Love & War

"All is fair in love and war" | The beautiful daughter of Aphrodite is a regular camper at Camp Half-Blood in the summer. She has returned, once again, to face old friends and love-interests, as well as new ones, for a summer filled with choices and dilemmas.

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3. chapter two

I was sitting on the beach with Aileen and Tara, all of us in our bikinis and ready to take a dip anytime. I leaned back, closed my eyes and tried to soak up as much sun as possible. But then I felt and saw a shadow looming over me, blocking the sun. “Well, you ladies sure are a sight for sore eyes.” The voice reached me before I even got to open my eyes, and I recognised it instantly. And then my eyes opened to confirm what I already knew. Towering over me, was Derek Murphy. “I had heard you were back. Fancy meeting you here, though,” he said directly to me, with a wink and a smirk. I smiled, because it was indeed a funny coincidence, that the first time we met since my return to camp, would be the same place we met for the first time ever. “Indeed, it is quite the coincidence, mon chéri,” I said, using the French equivalent to ‘darling’. Then my mind wandered back to our first meeting on this exact beach.

It was my second day at Camp Half-Blood, and so far, I only knew Aileen and the other Aphrodite-children that she had introduced me to. She had brought me to the beach, because she saw that the transition was a bit much, and had decided that I needed to relax with something familiar. And being at the beach is something every child knows, and the vast majority enjoys a lot. We had just sat down on our towels in the sand, when someone approached us. “Aileen, right? Who is your friend, I don’t think I’ve seen her at camp before,” he said with a raised eyebrow and while making direct eye contact with me, even though he was technically speaking to Aileen. I had almost just arrived, and truly I had never had many friends who were boys, because I went to an all-girls school back in France. So yeah, I shyly avoided his gaze, and looked down on my hands, while fumbling with my fingers. Aileen giggled a bit, before answering. “Yes, I’m Aileen. This is Rosalind, a fellow daughter of Aphrodite. She arrived yesterday. And you’re Derek, if I’m not mistaken.” I felt his eyes move to Aileen, and I looked up as he nodded and smiled widely. “Derek Murphy, son of Ares, at your service.” His eyes shifted back to me, as he spoke. I felt my cheeks warm up, and I knew I was blushing. His smile grew even wider, when he realised this. He extended me his hand, and I hesitantly took it. I was shy, but I was polite, and to not take his extended hand, would have been rude. “Rosalind Lebeau,” I managed to get out. He lifted his eyebrows. “French then, I assume? And beautiful name, by the way.” He winked at me. He looked to be about my age, and I thought that a 13 or 14-year-old kid shouldn’t be this smooth already.

“Yes, I am from France. And that is kind of the whole point with my name,” I said, slowly building up enough confidence to actually speak. He chuckled. “Oh, I guess the gloves are coming off now, huh?” I frowned, trying to understand what he meant. Then it dawned on me, and my eyes widened a bit. “Oh no, I just meant that all aspects of my name have some meaning that relates to beauty or love. Lebeau means ‘the beautiful one’ for example.” I blushed even more, with the misunderstanding. Which made him chuckle once again. “Well, then I guess you are perfectly suited for the name.” Just as I couldn’t hold back a shy smile, I heard someone call his name. He and I both looked in the direction of the boy’s voice and then back at each other. He sighed in an exaggerated way, and shrugged his shoulders. “Gotta go. I’ll be seeing you around, beautiful one,” he said with a mischievous look in his eyes and a smile. Then he ran off, joining a group of boys - some our age and some older. I caught myself staring, and snapped out of it, before turning to look at Aileen, who I just then heard giggling like a maniac. She patted me on the shoulder, and flashed me a giant smile. “Looks like you’ve got yourself an admirer. And after only being here for one day, nonetheless. I bet our mother would be very proud of you, sis.” She winked and started giggling again. I looked down, but couldn’t help laughing a bit, because of her contagious giggle.

