Authors: Rachel Maldonado
Copyright © Rachel Maldonado November 2015.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, without the prior written permission of Rachel Maldonado, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a newspaper, magazine, or journal. Please be aware that downloading an e-book from an illegal site is a crime.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Thank you to my wonderful parents for their love and support. Mom and Dad, I love you.
Thank you to my wife, Vanessa, for believing in me and allowing me to follow my dream of writing full time. You are my everything.
Thank you to R. M. Sullivan and her spouse Debbie for their help in proofreading, editing, and formatting. You're both great friends.
For my sweet wife, Vanessa, because meeting you changed my life forever. I love you to the moon and back.
“Did you pack your lingerie?” asked Baxter as she watched Sidney walk back and forth from the dresser to her duffel bags on the bed. She sat down on the bed and took a bite of a red delicious apple.
“No, why would I need to pack lingerie? I'm taking pajamas. I'm going into the hill country with about a dozen other women for a retreat.”
“Exactly! A dozen other women. Hello. You want to look sexy when you're all snuggled up in front of the fireplace or having some type of slumber party. You don't want to rock out in your PJ's and granny panties.”
Sidney laughed. Jenny Baxter could somehow always make her laugh. They had been roommates nearly a year and they had seen each other go through many dates. Sidney never once wondered why Baxter never took interest in her. She figured she must not be her type.
“Well, what have you got packed?” asked Sidney curiously, as she shoved some socks and underwear in her bag.
“I'm only taking one bag. I packed underclothes, blouses, an extra pair of shoes, and some jeans. My bag is by the door. I packed last night.”
“I appreciate you going to this retreat with me. It really was a good idea, you know, since we couldn't make it home for Christmas this year.”
“Yeah, well. I have good ideas sometimes. It was cheaper than flights home that's for sure,” said Baxter as she took another bite of her apple.
Sidney shoved some jeans in her duffel bag and zipped up the bag. “Do you have the directions written down?”
“Nope, but I already checked MapQuest and entered the address into the GPS. We're good to go. The cabin is only about two and a half hours away. We'll be there in no time.”
Sidney grabbed her bag and placed it by the door with Baxter's. “Yeah? Do you know anyone else that's going?”
Baxter took the last bite of her apple and tossed the core into a nearby trashcan. “No, not really. I was sent a list of women the other day in my email, but I haven't really looked through it. I'll print it out so you can see it.” She rose from the bed and went into her bedroom. She walked back into the room a few minutes later with a print out of the list of women. “Here, you can look it over on the drive up.”
Sidney grabbed her toiletries and tossed them in her side bag pocket, then zipped up the bag. “I guess I'm ready. Let's do it,” she said grinning. She grabbed the list from Baxter and walked out the front door.
“Yes! That's the spirit! Let's do this. I'm so glad you're excited and that you didn't pack your laptop.” Baxter shut off the light switch and followed Sidney out. She took one last look around the apartment making sure she hadn't forgotten anything, then shut off the living room light and locked the door.
Sidney walked out towards Baxter's GMC truck. “I thought about it, but if I took it with me, then I'd be tempted to work and I'm sure you wouldn't like that.”
Baxter laughed. “No, I wouldn't. I'd have to toss it out into the woods.” Baxter opened the passenger door for Sidney in the same manner she always did and tossed all the bags in the bed of the truck. They both settled in for the drive and Sidney looked at the email she still had in her hands.
“It looks like half of these women are in their twenties and the other half is in their thirties,” she remarked as she read the names and ages.
“Sounds like a good mix of women. I'm sure we'll fit right in.”
“One of these women is an author. I wonder if she'll have her laptop with her. Now I'm wondering if I should have brought mine.”
“Oh, she's allowed to have hers. We're not going back for yours,” said Baxter laughing. “The next two days is all about me, you, a dozen single women, and the woods.”
“What makes you so sure we'll meet someone? We could have zero chemistry with these women and wind up stuck with each other for the entire duration.”
“No one said we had to fall in love, Sid. You can at least try to be friendly, right? Let's just go out there, have a good time, and try to make some friends.”
