He was unsure if the odd feeling that passed through him was from the crisp winter wind. Or perhaps, it was the unsteady emotion of embarrassment that constantly danced around him everywhere he went. But he felt something well inside of him, and it grew constantly more dreading like a little fish being corralled by a shark in the deep wide ocean.
He felt unsettled.
He was handsome, with green eyes and dark hair that spiraled around his lightly tanned skin. Around his eyes, a series of freckles tiptoed across his nose, and when he did smile, thin dimples peaked on his rounded face. Underneath his jacket, the contours of toning could be slightly seen, but he was more lean than muscular. His dress pants hung around his long legs and brushed against the snow flurries. An almost unnoticeable accessory hung from his chest in the shape of a small glistening silver orb. The click of his shoes upon the sidewalk rung about the empty campus as he passed beneath the arch and numerous trees that lined the path.
It was beautiful, Winter. It ensnared everything in it's grasp, life, death, and preserved the beauty of nature in a frighteningly glamorous display of ice. It was only when Blake reached the abandoned stone seats, that the feeling crept around him again. He cautiously looked over his shoulder before reaching for the door to enter the building.
It was an odd feeling as though he was being followed.
A shuffle occurred above his head in the trees and when the birds fluttered away; and something fell to the ground. He was distracted from his thoughts by the object. He peered closer with a raised brow, but to his horror, it was a creature. He bent down to touch it’s feathers with his fingertips, but to no avail, the bird had died. Winter, too, had frozen it within its pure state.
“What are you doing?” an interested voice caught his ear and immediately he glanced upwards in surprise. A female stood behind him, clutching a briefcase within her hand and held a sharp look upon her face. She was beautiful, no matter how many times he had seen her face. Winter, was her name. Her eyes were so blue they pierced him, he wanted to stand and greet her and tell her everything. . He had seen her a thousand times, she had never known him. It was clear that she was freezing in her thin stockings and dress clothes, but she patiently waited at a distance for him to remove himself from the entrance to the door. He stood to his feet and brushed off his pants.
“Sorry.” He uttered and stood aside for her with a smirk.
“You didn’t answer my question.” She stated again, her eyebrow raising skeptically. She shifted to walk past him, but froze in her steps.
“oh. . .” She mumbled with embarrassment when she finally noticed his concern and the animal beside his feet.
“poor thing.” She moved to stand beside him with a slight smile. She pressed her hand against to his shoulder comfortingly and moved to walk through the entrance. A small smile broke through her hard exterior when he followed her quietly into the building, abandoning the bird.
“I’ve never seen you here before.” She stated blankly with a toss of her black hair to remove the snowflakes.
“What’s your name?”
He seemed surprised for a brief moment before he smiled to himself and looked to the ground.
“Blake Hazleton.” He uttered and rubbed the back of his head nervously.
“What are you going for, Mr. Hazleton?” She teased and removed her scarf from around her neck.
His lips opened and closed with no response.“You’re mighty shy.” She laughed and raised her briefcase in the air. “Business, if you couldn’t tell.”
“I’m going into the medical field.” Blake managed to respond with a widening grin. How many times had he dreamed that he would speak to her like this? So casually and calm?
“You still have snow in your hair, Blake Hazleton.” She snickered and reached up to weed out the flakes from his wet hair.
“My name is Winter Vanderlaan.”
“I know who you are.” He whispered under his breath.
“Pardon?” She questioned in surprise.
“Nevermind.” He awkwardly laughed and peered down at her through his damp locks. Her dazzling eyes emitted such compassion and light as they always had. He had grown up around her, not close enough for her to know of him, but enough for him to know her. They had gone through basic school together, with him two years ahead. She was always the girl to catch his attention. But he had only summoned the effort to talk to her friends rather than her. She won countless matches in tennis, in school she was considered a genius, and here they met again where her name was on countless plaques throughout the college walls for scholarships and awards- he knew because he specifically looked for them...
