36. THE CAMPING TRIP
At the crack of dawn, my eyes fly open and I almost shoot out of bed. I adjust to my surroundings. Ace’s room. Ace’s bed. Ace’s arms around me. Everything seems normal, more than normal. Perfect. I don’t understand why I suddenly woke up, I didn’t have a nightmare and nothing seems out of the ordinary. Until I hear the noise again.
It sounds like a car horn going off outside, but what idiot would be doing that at this time of the morning?
Ace groans next to me and I move his arm off me because I have a pretty freaking good idea who this might be. I quickly pull over the first hoodie that I can find in Ace’s room and sprint outside. If everyone in the house is still sleeping, they won’t be for long with the commotion that’s going on outside.
I swing the front door open and Asher is standing by his open car door rubbing his hands together to warm up. He grins when he sees me and reaches inside his ute to pull out a takeaway cup of coffee.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I hiss through gritted teeth, my eyes are widened and I wrap my hands around myself because I swear the temperature is below zero.
“Camping time, BABY!” he yells loud, his excitement at its peak. He’s wearing long pants and a windbreaker jacket.
“Asher, it’s not even six in the morning!”
“Early worm catches the bird,” he wiggles his eyebrows and comes over handing me the cup of coffee while throwing his other arm around my shoulders. The cup is warm in my hands and I place my other hand around the paper cup, holding it close to my chest.
“It’s the early bird catches the worm,” I groan in frustration.
“Isn’t that what I just said?” he raises an eyebrow, “Never mind! Are you ready? Where is your stuff?” he assesses my outfit and looks confused. “Did you not get my text last night?”
“Uhh,” I pause. I hadn’t even checked my phone last night, Ace and I were sort of umm… busy.
“Calla!” Ace’s voice rings through the house and I can hear him walking towards us. I have a bad feeling about this. However, Asher doesn’t seem bothered, not even a little. On the contrary, actually, he looks thrilled with a big grin plastered all over his face.
As soon as Ace spots Asher and me on the porch his cool demeanour turns into irritation and I can’t blame him, “I swear this better be my imagination because I’m about to beat the fuck out of you,” Ace tells Asher, running a hand through his morning hair.
Ace looks over to me and examines my outfit choice, his hoodie and my light pink sweatpants, a small smile appears on his face but it quickly disappears when he sees Asher’s hand around my shoulder.
“Hey man,” Asher lifts up his hands in defence, but he seems a little too calm for someone who just got threatened, “I was just picking up Calla.”
Ace glares at him and I step in between them just in case Ace becomes irrational. I don’t want to have to take Asher to the hospital again. At the thought of that, the memories from that night come flooding back to me.
Asher and I still haven’t talked about that little…incident and I’m sure as hell not going to bring it up.
“The only thing you’re going to picking up is your fucking teeth off the ground,” Ace grumbles.
“Ace,” I warn, there’s no need for him to be rude to the poor boy. Ace shoots me a look that says stay out of this but he can’t possibly think I’m going to let them sort it out on their own.
“Asher, seriously, it’s six in the morning.”
“It takes about an hour to get there, I allowed for an hour and a half just in case we run into traffic,” he begins and I roll my eyes, there won’t be any traffic at six am on Saturday morning, especially not around here. It’s not like we live in the city.
Asher takes a breath and continues, “We will stop on the way to get food, alcohol and anything else you need, that will take another half an hour to an hour. So we won’t even get to the camping site till eight-thirty and then we will have to set up…” he continues and I yawn, zoning him out.
“We have to pick Mia up,” I add because I notice he hasn’t mentioned that minor detail in his specific outlined plans.
“What?” he asks when I interrupt him.
“Mia… we have to pick her up because she’s coming with us,” I tell him. He seriously can’t have forgotten again?
“Oh yeah that’s right,” he sighs.
“You’re seriously not considering going with him?” Ace snaps and I glare at him. There’s no need for him to talk to me like that. I get that this is not an ideal situation but I have already agreed and I told Mia to bring a spare tent because there is no way I’m sleeping with Asher – not after he confessed his underlying love for me.
On top of that, everyone else is going to be there. Liv, Zach, Theo, Josh. I asked Ace to come but he hadn’t given me a proper answer.
“Let’s go, Calla. You did pack your bags already, didn’t you?” Asher interjects, raising his eyebrows and I can almost feel the stiffening of Ace’s body.
