Disclaimers: Copyright: The characters belong to me, though they do resemble our
two favorite characters of Xena and Gabrielle. The location does
really exist, but I changed the name of the camp to protect the
innocent squirrels that reside there.
Sex: yes, but nothing graphic f/f and their will be a m/f
relationship that is very mild.
Feedback: All feedback is most welcomed. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you to everyone who takes the time to drop me a line and help make this story better.
The staff all arrived in main camp by 6pm, most of them having dressed up a bit in acknowledgement that they were going into the city. Wow. Shadow caught a glimpse of Scooter in a nice white tank top, tan cotton shorts and sandals. She was pleased with herself for dressing up for town in her button down sleeveless shirt, black jeans and dress boots.
"Guess I'm with you." Shadow's low voice resonated.
Scooter looked over, unsure if she had heard Shadow speak. "What?" Oh, that was intelligent.
"I said, I guess we're with you." Pointing at Pax and Pony.
"Right, well, let's go."
The four of them loaded into the jeep, with Pax taking the front passenger seat. Shadow sat behind Scooter as the short blond pulled her seat forward to reach the gas and brake pedals, leaving plenty of room for the tall brunette's long legs. It also, she noticed, gave her a partial view of Scooter's face in the rear view mirror.
As the driver adjusted her mirror, she caught Shadow looking at her, then, quickly look away. Did she just blush? Scooter glanced again at her backseat passengers, now engaged in conversation between themselves.
Pax reached out with her left hand and turned the radio on. A top 40's hits station blared through the front door speakers. "Hey, how 'bout some country music?" Pony yelled over the noise.
"Sorry." Scooter shot her an insincere sweet look. "Front seat passenger chooses the station."
Shadow hesitated for only a moment. "Shotgun."
"I call shotgun for the ride back to camp."
Dang, that backfired on me. Scooter glanced again in the rearview mirror and caught amused blue eyes looking back at her. Country music and the quiet woman riding shotgun on the ride back to camp. The combination was almost too much for Scooter to bear.
Thirty minutes later, the jeep and the van pulled up at their destination. The aroma of Mexican food filled the air. Scooter and Pax lagged behind the main group walking into the restaurant. "Shoot me now, Pax, and put me out of my misery."
Pax looked at her curiously. "You know, she's not so bad."
"Not so bad? She is standoffish, silent, andá"
Pax cut her off mid tirade. "She might just be shy."
Shy. I should have considered that. "Humph."
Arriving at the table where the group was already seated, Pax quickly took a seat by Jojo and Pepper. Scooter groaned when she realized the only open seat was on an end, right across from Shadow. She sat down and became engrossed in the menu, with its wide array of Mexican food options.
"You gonna order?" The husky voice infiltrated into her concentration.
"Huh?" She looked up into amused blue eyes.
"That's how it works here. You order, they cook and bring it to you. It's called a restaurant."
"Oh, right." Is she making fun of me? "I'll have the enchilada dinner with rice and beans. And, um, the nachos. Dr. Pepper to drink, please."
The tall brunette spoke to the waiter. "I'll have the carne asada with corn tortillas. All beans, no rice. And a beer on tap."
The complimentary chips and salsa were soon accompanied by everyone's beverage of choice. As they waited for their main courses to arrive, the staff shared stories and memories of summers past. Scooter added her own favorite stories to the mix and was pleased to see Shadow laugh at a couple of the more humorous ones.
Maybe Pax's right. Shadow doesn't seem to say much, but she listens to everything. It looks like she is enjoying herself. Why do you care, Scooter? Her inner monologue argued with itself. Well, I don't want to see anyone have a bad summer. And maybe I misjudged her. That admission brought a pang of guilt to Scooters conscience. Always assuming the worst, I've gotta stop doing that. Course easier said then done.
"You want a refill?"
Scooter's head snapped up and caught curious blue eyes looking at her.
"What?" She's going to think I am a monosyllabic idiot.
"The waiter wants to know if you want more Dr. Pepper." She's cute when she blushes.
-"Um, yeah, sure, thanks." Let me die now. Four words, four syllables, could I sound any more stupid?
Her blush deepened when she realized that Shadow was still watching her from across the table. The waiter arrived just in time to save her from further humiliation. He brought the beverage refills, followed by their meals. Scooter forced herself to ignore the uncomfortable feelings she was experiencing, and focused on her dinner. The women quieted down as they quickly consumed the food on their plates.
As they stepped outside into the cool night air, Shadow smiled as the familiar smell of jasmine was in the air. It reminded her of her mother, which reminded her she needed to call home and say hi.
Scooter also smelled the fragrance of the jasmine flowers; it reminded her of her mother, which reminded her she would never be welcomed back home.
The familiar ache in her heart was ignored. Years of dealing with it didn't diminish the pain, it only made her more capable of not being overwhelmed by the hurt.
Once she'd unlocked the doors to the jeep her passengers climbed in. This time however, Shadow sat in the front seat and immediately found the country station on the radio.
