Chapter Five

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The sizzling of the fire against wood sounded like music to my ears, and I found myself entranced by the gracious yet rapid dancing of the flames. My entire attention was grabbed by the small bonfire Elliot and Bella had created by the lake as we sat around it in a small comforting circle.

There was a slight chilly wind wooshing against us every now and then, causing the hairs on the back of my neck to stand on high alert, before the heat of the fire would calm them down and spread a warm sensation of comfort down my spine.

"I'm hungry," Bella complained for the 4th time in half an hour. Seth rolled his eyes and sighed loudly, fed up with her constant nagging.

"I said I'm on it, goddamit." He had brought his mini grilling tools and was grilling some burgers.

"Watch your tone, Cook." Elliot joked, a hint of a playful smile on his lips.

"Keep spreading the mayo, Johnson." Seth snapped back.

I chuckled and got up to offer a hand. Elliot was preparing the buns with sauces and veggies, and I rushed to help him while Seth focused on the patties.

"Here, let me help," I offered as I grabbed more buns and sliced them in half; then began spreading a combination of ketchup and mayonnaise.

"Hold the mayo on my sandwich, Princess." Noah commented from his seat, and added a slight shudder to accentuate his disgust at the thought of that condiment.

"Who said I'm making you anything? Get your ass up and prep your own sandwich." I sassed.

Seth let out a low whistle, glancing sideways at Noah. "I'd get some ice for that burn."

Noah rolled his eyes and got up from his seat, stalking towards Elliot and I. "What was that, Princess?" He whispered lowly, a warning behind his words.

"You heard me, Hulk."

He snorted. "I told you to find a better nickname." He reached out for a bun and began slicing it in half.

"Well, I told you to control your temper." I remarked.

"Stop it, both of you." Elliot rolled his eyes, grabbing a Coke and walking over to Bella.

I smirked, "yes, Dad."

He held back the smile creeping up his lips and just shook his head at my nickname for him.

"They're ready!" Seth announced, and as if on cue, my stomach let out a low growl and my mouth began to salivate just imagining taking my first bite of a warm, crispy-bunned hamburger.

"Finally!" Bella exclaimed.

Seth approached me with the plate of hot patties, and began helping me place them between the buns then watched as each piece melted the cheese below it.

"Got room for three more?" A sudden foreign voice came from behind us. We all turned around only for our eyes to widen simultaneously in shock and surprise.

The three strangers from earlier, the ones who stared us down rather creepily, were now approaching our small bonfire, wide and genuine smiles spread across their faces.

"Uhh.." Seth trailed off, not knowing how to respond.

"Sure thing." Ariel beamed.

Our heads snapped to Ariel, my eyes nearly bulging out of their sockets. She was brave to interfere. Noah will surely kill her for it once his protective instincts kick in.

"No, actually-" Noah began to rudely remark but was interrupted by Elliot.

"Sure." He stated in a deadpan.

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