The ward of castoria, p.19
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.19

           Robin Silverglate
 

  *****

  Bryn went straight back to the kitchen without even waiting for Dane. Honestly, he could be so annoying. She forced her breathing to calm down so her father wouldn’t think anything was wrong. She found him and Beck sitting at the breakfast table. There were stacks of textbooks in front of them and large teacher kits spread out all over the floor. He and Beck were discussing the merits and faults of some of their top contenders.

  Neither of them looked up when she walked into the kitchen, so she said, “I’m home.”

  Her father shifted his eyes over the rim of his glasses and said, “Ah, I’m glad you both are here. We need a young person’s perspective on which textbook is the most student-friendly.” Bryn turned back to see Dane was standing directly behind her. He moved to sit at the table next to his brother and Bryn soon followed. She was relieved to see he did not mention anything about the man who chased her. She figured if he was going to say anything, it would have been then. Instead, Dane patiently perused through the books that were handed to him. Bryn glanced over his shoulder in order to see them, as well. They spent the next fifteen minutes answering her father’s questions about the textbooks until they were interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell.

  “Who could that be?” asked Bryn.

  “That’s most likely the Chinese food we ordered for dinner. Beck and I were getting so much work done I thought it would be a good idea for everyone just to eat here. I called them right after you told me you were coming home early.”

  As her father stood up to get the door, she saw Dane giving a look to Beck she was sure was supposed to mean something. She couldn’t tell what it was though. Could it be disapproving? Beck, however, was trying to appear thoroughly engrossed in his textbook. She stood up from the table to get drinks ready for dinner. Dane continued to watch Beck and then as if by a synchronized decision, they both started stacking the textbooks into neat piles.

  When her father came back with the food, they all crowded around the table and filled their plates. Dane seemed distracted and ate in silence while her father and Beck fell into an easy conversation. Her father seemed happy to have an educated friend to talk with and by the end of dinner, she was glad that at least Beck had stayed. His contagious smile brightened up their conversation and even made her feel happier despite the presence of his taciturn brother.

  After one particularly funny story her father had heartily laughed at, Bryn decided it was a good moment to ask her father about Saturday night. “Dad, Nicole and I want to go see Romeo and Juliet tomorrow. Is that all right with you?”

  “Of course. What time?”

  “Well, we were thinking of catching the eight o’clock movie over at the Plaza and then could she come back and spend the night.” As she watched her father deliberate for a moment, she saw Dane had suddenly taken notice of her question.

  Dane cleared his throat, looked at her, and said, “Are you sure you want to see that movie?”

  Unbelievable. Dane hadn’t paid attention to them all dinner long and now was the time he seemed interested in what they were talking about? She said in a clipped tone, “I’m sure.”

  “But it’s so far away.”

  “Not really,” said Bryn. “It’s only about a twenty minute walk from here.”

  She watched Dane silently deliberate before saying, “After what happened, I thought you would rather stay close to home.”

  Her father’s expression shifted into one of great concern and said, “What happened?”

  Bryn could not believe the audacity of Dane! She had asked him not to say anything. She knew her father would become overly concerned if he found out someone followed her today. He might even make her quit her job.

  So she glowered at Dane and then tried to downplay it. “It’s nothing, Dad. I just got a little spooked when I walked by Fletcher Park tonight. You know how that place gives me the creeps at night. I’ll make sure I leave for the theater in plenty of daylight.” She continued to babble on hoping the issue would be eventually forgotten. “I just thought a movie would help Nicole take her mind off her brother’s health problems and test results.”

  He nodded and said, “It’s fine with me. The movie should help keep Nicole preoccupied. I hope her brother’s illness isn’t too serious.”

  “Me too,” agreed Bryn.

  “What time should I pick you two up from the theater?”

  “Ten-thirty. I’ll call if we get out earlier than that.”

  Bryn was relieved her father had agreed despite Dane’s attempt to derail her plans. She turned to give him a smug look, but stopped when she saw the frustrated expression in his eyes. Why would he be worried about her seeing a movie with a girlfriend on a Saturday night?

  Dane sighed in apparent resignation and then abruptly stood up. “Beck, we should get going. I’m still not feeling very well and would like to go home now.”

  Even though Beck was the older brother and technically the one in charge, Bryn watched as he stood up quickly as if he had no choice but to comply. “Of course. We’ll leave immediately.” And then turning, Beck said, “Have a nice weekend. I will see you on Monday.”

  As her father escorted the two young men to the door, Bryn began to clean up the table. She had to admit Dane puzzled her a little. The fact that he had helped her out of a few scrapes raised him up in her opinion of him, but then his constant stubbornness lowered him even more. And, he just didn’t seem in touch with the real world sometimes. He didn’t even know who Romeo and Juliet were. Bryn thought Dane was one of the most perplexing people she had ever met.
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