Chapter 6.21

Ginny

It was great to see Liam having fun. I didn’t think I’d witnessed him smile all week until today. Kissing hot babes every minute did the trick. I knew it would!

He laughed as his latest make out buddy left the scene with pink lips and a broad grin.

Aww and now a cute eleven year old with a dreamy look came up to him.

If I wasn’t so busy, I would have Crapchatted that picture of her giving him a kiss on the cheek. How adorable!

It was like straight out of a Smallmark movie!

Well, I couldn’t blame them for lining up to kiss him. I wished I could get in line, too, but he friendzoned me all week and so I’ve all but given up. At least it looked like he might be getting over the slut from hell. And being friends with my big crush wasn’t that bad. Right? At least we could hang out from time to time.

And then one of MY kissees cleared his throat. “Um…er…like when are my lips gonna touch yours? I paid the two bucks.”

Huh boy. While Liam got babes, I got impatient frogs and guys from my classes (which was totally embarrassing!)

Liam

This kissing booth thing was only getting more fun by the minute. The best part about it was making ladies of all ages feel special. One elderly cute lady came up to me, so I joked, “Here I am. Come and get it!”

With a broad grin, she opened her arms and bolted toward me.

Instead of a peck on the cheek, she engulfed me in a hug and laid on one of the biggest smacks I’d had all day.

She made me totally blush! That grandma’s got it going on!

Next was a shrimpy kid, sizing me up like I was a giant gorilla.

“Dude,” I said, hoping to put him at ease. “I don’t discriminate on gender. Do you want a kiss? I don’t bite.”

He put up his hand and said, “Uh…that’s okay. I’m good.”

I guessed he chickened out at the last second?

And then the next girl in line made my stomach twist.

Mala.

What the fuck was she doing here?

“If you’re wanting to start shit, Mala, I’m not falling for it. So you can just crawl back under the rock you came from.”

Her eyebrows drew in. “I was just coming over to say I’m sorry. I know I didn’t handle things well and…I don’t know…I just didn’t want to hurt you is all. I tried to break things off with Oliver but…”

I put up my hands. “But what? You didn’t have the decency to even answer one of my texts? Did you think by ghosting me, I’d just magically disappear? Well, you got your wish, Mala. I’m totally and completely out of your life!”

She crossed her arms, not getting the hint that I wanted her gone. “Can we talk, Lee Lee? I really think we need to. I can’t have you hating me like this. It’s not fair to either of us.”

Ginny

Oh my God! The green witch just arrived on her broom and was about to throw down with Liam. I couldn’t believe she had the nerve to show herself here. And right when he was having such a good time, too. Unbelievable!

I had to temporarily take a break and hopefully, be there for Liam if and when she left. “Hey, um…sorry, I’ve got to take a ten minute break. These lips need a rest.”

The guy next in line glared. “But I’ve been waiting forever! Can’t you make an exception?”

He was Arthur Mackerel from my math class. Pretty cute and I would have loved to kiss him, but if I did, the same thing would happen with the next guy and I could overhear Liam getting upset. “How about I make it up to you at school? I’ll give you a real good toe tingler. Okay?”

“Nah…just forget it.”

“I’m serious! I’ve got an emergency right now! I’m sorry!”

Liam

In the end, I decided to let her say her peace then walk out of my life for good. “What is it, Mala? Be quick because we’re losing daylight and the booth will close.”

“Like I said before, I’m sorry, Lee Lee. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I must have written a million texts to you, but it just never could say what I wanted to. I can’t explain why I’m so attached to Oliver. But…I just am. And it’s not your fault. Not at all. I just hope you’ll forgive me and maybe we can be friends?”

Friends? Was she fucking kidding me? After two years and talking as if we’d be together forever, she didn’t have the guts to end things like a decent person. Instead, she just went ahead and dated the guy while stringing me along? I couldn’t help it. All the pent up anger over what happened exploded. “Mala, do you realize what I’ve been going through all week? I couldn’t wait to see you after my trip and texted you right away. All you would have had to do was call me, tell me you’ve been cheating. I know because I got a fucking picture of you all over Oliver in a text. You didn’t care about me then and you don’t now. No. I don’t forgive you. And no, we’re not ever going to be friends!”

“But, Lee Lee…I said I was sorry! What else am I supposed to do?”

Ginny grabbed me and said, “Hey…don’t give her your anger, Liam. She’s not worth it. Let’s go.”

Seeing Mala cry did nothing to me. I was still so furious, hurt, and miserable. I was going to leave with Ginny but I had to have the last word. I pointed at her and yelled, “What are you supposed to do? I’ll tell you, Mala. Get the hell away from me and have a nice life with Oliver! You two deserve each other.”

Ginny pushed me and said, “Come on!”

I stalked off and dropped onto a bench. Mala had a way of turning the best day into my worst.

Ginny stepped toward me. “For what it’s worth, at least you got that off your chest. Right?”

I groaned. “Then why do I feel like such a dirtbag? I didn’t want to make her cry.”

“She deserved to feel a little of the pain you’re feeling. It’s only natural to want to strike back.”

