Chapter 23: I know not how it falls on me

Seth: “So, Etta! Are you ready to work on my Robotics project? I’ve already glued the servos to a battery pack and-“

Etta: “Oh, sorry, Seth, I can’t tonight.”

Tori: “How come?  Don’t tell me you have something better to do on a Saturday night than Seth’s Robotics project?”

Tori’s voice was heavy with sarcasm and her eyes so curious it made Etta sweat.

E: “Oh, nothing, really, it’s just….”

Seth: Exactly! Nothing’s better than this, so move your butt right now and go start the curcuits.”

Etta: “No! I mean, I can’t! You see, I have this thing! A school thing for math club….”

S: “Do you think I’m stupid? I was in the math club when I was a sophomore, too. I know they don’t meet up on Saturdays.”

E: “Apparently, they do now! Annoying, right?”

T: “Oh, come on, cut the bull-plum, Etta!”

Etta hesitated. She didn’t want to tell them, especially not Tori. Her sister knew she had had a crush on Dante for ages and she had tried to talk her out of it before. She didn’t want to listen to that again. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a choice, since no one was buying her lies.

Etta: “Ugh, FINE! I… I have a date.”

E: “Now, if you excuse me, I gotta go get ready.”

She heard Seth grumbling as she stood and practically ran to her room. Wonderful, just great, she thought, angry at herself. Tori showed up after a while and measured her from head to toe with curious eyes.

Tori: “Sooo! Whatcha wearing?”

E: “Why do you care? I thought you didn’t approve?”

T: “I really don’t! He IS a player, Etta. But that’s none of my business, right? It was my sacred duty of a sister and a fellow female to warn you about him, but the decision’s all yours.”

T: “And no matter what you decide, I’ve got you covered.”

Etta was taken aback momentarily and sat down in her surprise.

Etta: “Oh. Okay. Thank you!”

Tori exhaled sharply and joined her on the bed.

Tori: “Awesome! So what are we waiting for? Let’s talk clothes!”

E: “Right! Ehm, so I was thinking jeans, since I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard and maybe a…”

Tori: “Ehhh, jeans? Forget it! You can’t wear jeans to your first date, that’s just lazy. What about the skirt you bought last week? The grey one? I think I have a blue top that would go perfect with it, here, let me see.”

Tori was in her element. The words just kept coming from her mouth and she was running around the room frantically, pulling out all sorts of clothes from her closet and coming up with million outfit ideas Etta had to try on. It was exhausting but also nice to spend time with her sister. Besides, Tori seemed to know what she was doing and Etta was grateful for any help.

A few hours later, she was not so sure about Tori’s choices.

Etta: “Hmm, so where exactly are you taking me?”

Etta said it with a smile, trying her best not to sound annoyed. They have been  roaming around a mysterious forest for quite some time.  The trees were not awfully dense, but the forest path was steep and narrow and the sandals Tori chose for her  were not the most appropriate footwear for hiking.

Dante didn’t stop to answer.

Dante: “Scared, are we?”

Etta: “Of course not! It’s only getting late and dark outside and I’m going alone into a deserted forest far away from civilisation with a strange man.”

Etta: “I mean, what could possibly go wrong?”

He chuckled and turned around.

Dante: “Oh, come on. A strange man, really? We’ve known each other since you were eight.”

Etta: “Well, yeah. But there’s a difference between knowing someone and KNOWING someone.”

Dante: “I agree. And you KNOW me. I told you things I’ve never shared with anyone before. I always say Amon is my best friend, but I feel like that’s not exactly the case anymore.”

Etta: “Woah, careful there, cowboy. If he heard you… I mean, I could easily blackmail you with this piece of information.”

Dante laughed again, the sound echoing in the forest around them.

D: “Looks like someone had a funny soup for lunch, huh?”

Etta: “Sorry. I’m a little nervous, I guess. This is not quite my comfort zone, if you know what I mean… Oh, wow!”

They finally walked out of the forest and found themselves on high cliffs overlooking the ocean. The view was breathtaking.

