Authors: Jessica Gray
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Falling for Him 1
By Jessica Gray
Copyright © 2014 Jessica Gray
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This book is copyrighted and protected by copyright laws.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior written permission from the author.
All characters, names, and places in this book exist only within the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons or locations is purely coincidental.
I opened my eyes and immediately panicked. It was dark and I was inside a tent. But with the dim light of the moon that filtered through the mesh screen, I could tell it wasn’t my tent. Someone snored to my right; I slowly turned my head and looked upon the sleeping form of a stranger.
I struggled from the sleeping bag, which wasn’t mine, sitting up and holding my pounding head. Where in the hell was I?
There were two other people sleeping in the tent, and again, I didn’t recognize either of them. What have I gotten myself into?
My hurting head dropped into my hands, I struggled to remember what had happened. Calm down, Rachel, there might be a perfectly sensible explanation for this! I remembered my name. Score one for me! Oh yes, I’d been drinking too much last night, not that I actually knew what had happened, but I could tell by the horrible feelings of hangover.
When I tried to get up, my arms hurt like hell. “Ouch”. Why do my arms hurt? And my neck and shoulders, heck even my legs were stiff. Had I been in an accident?
I rolled my shoulders and rotated my neck several times, easing the stiffness there, but the muscles in my arms felt like they had been taxed.
The stranger next to me stirred and opened her eyes. ”Hey, are you feeling better?”
“Uhm…I guess so. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but who are you and where am I?”
The girl laughed, “You don’t normally drink, do you?”
“No, I don’t usually drink…” It all came rushing back to me.
I’m a stupid idiot!
I arrived back at the apartment after taking my roommate and best friend Karen to the airport to find Michael sitting in his car. “Hey, what are you doing here?”
“Nothing much. Where’s Karen?”
“I just got back from dropping her off at the airport. She’s going to see her parents.”
“Darn it. I forgot about that. I thought she was going next week.”
“Why, what’s up?” I kinda liked Michael, he was always fun when he came over. He was Karen’s buddy and lived over in Oakland so we didn’t see him very often.
“I hoped to convince her to go to Yosemite Valley with me.” Michael looked dejected that Karen wasn’t around.
“What’s up in Yosemite?”
“I was heading up to spend a couple of days. Karen’s and I have wanted to go climbing there for ages. It just never fit into the schedule. You know, stressful semester, long hours of studying and such.”
I could relate. That was exactly how I felt. Worn out and happy to have a few weeks of after the finals.
“Climbing?” I had started a climbing course at the college and loved it. So far I’d practiced only indoors, but that would change now. “Oh yes, Karen mentioned that you two had that plan.”
“Yeah. I don’t really like going out by myself though. Too many things can happen.”
I nodded, wondering how I could convince Michael to take me instead. I definitely needed some down time and had nothing going for the next week. “Would you consider letting me tag along?”
“I just started a climbing class. I’m not very good yet, but…”
“You’re taking a course here at the college?” Michael asked, intrigued. “Are you free for the next several days?”
“I am. I just finished my last exams yesterday. I don’t have anything planned for the next week.”
Michael considered it for all of two seconds and I caught a hopeful glimmer in his eyes. “Sure. Why not? Do you have your own gear and stuff?”
I shook my head, “Sorry, no. Like I said, I just started. I do have my own sleeping bag and tent though.”
“Okay, I’ve probably got plenty of gear for what we’ll be doing. I’ve already got the food and other things we might need. How about I go gas up the truck while you gather your stuff? I’ll be back in fifteen.”
“That’ll work. See ya in a few.” I hurried inside the apartment, gathering items as I went and throwing them into a large duffel bag. I grabbed the sleeping bag and tent from the hall closet. I’d never been alone with him, only together with Karen. Therefore I hoped that I hadn’t forced Michael into taking me and that we might find something to talk about on the long drive.
Michael came back and we headed out. It was several hours’ drive and he spent the time quizzing me about myself. Every time I tried to change the subject back to him, he would make an outrageous comment and turn the conversation back to me. How awkward! I started to think it might have been a mistake to tag along. Now I’d be trapped with him for the next few days and if we didn’t find another topic to talk about, I’d go nuts pretty soon.
Thank god, we finally settled into a conversation about climbing and I was amazed at his vast knowledge. But the more he got into details and told me stories about stuff that’d happened to him or friends of his, the more nervous I got about my first outdoors climb. Maybe it was a mistake, after all?
“Michael, are you sure this isn’t too dangerous for a beginner like me?”
“Nothing to worry about. We’ll things slow and leave the harder climbs for another day. And after all, I’m here to protect you.”
His enamored face made me only more nervous. I definitely didn’t want to start anything with him. He was nice, but didn’t attract me at all.
