The ward of castoria, p.18
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.18

           Robin Silverglate
 

  *****

  Dane had directly gone to Bryn’s work, hoping to find her finishing up for the day. She was not there, so he climbed a building and jumped along the rooftops to look for her from a high vantage point. However, when he saw her running down the sidewalk, he knew something was wrong. Dane did not sense any creature nearby, but he was still worried for her. He jumped down from the top of the building and landed on the sidewalk just before she rounded the corner. He held her arms in order to help steady both of them.

  “What’s wrong?”

  “Someone’s following me,” she said breathlessly.

  “Are you sure?”

  “Yes,” she said in between two deep breaths. “He’s been behind me ever since I left work. He’s very tall and has a jagged scar on his face.”

  “Let me look,” Dane said as he moved her into position behind him. When he peered around the corner, it was exactly who he expected to see. “I’ve got her now,” he said silently to Castien.

  Castien grunted and thought back, “I’m sorry. I think I may have scared her.”

  “She’s all right. I should have warned you that she is very observant. Thank you for taking over my duties today, but I’ll take it from here.” He turned back to find Bryn looking at him curiously. To her he said, “I saw someone turning the corner going the other way. He’s probably long gone by now. But just in case, can I walk you home? I think Beck is there anyway.”

  “Yes, thank you.” Bryn looked relieved, and Dane felt comforted to be back in his role as her Protector. They walked in silence for a few minutes. Bryn obviously was trying to regain her composure and Dane was keeping a sharp eye out for anything unusual. Eventually, she asked, “Are you feeling better?”

  “Pardon?”

  “Your brother said you were sick today. Are you feeling better now?”

  “Yes. I’m feeling better. Thank you.” Even though he knew she was talking about his alleged illness, he realized he really was feeling better in general now that he was with her. He had been frustrated all day because he had been so far away. Now that he was standing next to her, he felt happier and charged with energy. He found himself enjoying these sensations, but a small part of him knew these feelings were probably not going to lead to anything good. A voice inside his head told him it would be better if he kept his distance from Bryn. However, right now, he had no intention of listening to that more rational side of himself.

  Even though he’d much rather talk about a million other things, he still had a job to do. He needed to know where she planned on being this weekend. On school days, her routine was predictable. Tomorrow was Saturday and he had no idea what she was going to do. He had to be prepared for anything. “Got any big plans for this weekend?” he asked trying to sound casually curious.

  “Not that much,” she admitted. “I’m going to see a movie with a friend tomorrow night and she’s hopefully sleeping over afterwards. That’s about it.”

  He did not like her going to a different part of town in order to see the movie, especially at night. They would be farther away from Beck if he needed help. Dane wished she’d stay at home or at least, someplace closer to home. He tried to find a way to convince her to stay. “I heard there’re no good movies out right now. You two should just stay home and watch a movie on TV instead.”

  Bryn shook her head and said, “Nicole and I really wanted to see Romeo and Juliet.”

  “Never heard of it. It’s probably really bad,” Dane said hoping this would convince her to stay home.

  Bryn stopped and looked at him incredulously. “You’ve never heard of Romeo and Juliet?”

  “No.”

  “But you’ve heard of Shakespeare, right?”

  The way Bryn was looking at him with those knowing eyes, made Dane realize he had made some huge mistake. “Of course, I’ve heard of Shakespeare.” He hoped he sounded more confident than he felt. He had no idea who or what this Shakespeare was.

  “So you’ve heard of Shakespeare, but you’ve never heard of Romeo and Juliet?”

  Dane did not know how to respond, but he figured the safest answer would be, “Yes.”

  Bryn furrowed her eyebrows and said, “I find that hard to believe. Romeo and Juliet is his most famous play.”

  At least Dane knew the context now, so he tried to salvage the conversation. “I guess my teachers never made me read it. My brother hated my old school, anyway. He said I was getting an incomplete education. That’s why he wanted me transferred to Lockland Prep.”

  Bryn stared at him some more, but then seemed to decide to drop the dreaded-Shakespeare subject. She finally asked, “Do you miss your old school?”

  “Not really,” said Dane. “I like Lockland better. How about you? Do you like it?”

  Bryn was quiet for a moment as if she was trying to find the right words to say. “I like parts of it.”

  “Which parts?”

  “I like that my father is a teacher there,” she explained. “He makes sure I’m put in the best classes. And for the most part, I like the teachers. However, I really like that I only have a few months left until graduation.”

  “Are you tired of school and studying?”

  “No, it’s not that,” said Bryn. “I’m tired of all the negative parts of high school and I’m ready for something different.”

  Dane drew in his breath. He wondered if Bryn really meant what she was saying. Would she really want something different even if it was extremely different? He told himself not to read too much into it. “What are your plans after high school?”

  “College, of course. I’ve already been accepted to Johns Hopkins.”

  “And after college,” prompted Dane. “What then?”

  “Medical school and then become a doctor.”

  “Why do you want to be a doctor?”

  She gave him a strange look and said, “Because I want to help other people.”

  “Why do you want to help other people?” he asked even though he knew it would earn him another strange look. There it is.

  Bryn thought quietly in order to search for her answer. Finally, she said, “Because I want to help people live as long as possible. It’s not fair that some people die before their time and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen. What about you? What do you want to do after high school?”

  “I don’t have a desire to become a doctor, but I would like to help others, too.”

  “Why do you want to help others?” He couldn’t help but notice the satisfied smirk on her face.

  He thought about all the reasons why he started the Vanguard and said, “Because it’s the right thing to do.”

  Dane was disappointed when they rounded the corner of her street and Bryn’s house came into view. He wished they could have walked together for just a few more minutes. Then, something unexpected happened. Bryn lightly placed her hand on his arm. She apparently wanted him to stop and there was no way he was going to move from her grip. So he stopped walking and turned to face her.

  “Listen,” Bryn said as she moved her head a little closer to his. Dane was having a hard time keeping his breathing steady now. Bryn spoke quietly as she said, “I would appreciate it if you don’t tell my father about what happened back there.”

  Her close proximity was affecting him. His mouth went suddenly dry and he could feel his heart racing. Dane wondered what it would be like to kiss her. She was so close. All he had to do was to lean in a little more. Suddenly, he realized he must not have answered her question because Bryn was staring at him. She did not look expectant of a first kiss, rather, she seemed to be annoyed.

  “What?” he finally blurted out.

  “I asked you to not tell my father about what happened tonight.” Her hand dropped back down to her side, but Dane could still feel the phantom pressure there.

  “Why?”

  “Because I don’t want him to worry about me.”

/>   Dane forced his mind to clear of foolish thoughts. He stood up straight and said, “He should be worried about you. You were just chased by someone.”

  She flattened her lips sternly. “I could have taken care of it myself.”

  He stood tall to her. “You seemed relieved when I showed up though.”

  The light from the front porch illuminated the fire in her eyes. “I had a plan to get away before you came along.”

  “And what exactly was that plan?” asked Dane. “Run away as fast as possible?”

  “Yes, but there was more to it than that.”

  “You shouldn’t be walking alone in this city. There are dangerous things out there. Things you can’t just run away from.”

  “Spare me the lecture,” Bryn said as she rolled her eyes.

  “Everything all right, dear?” came a nasally voice from the yard next door. Her neighbor was standing at the foot of her driveway. She glared at Dane suspiciously.

  “Yes, Mrs. Crocker,” said Bryn. “We’re just going in anyway. Have a good night.”

  “Goodnight,” the neighbor called back, but Dane noticed she did not move from her spot until Bryn walked into the house and Dane closed the door behind them.
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