As Baxter pulled up to the cabin, the other women were driving up and parking as well and unloading their luggage. Sidney and Baxter hopped out and began taking out their bags from the truck. A young blonde woman in a black Chevrolet Cruze looked over at Baxter and smiled. She was standing at the trunk of her car digging through a backpack. She took it out of the trunk and swung it over her shoulder but failed to zip it closed completely. Half of the contents spilled out onto the pavement. “Oh my goodness!” she shouted as she scrambled to try to pick everything up.
Baxter dropped her bags and went over to help her. “Hello. I'm Jennifer Baxter. Everyone calls me Baxter.” She began to pick up lotions, lipsticks, mascara, and various other items and handed them to the blonde.
“It's nice to meet you. I'm Cherry,” said the blonde.
“I'm sorry. Did you say Sherry?” asked Baxter blushing. “I could have sworn you said your name was Cherry.”
“It is,” said Cherry laughing.
“Oh, I'm sorry,” said Baxter embarrassed.
“Hi, Cherry. I'm Sidney. You here for the retreat?” asked Sidney interrupting.
“Yes. As a matter of fact, I am. That's what you girls are here for?” She tossed the remaining items in her bag and zipped it closed.
“We sure are,” said Sidney grinning. Baxter was relieved that Sidney had saved her from further embarrassment. She walked back to her bags and picked them up from the ground.
“We're anxious to check-in, Cherry, but we'll catch up with you later, okay?” said Baxter as she stood by the front of the car with her bags.
Sidney giggled knowing that Baxter was trying to squirm away out of an embarrassing situation. “Yes, as you can see I'm being rushed by my roommate, but we can chat later!”
“Oh, I'll be looking forward to it,” said Cherry with a devilish grin.
As soon as Sidney and Baxter checked in to their cabin, they were enjoying their view from the window when Cherry and another taller blonde knocked on the door.
“Well what a coincidence! It's Seymour and Bailey! Looks like we're going to be roomies!” shouted Cherry, clearly getting their names all wrong. “This is Dora. We just met downstairs at check-in.”
“Hi. I'm Dorothy,” said the tall blonde correcting her name as she rolled her eyes.
Sidney corrected Cherry on the introductions also. “I'm Sidney and this is Baxter.” They both reached out for a handshake.
The two women walked in and stared at the two double-sized beds. “Who's sleeping with who?” asked Cherry with a sly grin. Baxter shot Sidney a worried expression right before grabbing her bag from the bed nearest the bathroom and moving it over to Sidney's bed.
“You girls can share a bed,” said Baxter. “Sid and I already know each other, so we don't mind sharing.”
“We don't?” asked Sidney playfully.
The two other women laughed at Sidney's comment and Baxter blushed.
“Did you ladies pick up an itinerary from the lobby?” inquired Baxter, holding up her copy.
“No, we didn't. We were in a hurry to see the room. What's it say?” asked Dorothy.
“It looks like introductions and breakfast in half an hour,” said Baxter looking over the listing.
“That sounds fun. I can't wait to meet everyone, Dexter!” shouted Cherry.
“It's Baxter,” said Baxter, correcting her. Cherry didn't even bother to acknowledge her correction. She pretended not to hear her.
Cherry grabbed her backpack full of toiletries and make-up. “I'm going to go in the bathroom to freshen up before breakfast.”
As soon as the door closed, Dorothy whispered, “I had no idea we were going to have to share rooms! Can you imagine spending two whole days with her? She's already driving me nuts. I only met her about twenty minutes ago and she's already called me three different names!”
Baxter smiled. “I'm sure it will be fine. You have the two of us to hang out with. I'm only sorry that you have to share a bed with her.”
“Oh, I know. Either of you want to change places?” pleaded Dorothy.
Sidney frowned and shook her head. Baxter laughed. “Sorry. We're roommates back home, so we're already used to one another.”
Sidney headed towards the door. “Why don't we all head down to find a seat. It will be nice to meet some of the other women.”
The three women exited the room and headed downstairs. The lobby was cozy with a cobblestone fireplace, large lounge chairs covered in crocheted throws and fur skins and some decorative taxidermy deer busts hung on the walls. An antler chandelier hung in the center of the room and gave the room a soft glow.
As they made themselves comfortable, a group of four other women came down and sat beside them on a sofa.
“Hello,” said Baxter warmly. “You ladies here for the retreat?”
“Yes,” said an older woman. She had short hair and seemed rather serious and shy.