When we arrived at the park, Michael pointed out that the fire danger was in the ‘red’ zone.
“So lets stay in the campground to be on the safe side.” I suggested.
But he resisted; “No, too far away from the climbing routes and too many people.” He drove about a half mile up the road and pulled off where the ground was level. We decided to make camp there and set up the tents.
I personally would have liked to stay around other people, but since I was tagging along on Michael’s trip, I didn’t make a fuss about it. I had noticed several other groups of college kids unloading their vehicles and thought it might be nice to have company. Especially since Michael was so much interested in me. More than I liked.
After unpacking everything, Michael suggested we do a small hike and climb before dinner, to see how I managed. Based on that he’d decide which routes to tackle tomorrow. Even though I was tired, I was excited to get out and explore my surroundings. I agreed and Michael led us up into the valley.
Two hours later, I was so exhausted I was afraid Michael might have to carry me back to our campsite. As he didn’t show any signs of fatigue, I finally called a halt to it. “Michael, hey, I can’t go any further. I’ll be lucky to make it back to camp.”
Michael looked up the trail, wanting to reach the top before heading back. “Can’t you go another half mile? We’re almost done.”
I shook my head, too out of breath to even talk.
Michael wasn’t happy about it, but finally relented, “Fine. Let’s head back and have an early night. We’ll get up early tomorrow morning and tackle something a little longer.”
“Sure. But please, lets finish for today!” Oh boy! The man was a machine and didn’t know when to stop! I felt like an intruder and didn’t want to spoil his fun with the exercise, but I had to get back to camp before I collapsed.
Hearing noises behind us, I turned and saw a group of college kids approaching. Several of them wearing t-shirts from the same college I attended. That was a lucky break, “Hey, are you guys from Santa Clara?”
“Yeah. It’s kind of weird meeting people from your town up here in the middle of nowhere.”
“Sure is. We finished exams and came up to relax and have fun for a few days.” The tallest boy in the group was eyeing me and then looked at Michael. Nodding his head towards Michael he asked me, “You with him?”
“Yeah. He’s my roommate’s friend.“ When Michael didn’t appear to want an introduction, I turned my back and spent a few more minutes talking to them. They invited me down to their campsite later on that evening and I said I’d have to see.
After they left, Michael and I finished our hike and returned to our campsite. “So you know those guys?” Michael asked. Did he sound jealous, or was that only my imagination?
“No, but they do go to my college.”
“Huh. They look like they’re up here to party.”
I laughed, “They probably are. Remember, final exams finished a few days ago. Every college kid wants to party right now.”
Michael eyed me before asking, “Even you?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I can take the drinking or leave it. I’m not a very big drinker and it takes almost nothing to get me buzzed. ”
Michael grinned, “Sounds like Karen. She can’t even handle a single wine cooler. I took her drinking with me one time and she fell asleep at the table. I haven’t taken her with me since unless she’s the designated driver.”
“Yeah. That’s one of the reasons Karen and I get along so well. Anyway, they invited us down to the campground to join them for a bit after dinner. It might be fun.”
He shook his head; “I don’t think that’d be a good idea. We need to get up really early in the morning. I want to be up in the mountain before the crowds start flocking to the trails.”
“Not even for a few minutes?” I cajoled.
“Ok. But only for a few minutes, then we’ll leave. We have a lot of talking to do.”
Talking? We’d been taking for six hours in the car. I was done with him inquiring about my persons. “Great” I gave him a big smile, hoping that he’d change his mind, once we arrived at their camp.
“Hey, are you alright?” the girl sitting next to me asked.
Her voice brought me out of my memories and I shook my head to clear it, “Sorry, do you know what time it is?”
“Yeah, probably about 2 o’clock in the morning.“
“Do you know where my friend is, Michael? We should probably head back to our own campsite.”
“He left several hours ago,” the girl offered.
“What!?” I said loudly, lowering my voice when the other occupant of the tent started to stir. “He just left without me?” I started to untangle my legs from the sleeping bag and stopped when the girl put a hand on my arm.
“Whoa! What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m leaving. Have to go back.”
“It’s the middle of the night. Do you even remember where your campsite is?”
Dumbly I shook my head. “Well, I guess. I mean, how difficult can that be? It’s not very far though, we drove maybe 5 minutes down the mountain.”
“Ha ha, and you really want to go out by yourself in the dark to find it?”
She did have a point. I would never be able to find our camp at night. Michael, that rat, had a lot of explaining to do when I found him!
As I started to get more agitated, the girl told me, “Look, we had an extra sleeping bag – which you’re already using. Why don’t you bunk down here for the rest of the night and we’ll help you find your campsite first thing in the morning?”
“Are you sure?” I asked, still fuming at Michael for leaving me.
“Yeah. Get some sleep, it will all work out in the morning.”