Yay, finally managed to finish this story :p
"Okay, Tim stuff that blanket back into your pack, Ralphie, same thing after you get all that dirt off, Wanda, got all your stuff?"
Wanda crammed her water bottle into her pack before slinging it over her shoulders and glaring at Keesha. "Who died and made you boss."
"Well no one else is taking any charge!" Keesha said, stumbling under the weight of her own backpack. "And we have to get out of here quickly."
"Does anyone know where we're actually going?" Tim asked, helping Keesha secured her backpacks straps as she teetered under the weight.
"No Tim, if we did, we'd have been there before and wouldn't have spent the night in this freezing place!" Wanda snapped.
"You've certainly enjoyed it more than me," Keesha muttered under her breath.
"Nothing," Tim said quickly, pushing Wanda ahead of him, away from Keesha. "Come on, let's just try to find the trail again."
Phoebe pushed open the heavy oak door as hard as she could and it creaked open slowly under her force.
"Hello?" she called, raising her voice slightly. "Is anybody there?" The door creaked until it was fully open. Phoebe stepped inside the building with Arnold at her back and suddenly gasped. "Arnold.. Arnold it's gorgeous!" And letting the door clunk back into place, she hurried over across the wooden floor to the large totem pole carving in the corner of the room.
Arnold walked over to her slowly, across the room, taking in the vast size and beauty of the building. He could hear what sounded like a fountain running in the next room. Before him, Phoebe had already excitedly torn into the lounge next to the entrance. He heard her gasp again, but this time, not of joy.
"Phoebe?!" Arnold rushed over to where he had heard the startled shriek and saw Phoebe standing in the lounge. His heart rate went back down. She was standing at the foot of a bear rug, looking absolutely horrified.
"You - you don't think they used a real bear fur do you?" she asked him when he joined her at her side.
"As long as it's not going to come back to life and eat me, I'm happy."
"Arnold!" Phoebe glared at him menacingly. "That's a horrible thing to say!"
"I'm sure it's fake... Don't - "
Phoebe and Arnold jumped and turned to the sound. DA was standing on the second floor, clutching onto the wooden railing next to the stairs. Her face was made into a wide grin. "You made it!"
She tore down the stairs to greet them, Arnold saw Carlos poke his head out of one of the room and almost had a heart attack from surprise and joy. Arnold felt the corners of his mouth tug up and he grinned too as Carlos pulled him into a hug.
Phoebe had already broken into a sprint towards their friends. DA and Phoebe embraced at the foot of the stairs and when they pulled back, Arnold saw tears on both faces.
"Oh DA, you have no idea how worried I've been about you!" Phoebe sobbed and Arnold put a hand on her shoulder to comfort her. "I - I thought you might be d-dead or something!"
"Me too, me too! We heard you scream!" Dorothy Ann wailed back.
"Are Keesha, Wanda, Ralphie, and - "
"No one else is here," Carlos said quietly to Phoebe and Arnold, looking back and forth between the pair.
Dorothy Ann's eyes suddenly widened and she smacked herself in the forehead. Arnold felt slightly alarmed. "The phone! How could we have been so stupid?!"
"We lost the connection ages ago," Phoebe said gloomily.
"No!" Dorothy Ann shook her head. "The one in the lobby. We could try it. Carlos and I haven't tried to contact anyone since we got here!."
Arnold frowned. "Why not?! That's the first thing I would have done! What else could you have been doing!" Neither Carlos or Dorothy Ann answered this question. He saw DA turn slightly pink, and Carlos look rather nervous and glance over at DA. Arnold frowned.
"I'll - I'll get the phone shall I?" Dorothy Ann said quickly, avoiding all prying eyes, before hurrying off towards the lobby.
"Guys..." Wanda started slowly, excitement quivering in her voice. "Guess what?"
The four friends had been walking steadily onward for an hour or so, making their way past more trees and cliffs. They were tired, hungry, and the atmosphere between the four of them suggested that they had all lost hope. That is, until Wanda stopped dead in her tracks and stared ahead of the trail excitedly.
"What?" Keesha asked tiredly, too exhausted to feel even remotely afraid. "Is it a bear? Cougar?"
"A corpse foreshadowing our untimely deaths?!"
"No!" Wanda shrieked. "No I remember this place! I was here before! We're almost there I know it!" And without waiting for any responses from her fellow hikers, Wanda let her heavy pack slid over her shoulders onto the ground and rushed ahead towards the trees. She pushed back the branches and her companions suddenly heard her scream from behind the thicket.
