Chapter 23

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Book, sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight, binoculars, clothes, wooly socks, hat, gloves, sun protection, swimsuit, sunglasses and your tent. It was 5am when you were packing all these things into your backpack. Your mom woke you up an hour ago, telling you that you were going on a spontaneous camping trip this whole weekend with the Heffley’s.

Actually, it wasn’t spontaneous. Everyone knew about it for a week now, except for the kids. It was supposed to be a surprise. Now the surprise itself worked, but the idea of spending the last few days of summer going camping with two over motivated families sucked, especially since you already made plans with your friends for this weekend.

Maddie planned that big sleepover for the girls only. She called it “celebrating the last few days of hot girl summer” and honestly, you were so excited for it. Sleepovers were fun in general, but this time you had the chance to make some new friends, feeling 100% comfortable since there wouldn’t be any boys around.

But of course, your parents made their own plans, without asking you or a least letting you know and you simply had to go along with it. Whether you wanted to or not. And even though you told them about your plans with the girls a week ago they seemed to either completely ignore that or to have forgotten about it.

Either way you didn’t want to remind them. The fact that you preferred spending time with your friends than with your family would make them sad and you didn’t want that – supportive daughter, remember?

So, you just decided to accept your situation and silently pack your stuff, sending Maddie a message, explaining everything to her. You didn’t wait for a response, it was 5am and she was obviously still asleep. Instead, you just threw on some clothes.

A ripped, blue, washed out mom jeans, a black tank top and a red flannel. You knew exactly that this outfit was absolutely unsuitable for camping, but you didn’t care. You wanted to hold on to normal human city life as long as possible before you went on that jungle survival thing. Also, you had “camping clothes” in your backpack, so there was no need to worry.

When you went downstairs to join your parents in the living room you quickly noticed that they weren’t into that matching clothes thing either. Your mom was wearing a floral dress, your dad a formal shirt, looking like he’s on the way to the office.

“Y/N honey, we won’t have any time for breakfast now, so I just made us some sandwiches we’ll eat on our way. All right?” your mom said when she saw you walking downstairs and you nodded tiredly in response. “Have you packed everything you need?” she added quickly and you nodded once again, way too tired to say a single word, looking out the window, realizing that it’s still dark outside.

After a moment of watching your parents panickily getting everything ready, you decided to wait for them outside. This was definitely way too much for you right now.

You put your heavy backpack in the open back of your parents' truck and sat down next to it, leaning your head back, closing your eyes for a second, taking in the peaceful silence and the warm air. Even though it was 5am it was already 71 degrees outside, which meant that later this day it’ll be really hot outside.

And as you were enjoying the moment, an idea suddenly popped into your head. It was brilliant and might actually turn this long drive into an unforgettable memory.

You immediately jumped out of the trunk, nearly tripping and ran back home to your room, coming down with a few blankets, asking your parents whether they approve of what you wanted to do.

“You want to spent the whole car ride in the open back of our truck? Did I understand that right?” your dad asked with his eyebrows raised, his look skeptical as you nodded your head. “I mean, I don’t mind. But won’t you be cold? Like I know that it’s warm outside but you know that when you’re driving and the wind hits, it gets really cold sometimes” he added, his voice filled with worry.

“That’s why she brought the blankets honey” your mom threw in giving you a gentle smile. You knew exactly that your mom would approve your idea. She was a hopeless romantic and basically romanticizing her whole life, living it like she’s the main character and you loved it. “And honestly I think it’s a great idea. We should let her” she added, convincing your dad after a while.

“Thank you so, so, SO much” you said giving both of them a tight hug and your brightest smile. Your day has been made.

You quickly took the sandwiches your mom made, the tea and the blankets and ran back outside throwing all of it on the trunk, suddenly hearing someone argue.

“You are going, I don’t care about your band practice, you do this like every weekend. Nothing will happen if you miss it once” a woman said annoyed, who’s voice you recognized instantly and as you turned around, your guess got confirmed – Mrs. Heffley and your lovely boyfriend Rodrick.

“No! Mom, you don’t understand! We’re practicing for a Talent Show. We’ll be famous and rich and wealthy and uhm...I’ll be everything you’ll ever wanted me to be” he protested. The ‘I was never who you wanted me to be’ trick. Smooth Heffley. Really smooth. “Also, it wasn’t just me and the boys mom. I was supposed to meet Y/N and Maddie. They’re helping us to write the song. Don’t you think that leaving them hanging just like this would be unfair and bad and uhm...disrespectful? Yes! Disrespectful towards woman” he added, looking proud, thinking that he actually did something as you facepalmed yourself. He must not know that I’ll be there as well.

