In the Shadows of Dryden

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CHAPTER 41 - First day

Claire’s POV

The bus trip that was supposed to take 2 hours, passed in a jiffy. After Miss Flores scrunched her face for something like ten minutes, while hearing the unmatched pitched tones of the students, our music teacher seemed to have had enough. She exchanged a few words with Mister Benks, who was sitting right next to her as if he didn’t hear any of the horrible singing. Truth was, he had long learned to tune such annoying sounds off, or so it seemed. Our gym teacher promptly removed a songbook out of the side pocket of his big duffle bag and handed it to her. While she scanned through it Mister Benks positioned his guitar over his lap and stroked a few chord tones in it. A few seconds later, she pointed to something in the book, probably a song for him to play. With some of his fingers pressing down on some of the cords of his black guitar, his other hand started to gently but firmly stroke the cords. Everybody on the bus stopped what they were doing to listen to him play. A few seconds later, Miss Flores began singing. It always surprised me how beautiful her voice was. She could make it sound soft at times and hard or aggressive at others, it was truly amazing! Mister Benks started to sing along after the first chorus, then she waved at us to follow along and sing with them. It was a lot of fun singing songs like “Clementine”, “Drunken sailor”, “Oh! Susanna” and many others. By the time we arrived at the shelter, it was 9:30 and we were the first ones to get there! About ten minutes later, another bus pulled in beside ours, it was another five minutes or so before the last bus parked on the other side of our bus.

As we left the bus, we were directed to gather in a large field, right in between three big cabins.

“Alright! Welcome to the Crow’s Den Scout Camp!” Said one tall woman dressed in a teal green shirt and pants, where several badges were visibly sewed onto her shirt. She also wore a red triangular-shaped scarf with a golden leaf pattern on its edge, around her neck. To complete her look was a black belt with a golden fleur-de-lis buckle holding her pants in place. Beside her, was yet another guy standing dressed in the same beautiful uniform. They were the same height but he was considerably more muscular than her.

“Don’t worry about your luggage! Our fellow scouts are unloading them as we speak and arranging them beside each respective bus. You can grab them after we are done here.”

Some students, like myself, glanced over towards the busses. Indeed, there were several scouts removing the luggage and placing them in a line near each bus.

Mister Benks, climbed up the small make-shift podium, whispering something to the male scout, who nodded briefly in return before stepping back with his counterpart and giving the podium to our teacher. Miss Flores stepped forward and handed him the attendance book. The next 30 minutes were passed with Mister Benks doing our attendance. After calling the last person and checking the name off in the book, he gives a quick nod toward the scouts standing behind him before climbing down the make-shift podium to go stand beside Miss Flores.

The student’s attention seems to take a hike as everybody began talking with one another, ignoring the scouts. An incredibly high pitch noise reverberated through the speakers, making everybody cover their ears and turn to look toward the podium. The woman scout had her fingernails right over a board that stood behind them. She turned to us with a smirk on her face, proud to have gathered our attention again.

“Well, now…” She begins, taking her notepad off her back pocket. “My name is Lilian Moore and this is my brother Phillip Moore. We will be responsible for the activities during your stay here so let us know if there are any concerns.” She gives a pause to regard our group before continuing. “We will be dividing you into nine groups with ten students per group. Each cabin will house 30 students or 3 groups.” She points in the general direction of the 3 cabins around us. Those cabins are probably what my mother meant with shelters. I shrugged to myself. Well, they are still shelter cabins.

“Because we do not know you all and as a way to make you all interact and create new friends, we will be dividing the groups through lottery. Requests to be placed in the same group as your friends will not be accepted as it goes against our program.” She smiled as the murmurs began to get loud. Lillian was quick to raise her voice a little and make everybody listen. “My brother will call your names. Once you’re called, please come up front and take a paper from this bag.” She lifted up a red felt bag from the podium, took a random folded paper from it then placed the bag back down on the podium. “Please, open your paper and read the number out loud to us while showing it so we can take note of which group you belong to.” She unfolded her paper and pronounced the number 24 as she showed us the number, then she folded it again and placed it back inside of the red bag. “After that, you are free to go grab your luggage and head to your respective cabin.”

