"I can't believe we made it!" Lacey pushed the door of the black Jeep open and stretched, breathing in the fresh mountain air.

"Yeah, after those six hours, I was pretty sure we weren't." Lacey's boyfriend Vince complained. He loved being outdoors, but the long car trips irritated him. It had been all Lacey could do to convince him to take this trip.

She had worked her life away for the past year to save up for this trip up to the mountains. She and her friends had agreed to split the cost for a two floor rental cabin by a lake, as well as food and gas, and other expenses. They had brought a lot of food, but most of their meals would be bought in town.

"Two weeks! Two weeks we're up here! It's going to be amazing!" Lacey smiled, slipping her arms around Vince's waist in an embrace. "Thanks for coming."

"You're welcome." he said gruffly.

Lacey knew he couldn't stay irritable forever. She followed behind him as he began unloading their bags from the Jeep.

"What did you pack?" He asked, lifting her impossibly heavy duffel bag from the trunk. She took the blue bag from him.

"Just the necessities."

He ran his fingers through his hair. "Six bags of necessities?"

She gave him a sheepish look.

He shook his head. He had only packed two bags, and one of them was filled mostly with video games and the console.

Lacey lifted one of her bags and carried it up to the front door. "Vince."



Vince dipped his fingers in his pockets. "Don't have one."

"Lovely." Lacey sighed. She dropped her bag, making her way back to the car. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah. How far behind us is Eden?" Vince asked. "I think she has the key or the code to get in."

Lacey checked her phone. "Maybe 15 minutes?"

"Maybe not." Vince saw Eden's car pull into the driveway just as Lacey had finished speaking.

The four doors of Eden's white Explorer opened almost in unison. Lacey almost wondered where they had had room to store the luggage with so many passengers. Eden's cousin Ross emerged before the others, waving hello and tossing Vince a key. "Sorry we couldn't meet up before to give this to you guys. We didn't know that someone was going to stop for fast food."

"Oh shut up Ross!" Eden joked. "It wasn't just any fast food place. It was Wendy's. And you were quiet happy about it when I got you those extra fries."

Lacey's twin sister, who was dating Ross, ran into Lacey's arms as soon as she got out of the car. "Lace! I can't believe we finally got here. This place is gorgeous."

"Isn't it?" Eden agreed. "As soon as I saw the picture, I knew it was the one."

"It was the twelfth 'the one'." Ross whispered to Vince. "The others all had major flaws."

"Women are so choosy." Vince laughed. "What were the flaws?"

"One had undrinkable water. I mean really, the girls can man up and bring a little extra." Ross replied.

"Ross," Jade said, "We'll man up and drink it the day you man up and carry it. Deal?" She kissed his cheek.

"Help!" Eden was swallowed by a mountain of luggage. Her cousin came to her rescue with Vince.

"Alright. Yeah. See you then." James, the one man who was still in the Explorer, finally joined the rest of the group. "Phoebe, Shawn, Gerard and Rose are gonna be here in half an hour."

"Great." Jade said enthusiastically. "What kept them?"

"Eh, who knows?" James shrugged.

"You should," Ross answered. "They called you."

"I called them." James pulled his duffel bag from the trunk of the car and carried it inside. Ross followed suit.

Lacey shot her sister a look. "None of the guys are getting along." she whispered.

Jade knew it didn't matter. "They'll be fine once they taste that dinner you're going to cook us."

"I'm cooking?"

"Yeah. The four of us voted and called the other four to see if they agreed. You're our designated cook." Jade smirked.

Vince perked up at those words. "Lacey? Cooking? Oh my."

"Oh my?" Crossed armed Lacey raised her eyebrows.

Vince gave his girl a flirty grin. "I've never tasted your cooking before."

"You've been dating for a year and you haven't cooked for him yet?" Jade was shocked. "I've only been with Ross for six months and we make dinner for each other all the time!"

"I'm not a good cook… my idea of a home cooked meal is to order pizza!" Lacey protested. She rubbed her arms. "It's getting chilly out here. Let's go in."

"Don't try to change the subject." Jade replied as Vince resumed carrying bags into the house. The twins lifted their own luggage, walking into the house side by side. "I'll teach you a few tricks. Don't worry."

