Annabeth and the Calina experience
The setting sun blinded my eyes after having walked in total darkness for what had seemed like forever. I felt more comfortable now that I was out of the dress, and into clothes that were actually mine to my surprise; I had no idea how Jake had even gotten them. But my feet were tired and achy and I was beginning to feel incredibly grumpy. I wasn’t one to complain, especially to a stranger, but I was seriously starting to have doubts about where Jake had just led me to.
“Come on, you’ve gotta see it from the top,” Jake nudged me forward.
“You want me to climb up this thing?” I realized I was standing next to a tall platform thing, that had seemed sort of like a look out post with the most wobbly ladder I had ever seen in my life. A diving board at the cheap pool in my hometown had a more stable structure. Hell, I would rather climb a tree than that rickety thing.
“Yea,” He gave me a gentle shove forward. “I want you to climb it before the sun sets all the way.”
I sighed and grabbed onto what I was now convinced was a death trap and made my way to the top. Jake followed closely behind, and the ladder wiggled beneath us as we climbed.
“Are you sure this is safe?” I called back to him, freezing for a second when I heard it make a loud CRACK.
“Yes!” He shouted up to me. “Now go!”
I finally reached the top and scurried to hold onto the ledge as if it could save me from this death trap.
“I wouldn’t hold that so tight, it’s not really as stable as it looks,” Jake commented when he finally reached the top of the ladder.
I let go of it quickly and moved to the center where he was standing.
“Why are we here?” I finally asked.
“Welcome to Calina, Princess Annabeth,” He breathed looking out at the world.
I couldn’t contain the gasp that left my lips. It was beautiful. The grass was so green, and the sky was purple with pink streaks and puffy clouds, turning dark as the night sank in. And in the distance, there was the outline of what I could only be described as a city. It was no New York, but still a small city, nonetheless.
“Wow,” I breathed.
“Yea,” Jake closed his eyes, and I looked at him closely.
For the first time in my presence, he seemed relaxed. His green eyes were closed, and the sun was shining on his face leaving him looking golden and his jet black hair was blowing gently in the slight wind.
“I come up here when I need some perspective,” He told me, without looking at me.
“I can see why,” I responded. “How did you ever find this place?”
“I grew up in the castle, and sometimes, I just needed out,” He stated, as he sat down on the ledge he had told me to be careful around just minutes before, but I joined him there anyway.
We sat there in total silence as the sun disappeared. There were so many things I wanted to say. I wanted to ask. But I could tell now wasn’t really the time. There had been people chasing me in a place that was supposed to be a safe place. I had been scared out of my mind; I still was, but there was something about the peacefulness of this random platform just a few miles from the castle.
“Come on,” Jake said finally, once the sun had nearly disappeared from sight. “It’ll be a lot harder to climb down if we wait any longer. I’ll go first then you follow once I’m on the ground.”
“Aye aye captain,” I saluted jokingly.
Even in the now low light I could tell Jake rolled his eyes in annoyance, but it didn’t bother me. He could be mad all he wanted. I really didn’t care. It seemed like he would never not be mad at me.
Climbing down the ladder was way scarier than climbing up it, especially since it was nearly completely dark. Maybe it was better not to see though. That way I didn’t know just how far I was from the ground.
“You can let go of the ladder now, Beth,” Jake said sounding amused at my intense grip on the ladder. “You’re on the ground.”
My heart fluttered at the nickname, but I didn’t comment since it was the first time he hadn’t called me Princess.
“I know. I’m just trying to wake up from this nightmare.” I told him.
He let out what sounded almost like a forced laugh. “Is being with me really that bad?” He asked.
“I didn’t say that.” And despite my best effort to relax, I felt myself stiffen.
I saw Jake shake his head in amusement, thinking I couldn’t really see him in the low light.
“Come on,” He said, the gruffness back in his voice. “This way.”
“Where are we going now?” I asked, struggling to keep up with his long strides.
“Well we can’t go back to the castle yet, so we might as well have some fun,” He replied simply.
“What is that supposed to mean?” I interrogated.
I did not like surprises. And I had had enough of them today.
“Calm down, don’t you trust me?” He teased.
“No!” I replied, struggling to keep up with his long legs. “I hardly know you.”
“You don’t know how much our lives are entwined Princess. And they have been for a long time.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked inquisitively not quite understanding.
“I have no intention of telling you yet,” He answered cryptically.
“Yet? So you will tell me eventually?”
“If you earn it,” He teased again.
The amount of teasing took me by surprise. He always seemed so cold, but right now, he seemed so relaxed.
“How do I earn it?” I played along.
“Show me you are not a Princess,” He responded as if it was simple.
“What does that even mean?”
“You tell me,” He looked at me with a smile that again made my heart skip a beat.
What seemed very sudden, I found myself among buildings, houses I assumed. And we didn’t stop. Not till we were in the middle of the said town did we stop, and I was reminded of my achy feet. I hadn’t walked so much in my entire life.
“Jake, what are we doing here?” I asked when he finally came to a stop.
“Having fun,” He answered, but he sounded slightly tense.
He was looking at the building to our right very carefully. As if it didn’t make sense to him, or he was lost. But he moved to the side of it anyway and pulled at the siding.
“Jake seriously, what are we doing here?” I questioned starting to feel like we didn’t belong here. Like we were doing something we weren’t supposed to.
“Shhh,” He shushed me, “Just be quiet a minute.”
