Becoming Robin Book Three: Chapter 28

Becoming Robin Book 3 Cover/Image
Bk3C2011ZoeTaylor.png~* You Want Us to What? *~

The three of us turned back to face her as she jogged closer. “There’s been a change of plans this year. Where’s Mystic?” she asked, looking around for Jennifer.

“She’s talking with Faith - one of our new friends’ cousins visiting from out of state. She shouldn’t be long. What’s wrong?”

Alice beamed, shaking her head. “Nothing’s wrong. We - that is, Director Meredith and the counselors have been talking about you four girls. We’re concerned that you’re not going to be challenged enough by the standard CIT curriculum since two of you have been through it twice already.”


“Truth or dare,” Sarah stated with a smug grin as she stared up at me from beside the Jones’ sofa. Katelyn tried to keep a straight face, but that look just made me laugh.

“After you made your own girlfriend drink pickle juice? I’ll take truth for a thousand, Alex.”

She cackled, then nodded back at me. “Okay, I’ve got a deep one this time. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?”

Everyone - Jennifer, Allison, Nicole, Rachel, Natalie, and Katelyn all stared silently back at me. Rachel and Natalie weren’t in on ‘the big secret’, but even if they were, I wouldn’t have changed my answer. I smiled as I pulled Nicole into a hug.

“Hmm. Well, I’d have to say, I’d get a cat.” I almost laughed. It was like the room itself let out a relieved sigh. “I just stay so busy that I wouldn’t have the time to devote to it.”

“Well, you know you’re going to have a lot of time on your hands soon,” Jennifer advised.

“And my neighbor’s cat just had kittens awhile ago. They gave most of them away, but they have one left,” Rachel added with a giggle.

“I’ll think about it,” I answered, turning my attention to Allison. “So, truth or dare?”

“Truth,” Allison answered without hesitation. “It’s the quiet ones who always come up with the most devious dares!” she teased, giggling.

“Coward,” Nicole shot back, playfully elbowing her ribs.

“Who was your first crush?”

~oOo~

For some reason I just couldn’t sleep in the next morning. The only clock downstairs, a black-faced model with high-polished brass fixtures, appeared to have run down its battery a few nights before, so I had no idea it was only five thirty until I tip-toed my way past my sleeping friends and up to the kitchen where Carol and Joe sat enjoying their morning coffee. Joe smiled as he raised his mug at my approach, causing Carol to look up.

“Morning Robin,” Joe spoke first.

“Hi guys,” I answered sleepily. “I just couldn’t seem to sleep. Guess I’m just excited about getting back to camp.”

“There’s fresh coffee in the coffee pot,” he advised, but then added, “Kelly told us about your decision.”

I stopped halfway to the coffeemaker and turned back nervously. Carol giggled a little as she stood, approaching me and wrapping me in a hug.

“We just want you to know that we’re here for you, should you need anything. We’ve already been through this with Kelly, remember?”

“Plus with Mom expecting, I really don’t want to put any more burden on her either,” I added. “I’ll probably be in the hospital recovering awhile, but I won’t know all the details until after I talk with a doctor. After that, I figured I’d stay at Margie’s for a little while.”

“What’re we talking about?” Allison mumbled sleepily as she appeared in the doorway.

“My recovery plans,” I answered as I glanced back at her with a smile, before finally going to get my coffee. “Ally, want some?”

“Yes, please,” she moaned. “It’s tooooo early. By the way, I know you’re going to want me to stay at camp when you leave to do your consultations and stuff,” she paused as I handed her a freshly poured cup. “Thanks. Anyway, I want you to know that I’m going to be by your side every step of the way after that.”

“Aw, Ally, thank you,” I answered and carefully hugged her. “You don’t have to do that.”

“I want to. I’ve been with you through everything else, from creepy stalkers to psycho ex-girlfriends.” She paused to giggle. “We’re practically sisters, and I want to help you through this, if you’ll let me?”

I leaned up to kiss her cheek. “You’re my best friend. Of course I want you by my side. I just don’t want to bring anyone else down with me, you know? You’ve got Josh, and basketball camp, and-”

She pressed her fingers lightly against my lips and laughed. “And my own life, I know. But Robin, you’re part of that life. Heck, if it wasn’t for you I never would’ve met Josh, or tried out for basketball. You don’t have to shoulder the world by yourself. You never did.” She grinned, and we both laughed.

“I love you, Ally. I’m sorry if it felt like I was pushing you away. You’re right though. I’ve been trying to do this all on my own, when I’ve had good friends to help me through all along.”

