Chapter 161

Vince did indeed have History of War next, though he wondered what he’d been thinking scheduling a class so far across campus with so little time to make the trip. He burst into the lecture hall, thankful the professor still seemed to be arranging notes on his desk. Professor Fletcher was an older teacher, and as such he’d taken tenure and said goodbye to much need for impressing people or punctuality. He was still a dynamite educator, passionately articulating stories of the ancient Greeks’ battle strategies, or dealing with more modern examples all the way through World War Two. He knew the little pieces of history that made it interesting, breathing life into what most students only ever saw as dead people and old stories.

A quick scan of the room revealed a familiar face, and Vince plopped into a seat next to Camille and pulled out his notebook.

“Made it by the skin of my teeth this time,” he whispered, feeling relieved that he didn’t have to do the walk of shame down the hall’s steps as Professor Fletcher lectured on. The man didn’t stop once he started, and it somehow made the awkwardness of coming in late even worse.

Camille didn’t immediately respond; instead she glanced at him, turned bright red, and found something very interesting on her paper to stare at. That was weird; why wasn’t she talking to him? The class hadn’t started yet, and Professor Fletcher wasn’t the kind of man who cared about people chatting before he began speaking.

Then Vince realized his error. He and Camille were friends in the dream, but in reality they only knew each other in a cursory fashion. They had several of the same friends, but rarely spoke to each other besides rapid greetings. Their social circles were like a Venn diagram, intersecting only in a relatively small portion. He’d always got the feeling she didn’t care much for him, actually, but he had no idea what he’d done to offend her. In fact, he didn’t even sit here in this class; usually he took notes up near Will.

A quick turn over his shoulder revealed his friend looking down at him, confusion evident on his face. Vince started to move, but of course Professor Fletcher chose that moment to begin his lecture. Easing back into his seat, Vince looked over at the girl once more, catching her eyes glancing at him from the supposedly safe corners of their sockets. They darted back to the paper immediately, and he didn’t suspect they’d be journeying in his direction again anytime soon.

As Professor Fletcher droned on, Vince found himself struck by the curiousness of Camille’s role in his dream. He’d cast the girl he barely knew as someone very close to him, one of his best friends. That seemed odd, given how little they’d ever interacted in the real world. Maybe he’d noticed her more than he realized. Or maybe it was just that his dream had been composed of such a large cast that he’d had to pull from all over to fill every role. He’d cast his father as the villain, for goodness sake. There was no sense in reading too far into it.

Class wrapped up fifty minutes later, the professor’s dismissal followed by a flurry of activity as students shoved papers and pens into their backpacks. Vince joined in, wondering how he was going to explain his odd gaffe to Will. If he leaned on the head injury explanation too many more times they were going to send him back to the hospital for additional testing. That would worry his father, plus he was reasonably sure it was a waste of time. Maybe he could tell Will that he’d been hitting on Camille. Nah, Will was too smart for that one.

Vince was so absorbed in thought that he almost didn’t hear the soft mutter that came from Camille’s lips. Looking over, he saw she was red again, and her eyes were facing straight forward. She wore a look of determination, and she hadn’t made any moves to put her pens or notebook away.

“I’m sorry, I don’t think I caught that,” Vince said politely.

“Eleven years,” Camille repeated, this time just barely loud enough to actually be heard. “Eleven years, and when you finally talk to me, all you say to me is some comment about almost being late to class.” She grabbed her supplies and jammed them into her bag; at least two pens and a sheet of paper were destroyed in the bout of furious packing. She stood up from her seat, though with her height it didn’t make much of a difference, and finally looked Vince in the eye.

“You’re an ass,” Camille spat, turning on her heels and rushing out before Vince could conjure any sort of reply. He merely stared, dumbfounded, as the small girl dashed up the stairs and ran out of the lecture hall.

“I see that legendary Reynolds charm is still as potent as always,” Will said from behind Vince, snapping him out of his stupor.

“I have no idea what I did to deserve that,” he said. He didn’t, either; neither in the dream world or this one could he remember an action that warranted such venom.

“Women, eh? Can’t live with them, and I don’t know how to cook.” Will smacked his friend on the shoulder and gave him a smile. “Come on, that was funny.”

“Huh? Uh, yeah, I guess it was.” Vince finally shook off the strange feeling he’d had since Camille’s tongue-lashing, scooping his own bag off the floor and standing from his chair.

“It still doesn’t explain why you sat there in the first place,” Will pointed out as the two began to ascend the stairs. “I know it’s been long enough since you and Sasha broke up to put yourself back out there, but maybe you should try someone a little more affable. And who doesn’t apparently hate your guts.”

“I wasn’t... yeah, maybe you’re right,” Vince agreed. Will had given him an out from admitting he didn’t mean to sit there in the first place. Vince might not be able to lie worth a damn, but he could certainly let someone else fill in the blanks for themselves. He was pretty sure that was morally tolerable, but admittedly not preferred. “I hope my next class goes quick. I cannot wait for this day to be over.”

“The gods listen for that sort of statement,” Will informed him. “Which means you’re in for a hell of a long day.”