In the Shadows of Dryden

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CHAPTER 14 - A day in high school

Claire POV

DISCLAIMER: This chapter contains racial and bullying abuse!!! Reader’s discretion advised.

I had just finished my last class before lunch and was gathering my things to go meet my friends at the cafeteria. Tahice and Jayne had introduced me to Maya and Cedrick Rosewater when I first started school. Cedrick was one of the tallest boys at school. They just so happened to be perfect twins with blond hair and light brown eyes.

I also got to know Killian Wolfbane and Seth Payne, Cedric’s friends. It felt nice to make new friends but the best part yet was the fact that all we girls were in the same class, while the boys got to be in a different one. It didn’t matter much though, since we still got to meet and do things together. We also had gymnastics together, which was incredible fun.

I got a little late at the cafeteria considering I had to leave a few things in my locker, although as soon as I arrived there, Maya and Jayne waved to me

“Hey again, girls! Where is Tahice?” I asked.

“She went to the bathroom.” Said Jayne. “So, are you ready for ‘basketball training’ today?” Said Jayne meaningfully.

“Basketball training? I thought it was just the boys’ training?” I did not understand her innuendo. “Wasn’t we supposed to practice cheerleading?”

“I think she meant to watch the ‘boys’ playing. You know, their BODIES more than the actual training.” She winked satisfied with her explanation.

“Oh! I thought you had a boyfriend Jayne.” I said coyly.

“Of course I do but it doesn’t hurt to look.” Retorted Jayne with a big smile. “Unless… Do you already have someone of interest in mind?”

“Me? Hell, no!” ‘Why that darn emerald green-eyed vampire comes to mind?!’ Now, I was even daydreaming about that bastard!

“Hmmm…” Both Jayne and Maya looked at each other. “Riiiiight!”

“She definitely does!” Said Maya with a smirk on her face.

“Yes! Definitely! Wonder who is the lucky guy?” Jayne said gently biting her index finger as she rested her elbow on the table.

“Eh! Guys! I just moved here, remember? How could I already have a prospect for a boyfriend? I defended myself, maybe a tiny bit too energetically.

Tahice came back, looking curious at Jayne and Maya, who were now laughing non-stop.

“Hey, Claire!” She smiled hugging me before turning to the other two girls. “What did I miss?”

“NOTHING!” I shouted, making everybody in the cafeteria look at me. Maya and Jayne were cackling even more now, prompting Tahice to seem utterly lost.

“Ok… now I want to know what’s going on here!” Tahice stared at our two ‘hyena’ friends.

“Claire…” *HAHAHA* “Claire here, is interested in a boy but we’re yet to find out who he is.” Jayne nodded, trying to compose herself while Maya explained.

“Oooooh! Claaaaire, you GOTTA tell us who is this Mr. Right guy!” Tahice sat down beside, constricting me in a side hug as my remaining friends leaned over the table, resting their elbows on it. They all sported huge curios smiles while staring at me.

“I…” they nodded in anticipation while I let out a deep sigh of defeat.

“There is no way to escape now, Claire. We’re your friends, so you just gotta tell us!” Jayne winked to me as if that would give me a burst of courage.

“Fine!”

“Uoooohh, I knew there was someone!” Maya said excitedly, though I shot her an annoyed glare.

“First, he’s not a boy.” I paused to think what to say while they watched me like dogs looking at juicy bones in a meat store. I cannot say he’s a vampire. “He should be in his early twenties. Long back hair, emerald green eyes, tall…”

“Do you know his name?” Asked Tahice.

“Where does he live? Have you found out yet?” Asked Maya.

“Ohhh! She’s into older guys! Have you at least checked his physique?” Asked Jayne. Tahice and Maya gave her ‘THE’ eye as Jayne smiled back at them, slightly scratching her head. It was a good thing those two intercepted Jaine’s attention because I was left with hot cheeks and an all too sudden uncomfortable seat under myself. Images of him bathing in the lake, his perfect, delicious body...

" How can you only think about that?” Asked Maya.

“No, but you two had already asked my other two questions.” She replied, sticking her tongue out.

They giggled, casting their eyes back on me as I tried to calm down and look natural.

“Hmm… his name is Caio. I do not know where he lives and…” I gulped, knowing that I was blushing because of the mere fact of remembering his God looking body.

“AND?” They said in unison.

“Wait, are you blushing, Claire?” Asked Jayne.

Immediately, I placed my hands on my cheeks.

“NO! Why would I blush?!” I said ashamed.

