Awakening Book One of the Trust Series - By J. E. Swift
Caitlyn Young lovingly caressed the crimson brick that made up the foundation of the academic building where she had spent so much of her college career. Her tired fingers rested on the rough edges one last time, a final farewell to an old friend.
While most were thrilled with the idea of commencement, she still felt as if there was so much more to do, so much more she had not yet learned. She turned away from the building, looking out at the harsh world that awaited her. Caitlyn only hoped that the answers she sought were there.
A voice pulled her out of her thoughts. “Don’t look so sad. This is only the beginning.”
Caitlyn smiled softly at her friend Nora. “I know.”
But was it really? An illness that she had developed over the past six months had made a noticeable uptick in the past week. The past few mornings it had taken most of her energy just to get out of bed, never mind the long hours she had spent studying in the library for her last two finals. But she was not about to burden her friends with that. They were already concerned enough for her as it was and they had their own lives they needed to attend. They did not need to know that she was worried that her own beginning would be cut dangerously short.
As the two roommates walked away from their college campus to the apartment they had called home for the past two years, Nora gently reminded her of their plans for tonight. Caitlyn pretended that she did not forget, inwardly cringing that she did not remember. Typically, a night with the girls would have been what got her through finals week. But between her thesis, the tests, and her sickness, the soon-to-be graduate had been more distracted than normal.
Nora glared at her knowingly. “You forgot! I can see the deer in the headlights look in your face, no matter how much you deny it.”
A sigh fell from her lips as she resigned herself to the fact that she could hide nothing from the brunette that had been her friend since the very first day of their freshman year. “I can’t believe Shannon is leaving tomorrow. I feel like I’ve barely seen any of you or talked to you in weeks.”
“You’ve been distracted. We understand.” Nora nudged her as they walked along. “You’re going out tonight, right?”
Caitlyn paused. The three best friends she had for six years urged her to go out for one last night of drinking and general debauchery before they took their own separate paths and moved away from each other, and she was debating whether or not to go. She was ashamed at herself for even questioning it and cursed her health for what seemed to be the millionth time.
No. She was going to let loose like they used to over the past few years, downing a few beers and saying a proper goodbye to this portion of their life.
“Of course,” she replied as she nudged her friend. “There is nowhere else I would rather be.”
The bar they had often frequented during their academic years was a typical college town bar, cheap décor and even cheaper beer. McHale’s was packed from the completion of finals, and it seemed that many students were out celebrating their upcoming matriculation.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen McHale’s this busy,” Shannon commented as they fought their way to a recently evacuated table.
“Everyone is feeling nostalgic,” Caitlyn offered.
“For this?” Rachael dryly commented, frowning as she used her hand to wipe off the puddle of beer the previous occupants had spilled. “Ugh. Disgusting.”
Caitlyn produced a napkin from her purse, which Rachael gratefully took. “Well, we are here for the same reason, aren’t we?”
Nora’s lips turned upwards in amusement. “She has a point, Rach.”
Rachael rolled her eyes. “Oh, let’s just get drunk already, shall we?”
Caitlyn had never been a heavy drinker. She had certainly participated in her fair share of college parties, and there were several occasions she could recall spending the night sleeping on the bathroom floor. But those, she was happy to report, were few and far between. No, Caitlyn typically was the designated driver. She usually enjoyed watching her friend’s drunken antics from the sober side.
Tonight… well, tonight was different. She needed to forget about the world, and perhaps for one night, she could pretend her life was normal again.
Three shots and a beer later, Caitlyn was well on her way to letting her stresses go.