The remainder of the week passed by uneventfully. Logan and I did little with our time, including simple things like turning on the television or playing board games we had found in the study. We occasionally took rides into town when the weather cleared for a few hours. For the most part, though, we stayed inside the snow-blockaded house.
I very rarely saw Cody, as he was spending all his time working on the task his father had assigned to him. However, against his protests of wanting to stay out of mine and Logan's way, I insisted that he eat his meals with us. It seemed ridiculous that Cody should drive into town for a meal when there was already plenty of food in the house that practically belonged to him in the first place.
By the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, I had already done all my laundry. It was folded in neat piles on top of the bed while I cleaned out the remainder of the closet. I wanted to have my suitcase pretty much packed so I wasn't running around the next morning, looking for my things while Logan and I should've been on our way already.
As I began to transfer my clothes from the bed to my suitcase, a knock came on my door.
I heaved a sigh. Logan had already come into my room twice, asking if I wanted to play a game of Monopoly with him. Although I had told him numerous times that I would play once I finished packing, I didn't put it past him to ask a third time.
"Yes?" I asked, my voice sounding impatient.
"Megan? Can I come in?"
I stood up straight, realizing that the voice wasn't my best friend's. "Oh! Cody… I'm sorry, I thought you were Logan. Of course, c'mon in."
The door creaked open, but the boy didn't step into the bedroom. Instead, he stood in the entrance with his shoulder against the doorframe.
"Already packing?" he asked.
I shrugged, glancing around the room. "Logan and I have to be out of here by noon tomorrow, and I didn't want to have to wake up at seven to do my laundry."
Cody nodded slowly and fell into silence. As I waited for something to break the density in the room, I let my eyes scan over the wooden planks that made up the floor.
"Anyway, I just wanted to say goodbye. It's been really great meeting you."
My gaze snapped up suddenly. "Oh… You're leaving?" I asked.
Cody nodded. "Yeah. I finished fixing the last radiator this morning, so I figured I'd head out. You know, beat the storm."
"Yeah, makes sense," I replied. As my eyes wandered over to my bag, a thought suddenly struck me. "Oh! Hey, listen… I was going to call your dad for some information on the house, but since you're already here, do you mind helping me fill out some paperwork really fast before you leave? It's just a few details that the group needs to know about the house, so we can put the information up on the website. It won't take more than five minutes."
Cody shrugged, placing his hands in the pockets of his jeans. "Sure. It's not really my house, so I don't know how much I can help you with, but I'll do what I can."
I nodded and shot him a smile. "Alright, thanks." I began sifting through my pocketbook for the stapled packet of papers. When I found it, I grabbed a pen and scanned over the questions. I was able to answer the first few on my own.
"Pool, no. Hot-tub, check. Fireplaces, two. Basement, check. Sunroom, yeah. Laundry room and cable, yes," I murmured to myself. Then, locating a question that I did not know the answer to, I looked up. "How many bathrooms are there?" I asked.
Cody pondered it for a moment. "Four, I think, if you count the one in the basement."
I nodded, jotting that down. "And how many bedrooms?"
The boy bit his lip, trying to think. He let his head drop backward and he scanned the ceiling with his eyes. "Six," he concluded.
"Okay. How many people in total can this house sleep?"
"Uh… Eleven. Four of the rooms have double beds, and the loft has a third mattress," he answered.
"Any records of floods, problems with the house's foundation…?"
Cody shook his head. "Not that I know of, no."
"Okay," I said, putting a check next to that particular section. "Last question. Are you planning on doing any work to the house in the near future that will change the answers to the questions you have just been asked?" I said, reading straight from the paperwork.
The boy furrowed his eyebrows together. "I think my dad said something about turning the attic into a bedroom. We finished putting the flooring down this past summer, and we installed some heat, so it's basically livable up there. We just have to move in a few pieces furniture."
"There's an attic?" I asked, thoroughly unaware that the house extended any further than the loft. "I wonder how I managed to miss it..."
"Yep. The stairs are on the far side of the house, just past the study. The door really just looks like a closet, so that's probably why you didn't notice it," Cody told me. Then, as an afterthought, he added, "Would you like me to show it to you?"
