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I packed my duffle bag in haste, all I wanted to do was get there, not understanding why everyone was moaning and groaning about this little trip into the woods. To me, this was a vacation, I freaking LOVE camping. True, I didn’t really get to do it much, but still the whole idea of sitting around a campfire and telling ghost stories, toasting marshmallows and oh my GOD…



“SMORES! Guys we have to make smores!!!”



“Jesus kid, you scared the holy crap out of me, sometimes I think you have no control over the volume of your voice.” AJ grunted, he grunts often. He thinks it makes him cool or something. Just for the record, it doesn’t.



“Smores sounds like a good idea buddy.”



Brian on the other hand? Cool as a cucumber. And no it’s not just because he laughed and agreed about the smores thing.



“No it doesn’t sound like a good idea at all.” That was Kevin, or as I like to call him in my native Navajo Indian tongue, chief party pooper with big bushy brows.



“Stop thinking about food and finish packing Nick, otherwise we won’t even have time to stop at the store for ANY food and then we’ll have to eat you!”



“I’m not the only one still packing.” I said as I looked around the room and saw everyone just standing with their bags done, watching me pack. “Okay…so never mind then, but I’m almost finished.”



“I hate camping.” Howie said under his breath. For some reason hearing him say that didn’t surprise me in the least. This was after all, a guy whose idea of camping was staying at a Motel Six instead of a Marriott.



“Come on D, it’ll be fun…right Nick?”



“Absolutely Brian! I can’t wait! You know maybe I should bring a basketball, you think that would be stupid?” Brian laughed at me and was just about to answer when…



“Incredibly stupid, Nickolas let’s move it NOW!! I’m not telling you again.” Do I even have to say who that was?



Kevin was mad about this trip, personally because it was my idea. I’m almost positive of it. He loves nature, I swear he goes out into the forest when no one is looking and just starts hugging trees but because the words, “Hey guys let’s go camping” Came out of my mouth and not his he had about a gazillion problems with the idea.



“Kev, were you able to talk to Kris about what happened?” Howie asked him which caused bushy brows to look down at the floor. Kris was a big reason that Kevin was such a joy to be around at the moment. They were in this weird, volatile on again off again romance and currently the status was off again, but not by Kevin’s choice.



“I don’t want to talk about it.”



“Sorry man.”



Kevin smiled, at least tried to; it was a fairly pathetic attempt if you want me to be honest with you. But Kevin was so anal retentive that I think it physically hurt the guy to crack a smile. Okay I know I’m being mean but he has been picking on me non stop for the last few days.



Everything was a trickle down effect when it came to this band, especially with him. If something bad was happening to him, he wouldn’t be mean to the person who caused the mood, usually that was Lou, Johnny or Kristin. No, he would let it trickle down to me. ‘Let me pick on poor, young defenseless Nick, that’ll make me feel better. Besides there’s no babies I can kick or old people I can trip.’



“Nick, you’re zoning out again, please for the love of GOD finish packing. Where is your father? Why isn’t he coming with us? I don’t feel like babysitting you this week.”



See how mean he’s being to me? And all because I didn’t finish packing. I can’t believe he brought up my father! He did that purposely to hurt my feelings. Now that Aaron is going full swing in his own career, things have started to get a little weird in my house. At first I couldn’t get rid of my family, they followed me everywhere but within the last year, that kind of just stopped. My mother kept making excuses, claiming she had to stay with my sisters and of course that meant dad had to go with Aaron. Supposedly I was old enough to not need my family anymore. I never realized there was an age limit to needing love and support.



“Nicky, I’m sorry.” I looked up at Kevin, who did seem like he felt bad for saying that. Okay maybe he didn’t mean to hurt me. That makes me feel better. “It’s just that we have to get moving, you need to finish. We’re all just waiting for you.”



“I’m almost done.” I said trying not to sound like I wanted to cry, because I did. The subject of my family was a very sad one for me which is one of the reasons I all but begged for us to go on this trip in the first place.



Brian walked over and ruffled my hair. I love when he does that, “I’ll help you Frack.” He said grabbing my jeans and folding them as tiny as possible to get them in my bag.



“I’m going to go get the car,” Kevin huffed, grabbing his suitcase and walking out the door.



“Do you think he’s going to be in that mood the entire time we’re out there?” I wasn’t sure who AJ was talking to because my head was still down, I really didn’t want them to know how sad I was.



“Nicky, are you okay?” Damn it!



“I’m good D.”



“You sure?” I nodded and smiled at him, “Oh and to answer your question J, I hope not.”



“Nicky where’s your jacket?”



“I don’t know.”



“Did you pack it already?”



“I don’t think I’ll need a jacket it’s kind of warm outside don’t you think?” I shrugged at Brian as he looked around the room.



“It might be cold in the woods butt hole.” I rolled my eyes at AJ as he smirked at me.



“It might not be.”



“Nick, bring a jacket buddy.” I nodded at Brian just as we heard a car horn honk…and honk…and honk.