“Cabin 1, is on my right, cabin 2, is right behind me, and cabin 3, is on my left.” Explained Phillip, pointing to each cabin as he talked. “Cabin 1 will house groups 1, 2 and 3. Cabin 2 will house groups 4, 5 and 6 and the last cabin will house the last 3 groups.”

“Alright! As I mentioned before, my brother will call and I will hold the bag with the numbers.” She smiled, took the red bag with the numbers and went down to stand on the podium’s stairs.

Cedrick, Seth and Killian were from class A, my girlfriends and I were from class B and the new guy that sat beside Jayne earlier on the bus, was from class C so the first ones to be called were Cedrick’s class. Killian and Seth were lucky enough to be placed together in the same group and subsequently, in the same cabin 3 but Cedrick got cabin 2. I bet he was feeling alone in that cabin, I just hope I don’t get separated from my friends in a different group. That would suck!

Soon enough, it was time for class 2’s turn in the lottery. As soon as Phillip called my name, the girls cheered for me. I gave them a hopeful smile that we would soon be reunited again in the same cabin and took off to grab my ticket. Surprise, surprise! I got cabin 2 and that meant that I would be in the same cabin as Cedrick!. Now, I was really hoping that at least one of my girlfriends got placed with me. It will be so awkward to be “alone” in that cabin with him. After waving to my friends, I took off to go grab my luggage and then go to my cabin.

The cabins were built with dark and redwood, with that cozy rustic feeling to them. They looked identical on the outside. The front porch had a small ramp to facilitate the transportation of heavy things onto it so I had no trouble in rolling my luggage up to the front door. Upon opening the front door, I’m surprised to see how ample and well organized this place is. There are several wooden bunk beds between built-in closets so we could place our belongings inside. Soft LED lights contoured the ceiling in 5 different squares that went from the walls toward the center of the ceiling, illuminating the room well without giving a bad headache.

“Hello! I’m Tonya, the scout responsible for this cabin. You must be…” She glanced to her iPad and back at me. “Claire?”

“Yes! Hello!” I jump in surprise, upon hearing her talk with me.

“Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you.” She frowns, with an apologetic smile but I wave her an ‘ok’ after catching my breath again. “I will take you to your designated bed and closet.” I nod and follow her.

We walk past a few beds where some girls are organizing their stuff into their closets. When I look to the other side of the room, I see that there are only guys there. So They divided the cabin in half to separate us according to our sex. Well, there wasn’t anything really concrete separating the girls from the boys but we were still separated. That was… thoughtful! I wouldn’t want to sleep under a guy that I don’t even know. Literally!

“This will be your bed.” She pointed to the bed closer to the floor. Phew! Thank, God! “This closet will be shared between you and the girl sleeping on the bed over you.” She opened the closet closest to me and showed a blue and yellow part inside it. “This blue half will be yours to use and this other half, in yellow, will be the other girl’s side. You’re all free till lunch. We will give further information during lunch.” She smiled and walked toward the center of the room. “Any questions?”

“No. Thanks!” As soon as I finished answering, she turned around and left.

Guess it was time to put my things up like everybody was doing. I lifted my luggage onto my bed and pulled on the zipper to open it up and start unpacking.

After all my clothes were neatly arranged in my side of the closet, I pushed in my luggage under the bed and sat on it. The mattress was perfect, not too soft and not too hard. I closed my eyes and let out a sigh, relaxing my body.

“Claire? Oh, thank the Goddess! I’m not alone in this cabin!”

My body stiffened as my eyes flew open, turning in the direction of the voice just as Cedrick approached my bed.

“Cedrick! You’re here too!” Standing a bit too fast, I hit my head hard on the bed frame over me.

“Shit! Are you ok? We should go get some ice!” Cedrick took the last few steps to me in a hurry, placing a hand over my head and getting me to sit back down on my bed.

“Ouch! It really hurt! Why do I have to be so clumsy at the worst times?” I let out a sigh, grimacing as I pressed the new bump forming on my head.

“Come on, let’s go get you some ice.”

I nodded as he helped me stand without bumping my head again. We walked towards the door and Tonya approached us.

“Is everything alright? Did you get hurt?” She placed a hand over my shoulder and stretched her neck to see on top of my head.

“She hit her head on the bed frame. Where is the kitchen? I need to get her some ice.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry! That happens so often here that we have an ice machine installed right beside the door with some bags hanging next to it.” Tonya promptly turned and went to the mentioned machine to grab some ice while Cedrick and I followed behind her.

