Brandon felt a nudge on his bruised shoulder and opened his eyes to see Matt. "Watch the arm, please," he said, sitting up.
"Sorry, forgot," Matt said glancing towards Clare. "Think she's okay?" he asked, "Been sitting there for ages".
Brandon looked at her, and then back at Matt, "Excuse me?" He pulled himself up. "Think I might just keep her company for a while"
Clare looked fragile and shriveled as she rested. Should he disturb her? However, the crunching of the snow under his feet had already woken her.
He smiled weakly, "Morning"
She sat up, moving aside as if making room for him to sit, and perhaps that was what she wanted, for someone to sit next to her, and hold her. She had gone through her inner turmoil all alone through the night.
Brandon sat down, looking at her downcast face, the hand that was still holding John's wrist. He reached out and gently pulled her hand away. "That's enough, don't do this to yourself".
For a very brief moment, she looked up. Her lips quivering slightly as she battled to keep her composure.
"There was nothing we could have done for him", he said gently, still holding her hand as he spoke. "You're torturing yourself".
He wrapped an arm protectively around her shoulder. "It couldn't be helped, Clare." Clare suddenly tugged his jacket, pulling him closer, sobbing. Brandon watched her bury her face into his chest, and he couldn't help but become teary-eyed himself, guilt over-riding him. "We can't blame ourselves," he whispered hoarsely, almost to himself.
After a while, Clare turned to John's body and made a cross across her chest.
When she turned back to Brandon, he made a cross across his chest, very hastily. He flushed with embarrassment. She gave him a weak smile and rose up.
"Can I have the torch now?" he asked. "No windows inside the luggage hull, you know."
She reached into her jacket's pocket and retrieved the small torch. She apologized for her behaviour as she handed it over.
"You were right to stop me," he said, taking the torch from her. A slight hint of a smile on his lips. "Can I try and get us something to eat now?"
She nodded, pocketed her hands and walked towards the others.
"Right," he nodded and followed.
"You boys may need to give him a hand," Clare said approaching the two.
"No one need come," Brandon called back. "It's still just as risky what I'm about to do."
A short while later Matt approached Brandon who was struggling to climb up onto the side of the bus. His left arm hung across the front of his chest in a sling made out of a neck scarf.
"Need a hand?" he asked, choking back laughter, anchoring his hands underneath Brandon's foot.
"Wouldn't be a bad idea," Brandon huffed, heaving himself over the top.
While Brandon scouted the surface of the bus for a latch, Jack walked around the rear, near the fuel tank. "Dear God!"
Brandon snapped up immediately, "What?"
"Is the leak big?" Matt added nervously.
For a moment Jack stood horrified, his face drained of colour. He swallowed hard. His gaze riveted on the patch of snow near the back tyres.
"Jack!" Matt called.
"Blood!" Jack exclaimed.
"What?" Brandon asked, peering over the side. Near the rear wheels, he saw what Jack was looking at, blood red snow surrounding the underside. "Jesus!" he muttered.
YOU ARE READING
In Strange Company (**Complete**)Teen Fiction
Clare Peterson is rich, confident and beautiful, but even she knows money can't rescue her from her loneliness. As an unremarkable year draws to an end, she is shipped off to a ski trip in the company of strangers; her father's idea of love, but tor...