Viscaria

By @UnmaskedDreams

Viscaria

By @UnmaskedDreams

When tragedy strikes, the hardest part of moving on is learning to forgive yourself.

Chapter 14

Iridescent

Iridescent — “displaying a play of lustrous colors like those of a rainbow”

Camp Day 3

0500 hours

               “Alyssa, wake up.”

               Alyssa mumbled in her sleep, swatting blindly at the person attempting to wake her.

               “Alyssa Noelle Mendes, you better wake up right now.”

               Alyssa blearily opened her eyes to see Tori glaring down at her. “What?”

               Tori glared pointedly to her right.

               Alyssa’s eyes widened and she sat up abruptly. Two thoughts immediately came to mind: firs, she was still wearing Will’s jacket and two, they had fallen asleep just outside Alyssa’s cabin.

               She sent a panicked look at Tori.

               Tori smirked and raised her phone up for Alyssa to see. “I have pictures.”

               Alyssa glared.

               “What were you even doing that you both fell asleep out here?” Tori asked.

               “Talking,” Alyssa mumbled. “We’re dead.”

               “Well, it’s just before sunrise,” Tori assured her. “We better get Will back to his room before anyone else gets suspicious. Besides, it’s the last day of camp. I’m pretty sure no one slept in their own rooms anyway.”

               Alyssa glanced beside her where Will slept. His head leaning back against the side of the cabin. His arm was wrapped around her waist.

               “He looks so peaceful like this,” Alyssa muttered.

               Tori rolled her eyes. “Get sentimental later. For now, get sleeping beauty here back to his own cabin before the cavalry arrives.”

               Alyssa waited until Tori returned back inside their cabin before turning her attention to Will.

               He opened his eyes slowly and grinned at her. “Morning.”

               She rolled her eyes and stood, realizing he had heard her conversation with Tori. “See you breakfast, captain.”

0800 hours

               Drew placed a steaming mug of hot chocolate in front of Alyssa as he slipped into the vacant seat beside her.

               Alyssa grinned gratefully at him and took a sip of her hot chocolate.

               “So, a certain captain didn’t return to our cabin until early this morning,” Drew said casually. “You wouldn’t know anything about that would you?”

               Alyssa shrugged and Tori choked on her laugh.

               Drew smirked. “So, what were you doing until sunrise?”

               Tori smirked and handed Drew her phone.

               Alyssa groaned. “Really?”

               A strange look flashed on his face as he browsed through the pictures. He returned Tori’s phone and turned his attention to Alyssa. “Are you happy?”

               Alyssa just smiled, quite unsure exactly how to respond.

               He smiled. “That’s all that matters.”

1100 hours

               “Thank you for an amazing past three months,” Will said as he concluded his speech. “I hope this is just the beginning of new friendships. Congratulations to winning first place, guys!”

               Applause and congratulations arose from their team.

               Alyssa smiled from her place hidden by the rest of their team. One of the guys approached Will and handed him a wrapped package. Alyssa watched as Will grinned and nodded at the guy. Suddenly, he whistled loudly causing the entire team to turn their attention back to him.

               Will grinned at them as her eyes found hers. “Before this day ends, I wanted to take this time to honor the woman who helped make the past months enjoyable.”

               Catcalls resounded from their team as they pushed Alyssa forward until she stood in front of Will.

               “Hi,” she whispered, trying hard to fight the blush as she was made the center of attention. “What are you doing?”

               He winked at her and handed her the wrapped package. “We know how much you love letters. So, we compiled a book of one for you.”

               Alyssa grinned. “Thank you! I really appreciate this.”

               “It was all Will’s idea,” Emily called out.

               “All the pictures Will took makes it look like he’s in love with you,” another called out.

               Alyssa grinned cheekily at Will. “Letting your art speak for you?”

               He blushed.

               Alyssa felt her heart skip a beat but she laughed it off.

1400 hours

               Alyssa sat staring at the package amidst the silence in the bus.

               Tori nudged her. “What’s that?”