“Exactly. Speaking of helping, let’s help Mom get breakfast going. Were you serious about wanting a cat last night?” she added with a giggle.

“Absolutely. I love cats, but I was always afraid something might happen if I got one. I know, super-pessimist.”

“I can’t believe you were ever a pessimist,” she teased.

~oOo~

“Faith, can I talk to you for a second?” Jennifer asked as we left the parking lot behind. I picked up her bag, walking with Allison and Nicole down a familiar path to our old cabin. Halfway there, I heard Alice calling.

“Spirit, hey! Hold up a second!”

The three of us turned back to face her as she jogged closer. “There’s been a change of plans this year. Where’s Mystic?” she asked, looking around for Jennifer.

“She’s talking with Faith - one of our new friends’ cousin visiting from out of state. She shouldn’t be long. What’s wrong?”

Alice beamed, shaking her head. “Nothing’s wrong. We - that is, Director Meredith and the counselors, have been talking about you four girls. We’re concerned that you’re not going to be challenged enough by the standard CIT curriculum since two of you have been through it twice already.”

Jennifer smiled brightly as she approached, completely soaked from head to toe, as though she’d gone for a swim before rejoining us. “You’re not kicking us out of the CIT program are you?” she teased, giggling in a bubbly way that I hadn’t heard out of her in awhile.

Alice laughed. “Oh, God no. It’s kind of the opposite, actually. We want to give you more responsibility. We’re a little shorthanded this session. Would you four be interested in becoming full-fledged volunteer counselors? It wouldn’t be much more work than what you already do as CITs, and your camp fee would be completely refunded.”

We all looked at each other slowly, a little uncertain. Allison spoke up first. “But we’re still technically considered minors, aren’t we?”

“Well, you’re all sixteen or seventeen right?” Alice asked. We all nodded. “Close enough. If there’s a problem you can’t handle, you can still come to me or Meredith, or any of the other counselors, but for all intents and purposes, you four will be recognized as staff for this session.”

“So do we each get our own cabin?” Jennifer asked curiously. Alice nodded. “You and Allison will be taking Counselor Dunham’s girls. Robin, you and Nikki can help them wrangle the girls when you’re not doing other things if you’d like.” She paused to smile at me. “Since you’ll only be with us for this week I worked with Meredith to coordinate everyone’s duties so that when you leave we’ll be able to cover you without any problem.”

“Thanks Alice,” I answered, and hugged her. “I can stay if you need me. Where’s Counselor Dunham, though? Is everything okay?”

“She was in a minor car accident,” Alice answered with a half-frown, quickly adding, “Don’t worry, she’s mostly okay. She has a hairline fracture in her arm so the doctors have ordered her to take it easy for awhile. That means we’ll need someone else to teach the riding classes though.”

“We can all help that. I’ve been riding horses all my life, and I know you three can ride pretty well too.”

“Excellent!” Alice cheered. “I’ll let Mer know. You’ll find your new staff t-shirts waiting for you in your cabin, by the way,” she added with a grin. “I knew you’d say yes, so I took the liberty of leaving them for you. You’ll also find your regulation clipboards and whistles. Welcome to the GSC Staff, ladies.”

“Hey, what about Rachel and Natalie?” Allison asked.

Alice nodded. “I’m just about to go track them down as well. I actually assumed they’d be with you.”

“I passed them on my way from the lake. They were checking in on some of Natalie’s old bunkmates,” Jennifer answered warmly. “Cabin three I think. But they’ll probably be at our cabin if they’re not there.”

“Thanks Jen,” Alice answered cheerily as she raced off.

“Counselor Spirit,” Nicole giggled. “S’got a nice ring to it.”

“Counselor Cola?” Allison added and started to laugh too as Nicole stuck out her tongue.

“That’s HOPE to you, missy!” she teased. “I guess that means we’d better hurry up and get changed though. The big pow wow at the pavilion’s in thirty minutes, and staff are always there way beforehand.”

I nodded as I grabbed my bag again, handing Jennifer’s off to her. “I need to give Nurse Bri my medicine too. I’ll head over there after we change then meet you at the pavilion.”

“Hey, Jen?” Nicole asked casually. “How come you’re soaking wet? Faith didn’t shove you in the lake did she?” she teased, grinning almost impishly.

Jennifer laughed. “Oh, no, nothing like that. I just really needed to clear my head, so I went for a quick swim. I feel so much better now though.”

“That must’ve been one hell of a swim,” Allison giggled. “I haven’t seen you smile like that in awhile.”

“Oh, trust me, it was,” she answered simply. “So not to change the subject, but we need to start thinking about Halloween; if we’re going to top the party last year we need to start planning now.”