I took a short pause before I willed myself to shake my head. "Nah, it's fine. You said you had to be on your way, and I've already held you up. I'm sure I can find it on my own."
Cody shrugged. "It's no problem. I don't have anywhere in particular I have to be. C'mon, I'll bring you up there so you'll have a better idea of what the new bedroom will look like."
After putting the paperwork on the bed and tossing the pen on top of it, I followed Cody out of the room. We walked down the hallway, and as we passed Logan's room, my curious best friend stuck his head out into the corridor. He watched us inquiringly for a moment.
"Where you going?" Logan said, stepping out of the doorway and into the center of the hall.
"Cody's showing me the attic before he leaves," I said simply.
I heard the soft thudding of Logan's footsteps on the carpet as he began to follow after us. "Can I come?" he asked.
"It would seem that you already are," I replied with a sigh. He grinned contentedly, following after Cody and I like a questioning puppy.
When Cody reached the door, he turned the lock and opened it. An immediate draft whooshed down the stairs as soon as the door had been released, and I shivered a little. I assumed the heat hadn't been raised in there in quite some time. Cody flicked the light switch and the three of us climbed upward on the narrow, double-landing staircase.
The room was nothing more than a few high beamed ceilings and some newly-laid wooden planks. It still smelled of fresh paint and new flooring. I peered around, my eyes scanning over the only two things that interrupted the walls; There was a hardwood door that, I assumed, led to a closet, and there was a small round window at the peak of the house, overlooking the snowy road and the end of the driveway.
"It's a pretty big room," I commented, breaking the quiet.
Cody nodded, the path of his eyes following mine. "Yep. He could probably add two beds in here if he wanted. Maybe even three."
"It probably wouldn't be a bad idea," I commented, wandering over to the closet. Only three things lined the shelves inside: A fabric drop cloth that looked like it had never been used, a lantern, and a small stepstool. "A lot of people like to go on vacation with two or three other families, so the houses with the most bedrooms usually rent first." I shut the door and turned back to face Cody.
"Ready to head back down?" he asked.
I nodded and started for the staircase, but I paused upon realizing that something was missing. Cody seemed to have noticed it at the same moment I did.
"Where's Logan?" His mouth formed the words before I could.
"I don't know," I replied curiously. "Maybe he got bored and went back downstairs. He's got a pretty short attention span, that one."
Cody laughed and the two of us made our way down the wooden steps. Being the first to reach it, I put my hand on the doorknob and went to turn it, but nothing happened.
"It won't open," I commented.
"It's probably just stuck," Cody replied. I stepped aside so he could get to the entrance. "It's a new door, so the wood probably warps with the changing temperatures."
"I don't think that's it," I murmured quietly.
Sure enough, when Cody twisted the handle, the door didn't budge.
"Hm," he mumbled pensively. "Maybe Logan accidentally locked it on his way out." Abandoning the doorknob, Cody put his fist up to the wood and knocked. "Logan?" he called, but his voice received no reply.
I placed my forehead in the palm of my hand, slowly beginning to realize what was happening.
Cody turned his back to the door and shot me a reassuring smile. "Well, sooner or later he'll notice that we're not around and he'll come looking for us."
I let a hopeless sigh escape with my exhale. "You really don't know Logan, then." I turned and began to wander up the stairs once again.
"What do you mean?" Cody asked, following after me. "He won't realize we're gone?"
"Oh, no. I'm pretty sure he's already realized we're gone. I mean that I don't think this was any mistake on Logan's part."
Cody started to laugh, and the noise echoed in the empty room. "Megan, what are you talking about?"
My face suddenly began to turn red at the thought of Logan's matchmaking aspirations. Instead of answering, I turned to the small window and peered out. It had begun to snow again, the tiny flakes accumulating on the crisscrossed window pane.
"Megan?" Cody asked.
"Let's play a game," I said suddenly, facing Cody again.
He raised an eyebrow. "What kind of game?"
"It's called fifty questions."
There being no chairs in the empty room, Cody lowered himself to the hardwood floor and rested his elbows on his knees. "Isn't that the game where you're thinking of an object and I have to guess it?"
I shook my head. "No, that's twenty questions. Fifty questions is different." I took a seat on the floor a few feet away from him.