As Scooter predicted the drive back to camp was quiet. Her back seat passengers had fallen asleep and her front seat passenger seemed content to stare out the window into the darkness. A slow country song came on the radio. Shadow softly began singing the words.
"You have a beautiful voice."
Shadow looked over and felt her face flush from the compliment. "Um, thanks. I don't usually sing in front of people. If it bothers you, I'll stop."
"No, please don't stop. It makes this music tolerable." Her gentle voice was tinged with sadness.
Yeah." Scooter sighed. "Just thinking about some personal things."
"Oh." Shadow heard the dismissal in Scooter's soft voice and returned to staring out the side window.
There was very little traffic on the roads, and the trip back to camp was fairly quick.
"Do you want me to drop you and Pony off at the top of camp so you wont have to walk far to your tent?"
"No, thanks. I need to make some phone calls before I go to sleep."
After arriving in main camp, the group unloaded the vehicles and made plans for the rest of the evening. Silver, Pepper and Spike went down to the directors' office, a late night of planning lay ahead. The majority of the staff decided to change clothes then meet in Singing Pines for a campfire and s'mores.
Scooter said goodnight to the group and headed down to her tent by the waterfront. Pax caught Scooter's arm before Scooter could get very far.
"You look a little down tonight. You gonna be ok if I go up to Singing Pines?"
"Yeah, sure. I'll take Indy with me to keep me company. Thanks for caring, Pax."
"I guess I'm concerned about you. If you want to talk, you know I'm happy to listen."
"Thanks, I do know. Have fun with the group. I'll leave the lantern on for you."
"Goodnight, friend. Sleep well."
Scooter and Indy arrived at the waterfront director's tent. Indy immediately lay down on the ground near Scooter's bed.
Scooter turned on the lantern, brushed her teeth using the water in her canteen, then undressed from her clothes. She traced the scar on her abdomen and felt hot tears well up in her eyes. As her tears rolled down her face, she quickly wiped them away. After putting on a pair of sweats and a University of Oregon t-shirt, she climbed into her sleeping bag and cried herself to sleep.
The phone rang three times before it was picked up.
"Hello?" The voice of a teenage boy came through the receiver.
"Hey, Mike, is mom or dad there?"
"No, they went out dancing tonight. How are you doing, Mel?"
"I'm ok, but you better call me Shadow, or I'll never get used to my camp name."
"Ok, Shadow." Her little brother's laughter made her smile.
"Tell mom and dad I called and that I love them. I love you, too, Mike. I will call back tomorrow."
"Dad will be gone all day to the auction, but mom will be home. I'll tell them you called, sis."
The next number she called was busy. She tried back several times over the next ten minutes, but the buzzing of the busy tone never went away.
Shadow headed up the road out of main camp and noticed the staff going into Singing Pines for the campfire.
"Hey, Shadow." Pony called from the darkness of the forest. The beam of her flashlight landed on Shadow's face.
Shadow covered her eyes with her hand, momentarily blinded by the light.
"Sorry, Shadow." Pony lowered the beam. "Want to join us for s'mores?"
"No thanks. I want to check in on Samba. I've been neglecting him today."
"Ok, see you later than." The flashlight beam swung in the direction Pony was headed and Shadow was returned to the darkness of the night.
Samba nickered in reply.
"Guess you could use some attention, eh?"
Shadow grabbed her leather bag of supplies and pulled out a currycomb, a brush and a hoof pick. She started on the hooves, checking Samba's shoes and picking out all the debris and dirt that had accumulated.
As she absentmindedly went through the grooming procedures, her thoughts turned to the events of the evening and specifically to Scooter. She seemed so sad when we left the restaurant. She tried to remember if she, or anyone else, had said anything that would have hurt the blond's feelings. She couldn't think of a single reason for the change in Scooter's demeanor.
Maybe she's just moody. Great, that'll make for a long summer if I have to deal with mood swings. Maybe it's something else, maybe she's PMS'ing, or maybe she's tired. Maybe it's none of my business.
She took the currycomb in hand and began brushing the brown coat of her horse. "You're gonna have friends tomorrow afternoon." Shadow referred to the scheduled arrival of the thirty rented horses.
Samba shook her head as if to say "No."
"Aw, you know you're my favorite horse." The soft brush against the horse's coat was testimony to her love for Samba. Samba stomped his front leg and snorted.
"Well, I brought you another treat to help make up for neglecting you."
The apple was offered, and the horse accepted the treat.
"That's a good boy. Don't worry, even after all the other horses get here, you'll have your own stall here in the barn. Now sleep well, baby. I'll see you in the morning." She turned off the interior light of the barn, leaving the exterior light on to guide her way to her tent.
She turned on the lantern by Pony's bed, brushed her teeth then undressed from her evening's attire. She ran her hand over her smooth abdomen enjoying the feeling of hard muscles under soft skin. After putting on a pair of sweats and an Oregon State t-shirt, she climbed into her sleeping bag and promptly fell asleep.
To be continued...