I should have studied better, Stella thought as she kept her head down and tried to look busy. She looked out from the corner of her eyes as saw other using their pencils until the could catch fire. She had forgotten that this was high ranked school. Most of the people her were super smart and she did not want to fall behind. Especially when she still was the new kid.
There was still a few minuets before class ended, but none of her classmates seemed anywhere near done while she had finished hers about 40 minuets ago.
I feel so stupid, Stella breathed a sigh of relief when she heard the bell ring. People started getting up and handing in their papers. Judging from their faces most of the seemed pleased with themselves. Stella pushed all the concerns from her head and went up to the teacher's desk. She placed her paper on the pile faced down so that others would not be able to see it.
"How did you do?" Amandine asked. She waited for Stella outside of class. Together they walked up to their room.
"You don't want to know." Stella whispered and pretended to observe the paintings on the wall.
"Really? I thought it was easy." Amandine smoothed out her hair. She seemed more vain now then ever.
"Don't brag. It doesn't suit you." Stella said and clasped her hand behind her back. They reached their room in record time and as soon as Amandine stepped inside, she went for the mirror.
"Is there something I should know?" Stella said as she watched Amandine refreshen her make up, again.
Amandine looked over at Stella with a predatory smile. "I got a boyfriend."
"Another one?" Stella asked. She knew that Amandine liked attention, but there had to be a line somewhere.
"What do you mean by that? I only got the one."
"What about the one from a few days ago?" Stella had walked into their room to find Amandine and some guy she did not know making out. Guys were not allowed in the girls dorms so Stella had made him leave. Amandine was pretty upset about it.
"Oh, him." Amandine said. Stella wondered how she could have forgotten. "That was nothing serious. Sometimes a friend and I get together when aren't seeing anyone else."
Stella nodded even though she didn't completely understand. "I'm tired." ever since that accident she hasn't been able to get a decent night sleep. Her hand touched the scar at the back over her neck. It still hadn't healed.
"Something wrong?" Amandine asked.
Stella smiled. "No." Alexandria had asked her to keep the whole thing quiet. It used to be the talk of the school before, but now everyone pretty much pretended that it had never happened. The attack had happened outside of school grounds so no one considered it has high risk problem.
"I'm sure that tomorrow you will feel much better." Amandine said. The had a field trip tomorrow to some mines and caves at the edge of town. There used to be a big diamond industry there.
"You're probably right." Stella stretched out on her bed and tried to get into a comfortable position. Maybe she could get in a nice nap.
Stella choose seats at the back of the bus where they could have more privacy.
"Can't we seat at the front. It would be more fun." Amandine said as they took their seats.
"It makes me uncomfortable. I feel so...exposed. I'm not sure if that is the right word, but if you want us to sit father up then..."
Amandine interrupted. "This is fine."
"I'm surprised that you are not sitting with your boyfriend. Is he coming on this trip?" Stella asked. She was curious to know who this guy was.
"He is sitting over there next to America." Amandine pointed to a dark blond guy with short hair.
"Yeah. They're friends."
"America has friends." Stella placed her hand over her mouth. That wasn't meant to come out so mean. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."
Amandine waved her apology away. "Don't worry about it. I know that he his a bit of a loner, but America and Dante have known each other forever."
"So his name is Dante?" Stella's mind kept traveling towards America. They hadn't spoken to one another in a while.
"Yeah." Amandine seemed uncomfortable with something. "Listen. Do you mind if I go switch seats with America? I really want to sit next to Dante."
Stella didn't really want to sit next to America, but she also didn't want to tell that to Amandine. "If he says that it is fine then sure. Go ahead."
Amandine thanked her and grabbed her bag before leaving. Stella tried to relax her shoulders. There was no reason for her to be nervous in front of America. They were friends, sort of.
"Hi." He said as he slid into the seat next to her.
"Hello." Stella replied and both of them fell into a comfortable silence. America leaned his head back and got some rest before they reached their destination, while Stella looked outside the window and watched them drive through town.
Stella sat alone on a bench and ate her lunch. Amandine had run away some where with her boyfriend and did not feel like searching for America. She still felt awkward around him.
The tour had not been very interesting. There was nothing special about the cave they visited and their guide was less than good. He knew his facts, but he did not know how to present it very well. Stella could tell that he was new. She even heard some of the girls saying that he was cute, and he kinda was. Stella didn't really pay much attention.
Stella looked up and saw Alexandria standing next to her. "Excuse me?"
"Where is Amandine? I saw her get on the bus." Alexandria took a seat next to her. Stella feared that her white dress would get dirt on the back.
