Move in day
Leaning forward, face hidden behind a thick wall of dark blond hair I expertly slip my air pod back into my ear. Keeping the music turned off was the only way my brain could cope with the reality being thrust upon me. How could I separate myself from the very air I breathed? Excise the sheer need to dance from my soul? If I couldn’t hear music without dancing how was I to survive in a world full of sound when I could no longer express my innermost thoughts?
Even worse was the fact that my new school expected me to finish out components of my advanced diploma in ballet alongside the more main stream subjects one would find at a high school. The one subject they were most excited about was specialised coaching. I would be coaching one class of my peers to give an end of year performance.
Water ways with its relaxed island atmosphere was a wonderful, magical place for the children of the rich and infamous. If you believed everything you read in the brochures. I didn’t. I had read the handbook and made sure any contraband was securely hidden at the bottom of the largest suitcase that had been shipped ahead of my arrival.
the distinct tangy undertones of sea air greeted my nostrils as I stepped off the plane. My last link with home gearing up to turn around and fly home almost immediately. I had been promised that someone would meet me and take me to the school campus. As if on cue a car with the school logo on the side pulled into place in front of me. A hand gracefully slides into my vision allowing me to make my way over the last trip hazard at the bottom of the ramp. ’Spasibo.’ I mutter politely before looking up into a male face artfully arranged in a mask of teenage boredom. The crest of the school logo peeks up at me from his jacket. Yanking his hand out of my gentle grip he stalks his way into the car waiting a few metres away. ‘First day in the land of the pompous and pretentious?’ the driver’s sympathy shows. ‘First day in this school. Pompous and pretentious I can handle just fine.’ I reply as he assists me into the car before taking my crutches to be stowed in the front seat. I have a feeling that I should be a little offended at his comment but I let it slide. I had all summer to reacclimate to the lifestyle I had been born into around the doctors appointments.
He’s sliding his gaze all over me as if he owns me already. Seriously? Did they send the biggest jerk on the planet to meet me and explain how things work? ‘Take a picture it will last longer.’ the words slip out before my filter kicks in. I don’t need people to be cosy with me but I don’t want to live life in no man’s land straight away either.
‘This isn’t Hogwarts and it certainly isn’t Le Rosey or even TASIS.’ his words slide over me like smooth warm honey. The boy was a player for sure. Giving him my full attention, flashing a small smile hopefully slightly encouraging in expression to continue. Thankfully he catches on real quick. ‘Apparently you’re someone special enough to rate a personal welcome. Tyler Saint at your service.’ His eyes linger on the crutches profile through the divider. Sarcasm seems to be his first language something I specialised in myself, ‘Ciara Grey, pleasure.’ ‘I’m supposed to give you the standard welcome to the school spiel including all the whatnots. You read the handbook right?’ His dark blue eyes snap up to meet mine revealing little as he keeps his emotions in check, ‘Yeah you’re another good girl. Read the hand book and left all the contraband at home. Let me guess you didn’t even have to lift a finger to pack your bags. Mummy got the maids to do it for you.’ Holding onto my dignity and not snapping at this spoilt rich prick is taking every ounce of my self control, ‘Nice of you to judge me before you know me.’ Pretending his words don’t affect me I get comfortable. If I had any contraband I wouldn’t be owning up to it would I?
He flashed his perfect teeth, dark eyes dancing merrily broke his smouldering bad boy persona for a split second, ‘word is going around that you’re either starting late for personal reasons or you’ve got connections the rest of us could only dream about. Either way people are going to be nosy about it until you set them straight about the size of your inheritance.’ Scenery rushes past the window too fast for me to take in my new surroundings. Keeping secrets was never a good way to start anything new. Breathing in to the count of three I exhale silently before answering, ’Ciara Grey, as in Dove House of Fashion, previously of Elmhurst and numerous other projects. Spread the word for me-my bank balance is nobody’s business but mine.’ Talking money was something I had never gotten used to and I hoped that I never would. Above everything it was so tasteless.
Entering through a set of imposing stone and wrought iron gates the car turns up a long drive way. ‘Any real advice about Water ways?’ The edges of his mouth tip up at the sides in a slight smirk, ’Don’t let the sharks eat you for breakfast little fish.’ Tapping against the glass he adds, ‘I’ll see you later Ciara.’ He throws his door open to give me a brief glimpse of a state of the art football field and a group of boys straggling along the main path in ones and twos. ‘Look what the tide washed in boys!’ Sighing at the personality switch he holds the door open long enough for them to get a good look at the new girl. It appears we had arrived at the beginning of training. Some of the boys dangled helmets from their fingertips and Ty caught a duffel bag tossed at his head effortlessly.