He shook his head to remove his gaze from her, not wanting to frighten her away. She was already so close, but he knew it was only a matter of time before she would walk away. She stepped back from him with a final weak smile.
“If I didn’t know you, then we have a serious problem.” She reached down to dig about in her bag, before handing him a small yellow and pink card. “I’m in charge of the social events on campus, maybe you’ll come to our meeting after classes today? At Four?” She eagerly asked him and touched his hand lightly as she let go of the card.
“I have to go to class, I’ll see you later Blake!” She promised with a smile and stepped away from his side. Blake nodded his head as Winter turned the corner to disappear from sight. The light smell of her perfume left behind and the squiggly printed writing upon the card in his hand. She was like Winter, she petrified everything into a beautiful frozen state that could only be awakened with her touch. He pressed his hand to his heart to feel it beat heavily within his chest. Although it moved rapidly, he felt that she had slowed it when she left. With a final glance toward the doors behind him, Blake moved forwards to his classroom to finish out his classes for the rest of the semester.
“Blake!” Several voices chorused when he entered the room. He nodded his head in approval toward them as he took his seat.
“So about the game tonight, are you going?” Randy urged and nudged his arm with his elbow.
“All the girls are playin’ against the Prep team.” Simon tapped his pencil against the table. His skin was perhaps the lightest of all three of them, hence the nickname ‘silky’. His brown eyes turned up slightly at an angle to reflect his Asian heritage from his mother’s side. Simon’s mom was so slim and petite in comparison to his father who towered over Blake whenever he was around. Simon easily surpassed Blake in height and speed, but Simon still let Blake win a few games of ball here and there.
“If you're there. . . we'll be seen. . .” Randy dramatically breathed and bounced his knee up and down against the floor. Randy scratched at his curly black locks with his left hand and continued to urge Blake. With a breath of relief, class soon started, and he was able to think to himself for a few moments.
“I have to work tonight.” He stated and glanced in Randy’s direction. His hair curled up at wild twists and curls that moved with every motion of his head. His eyes were an extraordinary thing, and shifted between shades of hazel and light browns. Randy was very playful and always looking for another challenge; but unfortunately, could never get a date because he was too shy. They too had been friends for all his life, same sports, same classes, and finally the same college. A lot had changed between the two of them, but they still were considered the best of friends by their colleges.
“Two more classes and we’re out of this joint for a while.” Simon muttered under his breath and sketched in his book, labeled with the wide signature of Oxford ,as the teacher continuously pried about biochemistry and the involving sciences. Simon looked behind him to see a few girls anxiously staring at Blake to get his attention. Simon made a hissing sound under his breath and something that sounded like a hawk being strangled.
“harpies at eleven o’clock.” He explained after the three of them had finished chuckling under their breaths.
“Mr. Barns, do you have something you would like to say to the class?” The teacher snapped and glared toward him with a frown. “Ma'am the prep team is going to win tonight, Ma'am!” He responded and sat straighter. Everyone snickered around them.
“The final is next week, so you’d best be prepared so you pass the class” the teacher announced to all of them, but then focused on Simon. "Especially you, Mr. Barnes."
“Yes ma’am.” He answered again, and she continued her lecture. When she turned her back, he made the harpie sound again and the entire class broke into giggles.
His entire life Blake had been told that he needed to figure out his career, and quick, before he was the last in the pack to do so. He thought back to Winter. She was going on to be an accountant, well at least that’s what he had heard. They were going two different directions. She was going into business while he was going into the medical field to become a nurse. He tapped his eraser against the desk and moved about uncomfortably in his dress clothes. His interview for today had been canceled, having already found the ‘perfect candidate’ for the job. Perhaps that was why he was so uneasy today. But with school deadlines and the pressures of the future on his shoulders; it wasn’t hard to explain his feelings. He closed his eyes and remembered the feeling of her fingertips brushing through his dark brown locks. Simon studied him curiously, it wasn’t like Blake to zone out during class or to miss a game. With a frown and a squint of his eyes, Simon stared blankly at the board with him. It was clear both Simon and Randy were concerned for their friend at his peculiar behaviors.
