Chapter 2: Portman’s POV by Star
“Well.” Banksie pushes open the door. “This is it.”
As we troop inside my jaw drops and shatters painfully on the perfectly polished stripped-wood flooring. To say this place is big is like saying Hitler was a teensy bit naughty. It’s like saying Tiny Tim’s family were moderately impoverished. It’s like saying Fulton and I are in a ‘snit’ with each other.
Naturally Taz is the first to find her voice. “Holy god. This is your cabin? It’s a palace.” She then grabs Maya’s hand and bounces forward to explore.
The entrance foyer is bigger than my Mom’s apartment. There’s a staircase straight ahead, to the side is a huge lounge, it’s straight out of a movie. There’s a fireplace to one end with—get this—a bearskin rug in front of it, couches litter the edges of the room. Then I catch sight of the walls.
“Just so you know, Banksie,” I say. “I’m morally opposed to them.” I point at all the stuffed animal heads mounted on plaques around the room.
“Typical,” Fulton mutters.
“What?” I snap, rounding on him. “I’ve been a vegetarian for eight years now. I don’t eat meat to live, so there’s no way I can condone people killing animals for fun.”
“Well, thanks for today’s morality lesson,” he replies in a bored tone. “Unfortunately, none of us care.”
“Hey, don’t go dragging us into it,” Maya says lightly. “Not with this fabulous place to explore.”
“You’re a lot mouthier than you were an hour ago on the plane. I think I liked you better when you were quivering like a girl—” this earns me an indignant ‘hey!’ from all girls present “—and praying to a god you don’t believe in that we wouldn’t crash.” He gives me a wounded look, and I realise that my last comment may have been a little below the belt. He can’t help being scared of flying. Then again, why should I care about his feelings when he doesn’t care about mine? If he cared about mine, he’d have asked for my side of the story before breaking up with me.
“Hey, I was praying that we wouldn’t crash too,” Annie interjects. “It’s always a good idea to get the Big Buddha on your side and if you’re that high up you’ve got a better chance of being heard. Now, can we go explore, because I’m dying to get in the hot tub that Banksie mentioned afterwards.”
Luis puts an arm around her and we move forwards through the living room. It leads to a kitchen that could successfully cater to the entire student body of Eden Hall. A door leads back to the hall, off that is three bedrooms and a bathroom.
Upstairs there are a further three bedrooms and yet another bathroom. This place is amazing, it’s exactly like I hoped it would be, although when I first signed up to come along, I had thought that Fulton and I would be together. I envisioned us spending the days skiing, and then the nights snuggling up together (and potentially doing X-rated stuff on that bearskin rug, just like those cheesy clichés). Of course, now we’ve split up, I can’t see myself enjoying this trip as much. I still want to ski, and the scenery is great, but it’s just not going to be as much fun now.
“Wow! Hot tub!” I hear an enthusiastic yell, followed by giggling, no doubt from Taz or Maya and it once again highlights that I’m not going to have the fun vacation that I wanted.
“I’m not rooming with him.” I hear a sudden declaration from my ex, coming from upstairs.
“Ok, you don’t have to,” Charlie says in a placating tone.
I suddenly realise the cause of the argument, Charlie and Adam will be sharing, Luis and Averman have always been roommates and won’t want to be separated. Jesse and Goldberg will be sharing. Taz and Maya—well, who’d want to separate them? It would mean putting someone else with Taz, and I presume Kory will be sharing with Annie—bad enough that she’s sharing with someone she doesn’t know, far worse if that unknown person was a guy.
So that leaves Fulton and I together, which was the original plan when we signed up for this. I wander up the stairs to join my irate ex and poor Charlie, who looks fit to collapse from the stress any second.
“I’m not sharing with you!” Fulton tells me before I’m even halfway up the stairs, just in case I missed it the first time he yelled it.
“Fine, don’t. I’m sure those couches downstairs will be plenty comfortable for you,” I reply with mock cheer and indifference.
“Why should I have to give up the room?” he snaps. “You can sleep downstairs.”
