“We made it,” Emma says, getting out of the car. “Mia had to bail; her son got sick.” Olivia, Ava, and Corrine get out of the car, stretching their legs.
“Shall we go inside?” I ask them, pointing at the house. I made sure to have the food stocked before we got here. We all walk up the six stairs to the front door. When I open it, I’m stopped in my tracks. This place is fucking huge and definitely does not fit in the camping category.
The whole house is wood, and in the two-story entryway, a staircase on the left side leads upstairs. The huge living room has a U-shaped couch facing a fireplace with a huge flat-screen television above it. The girls walk around me. “This kitchen is bigger than my whole apartment,” Olivia says as I take in the stainless steel appliances and big wooden table to the side of it. A hallway to the left of the kitchen leads to the two downstairs bedrooms and a bathroom.
“We have two rooms downstairs and three upstairs,” I say as Olivia, Corrine, and Ava all run up the stairs.
“There is a hot tub outside on the porch upstairs,” one of them yells. Emma turns to go upstairs to look.
“Which room are you taking?” I ask her as she goes to the fridge. Opening it, she grabs a water bottle. “You want one?” she asks me.
“Yeah,” I say to her. She hands me one as the four women come from upstairs.
“Now that Mia isn’t here Ava and I won’t have to share a room,” Corrine says. “Emma is in love with one of the beds up there, and Olivia chose the one with all the windows.”
“Guess that leaves us downstairs,” Crystal says, looking at the girls and then me. “I’ll take the one closest to the bathroom.”
I nod and then a knock on the door makes us turn around. Emma walks to it and opens it, seeing a man there. “Hi, folks, are we ready to build us a team?” he asks, all gung ho.
“I have to change my shoes. I’ll meet you guys out front,” I tell them, grabbing my boots. I change out of my sweater, putting on a plaid shirt and a vest. When I get outside to the group, I see that the guy brought two other men, two good-looking men. One of them is talking to Crystal and standing way too close to her for my liking. She, on the other hand, is laughing away. “Are we starting?”
“My name is Paul, and this is my son, Luke.” He points at the blond, who salutes us. “That is my other son, Holden.” He points at the one standing next to Crystal. “First activity we are going to work on is communication. You will be paired up, tied at the wrist, and you have to find clues in order to solve your puzzle.”
Emma snatches Olivia while Ava snatches Corrine, who looks like she would have bolted for me, leaving me with Crystal. “We left five clues around. The first clue leads to the next and so forth. The first team to win gets ten points, second five, and then the third team gets no points.”
Luke ties our hands together with a blue rope, leaving just enough room between us. “You guys ready?” I look over at Crystal and then off we go. I have to say it is a fucking disaster. We can’t agree on which side to take; I say right, and she says left. I pull on her, and she tries to kick my shins when I am walking. It is safe to say we come in last place.
“I want to change my partner,” Crystal says as soon as we get back to base, leaving me all alone. Corrine jumps at the chance, and this time, I don’t have to be tied to anyone. It is a scavenger hunt to find things. We all set off, but my eyes never leave Crystal as Holden follows her around everywhere. He smiles at her and the whole while I glare and don’t even pay attention. No surprise we lost.
Corrine looks over at me, after we lost. “You suck, Dr. Walker.” She walks back to Ava and tells Crystal that she wants to switch back. This time, it is a group challenge. There is this huge ball tied into knots. We have to stand around in a circle, and each person has a minute with it, and so on until it is all undone. This, I can do. We form a circle and start picking it apart, slowly at first. I can’t get a knot undone, and I fucking hate it. The girls roll their eyes at me with frustration, and at one point, I want to take the fucking thing and set it on fucking fire.