"This is the first time I have seen you in a dress." Now that Stella really looked, she noticed that Alexandria was a bit fancier dressed then usual. "Got a hot date?"
Alexandria chuckled. "No. I just don't get to leave the school grounds very often, and when I do I try to make it a special occasion. Pathetic, huh?"
Stella shook her head. "Not at all."
"But back to what I was saying earlier. You haven't made that many friends since you transferred, which was some time ago. Why is that?"
Stella was a little taken back. "You really don't beat around the bush do you?"
Alexandria wasn't going to be distracted. "You haven't been bullied have you?"
"No." Stella said. "I... A lot of stuff happened. I guess. I just need time."
Alexandria seemed to accepted that as an answer. "Just don't take too much time. It will become harder. By the end of the week I want to see you with someone new."
Before Stella could protest, Alexandria made her way to some other students.
"That was kinda funny."
Stella turned around and saw a girl she recognized as Ujana standing behind her. "Must everyone sneak up on me."
"It wasn't like I planned to attack you or anything. I just wanted to say hello. We haven't seen each other in some time." Ujana sat down next to Stella. "What is new?"
"Nothing." Stella said.
"What's the deal with you and America?" Ujana asked.
Stella was confused. "What do you mean?"
"Are you dating? Or just friends?" Ujana wondered. "I saw you two on the bus together earlier and it drew my interest. Besides there has been some rumors around you two."
"What rumors?" Stella knew that America was center for many rumors and that they had spent some time together, but she hadn't realized that people might be taking about her as well. "On second thought, I don't want to know. And I am not dating him so you can have you go at him."
"I'm not interested in him that way. But you have to admit to that he does look delicious." Ujana said with a smile.
"That is the first time I have ever heard some describe a human being." Stella said. Her mood was picking up and she knew that was all Ujana`s doing. She had the kind of personality that was contagious. You had to be cheerful around her.
Ujana leaned in close. "I could eat him up."
"Eat who up?"
Both of the looked up to see America staring at them.
"No one." They said in unison.
"You two want to check around the cave?" America wondered.
"Why? We already did that?" Ujana said.
"We only saw a small part of the cave. It is said to be much bigger. The reason we couldn't see all of it was because it wasn't considered safe." America told them.
"So? Why would want to go back?" Ujana really didn't see what was so interesting about it.
America leaned in close and whispered, "I heard that somewhere in the cave Endymion were meeting regularly."
Stella still didn't know why she decided to come with him. When he had said Endymion, she saw that man again. The one she had met in the woods outside the wall surrounding their school.
Stella was grateful that Ujana decided to accompany them. "Does anyone know where we are going? I don't want to end up lost."
"Don't worry about it. I remember where we came from and we won't go that far." America reassured her.
"Why are we here anyway? It's not like we will find you brother here." Ujana said and grimaced. "Sorry."
"Don't let it bother you. I know that he won't be here, but I am still curious." America said and took a right turn. Then suddenly stopped. "Do you smell that?"
Stella sniffed the air and her hair stood on ends.
"It smells like mint. Weird." Ujana said and continued to smell the air. "Where is it coming from?"
America pointed down the hall. "This way."
Stella took a hold of his arm and stopped him in his tracks. "It's him."
"Who?" America asked.
"They guy who attacked me outside school. Before I saw him. I smelled mint." Stella explained to them. "We should leave. We shouldn't be here."
"Forget that." America said and continued down the hall.
Ujana pulled at her arm. "Come on. We have to follow him. We can't just leave him alone."
Stella reluctantly followed. She was worried about any of them getting hurt, but more than that she was more worried about seeing him again. She could feel her neck starting to tingle. "We're getting close."
The smell of mint intensified and they could hear chanting. There were narrow stairs at the end of the hall. Stella had to hold the wall for support so that she wouldn't fall down.
"Maybe we should leave." Ujana whispered. She was starting to think that this might have been a very bad idea. "We might get hurt."
America shushed them with a stern look and continued down the stairs.
The bottom opened up to another big room with a big hole in the bottom. Stella felt Ujana poke her on the arm and then point at the walls. There were odd painting on the walls.
America carefully approached the edge and they followed him. Below them Stella counted four people dressed in black cloaks and she had a sudden flashback to her strange dream.
We have to leave, but she was so focused on what was happening below them that she was unable to move her legs towards the exit.
The chanting slowly died down and one by one the four heads turned to look up at them. On of the four people reached up to remove his hood and Stella's breath was caught in her throat.
To be continued...