               “It’s from the team,” Alyssa said softly glancing behind her to see Will a few rows behind her engrossed in conversation. “Well, they say it’s mostly from Will.”

               “Open it,” Tori encouraged.

               Alyssa rolled her eyes but unwrapped the package anyway.

               “Wow,” Tori breathed when Alyssa finally unwrapped it. “It’s beautiful. You look almost ethereal in the picture.”

               Alyssa nodded stunned. The cover was a candid shot of her taken in one of their meetings. Only, it didn’t look like it was her – it was too beautiful to be her. “I didn’t know he took this.”

               Tori nodded and surveyed the thickness of the package. “It looks like he took a lot of photos. You don’t know about.” She smirked. “You know what they say about people taking pictures of things they don’t want to lose.”

               Alyssa rolled her eyes.

               Tori laughed. “Those pictures might be a reflection of the way he sees you.”

               Alyssa kept silent and began browsing through it. There were over dozens of pictures of her with other members of their team and even her friends on youth meetings. Each picture was a candid shot of her in her natural environment. She didn’t even know how he managed to take those pictures. Scattered across the pages, between pictures, were short messages from their team.

               She was speechless by the last photo. It was obviously not one taken by Will. He was in the photo, too. If she remembered correctly, this was during one of their earliest meetings. They sat with their heads bent closely together nearly touching. They both had soft smiles on their lips and a soft light in their eyes. Brushes of paint smattered their faces. Their hands were touching but not quite. She looked like she was completely in love with her and he with her.

               “Wow,” Tori breathed. “I can’t believe they caught something as raw as this on camera.”

               “I look like I’m completely and utterly in love with him,” Alyssa muttered. “This was around four months before camp.”

               “Really?” Tori asked shocked.

               Alyssa nodded. “This was taken during our teaser video preparation. We ended up painting ourselves more than the tarp.” She laughed. “This was probably earlier in the day.”

               Tori arched a brow at her. “I’m beginning to think there were a lot of things you left out.”

               “Some things are better committed to memory,” Alyssa muttered.

               “Do you think Will knows about the last photo?”

               “I doubt it,” Alyssa said. “Listen to this: ‘Thought you might enjoy this picture better. I fully expect to receive an invitation to your wedding in the next two years. I’ll be the first to say ‘I told you so’’. That was from Jack.”

               Tori laughed. “That guy is too perceptive for his own good.”

               “He is,” Alyssa agreed. “He’ll probably be making an honorary toast. Right after you.”

               Tori smirked. “Should I get the venue booked?”

               “Venue for what?” Will asked suddenly appearing beside Alyssa.

               “Your wedding,” Tori told him with a smirk.

               “To who?”

               “Alyssa, of course.”

               Alyssa groaned in embarrassment.

1700 hours

               Alyssa fiddled with the USB, hesitation blooming in her chest. She turned to Drew. “I shouldn’t do this. Not now.”

               Drew glared down at her. “Now is the best time to do it. You’ve already built a relationship with him. Besides, you and I have no idea what’s in there anyway.”

               Alyssa sighed. “Can you do it?”

               “No.” He sighed. “Just give it to Will then we can head out for cheesecake.”

               Alyssa sucked in a breath. “Fine.”

               Drew tilted his head. “Go. He just finished talking with Kelly.” 

               Alyssa sent a pleading look at Drew.

               He shook his head.

               Alyssa hung her head and strode over to Will. “Hey.”

                His eyes lit up when he saw her. “What’s up?”

               She held up the USB. “This.”

               He shot her a confused look. “What?”

               She handed it to him with a sad smile. “When we went through Kade’s things, there was a box labelled with my name. When I opened it, there was a note from Kade with instructions whom to give them out, too. He told me specifically not to watch any of them. This is yours.”

               He took it carefully. “You’ve had this for almost two years?”

               She nodded. “I did. This is the last one.”

               “I—“

               She smiled at him. “Watch it. I’ll see you around, Will.”

               She left without waiting for a reply.

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