I snapped out of my little flashback and looked at Derek. It was as if he grew better looking every time I saw him. Or at least every summer. I scanned him from top to toe, taking a bit of a longer look at his well-toned abs. Not bad, at all. “You’re looking good, Murphy,” I said with one raised eyebrow and a wry smile. I was very aware of the fact, that my glaring at his body couldn’t possibly have escaped him anyway, so I might as well own it, so he didn’t have the upper hand. “I’m flattered. And you’re still very much living up to your name, beautiful one.” Ever since that first day we met, he had made a habit of calling me that. Not that it bothered me, really. I mean, what girl wouldn’t like to be called beautiful on a regular basis? He flashed me a big smile with his pearly white teeth, and I automatically smiled right back at him. He was quite a good friend of mine and he was great at putting me in a good mood. Always had been, ever since we met.

After we met for the first time on the beach, Derek started to seek me out. Every time he spotted me somewhere, he would come over to me and we would converse and joke with each other. We became fast friends and, along with Aileen, he was one of my absolute best and closest friends. Derek was always a very flirtatious person, and it only grew stronger every year. And because I spent so much time with him (well, my half-siblings weren’t exactly very different either), I also became very flirtatious. We always had a strong, but completely innocent flirt going on during the time I spent at camp every summer. It wasn’t until my fourth year at camp - when I was 16 years old and he was 17 - that the innocent flirt between us actually evolved into something more than that. It was at the start of the summer, and Derek had brought me to the arena, because ‘as a son of the god of war, he felt it was his duty to make sure I could hold my own in a fight’. I mean, I had taken classes, same as everyone else, but fighting wasn’t exactly my forte. Still, I knew it was a smart choice to learn as much as possible, since I spent most of my life out in the world, where monsters could loom at every corner.

After several days’ training - in a row - I finally appeared to have discovered my preferred weapon. Derek had made me try just about every damn weapon in the armory, and I kind of wanted to kill him at that point, which made me keep up trying, so I could figure out which weapon would give me the best chance at doing that. I told him this, and he laughed so hard, I thought I might have caused his death by laughter instead. But he pulled himself together, and picked out some throwing knives from the armory. I tried it, and I liked it. It was much easier to me, than all those other weapons. Swords and spears were Derek’s favourites, but they were so not for me. When I insisted on sticking with the throwing knives the following days, he started teasing me. After a couple of weeks of nonstop training, I was getting rather good with them, and one day, when he made a stupid, boyish remark about how ‘of course I would pick such small, girlish weapons as my weapon of choice’, I threw one after him, cutting a few millimetres of some hairs on his head. It was a perfect throw, probably my best one yet. And Derek went completely silent, as his eyes widened. He marched towards me, still completely wide-eyed, and grabbed my shoulders. “Do you have any idea how dangerous that was? You could have killed me! Not to mention the damage you have probably inflicted on my hair!” He sounded panicky, and I broke down laughing at his whole expression. “Are you saying that it is not such a girlish weapon then? And relax, I do pretty much have it under control by now, even though you don’t give me much credit, connard!” I rolled my eyes at him, as I called him ‘asshole’ in French.

I could see how his shoulders fell, as my words seemed to make him less tense. Then he smiled, and squeezed his eyes together a bit. “Even though I know you just insulted me, I just love it when you speak French, my beautiful French rose.” I frowned up at him, and felt my cheeks heat up as he leaned in. I don’t know what I was expecting, but certainly not that he would put his lips on mine in a tender kiss. I didn’t even get a chance to figure out whether to kiss him back or perhaps push him away, because the kiss was over almost as quickly as it had started. I was short of breath, and I didn’t have a clue as to what to say to him, after what he just did. But he just put his arm around my shoulder, as if everything was as it used to be, and followed me home to Aphrodite’s cabin. He thanked me for a successful day of training and said goodbye, before turning to head over to the Ares cabin. I only managed to force out a “bye” and then I was more than happy to head inside my cabin, so I could try to figure out what the hell had happened. I mean, I had kissed several guys before, but Derek was certainly not one of them, despite what some of our fellow campers might - understandably enough - have chosen to believe.

