|Posted on June 23, 2010 at 12:00 AM|
Zoe Murdoch had planned on arriving at her parents home in Reedsport, Oregon the following afternoon. That changed when her softball coach called and informed her their game was cancelled because of the continuing heavy rain, and the forecast for game time was to be more of the same.
She decided to arrive this evening to help her mother the next morning with the cooking and preparation for the barbeque; Family and friends were gathering tomorrow afternoon for a welcome home party. She had been home five days earlier to welcome her brother Cabe from his discharge from the military. She was informed by her mother that one of Cabe’s friends from the Afghan tour was also going to be there.
Leaving two hours ago from her dorm room at Oregon State University, she was now on the coastal-link Highway 38. Her Volkswagen Beetle was being jostled by the winds and heavy downpour blowing along the Umpqua valley basin. A half-hour later, a few miles past the Scottsburg bridge, she came upon the familiar, and frustrating sight of a mudslide.
Reaching for her cell phone she instantly realized it would be useless in this steep canyon; besides this late at night she didn’t feel calling her parents would solve this situation. They weren’t expecting her till tomorrow, and she could tell from experience that this road wasn’t going to be passable until morning at the earliest. She turned the VW around and headed back to Scottsburg.
Zoe arrived at her brother’s cabin ten minutes later. Grabbing her overnight case from the bug, she used her own key to let herself in the side entry door. She had stayed here many times when she was younger; her father had owned it for years, but when he decided to sell it, Cabe had convinced his dad to sell the place to him. it took a bit of persuasion but in the end the cabin had remained in the family.
For the last four years, the length of Cabe’s military enlistment, Zoe had used the cabin often. Sometimes she came alone and spent the weekend studying for exams. Several times she had brought friends, and just relaxed a few days to unwind from the stress of college. Each time she came though, it helped a little with the absence of her brother; she had missed him terribly.
The cabin was cold but she wasn’t going to bother with turning on the propane for tonight. The tank was out beyond the carport and besides, she wanted a quick shower and that would warm her up before going to bed. She stripped off her outer garments and headed into the bedroom. Skirting around the end of the bed she dropped her shoes in the corner and tripped over something at the foot of the bed.
“Oh!” she yelled while trying to break her fall. Her forearm scraped the dresser just before her forehead banged the wall.
“Ouch, that hurts like..,” was all she got out when the nightstand lamp came on.
Zoe suppressed a scream when she saw a young man jump from the bed wearing only boxer shorts. He took one stride towards her with his hand out, then banged his toe on the bedpost.
“Ah, ah, oh, oh,” he yelled, as he reached out to break his fall and jammed his knuckles into the dresser. “Ah, Christ,” he moaned as he landed atop Zoe, but managed not to crush her. He sat back holding his toe in pain, but started laughing. “Are you all right?” he finally got out.
Zoe lay on her back rubbing her forehead, dressed only in panties and bra. He was now moaning and rubbing his toe and trying to laugh at the same time. She began laughing along with him.
Finally, Zoe managed, “What is that?” She pointed to the bag.
“That’s my duffle bag. I’m so sorry, I had no idea anyone would come here.” Jake apologized.
“I’m guessing you’re Cabe’s friend, Jake,” she said, and you were held up at the mudslide too.”
“And you are his little sister, Zoe.” he said.
“He told you, about me?” she asked.
“Oh sure. He told me all about you, being a tomboy, how you followed him around everywhere like a puppy, but I see one thing he didn’t mention.”
“And what would that be? That I like to surprise people in the middle of the night by crashing into their bedroom like a drunken clown?” she said.
“He didn’t mention how pretty you are.” he said, while offering her a helping hand up.
As he helped her up she noticed his hand was bleeding, and said, “You’re hand, I’ll get the med kit, it’s in the bathroom cabinet.”
When she returned with the kit, Jake was pulling on some trousers but stopped when he saw his toe was bleeding also.
“Going to need one on this toe, too,” he said.
Zoe rummaged through the dresser and pulled out one of her brother’s old football jerseys and quickly slipped it on. She noticed her forearm was bleeding from a small scratch also. They took turns bandaging each other’s wounds. Zoe’s forehead had a small lump that was going to leave a bruise, but at least she didn’t break the skin.
“I think I could use a glass of wine,” said Zoe, “Would you care to join me?”
“Actually, I had one earlier but I’m wide awake now and would like that, yes please.”
Jake asked her where the propane bottle was located, and offered to turn it on to heat the main room.
Zoe pointed it out behind the carport, and noticed his motorcycle parked beside the woodpile.
“Nice bike, Jake,” she said, “That’s something I’d like to learn to do one day.”
“You just say when, girl. You’d love it, I guarantee. I would like to teach you. It’s really no harder than riding a bicycle.”
Zoe and Jake spent the next several hours talking, answering each other’s questions, and getting to know each other. She thought he was very handsome, with his wheat-colored hair and dimpled chin. He was a head taller than her, broad shouldered, and lean with an athletic build much like herself.
She brought out one of Cabe’s photo albums and sitting next to each other on the small couch began scanning through it. Zoe flipped through the album, stopping here and there to describe certain photos.
“Can you tell I’m very proud of my brother?” she asked.
“Absolutely, he’s a terrific guy,” said Jake, “I’ll bet he really looked after you when you two were younger?”
“Oh yes, he was always there for me.”
Zoe leaned over the photo album and surprised Jake with a kiss.
“That was nice,” said Jake, “may I ask what that was for?”
“That’s for helping my brother make it home.”
“Hey, he’s the main reason I made it back in one piece, along with a long list of other guys.”
Zoe kissed Jake again, this time much more intimately.
“That was ….just……because.” she said.
Jake leaned towards Zoe just as the door opened.
“Well,” said Cabe, standing at the door grinning, “I was looking forward to introducing you two, but it appears you’re a little past that stage.”
Zoe jumped up from Jake’s embrace and walked over to her brother. As she walked by heading to the kitchen she gave him a peck on the cheek.
“What’s that for, Sissy?”
Over her shoulder she said, “That’s for bringing Jake home.”