I didn’t remember much beyond that… but that was enough.

In my mind, I was Much-Afraid, and Killian and Derek were two angels of death – not evil destroyers, just two messengers of the eventual end all mortals must come to. And Ryan was the Shepherd, guiding me on the path. And the dog was an angel, and Bob was God, and we were all marching onwards to my final resting place, where I would spend the rest of eternity in the dark and cold, but at least I would have Ryan’s warm arms around me.


Like I said: fucked UP.

Maybe the most fucked-up thing of all was that I was depending on Ryan to keep me safe, and warm, and sane…

…and Derek was an afterthought.

An angel of death.

A dark shadow, of no comfort to me whatsoever when the End finally came.

66

We finally reached the cabins.

And Bob.

He was outside in the dark, surrounded by the dogs, who were running around him and yapping.

“You guys okay?” he asked.

In reality, his tone of voice was probably just concerned. Solicitous. Wanting to make sure we were alright.

But remember, at this stage of the game, I was still convinced he was God.

I believe I now have some insight about how Adam and Eve must have felt when their Maker showed up in the Garden of Eden and asked, Hey, have you two crazy kids been eating any apples?

I felt like my soul was laid naked before him, and he could see all my sins. All I wanted to do was run and hide.

Not Derek.

“Never better, Bob!” he crowed.

Killian just giggled uncontrollably as he kept playing his weird, atonal guitar solos.

As the lone sober person, Ryan stepped in as ambassador for the rest of us druggies. “We’re good, thanks.”

“Okay,” Bob said. “If you need anything, just holler.”

And then God and his angels retreated to Heaven, leaving us mere mortals alone in the void.

By this point, my teeth were chattering, I was so cold.

“We should get you a jacket,” Ryan said.

I nodded.

“Derek and I are going in the other cabin, spark up a joint,” Killian announced. “Want to join us?”

“Not for the joint, but we’ll be over in a minute,” Ryan told him.

And Derek and Killian walked off to the other cabin, chatting and laughing madly.

Ryan walked me into my cabin. “Do you want to – uh, Kaitlyn, what are you doing?”

I was running into the kitchen, is what I was doing.

I had only seen the cabin during the daylight. Now that it was dark, I was not entirely convinced that this was actually the right cabin.

‘Not entirely convinced’?

Hell, I was pretty damn sure that I was in the wrong place.

But I knew that if there was orange juice in the fridge, then this was the right place. That I hadn’t been duped.

That I wasn’t irretrievably lost.

And so I raced into the kitchen in the darkness and flung open the refrigerator door –

And there, in the dim light of the weak little bulb, sat the orange juice container.

I was safe.

67

Ryan and I joined Derek and Killian a few minutes later. They were lounging separately on two twin beds, passing a joint back and forth between them. A candle sat on an inn table between the beds, its single flame the only thing illuminating the room.

“Why is there a candle?” I asked in a freaked-out voice.

“It’s pretty,” Killian said, and began giggling again.

In my mind’s eye I saw the candle flame jumping to the curtains, and the whole cabin catching fire, and the rescue team finding my charred body the next morning amongst the ashes.

“I don’t like it,” I whimpered.

“It’s fine,” Derek said as he tried to hold in a lungful of pot smoke.

“It’s going to burn down the cabin,” I whined.

“No it’s not – ”

“Guys, let’s put out the candle, okay?” Ryan said. “It’s making Kaitlyn nervous.”

“But – ”

Before anybody could object, Ryan bent over and – puff! – the candle was out.

I have never been more grateful for anything in my life.

“Jesus Christ,” Derek muttered.

“Derek – ” Ryan warned.

“Okay, okay,” he sighed. “C’mere, Kaitlyn.”

I walked over to him and laid next to him in bed, and suddenly I felt much better. He passed off the joint to Killian, then held me.

Finally, the comfort I had wanted so badly, from the man I truly wanted it from.

I snuggled into his arms and just lay there.

