Hannah Jane, 35, a thriving Seattle, Washington criminal defense attorney, was all but dragged for a much-needed vacation with her brother, Adam. As a public defender, Hannah met her share of criminals, most in jail for minor offenses. Possession of pot and probation violations seemed to be the gist of her work. The pay wasn’t good, but it was enough. Hannah sent her staff home early to beat the forecasted snowstorm.
“The snow is picking up again,” Adam said, snapping his fingers. “We’d better hit the road.”
“But Mt. Rainer…? I’m not outdoorsy—”
“I’m not takin’ no for an answer.” Adam pulled her shoulder. “We’re going. Like it or not.”
Hannah yanked her hand from his death grip and widened her arms. “So like hold on. I so needa finish this last drop of coffee with a splash of vodka.” Hannah hadn’t gone skiing or hiking, ever, and wouldn’t have been caught dead in a cabin. But, at this point in her life, change would do her well. It’s not like she hasn’t enjoyed being spontaneous but it mostly involved shopping, not going to exercise for a vacation.
“Don’t tell”—Adam pointed—”me you’re still…never mind.”
“What?” She motioned. “Don’t even start with the alcoholic talk.”
Adam threw his hands in the air and then lowered them. “My lips are sealed. For now…”
Adam figured the alcohol poisoning death of her grandfather would scare her straight. Hannah bit her fingernails, scanning the office hoping she hadn’t forgotten anything.
“Are you taking this?” Adam asked, waving her laptop above his head.
Hannah held her hands over her face, laughing.
“I could get work done,” she said, raising a sly brow. “I doubt you’d let me take it.”
She glanced across her desk to a picture of Mark, her boyfriend. This sight of his smile turned her stomach. She bit her lower lip, wanting to throw the goddamn picture in the trash. Adam will ask too many questions though, she thought. I’ll call him and end it this weekend. That way he couldn’t visit her to convince me otherwise.
Hannah’s head felt like crushed rocks every time tears spread Mark’s cheeks, not because she felt sorry for him—but his whaling sounded like a sad puppy dog whimpering for its owner. She had tried to end it before but when she wanted to break it off—he’d breakdown. Not this time, though, she thought.And this time, nothing was going to change her mind, not even his crying.
“Wait, why did you throw Mark’s picture away?”
Hannah rolled her eyes. “I spilled a coffee on it last week.”
“Well, you are a clutch—always have been.” Adam caught wind of Hannah’s disdain for Mark. Didn’t she love her boyfriend? Adam thought.
“Lock those files in your desk.” Adam reached across her desk.
“These aren’t important,” she said, slapping his hand. “Besides, Jan needs them first thing next week.”
Peering around the corner one last time, making sure the hallway corridor light turned off. Click, the office building door locked shut. “And we’re off,” Hannah said.
“And we’re off.” Adam agreed.
Hannah and Adam pulled out of the parking lot in Adam’s new Jeep Cherokee. She reached but couldn’t find them.
“Adam, turn on your fog lights,” Hannah nagged.
“Good looking out, the last thing I need is a ticket.”
Hannah covered a yawn, staring out the passenger window. “Wake me up when we get there.”
“Okay, sis,” Adam said.
Mists of snow flurries touched the windshield as the wipers dispersed the snowflakes side-to-side the flakes go. Steering the 4×4 with his knees, Adam cracks his window. There’s a menthol cigarette hanging out of his mouth, he lit a match, nearly touched the flame to his lips, but Hannah peeked out of one eye.
“Don’t even think about it.”
Adam groaned. “Damn it.”
He threw the matchbox in the center compartment and flicked the cigarette, match out the window.
A change of pace, at least for a few weeks would do Hannah well, a perfect time for hot chocolate after midnight. If nothing else, she’d settle for a tall ice-cold glass of sparkling red wine, preferably, the cheap wine, which comes in dusty boxes. Spending time at the new Mt. Rainier cabins presents an elegant occasion for Hannah to sing her favorite pop/punk songs loud on her cheap acoustic guitar her father bought her for Christmas when she was 12. Kicking her feet up and making herself at home was almost a foreign concept to the young attorney. The last time Hannah painted her toenails, her favorite color, black, was a distant memory. Adam felt his sister needed to taste the fresh mountain air for herself. Better yet, Hannah needed to breathe the brisk winter mountain sky. And. Mt. Rainer located just south of Vancouver, Washington was by far the perfect location. Mojo’s Lodge just so happened to have brand new high-end log cabins available. The fresh, exhilarating Pinewood soothes her nerves; especially when she falls asleep with her headphones on listening to Christian talk radio. She called it cheap-comedic radio.