“I’ll go out there, you too AJ, Nick I seriously suggest you finish soon.” Howie said giving me his best for the love of all that’s holy look.



“We’re almost done Howie; just buy us a few more minutes.” Brian said patting good ole D on the back as he started for the door.



Honk…honk…honk.



“I don’t know man; he’s honking like a penguin with a cold.” Now that made me crack up! Howie was so funny sometimes; too bad he didn’t often let people see that side of him.



“We’re done anyway, Nick just needs to find his jacket.”



Honk…honk...honk.



All of us shook our heads simultaneously at the annoying and constant honking. “He can make do without one, let’s go I’m not driving with a crabby assed Kevin for two hours!” AJ grunted while picking up his suitcase and feeling the need to kick me in the ass as he passed me by.



“Okay well, if it gets cold you can borrow one of mine.” Brian said as if he was my dad. I love Brian.



“Let’s blow this taco stand then!” I grabbed my bag and slung it over my shoulder as Mr. Bushy brows once again started honking his horn.



By the time we got down to the car, he was out of his seat and ready to come up and get us. When he saw we were on our way however, he went to the back and threw open the trunk, “We can get at least three bags in here.” He grabbed Howie’s, AJ’s and Brian’s bags and tossed them in the back. “You will just have to hold onto yours Nick.”



“What? For 2 hours?”



“We don’t have enough room I’m sorry and your bag is the smallest so you can easily keep it between your legs on the floor.” He slammed the trunk down and headed back to the driver’s seat.



Naturally I got stuck sitting in the backseat and in the middle, which always happened to me. ‘Yeah, let’s cram Carter in one of the nooks he’s young he’ll bounce back.’ I had to place my stupid bag in-between my legs and practically straddle the thing. I was not a happy Nick.



“Is everyone in?” I never understood why people asked that question, I mean he watched us all pile into the car. Believe me; I was in such an ill mood at that moment I almost made a smart ass comment…almost. Unfortunately his bad mood was worse than mine so I decided to refrain… well also receiving a friendly nudge followed by a shake of the head from Brian helped my decision as well.



“Yup, we’re good cousin.”



“All right then here goes nothing.” He sighed as he started the car.



I wanted to keep my mouth shut I really did but…sometimes it just has a mind of its own, “Can’t you at least pretend that you want to do this?”



“Hrmm…” That’s never a good sign when Kevin starts with a hrmm.



“You may still be in the let’s pretend stage Nickolas, but I stopped pretending a long long time ago.” He finished with a “pretend…please give me a break.” More to himself than to me.



“This will do you good Kevin; it’ll help you get your mind off of things.” Howie said, of course he got to sit in the front seat because he tends to keep Kevin the calmest out of all of us, my longish legs could have used that front seat though.



Sometimes the guys forgot I wasn’t 14 anymore. Back then I was teeny, but now I was kind of tall and just didn’t fit wherever they felt like throwing me. I was finally a 16 year old! Old enough to drive a car, not that anyone would actually take me out to teach me those things. Mom and dad always claimed they were too busy and then when we did have any off time we were usually in some foreign country somewhere, so I learned from video games and Brian, the only person courageous enough to take me out for a spin .



“Kevin can I drive?” why not, right? I mean what did I have to lose?



Everyone laughed, I mean not giggled but out an out laughed. “Nick what the heck? Uh…how does HELL no sound?”



“I didn’t ask you AJ, I asked Kevin. Come on Kev…please? I have my permit now.”



“Nick, he won’t even let me drive his car and I am way beyond having a permit.” Howie turned around to face me, solely so I could see him wink. Not that I wouldn’t guess he was winking without him facing me.



“Kevin?”



“Nick, absolutely not, not in a billion years.”



“Why?”



“Because you are the most destructive person in the universe for one.”



“Oh come on, you’re exaggerating.”



“Not by much.”



“Fine whatever, I was just asking.” I plopped backwards and folded my arms in front of my body. I was so excited about this trip but no, stupid Kevin had to ruin it with his stupid mood because of his stupid girlfriend.



“Maybe we just shouldn’t go camping then if you are going to be such a humongous jerkass about things.” There goes the mouth again without consulting my brain.



“I have a grand idea, how about we play a game called SHUT THE HELL UP NICK!” Kevin screamed. “I should take out all the damn bags in the trunk and put you in there instead!”



“All right guys please? We haven’t even been on this trip for ten minutes yet.” Brian rubbed at his temples which made me feel instantly guilty.



“I’m sorry, I won’t say anything else.” I sounded pathetically sad as I closed my eyes over dramatically while awaiting Kevin’s apology….that never came.



“Nick wake up.” Brian whispered in my ear. I guess in my current state of poutiness, I hadn’t realized I had fallen asleep. “Oh my God…” The way he said that alarmed the crap out of me so my eyes popped open in time for Brian to push me down towards his lap.



“Brian what the hell?”



“Shut up Nick…don’t say a word.” No one else was in the car it was just the two of us and I wanted to ask what was going on when I saw a light shine into the window.