~oOo~

“I’m sorry we had to spring this on you like this, ladies,” Meredith began as we gathered at the camp’s central rise pavilion. “We knew about Counselor Dunham’s accident, but we weren’t expecting the other no-show - family emergency it seems. We should be okay in a few days if you decide you want to go back to being regular CITs, but the camp fee refund stands either way. It’s the least I can do for what you’re doing for us.”

“We’re glad to help,” Jennifer answered as the rest of us nodded. Natalie smiled softly to herself as she quietly nodded her agreement as well.

“If you’re still planning to host the camp luau again this year, since you came by bus, you’re welcome to borrow my car should you need it.”

“And my boyfriend owns a three-quarter ton truck,” Alice added warmly. “I can have him down here in no time if you need anything heavy moved.”

“I took inventory on decorations in storage just before the last session ended,” Allison added. “It looks like most everything we need is still in excellent condition. All we’ll really need to go back to town for are the recyclable plates and stuff.”

“And flowers for leis,” I answered. “I’d like to do the ceremony for Crystal again this year - if that’s alright with you I mean, Director Meredith.”

Meredith smiled as she nodded. “Of course. and please, you’re staff now. You can call me Mer.”

“I’d like to be out on the lake with you,” Natalie added. “I should’ve been with you last year, but I was too busy being a petty idiot.”

I smiled as I reached over to squeeze her hand. “You were grieving. I never blamed you; you know that.”

“Hey, are we early?” Sarah asked as she approached, with Faith not far behind her. Sarah smiled cheerfully as Jennifer shook her head, waving them over.

“Nah. We’re just waiting for everyone to get here so we can make the big announcements.” She paused, motioning to her shirt. Sarah’s eyes widened.

“Oh my God. You’re staff now?! That’s so cool!” she squealed happily.

“Congratulations,” Faith added as she stepped closer. Her eyes seemed to shimmer a beautiful light blue in the morning light. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving, from what Sarah has told me I mean,” she quickly added.

“So how are you guys liking the camp so far?” Allison asked.

Sarah and Faith both giggled, answering in unison. “It’s great!”

They paused, looked at each other, and giggled more as Sarah added, “In a way this is all so new to me. I mean, I was a diamondback for years back home, but this camp is HUGE! I feel like I could spend hours exploring and still not see everything.”

Meredith chuckled. “Well don’t hesitate to ask if you need directions. We try to keep the major trails clearly marked, but even I got lost a time or two when I first started.” She paused, and stood as more girls began to arrive. “Looks like a few more early-birds are arriving. I’ll be back in a moment, ladies. I have some release forms I need each of you to sign stating that you’re here voluntarily, that sort of thing. You can look over them in your spare time, as long as you get them back to me by the end of the session.”

“Hey, Spirit,” one of the girls called, and gasped as I turned to face her. “You’re a counselor now?! COOL!”

I could already see what kind of session this was going to be.

~oOo~

That afternoon, Nicole and I walked together down to the stables. We spent most of the walk in serene silence, but as we drew nearer, we saw Counselor Dunham’s truck parked beside the stables with a horse trailer hitched to it. We looked at each other, and raced down to see what was going on.

Counselor Dunham smiled as she stepped out of the stables. Her left arm was in a cast, but she raised her right hand to tip her white Stetson hat to us, and smiled. “Hey girls. I heard you’d be my replacement hands when it came time for riding instruction.”

“Didn’t the doctor tell you to take it easy?” Nicole teased. She laughed.

“Doctors! Bah. It’s nothing! Really it doesn’t even hurt that much. I’m not even taking those painkillers they gave me. I can’t really stay though. I’m just here to drop off the last of the horses. They’ve already been brushed down so you just need to saddle them up.”

Nicole grinned. “Sugar cube stash is in the usual place, right?”

Counselor Dunham laughed. “In the old coffee tin back at the back. Just remember not to overdo it. You might be able to sneak some carrots from the chow hall for Lulubelle. She likes peppermints too.”

“Peppermints?” I echoed, trying not to giggle.

“You’d be surprised what some horses have a taste for. Oh that reminds me, you’re going to want to let Lulubelle run around the pen here a little while once you bring her out. She’s been in the stable for a couple of days, so she’s going to be a little hyperactive. We don’t want a repeat of last year,” she added with a wink, grinning at me.

“No problem,” Nicole answered warmly. “I’ll let her out now then give her a treat once she’s gotten it out of her system.”