I sank into the bench, my face heating up. “Geeze, I didn’t want to do that. I just want everything to go back the way it was. Why am I not good enough for her? That’s what hurts the most, you know?”

Ginny sat next to me and shrugged. “I don’t get it either. I mean…I would never choose Oliver Treadstone over you.”

I sighed. “You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”

“Look, any guy that kisses strangers both young and old with a smile on his face for charity is miles higher in my book than someone like Oliver Treadstone. And if Mala’s too stupid to see what a catch you are, then good riddance.”

I looked down, not sure how to take her compliment. I mean…Ginny was totally hot and I really liked her, but I was in no mood to start anything with anyone at the moment. “Thanks for saying that, Ginny. Makes it not suck as bad.”

“Yeah, break ups stink but all it means is there’s someone better for you out there. Don’t worry. You’ll find her.”

At that moment, I knew she was right but I needed time to get over Mala. If I ever would get over her.

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Chapter 6.19

Liam

After I said goodnight to my grandfathers, I took a shower and got dressed for bed. I couldn’t wait to text Mala. She’d told me not to worry about calling or texting her while I was in Del Sol Valley–she just wanted me to enjoy myself. I’d actually hovered my finger over the Spacetime app about a thousand times, and actually did tap it a few times, but she didn’t pick up. That wasn’t strange since I figured she was at the beach with her friends and not on her phone.

I sank into some pillows and texted her.

Since it wasn’t too late, I knew she’d be messing around on her phone. But she didn’t text me back right away. Maybe she was watching a movie?

So, I sent another one just in case.

But she didn’t respond. Well, I figured she must have had a tiring weekend and went to bed early. I’d see her in the morning at school anyway.

I messed around on some websites, played a few games, but really didn’t want to go to sleep yet. So, I texted my best friend, Drew.

What popped onto my phone made me want to puke.

Mala was with Oliver Fucking Treadstone? Again? God, how stupid could I get?

I literally felt my insides turn over.

Drew tried to make me feel better, telling me she was the loser and a whore and all sorts of awful things I would never call her. But none of that did anything but make me feel worse.

I was the loser. She didn’t even have the decency to break up to my face. She just ghosted me, hoping I’d go away like some worthless piece of shit.

I couldn’t stop looking at that picture. Drew told me his girlfriend, Justine, was out with her friends at a coffee shop and found them together. This was a small town. Mala knew I’d find out. But she didn’t care. Oliver Treadstone was a well known manwhore. What the fuck? Why did she want him over me? If she’d taken brass knuckles and punched me in the face, it wouldn’t hurt as much as this.

When I caught her the last time, I should have told her to fuck off. But I didn’t.

Why didn’t I get angry, punch that asshole in the face, and tell her to go die in a hole?

And why didn’t she just leave me alone? Why cry and tell me she wanted to get back together?

Unless she hated me so much that she just had to make the pain of not wanting me hurt even worse.

God, my life sucked.

******

Ginny

Uh oh. Shit just hit the fan. I didn’t think my picture would get back to Liam at light speed.

But Justine did say Drew would tell Liam asap. And I thought I’d revel in the idea of them breaking up. But…

Looking at his sad face was like I’d been kicked in the heart by a pile of abandoned kittens.

I hated Mala even more for it. How could she hurt him like that? And I felt like I had a hand in it, too. I was the worst.

For once, my mouth didn’t ramble on and on when I sat next to him. It was like a cloud had descended over us. I wanted to fix it since I basically pulled the rug out from under him. He could have been happy in his little fantasy world. I’d bet Mala would have strung both him and Oliver on for months. Here I thought I was doing him a favor, but…I should have minded my own business like Destiny warned me.

But what good would that have done? He would have found out sooner or later. It was best he learned about it and moved on. But he didn’t look like he was moving on any time soon.

“Hey, Liam…the archaeology club is meeting tomorrow. After school in the library.”

He just sighed and nodded.

Poor guy! I wanted to trip Mala when she walked past my chair. I turned and glared at her but she didn’t look up from her work.

“It should be fun,” I added. “We’re going to raise money for the revamping of Deadgrass Isle and start an excavation around Deadgrass Discoveries. People claim there was a shipwreck there before they put up the lighthouse. We’re probably going to find some cool artifacts that the museum will display.”

But Liam only nodded again. He was so out of it.

Liam

I’d been in a haze all day. I didn’t want to feel like this. It hurt worse this time than when I’d caught Mala red handed with that fuck.

I mean, it was like she plunged a knife in me, knowing what she was doing this time, and twisted to make sure it hurt.

I didn’t feel like going home after school either. My grandfathers were way too smart and would want to talk about why I was being so quiet. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. Not even Drew. I saw him heading toward my locker. I knew he’d do all sorts of stuff to get my mind off things, but today, I just wanted to wallow. I was owed that, wasn’t I?

As I walked toward the beach near my house, the clouds grew dark and cold rain started pelting me. “Oh, thanks, God. Way to make me feel better.” It was like the whole world was out to get me.