All three rushed towards her voice, Ralphie in the lead.
"The lake!" Wanda shouted as they caught up. "It's the lake! Told you we'd find it!! I told you!!!" And forgetting she was supposed to be hiding the goings on of last night, jumped up onto a boulder and threw her arms around Ralphie as she kissed him. Keesha and Tim looked pointedly away.
While instead choosing to look at a rather interesting leaf lying golden on the ground, Keesha felt the dull vibrating of her cell phone in her pants pocket.
Her excitement rising rapidly, she pulled it out quickly and flipped it open.
"It's them!" she cried, laughing after she answered. "They made it to the cabin!"
"Did they give you directions?!" Ralphie asked hopefully.
"Can we give a location?" Keesha covered the mouth piece of her phone while she asked Ralphie the question.
"Um, rock, lots of trees, lake?!" Wanda said, jumping off the rock she was standing on and snatching the phone from Keesha's grip. "Where are you guys?!" she asked urgently.
The other three waited with baited breath. After a few tense seconds, Wanda covered the mouth piece and spoke eagerly to Keesha, Tim, and Ralphie, "They said that you should be able to see the cabin from the shore of the lake."
"Well I don't see it," Ralphie said, hand over his eyes to shield them from the sun. He was leaning over the rock precariously and grasping onto a nearby tree branch for support.
"Careful Ralphie," Tim warned. "You might - "
There was the sound of a snap of a twig, followed shortly by a large splash and Tim knew his warning had come too late.
Wanda shrieked with laughter had to lean against a tree for support. Keesha rolled her eyes and took her phone back from Wanda. She was just about to ask if it was possible to get any clearer instructions, maybe there was a large maple tree in front of the cabin or something, but she heard Ralphie shout from the water.
"I see it!"
Tim hurried over onto the rock and helped Wanda back up so they could see. Keesha forgot about the conversation she was having on the phone for a second and hurried off after them.
Wanda was the first to slid into the water, but whereas Ralphie had been fully submerged, Wanda only went in up to her knees.
"Hey it's really not that far," Keesha observed.
"Want to just swim there?" Ralphie grinned, eagerly paddling towards her. Keesha crawled back up the rock, away from him. Wanda splashed him.
"Come on!" Wanda ordered, shivering slightly in the water. "We'll just follow the shoreline."
"Great idea Wan!" Ralphie exclaimed, lifting himself out of the lake; the water streamed from his clothes and he put his arms around Wanda.
She shrieked and elbowed him in the stomach. "Ralphie! You got me all wet!" she angrily pushed him back into the lake.
"Er - guys, food and warmth await..." Tim said, rolling his eyes at the pair of them. Keesha informed the rest of the gang that they were on the way and closed her cell phone.
With the news that their friends were still alive and would be arriving shortly, Phoebe felt much happier than she had just an hour ago. Arnold, Carlos, DA, and her were sitting in the lounge next to the roaring fire in the hearth. Phoebe was still in the clothes she had worn all night and couldn't wait to finally take a shower, but she wanted to wait for the rest of her friends to come. Arnold seemed to be thinking along the same lines as her and was currently sitting at her side, nursing a cup of hot cider Carlos had just made for all of them. Dorothy Ann was resting her head on Carlos' shoulder as the two of them sat comfortably in the sofa across from Phoebe and Arnold's. Neither Phoebe or Arnold questioned it too much, though it was slightly odd behavior.
"So when did you to get here?" Arnold asked.
"Sometime last night," Dorothy Ann answered. "I didn't check the time, did you?" she adjusted her head slightly so that she could look up at Carlos.
"No.." he answered. "There was too much going on..."
"I'm glad we've found the others though," Phoebe said. "I was so worried..."
"You two want to pick out a bedroom before they get here?" Carlos asked, smiling. "There are only a few suites."
"Hadn't really thought about that much to tell you the truth..." Arnold said. "Which one did you pick?"
"Farthest on the left," Carlos said, pointing up to the railing on the second floor. "It's the biggest."
"Oh course," Phoebe said rolling her eyes at him, but smiling. She stood up. "Alright I'll go chose one now."
"I'll come too," Arnold placed his now empty cider mug on the table in front of him and stood up. "And which one's yours DA?"
"I'll help you pick out a room shall I?" DA said quickly, standing up so fast she upsetted Carlos' cider mug.
"Ah! DA!" he yelled jumping up as the hot liquid began to seep through his pants. "Do you have any idea how hot this is?! And my pants are all wet!"
"Well maybe now you can get a better pair. Beige was never your colour."