"Okay. Let's hear the rules, then."
"It's pretty simple. We go back and forth asking questions; twenty-five each until we ultimately get up to fifty."
"I don't think we'll be in here that long," Cody commented.
"I beg to differ." The words were barely audible as I mumbled them underneath my breath.
"I said that there are only two rules. The first one is that you can't ask anything too embarrassing or too personal."
Cody shrugged a shoulder. "Sounds fair."
"And, to make sure we both follow that rule, the second rule is that we also have to answer every question that we ask."
He raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean? Like, if I ask you what your favorite color is, I have to tell you my favorite color, too?"
Cody shifted his position so he was propping himself up with his elbows. "Now, aside from the questions that are too embarrassing or too personal, I can ask anything I want?"
"Anything you want," I repeated.
"Okay. I'll play," the boy decided. "Can I go first?"
I tilted my head to the side in a fashion that said, 'why not?'
"Why won't you tell me why Logan locked us in here?"
My muscles tensed up again "Not that question," I said quickly.
"You said I could ask anything I wanted!" he interjected.
"I'm changing the rules. You can ask anything that's not embarrassing, personal, or that question."
Cody rolled his eyes, but changed his question anyway. "Where did you grow up?"
Content that he decided not to push the previous question, I relaxed a bit, crossing my legs and sitting comfortably on the floor. "Well, I was born in New York City, and then my parents moved to a town in Connecticut when I was about four. I grew up there, and then after college I moved back to New York."
"Back to the city?"
"No. Long Island, but I live only about forty minutes away from the city," I explained. "What about you?"
"I was born in Virginia, but my dad had houses all over the country so we moved around a lot. That was his thing; buying a house and fixing it up."
"So you've lived all over?"
"Yep. Mostly up and down the east coast, though. My mother tried to keep us as close to the shore as she could. She didn't like being too inland."
"How'd you end up here?" I asked.
"Well, my father built this house from the ground up about ten years ago. I came with him, and I figured I liked Vermont. So when I got out of college, I got my own place about thirty miles from here."
"Hm. Okay," I said, nodding slowly as I reflected on his words. "Alright, I have one. What's the worst injury you've ever had?"
Cody lied down on the floor, putting his hands behind his head. "Think it was the time that my brother and I were playing with his skateboard in the driveway." A smile flickered onto his mouth. "I was sitting on it, and he pushed me right into the basketball hoop. Got seven stitches, right here on my forehead."
Cody pointed to a spot on his head. I leaned toward him to see it, and sure enough there was a tiny scar right above his left eye.
"Wow. Sounds painful."
He shrugged. "I don't really remember it too well. I was pretty young. What about you? What's the worst you've ever had?"
"I don't know if it's considered an injury, but I had to get my tonsils taken out when I was nine. I was terrified."
"Aw," Cody murmured.
There was a slight lull in the conversation as I stretched my arms over my head. "Your turn," I reminded him.
He fiddled with the string of his sweatshirt as he thought of a question. "Favorite food?"
"Anything chocolate, without a doubt."
Cody laughed. "I think mine would be a dead tie between pizza and macaroni and cheese."
I rolled my eyes as a grin spread onto my face. "Typical college-kid answer."
Cody playfully wrinkled his nose at me and my comment. Then his expression went serious and his eyes found the ceiling again. "What's your favorite feeling in the entire world?"
"In the entire world?" I asked.
The boy nodded.
I creased my forehead. "I've never really thought about it," I replied. The attic was filled with a comfortable silence as I reflected on the question. "I think it's right after I've have a laughing fit with one of my friends. When your stomach hurts and so does your head, but you can't even look at the other person because if you do you'll burst out laughing again."
His mouth split into a grin. "Yeah," he agreed.
"Why? What's yours?" I asked curiously.
Cody rolled onto his side and his eyes found mine. "I think it's when I know that I'm in the right place at the right time. Everything works out perfectly and I know I'm supposed to be there, you know?"
I nodded and a shiver went up my spine. Even though the room was freezing, I didn't think the temperature had anything to do with tingling that was slowly making its way to the end of my fingertips.
I forced my attention to the small window on the far end of the room. The clouded sky was getting darker and darker; night would be falling in no more than a half an hour, and I didn't think Logan had any intention of unlocking the door.
