The Guild – Chapter 13 – Andrei

Another Chapter in the Guild

via The Guild – Andrei

 

Tic…tic…tic…

The gentle, steady beat of time draws my attention. I look to a cloudless sky overhead, no sun, no moon, yet there is light. I look ahead of me and see an endless landscape of dried dirt, not a single plant or animal in sight. And a breeze touches my skin, gently like the hand of a mother.

I stand and spin, looking around at the barren land and clear open skies. Where is the ticking coming from? Where in the world am I where there is no sun? Dust kicks up from my booted feet and picks up on the wind, twirling around me in a funnel-like shape.

Tic…tic…tic…

    Time… Endless time…

I hear a faint whisper on the wind and open my mouth to respond, but as I do I taste the distinct flavour of a s’more. I inhale and I smell a campfire, like the ones they had in the tribe I visited the other day. I inhale deeply, remembering summer nights roasting marshmallows with my family, laughing and singing silly songs. The scene is completely different from what I see around me. It confuses me.

I breathe in again and the scent becomes stronger. I nearly gag and I cough, trying to breathe. I close my eyes, coughing uncontrollably. As I open my eyes I become aware that I am no longer in the barren landscape with no sun, but in a room. I continue to cough and realize it’s not from the smoke of some imaginary fire but the red hair of Kaitlyn sleeping next to me. Sometime in the night it seems we got under the covers and I now find myself curled up next to her, face buried in her hair, which I’m now choking on.

The sheets are the hues of flame, red, orange and yellow. I feel warm beneath the covers of this strange new bed. I lean my head back to look up at the stone ceiling and thump into a cushioned headboard. I pull her hair off my face and take a deep breath of fresh air. I still smell the faint scent of a campfire and sweet s’mores and I sit up, breathing it in. The smell comes from her, sleeping beside me, curled into a ball on her side.

Rhoan lays under her chin, in a cat form, curled into a mirror image position of Kaitlyn. I bring an arm up and rub the sleep from my eyes. What time is it?

    Tic…tic…tic…

The answer sort of comes to me, I feel like it’s eight thirty-seven in the morning. I look to the window on the east side of her room and see the sun peeking out from the bottom ledge. Yes, early morning.

I look back down at Kaitlyn; she looks so peaceful in her sleep. It’s hard to imagine her having nightmares that would burn everything around her. But I guess we all have to learn control somewhere.

I remember times when I would jump in my sleep and wake up in the huts of some peasants. People would freak out and I would be confused. No one knew what to do with me. Whenever I returned home, my parents would be crying and worried because they’d found my bed empty and cold. I hated to worry them but they knew I couldn’t control this power I seemed to have.

Out of the corner of my eye I notice the cat’s head lifting and I stare into the bright eyes of Rhoan. He speaks without moving his mouth, “Lay back down and be quiet.” He demands.

I silently protest but his growl shuts me up. I lean back against the headboard. Her hair is splayed out across the pillow like the flames, red against the pale yellow. Whoever decorated really wanted to emulate the real thing. I reach out a hand to stroke it, like I remember doing last night before falling asleep like a fool.

I really kissed her, didn’t I? I’ve had girlfriends before, but nothing that lasted. I wonder if Kaitlyn will be different. She’s not like any of the girls I’ve dated before. She’s not really independent, but she acts like she is. She’s often unsure of herself. She’s unbearably cute when she doesn’t understand something, and she’s totally interested in my time jumps. All the others never believed me. They seemed to think I was delusional, like Caroline did before she discovered she could flood a house.

Her hair is soft between my fingers, silky and sort of glimmers in the sun like a real fire. How fitting. I wonder how it doesn’t catch fire. She shifts in her sleep, taking a deep breath then rolls over into my chest. Her forehead rests against me and her eyes flutter open. She turns her face and looks up at me. I see she is confused at first – I was too when I woke up – but then, she smiles in relief.

“Good morning, gorgeous.” I whisper. I vaguely recall using this term the first day we met. It’s fitting.

“Good morning,” She croaks. She pulls herself up and yawns, stretching her arms over her head. The bottom of her pajama top lifts with her action and I get a brief glimpse the scars peeking out from her back. She lowers her arms, covering the array of pain and tips her head at me. “Did you sleep okay?”

“I don’t even remember falling asleep on you, I’m sorry. Not such a good bodyguard. You? Did you have any nightmares?”

