Authors: Jessica Gray
The next morning I awoke to sunny skies and the smell of fresh, clean earth. The sound of Peter getting dressed is what woke me and I opened my eyes to see him pulling on his pants, his back towards me. He hadn’t put his shirt on yet, and I was amazed at how much seeing his naked back affected me. His soft tan, with well-defined muscles that tapered to a lean waist.
As he pulled the shirt over his head, he turned towards me and I caught a glimpse of his abs – the guy had more than a six-pack. My hands itched to touch all the smooth, hard flesh my eyes had encountered. But Peter was arrogant, and just because we had managed to not kill each other last night, didn’t mean he was the type of guy I could get along with long-term.
He just wasn’t my type.
I continued to tell myself that, even after he left the bedroom, quietly closing the door behind him. I quickly made myself presentable, including putting back on my underwear, which had dried out overnight. After entering the main room, I saw that he had prepared two bowls of oatmeal and two more cups of tea.
“Thanks,” I told him as I sat down to eat.
“I want to get on the road pretty quick.”
“Great. I’m anxious to get home, myself.”
Peter said nothing else, but continued eating. I did the same and soon we mounted the motorbike, heading back down the mountain. In my mind I went through the list of things I needed to do once we got back to Santa Clara, lost in my thoughts and not paying attention to my surrounding. Suddenly the bike pulled to a stop and I needed a short second to find back to reality.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
I looked over Peter’s shoulder and gasped at the debris field. Broken trees and boulders mixed with tons of mud covered where earlier the road had been. “Can we go around?”
“Probably not. See if your cell has any service, mine doesn’t.”
I pulled my cell phone from my pocket, disheartened to see no bars, “Nothing.”
“Hang on.” Peter turned the bike around and headed back towards the cabin.
“What are you doing?”
“We have to get back to the cabin and call the ranger station.”
“Our phones are dead, how do you suppose we do that? Smoke signals?” I asked, sarcasm in every syllable.
I want to go home. I’m tired of this wilderness stuff!
Peter thinned his lips and bit his tongue. I saw in his face that he didn’t appreciate my sarcastic comment, but he just ignored it. “The rangers probably don’t even know the road is out. We’ll radio it in and hopefully they can come get us out.”
“Oh, good. Yeah, let’s call the rangers.” Anything that helped us get home was a good idea.
Once back at the cabin, Peter used the two-way radio to contact the closest ranger station. They did know about the mud avalanche. It wasn’t the only one. Apparently there had been quite a few damages from the thunderstorm yesterday. Unfortunately, our dirt road wasn’t high priority. They first had to take care of the more frequented roads and estimated two or three days before the road would be passable.
“Are you all going to be okay up there until then?” the ranger asked.
“Sure. We’ll be fine. We have enough food and water, even diesel for the generator.“ Peter signed off and turned to me. “Well, you heard him. We’re not going anywhere for a couple of days.”
I couldn’t believe it!
Stay up in the mountains with him for several days? No way!
“This is sooooo not happening,” I told him.
“Oh really?” he asked, a wry smile on his face.
What was he so amused about! This wasn’t funny!
“Yes! I’m not staying up here another day, let alone two or three. I need to get home.”
Peter gestured towards the front door, “Be my guest. It’s only ten miles to the main road. If you leave now I’m sure you’ll figure out how to get down there before it’s dark.”
The laughter in his eyes fueled my anger even more.
I’ll show him! I’m in good shape and I can hike ten miles! No sweat!
“I’ll be sure and let everyone back home know you won’t be arriving for a few days.” I grabbed my backpack and headed out the door, Peter’s laughter following me all the way.
“Hey! Remember to make some noise if you get in the timber. I wouldn’t want you to become lunch for a hungry bear.”
I didn’t even bother to respond! Me afraid of bears? No way! And I was going to show him! I’d make it down this mountain in record time.
I am never going to get down this mountain! Never!!
I realized that about thirty minutes into my hike.
When I reached the mud avalanche, I soon discovered there was no way to go through it. There was also no way to go around it. Up was a disaster, and down led to a sheer cliff wall. Even an experienced climber would think twice about attempting to descend that wall of granite.
I sat down on a fallen tree and tried not to cry. I didn’t want to go back to the cabin and have Peter laugh at me again. But I couldn’t stay here until help arrived. It wasn’t due for another two or three days
I had no choice but to return to the cabin.
I headed back up the mountain, returning to the cabin and loathe to go in and face Peter’s humor at my expense.
I would simply ignore him!
“Back so soon?” he asked, as I entered the cabin.
“You were right, okay?” I all but shouted at him. I can’t stand being laughed at and the grin on his face pushed me right over the edge of sanity.
Advancing upon him, I yelled at him, “Stop laughing at me! I want to go home! I hate it here!” The last words muttered through my tears as they finally burst free.
Peter reached for me but I slapped his hands away, “Don’t touch me! Get away from me!”
But he wouldn’t let go of me. Instead, when I lost control, he reached for me again, ignoring my hands as they slapped at his and then fisted to beat upon his chest. I was in full rage and not really aware of what I was doing. He didn’t shout back or anything, but just started to pull me against himself only to stop when I looked up and our eyes clashed.
All the sexual
frustration from the night before came rushing back. He had laid awake for hours, listening to her erratic breathing and enjoying the smell of cherries and vanilla that was uniquely hers. He had first associated that smell with her the morning he had run her back to camp. It had swamped his senses and stirred his body in ways he hadn’t appreciated.