Water, alive with constant motion, was stretching into the vastness of sky and the sunrays fell upon the waves, swirling light into a mosaic of reflected colours. She stood still and soaked in the gentle breeze until she felt the waves within, in her mind, in her lungs, in the earth beneath her feet and clouds above her head for the waves moved through all of us, through everything. For a brief second, the world was her and she was the world.

Dante’s soft voice broke the silence.

“I know not how it falls on me,

This summer evening, hushed and lone;
Yet the faint wind comes soothingly
With something of an olden tone.”

His words flowed into the waves and the breaths and the golden light until they were one.

It took time to come back, to face the world in its prosaic realism, absolute and ordinary.

E: “I didn’t know you liked poetry.”

“I like all things beautiful and true.”

He stroked her cheek and Etta blushed under his eyes, shy and unsure. She had fantasized about being with him  many times before, but she had never allowed herself to go too far with her imagination, she had never dreamt this big.

E: “Is it… your own work?”

Dante chuckled.

D: “I wish. It’s Emily Bronte.”

E: “Really?”

Etta blinked with surprise. He was beating her at her own game. She thought she knew him quite well. She had crafted an image of him in her head and she genuinely thought she had him more or less figured out. And yet here he stood, with this side of him she didn’t know, so new, so unexpected.

He turned with an amused smile on his face, gesturing her to follow him.

D: “Yes, really. Why so baffled?”

E: “Oh, I just… I find it fascinating how people from so long ago lived through experience similar to ours. The times were so different and yet, we somehow share moments and feelings and thought with them. It’s so…”

She fell silent mid-sentence as they came across another stunning view.

D: “Humbling?”

Etta nodded slowly and smiled as he continued talking about poetry and she continued to be astonished by him.  She had learned in the past months that he was more than a shallow high school jock everyone thought he was, but this exceeded all her expectations. He had such deep knowledge of not only poetry and music but of all the things he cared about; he spoke with joy and he listened with passion – a deed she never knew was possible; he joked and it was actually funny; he was charming and profound and tender, he was…

And then it dawned on her. He was perfect. Too perfect. Unlike all the other clumsy teenage brats in school, he knew what he was doing. She suddenly remembered the rumors, the girls, she remembered her sister’s words. This was his comfort zone.

Etta really wanted to enjoy it, but the better it got, the harder it was for her to ignore the nagging thoughts in the back of her head until finally, Dante noticed.

Dante: “Etta, is everything okay?”

His tone was concerned and warm and his elbow brushed against hers as he shifted weight. Etta found it challenging to focus on anything else but his body just inches from her own. For a second, she played with the idea of saying nothing.

E: “Oh, I was just wondering how many girls have you brought here before?”

She tried to keep her tone as casual as possible, but he frowned nonetheless.

D: “What makes you think…. why would you even ask something like that?”

E: “I’m sorry! But tonight’s too good. YOU are too good. I just can’t help feeling like you must have had a lot of practice to be so. Damn. Smooth.”

He seemed upset and flattered and shocked all at once.

D: “Well, I’m sorry? That’s just… I don’t know what to say to that! You’re the first girl to complain the date is too good. I mean, it is! But how is that a bad thing?”

E: “Because I just don’t want to be one of your many conquests.”

D: “What? That’s what you think of me?”

E: “Dante, come on – that’s what everyone, including you, thinks of you. Must I remind you that you have spent hours talking to my brother about all the times you’ve got laid? I live in the same house as he does, just sayin’. “

D: “Yeah, I guess you have a point. But that was then. Now it’s different. You’re different.”

E: “Seriously? A ‘you’re not like the other girls’ cliché?”

Dante stayed silent. He slowly looked into the distance, brows furrowed in a puzzled expression and Etta felt that her words sounded harsher than she intended them to.

E: “Hey, look, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to make you feel bad about it. I’m just making sure we’re on the same page here. And that I don’t end up as the next item you’ll brag about to my brother.”

D: “Etta, please. That would be the last thing I would ever do, we both know that.”

D: “And don’t apologize. I think I get it. I have a reputation and I would be lying if I said it’s undeserved.”

D: “But see? This is what I meant when I said you were different. You are so genuine. You are as nice as any girl, but you don’t play games. You call people out on their plum. You do the right thing.”

