“Hey, Liam, what do you think?” I heard Dan like though the wall, I did not pay much attention to what he and others were talking about for quite a while.
I kept staring at the girl sitting a few meters from us on the grass, reading a book and the bulky camera by her side. The mountains in the background and the sound of nearby water running down the stream made the whole image magical and I could not take my eyes away. She was wearing hiking clothes, but that did not mask her shape; quite the opposite.
“Liam! Mate, what’s up with you?”
I still did not reply, not because I was staring at the girl, but because I’ve noticed Finn getting up and walking towards her. When he approached her she looked up and smiled at him. Pointing down on the spot of the grass right next to her, he sat down. They were gleefully talking for a few minutes and I could not shake off the anger and disappointment, which I felt ashamed of. Finn is my friend and this is just some random girl I don’t even know. Yet, there was something about her that made me feel way too many things at once.
I tried to force myself to join back the conversation with the rest of the group, when I saw Finn getting up, helping the girl to gather her belongings. Slowly they made their way up to us.
“Everyone, this is Emma, Emma, this Jo, Lisa, Will, Dan, and Liam.”
The sea of hi’s and how are you doing’s met the girl that was smiling at the group shyly.
Emma had dark hair down to her elbows, brown eyes and bright smile that grabbed my attention from the very first second. She looked like the fittest of us all making me feel like we do not belong on this hiking trail. She was carrying a big backpack and had a camera in her hand.
A little shy at the beginning, she quickly became comfortable with the group talking with everyone. Everyone but me, I was still silent and I could not look much at her sitting close to Finn. He seemed to be extremely excited by her presence drinking her features in the way I did not like in the slightest.
As it turned out Emma was traveling full time in her van and working remotely as a self-employed videographer and photographer and that she would love to join us for the rest of the day as her hiking plans overlapped with ours.
We got up and packed all the food and water back into our backpacks and making sure we left no trail behind we continued our hike. With Emma being new to the group everyone wanted to talk to her and luckily no one noticed me sulking in the back.
I had the same opportunity to talk to her as Finn did, he just took the chance instead of just glaring at her like stupid. I could’ve been the one that introduced her to everyone and the one that probably will get to know her better. Knowing Finn, this better will probably happen very fast.
“You’re Liam, right? You don’t seem to be very happy I joined.”
My heart started beating faster when I realized she is now walking beside me.
“Oh, no. Of course not. I am just… I got just buried in my thoughts, it has nothing to do with you,” I smiled at her stupidly.
We were chatting for at least half an hour feeling like we had known each other forever.
The hike was long but the trail turned out beautiful and full of scenic views. And in another coincidence, we are all staying at the same campsite, so Emma moved her van and joined our camping place. We all were exhausted, yet she still had the energy to start the fire and work on her pictures. I could not stop being in awe at the strength and energy she had. It was quite contagious.
I got up and offered to prepare some food for everyone, which was quite exciting as we now had a whole kitchen at Emma’s van, which was very well equipped. As I entered it, I started looking around. Everything was very neat and tidy. In the back, there was a big, comfy-looking raised bed, small bathroom with the shower and toilet in the front and kitchen counter, small table and a bench. It all was tiny but cozy and looked like all a person needs to be happy.
I started rummaging through the cupboards for the knife, board, and other necessities to make dinner. And then there was a knowing, and Jo entered.
“Do you need a hand? Emma’s energy made me feel a bit ashamed I am doing nothing, so I thought I could help you out.” nodded happily and passed her a cutting board, knife, and tomatoes. She settled herself at the table looking around. “It’s a great space. Did you know she designed it and built it all by herself? She is crazy. I wonder if there is anything she can’t do.”
“Mhm,” I murmured.
“So, you like her, huh?”
“Sorry?” I looked up at her quickly and blushed.
Jo had that satisfied look of someone who just hit the spot. “I have seen you staring at her like she was some kind of a miracle,” She smiled mischievously.
“I don’t know what you are talking about, Jo.” Trying to look like I don’t care I came back to chopping the onion.
“I think she likes you too.”
The knife slipped and I cut my finger. “Oh, fuck!” I gasped and looked up at Jo while trying to stop the bleeding with my other hand. She sneered. “Oh, shut up, and get me something for this cut.”
Jo looked like she is about to burst laughing but she stood up nevertheless and went to look for something to clean the cut with.
I leaned on the counter sucking on my finger, to then quickly take it out as the taste of blood mixed with raw onion did not appeal to my taste buds in the slightest.
“I think she likes you too, you know.” Jo’s words were on repeat in my head. I heard steps and someone entered the van.
“Do you think she-” I started saying, turning towards the entrance at the same time. I froze when I saw it was Emma, not Joanna coming in. She looked at me questioningly. When I did not proceed, she shrugged.
“Jo told me you cut yourself. Let me have a look.”
I lifted my hand and showed her the cut. She came very, very close to me, my heart started beating very fast; I could smell her sweet scent mixed with the smell of the smoke from the bonfire.
I looked at her, my whole body feeling incandescent.
“Would you mind?” She looked at me impatiently. “You are blocking the drawer with first aid kit.”
I moved swiftly feeling like a complete idiot. She rummaged around for a few seconds and took out the box full of bandages. Then, she took my hand and examined the wound closely.
“You’ll be fine,” she smiled. “It sounded way worse when Jo described it.” She started cleaning the cut with the utmost care and professionalism.
“Oh, did she now. Jo is a drama queen.” I dismissed the subject, “you are good at this.”
She shrugged indifferently, “my mom is a doctor. Plus, living alone on the road requires all types of skills. Anyways, it’s just a small cut. Here. All done.” I looked down to see the plaster on my finger. My eyes smoothly slid up to her waist and following the curves of her breast, I rested my gaze on her pale, smooth neck seeing the pulsation of the life within her, feeling her warmth. I looked up and I noticed she is looking at me intently. The night suddenly became warmer and the noises coming from the outside seemed more distant. I wanted to grab her, kiss her here and then.
I lifted my hand to touch her, but just before I brushed her skin I heard knocking on the side of the van. Taken by surprise, Emma moved away swiftly and turning her back on me, she started putting all the stuff back in the box.
“Liam, have you seen… Oh, there you are!” Finn came in smiling at Emma, “do you guys want a beer? I thought I will take a car and go buy some stuff. Do we need more food?”
“I will go with you,” Emma said without looking at me. “I was supposed to get some groceries today anyways.”
“Liam?” Finn looked at me questioningly. “Do you need anything?” I nodded.
“Beer is fine. Thanks, mate.” Lisa and Dan came in right after and helped me with finishing off the dinner. Later on, we all sat down by the fire talking and laughing. I started playing the guitar; just some random melodies and listen to Dan and Lisa bickering.
At some point, I got up to go to grab another beer from the cooler that wa…