The ward of castoria, p.31
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.31

           Robin Silverglate
 

  *****

  “I’m assuming there will be many beautiful girls at this party tomorrow night,” said Nick when they finally were alone on the couch again that evening. It had taken half the night to convince Bryn’s father and aunt to let them go to the party on Saturday, but in the end, they prevailed.

  “I thought you had a girlfriend back in San Francisco.”

  “We broke up,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone.

  “When?”

  “Five months ago. Holy Crap! Has it been that long since we last emailed each other?”

  “I’m sorry.”

  “About what? Sorry I broke up with my girlfriend or sorry it’s been so long since we last emailed?”

  Bryn laughed and said, “Both. I guess.”

  Nick seized the remote and began surfing the channels again. “What are you in the mood for tonight? Comedy or action?”

  “Comedy,” Bryn said through a yawn. Nick found a movie they both hadn’t seen and Bryn tucked her feet under her legs on the couch. Not surprisingly, after the previous late night, she was asleep within the first ten minutes of the movie.

  Tonight, Bryn dreamed she was being chased. She turned behind her to see what was following her. It looked like a dog, but the guttural noises the animal made sounded unfamiliar. Her heart pounded fast as she raced at top speed away from it. Panic overwhelmed her and she heaved large gulps of air. She tried to gain some distance by running in unpredictable zigzag sprints, but the strange animal matched her at every turn.

  Bryn saw a deserted building off in the distance that suddenly gave her hope. If she could just get to it, then everything would be all right. She ran as fast as she could toward the safe haven. Tears filled her eyes when she sensed the animal just a few feet behind her. The door to the building was open and she could see Dane standing inside. He watched her with an unreadable look on his face. Was it worry or indifference? She couldn’t tell.

  “Dane!” she cried out. “Help me!”

  Bryn held out her arms as she ran toward him. She sprinted straight into his open arms and felt an immediate sense of relief. He held onto her tightly and she smiled in contentment. Bryn wasn’t sure how, but she just knew Dane had saved her from the thing that was chasing her.

  If she left the safety of his arms, then the scary animal might return. Bryn had no intention of leaving. She pushed herself even closer into his embrace and asked, “How did you know I was in trouble?”

  He rested his chin on the top of her head and said, “I will always protect you.”

  Her heart did a backflip and she couldn’t help but smile in elation. Dane’s hands moved to grab her arms. She enjoyed the tingling sensation they produced on her skin. He roughly squeezed one arm and began to shake it.

  The jerking movement startled Bryn and she abruptly woke up from her dream. She stared at the image of Nick standing over her. “Lie down, Wookie Head. You’ll be more comfortable.”

  Even though she had just been awakened from a nightmare, she was surprisingly disappointed. She sleepily watched Nick pull the blanket up over him as he got ready for bed. “Was the movie good?” she mumbled.

  “Not really,” he said with a sigh. “I was much more interested in watching you the past few minutes. You were talking a little.”

  “Was I?” Bryn felt the pull of sleep dragging her back into a dream.

  “Yep,” he said cheerily while overemphasizing the last letter of the word. “Who’s Dane?”

  Bryn’s eyes burst open. “What?”

  “You said the name Dane and then you sighed like a love-sick school girl.”

  “No, I didn’t,” Bryn said defensively.

  “Uh… yes you did.”

  “Uh… no I didn’t.”

  “Fine then,” he said sarcastically. “I made the whole story up.”

  “You probably misunderstood me. That’s all. There is no Dane.”

  He propped himself up on his elbow. “There is just one part of your excuse that bothers me.”

  “What’s that?” demanded Bryn.

  “If you don’t know anyone named Dane, then why are you blushing bright red?”

  He chuckled and reached over to turn off the lamp. Nick laughed a few more times before eventually falling asleep.

  Bryn, however, could not go back to sleep for a long time that night.
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