D: “The way you handled Amon during the party? I mean, woah, that was absolute fire!”

Etta couldn’t help but laugh. She knew she deserved the teasing – that party was definitely not her proudest moment.

E: “So that’s what you’re into? If that’s the case, I can scream at you anytime you like.”

D: “Oh, I do intend to make you scream – but in a totally different context.”

Etta opened her mouth in shock and blushed as she thought about the exact things he wanted her to think about and she hated herself a little for being so easily swayed by him.

E: “Dante!”

E: “Maybe just… slow down a bit? I’m new to this, remember?”

He smirked and came even closer.

D: “Well, I didn’t say it would be tonight, did I? I just wanted you to know that your strong moral compass is not the only thing I like about you.”

E: “Of course not. There’s also my cooking, right?”

D: “Wow, asking me to slow down just to start with this kind of dirty talk? Talk about mixed signals.”

Etta grinned and quickly kissed him.

Etta: “How about this? Does it help clear things up?”

He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her back.

Dante: “I don’t know, does it? We better give it another shot.”

Chapter 12: Just another Saturday

E: “Tori! So, how was it? Tell me everything!”

T: “Uhmmm. Fine. I guess.”

“Just FINE?! Windenburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world! At least according to tourist websites. And uncle Evander. Calling it fine… that doesn’t sound quite right.”

T: “Sorry to disappoint you. I didn’t get to see much of it – Carlie didn’t want to take me. She said sightseeing is for idiots. Those few glimpses I caught from public transport were breathtaking, though. So you’re probably right.”

E: “What? You didn’t visit the Van Haunt estate with the maze? The Chess Square? The Old Town? Anything? But what did you do, then?”

“Well, we went to Carlie’s dad house. And brace yourself, because it was the most awkward experience of my life.”


“So, when we showed up, his wife, Moira, was nowhere to be seen. Carlie said she never met her – presumably because Moira can’t stand the thought of Carlie coming over. But Carlie’s dad was nice. He welcomed us warmly and took our bags inside.”

“His daughters, Morgan and Siobhan, are already  in college, but they came home for the weekend, so we met briefly. Morgan just rolled her eyes behind Carlie’s back and left.”


“But Siobhan was actually kinda sweet. And very polite. She invited us inside and offer some tea and fruits, smiling constantly.

So we sat down  in a dinning room and chatted.

Siobhan inquired about my hair, where did I have them done and stuff like that. Then, she playfully teased Carlie about her hair – something like she have it easy with her straight, silky red locks in comparison with our frizzy curls.”


“And Carlie lost it! Completely! She started yelling like crazy, claiming that nothing in her life is easy and calling Siobhan a judgmental prick.”

Unsurprisingly, the most uncomfortable silence followed. I could hear the clocks ticking. Nobody knew what to say, so they just stared at each other, half shocked, half furious. And I sat there, wishing for a meteor to fall on my head.”

‘Why did I agree to come here?’


E: “Oh, holy plumbob! That’s insane!”

T: “Right? Poor Carlie.”

E: “Oh, come on. Carlie was the agressor in that situation. Don’t feel sorry for her.”

T : “Well, I do. She is Dom’s daughter, just like Siobhan and Morgan, but still, Dom chose to live with them. He loves them and supports them and takes care of them. He’s there for them, every day. And Carlie? She gets one phone call from him on her birthday. Imagine if  Dad was like that to you.”

E: “Whoa, I… I’ve never thought about it that way. I guess you’re right. And what happened then?”


“Lucky for me, Carlie calmed down while we were getting ready for the party. In fact, she  completely forgot about the incident the minute she got dressed. It’s understandable, though – she looked like a freakin’ popstar. Honestly, I felt  underdressed next to her.”

“So we got to the party, she introduced me to her friends, we chatted a bit and then we danced and danced and danced – it was so dope!”

“The music! It was amazing, like totally freakin’ awesome, since it was like an ultimate show of the most relevant DJs of Winderburg. But other than that, it was just a dance party, you know?

So after a few hours, Carlie went to order some drinks. She has a fake ID for situations like that, so it went smoothly. In fact, it went so smoothly that she never came back.”

