"Excuse me? I'm what?"
I was certain that I hadn't heard her correctly. How could I be betrothed to an immortal god without even knowing it? And who on earth made the betrothal? Surely one of my parents would have to agree to the engagement for us to be betrothed and somehow I couldn't imagine my mother making that deal with Hypnos.
"You're betrothed. Have been since before you were born." she smiled sympathetically and patted my hand which gripped the blanket on her bed.
"How?" my voice shook.
"I'm not actually sure. To be honest, I only found out myself when I barged into your dream unannounced. I think that's something you'll have to bring up with Morpheus."
"Oh, I'll bring it up with him." I said through clenched teeth.
Miss Clark laughed and squeezed my hand.
"Go gently on him. The poor boy has had it rough lately."
I merely smiled and squeezed her hand back before I went to find my parents. The whole situation puzzled me and I couldn't wait to be able to interrogate Morpheus myself. The guy had a lot of explaining to do.
As I lay my head on my pillow that night, I willed Morpheus to come to me – but he didn't. Instead, my dream was filled with laughing children in a park who spun around and around on a round-about until I felt queasy and woke up. I'll admit that I was a bit frustrated that Morpheus didn't come to me the one time I wanted him to but by the time lunch-time arrived I was over it. It was probably better that I didn't see him last night anyway. I would have freaked out on him and wouldn't have given him a chance to explain anything.
"Ah! Callie! The Haunted House looks amazing! I can't wait for everyone to see it!" Violet exclaimed as soon as she saw me approaching with my tray. "There are just a few extra details that need to be put in order and then we're set, but we'll do that all this afternoon."
She squealed as Josh came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, a gesture of affection not many would expect from him.
With that we sat in silence as we watched one of the stoners hide half a box of cigarettes in his mass of curly hair – one of the most ingenious hiding places I had ever seen. Josh pulled out one of his cigarettes and looked at it.
"Too bad I have straight hair." he mused, shoving the cig back in his pocket "Our bloodhound of a principle would never think of looking there."
Personally, I think Josh spent more time in detention for having cigarettes on him than for any other offence. Robert soon joined us with Kayla in tow, talking about some strange movie they had watched together the night before. I gathered that they had spent the whole day together after the whole 'Mr Peterson at the restaurant' debacle, which was a relief in many ways. Kayla needed the support.
The bell rang and we wandered back to our classes, promising to meet up after school to help with the last details of the house. As I walked into chemistry, Amy – my previous lab partner – greeted me with a nervous smile and a wave.
"Hey Amy." I smiled back, dumping my bag on the floor under my chair.
Ricky joined me mere moments later, grinning and carrying his football helmet.
"Hi Callie. What you doing this Saturday?"
I looked at him, suddenly feeling a bit awkward.
"Not sure, maybe working. Why?" I managed to say without my concerns tainting my voice.
"Well Saturday is our first home game," he said tapping his helmet "and there's a scout coming to watch me play. It would mean a lot to me if you and the rest of the crew could come and watch."
I released the breath I had been holding unconsciously and smiled at him.
"Of course we'll come and watch. I can't guarantee the rest of the crew but I'm there for sure!"
"Great! You were the one I really wanted there anyway."
"Oh? Are you already sick of all the usual cheerleaders who swoon at the mention of your name?" I teased, trying to lighten the tension in the conversation.
He pulled a face as he opened his text book.
"The cheerleaders were fun at first. It's always great to be noticed by those who are meant to be at the top of the social ladder, but the truth is that most of them are shallow, vain and more interested in their push-up bras and social appearance than they are of their future. That just bugs me."
He sat staring at the same page for a few moments before he continued.
"My mom raised my sister and me by herself, without any help from my father. I saw how hard it was for her to find a job and even now she regrets that she didn't complete high school. I guess she forced me to understand that your future always comes first when you're young and to appreciate the value of education."
Mr Porter bashed his duster against the chalk board and declared that class had begun so we had better shut our mouths, especially since we were going to be having a pop quiz tomorrow. Next to me Ricky scribbled on the corner of his textbook with his pencil – something he regularly did, I had noticed. Just as I was starting to space out and let my imagination run wild with me, I felt a tap on my arm and out of the corner of my eye I saw Ricky rotate the book toward me.
