36. SUMMER

'Get on the plane, love birds!' Mr Richards shouted.

Ayla and Aaron were the last two on the runway, standing windswept under the grey summer sky. CHERUB's small plane to the summer hostel would be leaving soon. She took one last look around her at the campus, committing the buildings to memory, before glancing up at Aaron. His eyes twinkled down at her and his mouth twitched into a smile.

'Why is it always Mr Richards who catches us together?'

She smiled. 'I don't know, but we better get going.'

'I WILL START THIS PLANE WITHOUT YOU,' Richards yelled down at them from the door, and so they hurried up the stairs and joined their friends in seats halfway down the plane, stowing their bags under the seats.

'About time, you two,' Rose grinned.

Jason groaned loudly.

'What is it, mate?' Aaron asked, twisting in his seat to talk to his best friend behind him.

'Ughhh,' he replied. 'I just realised how much I'm gonna have to see you both together in the next few weeks.'

'Get used to it!' Ayla laughed.

'I feel like I've been cast aside, man. I'm the loyal husband who you've cheated on. I'm the sad, lonely –'

'Shut up, Jason!' Aaron called, and looked at Ayla. He couldn't help smiling again.

'Where are we actually going?'

'Some island in the Caribbean, I think,' he told her. 'Some place warm and free of crime.'

'That sounds relaxing. Especially the no-danger part.'

'Yeah. You have to heal up your knee, as well.'

Ayla rolled her eyes. 'It's fine!' At his expression she laughed. 'Well, it's sort of fine. It's better than before, at least.'

She still had a cast on her knee, and although she couldn't take it off until after they would get back from the hostel, swimming in the sea was still an option. Ayla missed running, though. It was going to take a lot of work to get back into shape once the cast was off. And maybe she wouldn't be the same again. But at least she had Aaron, now. They had spent the past week together, walking around the town near CHERUB campus with him trying tirelessly to entertain her, stopping her from staring at the athletics track all day. Now it was time for a break, a two week long holiday away from the rest of the world. For once, they had no problems. The fate of the world was safely off their shoulders.

'How long's this flight?'

'Five hours, maybe more,' Lyddie told her from across the aisle. 'I have a film on my iPod you can watch after me, by the way.'

'Thanks, Lydz. Ugh, I need some water.'

The temperature of the plane was sweltering, but the rest of the flight went surprisingly without any unusual events. Ayla found herself unable to fully relax, constantly remembering the events in San Francisco and the men who had chased her, every time she let her guard down. Aaron eventually dozed off, sprawled over a double set of seats, but she found it much harder to sleep. It was difficult in a new environment, or anywhere that wasn't her bed on the CHERUB campus, because that was home. In the end she didn't sleep at all, but watched that movie and sketched Aaron's sleeping face for her Art sketchbook.

They landed safely, and she woke up Aaron so that they could lean over Rose and see out of the window. Outside was shimmering with heat, the sky blindingly blue with leafy green forest stretching out to white sand and then the sea. It looked like paradise.

'I can't believe I've never been here before,' Ayla said, surprised. 'It's been almost a year now since I joined.'

'An eventful year.'

'Yeah,' she sighed happily. Rufus interrupted their quiet conversation, having stood up on his seat despite the no seatbelt signs.

'Who's up for some swimming?!' he shouted, and the teenagers all cheered.

'Stop embarrassing yourself, mate,' Rose told him. Their relationship had not progressed at all despite the events of the Summer Dance. Similarly, Lyddie and Theo were not together. It seemed that only Ayla and Aaron had been successful, for once, because even Jason had not plucked up the courage to ask Eve out properly.

'Do you think we can buy alcohol here?' the Jason in question was asking.

'We don't need it, mate. But probably,' Aaron replied.

'Sick. Anyone want a smint?'

'Ooh, me!' Rufus exclaimed.

'Are we really gonna have to survive two full weeks in the company of you lot?' Lyddie groaned.

'No, you're gonna have to enjoy two, not long enough weeks in our entertaining company.'

'Excellent.'

'EVERYONE OFF! DON'T FORGET ANYTHING, BRING YOUR BAGS,' Smoke called.

'She's delightful,' Aaron muttered.

'Shh!'

They emerged into burning sunlight, and Ayla's clothes began to stick to her already. They could hear the gentle sound of the surf whispering onto the shore. The crowd of teenagers approached a cluster of one-story buildings, all very modern.

'Don't know how they afford all this,' Rose remarked.

'We're part of the Secret Service. I think they value our recuperation,' Ayla replied.

'So we really have two whole weeks off? No work, school or otherwise?'

'Yeah. It was great last year,' Aaron told them. 'Caught up on lots of sleep.'

'Sounds perfect.'

'I'm in the mood for some sunbathing,' Lyddie said.

'Shit. I'm gonna be hanging around girls all break, aren't I?' Aaron groaned.

'Pretty much,' Ayla laughed.

'I'll escape with Jason at some point. Do something manly to recover. Lift some weights?'

'That's fine with me,' she grinned.


Ayla, Rose and Lydia ended up sharing one large, air-conditioned room. They each got their own bed and a window door that slid open onto the beach. They had only just entered the room and collapsed on the cool floor when Speaks knocked on the door.

'Ayla, there's a call for you,' he shouted.

'A call?' she asked, and got up, casting a confused look at the others, before opening the door.

'Yeah, a call. Come over to reception,' Speaks replied in a bored tone.

'Alright, then,' she said, and followed him through the stone paved corridors back to the entrance of the building.

'No idea who would want to be calling you, but there we are.'

'Thanks, Mr Speaks,' she said sarcastically.

'Here you go,' he answered, moving around behind a counter and offering her the landline.

'Thanks,' she said unsurely, and then he left, disappearing down another corridor.

She picked up the receiver.

'Hello?'

A/N: Helllooo! I owe you all a huge apology! Tbh there's no proper reason why I stopped, but anyway, I'm back. The hiatus is over.

Any ideas as to who could be calling Ayla when she's on an island? Please review! :D