“Hey, there!”

“Long story short, she hanged out with the boy she met on a bar for the rest of the night. And Watcher knows where they were because I didn’t see either of them ever since.”


E: “She left you there? All alone?!


“No! I was with her friends, remember?”

“Although,  they were practically strangers to me. There was a couple, or at least I thought they were a couple until the boy started hitting on me. You know, usual stuff like dancing just a little too close and staring just a little too long. He also touched me a few times, you know, ‘accidentally’.”

“He even followed me around everytime I tried to slip away. I asked him to stop and he acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about. The more I insisted the angrier he got, so…”

“…so, I ended up hiding in the bathroom, trying to call Carlie, but she wasn’t answering. So I called uncle Evander and he was so nice and came to pick me up”

“He and his girlfriend Kaya were really good to me. They fed me  and let me sleep on their couch. Kaya even lended me her old T-shirt to sleep in. “

And in the morning, uncle Evander took me to the train station and well, here I am!”


E: “Thank Watcher! Next time I see Carlie, I’ll kill her! Seriously, what was she thinking? How could she left you like that! A young girl, alone! And in a bar full of drunk strangers… What if something had happened to you?”

T: “Don’t be silly, Etty. I’m okay. Besides, I can’t blame her, that boy was totally gorgeous.”

E: “Tori! Please. Don’t be like this. You can’t ignore all the evil in the world. “

T: “Carlie is not evil! She’s sad. And lonely. You’d know that, if you’d be willing to get to know her better.”

E: “Well, you have to admit, she’s making it quite difficult for people to want to know her.”

T: “Maybe. And maybe you’re just overreacting.”

E: “And maybe you’re just too good for your own good.”

T: “Whatever. Enough about that. What about your weekend? Did I miss anything interesting?”


“Not at all. Everything was as usual.

I did some homework with Seth, while Amon went out with that girl of his. Oh, and Aunt Devi started with her music lessons.”

“I think she enjoys it, unlike everyone else – Dante is a terrible musician at this point. But he’s aware of that and it’s quite funny.”

“Hello, Etta. I bet you can’t resist my angelic music, can you?”

“He didn’t stop joking about it even after his lesson was over and we were having lunch in the garden.”

“And then I found out I forgot to put my hands on the freakin’ piano keys.”

“And I got some work done on my science project. Aleksey came and helped me with some graphs, so it’s almost ready.”

“So yeah, like I said: just another ordinary Saturday.”


T: “Now would you look  at that! Two hotties are trying to win her over and she calls it an ordinary Saturday! Careful, you heartbreaker!”

“Geeez, you’re even worse than Aunt Devi. We’re friends, simple as that.”

“Okay. Sure.”

Chapter 22: All About Love

03-01-16_5-21-05 PM

“Alfred! I’ve missed you!”

“Have you?” he asked, surprised.

“Of course! I had no one around to make fun of!” she laughed and hugged him tigher.

It was good to be home. But Dory  realized  she didn’t really miss Willow Creek that much. She felt much better in Winderburg. Kind of unattached. And free. With no sad memories waiting for her at every corner.

She missed Alfred and Blarffy and her punching bag, obviously. But not the place in particular.

As a welcome gift, Alfred invited Dory, an aspiring body builder, to gym for nice long workout session.

02-20-16_11-28-46 AM

“I think we could try this 30-Days Leg Challenge.”

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“Count me in!”

Afternoons in gym with Alfred were her favourite. He was so smart and funny. Encouraging, too. And the best motivator. And with all that working out, his pecs started looking somehow…interesting.

She wasn’t the only one who noticed his qualities, tough.

02-20-16_11-21-00 AM

“Hey, handsome!”

Lots of strange girls winked and smiled at Alfred while he was working out, some of them even came to say hello and talk to him. It was quite a usual occurence. Dory was used to that and she didn’t  mind.

Or so she always thought. But that day, it was bothering her and she couldn’t figure out why. Maybe these girls had obnoxious giggles. Maybe Alfred talked to them longer than usual. And maybe…

02-20-16_11-36-09 AM

“…maybe I just want all of him for myself.”