The piles of luggage stacked by the door did not take away from the beauty of the house. The rooms were wide and spacious, well furnished but not over stocked. The kitchen boasted state of the art cooking technology, while the bedrooms held the most ravishing designs. The upper level of the house was just as perfect. Even the bathrooms were better than any hotel bathroom any member of the group had seen before.

"This is amazing!" Eden gasped. "I'm so happy we found this place."

"Look at that view!" Jade marveled. "I can't wait to go swimming in that lake tomorrow!" She slid open the sliding glass door, stepping out onto the screened in porch.

The cerulean sky touched every direction of the earth. It wrapped around tree tops and forest outskirts as well as the occasional fluffy, pearl cloud. It seemed to stretch on for a eternity.

The forest, made up of proud pines, tall oaks, and glistening birches, was the royal family of the view. The greenery reached their limbs up toward Heaven as if they were worshipping God. Birds of several varieties called the trees their homes, building little, comfortable nests among the branches.

The trees framed the most beautiful feature of the view- a sapphire lake glimmering in the sun. The waves were gentle, small waves, that brushed up against the sand on the beach. Reflections of the surrounding land painted the surface of the water. It was stunning, to say the least.

Vince tossed Lacey a sideways glance.


"Race you to the water."

"You're so on!"

The other friends watched as Lacey took off down the stairs. Vince jumped the railing, skipping as much of the stairs as possible and giving himself a lengthy head start. Lacey caught up easily. Her track skills from high school had never really faded away. She over took him for an instant. He triumphantly reached the dock first.

A look of glory crossed his face. "Win!"

"Wasn't the race to the water?" Lacey smirked just before she pushed her boyfriend into the lake. The splash created by his body was so satisfying.

"OHHHH nice!" Eden laughed from the porch.

Vince hadn't come up yet. The lake was only waist deep. He shouldn't even have fallen in all the way. Lacey bent down and peered into the water. "Vince?"

He sprang out of the water, grabbed her shoulders, and pulled the already off balance Lacey into the water with him.

"That was awesome!" Ross commented.

"Vince!" Lacey scolded. "Thank God I took my phone out! If it had gotten soaked-" She was interrupted by Vince's lips covering hers.

"Loosen up, babe." He smiled, and she visibly relaxed.

The couple was doused by a sudden splash. James surfaced, water streaming down his face and hair. His clothes were plastered to his body. "Hello, lovebirds."

By now, the others had reached the dock as well. Some willingly joined the three people in the water. Some, like Eden, were forced in by certain people named Ross.

"It's so warm in here!" Jade giggled. "The lakes at home are nothing like this!"

Vince stripped off his shirt, revealing his six pack. He tossed the black tee onto the beach where James's was as well.

"Hey there!" Eden joked flirtatiously.

"Back off, girl." Lacey joked back. "This one's all mine." She took Vince's hand in her own.

James rolled his eyes and swam out a little farther before diving under the surface.

Jade playfully splashed Ross, who of course splashed her back. The couple was so occupied with their splash war that they did not notice James's attempts to dunk them.

"Hey!" Jade screeched.

"What the heck, man?" Ross demanded.

"It was just a joke." James said slowly. He held up his hands in surrender. "I won't dunk you guys again."

Both Jade and Ross dove in unison, pulling James down for a little surprise of his own. He came up sputtering for air, but laughing.

"We were never really mad at you." Ross grinned. "We just wanted to do that." He high fived Jade.

"Look! I think they've arrived!" Lacey pulled herself out of the water and dashed back up to the house. Her soaking wet shorts and cami tank didn't slow her down much.

She slammed into her friend Phoebe with a large embrace. "You're here!"

"You're soaked!" Phoebe greeted back.

"Hey!" Rose slammed the car door shut and hugged Lacey. "Why are you wet?"

"We're all swimming." Lacey explained. "Come join us!"

"With all your clothes on?" Rose inquired.

"Yeah, but its great. You've got to come. Here, I'll help you with your bags." Lacey grabbed the first two duffels she could reach and left to place them with the rest.

"Where'd Lace go?" Gerard asked Rose.

"She went to put some of the bags inside. Can you get those two?" She motioned towards a grey one and a red one.



He lifted the bags Rose had mentioned, but before he got them too far, he was hugged from behind. He turned and found Eden right behind him.

"Hey!" He grabbed her, holding her slender body close to his in a long hug. "What's up?"