“Here!” She handed me the bag of ice. “Try to remember about the second bed over you. I know this hurts a lot.” Her eyes glanced over her iPad and, with an apologetic smile, she turned and walked away from us.

Before I could do or say anything, Cedrick dragged me outside and towards the back of the cabin, where a tree trunk was strategically lying on the ground. We sat down on it and I pressed the bag of ice over my newly formed bump. He watched me grimace every time I pressed the ice on my bump with a sorry expression.

“Uh… Claire…”

My eyes turned slightly towards him, waiting for him to continue.

“I’m sorry but I need to talk with you about that last date we had.”

My muscles tensed the second he pronounced those words and I found myself looking at him. Cedrick had a hand behind his neck slightly scratching himself there. He seemed embarrassed. I didn’t know what to say so I just nodded, gulping down on my own saliva in anxiousness.

“I’ve been thinking about what happened that day. When I fought the Forest Ghost…” Finally, he looked up at me, placing his elbows over his legs while leaning forward. “He seemed to be… jealous?”

“Jealous? What do you mean?” I found myself avoiding his gaze, a hand tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear.

“Claire, talk with me.” He pleaded in a low voice, almost a whisper. “I got a clear feeling that you two know each other.”

“Wh-why would you say that?” He stared at me.

“I don’t know! Maybe because you addressed him by his name? What was it again?” He paused, looking down at the ground. “Ah! Caio, right?” He gazed back at me. “You seemed to have just had a fight with him back then. I remember you telling him off with such confidence… it made me flinch. Nobody has ever addressed him that way unless they wanted to die.”

What should say? Truth is, I have no clue. My relationship with Caio is so complicated that I don’t even know how to describe it.

Cedrick took my hands into his own, giving a light squeeze. I turned my face back at him and he sighed.

“Claire, I’m just trying to understand where we are. Are you dating him? Do I even have a chance with you?”

“I… I don’t know.” Removing my hands from his, I stood and walked a few steps away. I could sense him getting up and following me so I turned and stared at him. “I’m sorry, Cedrick. I do like you a lot. I never intended to hurt you.”

“But you like him more.” He stated, voice firm but a bit horse, his hands were closed into fists and his knuckles seemed white. I nodded slowly, a bit sad to have treaded him along. I should have never done that.

“For more than I would like to say otherwise, I think he likes you too.” My eyes shot back up at him, a bit surprised. “He seemed quite… angry to have caught us kissing. I can’t say that I would have acted any different if I was in his place.”

“Maybe…” I crossed my arms, in a defensive stance. It wasn’t as I needed to protect myself from him but more of the situation I put myself in. I should have thought this through before doing it. I felt him touch my chin and gently lift it so as to make me look at him.

“Hey! Don’t get sad. It was my fault for not telling you I had a crush on you before you met him.” I shook my head with a half-embarrassed and half-awkward smile. I couldn’t help to fidget with my fingers.

“Sorry… I met him the very same day that I moved into town.”

“Oh!” Cedrick lifted a hand to the back of his neck and sighed in defeat. “Lucky guy.”

I offered him a light smile.

“Can we… still be friends? Do you forgive me?” I asked, making my best puppy dog eyes. He chuckled and pulled me to him for a big hug.

“I would have loved to be more than just a friend for you Claire, but if that’s the only thing you can offer me, I will gladly accept it.”

Hearing that, made me smile and I found myself hugging him back. It felt like the world had come off my shoulders.

“Just… two things!” We pulled away. “I’m pretty sure you know he’s a vampire. Please, be careful! If he ever threatens you in any way, come to me and I will make sure to kick his sorry vampire ass.”

I chuckled, nodding all along.

“Alright! What’s the second thing?”

“If you hadn’t met him…”

“I don’t know. Maybe so.” I cut him as soon as I figured out his question.

He nodded, letting out yet another sigh. Cedrick kept looking at me as if he was daydreaming but after a moment he pulled me along.

“Come on. Let’s explore a bit before lunch.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

Sorry for the delay in updating. IRL can sometimes get in the way of it. Hopefully, I should be able to go back to my schedule now and even increase it to at least 2 chapters a week. :)

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