On my way to breakfast, Esther stopped me in the hall.
“Cassie, you are doing a great job,” she complimented me, smiling. Her attitude towards me had done a complete flip from the previous day.
“Thank you,” I said cautiously. Esther did not seem to notice as she greeted a few of the students heading to the dining room.
Turning back to me, she asked, “I don’t want to overwork you, but I wanted to know if you would be willing to open the library after dinner for an hour or two?” Before I could reply, she continued, “We’re headed towards the end of the semester, which means midterms and papers.”
I nodded, understanding the request, “Of course, I can do that.”
“Wonderful!” she exclaimed before turning and rushing off to the dining room. I followed a little slower.
Caden sat at one end of the teacher’s table with an empty chair next to him. I smiled at him as I sat down. He flashed me a wink before turning back to his conversation with Paul.
Just as breakfast started, Esther stood and motioned for quiet. Then she announced, “As we approach the end of the semester, many of you have papers due and midterms. To help with this, Ms. Delfian has agreed to open the library for a limited time after dinner each evening.” The students did not exactly clap but they didn’t boo either. The normal noise of chatter returned when Esther sat after her announcement.
“Did you know about this?” Caden questioned.
I smiled, “Yeah, Esther stopped me before breakfast and asked me to do it.”
Before we could say more, Rose approached to ask Caden about combining classes for a chemistry lesson that would discuss Antoine Lavoisier. They were still discussing details when I left to open the library.
As the days progressed, I saw Caden less and less. At first, he would come, wait for me to close, and then walk me to my room. Then he started having students asking for help with their studying or papers. With the time he gave them, he stopped being able to come to walk me to my room. When this happened he would stop by just before lights out to say goodnight.
Then one night, tired from the day, I had laid down to wait for Caden and fell asleep. The next morning I found a note under my cellphone.
“Sleeping Beauty,” it read, “this extra work is obviously tiring you out and even though I love seeing you before bed, I’ll stop. This way you can come back and go straight to sleep instead of falling asleep in your clothes.” He signed it, “Prince Charming.”
I laughed at the signature and decided to tell him to please keep visiting as I looked forward to them. Yet the best intentions tend to go astray. I had thought to tell him at breakfast but Rose and Hunter kept him busy with talk about joint classes. I had no chance to say anything to him before I had to open the library.
The day passed so fast, I forgot to say anything at dinner. Then of course he did not stop by that night. After that, he was too busy with his duties for me to talk to for any significant time, and then I forgot altogether.
Then came the full moon. I took my time locking up the library, not wanting to go up to my room for such a short amount of time. Twenty minutes to the time, I finished up and walked to the front hall. Cloud coverage blocked the moon and kept the castle painting looking normal. Not too long later, I heard Caden talking as he walked down the stairs with one of his students. He smiled at me but kept his attention on the student. This night we only had a few students join us. We chose to stay inside as the nights were getting cold. Instead, we searched the dining room.
As usual, after an hour, Caden and I separately escorted the students back to their rooms. Then I returned to mine. I laid down attempting to go to sleep, but the door at the top of the stairs seemed to call my name. I stood and paced my room a few times before giving in. Slipping on slippers and my robe, I sneaked out of my room and up the stairs.
As soon as I saw the door, I didn’t stop to stare. I just walked quickly forward and grabbed the handle and pushed. The door opened easily and quietly. Hearing footsteps coming up the stairs, I quickly slipped inside, closing the door behind me.