Cabin Bear Heat Box Set(4)By: Bella Love-Wins
Rob handed his phone to her. “The number is in here. She’s called me often enough. Help me out, will you? I’m trying to minimize contact. Otherwise she might feel I’m coming around.”
Abby auto-dialed Ruth’s number from Rob’s phone contact list and waited. There was an answer on the third ring.
“Hello, Ruth? It’s Abby.”
“Hey, Abby,” Ruth answered.
“Are you on your way? We’re waiting up here at the 7-Eleven as planned. ”
“I’m still at home,” she replied. “Can you guys come and get me? I don’t have a ride right now.”
“Sure,” Abby answered. “Give the address and directions to Rob, okay? I’m passing the phone to him. Hold on.”
Rob glowered at Abby when she handed the phone to him, shaking his head frenetically. He took the directions from Ruth politely, but every response was guarded until he hung up.
“Whose idea was it to have Ruth join us, anyway?” He looked at Trina in the back seat and rolled his eyes. Ruth and Trina took several courses together, and were close friends.
“You could have said no, Rob,” Trina shouted back, laughing. “By the way, do you realize how far south she lives? Her house is all the way down behind the Arrow Creek Country Club.”
“That’s almost an hour south,” Abby said. “We better just get going now. We’ll definitely need to stay in Truckee tonight.”
They loaded into the SUV and turned onto the highway. There was little traffic getting to Ruth’s place, and not much small talk to be had in back. When they arrived, it took them a few extra minutes to get from the main road and into the gated community where Ruth lived. Her house was the last on her street. It was a large, secluded mansion at the end of a long driveway. Ruth was sitting on the front steps, reading from her tablet.
“Thanks for coming to get me, guys,” Ruth said.
She stood up and rolled her suitcase to the back, smiling seductively when she stopped at Rob’s door. “Hi Rob. Can you help me with this?”
Rob had already started to get out of the car to take her things to the back.
“Hey, Ruth,” he answered shyly, avoiding making eye contact as he opened the side door. “We’ve got a lot of stuff, so you’ll have to fit this somewhere in the cab.”
“Let’s hurry and get back on the road,” Abby said. “We may be able to make it to Truckee before dark, if we’re lucky.”
“Hold on.” Ruth stopped her. “Why would you go all the way back north when we can just go a little farther south using Mount Rose Highway, then go west to get us to Truckee? We take that route all the time to get to San Fran. Let me show you on the map on my phone.”
She pulled up the map and showed it to Abby. Abby passed the phone to Rob. “I’ve never taken this way before. It looks like it’s a good distance through the mountains. What do you think, Rob?”
“It should be okay,” he answered. “I’ve taken this route a couple of times during the summer. The roads are fine, although there are some winding spots. You may be right, Abby. The elevation is higher. It’s possible there might be snow, but I doubt it.”
“Well, we’ve already lost an hour,” John called out from the back seat. “Let’s just do it. I’m fine with stopping in Truckee tonight.”
“Okay, I’m in,” answered Abby. “I hope you guys are right. Rob, as you’re riding shotgun, I need you to navigate. Ruth, keep an eye out. You’re familiar with the roads.”
* * *
The next hour of driving was quiet. The highway whittled down to two lanes, one in each direction. With the narrowing of the roads, the surroundings went from suburban, to rural farmland, to curved mountainous roads that were sparsely lined by a few homes every several miles. As they made it over the Mount Houghton ridge, the weather changed. Dark, ominous clouds hung over the mountain pass, and spread out in all directions across the horizon for as far as they could see.
“This does not look good,” Abby said.
“It’s not,” Rob agreed. “Those are nimbostratus clouds we’re looking at. It’s going to rain. Probably more like snow, with the temperature and with how close we are to Lake Tahoe. Whatever is coming, it’s coming soon, and we’re going to get lots of it.”
“Nimbo-what clouds?” Ruth shouted from behind him. “I didn’t know you were into meteorology.”
“Shit,” Barb interrupted the two as she looked out her side window. “We should have gone back north.”
“It couldn’t be too bad,” Ruth answered. “Worst-case scenario, we can stop at my grandparents’ cottage at Incline Village.”
“Well, we can’t go back north,” Trina piped up from the back seat. “We’ll lose three hours. You’re driving an SUV, Abby. Just take it slow. We’ll make it.”
“You know what’s weird?” Rob asked, turning to look at Abby.
“What?” she asked.
“I haven’t seen a car for the last twenty minutes. Not a single car coming or going. No one passed us either. Don’t you find that weird?”