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Welcome to Shady Side pt 5 - Game Over

Posted on Mon May 11th, 2015 @ 12:02pm by Unawakened Melissa Wilson

Mission: Pre-Awakening
Location: Tim's house, Shady Side

Melissa sat silent and still in Deo’s car, unsure of what to say or do. To say she was terrified was an understatement.

She still wasn’t entirely sure how happy she was about her cousin Deo talking to Tim. She wasn’t entirely sure how happy she was about anyone even KNOWING about Tim. She felt bad about what happened, guilt eating at her and driving her crazy. The guilt was less, admittedly, after Jeff spread rumours all through the school about how she was a filthy, cheating whore.

Not that those rumours weren’t true. She sighed inwardly. What had she been thinking?

She hadn’t. That was the problem in a nutshell.

Catching a glimpse of herself in the side mirror made Melissa sigh again. Her hair seemed even more streaked with white - something Kyle swore he hadn’t done. Her skin felt oily, and she lamented the two new pimples that had shown up on her forehead overnight. Her bangs covered them... more or less. Even her clothes felt like they didn’t fit right. Her jeans felt too tight, her shirt too loose. It felt almost like she didn’t even fit into her own skin properly!

Just one more thing about herself to hate.

“You changed your hair since yesterday?” Deo glanced over while taking a turn.

“No.” Melissa said. It seemed clear that she didn’t want to talk about it, and the subject made her uneasy. She stared out the side window in silence.

Deo took the hint and finished the drive in silence. It seemed strange to reach the address so quickly. Deo grew up on a ranch in the boonies but compared to Newport News, Shady Side was a hamlet. A picturesque little hamlet but little nonetheless. He drew to a stop and keyed off the engine. He turned to Melissa, “I don’t like this any more than you but I can’t let you be alone with him. I’ll give as much privacy as I can, I promise. I brought my iPad and ear buds to drown out what you’re talking about.”

Melissa looked back and nodded simply. “Thanks.”

Deo nodded, smiling before he climbed out, “Nice place.”

She opened the door quietly and stepped out. It was a beautiful day outside, warm and sunny, with the ocean’s breeze blowing softly, the air carrying its salty tang. She took a deep breath as she looked at Tim’s house. It was larger than she’d expected, set beside the shore and built in a stylish, somewhat modern look. The walls were a combination of white stone and glass, with a small covered porch at the front that displayed tall, white columns. Above the porch, a black, wrought-iron balcony looked out toward the road. The second floor looked smaller than the first, but no less impressive from the outside.

Taking another deep breath, she gathered her courage and walked toward the door. Her feet dragged, her steps slow. Courage wasn’t what it used to be.

Her shoes clicked on the stone walkway. She couldn’t help but notice the change in the sound as she moved off the walkway and on to the cement porch. She swallowed nervously, glancing once back at Deo before, in a burst of bravery, she reached out and pressed the doorbell.

Deo got his things from the back seat and followed his younger cousin up the walk. I occurred to him in hindsight that dressing for the weather might not have been the wisest move. He wore a fitted tank top, jeans, and his climbing boots. Ordinarily, this would be fine. He saw Kyle dressed similarly earlier but Deo’s tattoos were clearly visible and people in small towns tended to act weird around people with tattoos.

Ah, the gifts of his goth phase kept on giving. Meanwhile he hung back, his weight shifted to one leg, his sunglasses providing blessed relief from the bright glare. This was Melissa’s show so he let her take the lead. At least as much as he could. This still seemed like one of his crazier ideas but it was too late to back out now.

Panic took over. Tim was inside the house. The last time she’d seen him, he’d gotten beaten up, because of her. What did he look like now? Did Jeff leave bruises? Did Tim resent her? Was that whole ‘I love you’ speech that Deo had gotten instead of her part of some plan for revenge, to get back at the girl who’d been stupid enough to get him hurt?

She backed away from the door, turning around and walking toward the car again. “Ok, let’s go. Can we go? I want to go.”

“Wait a second,” Deo urged. “You said he was on dialysis. He might not be able to come to the door.” He stepped up and knocked, this time loudly.

“No... I d-don’t... want...” Melissa trembled, her eyes wide and fearful. “I-I can’t... Please, let’s go...”

“Are you sure,” Deo fixed her with a questioning look. “You might not get another chance for a while.”

Yield to temptation! One of his t-shirts back home said, It might never come your way again!

