The Great Outdoors Ch. 05byandy_charles©
Rachel grinned widely. "God, I was so horny after reading that chapter -- I had to play with myself for two hours before I could get to sleep properly."
Liz nodded slowly. It felt a little weird listening to this girl she barely knew talk so openly about these things. With Inga she was used to it, she expected it; this had caught her slightly off guard.
What was even more unsettling was the fact that, try as she might disguise it, she knew she felt exactly the same about that scene. There had been nights, when Artie had been away on business, that she had sometimes taken the book off the shelves and read that scene purposely to stop from feeling so lonely. She'd never gone as far as do anything like Rachel was describing though.
The thought now struck her: why hadn't she? There'd been no one there, she'd been in her own bedroom. She could have done whatever the damn she wanted to. The thought of it made her feel very warm all of a sudden.
"You know that one I was talking about -- Choices Of A Scoundrel?" Rachel said, sitting upright and looking at her. "I reckon that's the hottest one he's ever written."
"You're probably right."
"You know that scene in the labyrinth?"
Liz's eyes widened slightly. "Oh yes, that scene?"
"I read an interview with Gregory," Rachel continued, "and he said that he would never write another scene like that again because he felt it was too perfect. Can you imagine? The only woman on woman scene he's ever written and he thinks it's perfect."
Liz cleared her throat. "It wasn't exactly fully...woman on woman, though, was it?"
"Guess not. Depends what you definition is, doesn't it? I mean, would you even class it as a sex scene? Georgina's hands exploring Lucia's body while she sleeps -- I doubt it really is. Not full on sapphic erotica, is it? Hot, though. Did the trick."
Liz looked at the girl's pretty face carefully. There seemed to be nothing false in its gaze, no hidden meaning. She stood up out of her chair, closing the book after turning the top corner down on the page she had reached.
"Did you bring a lot of food?" she asked Rachel. "I'm gonna have to start thinking about dinner in a moment -- you're obviously more than welcome to share ours."
Rachel laughed. "Yeah, I doubt what I brought could feed the five thousand, but I'd love to share it with you guys too, if that's possible."
"I'm sure we can work something out," replied Liz, smiling warmly.
The young woman nodded. "Can I take a look at that?" she asked suddenly, pointing towards Liz's key necklace.
Before Liz had time to answer Rachel had removed herself from the chair and was standing right in front of her, holding the sparkling piece of jewellery between two smooth fingers.
She was incredibly close now. Liz could smell the faint scent of moss in her black hair; the tinned peaches on her breath, sweet and slightly sickly. She could see clearly the smooth skin of her neck and shoulders, with the odd freckle dotted around just above the hem of the material of her top, just before the rise of her small breasts.
"It's beautiful," Rachel said quietly, her eyes fixed on the necklace. "Precious, even. It's a wonderful match for someone like you." Here her eyes rose, gazed intently into Liz's own, unblinking. A hand rose and placed itself gently on Liz's arm, stroking it lightly. "You're an incredibly lucky woman, Liz. I wish I had someone as loving as you do to give me gifts like this."
Liz was feeling slightly nauseous, due perhaps to the mix of moss and peaches in her lungs. "I...I know I'm very lucky..." she stammered.
"Very lucky," repeated Rachel, now so close that their breasts were almost touching through the fabric of their tops. "How much luckier do you want to be in your life, Liz?"
Liz couldn't answer; the words were stuck in her throat. She was filled with an overwhelming feeling of opportunity; aware of a life-defining moment which who knew what would happen afterwards if she followed those eyes? Her mouth was dry; she wanted to lick her lips, but she was too afraid, as if the beautiful girl in front of her might take it as an invitation to bring her own supple lips closer still.
Thoughts of Artie flooded her mind and brought her back to reality. She cleared her throat, smiled lightly and took the necklace back from Rachel's tender grasp, stepping backwards as she did so.
"I'm luckier than I ever thought I would be," she replied truthfully, trying her best not to stammer, to betray the sudden quickening of the beat of her heart.
She expected to see some kind of disappointment in those eyes; instead there was a strange kind of warmth.
"I'm glad," the girl replied, sounding like she meant what she said. "Maybe one day I'll be as lucky as you."
The slight unease in Liz's stomach now gave way to a sense of pity. Though Rachel was now smiling, there seemed to be something sad in her eyes.
"Haven't you ever been in love before, Rachel?" she asked.
"Of course," replied Rachel. "I'm in love with Freddie. It took me a while to find him, though. I needed someone like him -- a man who could treat me the way I wanted to be treated. We argue occasionally, of course. Every couple does. But as long as we both give each other as much as we expect to get from each other...you know what I'm saying?"
"I think so," said Liz slowly.
"Couples should share; they should sacrifice for the other." Rachel wasn't really looking anywhere now; just into the near distance. "Otherwise you could die."
When night came the starts were as bright as they had been the previous evening, perhaps even more so. The moon was almost full. The whole sight had a magical feel to it.
