First Line Friday: Wolf Signs
Catch up with the wolfies! Wolf Signs is available once again today!
6450 calories stared up at Robyn.
She adjusted the lid on the apple box, closing it tightly over the cheesecake and the rest of her food supplies. Her gaze drifted over the gear spread all over her apartment. Her pack, her skis—all of it assembled for the annual trip with her brother to Granite Lake cabin.
A rush of anxiety and disappointment filled her as Tad made his announcement.
“I’m sorry, sis, but I have to take this request. Flying the climbing and research team to Mount Logan could end up being a regular booking. They’ll be working in Kluane National Park for the next five years, and if I can get on as their main pilot I’ll be set.” Tad slipped a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “I hate to cancel the trip on you.”
Robyn paced a few steps away before facing him, her hands flowing smoothly as she spoke in American Sign Language. “I understand. You need to take the job. I’m still going to Granite Lake.”
“No way. You can’t go by yourself.”
“But that’s different, Robyn.”
“Don’t be a jerk. I don’t have a penis so I can’t go backcountry alone?”
Tad raised a brow. “It’s not the lack of plumbing, sis, and you know it. I seldom go bush alone, and if I do meet anyone, it’s not a big deal. I’m male, I’m strong and I’m not deaf. How do you plan to talk with strangers?”
She threw a pillow at him before lifting her hands to sign. “I’ll take some notepads. What are the chances of meeting anyone at Granite this time of year? We always go in February because no one else does. I’m packed, the food is packed, and I’ve got time off work from the bakery. You even booked a helicopter ride for me with your buddy Shaun. I’ve never gotten to fly in before.
“And wait a minute, what’s with that little dig saying you’re strong? Last time I checked, I out-skied, out-wrestled and out-gambled your sorry butt, big brother. Don’t give me that as an excuse.”
Tad narrowed his gaze. “Stop being stubborn.”
“What? Waste all those years of training? You told me once to stand up for myself and do what I need to do, in spite of not being able to hear. Are you saying that doesn’t apply anymore?”
“Of course not—”
“Good, because I’d hate to call you a hypocrite.” Annoyance aside, she really needed him to understand. “I need to go to Granite. I need to get out of the city for a while. I’ll be a good little girl and take the satellite phone along. I can check in with you Tuesday.”
Tad ran a hand through his hair before collapsing on the couch in resignation. “Fine, you win. But if you need anything you call me, or you call Shaun and he’ll fly you home. Understand? You don’t have to do the ski out if you don’t want.”
Robyn caught a glimpse of herself in the hall mirror. Shades of brown reflected back. Shoulder-length brown hair, big brown eyes with golden flecks, skin that showed her First Nations heritage.
She’d lived her whole life in the Yukon, and her solid body was more than capable of doing the ten-mile ski. She’d been completing it with the family since she was nine years old. Tad had skied the route with her and knew she loved every minute of the trip.
She counted to twenty.
“Tad, are you looking for pain? Because I can kick your butt if you need it.”
He blinked in shock. “What did I say?”
Robyn stomped up and glared in his face. Tad was her brother through adoption, and he and his parents were all darker in colouring than her. His short black hair stood in ragged spikes from his manhandling, and his dark eyes stared back with confusion.
She needed to make this clear, though. She signed, hands moving with great energy as she emphasized her points. “I like the ski across the lake. I like going to the Granite Lake cabin. I’m thrilled you got me the helicopter ride, but only because I want to take the ice auger to leave at the cabin.”
“Don’t expect me to be some kind of baby because you can’t go with me this time.”
Tad grabbed her hands and pulled her in for a hug. He let her step back so she could read his lips. “I was out of line.”
“Sorry. Hell, you’ve got a temper on you. Glad you didn’t throw anything hard at me this time.”
“I thought about it but my ice axe is already packed.” She turned to tuck away a few more items, then grabbed her backpack and placed it beside the door.
He tugged on her arm to get her attention. “You need some space, don’t you? You seem really tense.”
Robyn returned to her skis. She fiddled with the bindings before glancing back at Tad. “Yeah. Feels like the walls are closing in. I’ll be okay if I can get some time away from the city.”
“There’s something…” Tad hesitated, looking everywhere around the room except at her. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before shaking his head. “Never mind.”
She sighed heavily. “Not again. You do this at least once a year. Whatever deep, dark secret you have, I wish you’d spit it out. Or stop bringing it up, because you just get me curious. Are you gay?”
Tad sat back on his heels, his jaw dropping open. “Robyn!”
“Well, you seem to turn twenty shades of red every time you start this, I thought maybe it had to do with sex. I don’t care if you are gay, you know. There’s this great guy down at the bakery—”
“Thanks, but I’m not gay. It’s nothing. Do you have your bear spray?”
She blew her bangs off her face with a sudden snort and pointed to the pocket of her ski overalls. “Stupidest thing I’ve ever carried. I’ve never seen a bear, not once in all our trips.”
“Someday you might be glad you have it, sis.”
“But I could carry at least five more chocolate bars. That reminds me, you do realize if I gain weight this trip it’s all your fault.”
“We packed an entire Mocha Chocolate Cheesecake to eat this week. Now I’m going to have to suffer through and eat the whole damn thing myself.” She licked her lips and grinned.