“She’s surely blushing!!! She’s as red as a tomato! OMG! It’s serious guys, more so than we thought!” Said Tahice.

“Oh, c’mon Claire. Tell us already! We’re dying here!” Maya was getting more and more impatient.

“He… He’s got a swimmer’s physique if that tells you anything.” I dared a sly to peek at them. “He’s got straight hair over his chest and… I believe a tattoo covering his back.”

“Wait! Black long hair, emerald green eyes, amazing body…” They looked at each other with worried expressions. “Hope you’re not referring to the ‘forest ghost’?” Asked Maya bug-eyed as the other two gave me worried looks.

“The forest ghost? Well, I certainly never heard of that but either way, his name is Caio.” I shrugged, forgetting my embarrassment.

They made eye contact with each other before addressing me.

“The ‘forest ghost’ is kind of a legend here.” Started Tahice.

“Except that this legend is very much alive.” Continued Jayne.

“Also, he’s very much described that way.” Maya took a small pause, thinking. “It will most likely sound weird but, did he have wings?”

“Not that I know about.”

“Claire, this is imperative! Be careful with him. In a matter of fact, stay away from him altogether!” Said Tahice wistfully. Maya and Jayne expressed the same sentiment, nodding in accordance.

“He’s NOT dangerous…” I couldn’t help to sound angrier than I actually was. “I… I gotta go, guys. See you all later.” My actions were too fast and abruptly when I stood to leave, bumping on someone. “Sorry! Excuse me.” I barked the excuse as I tried to walk away, except that person grabbed my wrist, twisting it painfully to force me in to face him.

“Not so fast ‘red beauty’. You crashed into me, causing all my food to spill all over the floor. The least you could do is to give me your name and go out with me.” He said arrogantly.

“You’re hurting me! Let go!” Was my immediate answer.

“Thomas, let go of her!” Tahice grabbed his wrist trying to free me.

“Don’t you dare touch me, you black monkey!” The guy broke free from her, pushing her off violently, resulting in her falling and hitting her head on her own chair. I was left horrified, without being able to help her because the jerk was still holding me tightly.

“Thomas!” The jerk turned towards the voice he heard calling him just in time to get a nice punch on his face. Thankfully, he involuntarily let go of my arm as he flew to the floor. “Don’t you EVER talk with her like that!” Yelled Cedrick at him.

Thomas got up infuriated. He was about to return the punch when Killian and Seth came in behind Cedrick. All three boys had a daring expression on their faces, waiting for Thomas to act the wrong way for them to have some more fun in punching him.

“BAH! You’re not worth it! Although, next time you’re not gonna be so lucky, blondie.” Thomas pointed a menacing finger at Cedrick before storming off, pushing me and some other people out of his way.

I quickly ran over to Tahice, kneeling to check on her.

“Are you alright? That jerk! I’m so sorry, Tahice. It’s all my fault!” I couldn’t fathom why someone would ever treat another person so badly. I had just met that jerk and I already hated him from the bottom of my heart.

“I’m… alright. No need to… apologize.” She was definitely in pain, it was noticeable in her face. I motioned her to hold on to my arm and help her get up. She let out a screech of pain the very moment that she sat down on her chair.

Maya stood next to us with a cup of water in hand, ready to hand it over to Tahice for her to drink. Seth was standing next to her in exactly two seconds.

“That asshole! I’m gonna take you to the infirmary. Hold on!” Before Tahice could object to Seth, he picked her up bride style, leaving her no option but to hold on to him as he almost ran to the infirmary.

“If I haven’t gotten so worked out, this wouldn’t have happened.” My shoulders drooped.

“No need to apologize, Claire. We shouldn’t have pushed your buttons but we are extremely concerned about you.” Said Maya, patting on my shoulder.

“It’s nobody’s fault. Let’s head to class, it’s about to start.” Said Killian as he checked his iPhone for the time.

We all rushed to the gym. Everybody rushed to the gym as I was ‘dragged’ thereby Cedrick. He noticed how despondent I was feeling, not hesitating in pulling me along with him and the others. I had planned on leaving school earlier today but what would I tell him now?

“Cedrick, wait!” I tried to pull on his arm, the same one gripping on my arm. ‘Gosh, he’s strong!’ He barely bulged, although he seemed to note it because he stopped to look at me, letting the others go ahead of us.

“We’re gonna be late, Claire. What’s up?”

“I… Thank you for interfering at the right time back there.” My downcast eyes stared at my fidgeting hands.

