“We can’t go on without the s’mores,” Joe said, looking stricken. “I’ve been looking forward to them all day.”
Archer agreed. They needed s’mores. But the nearest store was thirty minutes out and they’d all had a few beers. “Too bad Google Express doesn’t deliver to Timbuktu.”
“If I’d known Finn was going to be stupid,” Spence said, “I’d have programmed my latest drone to drop the supplies right to us.”
“It’s Finn’s fault,” Joe said. “He should have to fix it.”
“How?” Finn asked. “How in the holy hell do you expect me to fix this?”
“Call Pru,” Spence suggested.
“Call her what?”
“Call her out here to bring us s’more supplies.”
Finn let out a rough laugh. “I can’t do that.”
“But you can FaceTime her from the grocery store to make sure you’re buying her the correct brand of tampons like you did last week?” Archer asked.
“Hey,” Finn said, pointing at him. “That was supposed to be our secret.”
“Call her,” Spence said.
“She’ll laugh at me and tell me to suck it up.”
“See that’s the thing,” Joe said logically. “We’re all single. We don’t have anyone to call without looking like a complete pussy. But you, you already have Pru, so who cares if she laughs at you?”
Spence nodded at this logic. So did Archer.
“Okay, but for the record,” Finn said, launching into defense mode, “I care.”
Spence pulled out his phone.
“What are you doing?” Finn asked him, sounding nervous.
“Wait for it,” Spence said, and then spoke into the phone. “Pru? Finn needs you.”
“Oh my God,” Finn protested, trying unsuccessfully to grab Spence’s phone away. “Give that to me.”
Spence covered the speaker piece on his phone and flexed his muscles as he avoided Finn’s reach. “Been working out,” he whispered proudly.
“At least tell her I didn’t break my collarbone falling out of a tree,” Finn demanded.
“One time,” Joe muttered. “I only did that one time.”
“Finn needs you to bring the makings for s’mores,” Spence said to Pru. “Big marshmallows. The biggest, Pru. Enough to feed”—he looked around at the guys, counting the four of them—“eight.”
They all nodded. Double sounded good.
The last thing Elle had planned on doing Saturday night was driving up to Big Basin in the dark with Pru and Kylie to bring Finn some mysterious item he had to have. They’d tried to get Willa to come too but she and Keane had turned off their phones.
They were smart.
And probably going at it like bunnies.
Elle didn’t blame them. In fact, she was a little envious of them.
“Thanks for coming with me,” Pru said. “I’m sure you were both busy.”
Kylie laughed. “If by busy you mean staying home and trying to beat my Lumosity score, then yes, I was very busy.”
Elle was driving Finn’s vehicle because Pru didn’t have one, and also because she couldn’t find her glasses. Elle wasn’t a camper. In fact, she’d never camped. She didn’t see the appeal of sleeping on the ground or having to use the wild frontier as a bathroom. Nope, she required electricity and a flushable toilet.
They’d left the city behind long ago and she’d never seen such darkness. She leaned closer to the windshield, squinting into the black night. The road was a bitch and she didn’t want to miss the turnoff. “I can’t believe we’re doing this. You so owe us. And what are we delivering anyway?”
“It’s complicated,” Pru said noncommittally, a very large brown bag at her feet.
Something in Pru’s silence sent impending doom through Elle’s gut. She slid another look at Pru. “He’s camping alone, right? Because that’s what you said. Even though camping alone is stupid and selfish because of the danger, and Finn isn’t either of those things.”
“Turn right!” Kylie called from the backseat. Their resident navigator had her nose practically pressed to her cell phone screen. “In twenty-five feet.”
Elle turned right and the road went from asphalt to gravel. Bumpy, rutted gravel that took every bit of her concentration for the half mile until they came to the campgrounds.
“I think half my fillings just fell out,” Kylie said.
“Campsite twenty-four,” Pru said.
Five minutes later they rounded a tight corner and came upon the correct campsite. Elle calmly parked, turned off the engine, and stared out at the rip-roaring campfire, around which sat one, two, three . . . four men-sized shapes, one of them looking suspiciously like Archer. She felt the righteous annoyance that always hit her in his presence, for him simply being a breathing human being. “Dammit, Pru.”
“It’s not what you think,” Pru said quickly.
“No? Because what I think is that you’re a big fibber,” Elle said.
“Okay, so it’s a little what you think,” Pru said, sagging in defeat. “But mostly I didn’t want to drive up here alone. I knew you wouldn’t come if I told you that Archer was here, and I really needed to deliver the s’more supplies. They were desperate.”
Even as she said it, the guys all stood up and turned toward them with varying degrees of expressivity. Finn was out-and-out grinning, clearly excited to see Pru. Spence was looking hopeful, which made sense now that Elle knew their true mission. Spence had never met a dessert he didn’t love.
Archer had never been one to give anything away, but his expression was relaxed, far more so than Elle had ever seen.
The wilderness agreed with him.
That is until his sharp gaze beamed in through the windshield—which he wouldn’t have been able to see through if Kylie hadn’t chosen that moment to open her door so that the interior light lit them up like they were in a fish tank.
Archer stilled for a single beat and his carefree smile vanished.
Terrific. She’d ruined his evening. Just as she’d ruined his life once upon a time—it was good to know she still had it. “Let’s just get this over with.” She said it calmly but she was having an inner and private moment of panic and anxiety, feeling a whole lot like that stupid sixteen-year-old daughter of a grifter, who’d continuously put Elle and her sister, Morgan, into desperate situations, using them as pawns, making them all live like thieves in the night.