I leaned back in the recliner, the cool leather rubbing against my bare midriff as I perused the latest comments on our webpage.
We were on our way to Seal Bay, on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island. Craig was driving, and Abe was keeping him company in the cockpit.
I scrolled through the photos from our last two days at Telegraph Cove. The deep sea fishing trip was amazing. We saw whales, dolphins and sea otters. And the best part, of course, was when I caught the giant salmon. I got butterflies in my tummy every time I thought about Abe’s strong arms wrapped around me from behind while we brought in the massive fish together.
The attraction between us was gaining steam with every passing day. Sometimes, on the rare occasions we were alone, he would stare at my lips. I knew he wanted to kiss me, but something was holding him back. Something besides my brother.
I glanced up when Julie emerged from the bedroom. “How long until we get there, Cheyenne?”
“God. I’m so bored. Maybe I’ll sit up front with Craig for a bit.”
A moment later, Abe appeared. “Julie took my spot,” he grumbled.
“Lucky Craig,” I whispered.
“Whatcha looking at?” he asked, eyeing the iPad.
“The webpage. I’m reading comments. Some are quite hilarious.”
He sat down in the other recliner and patted his lap. “Come sit with me, and we can look at it together.”
The heat in my belly slid between my legs when his gaze roamed over my pink crop top and white denim shorts. His heated eyes zoomed in on my chest, sending nervous tingles up my spine.
Would he try to make out with me with Craig and Julie only a few feet away? I put the footrest down and rose from the chair.
I was really doing this. Abe wasn’t content with holding hands anymore. And neither was I. I’d been fantasizing about the man since I was fifteen. I was more than ready for the real thing.
I sat gingerly on the edge of his lap. He grabbed my waist and pulled me in close before elevating the footrest. I stretched my legs over the armrest and gazed down at him.
“Hey,” I said, my voice trembling slightly.
I held up the iPad. “You wanted to read the comments?”
“No. That was just a ruse to get you over here.” He took the iPad from my hands and placed it on the end table.
“That was sneaky of you,” I said with a nervous chuckle.
“I know,” he whispered, tucking my hair behind my ear.
My pulse raced, my skin tingling in anticipation of his touch. He ran his thumb up and down my jaw while his baby blues burned into mine.
“I like you, Cheyenne,” he whispered. “I think you’re very pretty. And your eyes are gorgeous.”
“Cheyenne!” Julie’s whiny voice echoed through the RV just before she stepped into the living room.
Abe cursed under his breath.
She stared at us, completely oblivious that she interrupted a private moment. “Cheyenne, I need your help.”
“Can’t it wait, Julie?” Abe growled through clenched teeth. “We were kind of in the middle of something.”
“Sure,” she snapped. “I’ll just bleed all over the trailer until you two finish sucking face.”
“Did you cut yourself?” Abe asked with a frustrated sigh.
“No,” she huffed. “Cheyenne, I need to borrow some feminine hygiene products.”
“Oh fuck,” Abe grumbled as he lowered the chair and lifted me off his lap. “I’m outta here.”
“Seriously?” I hissed when Abe disappeared into the cockpit. “You didn’t bring any tampons for a six-week trip?”
“No. With the type of birth control I’m on, I hardly ever get periods. And when I do, they’re usually pretty light. But I’m bleeding quite heavily for some reason.”
“I can still hear you!” Abe yelled. “Take that conversation elsewhere. I’m begging you. You’re grossing me out.”
Julie stomped to the front of the RV. “Excuse me?” she shrieked. “I’m grossing you out talking about a normal, natural body function?”
“Yes!” Abe cried, covering his ears.
“Craig, can you believe this guy?”
“Honey, I’m trying to drive. Can you please go to the bathroom and take care of your problem?”
“Fine,” she snapped. “Abe, you’re a jerk. And Craig? You should thank me, because your best friend and your sister were about to go at it back there before I intervened. You’re welcome!”
I sighed as I followed her into the bathroom. “Did you have to blab to Craig?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would come as a big surprise to him. He’s not blind. It’s pretty obvious you two are itching to get in each other’s pants.”
“Here,” I said tossing her a box of tampons. “You better replace them as soon as we stop at a store.”