"Come on," Arnold muttered to Phoebe. "Let's leave before it gets too bad." Phoebe silently nodded in agreement and the two left Carlos and DA who were still snapping at each other. Phoebe hurried up the stairs with Arnold at her tail. Though she slowed her pace when she got to the second floor landing above, she still managed to lose her grip with her shoes and slipped on a puddle on the ground. And then, consequently fell. Right into Arnold's arms behind her.
"Woah, careful there," Arnold said, pulling her back up. Phoebe felt her face redden as she straightened up. "So which room do you want?"
Phoebe shrugged. "I couldn't care less. Anything's better than where we slept last night."
"Yeah, I'm in the same boat as you on that." Arnold suddenly looked quickly back down from the railing onto the lounge below. "Hey what do you think's going on with Carlos and DA?"
Phoebe knew what he meant. She'd noticed it too. She shrugged. "Maybe all it took was getting lost in a mountain away from everyone else for those two to finally get together."
"Heh, yeah.." Arnold suddenly looked uncomfortable. His hand was gripping the railing now, his knuckles white. There was an awkward silence, which Arnold couldn't stand for very long, so he quickly added, "I'm glad it was you I got stuck with anyway.."
"And glad you didn't stay home today - er - this weekend?"
Arnold groaned. "Phoebe... I haven't said that in years..."
"Right sorry..." Phoebe looked back down at her sneakers, the corners of her mouth twitching upwards into a shy smile.
They fell silent again, but this time it didn't seem as awkward for some reason. They didn't have long though, a few seconds later a large bang could be heard coming from downstairs, and a shout from Carlos and DA indicated that the others had arrived. Arnold swallowed, his mind whirring to the idea that was rapidly forming in his mind, it was now or never.
And then he kissed her on the cheek, barely touching the corner of her lips. And then ran off, back down the stairs.
It took Phoebe a few seconds to regain her footing back on earth and fully comprehend what had just happened. She didn't even notice she had the widest grin on her face and still had it, minutes later when she ran downstairs after him to greet the others.
Two days later, the eight of them were packed back inside Miss Li's van and were being driven down from the mountain range. None of them had bothered to mention the fact that they had been completely lost in the wilderness for a night to her. It really didn't seem important anymore anyway. It wasn't as though they didn't have enough to keep their minds off it, whether it was that on the first night they decided against Keesha and DA's protests to go skinny dipping in the lake, or Miss Li catching Ralphie and Wanda having sex in the outdoor hot tub when she'd first arrived, or when Tim managed to somehow get himself locked in the kitchen's storage cupboard with a few six packs (though it was suspected Ralphie or Carlos might have had something to do with it).
Now the eight friends sat comfortably in the back of the van, all feeling rather exhausted. Wanda was sitting up front next to her aunt, who had also made sure Ralphie was sitting as far back in the van as possible. This had put Wanda in a bad mood, especially since Carlos and Dorothy Ann had been allowed to sit next to each other, until she found a magazine underneath the seat to occupy her.
Dorothy Ann didn't dare let Carlos touch her in any suspicious way while they drove, but her head eventually made itself comfortable on his shoulder as she drifted off into sleep. Carlos' head was resting gently on hers, his eyes were open though. However, it did look like he was struggling to stay awake himself. Phoebe and Arnold were sitting in the very back next to a disgruntled Ralphie. They were holding hands and had been since the start of the jouney, both looking very happy. No one really questioned this either.
Keesha and Tim were sitting in the middle with Carlos and Dorothy Ann, lazily playing cards on their knees. The inside of the car was silent for most of the journey, and as they moved closer and closer to home, one by one, they all eventually nodded off to sleep.
The eight friends has wisely avoided mentioning their adventures coming towards the cabin to Miss Li, for aside from the fact she seemed reluctant to let Ralphie step into her Bed and Breakfast again, she didn't seem to object too much when Wanda asked if it'd be possible to do the same thing another time. None of her friends objected either. They were already all starting to forget the whole mess. Once the danger had gone and they had found themselves warm and comfortable in the cosy bed and breakfast, the eight of them forgot their ordeal rather quickly. It was probably the reason why, when Wanda had asked, "same time next long weekend?" in that excited tone once her aunt was out of earshot, that the eight friends agreed very eagerly.
"And - and even if we do get lost again - " DA had started to reply as Carlos placed an arm around her shoulder.
" - or run into another bear - " Phoebe squeezed Arnold's hand.
"It kind of reminds you of old times," Carlos finished.
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