He had written "Wanna study together for the quiz?" along with a sketch of a mad scientist. Clearly I was the only person I knew who sucked at drawing anything other than stick people. I took his pencil and wrote above his drawing "After dinner at my place? Mom will insist." He winked at me and returned to drawing pictures on the margin of the page. I really did try to pay attention to Mr Porter's lecture but I failed miserably, my mind going off at a tangent. I remained in my trance-like state of inattention until the final bell rang and I made my way to my locker to pick up the tins of glow-in-the-dark silly string which we were going to use on the haunted house. Robert also came equipped with an assortment of weird and wonderful items, including what looked like brains, fake squishy eyeballs and spiders.
"This must be one of the weirdest holidays the Americans have ever created." he said, prodding one of the eyeballs with his finger.
I laughed as he cringed at the feel, clearly grossed out.
"Why is it weird?"
"Well there is no real motivation behind it. You dress up in costumes, force strangers into giving you sweets, scare children and carve creepy faces into vegetables." he shrugged. "And you decorate your house with things like eyeballs. No wonder why you have so many murderers."
My parents refused to decorate the house however they did give out treats to the kids who came knocking on the door. Mostly they involved muffins – clearly my parents didn't understand the concept of Halloween either.
"Come on Rob, it's just a bit of fun."
We finished the final decor on the house, restricted to certain areas of it so that we wouldn't know all of the house's secrets. After Violet had given our work her stamp of approval, we sat on the floor and chatted.
"Kay, I want to ask my older cousin – the one who is a lawyer – for advice about you-know-who." Josh said after a period of silence.
Clearly it had been playing on his mind for a while but wasn't sure if he should say anything. Kayla nodded and gave him the go-ahead.
"If there was a way to get this whole situation to end without my parents finding out about where I met him I would jump at it." she sighed, letting her head fall back against the wall with a thump.
"We'll figure out a way Kay, don't worry." Robert grabbed her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
Trust the German to know how to comfort Kay – and Germans were supposed to be the emotionless ones. Another stereotype disproved.
"Well I had better go, have a chemistry test tomorrow and I promised Ricky we could study together. He's probably waiting for me."
I gave Kay a hug and went to find Ricky - I found him leaning against my locker, throwing a football from one hand to the next.
"You all done?" he asked as he took my bag from me and swung it onto his back.
"Yeah, let's go."
He led me to the student car park where he had parked his car – a white land cruiser from the '80s – opening the door for me to climb in. Clearly I was the only senior who didn't have some form of transportation other than my two legs. As we pulled up into my driveway my mom was watering her roses and smiled as she saw us. We dumped our bags in my room and poured some lemonade from the fridge before we attempted to tackle the chemistry.
"Why on earth are we meant to be studying this stuff in such great detail?" Ricky moaned, collapsing back onto the carpet where we were studying. "It's not as if we all want to grow up to be mad scientists."
"You never know. I think Amy may have the mad scientist thing down as a career option." I teased.
"Both you and Amy do. You're as mad as each other."
I laughed and chucked the pillow I had been sitting on at him.
"Ah thanks!" he said as he caught it. "How did you know I was tired?"
He used the pillow to prop up his head and grinned at me, almost tauntingly.
"Hey! That's not fair." I complained, trying to yank the pillow from under his head.
He laughed but still held the pillow captive, even when I started pulling on it with both of my hands. He tickled me in retaliation, unbalancing me. I landed on him, my head on his chest which was more muscular than I had previously thought.
"Woopsie." I felt a blush creeping to my face as I struggled to sit upright again.
He laughed at me again, pushing a strand of hair behind my ear and staring up into my eyes. Things had suddenly become a lot more serious than they had been a few moments prior. I could almost see it in his eyes that he wanted to make our relationship more complicated than it already was.
"Callista! Eric! Food is ready!" my mom's voice filtered through my closed door, saving me from a potentially awkward situation.