She shakes her head and giggles. “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever slept through the night without any.” She sounds excited about this simple luxury. I feel sorry for her, not for the first time. We’re two peas in a pod though.

“That’s great! Let’s make that a regular occurrence!”

She blushes, “I’d like that…”

“So, what does a guy have to do to get food in this place?” I ask, feeling the emptiness in my stomach and realize we haven’t eaten anything since breakfast the day before.

“Get dressed, for starters,” Rhoan replies, hopping off the bed and onto the dresser. “Come on Kat, you look like you just woke up.”

“Well, she did.” I say matter of factly.

Suddenly a knock comes at the door and a muffled voice comes through. “Umm, Kaitlyn? Are you up?”

“It sounds like Caroline.” I say, “Should I hide?”

Kait looks worried, “Why would you hide?”

“It’s Caroline… She would freak if she saw us sleeping together. She’d probably assume we had sex! Not to mention, she won’t even sleep in the same bed with Kae and they’ve been together at least two years!” I say, holding out my hands to either side.

Kaitlyn frowns, “I don’t see the problem, but it’s up to you.” She climbs off the bed and heads for the door. “What different does it make to her if we had sex or not?” She mutters quietly.

I jump off the bed and grab the handle first, whispering. “She would never let me forget it for one, and two, I don’t want her thinking I’ve lost my virginity on the first day of dating you!”

“Called it.” Rhaon says, licking his paw innocently.

I look between him and Kat in confusion. “Did you bet on me?” I ask.

She flushes a shade of red I thought wasn’t possible, “Wha – no! He just… made a comment yesterday,” She glares over her shoulder hard at Rhoan.

“You totally bet on me!” I gasp, trying to keep my voice down. “That hurts,” I sarcastically whine, placing a hand to my chest as if my heart has been stabbed. I pull away from the door and slink to the closet, pouting as I shut the door, making sure she sees my sad eyes before I disappear. I catch her mortified expression before the door shuts and I snicker silently, listening.

“I didn’t! Rhoan, why would you say that?! You’re so mean!” I can feel the fire in her voice as she gets angry with Rhoan and it makes me laugh harder.

Rhoan huffs, “I made an honest assessment. You’re welcome.”

I hear her growl as the door creaks open.

“Oh, good morning! Did I wake you?” Caroline asks.

“Uhh… No. What’s up?” Kat replies.

“Well, I was wondering, what time do classes start here? I don’t want to be late, but, the Headmistress didn’t mention anything about a schedule or a location.” She pauses. “I’m basically really confused because I don’t know anything!” She pretty much exhales that last part.

I hear a giggle from Kat, “You make your own schedule here. We’ll have to find you a professor that uses water to mentor you first, of course. Then you work out the details with them.”

Caroline doesn’t respond right away, I bet anything her mouth is hanging open.

“But, I mean, there’s no attendance record? No start time? It’s… It’s all one on one?” Oh man. She is so out of her element. I assume Kat nods. “So, you’ll come get me when you’re ready then?” She asks.

“Sure. Just give us, er… me a few minutes to get dressed.”

“Oh?” She hesitates. “I’ll go see if Andrei’s awake and let him know.” She says.

“No!” Kat coughs awkwardly. I smack my forehead with my hand… She’s so going to give me away. “Um… What about Kaede? I’m sure he’ll want to come too.”

“Oh, I guess. He’s still sound asleep, but he’s easy to wake up. I’ll make sure he’s up too.”

“Why don’t I check on Andrei, while you wake up Kaede?” Kat offers hurriedly, trying hard to sound casual.

Caroline hums for a moment. “Ahh, I see. You want the chance to see Andrei asleep, don’t you?” She most definitely is taping her nose with her finger. “No problem. I’m sure it’ll freak him out to see you so early in the morning. Have fun then.” She chimes before leaving.

I exhale my breath and wait a few moments before pushing the door open and peeking around it. I see Kat leaning her head against the closed door, chest heaving as she tries catch her breath.

“Nice work. Sly as a fox.” I wink.

“As an occasional fox, I take offence to that.” Rhoan scoffs. “That girl must be as dense as a brick.”

“You’re a creature who can turn into anything. There’s got to be a million idioms that would offend you at any given time.” I remark. “And Car is not as dense as she may appear. She’s always gotten in the ninety percentile in University and got in on a scholarship. She could put any puzzle together given the opportunity. She will find out eventually, especially if I leave Kat here to lie for me.” I wink at her, “You really aren’t that good at lying. We should work on that,” I smile.

