As she tucked herself in for the night she couldn?t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. Five miles down a treacherous path and it had been smooth sailing. Tomorrow would bring the serpentine course westward across the broad, cacti-studded Tonto Plateau. She?d walk the brink of cliffs that plunged more than a thousand feet to the Colorado River. The plan was to hike another five miles until she got to Grapevine Creek. There she would set up camp next to the river and let them lull her to sleep.
?While she may be closer in age to Nathan, him being only two years older as opposed to Jon?s three years younger; they had never really been close. He and Cameron treated her like she was a pest. They ditched her every opportunity they could. When Jonathan came into the world Ryder had been thrilled. She was disappointed that he wasn?t a girl but that didn?t stop her from making him play with her when he got out of that icky baby stage. She was pretty sure there was a picture of a two-year old Jonathan in a dress with make-up on done lovingly by five year old Ryder, that their mom was holding onto to humiliate him in front of a girl he got serious with. The serious girlfriend had yet to happen but her mother held out hope.
?Too much to drink last night, baby brother?? She smirked over the rim of her cup as Jon?s eyes rounded in surprise. She knew he?d gone out with his friends the night before. Pansy made a point of telling her they showed up at the bar she worked at. It would totally piss their dad off too since Jon would be filling in for her while she was on vacation.
?Son,? their dad said in that deep ?you better tell the truth or I?m gonna beat your ass? voice.
Ryder loved to see her brothers get in trouble. She considered it payback for being overprotective dicks while in high school. Sure, it was great they had her back, but they made it damn near impossible to date. It hadn?t been until her junior year that she had her first boyfriend and she only got to date him because he was new to the school. He hadn?t been warned to stay away or had his manhood threatened when her brothers were still there.
?Four days of hiking and camping in the Grand Canyon on a solo trip going from Grandview Point to the South Kaibab Trail. It was the best present she?d ever given herself.
Not that her roommate would agree with that. Pansy thought she was crazy for wanting to spend time walking around a?as she put it??super old bunch of rocks.? Pansy wasn?t an outdoor kind of girl.
To Ryder it sounded like heaven. She?s grown up hiking and camping with her family. Her love of the outdoors was ingrained into her soul. Nothing would ever take its place.