Sure, Deo, this is a brilliant idea.

Before she could say another word, the door slowly opened. Melissa turned around. Tim stood in the doorway, tall and pale, smiling very happily. He seemed to have dressed up for their visit, wearing a very nice dark red dress shirt and black trousers, pressed and stylish. His dark hair was tidy, not a single one out of place, and his teeth seemed to gleam in the morning light. “Hi. I’m glad you came.”

Melissa gave a weak, nervous smile back. He looked amazing. She could see some bruising around his cheek, but he seemed to have covered it up. She wondered if Tara had helped him with that. She was secretly glad of that. If she had seen the bruise more clearly, she wasn’t sure she could have handled the guilt.

“Hi.” She said softly.

Tim smiled at her shyly for a moment longer, then turned to Deo. He extended a hand. “Good morning. You must be Melissa’s cousin. I’m Tim Lafontaine... otherwise known as Ankhramesses.” He smirked, a strangely humble and self-deprecating expression.

“Tim, hi,” Devon took in the handsome youth before him with a bright smile of greeting. He took the hand for a firm but careful shake, “Call me Deo.”

“Good to meet you in person.” Tim said confidently, returning the firm handshake. “You know, when you’re not looking like my girl.”

Melissa smiled shyly, but slightly awkwardly, unsure of how, exactly, to respond to that.

“Heh, well, that’s never happening again. I learned my lesson,” Deo peered playfully at Melissa. “She can be mean when she’s riled.”

Melissa’s cheeks flushed darkly, her eyes widening and flashing a pained look at Deo.

Tim chuckled, opening the door wider and gesturing for them both to come inside. “Good to know.”

“I am not.” Melissa said, very quietly and somewhat hurt.

“Melissa, I’m playing,” Deo gave her a reassuring shoulder hug before letting her go inside. “You’re endgame level in WoM. You have to be mean to reach that level with an assassin.”

“Neferu is about as badass as they get.” Tim grinned proudly. “Gorgeous and deadly.”

Melissa blushed.

“Yeah, well, she looks really uncomfortable and I’m not helping.” Deo sighed, “Sorry to be a dick, Tim but her parents could have me charged with kidnapping. I have to play ‘responsible adult’ while we’re here. I have to stay close by and I can’t allow closed doors but I brought music and stuff to do so I can give you privacy. You said your parents were due back around noon?”

Tim nodded. “Don’t worry, we’ll be good.”

Melissa, for her part, was secretly happy that Deo was going to stay nearby. The idea of being alone with Tim again scared her a little bit, especially given what had happened last time. She had little doubt Jeff wasn’t going to pop by again, but on the beach, she’d lost control of herself, kissed him when she should have known better than to do that. Losing control was what caused everything. She was afraid of that happening again.

The trio walked into the house, finding themselves in a large family room. Despite the summer weather, there was a fresh, wood fire burning in the brick fireplace, with a warm looking rug made out of some sort of large, dark-furred animal. The kitchen was off to the left, hidden behind a wall with a large passthrough window, and there was a very formal-looking dining room in a barely visible corner beside the kitchen. To the right, stairs led up and down, and there was a small hallway that led to a room at the very end. From the decoration on the door, that room appeared to be Tim’s. Ahead of them, glass walls looked out on the ocean, which crashed against a stone retaining wall, spraying it’s salty wetness against a stony beach.

“Your house is really nice.” Melissa said quietly.

“Thanks.” Tim smiled. “So.... no doors. If you want, Deo, we could stay in here, if you’d like to sit on the patio.” He gestured outside, to a trio of lounge chairs. “Or, you could stay here while we sat out there. Or, we could go to my room, just down there.” He pointed down the hall. “You’re the responsible adult, Deo... what works for you?”

Deo felt a rush of suspicion. Tim, a teenage boy acted way too nice and accommodating. Did he realize that this was the best he was going to get and best to play nice? Possibly but Deo could not forget his cunning teen schemes. Sure, he could not sneak out of the house to save his life, so he arranged to stay over at Liv’s where Chuck and Sandy gave them practically free reign save to stay out late on school nights. Finally, the Greek boy decided it was not his business to pry too deeply into the affairs of these kids. Melissa seemed nervous to be around Tim and so Deo chose to set stricter ground rules. Beyond that he could not and would not hold her hand.

“I’m good with your talking in here,” He decided. “I can give you more privacy on the porch. Melissa, are you good with this?”

