"So, where are we going? Because last I checked, your house was that-a-way." I chucked a thumb over my shoulder after Sebastian made a right out of the airport parking lot instead of a left. A dozen or so bangles jangled cheerfully on my wrist, the gold glinting in the midmorning sun. I had to admit it was a nice change being out in the sun without the humidity of India that made it seem like you were choking on a mouthful of water every time you inhaled.
"We're not going home," Julian said beside me, tapping away furiously on his phone.
"Then where are we going?"
I wriggled in my seat, trying to get comfortable. Jammed between two of the quads in the back of Sebastian's Integra wasn't much of an improvement to being suffocated by the huge lady on the plane and the sniggering boy. Clay accidentally elbowing me in the ribs only fuelled that thought and although most of my anger was directed at Jumbo Lady I shoved him back, squirming even more.
"If you sat still, I wouldn't be jabbing you so much," he said, wrenching his arm from where it was mashed between us to throw it over my shoulders. I sighed irritably and leaned over him to wind down the window. They'd stuffed me into the middle seat with Seb's logic being that I was small enough for him to see over when he had to look out the rear window. Sucks to be short. I slumped into Clay's side, his lean body actually making a halfway decent pillow. Though considering I'd only slept for about an hour in the past two days, I wouldn't have complained if someone handed me a jagged rock to use. Unable to keep my eyes open any longer I let them slide shut, only half listening to Julian's response to my earlier question.
"The where is a surprise. And we would have brought Duncan's jeep but Speedy Gonzales over there went and crashed it, so it's in the shop. Guess that's what he gets for listening to his -"
His reply was cut off by a strangled noise somewhere halfway between a cry of protest and a growl. I snapped my eyes open and gave Duncan a startled look.
"Julian!" he hissed, twisting in his seat to pin his brother with a murderous glare. "Not now."
Julian flicked Duncan an annoyed glance before sliding his eyes my way. I raised my eyebrows in question but when he spoke, it was to Duncan.
"If not now, then when? Because I'm getting tired of lying for you, especially at the expense of others."
Okay, cryptic much? I frowned, suddenly annoyed at being out of the loop. "Okay," I snapped at Duncan. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," he said too quickly, giving me a strained smile. "Just, try to get some shut eye, yeah? Because for what Mom has planned for you, you're going to need all the rest you can get."
I clenched my teeth at his obvious dismissal, not willing to let it drop.
"Duncan, I -" but he'd already turned back around, turning the volume on the stereo up to an ear splitting crescendo.
I sighed, equal parts aggravated and bone tired. Fine. I'd let whatever it was slide for now, but only because I'd have to scream to be heard and I got the feeling it was a conversation best had in private. So instead of pressing the issue I let my eyes droop shut once more, and despite the rambunctious music bouncing off the car's interior was out before my head hit Clay's shoulder.
"You have got to be kidding me," I wheezed as I took in the ginormous cliff face.
It had taken just over two hours to get here - one and a half on the road, with the last forty minutes being a hike through the wilderness. I slept blissfully in the car, so tired that I'd actually been snoring louder than the stereo according to Julian. And when they'd woken me and I'd peered blearily out the windows at the dirt clearing Seb had parked in, I'd had a brief moment of disoriented panic where I thought, this is where they leave me in the middle of nowhere to die, before Seb had cracked up at my horrified expression and said it was all part of the surprise Mrs. S had planned for me. I relaxed visibly until they'd informed me that we'd be continuing on foot from here. Into the dense woods.
Now, I was fit, and liked to think I had a good sense of both balance and agility, but Jesus Christ, by the time we'd come to a stop at the cliff face, I was wheezing so bad I sounded like a chain smoker with a twenty year habit, and I was leaning heavily on Julian, trying to ease the burn in my calf muscles.
Note to self: get back on that endurance training programme Dad had saddled me with last time I'd seen him. I'm sure he'd cluck his tongue disapprovingly if he found out I'd ditched it two days after starting it. And then laugh when I told him it would have come in handy today.