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My face still stung slightly from the snowball Cameron had hurled directly at me and my muscles still ached as well. It was a good soreness that came from letting loose and acting like a child again, but it still hurt nonetheless. It actually felt like my entire body was throbbing slightly from suspiciously too-hard snowballs. After our epic snowball fight we managed to eventually pick ourselves up and pack away the food and drinks before piling back into the cars.
Derrek and I had swapped places and he was nodding off to sleep in the passenger seat while I drove. Any clouds that had been hovering above were completely gone and the sun shone brilliantly down making the snow on the ground brighten to a whole new glow of white. It was like trying to drive on a road with torches shining straight into my face.
In my rear view mirror I saw Sophia and Bree fast asleep and I turned the radio up a little so I wouldn’t end up sleeping like them as well. The little sleep I managed to get while Derrek was driving wasn’t nearly enough after having a bad night. I let my mind wander over to the other car following behind us. What was the deal with Helena and Blake? Ever since last year Helena had been a little anxious around him but had gotten along fine with the other Elementals. She had always mentioned little things like how he stared or that he seemed ‘odd’ as she put it.
I never really noticed either of those. He never seemed to stare at me, not enough for it to be creepy anyway. As far as him being ‘odd’, well he was a little immature, like Derrek, and sometimes had the personality of a spoilt five year old... but not really ‘odd’. Any time where she was walking next to Blake there was an awkwardness that even I managed to feel and even though she offered to drive Derrek’s car, she didn’t seem overly happy for Blake to be in the car with her.
But then I remembered how happy and bright she was when we stopped over for a break. It was like seeing the same Helena I met at the beginning of last year and I was surprised when the reason behind the mood change was because of Blake. He seemed almost humble around her and now that I thought about it, he did seem to send her fleeting glances every now and then.
I mouthed the words to the songs that played on the radio and soon the never ending straight road that stretched ahead of me began to make my eyes droop. My eyes fell and immediately I straightened as though I’d been electrocuted. My eyes were wide open and I shook my head a little to wake myself up.
“Wake up Valerie, you can’t be falling asleep like this while you’re driving” I scolded myself.
I wished I’d had another cup of coffee when we had our break but I guess I could just buy one if we came across a gas station or something. I concentrated on the lyrics of the song instead of focusing too much on the road so that at least my brain was being occupied. It worked for another five minutes before I felt my eyes become heavier and heavier.
They flicked a little to the heaped up snow that were piled on either side of the road and I gasped when I saw a dark shadow in the shape of a man that seemed to be just in front of the car’s shadow. In my drowsy state I panicked and twisted the wheel to the side to avoid hitting what was in front of the car and slammed on the brakes. The car skidded a little and the screeching of rubber against the icy gravel met my ears before I heard Derrek’s car behind us do the same as it attempted to avoid hitting us.
“What the hell!” I heard Derrek yell the same time as Sophia and Bree shrieked.
The left side of the car lifted up into the air slightly before falling back to the ground and with a loud thud the car slammed into the pile of snow on the side of the road. I was gripping the steering wheel so tightly my knuckles were white and my foot was still tightly pressed against the brakes grinding it against the floor of the car. I could feel the frantic thudding of my heart as it raced a hundred times faster than normal and I realised that annoying squeaking sound was coming from me seeing as I halfway to hyperventilating.
“Tadpole! Are you okay? What the hell happened?”
Derrek had ripped off his seat belt and was cupping my face trying to get me to look at him. His voice ripped me out of my catatonic state of nearly being in an accident and my mind rushed back to the man on the road. I hadn’t actually seen the man, and I don’t think I hit anyone, but I was almost certain I’d seen the shadow of a man just in front of the car against the snow.
“Oh no!” I whispered.
What if the man did get hit and was bleeding or even dead! I quickly snapped my seat belt off and threw the door open as I ran out to the road looking for a body or even blood. I looked back in the direction we came from but frowned. There wasn’t anyone there? I squinted trying to look for any shape but saw nothing except the road, snow and skid marks.