Last night, he was tempted to roll towards her and kiss her senseless. The one thing stopping him had been the dislike she seemed to have for him. He also wasn’t in the market for a relationship, especially with a girl with a boyfriend!
I knew I was acting irrational, but I couldn’t seem to gain control. I beat my fists upon his chest, frustrated, confused and scared. When our eyes met, I couldn’t look away. His smell swamped my senses, sending my hormones into a frenzy and the touch of his calloused hands on my arms had my stomach doing flip-flops.
The deep blue of his eyes and the small creases at their outer edges mesmerized me. I felt myself start to bow towards him as his head drew nearer to my own and then I blinked.
That was enough to have Peter dropping my arms. Turning, he left the cabin without a word. I stood there for several moments, catching my breath and trying to regain control of the situation.
Had we almost kissed? Why had he left? Didn’t he want
kiss me? I wanted to kiss him.
When Peter didn’t immediately return, I busied myself checking out the supplies we still had left. The cabin held a nice supply of rations, evidently, the owners considered military rations standard survival fare, and fully stocked the cabin for an extended survival adventure.
At least we won’t starve to death!
I found a crossword puzzle book and sat down near the fire. I never sat still for longer amounts of time, and I found myself checking the front door for Peter’s return every five minutes.
When he finally returned, I held my tongue, not sure what to say. Peter glanced at me before throwing more wood on the fire, “Tell me about your boyfriend!”
The demand in his voice took me by surprise and angered me at the same time. “I already told you, Michael is not my boyfriend!”
Peter said nothing for a minute, before barking at me, “Tell me the story again.”
“What story?” I asked, exasperated beyond belief.
“Why did you come up her with a guy who you say is not your boyfriend?”
“Do I appear stupid enough to date someone who would dump me in the middle of nowhere? Wait…don’t answer that. I’m not! Michael is friends with my roommate, Karen. She went to visit her parents and Michael forgot. He wanted her to come up here with him like they have done quite a few times in the past. They’re both avid campers and love to stay in the nature. I volunteered to take her place so he would have some company and I could get climbing experience. By the way, I needed a break.”
“Why did you need a break?”
I looked at him and shook my head, “Have you not been listening to a thing I’ve said the last three days?”
“Tell me again,” he demanded.
“Okay, one more time. I recently finished my exams. I’ve been doing nothing but studying for months. Soon I need to complete a six-week internship before graduating with my Master’s Degree.“
Peter looked at me quizzically, “Why didn’t you say anything last night? I believe you said computer stuff was ‘boring’, didn’t you?”
I nodded, blushing. He had caught my lie and it felt rather uncomfortable. I needed to come up with a believable excuse immediately. “It’s just that most guys are somehow afraid of girls who study Computer Technology. I like computers and I’m good at it. In fact, I’m waiting to hear back from a couple of companies in Silicon Valley. I sent in my resume before I left and really hope at least one of them offers me an interview.”
Peter nodded, “Silicon Valley is great. That’s where our company is based.”
“What about you? What do you do for fun?”
“I try to get away like this a couple of times a year. Our company has rocketed to the top of its market and I already told you I’m kind of workaholic. Between work and keeping up with the social atmosphere in Silicon Valley, it gets to be a little too much sometimes. That’s when I come up here. To get away from everything and everyone.”
“No girlfriend back home?” I asked, curious and hoping for a negative answer.
“Not anymore. The last woman I dated proved that I’m not cut out for a committed relationship.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Lara was a high-maintenance nightmare. She had to have all of my attention focused on her, both when I was with her and when she went off with her friends. It always had to be about her. She was also used to a certain lifestyle and expected me to keep it up.”
“So she’s rich?”
“Very. It was very demanding and tiring to keep up with her country club friends and all her other social obligations. She liked to be a social butterfly, the IT-girl in town and never understood why I spent so much time at work. I should have ended things a lot sooner than I did.”
“What finally made you break up with her?”
“I realized that my dreams would never be important if I stayed with her. We would live the live of her dreams and never bother about mine. That and the fact that she flirted with every guy she met. She didn’t even have to like them. She flirted because it was a sports for her, to see how far she could go.”
I watched him for a moment, “So what are your dreams?”
“I want to travel and see the world. I don’t want to have to ask permission to plan a vacation, or do something spontaneous. I just want to do it. I guess the truth hit me when I told her that we had won a big contract with a company over in Spain. My partner got married a few months ago and doesn’t want to leave his wife for more than a few days. So I will be going over to supervise the installation of our new software.”
“Wow! Spain sounds fun. How long will you be there?”
“Three months. I’m pretty excited. I’m hoping to do some climbing over there and travel to a few other countries in Europe. I always wanted to take a sabbatical to travel the world, but things just moved so fast after university. I never had the chance to take some time off.”
I grinned, he sounded excited. I loved guys with goals and enthusiasm. I’d always wanted to be more adventurous, and admired the people who took their lives in their hands and did something extraordinary with it.
Noticing that it started raining once again, and getting dark, I asked, “Do we need to bring in some more firewood?”
Peter looked at me in surprise, he still seemed to be somewhere in his dreams and in the first moment didn’t quite get my question. Once he realized what I was talking about, he smiled: “Are you sure you want to step outside again? The last time it didn’t go so well.”
I saw in his eyes that he was teasing me, but my earlier melt-down still bothered me, “I’m sorry about before. I …”