~oOo~

For an older mare, that horse had a lot of pent up energy. She spent the better part of twenty minutes bucking and racing laps around the small corral, and playing with some of the younger horses. Nicole and I just watched from a safe distance, letting them work off the excess energy as the girls started trickling over for their lesson. They all looked a bit nervous, but Nicole smiled over at them.

“They’re just playing. Counselor Dunham said they were in the stables for a couple of days, so they got a little bored.” She giggled, hopping over the fence and approaching one of the younger reddish brown horses. “Easy now,” she cooed, patting its neck lightly. The horse nuzzled into her, pushing her back a bit and causing her to laugh.

“That’s a good boy. Let’s get you saddled up. Spirit, Lu’s all yours.”

“Gee, thanks,” I teased. It seemed my lot in life to deal with that wiley old mare. I think the horse found it as funny as I did, as when I approached, she turned and stuck out her neck expectantly. “You’re waiting for a treat aren’t you?” I asked, causing the girls to giggle. I reached into my pocket, producing a small sugar cube that I set on the fence post. The horse happily snatched it up.

“You can pet her if you want, to let her get to know you.”

“Wow. She’s really pretty up-close,” one of the younger girls gasped. I giggled.

“She’s beautiful, and usually very gentle with new riders. I’ll get her saddled up, and then we can start the lesson. You guys can follow us into the stables if you’d like. Just um,” I paused, nodding toward a small meadow muffin that had been drying in the sun not far from where I stood. “Watch your step.”

~oOo~

By the time the big bonfire event that night welcoming new campers had ended, I had practically no energy left. I groaned lightly as I leaned against the wall just inside our cabin. Rachel giggled from her bunk. “That rough?”

“I’ve got aches in places I didn’t know I had. Horse riding lessons, swim lessons, and canoe safety in one day. Tomorrow I’ve got first-aid and CPR cert in the morning.”

“At least the afternoon will be easy,” she advised. “Shopping for party supplies and meeting with the caterers, I think?”

“And getting fitted for our dresses,” I added. “That means you too. Jen’s going to teach you and Natalie how to hula so you can help us teach others, so you’ll need a proper Hawaiian dress.”

“What about whatnow?” Natalie asked as she emerged from the bathroom and giggled. Rachel laughed, throwing a pillow at her, and Nicole, Allison, and Jennifer stumbled through the door, heading for their respective bunks as I laid back on my bed with my arms under my head.

“Sarah’s a natural out on the lake, you know. I swear that girl could teach me a thing or two.”

Nicole laughed. “Yeah, I saw. I think she beat Ally’s record.”

“Only by a few seconds,” Allison joked. “I’d love to challenge her to a proper race. It’d be fun! Maybe in a couple of days, after things settle down a bit I’ll see if she’s up for it.”

“Just let me know first,” I asked. “I don’t want to miss that for anything.”

“Totally,” Allison giggled as she lay back on her bed. She rolled over onto her side, staring over at me. “So how are you and Nikki holding up?”

“Huh?” we asked in unison, causing her to giggle.

“It’s been a day and I already miss Josh. I can’t imagine not being able to even act like you’re dating is any better. I feel so bad for you guys.”

Nicole smiled at me, then back at Allison. “It’s sweet of you to say that, but I think I speak for both of us when I say we’re okay. It’s not like last year when we were trying to pretend we didn’t have feelings for each other constantly. Now we know how each other feels, and that’s enough for us.”

“Besides, these girls are really important to both of us. Neither of us would do anything to ever make any one of them feel uncomfortable, and if that means keeping the PDAs low key for a week, that’s fine.” I paused to yawn. “Sorry, I’m dead tired.”

Allison giggled. “Get some sleep. We’ve got another big day tomorrow. And the day after that.”

“And the day after THAT,” Nicole teased. “‘night guys.” She hopped off her bunk, racing over to hug me. “G’night cutie,” she giggled, turning to return to her bed.

“Sweet dreams, vampire,” I laughed.


Author's Note:
My apologies for the front-page clutter of having two chapters of Robin up in such rapid succession, but as you know, tomorrow's an important day for me. :-) I won't be around for a few days, maybe up to a week depending on how much I hit the pain pills (though last time, I replaced the Tylenol 3 with Ibuprofen after a day, so... *giggle*)

I wanted to dedicate this chapter though, to the love of my life for always being there to remind me who I am. I've been struggling with some things for awhile, which was a big part of my writer's block, and today she single-handedly brought me back to reality and reminded me that it's what's in our hearts that counts.

I love you, Ashleigh. You're my best friend, my spiritual advisor, and my SO all in one. ♥

Love,
Zoe



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