Melissa hesitated a moment, and then nodded. “It’s ok.”

Tim placed an arm around Melissa’s shoulders. “Thanks, Deo.”

“Thank me after we’re home and safe,” The college boy laughed and made his way out. He did not like how the windows were tinted. He could make out shapes inside but no details. He considered aborting until he clearly heard voices. He opted to give them privacy as much as possible but given how upset Melissa seemed he paid closer attention than perhaps he should. He vowed privately to keep what he heard to himself but he truly felt responsible for his young cousin. He chatted in IM with Bobbie, Liv, and Harvey but kept his keen ears on the conversation going on inside.

Once they were alone, Melissa turned to Tim. “I, uh... I read the logs.”

Tim’s expression grew less confident, but he nodded and sat down on the skin rug. “I thought you probably would.”

“I mean, I didn’t read them in DEPTH... Deo was in the room. He’s... he’s staying in my room this week, while he’s visiting. I didn’t know until yesterday when they got here. I, um... I doubt I can play for a while”

“That sucks.”

“Yeah.” Melissa sighed, lowering herself to the rug. She put a bit of distance between herself and Tim, but not so much, she hoped, that would let him know just how uneasy she was feeling about this meeting.

“I’ll miss you.” Tim said softly, sliding closer.

She gave a soft smile. “It’s... It’s just for a week. Then I’ll be back.”

“So... if you read the logs... you know what I said. First. Before talking to your cousin.” Tim said quietly, reaching out to take her hand. “I hope you’re ok with me telling him what happened.”

Melissa shrugged, but said nothing.

“Tara told me how hard it was. What Jeff said. Melissa... I’m sorry. I hope you know that I never meant to cause you so much trouble.” Tim said softly, his dark eyes tender and worried.

“You don’t have to be sorry.” Melissa said quietly, petting the dark fur idly.

Tim slid closer. “I might not have to be, but I am. Melissa... I knew what I wanted to happen when I invited you to the beach. It didn’t involve Jeff or your Aunt Tina, but before that? Best time of my life. You’re an amazing woman, you know that, right?”

Melissa looked up, finding herself staring into Tim’s dark eyes. Her fears seemed to melt away like a block of ice in an oven. She could feel the ice of her fear warming as she stared into Tim’s eyes, that strange, warm, stirring feeling inside her quickening her breathing as she looked at him... at his lips...

Before she knew what was happening, their lips met again, magical and passionate. Tim’s hand found Melissa’s soft hair, settling at the back of her neck as he pulled her lips to his. She felt her will dissolving away, the feel of his lips, the scent of his skin the only things she needed.

A voice in her head cut through all of that. No!

Melissa pushed back, eyes wide and her heart beating fast. Tim blinked in surprise. “I... I-I... I can’t.”

“Why?” Tim asked, confused.

“I... “ Melissa stammered. How could she explain emotions and thoughts she barely completely understood herself? “I just... I can’t.”

“Did I do something wrong?” Tim asked, looking like a kicked puppy, sad and confused. “Was it... not good?”

Too good Melissa sighed inwardly. So incredibly good that I can’t handle it “No... no, it’s not that.” She shook her head. “It’s... this... it’s just...”

“Too fast?” Tim offered.

Melissa grabbed on to that. That seemed like a good excuse. She nodded.

“We can slow this down if you want.” Tim offered, looking a little less abused-puppyish. “Take things at whatever pace you want. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. If the rumours Jeff spread are upsetting you, I get that. They aren’t true, though. You’re not what he said you are.”

Aren’t I? She sighed, looking down at the rug again. The rug was a safer place to look. At least she could control herself with the rug. “Slow... I just... I need some time.”

Tim nodded sadly. “Any time you need. I’m not going anywhere.”

“I... I’ll still play. After Deo goes home.” Melissa offered. “We can still talk, and play, like before. I... I like you... I just...” She sighed softly. Words were hard.

“You just can’t do this right now, because of what happened with Jeff, and the rumours.” Tim said sadly. “I get it.”

Melissa was silent for a long moment, feeling horrible about herself and the decision she had just made. It was the right one, wasn’t it? She wasn’t even sure that she knew that much. “It’s my fault. What happened. Jeff... you getting hurt... I... I shouldn’t have gone. To the beach. To you. I... I...”