Aileen had been lying on her bed, when I came in, and she looked up at me with a questioning expression on her face. “What’s wrong?” She asked the question with genuine interest. I sat down on her bunk, as she sat up to make space for me. There wasn’t exactly much privacy in these cabins, so I leaned in close to her and spoke in a low voice, “Derek just kissed me - out of nowhere. I don’t know what happened.” When I finished, she raised both her eyebrows and giggled. “Are you daft, girl? Derek has been interested in you since day one, on the beach. If I remember correctly, I already told you back then, that you had gotten yourself an admirer, didn’t I?” She rolled her eyes at me, as if the news about the kiss didn’t even come close to being a surprise. And it’s not like I had never thought about Derek in that way, either, I had generally just always seen him as a close friend, and I had always been under the impression that the feeling was mutual. But Aileen made It seem as if she had had a whole different experience, the whole time. “But, we’re just friends. Really.” I said, sort of hesitant. She nodded. “Sure you are, but friendships do often change over time, deary.” She winked at me, and I went to bed with her words ringing in my head. Was our friendship changing? Did I even want it to change? We worked so well as friends, what if that was all we were supposed to be to each other? And that was the thoughts that were running through my head that night, as I went to bed and tried desperately to sleep.

The following day, I didn’t see Derek at all. Probably my own fault, since I was kind of avoiding him, but he didn’t seem to seek me out either, so maybe it was a mutual avoiding of each other. But on the third day, I figured that I couldn’t keep avoiding him, and I decided that I would find him and just take it from there. But when I found him, he was playing volleyball with some of the other Ares guys. He spotted me, and yelled to the guys, that he would be right back. He ran over to me and pulled me in for a hug. “Hey beautiful. What’s up?” His voice was completely normal, as if the other day had only happened in my head. “Not much, I guess. But, uhm, I’ll just leave you to your game, then,” I said with a shrug, trying to act as normal as him. We said our goodbyes, and the following week or two went by all the same. I was actually starting to question whether the kiss had happened at all, since Derek conveyed nothing that as much as hinted to it.

Then, one night, after curfew, there was a knock on the door. I wasn’t sleeping yet, but some of my siblings were. One of them opened the door, and said it was for me. I raised my eyebrows, and walked over, just to see Derek standing outside. “What are you doing here at this hour?” I asked him, with my eyebrows still raised. “I’m kidnapping you. Put on some shoes.” He smiled his often-used mischievous smile. I shook my head, but thought ‘what the hell, why not?’. So I put some shoes on, and joined him in the dark outside. He put his arm around my shoulder, as he so often did, and lead me on a stroll through camp. “You do know, that the harpies will eat us if they catch us outside at this hour, right?” I asked him, trying to make him feel bad for risking our lives on one of his weird whims. He chuckled, and leaned in close to my ear. “Well, then I guess we better make sure they don’t catch us, huh?” I rolled my eyes. He was such a moron sometimes. “So where are you even taking me?” I asked him, curious as to what he had planned - if he even did have a plan, that is. “You’ll just have to follow me and see, princess.”

We ended up by the lake, and we sat down on the small bridge by it, our feet hanging out, and almost touching the water. It was quiet, with pretty much the only sound being a mild wind rustling through the leaves of the nearby trees. He still had his arm around my shoulder, and I leaned into him and put my head on his shoulder. We watched the moon come to its fullest and reflect in the lake. It was truly beautiful, and not a sight you got to behold very often. In my mind, I was debating whether to bring up the kiss that had happened between us some time ago. But before my mind reached a verdict, I heard the hissing and screeching of the harpies, not far from us. My eyes went completely wide, and I instantly sat up straight, and started to panic. This was all Derek’s fault! And obviously, he realised this as well, as he muttered, “Shit!” and grabbed my arm, as he scouted the area for a hiding place. He then cursed under his breath one more time, and whispered for me to follow his lead. He pulled me with him to the side of the small bridge, where he jumped down on the grass, and walked a bit forward, to where the grass met the water, and when there was finally enough space for us, he pulled me in under the bridge.