I wanted to get out of this nightmare. Anger, sadness, helplessness roiled inside, making me miserable. And I knew I shouldn’t be feeling like this. She wasn’t worth it. Everyone said so, but…

She’d been my world for over two years. I’d made plans. We’d made plans. Together. I’d pictured our lives with each other. We even talked about how many kids we’d have. She’d buy a boutique in downtown Brindleton Bay and I’d help her manage it while making sure our kids were taken care of, fed, and everything was fine at home. I was good at that.

At that moment, I really missed my family. Brandy’s cute face. Zack’s smartass comments. Mom’s wise words. Dad’s hugs.

As the foghorn blasted and the salty sea air wafted over me, I knew it was over forever. Mala and I would never be together again.

I was all alone.

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Chapter 6.18

Ages of characters: Liam–16, Zack (his brother)–11, Brandy–5, August & Beau, Briar: 61, Lexie, James: 43

Ginny

My friends sidled up to me, Rosalin taking my hand.

“See what the cat brought me, guys?” I asked. “Two rats.”

“Oh good God,” Destiny said. “Does she have no shame?”

Suddenly, the two love birds shouted at each other and both were on their feet.

“Mala, please don’t go. I’m sorry,” the douchebag yelled.

My friends crowded around behind me.

“Guys,” I whispered. “They can’t see us–their backs are facing us.”

I couldn’t hear a word they said. Dammit! But Mala was blasting a finger in Oliver’s chest.

Then he spit something back at her. If only I had a microphone on them. I wanted to hear every juicy detail.

Then Mala pushed him away, like she was breaking it off. NO! This skank was not about to get rid of her adulterous lover. Was she doing this to be with Liam?

But then the heaven’s parted and God literally shone all his glory onto them. (Seriously, the sky grew the most beautiful shade of pink.)

Oliver was about to kiss Mala!

My girlfriends started squealing behind me as Mala and Oliver’s lips met. So, I did the only thing someone could do in this situation.

I got out my phone and snapped.

Destiny hissed, “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Ginny?”

I put my fingers over her mouth. “It’s called fate, Des. And if Liam won’t believe what a skanky ho his girlfriend is, I might have to show him.”

“You know he could get mad at you for not minding your own business.”

Des was always a worry wart.

“Oh, God. Poor Liam,” Justine said. “When I let Drew in on this…he’ll definitely tell Liam.”

“I hope he kicks her to the curb,” Rosalin mused behind me.

“Hey, guys, let’s go!” Ally whispered. “I don’t want to get caught.”

But I wasn’t moving a muscle until I got the full blown goods on a thot that needed bringing down.

Liam

I told Mom and Dad about my decision to stay in Brindleton Bay. They were totally cool with it and said Grandpa and Granddad would meet me at home. I had school the following day, so I needed to book it if I wanted to get back at a decent hour.

When the time came for me to leave, I had a hard time saying good bye. Especially to my siblings. We like hadn’t been apart ever in our whole lives. In fact, I was with them way more than either of my parents had been. Little Brandy didn’t really understand what was happening either. I bent down and took her tiny hand. “Hey, baby girl, you be good for Mom and Dad, okay?”

“I will, Lee Lee.” I was going to miss her sweet smiles and dimples.

“Your limosine is here, sir,” Marcus said, waving me to hurry up.

Both Zack and Brandy rushed over, giving me hugs.

I was shocked Zack was taking it this hard. “I’m going to…miss you,” he said into my shoulder.

Then Brandy’s lip quivered. “Don’t go, Lee Lee!”

“Hey…I’ll be back in a few weeks. Don’t worry.” Squeezing them, I whispered, “I love you guys.”

*****

The plane ride was freaking long and I took a Suber home. When I walked in, I was blasted with my grandparents kissing.

I smiled. I guessed even old folks still got it on?

Clearing my throat, I called out, “Hey, Grandpa and Grandad! I’m home.”

They both shot up and ran over to me. “You’ve grown a foot since the last time I saw you, Liam!” Granddad slapped my back. I guessed I had grown a lot. I was almost as tall as he was.

Grandpa enveloped me in a squishy hug. “You’re looking good, kiddo. So happy to see you.”

“Me, too, Grandpa.”

I sat down to chat.

“So…how’s Del Sol Valley?” Granddad asked.

“It’s amazing. No joke, my folks’ place has a pool the size of the whole town of Brindleton Bay.”

Granddad laughed. “Well, your grandpa and I are here for you, Liam. If you need anything from us, don’t hesitate to ask.”

“And let me know your favorite dishes, too, Liam,” Grandpa added. “I’ll have it ready whenever you want to eat supper.”

Did I just die and go to heaven? They didn’t know I was the one who usually cooked around here and it was mostly mac and cheese and nachos. “Thanks, Grandpa. Sounds awesome. And thanks for staying with me like this. I know it must be an inconvenience.”

“Are you kidding?” Granddad said. “Us old guys live for this stuff. What else have we got to do? Next weekend, we’ll show you around some places we used to go when your mom was little.”

“Awesome, Granddad. Sounds fun.” This already turned out to be the best decision I’d ever made. For once, someone was going to take care of me for a change.

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