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The next team challenge came and went, and I, once again, did not win.

Adriana did instead, striding to the finish line as if a pair of Louboutin heels were waiting for her on the other side.

Although she'll never know, her sudden victory was staged. This deep into the camp, I find no activity easier than a run down the beach, more familiar with this sand than the inside of the gym. Towards the middle of the race, I decreased my speed almost a full mile per hour and watched as trainee after trainee charged ahead of me, some even turning their heads around in confusion over my sloth-like pace.

But it was an experiment of sort—assuming that she was behind the notes—to test if finally shining the spotlight on her would calm the flames of her social fury. I'll only know if another one of those stupid fucking notes doesn't invade another private part of my room in a couple of days.

After an uneventful gym workout with Axel, I headed to the door to begin my typical evening routine. A hand on my shoulder halted my plans before I could even grip the door handle.

"Are you in a rush?" Axel asks.

I shake my head. "Not that I know of."

He nods. "Let's talk for a moment, then."

I look to the left and to the right, wondering what this "talk" will entail. No particular emotion washes over his face, which leaves me confused, until we start walking down the hallway towards the hidden staircase. I dart my eyes to the side of his face, but there's still nothing there, even as he leads me down the hall and stops in front of the door of the lounge.

"I don't want to be overheard," he says, holding the door open for me, "so I figured we'd talk here."

He closes the door, and I hear the click of a lock. I take a few steps into the frigid room, the air conditioning blasting more than usual, and wrap my arms around myself. Then, I stop in my tracks, noticing the hint of a smile playing on Axel's lips.

"It's nice in here," I comment. I glance at the abstract photographs mounted on the wall and pretend like I wasn't just here a few days ago. I turn around. "Can I sit down?"

"Sure," he says and crouches down by the mini fridge. He pulls out two water bottles and tilts his head to the side. "I'm always surprised by the number of trainees that never figure out there's even a second floor to this building. It looks like it's two stories, right?"

"Yeah, sure, I guess," I mumble and catch the bottle he throws my way. He didn't bring me up here to talk about architecture of all things, did he?

"Well, except you. Did seeing this place help you figure out we're kind of hypocrites? That cabinet is full of junk food." He lowers himself to the white armchair adjacent to the couch I'm sitting on, still keeping a straight face.

I pause mid gulp and force the rest of the water down. "I-I mean, not exactly. We only stole the drinks, to be clear."

"I'm just messing with you." He leans back into the cushion, legs wide apart. "I'm also now short a few bucks, since I made a bet that no one would figure it out this year."

"How many years have you been working here?"

"If I count this summer, four years. But it definitely doesn't feel like it."

That means at about my age, he was training other people here, not learning how to work out without collapsing a lung in the process. I find him somewhat admirable, or at least the initiative he had to begin a side job that ended up becoming a yearly gig.

"So," I say, pressing my hands into my gray-cotton clad thighs, "what did you bring me here to actually talk about, Axel?"

He pauses and takes a sip of water, gazing at me while drinking. I refocus my eyes on my shoes, feeling more apprehensive than usual. Then, he speaks.

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