“Oh my God.” He whispered once again. We were on the floor in the backseat but there really wasn’t all that much room back there so the person shining the light, which I assumed was a police officer easily saw us.



“Kevin was speeding wasn’t he?” I asked full voice which had Brian instantly cover my mouth but it was too late, suddenly the light was right in my eyes as the door swung open and Brian screamed.



I sat up and screamed at that point which caused Kevin to just about run us right off the road.



He stopped short, right before we ended up in a ditch, but my heart was still beating a mile a minute and I was still too involved in the moment to notice. I hadn’t realized I was holding onto Brian for dear life.



“What in the hell is WRONG with YOU? You could have gotten us killed!” Kevin said getting out of the car while screaming at me. Howie was sitting silently in the front seat, his hand braced against the glove compartment.



“Are you okay Nick?” Brian whispered, gently trying to pry my hands off of him.



“I…it was a dream…I’m sorry.” I managed to stammer out as Kevin walked by the window kicking up dirt and cussing under his breath.



“AJ are you okay?” Brian looked over at AJ who was white as a ghost still holding onto Howie’s headrest.



“This trip has been a blast so far,” was his reply.



“Guys I’m really sorry, it’s just that. It seemed so real.” I was finally able to take in regular breaths just as Howie finally took his hand away from the glove compartment, maybe realizing he wasn’t going to go through the windshield after all.



“What did you dream?” Brian asked with an alarmed look on his face.



“I don’t know…I mean it was weird I can’t even really remember the details.”



“Well if it had anything to do with Kevin killing you it was probably a premonition because here he comes.” AJ always has a way of making me feel better.



I sat up straight and kneaded my hands into my shirt as Kevin opened the car door and got inside. “Well are we all done or do you need to yelp some more?” He asked me with the most evil look I have ever seen on anybody before. Seriously, sometimes I think those brows tell him to do things. I found myself sitting back and shaking my head at him.



“He didn’t mean it Kevin, he had a bad dream. It happens.” Thanks Brian.



“I say we give the kid Nyquil to knock him out for the rest of this trip.” Go to hell AJ.



“There’s always the trunk.” Oh nice one D! Jerkass the second.



“Seriously…Are you okay Nick?” Stupid Jerky Ke…wait did he just ask me if I was okay?



I looked up to see him staring at me with a great deal of concern in his eyes. Suddenly I felt like a heel for being so mean to him. “I’m okay and I’m sorry for screaming…”



“It’s okay, we’re almost there anyway. You slept most of the way.”



“I did?” Now I was confused. I mean to me it felt like I had just closed my eyes for a few minutes, but sure enough I saw the sign that read Shadow Woods campground five miles. “Well, I’ll be damned. I slept for two whole hours?”



“Yes and it was the nicest two hours of this trip I have a feeling.” AJ once again thinking he’s funny when clearly he is NOT.



“Shadow Woods sounds like the name of a girl in some kind of crappy romance novel…Shadow Woods lived the dream of every female reporter…” Brian really is the funniest guy I know…next to me of course.



“I’m really sorry again guys for everything, being moody, taking too long to pack, almost killing us…”



“Wow that’s quite a long list and to think it’s only the first day.” Kevin said as he pulled into the parking lot which was all but barren.



“Now why is it that it was sunny until we parked and now it’s dark and gray?” Howie asked as he happily stepped out of the car.



Everyone piled out one by one and next thing I knew I was left all alone in the back seat. For some reason I just couldn’t get my legs to move. They were numb from having to sit so cramped for that long or maybe it was more than that. I felt a chill run up and down my spine as a feeling of dread hit me hard.



Kevin walked over and looked in, “Are you sure you’re okay?” He asked me once again, only confirming for me that I wasn’t hearing things in the first place.



“Yeah I think so, it’s really cold out here you think?” I asked seeing goose bumps form on my arms.



“Nope, not at all.” He extended his hand out to help me; I think maybe he finally realized how brutal he has been to me the last few days. That was always my favorite time, my honeymoon period if you will. During that time I could get away with anything I wanted and he would barely say a thing to me out of guilt. Unfortunately for me and my sudden feeling of dread, I missed my window of opportunity.



“Oh.” I let him help me out of the car as everyone started grabbing for their bags.



“If you’re cold you should put on your jacket little man.” Oops.



“I didn’t bring one.” Yup, he gave me a look but didn’t pursue it.



“You can wear mine then.” He pat me on the back and grabbed my duffle bag even. Wow he was feeling guilty, but I guess so was I.



“And Kevin I’m sorry for calling you chief party pooper with big bushy brows.” He stopped and smirked at me.



“You called me what now?” Oops again.



“Nothing, never mind.”



“Uh huh.” He shook his head at me as we finally made our way down the trail to our campsite as a huge gust of wind came howling through the trees, I swear to God I heard it call my name…

Hope you like the new one. :O) I'll be back on Wednesday with another chapter!
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