The campfire burned brightly in the middle of the semi-circle as the campers, full on a wonderful shared meal, talked and laughed happily away. For a long moment there were no anxieties, no fears, no secrets causing inner turmoil. Everyone was content.
"Who wants another beer?" asked Rachel. "You guys sure brought a lot of booze with you."
"God, that sounds bad," said Artie. "We look like proper alcoholics now, I'll bet."
"No way," laughed Rachel, raising her voice. "More excuse to party, whoo!"
They laughed at the infectious enthusiasm, and soon more bottles had been consumed. They were all beginning to feel a little light headed, but not too drunk that they weren't aware of what was going on and what people were saying.
"Let's do something," said Inga after a while. "What shall we do?"
"Spin The Bottle!" cried out Rachel.
"No-ho-ho way," said Paul, laughing. "I ain't gonna kiss Artie on the mouth."
"What's wrong with my husband?" asked Liz in mock-disgust.
"I'm a straight guy, that's what's wrong with it!" Artie blurted out, causing them all to collapse with laughter again.
"I know, I know," said Rachel excitedly. "Truth or Dare!"
Inga's eyes brightened up. "I LOVE Truth or Dare! Come on, let's play it?"
"What are we, fifteen?" asked Paul wearily.
"Truth or Dare!" Inga and Rachel chanted together in unison. "Truth or Dare! Truth or Dare!"
"Okay, okay," said Paul, putting his hands up. "I give in. Truth or Dare. But only if I can go first!"
"Fine -- what's your choice?"
"No, wait," said Paul hurriedly, "I meant, I wanted to pick..."
"Choose now, Paul! Hurry hurry hurry," said Inga, tapping her wrist.
"All right, all right. Truth."
"I've got one," said Rachel. "HAVE you ever kissed another man before?"
The whole group save Paul laughed out loud. Eventually he answered, "If you must know, yeah, I have."
That stunned them into semi-silence.
"Seriously?" asked Artie, almost choking on his merriment.
"When was this?" asked Inga, slapping his arm playfully.
"Playing Spin The Bottle at a party...."
The rest of his explanation was drowned out in a chorus of laughter and mock jeers.
It drew late, even too late for Rachel, who couldn't disguise her yawns with laughter for much longer.
"Gotta hit the hay," she said sleepily. "Thanks for such a brilliant evening, guys. See you in the morning!"
They all said their goodnights to her before getting up themselves and stretching, ready to make their way into their own tents. As the men talked for a bit longer and started to put the fire out, Liz drew Inga to one side.
"She's not so bad, is she?" Inga said. "Bit loud when she's had a few drinks, but she's fun, I'll give her that."
"Yeah," said Liz slowly. "Funny thing happened earlier this afternoon -- I've wanted to tell you but haven't had the opportunity..."
"Is it about Paul?" asked Inga quietly, interrupting her best friend in mid-flow.
"What? No. Why? Has something happened?"
"I don't know...yet," frowned Inga. "Sorry, you were saying something else had happened?"
"Yeah, well, I was talking to Rachel this afternoon and...well, I'm pretty sure she came onto me."
Inga looked surprised. "Seriously? As in...like coming onto you...?"
"Well, how else is it supposed to be?" asked Liz, a little annoyed. "Yeah."
"What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything," hissed Liz. "I just...I guess I kind of politely refused."
"Wow," said Inga. "I mean, she's obviously a party type of girl but...never thought she was on both teams."
Paul wandered over, the fire now safely extinguished, a faint orange light glowing from amongst the burnt ashes. "You ready for bed, Inga?" he asked.
"Yeah, sure thing, hun." Inga hugged Liz good night, called, "Good night, Arthur," rather too loudly, and disappeared into the orange tent with Paul closely following her.
Artie went over to the green tent and stepped in. Liz started to follow but stopped by the chairs. Rachel had left her backpack there open. Tutting slightly at the potential fire hazard she picked it up and made to put it back by the young woman's tent. It felt heavy -- surprisingly heavy.
Her curiosity, plus the amount of alcohol she had drunk that evening, got the better of her; she opened the bag a little wider and had a quick rummage. Almost immediately her hand hit something cold and metal. It felt like a bottle of deodorant, except bottles of deodorant didn't stretch out and have a trigger.
Stunned, she almost dropped the bag. Her mind whirred; there had to be a logical explanation. After all, they were in the forest. Who knew if there were bears here or other wild creatures? Well, Paul did, obviously; that's why they were safe. It was perfectly reasonable for Rachel to have a gun with her in the forest, particularly if she had been intending to camp alone. It was a security measure; that was all.
Satisfied, Liz placed the bag at the door of the tent and, yawning quietly, made her way back to her and Artie's own green shabby one.
As she closed the flap, a hand came out of Rachel's tent and carefully picked the bag up. It was a hand that knew exactly where the bag had been placed; for eyes had been watching all the time, and breath had been held.
Enough fooling around; it was time to make a move.