Chapter Twenty-six

(Haylee’s Point of View)

That night, my brain wouldn’t shut off. I kept picturing the crystals falling, the cave collapsing, and me slipping on the rocks. How easily someone could have gotten seriously injured. Guilt gnawed at me for destroying a whole cave, and not only that, but not admitting it either. It made me feel terrible, like a criminal.

Then I thought about Dan. Dan. I know that I like him and wouldn’t mind us becoming a thing again, but I wondered if he would give up on me before I find the right time to tell him. Would he ever do that? Just give up? I needed to make sure that that never happens. Ever. I’ll keep him guessing. Be the moody person that I know I can be. My thoughts seemed to slowly fade away as I drifted off into a troubled sleep, my right calf aching.

 

I woke up to a huge crack of thunder. My eyelids flying open, I jumped off the couch, my heart racing.

“It’s okay, Haylee. Just a thunderstorm.” My whole body was shaking. I was terrified of thunderstorms.

“You okay?” Dan continued, a bit of worry creeping into his blue-gray eyes.

I looked at him, my eyes big and scared. “No.” I hesitated. “I hate thunderstorms. When I was little…” Before I could finish, lightning lit up the whole camper, closely followed by a massive crack of thunder. I practically jumped into Dan’s arms without even meaning to.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” I apologized, but when I was about to lean away from him, he held me closer.

“No, it’s okay.” He said, wrapping his arms around my waist. “You're okay.”

It didn't even matter anymore. I hugged him back, comforted by his warmth. We swayed for a while, listening to the drum of the rain on the roof.

“You want to talk about it?” He said, not pulling away from me.

I took a shaky breath, breaking away and sitting on the couch, Dan following.

I started before the memory could consume me. “When I was seven years old, we were traveling back from a vacation at the Outer Banks, but about halfway there we got caught in a really bad storm. We were stranded on the road, because of the flood warning.” I hesitated. “I thought I was going to die. Sure, I was really young, but I could see that my parents were scared, too. It doesn't sound that bad, but... I guess to a seven year old it was. And the memory's stuck in my brain, unable to leave. It's almost like I can't look at the storm in reality, but only through the eyes of a seven year old. And that probably doesn't make much sense, does it?” I jumped as another streak of lightning lit up the sky.

“No, I understand. But you're safe here.” He said, scooting closer to me. “I won't let anything happen to you, no matter what, remember?” I did remember, but I didn't fully believe it then. Now I do.

I stifled a yawn, suddenly feeling tired. “What time is it?” I asked, pulling my phone out. 10:00. I usually don't sleep that long, I thought. I blinked, clearing my mind. The storm had calmed a little by now, with only an occasional flash of lightning or rumble of thunder.

“So what are we doing today?” I asked, taking my mind off of the past.

“Well, Jackie and Kyle are coming over to clear things up on the whole ‘moving in’ thing at one. But other than that, it looks like we're stuck inside for the most of the day.” He finished with a shrug.

“Great for a working day.” I said, pulling out my memories notebook.

“That's work?”

“I might as well update it while I have the time.” I said, glancing at him.

He must have noticed my name on the front. “You make your A's funny.”

“Excuse me?” I pretended to be offended.

He laughed. “Why a triangle for an A?”

I shrugged. “Why not?”

“True. Do you make all your A's like that?”

“Nope. Just when it's in my name.”

“Ah.” There was an awkward silence. I side-glanced him, hoping he would get the memo.

“What? I'm not allowed to see what you're writing?”

“Well this is kind of a…” I searched for the right words. “Personal journal. No one's ever read it except for me”

“Oh.” He said, lifting his eyebrows. “I guess I better leave then, huh?”

“Yep. Scram.” Smiling, he went into his room.

“Wait. Where's Chris?” I asked.

“Right here. What do you need?” Chris answered.

“Oh, nothing. I was just wondering if you got caught in the storm or something.” I said, but before I was able to write, Chris continued, apparently talking to Dan.