I sighed uneasily, but as he pulled at the siding, a little window was revealed, and I could hear music.
“What the hell?” I muttered.
“Come on,” He grunted. “Climb in.”
“Through the window?” I looked at him in disbelief.
He looked at me like I was the crazy one. But I had to admit, my curiosity was getting the best of me, so despite my better judgement, I climbed through the now open window.
My feet hit the ground with a thump, but I realized despite the insane amount of people, no one seemed to have noticed my abrupt arrival or Jake’s as he landed beside me.
There were disco lights going, and they were already hurting my head. Plus, the music was so loud the room was vibrating. I could hardly believe how many people were packed into this tiny place. And that we had barely even heard it when we were standing just outside.
“Where are we?” I demanded, looking at Jake who had a large grin on his face.
“Relax Princess!” He shouted over the music. “We’re here to have fun!”
He then grabbed my hand and began pulling me through the crowd of people till we reached a counter that someone was behind.
“2 rum and cokes please,” He told the guy behind the counter.
This place seemed to be a legit bar or club, but why would we have had to climb through a window to get here then?
“Here!” Jake handed me the drink and I couldn’t help but make a face.
“I don’t drink!” I shouted back.
He didn’t answer. He just shrugged his shoulders, and downed both the drinks before grabbing my hand again and dragging me out on the dance floor.
“I also don’t dance!” I told him, my voice already straining from having to shout.
“You seem to know what you’re doing to me!” He smirked.
God, I wanted to wipe the laughter right off his face, but there was something about this Jake that I liked. It was like he was actually a human, and not a total jerk.
“You look beautiful!” He whispered in my ear, taking me completely off guard.
I looked at him in confusion as he pulled away and kept swaying with the music. I was in jeans, a light pink V-neck and combat boots. Which he had somehow gotten from my house and snuck into a random tunnel.
I shook off the comment and smiled. There was something about this moment that felt like I was supposed to be here. Like there was no where else I could have been that would have been better. And truthfully, it was the best night of my life, despite the obnoxiously loud music and crazy disco lights.
We danced, and we danced till I was certain my feet had to be bleeding. But eventually the crowd started to thin out, and Jake took that as our cue to also leave.
His face was flushed from the alcohol, and I could feel the warmth coming off his body. And I wasn’t really sure how he intended to get us back to the castle in his state, but his happy mood wasn’t something I wanted to ruin, so I just went along with it.
The long walk back to the tunnels didn’t seem as long this time as we danced our way through the darkness. I didn’t care that I had no idea where I was. I didn’t care about anything. The feeling I felt was nothing like I had ever experienced. I couldn’t describe it even after all this time. It was like nothing mattered for the first time in my life. And somehow we made it back to the entry of the tunnels.
I felt myself stumble as Jake began to put more of his weight on me as his drunkenness began to overtake whatever else had been driving him.
“Whoa,” I stated, trying to hold his heavy self up. “I don’t know how to get back to wherever we need to go, so pull it together.”
“You are doing justtt fine Princess,” Jake slurred, flashing me another smile.
“No,” I replied, starting to feel annoyed. “No. I do not know my way through the tunnels. I do not know where I am going or where I should go. And I am beginning to feel very exhausted.”
“Well it is 4 am, so no wonder you’re tired.”
I gasped in surprise which caused Jake and I both to stumble.
“It is not. There is no way.” I claimed in shock.
“Mhm. You are one hell of a partier, Princess,” Jake chuckled. “Come on,” He leaned right, “This way.”
We made the rest of the journey silently except for the random directions Jake would call out. And the sloshing of our feet into nearly constant puddles, which I had no idea where they had even come from, since I didn’t think it had rained. It was a wonder no one could hear us because I felt like we were being so loud, but it was just the echoes of the tunnel as we moved.
Finally, we reached where Jake wanted to come out of the tunnels, and I opened the door very carefully, not quite sure where he was leading us out and if it would get us into trouble.
To my surprise though, we had made it back to my room. As my eyes adjusted to the slightly brighter room, I could make out a small figure in my bed, and I hesitated, wondering if it really was my room until the figure spoke.
“Where the hell have you been?” Lexy’s sleepy voice mumbled from across the room.
I fully climbed out of the tunnel, pulling Jake along with me, and gave her a sheepish smile.
“Why are you in my bed? Don’t you have a perfectly good one right through that door?” I asked as I looked around and realized she had made a mess of my room and I had only been gone a few hours.
“Because I was worried about you,” She grumbled, “And I knew you’d come to your side and not wake me up to tell me you were alive.”
“What happened to my room?” I questioned.
“Improvision.” She replied.
“That’s not a real word, Lex.” I told her, as I set up some blankets on the floor for Jake seeing as who I could only assume was Seth was asleep in a chair in front of my door.
“Do I look like I care?” She answered grumpily. “Do you have any idea how late it is or how worried I was?”
“Worried enough to go to sleep?” I teased.
Even through the dark, I could see her shoot me a death glare.
“Well both of us being exhausted didn’t sound smart to me either,” She replied.
“I’m sorry for worrying you,” I told her as I plopped into bed beside her.
“Where did you go?” She asked, turning to look at me.
“On an adventure,” I responded cryptically.
“Goodnight, Annabeth,” She replied in an exasperated tone.
And with that I let the exhaustion I was feeling take over, and everything else just disappeared. I just hoped that feeling I had felt wasn’t going to disappear in my sleep. And would hang around just a little while longer.