After the class had finally finished, Simon and Randy burst out the front doors leaping with joy. Ecstatic that they would finally be freed to an endless night of video games in the dorm room. Blake already detected it would be a sleepless night for the three of them and that there would be no studying.
“It’s almost over! And then I'm graduating!” Randy hollered and chest bumped Simon, nearly falling over upon the ice that lay slick on the ground. Blake laughed as Randy head locked Simon and he was forced to break it up. “Have fun at the game guys.” He chuckled and slapped Randy on the back. Randy sighed and crossed his arms. “Why have you been acting so weird, man?” He accused, his dark skin tone contrasted perfectly with the snow that surrounded them, and Blake smirked at his odd facial expressions.
“I just want to go to work, that’s all.”
“Blake.” Simon smirked. “There’s more, we know you better than that.”
Randy laughed and marched up to him. “you work at six man, not five! Ev-er-y-day!”
He stared at them and looked at the ground, his lips moved for a moment before he was able to let the words come out. “I met Winter today.”
“Woah! She talked to you!” They shouted at the same time, their eyes grew wide in admiration. Simon fist-pumped at the fact that they were making their way up the social ladder in the college. “She invited me to her club’s meeting today.” Simon slapped him on the back. “You’ve liked her since like grade school.” Randy muttered and smiled to himself. Simon's eyes seemed to narrow at his friend's sadness as though trying to see through him.
“I know.” He uttered and forcefully smiled. There was so much history that he had with Winter; but if she had ever found out his deeds- she would despise him. “But when I talked to her, I couldn’t stop feeling the need to apologize to her.”
They grew quiet questioningly and Blake turned his back to walk toward his car. He could tell no one, not even Simon and Randy. The only one he could trust was Mr. Vandelann, and even then he was suspicious of his traveling tongue.
“Her grandpa is my new resident, and according to him, he is the last relative she has.”
“Awh that’s horse shit.” Simon scowled and kicked some snow with his feet. He called out to Blake as he opened his car door. He stared anxiously across the street toward Simon.
“Does she know you’re taking care of him?”
He lightly smiled and shook his head. “I don’t want her to feel indebted to me.” He stepped into his car and shut the door. The engine roared to life and shook with vibrant energy. Some said he was too small for his car, being so tall. But he thought it was perfect for him. He had paid full for his Honda Accord, it worked great and so far hadn’t needed to take it in for repairs. He reached over for his cell phone, but it was then that the bright pink and yellow card caught his eye. He picked it up to admire it. The time and effort that Winter had gone through to hand make the call cards.
Blake rested his head against the back of the seat with a sigh. Did he really want to get involved with Winter Vandelann more than he already had? He knew he shouldn't, and his head began to ache with the stress of the decision.He rolled the card about within his fingertips and glanced at the clock. Blake thought of her smiling and asking for him to be present. ..and her long beautiful hair. It was only four, he could go. He remembered when she had asked him to go so sweetly with that smile and he groaned under his breath. Blake snagged the keys from the hole and opened his car door to head back toward the school. Simon and Randy were already heading out to their cars, and with a gasp of air, he trotted toward the building.
“Oy! He’s going for it!” Simon shouted. Randy cat called across the parking lot.
“Go get’er Blakey-poo!” "You da Man!" Randy howled and the pair laughed.
Blake shook his head and pushed open the door. He slowly made his way toward S312, trying to figure out if this was the right thing for him to do. With a final sigh, he pressed his way into the room after knocking. A few of the girls looked surprised, and he scanned the room looking for Winter. And there she was, with a balloon fully blown in front of her face. With a wide smile she rushed through the balloons that lay upon the floor, to him.
“Blake! I knew you would come!” She chorused and glanced to the card in his hand with such happy eyes, he melted.
