Chapter Twenty-Five: There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays

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I ate with Reagan, Alex, and Maggie at the table while everyone else ate on the couches. Lynn came with my trophy, and Laura proudly placed it on the counter for everyone to see.

"Guys, since it's vacation now, light's aren't out until twelve," Laura says, walking out of her room. "Have a party." We finished eating our chicken noodle soup and decided to play games on the Wii. We bowled and played baseball on the TV, then moved the couches to play a massive game of twister. At 11, we settled down and watched more of 'The Flash'. I was squished in between Mason and Reagan, and the three of us plus Sam were all sharing a blanket. Reagan was cuddled into Sam and I was lying on Mason's lap. I didn't fall asleep this time, and at midnight I woke Mason up to go to bed in his dorm. We had our usual routine of him bringing me up to my room and kissing me goodnight. Tonight I also had my trophy, and I set it on my desk with my ribbon, changed, and went to sleep.

~

I wake up at eight, two hours later than I normally wake up. Oh well. I change into black leggings, a white T-shirt, and a gray zip up sweater. I throw on my navy blue converse and I leave my long hair down today, as it has the perfect waves to it. I throw my glasses on, grab my phone, and head downstairs. Sam, Abby, Alex, Reese, Nate, El, and Dani are all downstairs, some eating, some watching TV, and Reese and Sam are playing air hockey. Alex, Abby, and El are all sitting on the couch, so I decide to join them. They're watching some weird show, so I focus on my phone. I get a text from Mom.

M~ Cameron, we're going to be at the academy at ten am tomorrow to bring you home for the holidays. You'll only be here for a week. You'll spend Christmas with us.

C~ Aw, okay

M~ OK be ready by then

C~ Okay I gotta go, talk to you tomorrow.

I'm happy that I get to see my family, as I left them all the way in Indianapolis. But I'll miss the snow free academy here in Frankfort. I sigh and notice Mason in the kitchen. I walk over to him and hug him, ready to break the bad news.

"What's wrong?" he asks, a concerned look on his face.

"I'm leaving for a week tomorrow," I say, sighing. "I have to go back to Indiana for Christmas."

"My parents are driving from South Carolina to pick me up on Wednesday," he says, frowning.

"Oh? Well, at least you can meet my parents," I say, smiling.

"Yes, true," he says. "Let's go on a trail ride."

~

We spend the day out on the trails and roaming the campus on horseback. At five, we head back to the dorm and settle down before dinner. We turn on a movie, The Maze Runner, and sit on the couch with everyone else. Laura orders us pizza for dinner.

At eleven, I'm utterly exhausted, so I walk upstairs, Mason following me. At my door, he stops me and pulls me into a warm hug. We stay like this for a while, until I'm almost asleep.

"I'm gonna miss you," he says.

"I'm not gone yet," I say as I yawn.

"No, you will be soon though," he says before he kisses me goodnight and heads back downstairs. I change into pajamas and slip into my bed, falling asleep instantly.

~

I wake up at eight again, so I pack up the things I need to go home. I throw my laptop, laptop charger, phone charger, and glasses into my backpack and throw my phone into my pocket. I walk down the stairs and place my backpack on the kitchen counter. Mason's making toast so I go over and hug him.

"I don't wanna go," I whine while hugging him.

"Go have fun with your family for a while," he says into my hair. "You haven't seen them for weeks."

"I know, but I love it here," I reply. I pull away and check my phone. 8:45. "I have an hour and fifteen minutes. I need to go say bye to Raquel."

"Okay, I'll be here."

I walk out to the barn to see Raquel. I give her two flakes of hay and I refill her water and notice that somebody leaned her trailer boots against her stall door. Hmm. I don't really think much of it and I go to take care of Flame. I'm sure that Callie will love to meet him, so I take my time brushing him. At 9:45, I go back to the dorm to say my dreaded good-byes.

I walk through the door and see Maggie, Alex, and Reagan sitting on the couch. We talk and I hug each of them. Soon after, I hear Michael yell "Cam, your parents are here!"

I groan, stand up, and head to the door. My dad is here with the truck, and the trailer's attached to it. What?

"Come on in, guys," I say to my family as they get out of the car. Callie runs up to me and hugs me. "Hey, Cal!"

I bring them inside and introduce them to everyone. Callie especially likes Alex, who is surprisingly good with kids. When my family meets Mason, he shakes their hands. To stop the awkwardness, I suggest we go to the barn.

With Mason at one side of me and Callie on the other, we go into the barn where Raquel is nervously whinnying as someone gets her trailer boots on.

"What's going on?" I ask, slightly panicked.

"We're bringing Raquel home for the holidays," Mom says. "She's never been separated you for more than a day, we don't know what would happen after a week."

"Oh," I say, relieved. "Callie, do you want to meet 'Dancing in a Ring of Fire'?"

"Woa, is he at this school?" she asks excitedly.

"I've been riding him for the past week," I say, bringing her to Flame's stall. "Meet Flame."

~

Callie pet Flame for a while before I had to pack Raquel into the trailer. After everyone's back in the truck, I stood outside with Mason.

"I still don't want to leave," I say as I hug him tight. He hugs me back and we stand there for a minute.

"I know, but you have to. Go enjoy the time with your family," Mason says breaking the hug, holding my arms just above the elbows. He leans down and kisses me. "I'll be here when you get back. Plus, you can just text me."

"Okay, bye," I say hesitantly as I step into the truck and get driven away.

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