Kat whines, “Can’t we just tell her what happened? I’m sure she’d understand…”

“She will say that to your face, but she’ll think the opposite. You heard what she said there didn’t you? You have fun? Let me ask you, did she tap her nose?”

“Yea… So what?”

“That’s her way of saying there’s something else happening that doesn’t need to be said. She practically told you she knows you want to see me naked, and she’s saying go ahead!”

She glances at the cat and starts laughing. “That’s ridiculous.”

Rhoan sighs, “Children…”

“I mean… It seems like a weird time for that sort of thing.” She corrects herself quickly.

I shrug, not really knowing how to make a comeback. “I guess I should go get dressed though.” I sigh, feeling my stomach grumble. I reach out a hand towards Kaitlyn and smile, thinking of the best sleep I’ve had all week. I think about giving her another kiss, before all the others are around and we get busy. Heck, thinking is for students.

I lean down and place my lips on hers, feeling their warmth. I inhale, smell that summer campfire again and I feel elated. I press a little harder, passion overtaking my mind. She smells so good! I… I want more. Maybe she’s right, and Caroline wouldn’t notice.

I feel her push back with equal force as she places her hands on my sides, grabbing onto my shirt. I slip my hand under her hair, grabbing the nape of her neck and pull her closer. I wrap my other arm around her waist, holding the small of her back. I feel the faint ridges of old scars there but I can’t focus on that now. I can’t stop myself as I revel in the scent that is uniquely hers.

I feel like a few minutes have passed and I slowly pull away, opening my eyes to look at her pretty face. Now’s not the time to get all romantic. I give her a wanting smile and squeeze her back with my hands. I feel the raised scar tissue on her back and shudder inwardly. Where did she get these? It doesn’t make sense.

I drop my hand and step back, “You are way too gorgeous.” I wink, walking backwards out the door, eyes lingers on her face.

I quietly slip into my room and start shaking. Oh my god. What am I doing?!! My knees feel weak and I lean against the wall, sliding to the floor and holding my head in my shaking hands. I squeeze my eyes shut. What’s gotten into me? She’s just too addicting! I can’t get her out of my mind, I can’t stop wanting to kiss her! This is dangerous. Our rooms are so close together. I don’t think I can stop myself. I pull on my hair and try to compose myself enough to change.

When I finally come to grips with my emotions I change out of my pj’s and throw on my jeans and York Zippy. I know I never really went to the school but the gear is nice. I enter the hallway to see Kat already standing by her door wearing skinny jeans, boots and a big fuzzy wool knitted sweater that looks four sizes too big. I stifle a laugh with my arm.

She looks up and smiles shyly. “Ready?”

My heart jumps and I have to still it before I answer. I keep telling myself to keep it cool. Stay calm. I try to repeat the words in my head. “I was born ready.” I grin.

Idiot.

I shoot a thumb towards the door across from me and nod at it questioningly. “Shall we?”

She walks over and knocks. Caroline opens the door and peaks out. “Ready?”

We nod.

“Kae, common. The world wants to greet you!” She calls inside stepping outside the door.

I look at Kat and raise an eyebrow. I wonder what that’s about.

I hear shuffling from inside and eventually Kaede emerges. He’s got dark circles under his eyes and he’s rubbing his shoulder gingerly.

Kat looks at him sympathetically, “I can ask the Headmistress to have a bigger bed brought for you two…” She offers kindly.

Caroline shakes her head. “Actually, could just ask for a second bed? Or maybe have one of the beds from these empty rooms moved in?” Kaede just rolls his eyes.

“Man, you should share my room. I wouldn’t make you sleep on the floor,” I jest. Caroline shoots me a glare.

“What? I’m just offering. I, unlike you, I’m a gentleman!” I extend my hand in a regal fashion and dip my head. Now it’s her turn to roll her eyes at me.

Kat bites her lip and looks like she’s trying really hard to not burst out laughing. I feel a little more at ease.

“Man, anything would be better than the floor. Even a cot. I’m not picky.” He’s lost his humorous edge, my poor friend.

At that moment, Cliff comes running down the hall. Does he not know how to walk? He comes to a stop when he reaches us, barely panting.

“Good morning everyone! You’re up very early!” He greets cheerfully.