“No.” Tim shook his head, reaching out to take her hands in his. “Melissa... no. Don’t blame yourself for that, please. If anyone is to blame, it’s me. The necklace I gave you... each piece of it that I made... you don’t think that was my way of telling you that I loved you more than that asshole, Jeff? I do. I still do. I wanted you to love me back. Still do for that, too, even if that might not happen anymore. I sent you those things because I wanted to make you happy. I invited you to the beach, because beaches are supposed to be romantic. The food I brought... I googled everything I could on how to be romantic, because I wanted it to be perfect. All of it. You deserve nothing less than perfect, Melissa. Please, never forget that. I wanted to give you a perfect, romantic moment, because I wanted you to want to be with me more than Jeff. Maybe I shouldn’t have been competing, but... if you need to blame someone for what happened, for Jeff finding us and getting mad? Don’t blame yourself. Blame me.”

Melissa sighed softly, staring at the carpet. His plan had worked.

“Or blame Jeff.” Tim offered a moment later. “Yeah, that’s better. Let’s blame Jeff.”

Melissa smiled at that, giving a small huff of laughter. Tim gently put a finger under her chin, lifting her face towards his. “Whatever you need to be happy, Melissa. I’ll still be on Worlds of Myth, and I’ll still be here if you change your mind.”

She could feel tears welling up in her eyes, though she tried to fight them back. He stood, offering her a hand to help her up. She took it, standing, and gratefully accepted when he pulled her into a tight hug. In his arms, she felt safe, secure, protected... like Jeff and his stupid rumour couldn’t hurt her here. It didn’t help that Tim smelled amazing, clean and fresh with the faint scent of lavender laundry detergent mixing with his subtle musk. She closed her eyes, savouring the feel, the scent of him, the security. The love.

And then they were gone. Tim’s arms drew away, and he turned his head. One hand raised toward his face, and, as much as he tried to hide it, Melissa got the impression that he was wiping away a tear.

She didn’t think she’d ever felt worse.

“Ankhramesses?” Melissa said softly, her voice small and timid.

“Yeah?” He looked back. As she’d suspected, his eyes were a bit red, his eyelashes wet.

“I... I think I... I love you, too. I just... I can’t right now.”

Tim nodded. “Thank you.” His voice was little more than a pained whisper. “T-take your time, okay? I’ll be online. We can talk more there. Will you have any time to be on this week?”

“I... I don’t know.” Melissa confessed, her own voice a pained whisper, too. “I doubt it, but, I’ll try. I can... I can maybe sneak Lisa’s laptop after she goes to sleep, sometime, but, I don’t know if I can.” The thought of what Lisa would do to her if she even thought about touching her laptop was fairly intimidating on its own. Besides, given that it was Lisa’s, she suspected she wouldn’t really want to touch it to begin with.

Tim nodded. “I’ll stay up, just in case.”

Melissa gave a small smile as she nodded back. After a moment’s awkward silence, she moved toward the open sliding door, through which Deo waited. At the edge, she turned back to Tim. “I am sorry. For... for today, and the beach.”

Tim shook his head. “Don’t be. I never will be.”

Melissa hung her head and poked it out of the door. “Deo.”

The Greek boy took a deep breath to compose his thoughts. He eavesdropped but this time it was something he could and would keep to himself. He wanted to take his cousin in a warm hug and help her work through things with Tim but right or wrong, unless she asked for help, it was none of his business. He put he logged off from chat and put his things in his backpack.

“Ready to go so soon,” he stood. “I thought I was going to have to set the clock for a fast getaway. Ready to go?”

Melissa nodded sadly, a sense of urgency in her expression.

Deo paused for a moment, wondering if perhaps he should say goodbye to Tim but no, he figured the kid took as much as he could handle. The Greek boy led his cousin to the car and waited for her to climb in. Once she was buckled they were off.

“Things were pretty quiet,” Deo looked at her a moment. “Everything okay?”

Melissa responded by bursting into tears, burying her face in her hands.

“Whoa,” The college boy cringed inwardly. Did he set off the water works? The good thing about small towns was relatively light traffic and plenty of space to pull off the road. He saw a good place under some trees, away from clear view of the road. He drew his car to a stop, unbuckled, and drew Melissa as much into a hug as a car allowed.

The last time a woman wept like this Angel had just dumped Liv during their freshman year. Deo did not know any more now as then as to how to handle a weeping female. He only knew they were fickle, dangerous creatures that tended to bite when he least expected it. He opted to stay quiet and lend his pretty cousin strength and support.

