Thursday, December 21, 2017

Excerpt time!

Curious what happens late at night at Camp Chimalis when all the campers are grown ups?

“I know, I know, sweetie. Hey, did you answer that email from the fabric lady?” When he gave her the thumbs-up, she turned her focus back to Jamie. “Speaking of douche bags…”
“Told you it was about me,” Jamie muttered to Graham, grabbing the door handle. “I’m going to bed.”
“Wait. You don’t have to go. We want you to stay.”
As soon as I said it, I covered my mouth as if the words slipped out accidentally. Maybe they had. I’d been thinking them, but refusing to let my mouth move. Like Rachael said, I needed to be a strong, independent woman. Move on. Slut it up, and all that.
Except that I’d had more vodka in one sitting than I’d had since college, and now felt like I was sitting in a rowboat in the middle of the lake Apparently it loosened my lips a wee bit.
“Speak for yourself,” growled Rach, sitting back in her chair with her arms folded across her chest. She kicked at one of the remaining empty folding chairs, missed it, then tried again successfully. “Come sit in the hot seat, Jamie. Let’s catch up.”
“Super.” With an eye roll, he dropped into the seat.
Graham opened his camp stool and sat down next to April. “This okay?” he asked her politely.
April shook her head, her face becoming as red as her hair. “Sure. I mean, it doesn’t matter. Wherever is fine.”
I looked from them to Rachael, to see if she noticed the weird dynamic, or if I was hammered and making things up. But her moody gaze was fixed on my ex. “So Jamie, still dating that preschooler?”
Jamie glanced at me, the tips of his ears flushing. “I’m not… we’re not… how do you know what I’m doing?”
Rachael raised just one eyebrow at him. “I have eyes everywhere, Burnham. So seriously, do you have to buy her alcohol for her? Speaking of alcohol, want some, jerk?” She held up the bottle and a half-crumpled paper cup.
“Yes.” He shoved the cup at her. “And no, I do not have to buy her booze. Why don’t we talk about you? Who are you dating now? Still pulling the runaway bride act? Have you run out of rich, powerful men in California yet?”
“Nope. Just getting started.” She gritted her teeth as she poured a splash. Rach didn’t like being called out for her relationship issues. And boy did she have them. Rachael and relationships didn’t mesh well, despite the fact that she was tall and gorgeous. She’d been engaged five times, and walked out on two fiancés the day of the wedding.
Rachael blamed it on her parents. She said that was what happened when you had divorce attorneys for parents. Years of listening to them talk about their clients’ marriages imploding, the explosive fights over wine collections and who got what vehicle, and the custody battle that followed had terrified her into a crippling fear of commitment. It wasn’t something she was proud of, but that never stopped her from trying… and trying again… and again.
Jamie took a sip. “Give my sympathies to your latest victim. I still have a credit at the tux rental place from your last wedding. I’ll bet I can cash it in, if you’re heading toward taking the plunge again. Or trying to.”
“Shut up,” Rachael muttered, looking at me. “How did you tolerate him for so long?”
“He was much nicer then,” I admitted. Looking at Jamie, I shrugged. “Sorry.”
Graham leaned close to April. “So, you came here every year as a kid?”
She blushed heavily. “Yeah. I mean, so did Rachael and Molly and Bree. But this is where we all met.”
Rachael and I watched with pointed interest as Graham listened eagerly to April. He leaned close to her and Rachael nudged me. It I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought he had a crush on her. Hell, maybe he did. She was gorgeous and curvy and sexy, all without realizing it. The mousy girl we’d met at camp nearly thirty years ago, had blossomed into a beautiful woman despite being saddled with a loser husband and punk kids. Of course, it was possible I picked up on the wrong cues. It was becoming increasingly clear I was hammered, and would likely sleep on the bunk next to Rachael like old times.
“And you, too?” Graham asked, turning his focus to Jamie.
He nodded, looking darkly at his paper cup of liquor. “Chimalis is how we all know each other.”
“Or to blame,” added Rachael. “You know, depending on who you ask.”
“Be nice.” I hiccupped. “Let’s all try to get along.”
“Fine.” Rachael pointed at our resident handyman. “Truth or dare, Graham.”
He blinked his light blue eyes. “We’re playing truth or dare?”

“Of course we are,” she remarked, gesturing to the room around us. “What else do you do late at night at Camp Chimalis?”