“Tadpole! Tadpole!” Derrek’s heavy footsteps ran towards me but I continued looking back and forth for any sign of life. “Tadpole! What the hell is going on?!”
“I swear there was someone on the road Sparky... I-I don’t know if I hit him or-or...-“ I gripped my hands in my hair tightly and closed my eyes as my breathing picked up. What if his body was under the car! Oh my God!
“Someone on the road? In the middle of nowhere... Tadpole what-“
“Val, is everything okay? What happened back there?” I opened my eyes and saw Helena jogging over to us with a concerned look colouring her face. Oh good, maybe she saw the guy on the road.
Ignoring Derrek’s worried expression I turned to Helena, “Helena did you see that man on the road? Did I hit him? Was there blood or anything before I swerved the car?”
Helena’s concerned expression changed into confusion and surprise at my frantic questioning. She looked over to Derrek, who shook his head and shrugged his shoulder indicating he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, before turning back to me. “What man, Val? There was no one on the road... we’re literally in the middle of nowhere, there’s no reason for someone to be out here. Are you sure you saw a man on the road?”
I was about to nod and say ‘yes’ when I stopped myself, “I saw a shadow on the snow” I looked over to our cars in front of us and pointed at the shadows that they cast over the snow, “See how the car’s have their shadow? Well I saw the shadow of a man just in front of the car’s shadow and it was just instinct to try to avoid hitting him”
My eyes furrowed. I know I saw a shadow of a man there... Despite the sudden adrenaline that was pumping through my body from the near accident, a yawn climbed its way up my throat and I covered my mouth with my hand as it passed. Derrek rubbed my back but searched my face intently.
“Tadpole, you’re exhausted. Frankly, you look like crap... and that’s a hell of a lot better than the ‘you look like the walking undead’ that I was about to say” I threw him a look but he simply shrugged his shoulders to say ‘what? It’s true’. “Were you falling asleep?”
I stopped shifting from foot to foot when he asked me that question. Was I falling asleep? Yes, I was. “Yeah... kind of” I reluctantly replied.
“Well... maybe you fell asleep at the wheel and dreamt of the shadow? After all... I didn’t see anyone while we were driving and I don’t see one now” Helena said looking back down towards the skid marks on the gravel.
“No... I’m sure I... I mean- I” I stuttered softly. Had I been dreaming? It all looked so real and I almost certain that I saw the shadow. I sighed and rubbed my face roughly.
“Hey what’s the hold up?!” I heard Blake shout. We turned and saw all the Elementals were standing out of the car and Cameron was in the middle of easily pushing my car out from the snow bank, as though he was simply pushing a cardboard box and not a heap of metal weighing more than a tonne.
“Nothing... we’ll be there in a bit” Helena called back.
“I’ll drive the rest of the way, Tadpole, okay? You need to get some rest and relax your mind. We’re just lucky no one got hurt or anything”
I sighed and had one last look back at the road. Could I have just been dreaming all of that? It seemed crazy, but then again I was completely exhausted. I nodded with a slight smile that tilted the corners of my mouth up before letting Derrek steer me back to the car. In the corner of my eye I saw Helena and Derrek shoot each other a worried look at each other but I ignored them. Maybe I was just tired.
Cameron had pushed our cars back from the snow bank while Bree was blowing the snow off the road. Blake was leaning against Derrek’s car, which earned him a scowl from Derrek, and when I saw Sophia I bit my lip before walking over to her. I just needed to be sure there wasn’t any dead man on the road.
“Sophia?” I called out softly so not to grab everyone’s attention. “Could I ask you for a favour?”
She looked over to me and raised an eyebrow. “Sure” she replied a little unsure.
“Do you think you could fly up and just look around from where the tyre marks start up to here to see if there’s anyone else around here besides us?” I looked back at Derrek who was growling at Blake for scratching the paint on his car doors and looked back at Sophia. She looked confused but shrugged her shoulders and nodded.