“You’re just in time for the meeting to start! We’re discussing the Winter Fling!” She announced to the others in the room, and they immediately began to chatter excitedly.
“Sit anywhere Blake.” She whispered to him and approached the front of the room.
She clasped her hands together and held them in front of her lips. “So do you guys think a Winter Fling is a good idea?”
“All your ideas are good!” Someone argued and another female answered also. Blake rested himself right in front of Winter in the front seat and glanced to everyone around him. They all seemed surprised he was here, and frankly, so was he. The room itself was small, but big enough to hold the fifteen or so people within it. The walls were covered with bright posters and scrap paper with ideas written all over them in messy scrawl.
“How are we going to fund it?” a girl with long brown hair near him questioned. She seemed bored, but a little intrigued. She glanced toward him and immediately he looked away. Blake could feel her eyes on the back of his head and he frowned.
“what do you think Blake?” Winter tilted her head and he raised a brow.
“I’m sorry what?”
Winter sighed “were you even listening?”
“Funding. . .yeah, um don’t girls usually do a bake sale?”
“A Bake Sale!” The girls whispered and began to raise their hands in agreement to the idea.
“We can pay for a band! For decorations that way!” Winter nodded happily.
“Then a bake sale it is!” She clapped her hands together as everyone began to pick up their things.
“Next week same time!” She shouted and soon approached Blake’s side again once the other members had left. They all had said hi to him before leaving and he nodded his head quietly.
“I didn’t know if you were going to come or not.” Winter spoke honestly and half-smiled at her own thoughts.
“Everyone seemed to really like you, I’m glad you did come we don't have any guys in our club. ..” Blake glanced down to her and looked away soon after. He smirked "It isn't exactly a guy-friendly club. I had some time before work, and . . .I did want to see you again.”
"Where do you work?" She questioned quietly to him and Blake could hardly summon an answer. "A hospital." He choked out and bent down quickly to help her clean. She laughed and tossed her hair. "Which one so I can come visit you?" He didn't answer her and remained silent; and so she dropped the conversation as her hair floated around her from the static.
Winter’s cheeks flushed a light pink and she shuffled around him to pick up some of the balloons and shove them into a nearby closet. He followed suit, and picked up a blue balloon for her and then a red one. With the last balloon, he made sure to rub it against her hair. She squealed in surprise and threw her hands above her head to dance away from him. She hurriedly flattened her hands against her head to smooth her hair, and raised her hands in a chopping motion.
“you touch me with that balloon again and you’ll lose your arm!” She threatened, but soon burst out laughing when Blake actually took her seriously and covered his head with his arms. With a snort, she forced the balloon into the closet and closed the door.
“Why did you even blow up balloons in the first place?” He mumbled and retrieved his jacket from the desk.
“Just for fun.” She shrugged her shoulders and flicked the light off in the classroom on him. He hurried to exit the door before she closed it on him.
“I love doing things like that.” She talked to herself and then looked to him. “It makes me happy.” His heart twanged in his chest. Thinking of the front page articles of the notorious stock market couple that had skyrocketed to fame .. . only to meet their death from several greedy relatives that were in their will. It was like a drama film, the death of her parents. Winter looked regretful for only a moment, but her smile soon came back. He couldn’t pull his gaze from her face. That sympathetic feeling returning when he thought of how her Grandmother died soon after. She was his first resident, when he first started being a CNA back in junior year. Whenever Winter came around he would always hide from her, so she wouldn’t know it was him nursing her grandparents. Well, at least that was what Mr. Hendricks told him to do. He never wanted him associating with his daughter. So she had never met him.
He bit his lip and then reached out to calm some more of the static hairs that flew loosely on the back of her head. “well you certainly cheered me up Miss Vandelann.” He whispered to her as she tossed her scarf around her shoulders.
“Good, I’m glad.” She nodded her head encouragingly and walked ahead just a little.
“You’ll be here tomorrow?” She asked after a moment. Her blue eyes lit up by the falling sun in front of her.
“I’m always here.”