“What?” Alfred interrupted her words quickly and Dory realized she accidentally said it out loud.

“What?” she asked, acting all confused, “I didn’t say anything.”

“I just…I’ve got a feeling that you…um, nevermind,” Alfred shrugged and smiled, “Let’s grab some pizza, what do you say?”

Dory couldn’t possibly say no to that, could she? 😀

Back home, Melia was getting ready. Between the family issues and busy work schedule, she finally found some free time to visit the restaurant Chris was telling her about.

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“I hope this is fancy enough.”

Chris was coming, too, of course. Melia couldn’t decided if she was so excited because of the restaurant or because of finally seeing Chris after a long time. Not that it mattered.

The restaurant was in Newcret and its name was La Fantasia.

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And Melia had to admit it looked pretty fantastic.

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“This place is absolutely beautiful, Chris!”

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“I know, right?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to own a place like this one day?”

“You want to own a restaurant? I didn’t know that!” Melia couldn’t believe her ears. Could it be that they had the same dream?

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“I’d open one right away if I had enough money to do it. But let’s order something! I’m dying to try roasted lamb with dates and onion chutney, I’ve heard it’s delicious.” “

And that’s how Melia learned that he was a Foodie, just like her. She was surprised it didn’t come to her mind sooner. He’d never shut up about food.

02-29-16_11-10-27 PM

“That man is a dream came true! Just like these ricotta doughnuts.”

The dinner was heavenly and everything they tried caused their tastebuds to dance around and sing. Melia never even imagined that food could taste this good.

And after they were done, Chris asked her to to follow him

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“Shall we dance?”

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“Oh, I don’t know, Chris, I’ve never really danced before.”

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“Don’t worry – I’ll lead.”

So they danced and it wasn’t so bad. Melia knew she wasn’t the most graceful being – and she was sure she must have looked silly and clumsy – but she didn’t care. With Chris’ arms around her and and the sound of dreamy piano all around, she felt like she was flying on a bright, fluffy cloud.

02-29-16_11-22-10 PM

‘Oh my Watcher. I’m totally losing my mind.’

Later, Chris walked her home like a true gentleman and they had a hard time saying goodbye.

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“Well, thank you for tonight. I had the greatest time!”

02-29-16_11-27-48 PM

“I should thank you for joining me and for making this night so, you know, so fine. Would you like to…go on another date with me someday? Like Friday, maybe?”

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“Sure! I’d love that.”

And so they agreed to go out together again.

03-03-16_3-22-27 PM

And again.

03-03-16_3-30-45 PM

Until one day, Melia felt adventurous and ready to take it further. At that point she was so crazy in love that she felt almost embarrassed. Almost. But she was too busy feeling amazing and funny and slightly dizzy to care about anything else.

03-03-16_3-29-55 PM

“So, I was wondering…”

03-03-16_3-30-13 PM

“Would you like to come inside with me now and continue the fun?”

Chris had no problem with that. No problem at all. He would spend every night with her if he could. And every day. Every freakin’ second of his life.

But it was too soon to tell her yet. Besides, what’s the point in rushing when things are going so well?

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‘I’m one lucky guy, that’s for sure.’

Very quickly, his late night visits became regular and one day, after snuggling and talking in bed for hours, Melia agreed to be his girlfriend. Although she was sure she was his girlfriend long before they’ve put the label on it.

But it still made her so overjoyed that she barely perceived the world around her.

Maybe that’s why it took her hours to notice that Camilla was gone and her bed untouched. It wasn’t unusual for Camilla to spend the night…out. But it was definitely suspicious for her not to show up until lunch.

Reasonably concerned Melia decided to check her phone and indeed, she found a new email from Millie.

03-03-16_5-48-39 PM

“I hope it’s not one of those chain mails she considers funny or I’ll kill her.”

“Dear Mel,

I knew you’d be the first one to notice my absence. And I’m telling you, there’s no need to freak out. I’m alive and I’m doing just fine. Do not call the police, I repeat, do NOT call the police. LOL.
I also wanted to let you know that I’m not coming home tonight. Actually,  I’m not coming home in forseeable future because I moved in with Dom. You remember him, right? Tall and handsome, famous DJ – we hit it up at the dance party back in Windenburg.

