’ll-”
“If I let you down, will you be quiet?” I yelled, having had enough of all this apologising bullshit.
He nodded his head frantically, and Amber lowered him down with the ropes. He fell to the ground, rushing forward with a hug.
“Oh no no no!” I said, scrambling backwards. “Showers are THAT way!”
He stopped and nodded again before running towards the shower area. From the similar direction came Jordan, who looked less amused by the situation as he had pieces of toilet paper stuck on his body as well as the concoction that Amber made. I almost threw up looking at him.
“Oh my god," was all I could say. “You look gross, man.”
“Trust me, I know. I thought I was in the clear?” he asked, narrowing his eyes.
“Now you are,” I said. “Now turn back around and head to the showers.”
He muttered under his breath before doing what I suggested.
“WHAT THE SHIT?” I heard a familiar masculine voice yell from the vicinity of tables, making Amber and I glance at each other with mischievous expressions.
We speed walked to the scene of the crime, watching Ethan try and use his arm strength to free himself.
He saw us and froze. His frame shrank as he slumped back onto the table. “Revenge, right?”
“Yep,” Amber answered cheerily while pouring some of the extra mustard onto him.
“Not gonna demand to be let go?” she questioned, taking a quick selfie with him while she spoke. He looked in no way happy about the situation, making the photo even more hilarious. I stood and watched as they interacted, laughing to myself.
“No,” he answered truthfully. “I’m cool with it if it makes Stef happy.”
God fucking damn it. This guy.
Amber rolled her eyes and untied him. “Go take a stupid shower, lover boy. I already got everything I need on camera.”
“Reminds me of Fifty Shades Of Grey, right?” Amber said. “Your last name is literally Grey. Weird.”
He gave her the weirdest look, questioning all of her sanity in a singular moment. I wore a similar expression, making her shrug.
“What?” she said. “You two might-”
“That is enough!” I said, pulling Amber away from him as he stood, allowing the multitude of liquids and condiments fall from his tall body.
“And just in time!” Amber said suddenly as her eyes lit up in humour while she watched the river, taking off in a run. I followed with a slow walk, watching as Blake tossed and turned on the floating mattress.
We watched as he finally woke up, realising that he was, in fact, not lying in this tent surrounded by solid ground. He bolted upright, yelling a few curse words, before he spotted us on the shore laughing. He gave us the finger, before lifting himself onto his knees.
He tried to paddle at first, but it proved to be difficult as he had drifted out around a hundred metres from shore. Finally, he decided to try and stand up. Don’t ask me why.
However, it failed miserably and within seconds he had lost his balance and hit the surface of the water, causing me to burst out in laughter. He rose to the surface a moment later, starting to swim to shore.
He decided to go back for the mattress, pulling it along with him. It took twenty minutes, but he finally made it back with the mattress in hand. The rest of the boys had made it out of the showers and had sat down to watch, filming as they laughed hard at the struggles of their friend.
Blake didn’t really need a shower, but the former prank king needed to refill his ego so he left for the bathrooms and showers. Amber packed up the cameras and equipment as I sat down, watching all of the footage over again.
Xavier and Jordan had found a soccer ball, and were kicking it around. I shut the camera off, and begun to do short breathing exercises to calm my nerves.
I finally stood, and went over to Ethan who was watching them play. His eyes followed me, however, as I walked over.
“Um,” I said. “Can I talk to you? Privately?”
He nodded and stood immediately, beginning to walk with me along the shore of the river. I had noticed Jordan and Xavier slow their game down as I had walked over, a clear indication that they had been listening. I ignored that as I focused on what I wanted to say.
“I’m not going to yell, or go off at you,” I started. “I just wanted to ask about the Veronica thing. Wh-”
“Let me explain,” he said. “Please?”
He breathed out a sigh of air. “She claimed to be the one paying my family’s bills at the hospital. She had these files that seemed legitimate, so I believed her.”
“I lost a file,” I said to myself. “Ages ago. I lost one of those documents. She must’ve found it.”
“She threatened to cut it off if I didn’t fucking kiss up to her. I was stupid enough to believe her, and I had fallen into a trap. I honestly thought she was the one paying it off,” he said. “But it was you this whole time.” The look if admiration in his eyes caught me off guard.
“I know, it’s fine,” I said, understanding completely. “But that isn’t an excuse for your shit behaviour towards me. I get it, you were hurt and worried of losing a friend. But you forget a tiny detail: a lot of people survive cancer. So many people forget that,” I told him.
“I know,” he said, holding his hands behind his head. “I was just so fucking scared. You are.. I...” he struggled to say.
“Don’t worry about this labelling shit right now,” I said. “Just know that I.. I’m not mad anymore.”
His eyes watched me, as if to see when I was going to take it all back. “You aren’t planning to hate me forever?”
“No,” I smiled.
“Oh my fuck,” he said, quickly clinging onto me in a hug meant for a relationship that was more than a friendship. I returned it, my heart thanking me as a rush of feelings filled my every vein. I felt safe, secure and all warm inside.
And now repulsed that I had even used those words in a sentence together. Anyway, we stayed like that for a while. I had no idea how long, but I didn’t care. Eventually, we walked back to the tents where Xavier and Jordan had collapsed in what seemed to be boredom.
“You guys kiss and make up? Or did you just screw? Trust me, sex in a forest, bad idea,” Xavier commented as we walked over.
“What the fuck? No,” I said, questioning how he had been so casual about it.
“If we had just had sex, she wouldn’t be walking,” Ethan pointed out.
I choked on spit, coughing out as Xavier snorted while Jordan laughed. My face went slightly red.
I whacked Ethan in the back of the head, cursing my brain at the same time. He laughed when I did, knowing full well he had it coming.
Amber wandered over, sitting down next to Xavier.
“Speaking of couples,” I said. “What’s up with you two?”
“Oh,” Amber said. “Nothing.”
“Nothing?” I said, raising an eyebrow. “Really?”
Amber grinned cheekily. “Nothing,” she reassured in a slightly high pitched tone. I didn’t believe her, and I was unsure how to feel about the pairing, but I let it go.
The group dissolved into seperate conversations, Ethan leaning over to whisper in my ear. “You said ‘speaking of couples’ before. Does that mean we’re a couple?” He smirked.
“Shut up,” I said, shoving him away with a smile. He grinned.
“You have no idea how happy I am to have you back again,” he said. “Life seemed terrible without your humour.”
“I’m sure it was great with Veronica,” I said sarcastically.
“Worst two weeks of my life, or however long it was,” he said. “For the record, I missed you the whole time.”
“Stop being cheesy, it doesn’t suit your character,” I told him.
He grinned again. “I know.”