“Not exactly, it won’t take long. Wait here,” I say and turn around to head inside, grabbing Ace’s hand and dragging him with me. I don’t stop until we get to my room. I check my phone that’s on my bed and has been there since yesterday. Low and behold there are about twenty texts from Asher telling me that he’s picking me up ‘nice and early’ and a list of things to bring.
I ignore them and instead quickly text Mia to get out of bed because I don’t think she will cope with the horn being blasted near her bedroom window at six in the morning as well as I did.
“You can’t expect me to be okay with this?” Ace asks clearly frustrated at the whole situation.
“Come with us,” I tell him and he scoffs.
I throw sweatpants and hoodies into my duffel bag, it’s not a time to look presentable, more like to try not to freeze to death in your sleep. One of the many reasons why I don’t do camping trips, especially in this season.
“I don’t know what you want me to do, Ace. I already agreed to go with him and Mia is coming with is. I’m sure there will be a lot of other people there. Liv said they’re going.”
“I still don’t like it,” he tells me, crossing his hands over his chest and leaning against my door frame.
Well, I don’t like it that you’re with Lexi all the time but I keep my mouth shut. I don’t want to start an argument. We both know how they end up.
“I’m not asking you to like it,” I tell him and he narrows his eyes at me. I place the last of my stuff in my bag and quickly go into the bathroom to brush my teeth and change.
When I open the bathroom door I almost collide with Ace’s chest. His facial expression is blank but I can see he’s trying to hide his anger. He’s following my every move and I have to make sure he knows that he has nothing to worry about.
I place my hands on either side of his cheeks and bring his face eye level to mine, “Ace, it’s two nights and I’ll be thinking about you the whole time.”
His eyes widen and he clears his throat. His reaction is exactly what I was hoping for. “You’re not sleeping with him,” his voice is low and it nearly comes out as a growl.
“I know,” I smirk, “Mia is bringing an extra tent for us.”
A small smile grows on his face and he leans in brushing his lips against mine. His hands are on my waist and pull him closer towards me, “You are mine,” he says.
“Yours,” I agree and place a small peck to his lips before pulling away and heading downstairs before Asher decides to come looking for me.
Just as I thought, as I descend the stairs, I spot Asher’s foot on the first step, “I’m coming,” I roll my eyes.
“Fucking idiot,” Ace mumbles under his breath.
Asher takes my bag from me and begins walking back outside, towards his car and I pick my coffee cup off the counter before following him. I can feel Ace shadowing me all the way towards the porch and he pulls my arm, making me stumble back into his chest.
“What are y—” I begin facing him but I’m cut off by his tongue in my mouth. I know exactly what he’s doing, and I can almost feel the death glare that Asher is giving us right now. However, it doesn’t bother me and if this makes Ace feels better, I’m all for it.
I hear the car door slam loudly and Ace laughs against my mouth.
The drive to Mia’s house is filled with awkward silence and I turn his radio on. Asher’s car is only a three-seater ute, so I make Mia sit in the middle, she doesn’t mind. However, she makes it clear that she’s not impressed that we woke her up at this time of the morning.
Asher stops at the shops on the way, Mia gets more alcohol than food and I have to remind her that we’re only going for two nights. One if we’re lucky.
“Do you think I should get more?” she asks me, tilting her head to one side. I don’t think she understood my point and I’m hoping she doesn’t get alcohol poisoning.
The drive there takes us an hour and Asher is not his usual talkative self. Mia, clueless to what happened before she got in the car, rambles about how she doesn’t want our tent to be close to the water because the college boys always pull pranks by dragging the mattresses into the water.
When we finally get to the camping site, I’m surprised to see that many people from college are already here, setting up their tents and already holding bottles of alcohol. Typical college behaviour.
I spot Theo and I tell Asher to park next to their cars. However, when we drive towards them, my eyes widen, and a smile appears on my face. Asher, on the other hand, seems beyond pissed, his hands tighten around the steering wheel and he rolls down his window, spitting outside. Like that’s going to sort out his anger.
It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out what has gotten Asher so riled up, or more like who. Ace’s bike is parked next to Zach’s car and he’s leaning against it, smirking when he spots us and I’m extremely confused how the hell he managed to drag Liv and Zach out of bed and get here before us.