She shrugged. "Not too much. Glad you made it in time."

"In time?" He raised his eye brows.

"In time to join us for swimming." She said slowly, pulling him with her. "Come on, the water's great."

"Let me help with the bags. I'll meet you there." He grabbed the two bags he had previously been carrying.

The mustang was emptied quickly, enabling the late comers to join the others in the water. The swim lasted until just before sunset, with splash fights, chicken fights, and a few rounds of Marco Polo.

Jade accompanied her sister into the kitchen. "Lesson one: how to make a home cooked pizza."

Lacey looked longingly at the phone. How easy would it be to dial a number and get delivery.

"No. No phone." Jade laughed. "You are learning this the real way."

The ingredients were already available to the sisters. The dough was store bought; they wouldn't have enough time to properly make it from scratch. Jade didn't like that. She felt it was cheating. But, when it was her night to cook, perhaps she'd do it differently.

She gave lacey precise instructions that were followed almost as precisely. It wasn't that difficult to spread tomato sauce on the stretched out dough, or coat it in cheese or delicious toppings, but Lacey put on a little too much here, not enough there. As long as it wasn't over baked, it would be well received.

After the first pizza was placed in the oven, Jade teamed up with Lacey to create more. They had ten hungry people to feed; one pizza wasn't going to be enough.

The oven could fit two pizzas at a time. Since it was just the first night of their trip, they didn't worry too much about eating all together. The pizzas were laid out buffet style.

"Lace, you are an amazing cook!" Vince said after taking a bite of his pepperoni pizza slice.

Lacey blushed. "Jade made that one." she pointed to a slightly burned plain cheese pizza. "That one's mine."

"I'm sure its delicious." Vince stuffed another bite into his mouth.

As the night wore on, Lacey's pizzas got better, and Jade had to rescue less from the peril of being overcooked. The sisters finally finished and joined their friends.

"Lacey, you are a good cook. This isn't bad for your first time." Shawn, Rose's boyfriend complimented.

"Thanks, Shawn!" Lacey smiled.

"You can only get better from here." Shawn replied. Rose nodded in agreement.

"So, today I came to a very important decision." Phoebe said.

"Which is?" Ross asked.

"Don't ever let your brother drive your car."

"Oh come on. I wasn't that bad!" Gerard insisted.

"You drove through three red lights, missed two stop signs, and hit 70 in a 25. It's a miracle my car isn't being impounded this very second."

"How did you guys managed to fit enough stuff for four people for two weeks into that mustang, anyway?" Ross asked.

"Very strategically." Phoebe responded.

"We were crowded as heck." Shawn elaborated.

"In my defense," Gerard began, "The red lights were sudden, the stop signs were hidden, and as for speeding, Phoeb, I was driving a Mustang. How could I resist?"

"I'm driving home." Phoebe said firmly.

"Now, now, Phoebe, don't be possessive. The only way to do this fairly is if I drive it." James suggested, much to Phoebe's amusement.

She apologized when she saw the look on James's face. "But really, James, it's my car. I have the right to say who does and doesn't drive it."

"Whatever, no big deal." James replied.

Jade whispered to Ross, "James isn't himself today."

"He hates long drives more than Vince does. He'll be fine tomorrow." Ross explained. He took his arm from Jade's shoulders and stretched. "Think I'm gonna take a shower and head to bed. Night, babe." He kissed his girlfriend and waved goodnight to everyone else.

"Wait." Eden said. "Take the upstairs bathroom to shower. You men are sleeping up there."

"Who decided this?" Ross demanded.

"Me. Because it was my idea to rent the place, I can pick." Eden grinned triumphantly.

"You're an evil cousin." Ross said, not meaning it.

"I know." Eden grinned. "That's just how I roll."

As soon as her cousin was out of earshot, she whispered to the other women- "The bathroom is bigger down here and the bedrooms are better. Plus, we get the TV."

"Nice!" Lacey high fived her friend, as did Jade, Rose, and Phoebe.

"I love having an awesome best friend." Jade hugged Eden as she spoke.

The long drive had tired them out. Shawn, Vince, James and Gerard followed Ross upstairs an hour later, and the girls finally fell asleep around midnight. They slept deep, with lovely dreams and peaceful slumber, snuggled in their own beds and comfortable in the rooms they had chosen.