“I will. And thanks, Cheyenne. You saved my ass.”
“Uh-huh,” I grumbled.
“I don’t feel like going for a freakin hike! I have cramps.”
“I don’t give a shit about your fucking cramps. You’re at work. Remember?” My brother’s angry voice carried through the thin bedroom door.
Abe glanced at me with wide eyes. Craig rarely raised his voice. But he’d been in a mood since we arrived at Seal Bay an hour ago.
I made salmon sandwiches while the guys hooked us up. They ran into some difficulties and had to get help from a man on the next site. Craig was snarly when they finally came in for lunch. As soon as we finished eating, he stormed into the bedroom and lit into his girlfriend.
“I’m calling in sick today!” she screamed.
“You can’t. You called in sick yesterday when you skipped the deep sea fishing trip. We’re getting paid a lot of money to participate in the activities that we planned as part of our campaign. Remember? The advertising campaign that won us this trip and forty grand? And I don’t think it’s fair that you just lie around the RV while everyone else does all the work.”
“Well, I’m sorry. I can’t cook. And I don’t know anything about setting up an RV. So what do you want me to do?”
“For starters, you could do the fucking dishes without whining. And you could’ve watched when we got trained on the RV. But you didn’t bother. This isn’t a fucking hotel, and my sister isn’t the hired help. And the outings aren’t optional. So, get your ass out of that bed and get dressed. We’re leaving in ten minutes.”
“Mm. I love that smell,” I said.
The Douglas firs towered overhead, blocking out the sunlight as they filled the air with their lemony scent. When I was a little girl, the woods were my escape from a house that was never quiet. With four older brothers, it was damn near impossible to find any peace and quiet.
I love the sounds of the forest. The breeze whispering through the pine needles, birds chirping overhead, and the soft crunch of my feet on the trail. And the best part of the hike through Seal Bay Nature Park? The man walking next to me, holding my hand as we marveled at the wonders of nature.
“Do you do a lot of hiking?” Abe asked as we rounded a bend in the trail.
“Yes. I love the forest. It’s my happy place.” I glanced behind us. “We should probably slow down and give them a chance to catch up.”
Julie was quiet on the drive out there. I felt kind of sorry for her. She didn’t look well, her face white as a ghost. She winced and held her belly every time we hit a bump on the road. But my brother insisted on dragging her ass through the forest despite the fact that she looked like she was about to pass out.
It was possible she was faking, but my instincts told me she wasn’t. As someone who had experience with painful periods, I empathized with her. I suffered horrendously every month until one night when I ended up in the emergency room at age seventeen. The doctor put me on the pill, and my female problems were history.
“They can’t be too far behind.” Abe ran his hands through his shaggy, blonde hair. “It’s damn hot out today. Even in the woods.”
I reached up and ran my fingers through his wavy locks. He swallowed hard, his Adam’s Apple bobbing up and down, white-hot heat blazing from his eyes.
“You should let me give you a haircut,” I said.
“You think I need one?” he asked in a husky voice, his eyes fixated on my lips.
“Maybe just a trim.” I ran my hand across his stubbly jaw. “I like your beard. I’d much rather kiss a guy with facial hair than one who is clean-shaven.”
“Is that so?”
“Yep,” I whispered.
He cupped my jaw with his hand, his thumb caressing the underside as he leaned in. I closed my eyes, my knees trembling when his warm breath washed over my lips.
A bloodcurdling scream echoed through the forest.
“What the fuck was that?” Abe growled, pulling away before our lips made contact.
“It came from back there,” I said, gesturing to the direction from which we came. “Do you think it was Julie?”
“No doubt,” he grumbled as we started down the trail. He glanced at me with a half-grin. “Don’t you worry, sweetheart. We will pick up where we left off as soon as I get you alone again.”
A shiver of excitement rippled up my spine. Abe was a split second away from kissing me for the second time that day. I wanted the kiss. Wanted to feel his lips on mine as his sexy stubble rubbed against my face. And then I wanted to feel the stubble on the inside of my thighs. I needed it. Needed him. Somehow, some way, I was going to find a way to scratch the itch that had been plaguing me for seven years.
“What happened?” I called out when I saw Craig kneeling at the edge of the trail.