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So yeah, we’ve been seeing each other ever since, but it was all so complicated with me living here and Dom living there. 
So from now on, I’ll be living in Oasis Springs. Out new home is a lovely trailer house at the outskirts. It’s not much, but it’ll do for now.

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I’m sure you’d love it, it’s cute as plum. And so is Dom. He’s just so good to me. I’m pretty excited about this whole thing – I’m picturing myself doing all the wifey stuff for him, like cleaning and waiting for him with dinner ready. Who would have thought I had such a romantic side in me, huh? 😀

03-03-16_3-10-58 PM

You can come visit us anytime you want. I’ve already talk with Isis, she’s coming this Friday. I have plenty of time on my hands now that I quitted my job. But don’t worry, I’m not planning to become a housewife. I signed up with Oasis Springs Fighting Club – we both know I have better chance there than I had in SimTechnologies. But I can’t start with training until the baby’s born.

03-01-16_5-56-23 PM

I mentioned that I’m pregnant before, didn’t I?
Anyway, take care and say hello to everyone at home!

Love,
Millie.”

03-03-16_5-51-06 PM

Chapter 21: Hypnotized

Melia loved it in Windenburg. Outlines of mountains around the city, the remnants of ancient city walls, busy streets and a mixture of inhabitans and tourists enjoying the delightful ambiance together…she loved it all.

And before she realized it, the last day of their stay came.

Evander had to work in the morning, but the sisters already knew their way around the city centre quite well.

They decided to have breakfast and some espressos at the lovely little café near a library. Melia was more than happy about all the new food she could try. And others got to like the local cuisine as well.

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“I’m not sure if I can live without you, Mr. Cream Roll.”

After the breakfast, they went for a nice walk around the park. They already visited all the great attractions of Windenburg, like the Ruins or the magnificent old estate with a labyrinth, so they finally had some time to just wander around.

It was absolutely perfect, until Mel noticed that her youngest sister looked rather unhappy.

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M: “What’s wrong, Dory? Don’t you like it here?”

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D: “I do. But…it’s just…I’m sad because Evander won’t be coming home with us tomorrow.”

Melia sighed: “I know. I’ll miss him, too. But you must have noticed that he seems to be happy here. And we should be happy that he’s doing so well.”

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“And that we got the chance to visit this beautiful place.”

Dory nodded apathetically, just to let Melia know the she heard her words. But she kept thinking about it as they roamed the streets of Winderburg. Her family was constatntly reminding her the multiple reasons to be happy. Like ‘Be happy for Mom, she’s with Dad now.’ or ‘Your brother is happy, so be happy for him.’

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‘But what about my own happiness?”

She looked at the sky, secretly hoping that she’d find some answers there. It worked for Devi when she needed music inspiration, after all. So why not for Dory?

But soon, Evander showed up and interrupted her sacred process of mind-wandering with  annoying, ignoble questions about a state of her stomach.

02-20-16_12-48-46 PM

Evander: “Who’s hungry?”

She didn’t mind it that much, though. A couple of hours passed since breakfast and just a mention of food made her drool.

Evander took them to a cosy little pub close to his house where not only delicious local meals were offered but some pretty fun games, too.

02-20-16_1-04-27 PM

Camilla: “Prepare to die, noobs.”

And drinks, of course.

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E: “Woah, Mel! Careful with that!”

It wasn’t Melia who needed to slow down, though.

02-20-16_12-56-44 PM

D: “One… more…”

Devi had no experience with alcohol to this day and she just tasted  Windenbeer because it was so famous all around the world. No one expected it’d have such a strong effect on her.

But at least she found herself some new friends.

02-20-16_1-06-19 PM

D: “Hahaha…I don’t speak your language, but you’re so funny.”

And, together with Melia, she asked Evander about certain mysterious matters.

02-20-16_12-57-04 PM

“Soooo…this Kaya girl? Do you like her? Is she nice?”

Evander rolled his eyes: “Ugh, you two. She’s just my roomate. I couldn’t afford renting an entire house in Winderburg – do you have any idea how expensive this city is?”

