IT WAS ALMOST FOUR o'clock when they had to gather back at the clearing. Levi walked ahead of them, breaking anything in his way. With his raven hair and leather jacket he seemed very out of place among the rich hues around them. He reminded Ella somewhat of a tyfoon of destruction and she watched with amusement as he cursed under his breath every time a branch came near his face.
"You do remember nature is the reason we can breathe," Ella said.
He glanced back at her, his brown eyes catching the sun like liquid gold.
"Do you enjoy getting on my nerves?" he said.
"Immensely," Ella replied," I think it's the only thing that will get me through this camp."
Levi scowled at her, but before a chuckle could leave her lips Alex already spoke up.
"Don't scare her, Levi," Alex said as he walked behind her," don't worry, babe, I'll protect you."
"Thanks for the offer," Ella said," but I'll have to decline."
"You break my heart," Alex said, his voice laced with mock hurt.
Ella rolled her eyes good-naturedly. They stepped out in the clearing soon after, a small crowd already gathered. The clouds above them were a whirlwind of black and grey, though faint sunlight still managed to seep through it. It washed over the wooden house, where a group of teenagers was sitting, and spilled honey over the landscape, warmly highlighting the smiles.
Something she quickly noticed was how people stuck to them. Apparently Alex, Levi and Will were very popular, because as soon as they passed the trees, delinquents followed, laughing and walking with them every step of the way. All the attention seemed to be on their every move, like they were gods treading on mortal ground.
"Who's this?" a curly-haired girl asked accusingly as she looked at Ella.
"She's in our group,"Alex said as he slung an arm over her shoulder," aren't you, babe?"
Ella shook his arm off, but before she could reply, the girl was already screeching.
"What?" she said," how can she be?"
"That's unfair!" another one exclaimed.
"I wouldn't mind having her in my group," a red-haired boy smirked.
"Sorry boys," Alex grinned," but she's ours."
"Wouldn't be able to survive without her now," Will added with a sweet smile.
"I would," Levi muttered under his breath.
Ella had to resist the urge to elbow him in the ribs.
"I can't just accept this bitch being in your group," the curly-haired girl said.
"Take it up with Clarkson if you have a complaint," Ella said, her bored eyes already wandering towards the lunch supplies set out in front of the house.