Kat shuffles behind me, grabbing onto my shirt like a scared schoolgirl. I imagine his hug yesterday was terrifying as I recall the bone cracking sounds I heard. “Morning Cliff! Yea, we all seem to be early risers. How’d you know?”

“Well, as you might know, I put alarm spells up all over the place. That way, I could come help out immediately! Isn’t that great?! It’s like a personal assistant service! My idea. Completely original.” He gloats.

“Wow, that’s pretty efficient.” Caroline chimes.

“I think it’s a bit creepy,” Kaede yawns.

I shrug. “I’m neutral, but if it means food soon then I’m good with it.” I add.

“Oh, since you’ve mentioned breakfast, I’ll let you know. We have a central dining hall where you can eat any meal pretty much at any time that suits you. A menu for the meal options each day is set up outside the hall and can also be viewed on your own mobile device, if you carry one. Though, if you do, I’d keep it away from any of the magnetic mages and lightning mages. They have a tendency to fry others technology.”

“Thanks for the heads up,” Kaede says, pocketing his phone. I think he already downloaded the app.

“Anyways, after you eat I can take Caroline to meet the water professor, and then I’ll join you guys to find out some information on the previous time mage!”

“The previous one? You mean there isn’t a teacher here for me?” I ask.

“That’s the thing. Time mages are rare to find and they often only show up one at a time. There hasn’t been a time mage at the school for almost three hundred years, but there might be some good reference material in the library, where you two were last night.”

“Wait,” Caroline interjects. “Where were you two last night?”

“Well…” I stammer.

“How’s your wound Kaitlyn?” He adds, just to make matters worse.

“WHAT?!” Caroline shrieks. I see Kaede visibly slide away from her as Kat goes pale behind me.

“I.. um… well… we…” She stammers.

“Calm down Caroline. I went down and helped her out with a little Logan issue. She got hurt, but she’s okay now.”

“What?!! Logan followed us here?! Nowhere is safe!!” She freaks.

“Well, hold on. That’s why I offered to go to the library with you. I need to investigate the wards and see how he got through. He didn’t come by conventional means so I’m lead to believe he either had inside help or…” He trails off. I am curious what the other option was but he seems to have moved onto the next topic.

“Conventional means? And what might that be?”

“It doesn’t need to be on your mind. I’m working hard to fix the situation. You just need to focus on learning about your ability ok? Great! Is everyone ready to eat?” He smiles broadly.

“Yup,” Kaede says, I nod. Caroline just stares at Cliff as Kaede pushes her down the hall.

“Alright!” He sings.

***

Standing before the dining hall, we gape at the menu hanging above the doors. I can’t even pronounce half the things on this menu and I couldn’t tell you what the other half is. We’ve been staring at the menu for ten minutes now and Cliff is just standing there, picking his nail.

Eventually Kat leaves us and heads to the kitchen. She disappears behind the counter for a few minutes and emerges with a steaming cup before taking a seat at one of the larger tables. I watch as she pulls up her knees, resting her shins on the table’s edge and cradling the cup like it’s liquid gold or something. I frown. She seriously thinks she’s not getting any food? Not on my watch.

I turn to Cliff. “Yo, Big C, what do you recommend?”

Cliff looks at me with a smile. “Big C, sounds kinda cool, I like it. Umm, I’d recommend the French inspired bacon wrapped croissants or the crepes. They’re sweet and savory in the morning.” I’ve decided for the both of us.

“Okay, I’ll meet you guys in there.” I head to the kitchens to see how this works. When I get there, I see nobody around except a notepad and a pen. I lean over the counter, looking for a waiter or chef, but the place is empty. I take up the pen and check the pad. I see sheets of paper stuck on a pin that have been scribbled on with menu items. How does someone get some food around here? Pray for it?

I decide to write the menu items down and go back to Cliff to ask him, but as soon as I finish writing the names, a plate of food materializes before me, complete with tea and sugar. I gawk at the plate and look around to see if anyone else is amazed. No one’s looking. No one seems to care.

“Holy shit… That’s freaking awesome! Kaede’s going to flip!”

I stick the paper on the pin and take my plates to the table where Kaitlyn sits sipping her coffee. “Hey,” I say, sitting across from her and setting the crepes down in front of her.  “Got you something special. Wish I could cook my own thing here, but that magic pad of paper thing is pretty sweat!”

She looks up, the confused expression returns. “You can…” She says. “There’s a fully stocked kitchen right there.” She points.

