Hey Bree, Shawn and I are getting a group together to hike around Mt Rainier National Park since it’s supposed to be gorgeous tomorrow. Probably going to meet at the trailhead at around six. Let me know if you’re coming! Love you bye!
I propped my phone on my shoulder as I unlocked my front door, twisting the key in the lock before walking through the door and throwing my things on the front table. I set the phone down and slipped off my shoes, making a big stretch before sending a text to my sister and heading to my room to change out of my work clothes.
As I pulled on a tee shirt I put my phone on speaker and threw it on the bed, listening to it ring over and over before smiling at the sound of Noah’s voice.
“Hey babe, how was work?”
“Hey!” I replied as I pulled on a pair of sweats. “Good, long. So Lena called and asked if we want to go on a group hike tomorrow morning. Sound like something you want to do?”
“Ehhh,” Noah hummed as he thought, “I guess so. I heard it’s supposed to be sixty-five degrees tomorrow. It’ll be nice to get out for the day. What time?”
“She said they’re meeting at six,” I grumbled, pulling half of my short blonde hair up before grabbing the phone and walking out to the kitchen.
“Alright, I’ll pick you up at 5:30 and we’ll drive up. Sound good?”
“Sounds slighty horrible," I mumbled, pausing to listen to Noah chuckle through the phone. " But I'll see you then,” I chimed before saying goodbye.
As I stared at the fridge I let out a long sigh before grabbing what I needed to make myself some dinner. I was the owner of a cute little tea shop in town. A friend and I had opened it a few years ago and I was proud to say we had some of the best brunch in town. It had been a lot of hard work and a lot of tears but it was my passion. Thankfully it had gotten to the point where we could leave it in the hands of our manager on the weekends so I could have some time to myself, leaving me free to do this thing with Lena tomorrow. Sadly, it meant by the end of the day I didn't want to cook a single thing.
The next morning came early, I was dragging a bit as I leaned against the kitchen counter with my coffee. I perked up a bit when I heard the soft tap on the front door and smiled when I opened it to see Noah.
“Good morning sunshine, I bring treats,” he winked as he held up a bag of bagels.
“Oh bless you,” I sang, taking the bagels from him and pressing my lips gently to his. “Coffee?”
“I already had some,” he replied before grabbing my bag off the counter. “You ready to go?”
“Mhm,” I hummed, my cheeks full of bagel as I followed Noah out the door.
As we pulled into the paved lot near the trailhead, I saw my sister and brother-in-law standing with a few people near Lena's car. She waved as we passed and parked before grabbing our things and walking over.
“Hey hun,” Lena sang as she pulled me in for a hug.
“Hey Lena,” I smiled as I embraced my sister. Lena was four years older than I was and we were extremely close, even when she acted like a mother hen.
“Well, if it isn’t trouble,” Shawn teased as he kissed the top of my head, “how you doing?”
I punched my brother-in-law jokingly, “Making trouble, obviously. Why the heck did you let her think getting us up this early was a good idea?”
“We both know I have no control,” he chuckled before giving his wife a wink and walking off.
As the group talked, I gave an audible groan as I heard someone holler from the parking lot. “You invited him?”
“He’s Shawn’s best friend, of course we did. I don’t know why you don’t like him. He’s a good guy,” Lena shrugged as we turned to see Grey saunter toward the group with his current date. He was tall and muscular, his whole body lean and strong from years of his work as a physical therapist. His crystal blue eyes were like pools and his dark hair was always kept neat. I couldn’t deny he was attractive, I also couldn’t deny that I kind of hated his guts.
“Hey!” Lena smiled as he approached.
“Hey Lena,” Grey smiled before leaning in to kiss her cheek, “This is uhhh….”
“Rachel,” the girl glared before smiling at Lena.
“Oh! Hi! Grey has told us so much about you, I’m glad to meet you,” Lena grinned awkwardly, obviously lying about the fact Grey had never mentioned her.
“Thank you,” Rachel smiled, “All Grey did last night was talk about you guys. I’m happy we’re meeting.”
Grey gave Lena a wink before turning toward me and his smile faded, “Oh… hey Aubrey.”
“Grey,” I replied with a tight, unimpressed smile. “Good to see you.” I turned quickly and walked over to Noah, hoping I just wouldn’t have to talk to Grey the rest of the day.
“Alright guys! Looks like everyone is here! Let’s head out!” Shawn yelled to the group from the trailhead before turning around and beginning down the trail, taking Lena's hand in his.
There were only eight of us in the group but we were loud as we made our way down the path through the tall trees laughing and joking.
“So.. Aubrey, right? How do you know everyone?” Rachel asked, stepping up beside me as we walked down the trail.
“Lena is my sister. And Grey is…”
“Handsome? Charismatic? The best person you’ve ever met?” Grey interrupted as he walked up.
“Annoying…” I gave him an unamused look before walking faster to catch up to my sister.
“I don’t know why you let him get you all worked up,” Lena said as she shook her head at me. “Why do you even hate him? He’s a nice guy, even if he is a bit of a tool sometimes.”
“I just do,” I replied.
We walked quietly for a few moments as my thoughts drifted back to years ago when we had first met. I had barely tolerated him then, with a new date every weekend and an affinity for being a little bit of a sloppy drunk at barbeques. But I had always been friendly because he was Shawn’s friend. When he suddenly turned his attention toward me, I had brushed off his nagging for a date and his constant flirting. After a long time I finally gave in and agreed to one date.
One date that he never showed up to.
After waiting at the restaurant for an hour with no call and no sign of him ever arriving, I drove home and never spoke of it again. I never even told my sister about it.