20.1: Smiles

“Is she coming?” Keith asked, planting himself into the bench. “I need to know when it’s time to run and hide.”

“Oh please, Keith,” Solana smacked him over the head.

Milk nearly shot out of my nose because I laughed so hard. It had been so long since I last connected with this many people. It was enough to throw all of my worries out the window. Solana and Keith were great friends to have at the castle.

“She did say she was coming, right?” I asked, praying that Celeste was not entirely incapacitated.

“Give her some time. Whatever happened in the tent did quite the number on her. I’m sure she’s just resting.”

I still felt bad about Celeste. All I had done since I arrived was cause her pain. Solana invited her to eat lunch with us, and hopefully, I would be able to make amends and start fresh with Celeste.

The cafeteria was, once again, empty. So many Guardians were sent to New Perfi, and Celeste was the only one to return. I found that to be a blessing. If this castle was packed, Guardians would probably line up to shake the hand of a White. That was not the kind of attention that I wanted.

“I would rather go about my day without a throbbing forehead,” Keith whined to Solana.

“Aw, is the baby crying over spilled milk again?” A hand came over Keith’s hair, pushing his head towards the table.

Solana burst into laughter, “Good one, Celeste!”

Appearing from behind Keith was Celeste, packing a devilish grin and a forceful grip over Keith. Her hazel eyes dazzled with energy. Was this the same Celeste that I met a few hours ago?

“Relax, crybaby. You haven’t given me a reason to knock a couple teeth out,” she pulled Keith’s head up and sat down between Solana and him.

“You look a lot better,” I smiled.

“I feel a lot better, thanks,” for the first time, she did not seem to struggle to return the smile. Something about her smile though...like it was forced. “Elijah, right?”

“Yeah,” I answered.

“You’ve only been at the castle for a few days, right? Old Tenebris really is cut off from the rest of society.”

“I knew nothing about Guardians before I met Solana in the woods.”

“Looking for your parents, right?”

“I assume Solana caught you up?”

“Y-yeah,” she stroked her hair and looked down at her sandwich. She took a few bites, refusing to make eye contact with anything else. Celeste might have been fierce, but she was not a very good liar.

Keith sent a questionable glance my way. He saw through it too. Solana, however, was completely unaware of Celeste’s offbeat body language.

“You know, it has been a few days since Josef took your friend Wyatt home,” Solana thought. “He’s probably almost back.”

“Or he could be right behind Elijah.”

A cold hand perched itself on my shoulder, forcing me out of my seat and smacking my knees against the bench. I turned instantly to find Josef staring down at me.

“Guess who?” He took his hand off of my shoulder and rummaged his pocket.

“Josef, try not to scare the fresh meat,” Celeste nearly choked on her sandwich in laughter.

“Sorry about that.”

The End

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