“Well” his mom said giving you a quick side glance, smiling triumphantly at Rodrick “I don’t think this will be a problem then” she added, turning him around to face you, a confused look covering his face as you gave him the ‘aye, aye sir sign’ smiling lazily.

He quickly turned back to Susan which explained the situation to him, which seemed to calm him down somehow.

After some time, he seemed to accept his fate as well and walked over to you. “Howdy mate” you greeted him jokingly, remembering that you’re living in Texas, but all you received from him was a slightly angry look.

“You knew and didn’t tell me? Seriously Y/N?” he said after some time, his voice filled with annoyance as he looked down at you. And here it was again, your favorite side of Rodrick. The ‘I’ll judge you rashly for no apparent reason just because I can’ side.

“Wow, wow, wow. Hold on there cowboy” you said stepping back, putting your arms up in defense, not being able to stop yourself with the Texas jokes today. “If ‘knowing’ means to get dragged out of bed at 4am, being told to wake the fuck up because we are going camping and acting like you’re super happy because of that oh-so great surprise, then you’re right. I knew right from the start but didn’t tell you because I’m such a bitch” you added now pissed off by his attitude, crossing your arms over your chest.

“I’m so sorry Pixie” he said letting out a heavy sigh, rubbing his eyes still tired. “It’s just if I think about spending that stupid drive with Greg and Manny’s annoying asses and mom’s and dad’s over motivated nature, I think I might actually lose it, especially since it’s only 5 am.”

“Well, you could drive with us” you answered quickly, not overthinking your offer. “See, my parents agreed on letting me spend the drive on the trunk, so if it doesn’t bother you, feel free to join or just sit in the back seat. Mom will probably take a nap herself and then just switch seats with dad when he gets tired so there won’t be any talking and you could simply relax” you added as you watched a relieved mile appearing on his face.

“And your parents would be okay with that?” he asked, his voice uncertain as you nodded your head in agreement. You knew your parents wouldn’t mind. “Actually, they wouldn’t even care to be honest” you added and as soon as you did, he took you into an unexpected, tight hug, giving you a quick, soft kiss on your hair.

“Thank you so much Y/N, you have no idea how much I appreciate that” he said quietly, but you didn’t answer. You just enjoyed the comfort of his hug, the warmth of his body against yours, the strong smell of his cologne and his mint breath tingling your neck.

But then he suddenly pulled away telling you that he should probably go tell his parents and so did you. And after 15 minutes of long discussions about whether Rodrick should drive with you or not (his parents being against it for no obvious reasons) and endless things being packed in the trunk, you finally set off.

“Holy shit!” the emo guy, who you were sharing your blanket with, screamed. “I think that this might actually be one of the best days of my entire life” he added turning around, locking eyes with you.

Your parents finally pulled onto the freeway, going 65 miles, making your hair fly all around your face, the sun raising right in front of your eyes, painting the sky with shades of orange and pink.

“I know, it feels like we’re in some cliché coming of age movie on Netflix” you said laughing, trying to pull your hair together. “Now the only thing missing is some kitschy quote” you added looking back up at Rodrick, who seemed to focus on you only instead of the absolutely stunning view.

“Well” he said turning away from you, facing the colorful sky flooding into the road. “How about ‘Completely and perfectly and incandescently happy’” he said gesturing in front of his face as your eyes went wide open in shock. 

“No fucking way” you said looking up at him, a smirk appearing on his face. Did this man, the definition of the teenage dirtbag, really just quote Mrs. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice? It was just a while ago when you told him about this being your favorite book, which he didn’t even know back then. Still Rodrick Heffley managed to surprise you once again. “There’s no way you actually read that” you added, unable to suppress your suprised face expression.

“Oh, but yes I did, darling” he said, faking a British accent, acting all cocky, making you laugh so hard that your stomach started hurting. “Excuse me, what exactly do you find so funny young lady?” he went on. “I’d like to discuss that intolerable behavior over a cup of tea” he added with that thick accent, now attaching great elegant arm gestures.

“Stop” you said hitting his arm lightly as you felt tears flowing down your cheeks, not being able to stop yourself from laughing. “Time out, please” you added, putting your hands over your face to regain your composure as he finally stopped and put his arm over your shoulder, resting his head on yours.

“Why did you read it Rodrick?” you asked after you finally calmed down, looking back up at him, his eyes concentrating on the road behind you, not answering your question at first.
But after a minute of silence, when you didn’t expect him to answer your question anymore, he finally spoke up.

“You told me that you always wanted such a love story to happen in your life” he said calmly, turning back down, his beautiful hazel eyes looking into yours. “Well,” he added, a smirk appearing at his face. “I can assure you that yours will be so much better.”

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