"You've got goose bumps," Cody commented.
I looked down at my arms. Sure enough, my skin was beginning to reveal my nerves. I decided to hide it, using the chill in the room to my advantage. "Yeah. Wish we had a blanket up here or something."
Cody pushed himself up from the floor. "Hang on," he said, heading for the closet. He took the drop cloth off the shelf and held it out to examine it.
"How about this?" he asked. "It looks new… No paint on it or anything. Might not be that warm, but it's better than nothing."
I shrugged. "Okay," I agreed. "Good idea."
Cody spread the cloth out on the floor. It was big enough that we could both cover ourselves without being uncomfortably near to one another.
The two of us fell back into a conversation of questions and answers. We covered everything from birthdays to life-long aspirations. The light outside faded to darkness, but the snow persisted, slowly filling the window pane with a sheet of ice.
Neither of us was too sure about the time, as there was no way to tell while we sat in the empty attic, but hours passed. We would occasionally take turns going down to see if the door had been unlocked, but each time we found that we were just as trapped as before.
Cody and I surpassed twenty five questions each, and we kept going until we could no longer keep track. I learned a million and one things about the boy from Virginia, who grew up wanting to be an astronaut and who had soft spot for animals, indie bands, and architecture.
I stretched my arms above my head as Cody went to check the door one last time. I assumed it was sometime around three AM; the sky that was visible through one last sliver of uncovered-window had reached its darkest point and now it was beginning to lighten again. My eyes were beginning to feel heavy, and I felt dazed and groggy. I pulled my legs into me and nestled further into the blanket.
"Still no luck," Cody said, his voice and footsteps returning. "He's really not letting us out, is he?"
My eyes still closed, a smile crept onto my mouth. "I told you."
Cody sighed. I felt the blanket rustle as he climbed back underneath it. "Yeah, guess you were right," he said. "Ah, well."
"I'm sorry you're held up like this because of my best friend's immaturity level. I know you wanted to get out here before the storm came."
I wasn't looking at him, but I'd spent enough time with him to detect the crooked boyish smile in his voice. "It's okay. It's not like I'm complaining."
I suddenly realized how close Cody and I were. All night, we'd slowly been migrating toward each other as the apprehension between us disappeared. I was still unbelievably nervous about being near him, but I was no longer uncomfortable with it.
"Megan?" Cody whispered.
I opened my eyes to see that he was lying on his side right next to me, his head propped up by his elbow.
"Tell me why Logan locked us in here."
I inhaled deeply and rested my head in the crook of my arm. There's no harm in spilling it, I decided. He already assumes.
"He wants us to get together," I said. I brought my gaze up to the boy in front of me to see how he received the comment.
The comforting smile reappeared on his mouth. "Oh, is that all?" He reached up and moved a few strands of my hair behind my ear. The sparking sensation appeared wherever his fingers happened to brush my cheek. "Well, should we make the kid happy, then?"
I suddenly froze. My eyes went wide and I swallowed the lump in my throat. Was he kidding around with me? He didn't sound like he was kidding.
My thoughts were affirmed when I felt his lips on mine. My body initially tensed up. Cody must have sensed it, because he put his hand to the back of my head and tenderly smoothed my hair. Slowly, I began to relax and lean into the kiss, willing myself to enjoy the fact that Cody and I were locked in an attic in a house that was located in the middle of nowhere.
The kiss finally broke, and I expected the air to be as dense as it had been so many times before. It wasn't, though. Cody wrapped me in both the blanket and his arms, and our game that had changed from fifty questions to seven-hundred-and-ninety-four questions stretched on until the early hours of the morning.
When I regained realization, the sun was shining through the tiny window at the peak of the house. It shone through the iced-over snowflakes, leaving an early morning ray of circular sunlight on the floor.
I was still wrapped in Cody's arms. I had a sneaking suspicion that the door had been unlocked sometime between now and when we'd both fallen asleep. I figured I should get up and check, but I didn't want to wake the sleeping boy beside me. I decided it could wait a little while.
When I opened the front door, my suitcase in hand, I was met with a blinding display of endless snow. The morning sun's rays ricocheted off the white, making the scene even more vivid.