“You know what…” Charlie begins to edge away. “This is really between the two of you, I’ll just…”
I hardly notice him leave, despite the audible sigh of relief from him. “Why me? You didn’t have to come on this trip, you could have stayed home.”
“So could you,” He points out.
“I’m not sleeping on the couch!” I yell.
“Well I’m not either!” he yells back.
“Oh for the love of god, one of you kill the other, we’ll help you hide the body and then the rest of us can have a peaceful vacation!” Taz shouts up the stairs.
I realise that while my vacation is screwed, there’s no point in ruining it for the rest of them, one look at Fulton shows he’s come to the same conclusion.
“We’ll talk about this later,” he says gruffly and quickly walks away.
I sigh and follow him down the stairs, leaving enough space between us so he knows I’m not following him to talk, I just happen to need to go downstairs too. He heads towards the kitchen for some food, so I head the other way into the living room.
Annie is sprawled on the couch with Luis, giggling at something he’s saying, while Kory is sitting awkwardly by herself on the couch opposite. I notice that Annie keeps taking surreptitious glances at Kory, while listening to Luis.
“Problems?” Averman asks.
“Nope, we’re just dandy,” I reply sarcastically, then I regret being so harsh. It’s not Averman’s fault. “So, where are the others?”
“Well, Charlie and Adam are trying out the hot tub and Maya is checking Taz’s bags for art supplies of any kind,” Luis answers. “Jesse, Goldie and Averman are investigating the food situation. Although that’s scary, I hope Jesse can cook, because I know Averman can’t.”
“Fulton can,” I reply automatically. “He’s just headed that way.”
“Well, that’s a good thing,” Luis says. “We’re not going to die of food poisoning today.”
I take a seat next to Kory, and she gives me a shy smile. “So, Kory, are you going to be skiing?” I ask, then wonder if it’s a dumb question. I know that deafness would not affect her ability to ski, but would I like to be strapped to two planks of wood, hurtling down a mountain without being able to hear? “Taz won’t be,” I add hurriedly, to make it sound like my question is based on whether she wants to ski, not her disability. “She says it looks too athletic for her.”
Kory nods. “Actually, I will be. I like any form of sports.”
“Me too,” Annie chips in, then pauses until Kory is looking at her. “Although I’m a little scared of skiing, I don’t mind being tossed in the air by two girls my age in the gym, but skiing just seems a bit more extreme.”
“Why would you be tossed in the air?” Kory asks.
“I’m a cheerleader. Co-captain, actually,” Annie replies.
Kory gives her a surprised look. I guess Annie doesn’t act like the stereotypical cheerleader.
I lean back against the back of the couch as those who have skied trade stories and tips with those who haven’t, Charlie and Adam appear and join the conversation. I notice that this room is a lot more expensive than it appears on a first viewing. There are antique skies mounted on the wall and genuine Navajo rug adorns another wall. I can’t believe Banksie’s family are trusting us in this place.
Fulton pokes his head around the door. “We’re attempting to cook in here. Are there any objections to burgers? We’re starting small.” He flashes his grin at everyone except me.
“I have an objection,” I say firmly, and he knows what it will be. We were together for years, he knows that I’m vegetarian.
“Does anyone who counts have an objection?” he replies easily.
Damn him. Maybe it’s a good thing we broke up, how on earth did I fall in love with such an insensitive bastard? He doesn’t trust me, he doesn’t respect me (his ignoring my vegetarianism is just the tip of the iceberg)… yeah, it’s definitely for the best we’re apart.
I’m fine about this. Yeah, the break up was for the best. So what if I thought I loved him? Who cares that he’s the only person who knows me? What does it matter that he knows what’s going through my mind even before I verbalise my thoughts?
Who cares about all of that when he’s making me eat meat?
I sigh. I can’t even convince myself that I’m not missing him. I can’t even think of decent reasons why I might be glad we broke up.
Well, except for one…
“I’m not eating meat!” I yell.
“We have vegetarian burgers,” he says shortly, and without even a single glance in my direction he retreats to the kitchen, leaving me feeling oddly deflated.
I was all geared up for another fight then. I was just about to come up with a reason that I don’t need him.
This vacation sucks.