“You can’t sit in the car for two hours,” Craig said, holding open the passenger door of the Tahoe.
“I told you, I’m afraid of boats. If I stay in the car, I can pretend I’m not on a boat.” Julie folded her arms and stared straight ahead through the windshield.
“Jules, this is crazy. The best way to get over your fear is to face it. C’mon.” He pulled on her arm.
“Listen, Craig,” Abe said. “Do you mind if Cheyenne and I go find some grub while you guys figure this out?”
“No. Go ahead. I’ll catch up with you.” Craig glanced at Julie with a frustrated sigh.
“Let’s go, little girl,” Abe said with a sexy smirk.
“I’m not a little girl,” I snapped as we made our way to the stairs.
“I’m well aware, Cheyenne. Well aware.”
I shivered with excitement at his last statement. Abe had been openly flirting with me since the minute he got in the car back at the airport. It was a good thing Craig was preoccupied with his annoying girlfriend. My brother was very overprotective.
When we reached the bottom of the stairs, Abe gestured for me to go ahead. And I knew without a doubt, he was checking out my ass as he followed behind me.
“I think the food might be that way,” he laughed, pointing to a humongous Buffet sign. “I’m starving. I hope it’s good.”
We loaded up our plates and found a table for four by the window.
“I guess you were hungry,” I laughed. Abe’s plate was piled high with food. “You know you can go back up. You don’t have to get all your food at once.”
“Thanks. I’ve been to a buffet before, sweetheart. I know how it works.” He shot me a quick grin before he dug in, shoveling a heaping spoonful of mashed potatoes into his mouth.
Sweetheart. Abraham McLean addressed with me a term of endearment. I was eating lunch with Abe. The guy I’d been fantasizing about since I was fifteen.
And he was flirting with me. What was that all about? He never paid me any attention when he worked on our farm. Of course, I was a fifteen-year-old, flat chested tomboy. That might have had something to do with his lack of interest.
The last thing I needed was a fling with a playboy. I had to steer clear of men, and focus on my career. When I was ready for another serious relationship, it would not be with someone like Abe. Craig said Abe would never settle down. He liked having a different woman in his bed every night.
“Julie is fucking batshit crazy,” he said, wiping his mouth with a napkin. “We should have never let her into our group when we decided to enter the competition.”
“So why did you?”
“Cause your brother is blinded by love. She orders him around, and he lets her. It’s sickening to watch.”
“It won’t last. Craig doesn’t have the patience. I predict they’ll break up before the end of this trip.”
“We have a lot of outdoor shit planned. I can’t see her doing any of it.” He shook his head and took a drink of soda.
“Well, I guess that’s my brother’s problem, not ours,” I said.
Abe raised his eyebrows as a devilish grin spread across his face. “Why, Miss Carson, I think I like your attitude.”
I smiled as I shoved a California Roll in my mouth. When I looked up, Abe was watching me. I finished chewing and swallowing and wiped my face. “What?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he replied. “I guess you like sushi.”
“I love sushi.”
“I can’t believe you fit that whole thing in your mouth.”
“Yep. My mouth may look small, but it has an amazing capacity to stretch.” I wiggled my eyebrows suggestively.
“Oh really?” He threw his head back and laughed. “I have a feeling you are trouble, Cheyenne.”
Oh my God.
Why did I do that? I didn’t want to send the wrong message. Or did I?
I had to stop thinking about Abe in a sexual way. It was one thing to do it when he was on the other side of the country. But it was a whole different ball of wax when he was going to be travelling in an RV with me, sleeping in the same room. The RV had a private bedroom. But my brother and his girlfriend called dibs on it.
“Here comes Craig,” I said when I spotted my brother making his way across the restaurant.
“Hey guys, how’s the food?”
“Delicious,” Abe replied, setting his empty plate at the end of the table. “Time for round two.”
“Julie still in the car?” I asked.
“Yep. I gave up.”
I was tempted to ask him what he saw in her. But I thought better of it. We had to spend six weeks together in an RV. Best not to ruffle feathers on the first day.
After lunch, we went up on the top deck to take in the scenery. I leaned over the railing, watching the ferry cut through the sun kissed water. The mountains rose above the water, towering pine trees blanketing the shoreline.
“Abe minored in photography,” Craig explained as I watched in awe when he got out his fancy camera equipment. “He’s in charge of the video and photography component of the campaign. They want lots of photos for their promotional materials, but they are also hoping to attract a large following on social media. Get people interested in what we’re up to each day. Kind of like a reality tv show. And we’re the characters that the audience gets to know and love. Or hate.”
“Sounds fun.” I pulled my brother in for a hug. “Thanks for bringing me. It’s exactly what I need right now.”
“No problem, kiddo.”
I inhaled deeply, taking in the briny scent of the sea. I loved being outside, surrounded by nature.
Someday, when I opened my own bakery, my kitchen would have a wall of floor to ceiling windows, with garden doors that I could throw open while I worked. And I would take lots of vacations to beautiful places.
Growing up on a farm meant trips to the beach, or vacations of any type, were few and far between. When I was eight, we went to Disney in Florida. My grandparents looked after the farm. But after my dad died, when I was twelve, vacations were out of the question. We didn’t have the money, or anyone to run the farm.
“Whatcha thinking about?” Craig asked, nudging me with his shoulder.
“Someday, I’d love to take a cruise to Alaska. I think the scenery would be amazing.”
“You should. Use your ten grand. Find a friend and just do it.” He smiled and tousled my hair.
“I can’t do that right now. I need to use the money responsibly. And I don’t have any friends that could afford a trip like that. But someday.”