The ward of castoria, p.13
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.13

           Robin Silverglate

  Chapter 6

  The Summons

  Dane and Beckwyn took their usual sentry spots in the tree across the street. They watched in companionable silence for several hours. Dane was left to his own thoughts and most of them were about Bryn. He thought of her being teased by those blonde snobs and remembered how she’d tried to hide her tears from him afterwards. Dane, however, had to fight against his desire to put his arms around her and comfort her. He had never wanted to hug another Ward like that before. Why was Bryn so different?

  At one point, close to midnight, he saw a feminine form moving past a second story window. Dane felt a tightening in his chest and drew in his breath. Just the sight of her form standing in the window was enough to stun him. He wondered why his mind and body were so affected by her. No other girls made him feel this way, yet a look or a touch from Bryn sent his senses through the roof.

  His gaze focused on the right window on the second floor and he tried to imagine what she was doing. Suddenly, the light turned off and he knew she was going to bed. He wondered what Bryn looked like as she slept. Would her brows be furrowed in the argumentative way she usually adopted whenever he was around her or would they be relaxed to show her soft, gentle beauty?

  He was so consumed in his thoughts that he did not even hear Beckwyn talking to him until his friend’s voice popped into his mind. “Did you hear what I said or are you choosing to ignore me?”

  Dane looked abashed that he had been caught daydreaming and thought back, “Sorry, my friend. I was thinking of something. What did you say?”

  “Well, I merely said we have been on this assignment for three days and nothing seems to be happening. But, now I’m more interested in what’s distracted you so much that you aren’t even listening to me.”

  Dane did not answer him for a minute, but then finally admitted, “I’d rather not say.”

  Beckwyn was too close to Dane to be put off by that statement and said, “I bet I can guess.”

  Dane made a sour face and said, “I’d rather you not.”

  “Too late,” said Beckwyn with a mischievous smile. “I’ve already guessed. I think you like the girl.”

  Dane wanted to deny it, but realized he couldn’t. So after a long pause of debating what he should say back to Beckwyn, he asked, “Is it that obvious?”

  “To me it is. Only because I know you so well. I’ve never seen you talk to a girl, other than Yara, for more than two minutes. But I don’t think it is obvious to anyone else if that makes you feel better.”

  “Good,” replied Dane. “I’d rather keep it that way.”

  “Don’t you think you should tell Yara? It might make her stop pestering you about marriage.”

  “There’s no point in telling her. Nothing is going to come of it because of too many reasons to count. Besides, I get the feeling Bryn doesn’t like me much.”

  “Yes,” agreed Beckwyn. “I get that feeling too. Sorry.”

  “Don’t be,” said Dane. “It’s probably better this way.”

  Dane thought he heard Beckwyn mumble, “I don’t think so,” but he wasn’t sure.

  The night slowly dragged on and the two men kept their vigilant guard outside the Thorner house. Just before dawn, a dark figure approached the neighborhood which Dane recognized immediately. “Castien’s here,” he said to Beckwyn. Dane made a quiet noise to draw his attention toward them. Castien was the only other member of the Vanguard who had stayed home. His tall frame and shaggy jet-black hair made him an imposing figure to behold, but it was the jagged scar slashed down his cheek that usually alarmed most people. Dane and Beckwyn, however, were used to his intimidating looks and were not affected by them.

  Beckwyn called out, “Good morning, Sunshine! To what do we owe the pleasure of your company?”

  Castien grunted toward Beckwyn and then looked at Dane who was leaning against the tree. “You’ve been summoned.”

  Dane drew in his breath. There was no need to ask who summoned him. They all knew it was Yara. He did not want to leave this assignment. While he knew Beckwyn would be able to protect Bryn if she was indeed the target, he wanted to be the one to protect her in the end. “Can it wait?” he asked quietly.

  “She insisted you come back as soon as I delivered the message.”

  Dane looked up at Beckwyn and saw that his friend was giving him a sympathetic smile. It’s as though Beckwyn knew exactly what he was thinking. Beckwyn jumped down from the tree and suggested to Castien, “What if you go back and pretend you couldn’t find us?”

  Castien gave Beckwyn a harsh look. He turned back to Dane and said, “Tetari said it would be all right for me to take your place while you’re gone.”

  Dane still did not want to leave, but what choice did he have? Maybe if he left right away, he could be back before school started. That wouldn’t be so bad then. He said to his friends, “I won’t be long.” Then, without even waiting for a reply, he ran off.
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