Ryan turned on a lamp and kept quiet as Killian and Derek talked and laughed in the semi-darkness.

At one point I had to get up to go to the bathroom.

But I knew that if I left that bed, something terrible was going to happen.

“Killian,” I whispered.

“What, luv?”

I held out my arm. “Come over here.”

He frowned, but he got up off his bed and came over.

I took hold of his right hand and joined it with Derek’s left.

“Ryan,” I whispered.

“What?”

“Come here.”

He chuckled and came over to the bed.

I took his hand and put it into Derek’s right.

“I have to go to the bathroom. Don’t let go, okay?”

Everybody was laughing by this point.

Everybody but me.

“Promise!”

“I promise,” Ryan said.

Killian couldn’t stop giggling.

“I don’t fuckin’ believe this shit,” Derek hooted.

I started to get upset. “Derek – ”

“I promise, I promise. Jesus.”

I got up off the bed and crept to the bathroom.

Right before I closed the door, I peeked out.

“Don’t get off the boat,” I whispered, deadly serious.

That brought the house down.

Confused at their reaction, I closed the door and went about my business in the dark.

They were still laughing when I came out.

68

Derek and I only stayed a little bit longer in Ryan and Killian’s cabin. At some point he nudged me and whispered naughtily, “Let’s go back.”

By this time, all my freaked-outness about God and doggie angels and staying on the boat had subsided, and I was just enjoying being warm and comfortable in Derek’s arms. So I agreed. “Okay.”

“We’re heading back,” Derek announced to his bandmates

Killian just nodded and continued playing weird, atonal melodies on the guitar.

Ryan looked at me searchingly. “You okay, Kaitlyn?”

“Yeah… thanks.”

“No problem. If you need anything, just call me.”

Derek frowned. “Why would she need you? She’s got me.”

Ryan let that one go, and just smiled. “See you two tomorrow morning.”

When we got back to the cabin, Derek started to kiss me. Though my high wasn’t as strong as before, the sensations were still magical: I seemed to be able to feel every little caress in minute detail.

I was just starting to get really into it when he backed away from me.

“What did Ryan mean about if you need anything, to call him?”

I stared at him, trying to focus on his eyes in the shadows. “What? …why?”

“I want to know.”

“I don’t know. I guess if I got freaked out.”

“Why would you get freaked out?”

I frowned, starting to get the slightest bit angry. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe because that’s the way I was most of the afternoon?”

Derek seemed genuinely surprised. “What?”

“Back in the desert?” I said sarcastically. “‘Don’t get off the boat’? ‘We should go back, we might die’? Ring a bell? I was pretty messed up there for awhile.”

“…you were?”

The depth of his cluelessness baffled and angered me.

Hadn’t he been paying attention at all?

“I was totally freaking out!”

He looked slightly abashed. “I’m sorry… I didn’t know…”

“How could you not know?!”

He shrugged. “I was high.”

…oh, yeah…

Well… I suppose that’s a pretty good reason…

But it didn’t seem like he should be able to get away with it that easily.

“What did you think was going on with me?!”

“I don’t know… I guess I just thought you weren’t that into it.”

That was the understatement of the year.

“You were making fun of me and getting all impatient!” I complained.

“When?” he asked, mystified.

“Are you serious?!”

“Yeah.”

He seemed sincere, which pissed me off even more.

“When we were just starting, you got mad because I was worried!”

“Oh, that,” he said, brushing it off a bit too cavalierly for my tastes. “I didn’t mean anything by it. I just wanted you to have a good time.”

“Well then, maybe you shouldn’t have told me I was going to have a bad trip if I didn’t lighten up!”

He stood there silently for a moment.

“…is that it?” he finally asked.

Is that IT?!

Now I was hopping mad.

“You ignored me the entire time!”

“No I didn’t!” he protested. “We made out some – we talked – ”

“Not much! You were always off with Killian!”

“Well, you were always hanging off of Ryan,” he said darkly.

Finally I understood.

“You’re jealous,” I said, amazed.

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