“What?” I look over her shoulder and see the open door. “Realy? This is better than any university campus cafeteria I’ve ever seen. I wish the rest of the world was like this! Man.” I lean back, picking up my fork and tasting the bacon first. It’s melting in my mouth and I let my eyes roll back as the grease coats my tongue. Bacon wrapped Croissants… I love it.

Soon Caroline and Kaede join us. Cliff takes a seat with just a tea. “Go on,” I push Kat, “I picked the crepes for you. You should eat something, after last night.” I say.

She doesn’t move, just watches me as I eat and smiles. I feel self conscious of the way I chew and I reach for a napkin on the table to make sure I don’t have a grease smear on my face. Time inches by as we eat. Kat only drinks her coffee and eventually Caroline pushes her tray out and sighs.

“Well I think it’s time I go pick a teacher. I’m really eager to start learning something.” She give Kae a peck on the cheek and stands up. Cliff stands too.

“I’ll take her up to the Water hall. I won’t be long. You can either wait here or meet me in the  library!” He beams. “Alright Caroline Gillian, let’s head up.”

They leave the dining hall and I turn back to Kaitlyn, crepes still uneaten. “Why won’t you eat?” I ask, concerned she’ll starve herself on coffee.

She looks down into the nearly empty mug, “I’m not hungry…” She mumbles.

“What? You haven’t eaten since yesterday morning! How is that even possible? You need to keep up your strength.” I poke.

Kaede slides closer. “He’s right you know. Listen to mother hen. I tried not eating once before an exam and I nearly passed out the night before. He nursed me back to health and I was able to pass the test with flying colours! Apparently food even helps gives you the right answers for the exams!” He smiles.

“Uh Kae, I don’t think that was the food. I think that was the fact that you were able to remember the answers after eating…”

“Whatever man, same thing. My point is, you feel great after Andrei feeds you.”

“I hate to agree with Romeo and sidekick, but they have a point.” Rhoan finally pipes in.

“See? Even Rhoan agrees.”

Kaede’s jaw drops and he stares at her shoulder where the voice came from. “Wait… what? Uhhh…” He stutters. “Why does your shoulder have a voice?” He asks, looking at her curiously.

Kaitlyn sits up, taking Rhoan out and putting him on the table. I’ve forgot that Kae and Caroline haven’t met him yet. She reaches for the plate of crepes, pulls it towards her and starts to nibble. Why does she only seem to listen to him? Are our words not clear enough? I shove down my frustration and turn to Kaede to explain.

“Remember the sword she had back in the tunnel?” I ask him.

“Yea…”

“Turns out it was actually her shape shifting friend, Rhoan! He can turn into any animal or object it seems. Pretty neat eh?!”

Kaede just stares at Rhoan, and I can imagine he’s thinking of everything he would accomplish with a shapeshifter. I chuckle quietly.

“Now that I know there’s a kitchen, maybe I’ll make you something next time.” I offer her. Kaede taps the table.

“Me too man, I love your cooking.”

I roll my eyes and nod. “Fine.”

“It’s not that…” She says, looking a little guilty. “I’m really just not that hungry.” I glance at the plate and see she’s barely touching it. It looks like a mouse, no offense to Rhoan, has be chewing on it.

“Rhoan? Was it?  Can you turn into… a crocodile?” Kaede asks excitedly.

“Of course I can. However, I can’t promise I won’t eat you. You know how vicious wild animals can be…” He muses.

“But you’re not a wild animal! Are you?” He suddenly questions himself.

“Shall we find out?” Rhoan asks seriously. Kaede gulps, thinking about that.

“Rhoan, you can’t just eat people. That’s not nice.” Kat sighs.

“Ok, ok, what about… a …A Transformer!” He shouts. I snap my head to look at him.

“He will not turn into a transformer. You know those aren’t real.”

“They are most definitely real. Did you not watch the special features on the blu-ray disc?” I shake my head.“So can you? Turn into a Transformer?”

Rhoan walks away, moving to sit on the opposite side of Kaitlyn, “I would not justify such a ridiculous question with a response.”

Kat looks at Kaede and snickers, “He doesn’t know what that is, but if he did, he probably could.”

“Really?! You don’t know what a Transformer is? Oh man. This is going to be great.” He pulls out his phone and searches up Optimus Prime, and turns the screen towards Rhoan. “That, my friend, is a transformer! Larger than life robot that can morph into a car! Or a plane! Or a boat! The possibilities are endless!!”