But when Devi left to talk with her Windenburgian friends, Evander leaned closer to Melia and said in low voice:

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“I didn’t want to mention it in front of Devi – I mean, she’s drunk – but I’ve been spending some time with Kaya lately. And she IS nice. So please, don’t embarrass me in front of her.”

02-20-16_12-55-27 PM

M: “Don’t worry, I’ll behave myself.”

After the meal, they all headed back to Evander’s place to rest and to prepare for  – to put it in Camilla’s words – the most exciting event of their visit: a dance party at Discotéque Pan Europa.

Millie loved it there the moment they arrived and she immediately rushed to dance floor. No one was dancing yet, but she didn’t care – she wasn’t afraid of people’s glances.

02-20-16_1-44-34 PM

“Watch out, this is my tune.”

Soon, other visitors of the club join the fun. Dory was  shy at first. All those lights and noises and strangers were a little overwhelming for her. So she decided to observe only. From a safe distance.

02-20-16_2-16-36 PM

“Hmm…interesting.”

But Melia soon noticed Dory, hesitantly standing there, doing nothing and she quickly came to encourage her. She took her hand and led her into the middle of the crowd, cheering. She even showed her some moves.

It helped. Dory relaxed and threw away her self-consciousness. Soon they found themselves shouting together and bouncing in the rhythm of music. In the front row.

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“So put your hands up!”

When Melia noticed Dory didn’t need her support anymore, she wandered from the dance floor and sat at small table close to the bar, just within the reach of various local snacks.

02-20-16_1-57-17 PM

“Celery chips? What kind of sorcery is this?”

She shared a photo of it on her Snapchat and, of course, Christopher saw it and got all curious.

02-20-16_1-57-26 PM

*typing* Well, it’s like a regular potato chip but made of celery instead of potatoes. And seasoned by herbs de provence instead of salt…

She ended up texting him all evening. She didn’t complain, though.

Camilla, on the other hand, was not wasting time sitting around and staring at her phone. She was here to dance, have fun and meet people.

Not surprisignly, guys started noticing her very quickly. She was a new face and a very pretty one.

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But only one particular man was brave enough to go and talk to her.

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“Hey, Dom! What are you doing here?!”

“I live here, silly!” he yelled back at her, trying to outvoice the music.
“But what about you?”

Despite all his efforts, she couldn’t hear him properly. She smiled apologetically and shrugged. So they decided to just dance together.

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Later that evening, Dom took over the DJ booth. He was quite a star around here, Camilla noticed. The crowd got all excited when they annouced Dom’s show.

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But as soon as he started, she forgot about the others completely. Dom kept looking at her, throwing smiles her way here and there. And Camilla was like hypnotized. It was like there was no one else in the building but them. Like he performed for her and she danced for him.

She never felt that kind of connection towards someone. Let alone someone she barely knew.

But there was no denying it – there was something about him that made her weak in the knees. She couldn’t help it.

And he was feeling it, too.

02-20-16_2-10-43 PM

D: “Tell me I will see you again.”

Camilla wanted it more than anything in the world. But she couldn’t imagine how it’d be possible. They lived thousands miles apart. There was a freakin’ ocean between their home towns.

02-20-16_2-09-10 PM

“I wish it was that simple, Dom.”

He looked dissapointed but he didn’t insist. The rest of the night was bittersweet, but oh, so magical. Camilla felt like crying when it was time to leave.

“Well, in case this is the last time,” Dom annouced when they were parting, “I want you to have this.”

02-20-16_2-11-47 PM

“Goodbye, Millie.”

02-20-16_2-12-53 PM

“Goodbye, Dom.”

Chapter 20: Secret

02-19-16_5-46-14 PM

“I miss you, guys… so much.”

Without Evander, the house was sad and lonely like never before. It was weird, because he never talked much. But still…the silence felt different when he was gone. Disturbing. Uncomfortable.

Dory’s heart was aching. She couldn’t think of anything that would distract her from the grief. It was like being homesick in her own home.

Her sisters had it better. They were adults – they had adult things to take care of.

Like the garden.

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Or cooking for the rest of the family.

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Or jobs.