“No problem!” His hand pulled a hair strand off my eyes, consequently making me look up at him. “Since we’re alone now anyways, I wanted to talk with you about something.”

“Sure! What is it?” All of a sudden, his body seemed to tense up, the hand that was holding on to me had let go, prompting me to find out he was sweating, plus, he couldn’t standstill.

“I’m not good at it but, would you... “ He checked around us for anybody that could be listening. “... would you go out with me? I mean… on a date?” I was taken aback by his question, I even believe that my mouth was gawking.

“I..”

“Do you already have a boyfriend? Oh, man… ah….”

“Cedrick, yes! I would actually like that!” I gave him my best smile but inside, all I wanted to do was to slap myself. ‘Why the hell did I tell him that???’ Truth was, a certain someone had made his way into my freaking head and I was unable to extract him from there. Maybe going out with Cedrick could help me solve it? I know, it’s not a nice thing to do to go out with someone just to forget someone else but I do like Cedrick. I believe that if I haven’t met Caio when I did, I would have surely hooked up with Cedrick. Why not give it a try?

He beamed! He beamed at me.

“Really?” I smiled at him.

“Yes, really.”

Then, he did something I wasn’t expecting him to do at all. He picked me up on a bear hug, lifting me from the floor and spinning us together. I giggled, holding on to his strong arms. When he placed me down, I took the opportunity to let him know what I had planned on doing before all this happened.

“Cedrick, I have to go. I had planned to go visit my family grave so I’m not coming to class. I’ve already told the teachers.”

“Your family grave?” His confusing expression looked more like a little puppy eye face begging to go play with him. ‘Hmm… maybe playing with him would be a bit too daring at the moment.’ When did I get so shameful like that? My grandmother must be rubbing on me. Needless to say, my cheeks were burning, so I knew for a fact that I was blushing like red pepper.

“Yes. I’ve had it planned for a while.”

“I can go with you if you want.” Before he could complete his offer, I was shaking my head no.

“Thank you, but I need to do this alone.” Slowly, he nodded to me, understanding how important it was.

“Sure, I understand.” He gave me a hug, which I welcomed even though it felt somewhat awkward.

I headed directly to the church, finding it weirdly empty because the last sermon had finished a few minutes ago, there should still have people lingering about. I walked toward the altar, intending to go to the left door that led to the graveyard when the other door opened. The voices coming from within reached my ears first, resulting in me snapping my head in that direction.

“For the Love of God! Explain to me one more time. Why in his name can’t you use a shirt like everybody else?” Asked an irritated father Ronah.

“They have a tendency in getting in the way.”

The door swung closed, facilitating our eyes to meet. My body stiffened as I felt those emerald green eyes stare at me.

“I don’t know, Caio. Maybe, you can start to take it off just like you do to your coat?!” Said father Ronah sarcastically. Noticing Caio’s fixed gaze being him, he turned to follow his gaze.

“Claire! What are you doing here at this time?” Was it only me or he disliked me being there? Or, would that maybe be because of Caio’s presence? “Claire?”

“Sorry, father. I was gonna light a candle for grandpa.” I blinked away from Caio’s stare, feign that I was reaching inside my backpack for some candles. “Is everything alright?”

“Yes, of course! This is my nephew, Caio.” Said father Ronah introducing Caio to me, his heavy gaze anchored on his ‘nephew’. Caio lifted an eyebrow to the priest in amusement before regarding me.

“Hey!” He said calmly.

“Hey”? Is that all you can say? Snapped father Ronah. I giggled as I approached them.

“It’s nice to meet you Caio.” I returned a coy smile, playing along.

“Nice to meet you too, Claire.”

“If you two don’t mind, I will go light the candle now. I don’t want to interrupt your conversation. It sounded important!” Right before I turned away, I caught a glimpse of Caio frowning. While I lighted the candles over at the memorial corner, I caught the priest whispering.

“I will meet you later at night at my house. Now, go before someone else sees you here without a shirt!” He had absolutely managed to tick father Ronah off.

Not resisting my temptation, I slightly turned my head to glance at them, although Caio was still frowning at me. ‘What did I do?’ I wonder.

I lit the candles and recited a prayer to grandpa. When I turned to leave, Caio was no longer there and the priest was busy with an old lady so I headed outside.

My bike was parked by a tree. I put on my headphones and started pedaling back home. The way back was calm, without many cars out and about. When I turned on my street, I noticed some movement on the corner of my eye and peeked in its direction to check what it was. Although I couldn’t see anything there, I had this internal feeling that I was being watched.


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