The next morning came more quickly today, as the buzzer rang that woke Miranda and I pierced the quiet veil that had surrounded the room. I sat up in bad, throwing my legs to the side of the bed, and rubbed my face for a bit. My eyes still hurt a bit, and my face could stand a good wash. “You okay, Cassie?” I looked up at Miranda, wondering if I really looked that bad. Before I could say anything, Miranda gasped, “have you been crying? Your eyes are totally bloodshot, what’s wrong?” She immediately jumped up and switched over to my bed, laying a hand on my back. “It’s nothing Miranda, I promise. Just … dealing with some stuff from where I came from.” I tried to be careful with my wording, not wanting to call the place ‘home’ in fear of insulting Miranda. She reached over for a hug, “You can talk to me about anything, Cassie. We’re practically sisters now; I’ve got your back!”
I thanked Miranda, but her comforting words came with a pang of guilt. If I went to the ranch, I would have to leave Miranda behind. It seemed no matter what I did, someone had to be left behind. If I left for the ranch, I let Xavier down. If I left for home, I let Dean down. If I don’t stay, I let Miranda down. How could anyone make a decision in just one week?
For now, I had more immediate things to keep my brain occupied. Chores had to be done, and my workload was no lighter than anyone else’s. I got up to wash my face and get ready before heading downstairs for breakfast. Breakfast was always a lot more quiet than dinner was, since everyone was still waking up. There wasn’t much talking to the whole house, but many people just mumbled to whoever they were sitting around. I sat between Dean and Miranda as I usually did, so I typically spoke the most to them. Adam was on the other side of Dean, and I talked to him a lot too, but he had been abnormally quiet lately. This morning, I had too much on my mind to do a lot of speaking. Instead, I lay gently against Dean’s arm as we both ate slowly. He was talking to Adam.
“Where have you been, man? You’re coming back to the room as late as you’re allowed to, I never see you during rec hours … where do you keep sneaking off to?” Dean questioned quietly, keeping his voice low so that the counselors wouldn’t hear. Adam sighed, “I’m just working harder with my chores is all. Trying to earn my keep and stuff.” I felt Dean tense up, and couldn’t help but think that Adam was hiding something. Glancing across the table, I noticed the Blonde Brigade seemed to be having a disagreement, but they were speaking too quietly for anyone to hear what they were saying. What was so weird about everyone today?
After breakfast, we headed out to the barn to take care of our horses. I moved with more ambition now, entirely focused on Donner instead of my situation. I loved taking care of my boy. It was a release for me, a time where I could relax and enjoy myself. I brushed him off completely, checked his water and his hay, cleaned his hooves … anything I could think of to make my boy more comfortable. Leaving him was hard, but I was eventually called back into the house to do my chores.
I was starting to notice Adam’s absence more and more. His chores got done very quickly, yet nobody seemed able to find him. Checking the board caused another growing suspicion, but I tried to push it down. Surely that couldn’t be true … it was Adam we were talking about! He would never do such a thing. I shrugged it off and finished up my chores so that I could chill out with Dean and Miranda, whom were both in the recreation area. Lilith was also there, reading some sort of teen magazine in a far lounge. I didn’t say a word to her, knowing her feelings towards me. I plopped down on the couch my friends were at. “What’s up guys?” They grinned, Miranda replying, “nothing much, just talking about going to a small water-park that is just up the road. If Vickie will take us, do you want to come with? You can borrow one of my suits again.” I quickly nodded, loving the sound of it. “What about Adam?” I asked, though my question was met with a scornful face from Dean. “He can stay and do whatever it is he does that is too good for us.” His tone left a, “just let it be” impression, so neither me nor Miranda said anything more about it.
Vickie agreed to take us, and said she would pick us up around dinner time. We threw ourselves in the van, and were ready to pull away when we were stopped by surprise. “Wait!” Strangely enough, it was Lilith. She was decked out in a skimpy bathing suit cover, carrying a full bag and sunglasses. She jumped into the van before we pulled away, snapping herself into a seat. “I’m just going to tan. I could use the sun.” She had made an attempt to make it sound snappy, but it didn’t sound true. She almost sounded … hurt? Sad? I couldn’t tell for sure, but whatever it was made my suspicions rise even further.
We had a wonderful time at the water park. Lilith stuck true to her intentions and stuck mostly to the outside of the pool, frequently rubbing on oils and tanners of all sorts. She did come back home with us a shade darker, I must admit. Dean, Miranda, and I on the other hand, came home with minor burns and thorough exhaustion. I ended up falling asleep on Miranda’s shoulder on the way home, Dean falling asleep on mine.
Vickie woke everyone up when we got back to the Haven, and shooed us inside to hurry up and change. Dinner would be on the table in just minutes. When we sat at the table for our meal, something was clearly awry. While Dean, Miranda and I were in our normal spots, Adam and Chelsea were not. Instead of Adam sitting on our side of the counselors, they now sat directly next to us, with Adam on the side of the BB. He stared at his meal the whole time, while Dean was busy glaring at him, daring him to look up from his plate. Dinner was unusually quiet tonight, but I knew as soon as it was time for us to head to our rooms, that Adam and Dean would be in for some trouble.
I wasn’t wrong. I kept my ears open, and for good reason. Soon enough, I heard shouting. Since Dean’s and Adam’s room was right next to ours, Miranda and I could hear everything when we sat near the far wall. “Are you kidding me, Adam?! Who do you think you are?? You are sick, man, a traitor at best!” Dean’s voice, then Adam’s shouted reply. “I love her, man! You don’t know what that’s like! How could I ignore it?” Dean cut him short, scoffing and making angry noises, “You don’t love her, you used to hate her! This is Chelsea we are talking about! I mean, you are practically hooking up with the devil’s mistress!” “Oh, like you know Cassie so well? You’ve got no room to talk Dean; you went and latched on to the next piece of meat that showed up here!” The comment stung, but I waited for Dean’s reply. Instead of an instant reply, we heard a dull BANG. Something muttered coming from Dean, then another sound, though this sounded like a smack or … I jumped up, instantly bolting out of the room. I threw myself into the boys’ room, and found Dean crouched over Adam, on the floor with a raised fist. I jumped onto him, pulling him away from Adam’s now bloody face. Dean looked at me with a wild eye for a moment, as if stunned or lost. After a second, he just smoothed my hair back and held me back, going limp in my arms. “Miranda, please go get –“ I was cut off by loud footsteps. Miranda didn’t need to go and get anyone, they were already here. I didn’t turn to face the door. I knew what was coming. Silent tears fell down my face. I suddenly had a lot less than a week to make up my mind. Dean would probably be leaving in the next few days … if not right now.
~ When I Die, Remember Me By My Horses ~
* Because They Are Responsible *
.: For Letting Me Live :. (c) xJumperx