“Hannah, wake up,” Adam said and tapped her arm.
“What the hell, dude?” she complained. “Who nudges someone to wake them?” Her coat had a puddle of drool.
“I should take a picture of that drool.” Adam pointed. “Did you pour a cup of water on your sleeve?”
“Do it.” Hannah pointed. “But, that’ll be your last picture!” A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth.
“Don’t act too excited.” Adam joked.
“This looks…fun.” Hannah gawked at the sea of people, heading for the mountain, laughing and flying down the ski slopes. Some folks snowmobiled across the street from the lodge in the opposite direction of the hikers. She wondered what people saw so fun about hiking. Maybe the thrill was the knee pain, she thought.
Compared to the side-roads, the groundkeepers paved the parking lot well. She waved at a long-bearded man driving a truck with a snowplow attached. He looked friendly enough. Adam and Hannah strolled into the lobby of the Lodge. Sprinkled salt on the ground had kept them from slipping. A cozy fireplace warmed the office. The smell of fresh firewood burning lingered. A scruffy bearded man, wiping what appeared to be cookie crumbs on his jeans, approached the counter. Hannah looked at the man’s dirty nametag. She reached her hand across the desk to shake his hand.
“Hi, Tyson, my name is Hannah Jane.” Hannah’s father taught her to look a man in the eye when you talk to him, so she did. “This guy next to me”—she patted his shoulder—”is my brother, Adam Jane.”
“How do you do…?” Tyson asked, lowering his chin and raising it as if to bow.
“We booked a cabin for this weekend.”
“Fill this paper out,” Tyson said, pushing a clipboard attached to a pen across the desk. The papers asked random questions like are you depressed today. Hannah raised her eyebrows and looked at Adam.
“This paper is asking if I am depressed.”
“Well, are you?”
Hannah’s eyes went cold. “Of course I am not depressed,” Hannah said it louder than she wanted to. People buying gifts looked at Hannah and smiled.
“Are you at the ‘are you depressed’ part yet?” a woman asked. Hannah pulled her bangs behind her ear.
The woman flashed two thumbs up as if to say, I know it’s crazy as hell. Hannah filled out the relevant portion of the paperwork and pushed it across the counter to Tyson and placed the pen in the Nirvana cup.
“Dear,” Tyson said, pulling the pen out of the cup. “That’s my coffee cup.”
“I’m sorry.” Hannah laughed louder than appropriate.
“Don’t worry about it, dear,” Tyson said with a consoling grin. “You wouldn’t be the first, and I’m sure you won’t be the last.”
He placed his dirty glasses on the edge of his rather large nose. Hannah wondered how he could see out of them.
“Ok…everything looks fine,” Tyson said. “And you already paid, right?” The last thing Tyson wanted to do was hand keys to people who didn’t pay. Been there, done that.
“Yes, we, I paid last week,” Adam said. Tyson had a southern draw. He typed on a keyboard for a few seconds, stopped, and started again. And stopped and started again. Tyson returned his eyes to Hannah.
“You’re the brother and sister from Seattle, right?” Hannah looks honest enough, he thought.
“That would be us,” Adam confirmed. Tyson must have been from the deep-south. Hannah thought it might be rude to ask for confirmation of her built-in geographical voice detector.
“Alright, it looks like you’re all set,” Tyson said.
“Thanks,” Hannah said.
“Our cabin is up the hill, right?” Adam pointed.
“That’s right.” Tyson motioned. “Take that curvy road up to the cabins. It’s the second on the left.” He said in his southern twang. “You can’t miss it.” Hannah reached across the desk for a hospitable departing handshake.
“Thanks for your help, Tyson.”
Adam grabbed their bags from the car. The short walk to the cabin felt like a hike itself. Hannah unlocked, opened the door. The smell of fresh pine excited her. She breathed deep. “I can’t get enough of pinewood scent,” she said. “It’s unlike anything else.”