The door closes before the engine purrs onwards towards the main building. Imposing in its confusion between log cabin and chateau de nowhere nothing grabs my attention until a warm voice drifts into my ears, ‘Ciara Grey?’ Standing perfectly still in the centre of the stairs she flips her long red hair out of her face so that she can get a better look at me. Her uniform pristine with buttons artfully left undone gives her a casual air. ‘My name is Meghan Kelly. I’m your guide for the next week. We have a few hours to get you settled in before your meeting with the Head.’ Her dreadfully proper accent is mixed with undertones of street. Joining me at ground level she hefts my duffel bag over her shoulder without breaking the slightest sweat. ‘The girls’ residence is the path to the right. Different years live on different levels. Lower classes share two to a room. Seniors are given singles.’ Absorbing the information silently I follow Meghan at a distance trying to keep pace with the fast moving red head. Automatically adjusting her stride so that she can walk beside me she gives me a small apologetic smile, ‘The best part about being a senior is our rooms are on the first floor. Not too many stairs.’
‘They told me there would be an elevator.’ Speaking up as she uses a card to tap into the building, she waits until we’re in the foyer to reply, ‘They told me to remind you to use it. Any time that there’s a house meeting you will have to come to this building, same with signing on and off campus. Your card gets you everywhere you have privileges to access. Tap in to enter and tap out to leave. Just so that they can keep track of your movements, make sure you’re attending class and if you’re sleeping at bed check they won’t disturb you because the card registers in their system that you’re present.’ Leading me through the building and back outside she follows a flag stone path to the bottom of an overgrown garden. ’You were a late arrival. The dorms are full. Last year, one of the boys was learning about sustainability and leaving a small footprint on the earth. His practical project was to build a yurt.
Stopping outside the door, she waits patiently for me to wave my id card at the electronic lock on the door. ’Welcome to the overflow dorm or as it has been formally christened ‘Ciara’s place’.’ The entire structure has been decorated in a mix of Scandinavian shabby chic. Casting my jaundiced eye over the wooden interior I’m instantly drawn to the whiteboard at eye level with my name written in swirling loops. In a neat stack below it on the desk, I spy all my necessary paperwork. ‘You need to be in your uniform for dinner since we won’t have time to come back before your meeting.’ Meghan informs me with an easy smile before she adds, ‘I’ll swing by to pick you up again and show you the way. Everything is easier after a while.’ The door slides shut behind her. The circular space seemed slightly overwhelming with it’s extreme openess. Floor to ceiling windows covered one section. A huge screen separated the sleeping space from the living area, dresser, desk under a medium size white board and a walk thru robe leading into an ensuite bathroom with a mobility friendly shower.
Everything that could be provided to make my life more luxurious had been. The walls had been freshly coated with a light silvery grey to match in with my bedding from home. Three boxes were stacked alongside my suitcase, duffel and schoolbag along one wall. Opening the top box I placed my decorations around the room. A few candles here and there, framed prints of my favourite places in the world and fairy lights completed the decorations. Shoving my competition ballet shoes deep in the closet, I was just tweaking the final piece of my uniform when Meghan tapped on my door. She took in the minimalist look of my room in silence before commenting drily, ’At least you won’t get busted for being cluttered and messy.’ Throwing my damp hair up into a messy bun I catch the micro expressions fleeting across her face in my mirror. She’s dying to talk about why I’m really here at Water ways. I, on the other hand, wasn’t ready to be so open about it.
She doesn’t dig for any details respecting my right to privacy. Checking her wrist watch she visibly starts before announcing, ‘If we don’t leave now we are going to be late for dinner.’ Dragging me across campus following the well lit walk ways as fast as I can move my crutches she brings me to a huge dining hall. ‘Pick up what you want and tap your card at each table to pay. There will be enough on your card to cover all your dietary and munchie needs for the school year.’ Meghan points out the different food bars and tray bay. Looking down at my crutches, I wonder when she would realise that unless I planned to carry the tray with my teeth I wasn’t going to be able to get my own food.
Body heat radiates off the person behind me warming my back. ‘You choose. I’ll carry your tray for you.’ A masculine voice speaks directly into my ear. Craning my neck up a little to see who had offered his help I’m treated with the sight of one of the Echo brothers. ‘Atticus Echo,’ he introduces himself before picking up a tray, ‘I saw you arrive with the rest of the neanderthals.’ ‘Sharks right?’ Picking up a small bowl of rice I move on perusing the options on display. ‘Stingrays actually.’ he adds a couple of items to the tray, ‘I’m a Junior.’ Sensing she’s been abandoned, Meghan shoots me a grin then points to Atticus before giving me two thumbs up in approval. ‘Anything else?’ hidden laughter in the tone of his voice alerts me to the fact that he’s caught us out. Shaking my head silently whilst blushing in embarrassment I concentrate on not tripping myself up or knocking someone else over.
He adds a couple of bottles of water and before I can protest his action, Atticus has already paid for my food. ‘You can sit with me tonight. We’re used to Meghan’s special brand of entertainment. She’ll come get you after dinner.’