Kaitlyn and I burst out laughing as Kaede shrugs his shoulders. Rhoan just huffs, all offended.

“Do I look like some sort of circus clown?!” He asks.

Kaede taps his chin. “Can you turn into one of those too? If you do then you would!”

Kat and I just laugh harder, sides splitting. “I think – we found – Rhoans rival.” I gasp between words. It’s just too funny.

Rhoan grumbles, “Perhaps I will turn into that crocodile now…”

“No no no no no no no!!!” Kaede waves his hand standing up and backing away from the table. I didn’t think it was possible it could get any funnier, but now I’m hoping it does.

Eventually we calm down and I notice a few people in the hall looking over at us curiously. When I look at them though, they quickly turn back to their meals and ignore us. We all sigh and I think it’s time we headed down to the library.

We all stand up and Cliff returns, running again. “Ohh, Perfect timing! I could hear you guys laughing from down the corridor!”

“Yeah, we had a good joke with Rhoan.” I sum up.

“Well, let’s get to the library and I’ll look into the wards!” He says, turning around and heading back out of the dining hall. Suddenly Kaitlyn stands at my side, and I wonder what she’s done with the plate of breakfast. I realize that I didn’t see her finish it. Oh well. Maybe next time.

We follow Cliff down the winding corridors and stairs, all the way down to the library. Part of the way looks familiar but everything looks different at night. We get to the Library and Cliff spreads his arms wide.

“Welcome to the Guild’s library. This library houses some of the oldest collections by all the professors of Magic we’ve had over the centuries that the Guild has existed! Each shelf is organized alphabetically by element, and ability. So here,” He points to the nearest shelf. “Would be Air, and over there,“ He points next along the rows, “Would be ash.” And so on. “Time is down this way.”

Kaede and I follow Cliff down the rows. The books are all leather bound and seem old, almost ancient, but there’s not a speck of dust. It’s pretty amazing and I’m impressed with the collection already. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. We pass the Fire section and I look to see if Kat recognizes it, but as I turn to ask her, I notices she still standing by the entrance, looking off into space.

“Oi, Kat, You coming?” I call down the room.

The library is a large room with a single carpeted hall that runs down the centre. Each row is labeled with a symbol that looks like it identifies the element topic of the books. When the shelves end, an open area takes up the rest of the room, setup with tables and chairs and lamps for studying. Opposite to the entrance is the gate which leads to that basement room.

We’re about halfway down the hallway, but she doesn’t seem to hear us. She looks sort of panicked, gripping the front of her sweater tightly. I suddenly worry that last night’s events have her worked up for some reason. I mean, I don’t doubt her reasons, that guys been having a go at her all week and always seems to come out on top, making me feel sick.

“Hey, keep going, I’m just going to check on Kat. Kay?” Kaede looks past me at her and nods.

“Yea, looks like she needs some help. I’ll chat Cliffs ear off, you can count on me.” He turns to Cliff. “So! Think they got any books on Warcraft?” I hear him say as I turn back down the hall and approach Kat.

I reach out a hand, she doesn’t even look up at me until I touch her wrist. “Hey, Kat, is everything okay?”

She blinks as her eyes fix on my face. She seems to composes herself and nods, “Yea… sorry. I’m fine.”

“You don’t look fine. Kat, what’s got you all in knots? Is it what happened last night?” I lower my voice. I feel guilty, having let Logan get his knife in her. I tried to prevent it. I though with the sword I’d have been able to scare him off, but the narrow space had limited my maneuverability. I still blame myself for what happened, so I need to make her see it’s not her.

She bites her lip, fidgeting with the sweater, and nods slightly.

“Shit, Kat. It’s my fault… I … I should’ve tried harder to stop him. I should have grabbed his knife first. I’m sorry.” I grab both her hands in mine and grip them tightly. “Please, don’t let yourself get hung up on him? It’ll only hurt you.” I try to comfort her.

“I can still feel it…” She whispers, then clears her throat, “We should catch up. Those books won’t read themselves.”

I squeeze her hands again and give her a worried look. “Kat…” My voice catches… I let it happen and I can’t believe how scared she is. She was so fearless when we first met, she seems to have flipped, and I can’t seem to do or say anything to help. I just don’t know what to say, so I hold her hands, hoping she gets the message she needs.

She feigns a smile and tugs me toward the shelves, “Come on.”

 

By Kayla West

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