There was next to nothing in the way of space, but we crammed together with a tight grip on each other’s arms, as we tried to prepare for the worst. We heard the harpies close in, and I bit my lip so hard, I felt I might bite a hole in it. Then the screeching voice of one of the harpies sounded. “Maybe dinner for hungry harpies on beach!” and the others chimed in, as the sounds coming from them faded away, as they were obviously headed for the beach. We sat completely still for a while, listening for a sign of their return. When there wasn’t any, we were both able to breathe again. And that’s when I started to become aware of our situation and surroundings again. I felt my teeth chattering from the cold of the lake water at night, and Derek seemed to become aware of this as well. He started rubbing his hands up and down my arms, and repeated how sorry he was for the situation he had put us in. I couldn’t help but chuckle lightly. “Imbécile,” I whispered, but I wasn’t actually mad at him. My adrenaline was pumping, which made me feel a bit warmer, along with Derek’s attempt at warming me. His breath seemed to get stuck in his throat, and the moon’s reflection on the lake, which we could glimpse from under the bridge, made me able to see the expression on his face. But I wasn’t quite sure if I interpreted correctly.

My doubts went away immediately, though, when Derek put his hands on my lower back and pulled me even closer to him, closing whatever small space might have been between us. I felt his warm breath on my lips once, twice, and then he finally closed the tiny space between our lips, as well. This kiss wasn’t tender, like the one he had previously given me. It was more passionate and demanding - but in a great way. And this time it didn’t take me long to respond, either. I leaned further into him and started kissing him back. As our tongues heatedly started to play with each other, I ran my fingers up to his hair, and started running them through it. This only made him kiss me even more passionately, and I grabbed his hair instead, tugging it ever so slightly. A small moan escaped his mouth, and I smiled into the kiss. His mouth moved, trailing kisses from my jaw and down to the side of my neck. I let out a low gasp and moved my hands to his shoulders, trying to muster up the willpower to push him away. “We need. To. Get away.” I couldn’t even speak coherently. “They could. Come. Back.” I felt him nodding, as he moved his lips back up to mine. We kissed for a few seconds, before he finally let me push him away. “This isn’t over.” He bit his lip, and seeing him doing that made me copy it by biting my lip as well. He pushed past me, getting out first to check for any sign of the harpies returning. When there weren’t any, he extended me his hand so he could help me out as well. We snuck back to the cabins in our wet clothes, where Derek pulled me in for one last kiss in front of the Aphrodite cabin, before quietly, but hastily, sneaking over to the Ares cabin. I went inside, where no one appeared to be awake, so I made sure to make as little noise as possible. I then heard Aileen clear her throat, and saw that she had sat up, giving me a rather judgmental stare at the sight of my soaking clothes. I looked down, but couldn’t help smiling. She let out a muffled giggle, and I took of my clothes so I could change into my dry pyjamas. Then we both went to sleep without exchanging a word before the next morning.

We were approximately halfway through the summer, and the last half of it went by very quickly after that. Derek and I would hang out just as often as before, but now it wasn’t quite as innocent as then. We would have long-standing make-out-sessions on top of our usual activities, such as the regular training in the arena. But the summer came to an end, and I returned to France as per usual, without discussing what would happen between Derek and I in the future. We didn’t make any form of contact for the rest of the year, which really wasn’t unusual at all, since I pretty much never contacted anyone at camp, when I was back in France. I fell back into my regular routines, and didn’t actually give Derek much thought all year. In the weeks running up to summer and thereby camp the next year, I began thinking about him, though. I had had a boyfriend back in France, but I had broken up with him not long before. Partially because I was getting bored with him, but also partially because I didn’t know what might happen during the summer, and I didn’t want to be leading him on or risk cheating on him. I didn’t expect much from Derek, though, since I knew from experience, that he had a habit of pretending like nothing had happened. And as suspected, this was exactly how he handled my return to camp that year.