“Don't you look at me like that! Seriously, I have no interest in your girlfriend! None! She's all yours, mate; you're the only one that's crazy enough to take her.” I smiled, imagining the reaction Dan had given him. I didn't remind them that I could hear everything that they were saying, because they were talking loud enough for even the camper next door to hear. I don't consider that eavesdropping.

Pulling myself from my thoughts, I found my pen and began to write, starting all the way from yesterday morning. About forty-five minutes later, I finished, stretching my hand out. I should probably type this as well, just in case I loose it someplace. Deciding I would do it sometime later, I worked on my book until Kyle and Jackie appeared, umbrellas up.

“Hi, guys!” I said, getting up from my work. “A little wet today, isn't it?”

“Oh, are they here?” Dan asked, coming out of his room.

“Yep. Come on in.” I said, and they put down their umbrellas in the doorway and took their shoes off, looking around.

“Let's sit at the table, since the couch is a mess.” I said as Chris came out to greet them. Since the table could only seat four people, I pulled up a folding chair as Dan started the conversation.

“So I'm guessing that you guys have this all set up financially, right?”

“Yeah, we got that all figured out before we came. It'll be tough for a while, but we'll manage.” Kyle answered.

"Alright, that's good. So far the plan is for your car to get fixed, then we'll leave here, and you'll follow us to our place, yes?" Dan asked, setting up the plan. They nodded, so he continued.

"Once you get there, you'll go house shopping or whatever, and... Have you chosen where you're going to stay yet?"

"Umm, will it be okay if I stay at Haylee's and Kyle stay with you?" Jackie asked.

"Sure, that's fine. So once you get the house, you'll go back to your old one, move it all over to your new house, and then we'll just go from there. Sound good?"

"Pretty much. Hopefully nothing pops up, though. I'm really bad at improvising." Kyle smiled. We talked until about 5:00, when we wrapped it up, and they went back to their apartment.

"That went well." I said after they left.

"Yep, it'll probably be a bit more complicated than that, but we'll just roll with the punches." I nodded, looking outside. The rain had eased off, and the sun was just beginning to peek through the clouds.

"Alright. I'm tired of the same four walls. Who wants to go outside for a walk?" Chris suggested, getting up to put his shoes on.

"I'll go." Dan agreed, looking over at me. "Hey, it's fine. I checked the weather, and that was supposed to be the last storm for today." When I still looked reluctant, he added, "I'll race you to the pool." I smiled; he knew my weakness. Besides reading and writing, running was my all-time favorite activity.

"Okay, you got me. Chris?" I asked, looking at him.

"Nope. I can't run. Besides, I'm no competition anyways." He smiled, and I smiled back, inwardly thanking him for the alone time with Dan.

I slipped on some socks, then put my well-worn tennis shoes on. I swear, if slip and fall, I'll never hear the end of it! I thought, making sure that the laces were tight.

"Chris? Can you start us off?" Dan asked, getting into position.

"Wait, wait. Where is the actual finish line?" I asked.

"Oh. Let's make it the the sidewalk just in front of the pool." Dan said, pointing to it, although it was pretty far away. I'll have to pace myself, I thought, which I am not very good at doing. Making a plan, I decided to stay ahead of Dan, but not too ahead, just to get his hopes up. My heart skipped a beat, and I felt butterflies in my stomach as Chris started us off.

"On your mark, get set, GO!" Go was hardly out of his mouth by the time I was off, Dan racing alongside me. I pushed myself harder, pulling ahead just the slightest bit. I was surprised when he did they same, increasing his speed. He's faster than I expected! I thought with a huff. Now it was all about stamina.

We were about halfway there when I started to tire, slowing down the teensiest bit. Dan must have noticed this, for he took advantage and pulled ahead. I will win this race if it kills me! Putting forth my last bit of strength, I pulled ahead so that we were tied up, with the finish line in sight. My leg muscles screaming, I pushed harder, until finally I crossed the sidewalk first, throwing my hands in the air.

The End

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