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WHERE WE BELONG
By Melissa L. Webb
Dani stepped across the fallen branch and continued down the path. The shadows the trees cast gave her comfort as she eased into them. She would disappear for the night; that would teach them.
She stole a glance behind her as she made her way through the trees. They hadn’t even bothered to come looking for her. She was beginning to understand how little she did mean to them. “I hate them,” she muttered bitterly as she wiped the tears away. Why couldn’t they give her a break just this once?
More tears fell as she made her way deeper into the woods behind her house. Everything had become too much for her. It was bad enough Michael had broken up with her, but now she didn’t even know if she would graduate. What a great senior year this was turning out to be.
Her parents had seemed almost pleased about her failure. She was, after all, living down to their expectations. How could their stupid, worthless daughter ever make anything of herself anyway?
Dani knew she wasn’t destined for greatness, but did they have to remind her of it every chance they got? She leaned against a tree as a sob racked her body. It wasn’t fair. Why couldn’t she have been born someone else?
“Are you alright, Danielle?”
Her head snapped up at the sound of the voice. Her eyes locked with the greenest eyes she had ever seen. “Who are you?” she asked the owner of the eyes.
The young man came closer, shaking the blond bangs out of his eyes. “I’m Gabriel and I have been waiting from you.”
She leaned back from the tree and looked around at the dying light. Maybe coming out here was a mistake. She was really far from her house.
“It’s okay,” Gabriel said and stepped closer still. “I mean you no harm.”
Dani watched the sincerity dance through his eyes and felt herself relax. As her eyes wandered over the smiling young man, her curiosity grew. “How do you know my name?”
He chuckled slightly. “I told you. I’ve been waiting for you.”
She didn’t know why anyone would be waiting for her, but felt herself smile anyway. “Why me?”
His eyes lit up as he took her arm. “Because your coming has been foretold.” He pulled her gently forward. “Come with me. I have something I want to show you.”
She knew she shouldn’t go, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. There was something about this guy she couldn’t say no to. She followed quietly as he led her down a trail and past a pair of giant trees. She stepped through and blinked at the sight in front of her.
Gabriel had led her into some kind of camp. A bonfire burned brightly in the middle, while large white tents circled the outside. People moved about, tending to various things.
“Ah, here we are,” he said through a smile as he looked around.
“What is this place?” she asked, her eyes wide as she took in everything around her.
He laughed, delighted at the wonder in her eyes. “This is just our camp for tonight.”
She turned and looked at him. “I don’t understand. Who are you? What is all of this?”
He smiled as he took her hand. “All in good time, Danielle. For now, trust you are among friends,” he told her as he led her forward through the throng of people.
A girl came up to them as they approached and bowed slightly. “My lady,” she spoke to Dani. “You must be thirsty.” She pressed a silver goblet into her hands.
“Thank you, Eve,” Gabriel said and smiled at her.
She bowed again and hurried away.
Dani watched her disappear into a tent. “What was that about?” she asked as she stared down at the goblet.
“They just want to take care of you,” he told her as he led her to two high back chairs in front of the roaring fire. “It’s what they do.” He motioned to the chairs. “Will you join me?”
She looked at the chairs before her. Who were these people and what were they doing out here? She glanced back at Gabriel to voice her questions once more, but when she saw the look in his eyes, her words died on her lips.
He was looking at her so adoringly, as if she was the only one in his world. Her worries seemed to instantly drain from her. This was what she had always wanted; to feel special. For once, she felt like she mattered. Nodding, she took the second seat. “Of course.”
He smiled as he sat. “Thank you, Danielle.” He turned and looked at the people moving around the camp. “Let the Feast begin,” he called out into the night air.
Dani watched in amazement as a celebration broke out around her. Music filled the air, soft and lilting, as people began to dance. They floated across the clearing, eerily graceful in the growing moonlight. She watched as the movement seemed to steal her breath. She had never seen anything as beautiful as what she was witnessing now.
“Would you like to join them?” Gabriel asked, seeing the joy that the dancing stirred in her.
She tore her eyes away from them and shook her head sadly. “No. I can’t dance. I’d only make a fool of myself out there.”
“Nonsense,” he told her as he took her goblet and sat it on a tray filled with food. “You can do anything in my arms.” He gracefully led her past the fire and into the group of people.
Dani followed him across the grass. Her feet seemed to mirror his perfectly. She felt as if she was floating, her body gracefully moving with his. She looked around her, stunned. She was dancing. She was now part of that beautiful sight she had witnessed moments before.
“I told you,” Gabriel whispered as he pulled her closer to him.
She closed her eyes as she whirled to the music. This was extraordinary. She had never felt so relaxed before, so free. Nothing else mattered in this moment, only the sway of the music and the feel of Gabriel’s arms around her. She was everything she wanted to be here. This was where she belonged. They danced together, their bodies forgetting time until the morning light began to crawl through the trees.
The girl who had brought the silver goblet stepped up next to them and looked at Gabriel. “I’m sorry, your highness, but we have to go. The door will be closed soon.”
He nodded to her. “Thank you, Eve. Get the others through.”
She quickly left, the other dancers following behind her.
Dani looked at him, confusion plain on her face. “What door?”
“The door between your world and mine.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
Gabriel took her hand. “I’m not from your world, Danielle. None of us are.”
She looked at him in shock. “Who are you?”
“Somebody who has waited a long time for you,” he told her with a smile. “Come with me. I’ll give you everything you could ever want.” He pulled her closer. “I can’t spend one more minute without you, not when I have finally found you.”
Dani couldn’t believe her ears. He wanted her? She felt joy fluttering inside her chest. She was special after all. No longer would she have to suffer as this world’s whipping girl. “Yes, Gabriel, I’ll go with you.”
His eyes lit up instantly as he pulled her into his arms. “Thank you, Danielle. You are all I’ll ever need.” He let go of her and took her hand. “Follow me to your rightful home. You’ll be happy there, I promise you.”
Giggling at the warmth in her heart, Dani followed him home to the place where they both belonged.
© 2011 Melissa L. Webb
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