“Mom, I told you I’d call you when I got off the plane, and I’m off the plane. We didn’t crash, or have a catastrophic engine failure, or anything like that. Please relax.”
Holding my cell phone between my shoulder and my ear, I grumbled into the receiver and tried to stave off wincing. My mom was so loud the other people waiting for their baggage could probably hear her. Along the line, a rough, heavy sigh flowed, and I pursed my lips together.
“Don’t you tell me to relax, Sylvia. That flight was seven hours long! How was I supposed to know nothing bad happened to you?”
I nearly rolled my eyes at the argument, but my mother made a good point. Cell phone use was prohibited on flights so she wouldn’t know what happened to me for hours. Letting out air through my nose, my gaze narrowed on my rather large suitcase as it traveled on the belt.
“Well, I’m perfectly fine. No need to worry anymore since I won’t be taking another flight back until July. I do have to go, though. I should pick up Aunt Rachel’s Jeep before it gets too many tickets. I’ll call you tomorrow after I talk to the realtor, okay?”
Snatching my luggage from the belt, I carefully pulled up the handle and began to make my way out of the small airport. My cell phone speaker crackled, and a slither of irritation wiggled into my heart.
I was 22 years old and had my life on track; there was no reason for my mother to fear so much.
“Fine, but you better call me, Sylvia. And don’t forget to text me pictures of the house when you get there. Maybe I’ll keep it and use it for vacations.”
At that notion, I did roll my eyes, and a small smile upturned my lips. My mother had such grand ideas and whimsical dreams. Everyone knew she’d never leave Maine, though.
“Yeah, okay. I gotta go. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Mom.”
Hanging up before my mom could drag on the conversation, I heaved a big, loud sigh. Shoving my phone in my pocket, I ran my free hand through my hair. Energy zinged through my veins to replace the annoyance I felt. Sleeping on the plane had been a good idea. Even with everything circling in my head I’d at least gotten a few hours of rest.
Anchorage, Alaska was a beautiful place, and the first thing that hit me was the crisp, clean air. Despite the cars and trucks that mobbed the street, the smell was much fresher than anything I’d experienced before. My chest expanded as my lungs took in as much as they could, and I held my breath for a moment.
My feet carried me towards a sprawling parking lot, but even for its size it was smaller than ones in the Lower 48. Dipping into my purse, my fingers easily found the extra set of keys I’d received at my great aunt’s funeral. Why she’d gifted me this cottage and a rickety, old Jeep was beyond my comprehension.
Maybe it’s because her grandkids are spoiled pricks that don’t know how to work a broom.
The thought made me frown, and I glanced around the lot with narrowed eyes. My Aunt Rachel was filthy rich; the key word there being ‘was.’ When she died, she left all her money to her nine grandchildren to divvy up amongst themselves. None of my cousins wanted a dusty, old cottage in the middle of nowhere, so no one contested me.
Talk about dodging a bullet.
“Where is this thing…?” My question was hollow, and my brows came together over my sharp eyes. I didn’t even have a picture of this car, just a license plate number, make, and model. “It’s a red Jeep… how many can there be…?”
After walking up to several Jeeps to stare blankly at the license plate, I finally found the one I was looking for. Surprise blanketed my expression, and I let go of my suitcase to stand in the middle of the driving lane dumbly. This shiny, auburn colored four door looked brand new; it was nothing like the topless, beat up hunk of junk I first expected. The car sparkled despite the light coating of dust it wore, and the wheels looked like they’d driven less than a hundred miles.
Clicking the ‘Unlock’ button on the key’s remote starter, I licked my lips as my heart hammered in my chest. There’s no way this car is less than 50 grand… and it’s in my name.
“Thank you, Auntie Rachel.” I stepped up against the trunk, mumbling to myself as my spirits about this trip took a sharp and sudden upturn. Peering over lightly dyed leather seats, I could smell that new car scent wafting up into my brain. There wasn’t a speck of dust inside the trunk, and even the various compartments were free of grime on their edges.
Carefully sticking the key in the ignition, I let it hang there to wiggle my bottom comfortably down into my seat. I’d never even had the luxury of sitting in a car with a dash navigator, let alone one that was built in. The panel was at least seven inches wide, and excitement nibbled at the back of my throat. Exploring this car was going to be fun.
My fingers wrapped comfortably around the leather steering wheel, and a small sigh floated up from my lungs. The engine rumbled to life, and I sunk a little into my seat before carefully backing out inch by inch.
“Oh wow - it connects to my phone.” Sitting at a stop sign in the middle of nowhere, I grumbled my surprise as I tapped the touch screen console. One of my music lists popped up, and my lips stretched into a wide smile. Scrolling down, it wasn’t hard to find a nice, upbeat song to match my mood.
My head bopped side to side, front to back, to the beat of the music as I drove. The road was getting bumpier with each mile, and a genuine apprehension kept me from going over 30 miles an hour.
At this rate, I won’t get there until nightfall.
Glancing at the GPS, I bit down on my bottom lip at the distance I still had to go. My aunt’s cottage was in some tiny town of four thousand that no one had ever heard of. Aunt Rachel came up here almost every other summer for nearly 40 years, even when her kids and grandkids refused. The property included a lake, and I’d heard on more than one occasion that it was the sole reason she’d lived to 108 years old.