She sobbed softly for quite some time, appreciative of Deo’s embrace - awkward as it was in a car. “I’m the worst person ever.” She mumbled, barely audibly, in to Deo’s shoulder between sobs.

“Why do you say that,” he rested his cheek on her hair comfortingly. It was hard not to in their position but he thought about what he might do for Liv or what Bobbie might have done for him. “I’m here to listen if you want. I’m not going to tell anybody.”

“I... I don’t know.” She shook her head. “I just... hurt him. Again. Before, and now again. And Jeff. I’m the worst person ever.” Her sobs grew more intense.

“I’m sorry, Melissa, but all I know about what happened is what I read in the chat and what you’ve told me. If that’s it then the only thing you did was spend time with Tim while you were still going out with Jeff. You’re not responsible for how Jeff chose to behave. He decided to beat Tim up. He decided to start nasty rumors. He’s an asshole and a bully. As for Tim, I don’t know how you’ve hurt him. He is absolutely stuck on you, hon.”

“H-he... d-deserves.... beterrr-rr-rrrr!!!” Melissa wailed.

“Come on, talk to me, why do you believe that?” Deo’s voice fell soft and kind.

“They a-all say I’m a...a... a cheating whooooore!” Melissa wailed. “I cheated o-on Jeff! Th-the whole ti-time, I-I wished... I... I wi-wished h-he was Ankhramesses, b-but, n-no one e-else wanted me.” Melissa sobbed. “Tim got h-hurt b-be-because I-I didn’t t-tell Jeff. B-because... because I k-k-kissed h-him, and he sawwww.”

Deo hugged her tighter, offering his best to give her love and support. “That was pretty irresponsible, I’ll admit. Did you lead them on intentionally?”

Melissa shook her head.

“Accidents happen, Melissa,” He drew back enough to look into her eyes. He smiled gently, “What matters is how you deal with them. You mentioned apologizing to Jeff. He doesn’t deserve it but it’s not for him--it’s for you. You need to get your self-respect back. Am I wrong?”

She shrugged. Truthfully, she wasn’t entirely sure she had much of that to begin with.

Deo drew down to stare into her gaze. “You thought Jeff was Ankhramesses and when you found out the truth, you were afraid nobody else would want you. So, you settled,” he paused to think, “Then Ankhramesses proved not only to be real but he lived right here in town. He told you how he felt and you set up a meeting. I bet you wanted to make sure he was for real and when he was, oh, my god brains shot out the ears,” he arched an inquisitive eyebrow, “How close am I?”

She bit her lip gently. “I... still have my brains.” She protested feebly.

“Don’t feel bad, it happens to all of us,” Deo offered a reassuring smile. “Melissa, there is nothing wrong in wanting to make sure something is real before you commit to anything. That’s responsible. Where you went wrong was in settling for Jeff.” He sat back in his seat and held her hand comfortingly. “Melissa, I know how it feels to think nobody wants you. I went through it for years. I was broken. I couldn’t stand to have any man touch me. Who could possibly want me when there was better out there? I believed it until Bobbie. I’m still pinching myself. I still wake up afraid that it was all a big mistake or a dream. I don’t know why but Bobbie has been patient and understanding. I gave him a chance and I never regretted it. Maybe you can do that with Tim, I don’t know.. Only you can know that. Take your time. Get to know how you really feel. Talk to somebody you trust. You’re not as alone as you think you are.”

“I don’t know why you’d think no one would like you.” Melissa said quietly. “You’re nice.”

“I can say the same about you,” Deo brushed a lock of hair from his cousin’s face to better see her eyes. “You’re a good person, Melissa. You’re still young and figuring out how all of these feelings work. It’s a normal part of life. You have to stumble a few times before you can walk. Believe it or not, everyone in your school is going through the same exact thing. Why else do you think they spread rumors? They’re keeping the attention off them.”

“I’m not sure why the attention can’t just be on the people who LIKE attention, though.” Melissa sighed wiping away the last of her earlier tears. “Some of them do things that are much worse than what I did, they even admit it, but they don’t get treated like I did. They don’t have the whole school hate them, or have groups of guys try to push them to... y’know...” Melissa sighed again. “Why is it that some girls can get away with doing anything they want, horrible girls who treat people like me like crap if they even notice me at all, but the minute I do something that I shouldn’t with a boy I like, he ends up hurt, everyone knows about it, and boys I’d never ever talk to are leering at me and asking me to do things to them.” She shook her head. “It isn’t fair.”