She smiled and nodded her head happily. Once they pushed through the doors, a small black car waited for her and she slowly got in. “see you tomorrow Blake!”
“See you tomorrow Winter.” He repeated and waved a little as the car door closed and the vehicle drove off without another sound. He slowly walked back to his car to get in and shut the door. His heart beat in his chest powerfully, and he closed his eyes in satisfaction.
Then the soft feeling of dread tiptoed back into his mind. It send a shiver down his spine- but he ignored it.
“The girl of my dreams is talking to me.” He spoke out loud and flicked on the radio. He swung his car into reverse and shook his head. “unbelievable.” Blake glanced downwards toward the glove box where a piece of black fabric hung loosely. He secured the fabric back into the box without a second look and pulled forwards.
When driving out, he noticed that both Simon’s and Randy’s trucks had already left- back to the dorms to party he supposed. He snorted under his breath and turned left onto the main road. The old folks home was just ahead and he pulled slowly into the left lane to go straight. The roads were still slick and a few cars slid about here and there, but overall, driving conditions were good enough. Rumors of a big storm danced about on the radio stations, but how often were they actually right? Blake pulled into the parking lot and strolled into work.
He wasn’t exactly sure how Winter would react to him knowing all of her background. She always had tried to escape it, the wealth and tragedy. And he was sure that if she knew what he knew. . .she wouldn’t want anything to do with him. He ducked his head to enter into the shorter office area and clipped the badge onto the chest of his blue smock top.
“Hey Rosey.” He greeted the stout woman at the front entrance with a smile. Her wild salt and pepper hair had been styled into wavy curls that met her ears. Her skin was aged but beautiful in all it's scars and freckles and he almost wished he could have seen her back in her glory days. But she frequently reminded him that the past was in the past and that it shouldn't matter to a young man like him.
“Blake, dear, I didn’t even see you!” She acknowledged and pushed her glasses further up the bridge of her nose.
“How was school dear? You’re almost done for the year, eh?” He nodded and with a shrug of his shoulders he pressed closer over the counter. “Then I’ll be a big dog here so you'd better bring me some sweets Miss and I might think of keeping you around!”
She laughed and slapped her knee jokingly as his face melted from sarcasm to humor. “Nobody moves up in this place!” He shook his head at her comments and continued past her as she continued to laugh. He would be a RN in this facility as soon as he graduated- he planned on it.
He walked down the hallway and peeked into a few of the residents rooms to greet them and say hello. Almost all of the rooms looked the same to him; some with differing colors of wallpaper. But they all held the same interior design of a clock, kitchen, and seating arrangements near the bathroom.
“I’ll be back in a moment Mr. Henrick.” Blake stated to a resident that needed his help getting to the dining room and with a deep breath he entered into Mr. Vandelann’s room.”
“Is that you Marsha?” His old voice called from the closet.
“It’s Blake, Sir.” He answered, and the old man made a noise that sounded like a curse under his breath before heading his direction.
“You again. . .you didn’t do anything to Whinny did you?”
Blake shook his head and smiled firmly. “But we did talk today.”
“Ohhh really.” he coughed quietly before plopping down slowly in his nearby wheelchair. He was a tall man for his age although his back now bent from the years of strain. What remained of his white hair was styled back in a sleek greased pile on the top of his head. But it was those familiar eyes that always drew his attention to Mr. Vandelann.
“about what?” He pried and leaned closer suspiciously.
“She’s never noticed me before.” He laughed and glanced upwards. "I can't believe she still hasn't found out about my involvement."
“That’s good boy.” Mr. Vandelann reached for his glass of water on the smooth marble side table and met his eyes.
“Once I’m gone there’ll be no one to look after her, except for the lawyers. .of course.” Blake lowered his eyes. “Do you think she’ll ever find out?”
He stared at him for a long while before he answered in his low gravely voice and adjusted his pale green tie.“You’d better hope she doesn’t or she'll be eager to get her revenge on you.”