“Yeah, okay. I need to stretch out my limbs anyway” She shrugged off her coat and handed it to me before closing her eyes. Her body quickly vibrated and in the next second she was a beautiful bald eagle. She flapped her wings steadily and was up in the air in no time. The sun shone against her feathers making the white feathers around her head look a soft pearl white and the brown feathers covering her body looked like a warm chocolate brown.
She circled above us for a minute before swooping down, her bright yellow beak aiming straight at my feet. Just as she neared me she brought her wings together to cover her face, sticking her talons down and, after her body began to shake again, Sophia was back to her normal self. I handed back her coat and sent her a curious look.
“Nope. We’re the only ones here. Why did you want to know?” she asked me as she pushed her hand through a sleeve.
I sighed and looked back at her, “It’s nothing. I thought I saw someone but I must’ve fallen asleep and scared myself” She chuckled and shook her head before walking over to Bree who had finished clearing the cars and roads. I saw Derrek wave me over and signalled for me to get back inside the car so we could get going. “Okay everyone, let’s get back inside. We still have a few more hours to go until we reach Crane’s Hollow”
We all hopped back into our respected cars and were back to driving along the road as though my near accident never happened. “You okay, Tadpole?” Derrek asked me softly. Sophia and Bree were settling back into their seats trying to sleep again and I envied them. I missed being able to sleep without the worry of having nightmares or continuously waking up every half hour.
“I guess. It just seemed so real you know? I even had Sophia take a bird’s eye look at the grounds, literally, for anyone and she said it was just us. I guess you were right... maybe I did fall asleep” Even I could hear how dead my voice sounded but I just hoped he took it as though I was tired.
He nodded and took hold of my hand giving it a squeeze, “It’s okay. Just close your eyes and try to catch a few Z’s or something” he looked back at me and smirked, “Like I was going to say before... you look like the walking undead”
I rolled my eyes but did what he said anyway. I told myself it wasn’t because he told me to but because I wanted to get some sleep.
“Time to wake up girls!” Derrek shouted as he pulled my car to a stop. I groaned, even though I wasn’t really asleep. I was in that place where my consciousness was between reality and dreamland but it didn’t mean that I was any less tired. As a matter of fact, I was even more tired than before. I was way to self conscious to sleep in front of Sophia and Bree in case I had another nightmare and ended up screaming my head off.
“You could have woken me up in a nicer way Sparky” I grumbled rubbing my eyes furiously.
“Seriously Derrek... don’t you know how to wake ladies up properly?” Sophia snapped. Bree, just like Helena, was up and didn’t even look like she’d been sleeping. Both her and Helena had a way of perking up immediately after being woken and I was quite jealous of the two of them for having that skill.
Derrek scoffed and stretched upwards. I heard his bones cracking from being in the same position for hours and I quietly let out a yawn from behind my hand. I really needed to get some proper sleep or at least some insanely strong caffeine to keep me going. Helena parked in the space next to us. In the back I saw Cameron and Cara sleeping with Cara’s head on Cameron’s shoulder while Helena and Blake were talking and smiling as Blake gestured to whatever he was talking about with his hands. In front of us was the motel we were staying in and to be honest, it couldn’t be any more depressing.
The whole town looked like it hadn’t been renovated in a good twenty years and the motel that stood before us was probably the newest looking building, which really didn’t say much. It was probably around half past ten now and the orange street lights that lined the main road didn’t do much for lighting.
“Come on, I’m exhausted. I just want to get our rooms and eat then sleep before we have to go around the town tomorrow” Derrek murmured as he grabbed his and my bags and began to make his way to the entrance of the motel.
We all listened to him, too tired to talk, and grabbed all the bags that were in the cars before following him inside. As soon as I walked in I felt instantly warmer and saw Derrek chatting with the receptionist behind the front desk. The receptionist handed over some keys and Derrek walked over to us.
