Home > The Cabin

The Cabin
Author: Natasha Preston



Chapter One


   Friday, August 7

   “Do you have everything you need, Mackenzie?” Mum asked, watching me stuff clothes in a bag.

   “I think so. We’re only going for two nights anyway.” Two painful nights of dealing with Josh.

   “Remember to leave the address and phone number on the fridge.”

   “I don’t think the cabin has a landline, but I’ll leave the address. I’ll get cell reception out there, apparently, and I’ll let you know when we arrive.”

   She nodded nervously and gave me a weak smile.

   “Mum, I’ll be fine.”

   “You’re spending the weekend with someone you don’t like.”

   “No, I’m spending the weekend with Aaron, Courtney, Megan, and Kyle. It’s just unfortunate that Josh will be there too.” If I could have uninvited him, I would have.

   But the cabin is his parents’, so that didn’t seem too likely. Or reasonable. He’d invited us all to spend the weekend at his family’s cabin since school was out. The UK had finally realized it was summer, and next year, we’d all be going our separate ways for university.

   “If you need to be picked up early…?”

   I shook my head. “Thanks, but I’ll be fine. There’s no way I’m letting him ruin a weekend with my friends. Anyway, I need to go.”

   “I’ll drop you off at Joshua’s.”

   “No, it’s fine, Mum. I can walk.” I grabbed my bag and swung it over my shoulder. “See you Sunday night. Love you,” I said, kissing her cheek.

   “Love you too, sweetheart. Call if you need anything.”

   “I will,” I replied.

   Josh only lived a two-minute walk away, so it wouldn’t take me long. I slammed the front door behind me and headed down the path. The weather was superhot, it being the beginning of August, and I was glad I’d opted for shorts and a T-shirt.

   When I got to Josh’s, everyone was outside his house, cramming bags into cars. Seriously, we were going for two nights, but it looked like Courtney and Megan had packed for a week.

   “Kenz!” Courtney shouted, jogging toward me. Her red ponytail swayed and her green eyes danced with excitement. She was the only person genuinely happy about this trip.

   Taking a deep breath, I pushed away every ounce of doubt I had about this weekend and smiled. “Hey, Court. Is everyone ready?”

   “Almost. Josh will be back soon,” she replied with a goofy smile. “Don’t look like that,” she added when I grimaced at his name.

   Whoops, she caught me. “Sorry. I didn’t mean that. It’s…nice of him to invite us to his folk’s cabin.”

   She took my lame apology with a smile. “He wants things back the way they were.”

   Did he have a time machine so he could go back and not say those awful things about my friends? Could he take back what he’d done to me? What he still was doing to me?

   Josh might be trying to make amends for the past—if we were even to believe it was genuine—but we weren’t going to forgive him so easily. Some hurts aren’t that easy to get over, and I couldn’t forgive someone who wasn’t sorry and hadn’t changed their behavior. Courtney had forgiven him already, of course, but she never could see what a waster her boyfriend was.

   I lifted my eyebrow.

   “Mackenzie, please,” Courtney said, sighing as she pushed her bangs out of her eyes. “He’s trying, and it will mean so much to me if you’ll try too. Please?”

   I groaned and my shoulders sagged. “Fine. I’ll play nice.”

   Two nights, that’s it. You can do that.

   “We all will,” Megan added, stepping beside us. “Right, guys?” Aaron and Kyle nodded along, agreeing to put their differences to the side—for the weekend at least.

   “Where is Josh anyway?” I asked.

   “Picking up his brother.” Courtney rolled her eyes. “Blake wanted to see him again, so Josh invited him this morning. Technically the cabin belongs to Blake too, so there’s not much anyone can do to stop him from coming with.”

   “Oh,” I muttered, not sure how I felt about a stranger joining us. We didn’t know Blake, and if he was anything like Josh, the weekend was going to be a nightmare. “So the estranged brother is coming.” Great. This trip keeps getting better and better.

   I had seen Blake before, on about two occasions, when his parents were doing a kid swap, but I’d never spoken to him. Blake had moved away with his dad after their parents divorced. Josh stayed with their mum. The two boys didn’t spend much time together while they were growing up, which was probably a good thing for Blake.

   Courtney pushed her bangs aside again. They never stayed put, so I didn’t know why she didn’t just cut them shorter. “They’re hardly estranged.”

   They rarely saw each other; I’d call that estranged. “Why is he crashing his brother’s party?” I asked.

   “He’s lonely?” Kyle offered, making a sad face.

   Courtney leaned against Aaron’s car. “No, he just wants to spend time with his brother. They both want to.”

   If Blake was like Josh, I would be coming home early for sure. I didn’t even want to breathe the same air as Josh, so I sort of hoped Blake was an idiot too, then I would have an excuse to leave that wouldn’t hurt Courtney’s feelings.

   The warm air blew my long chestnut hair in my face. I brushed the strands from my eyes just in time to see a metallic-black Mitsubishi Warrior—the only car I recognized without reading the logo because it was Kyle’s favorite subject—pull up beside me.

   Here we go…

   Josh was sitting in the passenger seat and his brother was driving. They both had the same dark-brown hair and blue eyes, but apart from that, they looked totally different. Josh definitely didn’t inherit the looks. Blake snapped every ounce of drop-dead gorgeous and left nothing for his younger brother. Lucky for Blake.

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