Cabin Bear Heat Box Set(3)By: Bella Love-Wins
“I’m not sure if I know what you’re talking about. Didn’t you guys talk last night?”
“Yeah, we did,” Abby said. “I offered to give her a ride, but she said your mom wanted to take her later.”
Abby’s friendship with Rebecca was slowly cooling, now that they had chosen to attend different colleges for their Masters programs. She just had not thought it would fade away this quickly. Fewer than three years ago, they were at the same college, sharing the same dorm, and attending a few core courses together. Rebecca had been accepted to do her Master’s in Public Health Policy at George Washington University in DC, and couldn’t turn down the opportunity. Every year they returned home, they seemed to grow more distant. Their conversations began to feel forced. Last night was no different. She was distracted, closed off, and definitely hiding something.
Or maybe some friendships just aren’t meant to last.
“Give me a few minutes,” he said, clearly trying to change the subject. If there are any boxes that won’t fit, I’ll take them back inside.”
Abby nodded, and decided to let it slide. Rob or Rebecca would tell her when they were ready. Soon they were on the road, heading along Highway eighty for their close to five-hour trip back.
“Want me to drive once we pick up the kids in Sparks?” Rob referred to the other four passengers as kids, but they were not. They happened to be the sophomore students from SFSU, adult students he coached in co-ed volleyball, and just two years his junior.
“How about you take it from Truckee?” Abby replied.
“That’s good too.”
“Dad said we should stay the night in Truckee, to save the drive through the mountains for daytime.”
“Nah, I think we’re okay. Your dad says that for every trip. I listened to the weather reports all last night and this morning. There’s only a thirty percent chance of precipitation in the area. We’re clear.”
“The mountains are always a little different, Rob. How about we see how it is when we get to Truckee?”
“Sounds like a plan, but I’m positive it’ll be fine.”
Rob had a tendency to obsess over the weather, but that day was different. He seemed rushed to get back to San Francisco. Abby shrugged and kept driving, while Rob searched the radio stations for music they’d both enjoy.
The drive was short and uneventful. They had agreed to pick up Rob’s four friends at the 7-Eleven in Sparks, so they could fill up, grab drinks and snacks for the trip, and get back on the highway with ease.
* * *
John and Trina were waiting when Abby drove into the 7-Eleven parking lot. Trina wore her platinum blonde hair in a ponytail. Abby noticed it because John’s hands had played in it during the entire drive from San Francisco. Now, Trina’s hand was stretched up into John’s brown wavy mane. It was somewhat comedic to watch them. John stood at six feet six inches tall, towering over Trina, who was the same height as Abby, just around five feet eight inches.
“Happy New Year, lovebirds,” Rob called out to them after pressing the button to roll down the passenger side window.
“Happy New Year,” the couple said in unison.
“Where are Ruth and Barb?”
“We haven’t seen them yet.” Trina pointed to the bus that stopped on the opposite sidewalk. “Oh look, there’s Barb.”
Barb stepped off the city bus and pulled her suitcase toward them, her long, shiny brown hair flying wildly as a breeze picked up around her.
Rob stared at her, as if in a trance.
“Hey, guys. Am I late?”
“No, we just rolled up,” Rob said. His nervousness showed when he was around Barb. He almost missed a step climbing out the passenger side door to take her suitcase. Abby was sure she heard him swear under his breath as he positioned Barb’s luggage in the already crowded cargo area.
“I wonder where Ruth is,” Abby said. She finished filling the tank with gas. “I’ll grab some water and snacks inside. Be right back.”
“Me too!” Barb shouted, running around to the driver side.
Abby noticed that John and Trina had climbed into the back row of seats and snuggled up to each other.
“No messing around back there, okay, kids?” she joked, before heading to the store entrance.
The place was empty inside, so it took only a few minutes to get what they needed and pay the gas station attendant. They returned just as Rob closed the cargo door and stepped up into the passenger side seat.
“Ruth will have to put some of her things in the back somewhere with you two,” he said to Trina and John. “The trunk’s packed. Do either of you have her cell number?”
“No, but hasn’t she called or texted you before? She’s been after you long enough,” Trina teased.
John and Trina looked at each other and smiled. Rob found Ruth’s number in his phone, then held it out.
“Yeah, yeah,” Rob answered. “Abby, can you phone Ruth? The last thing I want to do is give her the wrong idea.”
“She’s not here yet?” She looked around to see if Ruth might be on her way. Rob shook his head. “Okay, what’s her number?”