Thankfully, the weathermen had overestimated this major storm. Instead of the three feet they had been expecting, only twelve inches lined the ground. We wouldn't have that much of a problem driving out of here now that the roads had been plowed.
Just as I was rearranging the last of my bags in the car, Logan stepped outside with his belongings in his hand.
"Good morning, Sunshine," he sang, shooting me the most innocent of smiles.
"Oh, don't you good morning sunshine me, you scheming little sneak."
My best friend look taken back. "Well," he said, sounding offended, "looks like someone didn't get enough sleep last night." Logan began relocating his bags into the trunk.
I watched him do so, leaning with my back against the car and my arms crossed over my chest. "Granted you locked me in an attic and I had to sleep on a hardwood floor? No, I think it's safe to say that I didn't sleep too well last night."
"I did no such thing."
"Cut the crap." I tossed the keys at him, aiming for his head but Logan caught them at the last second. "You're driving, I'm sleeping," I declared.
He shrugged. "Fine by me."
After doing one last check of the rooms to make sure that we hadn't forgotten anything, I locked up the house, put the key back in the hanging plant, and the two of us climbed into my old Taurus.
After clipping my seatbelt into place, I glanced over at my best friend in the driver's seat. An unvarying smirk was on his face as he got situated with the map.
"You're just so thrilled with yourself, aren't you?" I asked.
Logan casually raised and lowered his shoulder. "Yeah, pretty much."
I scoffed as I shut my eyes and slumped in the passenger seat. "You're quite possibly the biggest pain in the ass I've ever met. I hate you."
"Oh, do you?" he asked. He turned the keys and the engine reared before we began to roll out of the driveway. "Well, that stupid smile you've had on your face all morning suggests that you don't hate me or this job."
"Shut up," I snapped.
"And you certainly didn't look too unhappy when Cody kissed you goodbye this morning."
My eyes shot open and my posture suddenly became rigid. "You saw that?" I murmured timidly.
"I don't miss anything, Meg. These eyes see all," Logan declared, acting as if he was some kind of notorious secret agent. "So are you going to see him again?"
I shrugged. "We exchanged phone numbers. So maybe. Who knows?"
"I know. I know everything, just like I knew from the very beginning that this would happen. What did I tell you, Meg? I told you that he possessed your eternal love."
I rolled my eyes and turned over onto my side, facing the window. With my back to Logan, it was easier to block out his illogical babble. The endless evergreens and birch trees rolled by as we made our way down the mountain and in the direction of home. With six hours ahead of us, I shut my eyes and focused on the slight movement of the car, allowing myself to drift off.
After about fifteen minutes, I felt a nudge on my side. "Hey, Meg?"
"What?" I asked groggily.
"What's that?" Logan questioned.
I grudgingly opened my eyes to see what he was referring to. My best friend had one hand on the steering wheel while the other was pointing to my pocketbook. My bag was sitting underneath the glove-compartment by my feet, its buckle unclasped and revealing its contents.
Sure enough, as I followed his gaze into the pocketbook, I saw a brightly-colored wrapped parcel sticking out.
"What is that?" I murmured, more to myself than to him. "Did you put that there, Logan?" I asked, figuring that I definitely would have noticed it before when I brought my pocketbook out to the car. Then again, I had been carrying multiple bags at once.
"No, I swear. It just caught my attention while I was driving, and now I'm curious."
I sighed heavily as I sat upwards in the seat. "Leave it up to you to get sidetracked by a brightly wrapped present." I lifted my pocketbook onto my lap and took the package out, examining it more closely. A piece of green and blue wrapping paper was folded carefully around its pliable contents and sealed with a piece of tape.
"Well, are you going to open it, or what?" Logan's eyes habitually jumped from the road to the wrapping paper as his curiosity got the best of him.
I tore the paper at the far end and carefully pulled it off, revealing a cloth-like material that was neatly folded into a square. A grin spread onto my face as I recognized the pattern on the fabric; a blue background covered with little yellow rubber-duckies.
As I held the boxers up to show Logan, a small piece of paper fell out onto my lap. My eyes scanned over the words. In a boy's scribbled handwriting, the note read, "They look better on you, anyway."