“Julie tripped and fell. I think she might have broken her leg. It’s bent funny.”
“Oh my God,” she shrieked. “Is it broken?!”
“I’m not sure. Just calm down. There’s no reception out here, so I’m gonna have to carry you back.”
He scooped her up in his arms and we followed them back to the Jeep, her cries carrying through the forest and bouncing off the trees. After he had her settled in the backseat, he called 911.
“I don’t feel so good,” she moaned. “It’s not just my leg. I feel dizzy. And the cramps are really bad.”
My eyes travelled down to her shorts, where a red stain was forming between her legs. I grabbed a blanket from the back of the Jeep to cover her so the guys wouldn’t see the blood.
She grabbed my arm and pulled me in close. “I’m bleeding really heavy. What’s wrong with me?” Her teeth chattered as she pulled the blanket tightly around her body.
“I’m not sure,” I whispered, squeezing her hand. “But they’ll figure it out when you get to the hospital.”
“Thanks, Cheyenne. I’m sorry I’ve been such a douche. You didn’t deserve that. You’re a real sweetheart.”
“It’s okay,” I said, rubbing her arm. I glanced over my shoulder. My brother was pacing back and forth across the parking lot while Abe leaned against the hood of the Jeep, staring at his phone.
The automatic glass doors opened and closed, a continuous stream of people moving in and out. I squirmed in the hard plastic chair, glancing around the small waiting room.
A couple of snotty-nosed kids ran around, shrieking as they climbed on chairs and wreaked havoc on the crowded waiting room. One of them was stuffing Cheezies in his mouth. Neither of those brats looked sick enough to require a trip to the emergency room. When I had kids, I wouldn’t be the kind of mother that ran them to the doctor or hospital for every little thing. I certainly wasn’t raised that way.
A teenage boy sat in the corner covered in scrapes and mud. Probably fell off his dirt bike or something. And then there was the old lady, fighting for every breath even though she was hooked up to an oxygen tank. What a depressing place.
The doctor called Craig in shortly after we arrived. That was an hour ago, and he hadn’t reappeared. Hopefully, he was being supportive. Julie was annoying, but she was still his girlfriend.
“Hey,” Abe said. “What’s going through that pretty little head of yours?”
“Just thinking about Julie. I hope she’s okay.”
The swinging doors opened and Craig walked through, his face pale, lips pressed together in a thin line. His arms were wrapped in bandages. He walked through the room and sat in a chair across from us.
“What happened to your arms?” I asked.
“Poison Ivy. Julie fell into a patch of it. And when I picked her up, I exposed my arms.”
“Is she okay?”
He scrubbed his hands over his face. “No. She’s not. She broke her leg.”
“Shit,” Abe muttered. “That’s a huge problem.”
“Oh, that’s not even the worst of it.”
“What else?” I had a bad feeling about her bleeding.
He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “Apparently, Julie was pregnant. And today, when I gave her shit for whining about cramps, and forced her to go on a hike, she was in the process of miscarrying my baby.”
Abe sucked in his breath. “Oh fuck.”
“Yeah. I’m feeling like a piece of shit right now. A giant fucking asshole.”
“It’s not your fault,” I said. “You didn’t know.”
He shook his head. “Doesn’t make it okay.”
“She said she was on the pill.”
“Yep. Birth control pills aren’t one hundred percent effective. Nothing is. Remember that, Cheyenne.”
“Thanks, Craig. I don’t need a lecture on safe sex.”
“Are you okay, man?” Abe asked. “You just lost a kid. That’s gotta be a shocker even though you didn’t know it existed.”
“He,” he said quietly, his eyes filling with tears. “It was a boy.”
“I wish I could hug you right now,” I said, wiping tears from my own eyes.
“Stay over there. I don’t want you to catch poison ivy, too.” He sighed heavily. “Julie obviously can’t continue with the trip. She’s going to be transferred to Campbell River, where she’ll have surgery to repair her leg. Probably later tonight. And they’ll do a D&C at the same time.”
“A what?” Abe whispered in my ear.
“It’s where they go in and clean out the womb and make sure everything is gone,” I replied.
“So, I’m thinking that I can’t continue on either,” Craig said. “We better call Twenty-First Century Parks.”