"You're right, it isn't fair," Deo gave a nod in agreement. "Life isn't fair. I wish I had some wisdom to pass on like Tina but the truth is that I'm only two years older than you. I can tell you how I handled it. Maybe it'll help."

Melissa tilted her head quizzically. “Not sure if it will help, if you’re flat out admitting that life isn’t fair.” She sighed. “But, sure.”

"Next year you won't know these people. What they say or think won't matter. Actually, it doesn't matter now. It's your life, Melissa. The only opinion that matters is yours. You can care about what your family thinks. Sure, that's only natural. You can have friends you trust to steer you right. It's only natural to care about how they feel. The rest don't matter." Deo shrugged. "If people I don't know want to waste time with rumors, let them. I have better things to do with my time. The people who matter know better. The people worth knowing will ask. The others aren't worth my time."

She was silent for a long moment as she considered what Deo said. Could it really be as simple as that? Ignore what people said, and just face the questions she might get from people, like Kyle, who had her best interests at heart? The popular girls that had rumours like this about them didn’t seem to care, and that went along with what Deo was saying... “But, if I don’t care, if I ignore it, the boys are still going to come up to me like they were this week, trying to get me to do things to them. I don’t want that. Not caring what other people think isn’t going to change what they do, and how that affects me. Besides, Mom always says that a woman’s reputation is important, and that we have to watch what we do or put online, because that lasts forever. What if one of those jerks puts something like that online about me, and, ten years down the road, someone finds it, and it becomes a big deal? I mean... who knows what they’ll do?”

Deo listened carefully and thought back a few months to when he felt ravenous and sick. Trying to give Melissa sound advice when he was only two years older felt a bit like that. He took a deep breath and nodded.

“Your actions matter,” He ventured carefully. “You can’t control what others do and say. They’re going to do that no matter what you do. So, it’s best to lead your life without regrets. Don’t do anything you’ll look back on later and say, ‘oh, god, I really did that?’ That said, it’s going to happen. It’s called being young. Do the best you can, be graceful like apologizing and accepting responsibility, learn the lesson and move on. People forgive a lot as long as you learn the lesson and show consideration. The jerks are another matter.”

At this change in topic he darkened. “If boys start pushing you into something you feel uncomfortable with, go for the nuts and get away. Make as much noise as possible. If they make snide remarks in the halls ignore them. If you can’t ignore them treat what they’re saying as the most boring crap you’ve heard in your life. They want you to react, to be afraid. Don’t give in. Even if you are afraid inside act bored. If they say something and it’s actually funny, laugh and move on. The less you give them, the better. Lastly,”

He drew her to meet his gaze, “Don’t be afraid to call your cousin or your brother to kick some ass. It’s our job. We like it. We’re good at it. Tell us when the jerks are bothering you too much. You’re never alone but if you don’t talk to us we’ll never know when you need us.”

Melissa thought about that for a moment. She thought back to when Kyle saved her from the football jocks. He hadn’t kicked some ass - Kyle would have been more likely to go down bruised and bloodied than win that one - but he had been able to talk them out of what could have been a very bad situation. Deo seemed to know a lot about this sort of thing, how to act and behave and deal with bullies. Maybe his advice wasn’t so bad. She considered trying it. After a long, contemplative moment, she nodded. “Okay.”

“Great!” He spoke perhaps with a little too eager relief. “I’m going to be here for a week so if you have trouble with any of this let me know. Oh, and I have a peace offering for kicking you out of your room and being a nosy asshole.”

“You’re not.” She shook her head.

“Well, that’s nice, but I still feel bad,” he dropped his gaze. “I brought my laptop. I’ll set up a separate account for you to log in and you can install Worlds of Myth. Before I leave you can delete the game. That way I won’t have access to any of your private stuff. It’s the least I can do for putting you out of your room.”

“You don’t have to.” Melissa said quietly, though she ached to accept. It might make staying in Lisa’s room bearable!

“Melissa, come on, I insist, from one WoM-head to another.”

“Okay, but... only if we play sometime.” Melissa smiled shyly.

"Sure thing," the young artist grinned happily. "I'm going to need help if I'm going to catch up on the last two expansions and get Sotiris on par with Neferu."


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