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Yes, even Camilla found herself a job. In IT. Although everyone was certain she mostly only pretended to be programming and just trolled teh forums instead.

But Dory had nowhere to hide from all the blue thoughts that flooded her mind. The school was boring and she wasn’t ready to go out and socialize with others. Not even Alfred. He never lost a parent. And his siblings didn’t move to another country. He didn’t understand.

02-20-16_1-17-44 AM

“What would you do, Blarffy?…Wait, what? Do you mean it, Blarffy? I’m not sure if it’s such a good idea.”

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“It’s better than nothing, though. Thank you, Blarffy.”

When everyone went to sleep, Dory quietly slipped out of her bed  and turned the computer on.

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“Yes, yes, this will do.”

It only took her half an hour to arrange her secret plans. Before midnight, everything was ready and Dory was pleasantly satisfied with the results. And with a fact that no one caught her in the act.

Unfortunately, she underestimated Camilla’s mad computer skills. It turned out she really DID learn something about computers in her new job.

And, of course, she immediately went and reported her findings to Melia.

02-22-16_4-37-31 PM

“Mel, I have to tell you something, but please, don’t freak out. I was installing some extensions to my browser when I noticed weird things in my internet history. So I investigated a little…”

02-22-16_4-37-39 PM

“And it looks like someone booked a return flight ticket to Winderburg yesterday. And I know you and Devi were working late and went straight to bed then. So it had to be Dory!”

02-22-16_4-37-46 PM

“Do you think she wants to run away? I heard some teens tend to do that when going through hard times. But she’s so young and…”

02-22-16_4-37-07 PM

M: “Calm down, Millie. Running away…that’s more your style than hers. Do you know what I think? I think she just misses Evander and decided to visit him without telling us.”

02-22-16_4-37-19 PM

M: “Because, you know, we are boring, reasonable adults and we would never let her go alone to the foreign country.”

02-22-16_4-36-59 PM

M: “But you know what? Maybe she doesn’t have to go alone. I think all four of us could use a little trip, what do you say?”

Camilla had no problem with that. Neither had Devi. So there was nothing to think about – they just booked three more tickets and packed their bags.

The next day, Rossini sisters were knocking on Evander’s door.

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C: “What a lovely little cottage he lives in.”

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C: “Like a dwarf or something!”

Dory didn’t care about the house. She immediately ran inside and hugged her brother tight, showering him with questions.

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“How are you doing? How much do you pay for this place? Do you have a job? Are we far away from the city centre? And is it true that there’s a monster living in local swamps? Have you seen it? Can I see it?”

Poor Evander could barely answer half of them. He only lived in Windenburg for a couple of months, after all.

But it didn’t stop Dory from asking. Evander couldn’t even focus on a house tour he was trying to give because of her. So he gave up and only showed them his room.

02-20-16_12-24-17 PM

“Do you have any interesting books? About a monster of Winderburg, for example? And why are your walls so empty? Did you stop painting? Are you focusing on fishing now? Are there any good fishing spots around here?”

“Dory, honey,” Devi gently reproved her younger sister, “let him breathe.”

But Evander just smiled happily: “That’s okay, Devi. It’s been a long time since I had an actual conversation. And no, Dory, I didn’t stop painting. I just don’t have any paintings here because I had to sell them all. To make some money. It’s a good thing, though – to know that there is an interest for my work.”

Meanwhile, Camilla and Mel were enjoying a quick snack in the living room.

02-20-16_12-23-14 PM

C:”Can you believe it? Little Evander on his own in a foreign country – making it as a painter…Who would have tought? And he has a nice sofa! Maybe we should buy one, too.”

“Well, that sofa is actually mine.”

An unfamiliar voice came from the corridor leading to the bathroom. And before they knew, there was a beautiful young woman standing in front of them.

02-20-16_12-25-31 PM

“Hello, I’m Kaya. I’m Evander’s roomate.”

 

 

02-20-16_12-23-10 PM

“His what?”

Mel and Camilla looked confusedly at each other but before they could ask anything, Evander was out of there.

02-20-16_12-25-51 PM

“I think it’s time for some sightseeing, isn’t it?”