“Okay, so they had three rooms that were available and each one has two double beds. How do you want to do this?” Everyone looked around at each other and shrugged. “I refuse to share with Blake. I swear I spend more than enough time with him at campus”
I chuckled at Derrek’s dead panned face and took it upon myself to make the decision seeing as everyone either didn’t want to or just didn’t care. “How about Cara, Sophia and Bree in one, Blake and Cameron in another, and then Helena, Sparky and I share the last?” Everyone agreed and soon we were walking off to our rooms which were each side by side. “Is anyone hungry? There’s still some food left here”
I tossed the Elementals a bag with some of the snacks and food, leaving some for Helena, Derrek and me in another bag. They thanked me before leaving to go to their rooms. “That was one long drive!” Helena yawned. “I think I’ll skip the food tonight Val, I’m just going to shower and pass out on the closest bed. Night guys”
With another yawn she disappeared through a door to the bathroom. For a run-down town and motel the room wasn’t all too bad. The walls were a neutral beige and looked as though it was fairly recently painted and the two double beds took up the majority of the room. The duvets matched the curtains in some horrible looking pattern that only a motel could get away with and the carpet was a dark grey tweed. It was pretty much just what was necessary to sleep in. I could hear the Elementals murmuring and laughing through the walls and realised that the walls were quite thin.
After Helena emerged from the shower I jumped in, followed by Derrek afterwards and soon it was just me and him sitting on top of the bed we were going to share while eating ham sandwiches. The whole time Derrek seemed a little distracted. He kept smirking and glancing at the door but for the life of me I had no idea why. When I asked him what was wrong he simply shook his head and chuckled saying ‘You’ll see’.
We ended up lying down under the covers and talking about what we would have to do tomorrow and how we could go about asking the townsfolk without seeming a little suspicious or too straight forward. I don’t know how long we spoke for, but I vaguely remembered feeling Derrek’s hot lips kiss my forehead before completely passing out.
“ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?!” A very, very angry male voice boomed through the walls so loudly that every word was clearly heard. “I’M GOING TO KILL THAT BASTARD!”
I groaned under my breath and turned to face Derrek. His arm was slung over my waist and the heat that emanated from him made it seem as though I was using a heated blanket. I cracked one eye open and saw the corner of his mouth curled into an amused smirk. “What. Did. You. Do?”
Not even a second later intense banging came from our door and followed by Blake’s furious stream of profanities. “OPEN THIS DOOR MATCHSTICK!”
Derrek turned his head into his pillow and was laughing so hard the entire bed was shaking and I moaned loudly before slipping out from under the warm covers and padded over to the door, which looked a minute away from being torn off its hinges. The louder Blake’s shouting became, the harder Derrek laughed and I dreaded to find out what my boyfriend had done this time. I sighed and flicked the lock before yanking it open. My eyes grew to the size of saucepans and my jaw dropped to the ground before I burst into an unstoppable fit of hysterics.
In the doorway stood Blake, who was so angry I’m surprised he didn’t set the motel on fire, in his dark jeans and a t-shirt that had been burnt into a cropped top stopping just under his pecks. Across his chest, the words ‘I’m pwetty!’ was also burnt showing his skin underneath.
Before I could stop him, or even stop myself from laughing, Blake lunged across the room to Derrek while shouting “You burnt all my clothes you Abled bastard!”
I would’ve rushed over to stop the two from fighting, but I couldn’t help collapsing in a heap on the ground holding onto my stomach as my laughter overtook me when the back of his jeans was burnt to say ‘Smack me!’
What do y’all think?
What is going on with that shadow guy? *shrugs* you tell me mwahahaha!
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This chapter is dedicated to Batman98 for making me a bunch of insanely awesome covers/banners for The Elementals. ------ >>>>>
I know it’s for the first book, but I wanted to show off her work =) so I put them on the side!
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