We went back to being friends, without speaking about the events of the year before, and we were both perfectly fine with that, I think. It wasn’t even all that weird. I mean, I’m not going to pretend that we didn’t at all drift apart, but we did still manage to stay friends. Maybe we weren’t exactly as close as before the events of that previous year, but we were friends nonetheless, and I was content with that. We both evolved as we grew older, and Derek turned into quite the player. He practically had half the girls at camp wrapped around his finger, as he turned into an even better looking young man, than he had been before. He exchanged girls every few weeks or so, and broke a fair amount of hearts. But I can’t exactly claim to be much better, since my path was very similar. I started to develop/realise my demigod abilities of manipulation. Like all the other children of Aphrodite, as well as some of Hecate’s children, I possessed the power of amokinesis, which is the ability to control the emotion of love or desire. Some of Aphrodite’s children also possessed the power of charmspeak, which is a type of hypnotism, where people will do anything on the charmspeaker’s command. I was in possession of this ability as well, although it wasn’t extremely powerful. I couldn’t always use it, and it did have its limits. It was still rather handy to have, though. And with the help of these powers I had had a vast number of admirers as well. Many more than Derek - not that I kept count. And it would be a lie to say that I didn’t enjoy the use of my powers. I loved the feeling of having people jumping through hoops for me, and I couldn’t help but take advantage of those powers on a rather regular basis, although I tried to limit it a bit, so I didn’t break all that many hearts. I wasn’t a cruel person, after all. But in truth I had made my way through quite a few guys over the years. Although that wasn’t uncommon for a child of Aphrodite. Or for Aphrodite herself, for that matter.

Derek cleared his throat, and I looked up at him, realising that I had been zoning out for a considerable amount of time. “So, clearly, you’re a bit preoccupied and maybe I should just find you some other time, so we can catch up properly,” he teased. I laughed, and nodded. “Yeah, I’ll see you around, Murphy,” I said with a smile. Good thing we could still be friends, after what had happened in our past. He turned his gaze to Aileen and Tara. “Keep up the good work, beauties. See you.” And with that, he walked away. I turned to my sisters and they were both looking at Derek as he walked away. Tara, who despite her sarcastic and sometimes downright icy exterior still wasn’t immune to attraction, lifted her sunglasses to get a clearer view of Derek’s ass, walking away. “I don’t mind if I do, damn that boy is fine,” she said, dragging out the word ‘fine’. We both laughed. “I think you’ve been spending too much time with Tyler, T,” I said, referring to her way of speaking. She sighed, as if that was really bothering her. “I know, it’s horrible.” Aileen and I both laughed, and when we stopped, Aileen spoke, meant for Tara. “Oh, but remember that Derek is Rosa’s - whether she will admit it or not!” The last part was mainly meant for me, obviously. I didn’t even bother to respond, but simply rolled by eyes. Tara had heard the story one of the previous years. “I mean, she doesn’t appear to want him, so surely I can have a piece of that ass.” We all chuckled because of the expression, and I then shrugged. “You know what? I’ve never quite managed to figure that boy out, so if you or anyone else manage to, please do let me know,” I shook my head, meaning what I said. I would be a bit uncomfortable with Tara dating - or whatever - Derek, but the essence of my words was genuine. Tara and Aileen both nodded. “Guys - can’t live with them, can’t live without them,” Aileen stated matter-of-factly. Tara chimed in with a “preach” and we all lied back down and continued our sunbathing. 

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