Note: One NSFW shot in this one
He’s your Papa. You’ve gotta be happy for him. Emberlynn reminded herself for what felt like the hundredth time as she watched the newlyweds fall once more into each other’s arms. And… at least he’s not miserable with Mama anymore? She tried to tell herself.
Feeling like she was going to be sick, Emberlynn took a few hesitant steps toward her father and his new wife. “H-hey Papa…” She muttered. “Congratulations.”
“Thanks, honey!” He replied brightly, pulling her in for a hug.
“And, uh, you too, Serenity… I’m really happy for you.” She tried to force the best smile she could muster as the lie passed her lips.
A high, shrill laugh filled the air in reply. “What’s that you called me? ‘Serenity’?”
“Um, yeah? That’s your name. Duh.” Emberlynn shrugged in confusion.
“Mmm, I don’t think so.” Serenity shook her head slowly as a cruel smirk slowly spread its way across her lips. “It’s ‘Mama’ now.”
Emberlynn threw her hands into the air in reply. “Are you for real?! You’ve gotta be fucking KIDDING me!”
“Emberlynn!” Phoenix snapped scoldingly. “That’s no way to speak to your mother!”
“WHAT?! You too?! You guys are INSANE!”
Trent suddenly appeared at his sister’s side, though Emberlynn was certain he had not been there moments before. “You hear that, Ren? Still bullying us after all these years…”
“Guess she hasn’t learned her lesson… Maybe a few of these will do the trick though…”
A cellphone had materialized in Serenity’s empty hand, its screen full of explicit photos of Emberlynn and Mason during those summer nights they’d once shared together.
“What the hell?!” She cried. “Where did you get these?!”
Serenity ignored her question. “It’s time you learned some respect… How about we send a few of THESE to your little friend Xander? And all his YouTube followers?”
“What?!” A panic unlike anything she’d felt before had begun rising in Emberlynn’s chest. “You can’t do that!”
But it was too late. Serenity’s finger was already about to hit ‘send’…
Emberlynn’s breath was harsh and ragged as she shot up in bed, still reeling from her nightmare. It had all seemed so real… and so terrible too.
It was just a stupid dream. Waves of relief washed over her as the realization struck her. Emberlynn swung her legs over the side of the bed, shaking her pounding head.
She didn’t need a psychology degree like her father to know what had sparked the awful nightmare. Even years later, she’d occasionally find her subconscious traveling back to all that terrible drama with the Ziegler twins in her teenage years.
Combine that with all the emotional stress she’d been under lately with her parents and Mason and, well… Recipe for a pretty terrible nightmare.
Through the fog of her hangover, Emberlynn could still remember how upset she’d been the night before. She’d begun the day in a terrible mood, thanks to a poorly-timed visit home, during which she got a front row seat to her parents’ current state of misery. Now that she had moved out on her own and Tristan, though still technically living under their roof, was so busy with starting University, it was like things were unraveling worse than ever.
Emberlynn had always secretly known that she and her brother were like the glue that was holding her parents’ marriage together. And now… Well, the cracks were coming out full force. It was so painful to see.
And then yesterday evening, still reeling from her visit with her parents, Emberlynn got a call from Mason that immediately dropped her mood from bad to worse — He’d proposed to Caroline. And, of course, she said yes.
Emberlynn tried so hard to sound happy for him, but in truth, it felt like losing him all over again… Though she always tried to remind herself that it was impossible to lose something that was never truly yours in the first place.
Still, ever since that fateful summer three years earlier when Mason had told her he had a girlfriend, Emberlynn’s mind had been flooded with so many ‘what ifs’. What if she’d been braver back when she was a kid? What if she’d let herself open her heart to him? Could she have loved him? Could they have been together? Could they have been happy?
The news of Mason’s engagement sent all those questions and more flooding back through her mind.
She’d been so upset that night that she’d completely skipped out on her plans to Skype with Xander and join in his 100,000 subscriber ‘party’ on his YouTube channel. She was so happy and proud of him, but she was a total mess. She couldn’t bear to ruin his special moment with her stupid moping, so she’d made up some BS excuse about ‘being tired’ and totally bailed on him. I’ll apologize later, Emberlynn had told herself. He’ll understand.
So instead, she’d found herself out at one of the clubs downtown, drinking and dancing until all thoughts of Mason fled her mind. In fact, it seemed that all thoughts had fled her mind, period. Try as she might, Emberlynn could not remember what had happened at the end of the night. She couldn’t recall what time she’d gotten back home, or how she’d managed to do so, or —
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a deep, rumbling snore filling the air.
Then she remembered…
Emberlynn looked down at the stranger’s sleeping face for a moment, wishing she could remember more details from the night they’d spent together. He’s pretty cute… Maybe I’ll give him my number. Or, with any luck, maybe he’d be up for another round before he left.
Wonder what time it is… She headed over to retrieve her phone from the pocket of her shorts, which lay crumpled in a pile on the floor beside her bed.
The moment Emberlynn’s weary eyes hit the screen, her stomach gave an enormous, sickening lurch.
It was nearly 12:30. And, to her horror, she had four missed calls from the theater.
“Fuuuuck!” She cried as she began frantically pulling on her clothes from the night before, not caring that they were neither clean nor appropriate enough for work. It didn’t matter. She had to go. Now.
“Hey… Rise and shine.” Emberlynn called out, giving the man’s shoulder a nudge as soon as she’d finished getting dressed and turning on the lights.
“Huh?” To her relief, he jolted awake with a start and sat up immediately.
“Sorry… But you’ve gotta go.” Emberlynn explained apologetically as she began picking his clothes up from the floor and practically throwing them at him.
He still appeared to be half-asleep. “What? B-but I…”
“Look, I was supposed to be at work over an hour ago!” Emberlynn explained desperately. “Like I said, I’m REALLY sorry, but I’ve gotta go NOW. And so do you.”
“You’re not even gonna make breakfast or anything?” The young man asked irritably.
Emberlynn sighed heavily. She didn’t have time for this. “Didn’t you hear what I said? No!”
He looked so much more offended than Emberlynn felt he had any right to be. “Wow. Seriously? Rude…”
“I told you, I’m late for work!” Emberlynn repeated. “I’m not trying to be rude!”
“Yeah, well you do a pretty good job without trying…” He muttered bitterly.
“OH MY GOD, just get dressed and GO!”
Thankfully, he did not argue this time, though Emberlynn could hear a great deal of unpleasant muttering under his breath the entire way to the front door. Ugh. So much for giving him my number… Jerk.
As Emberlynn hurried through the living room, she heard Gucci gave a little meow of indignation that she knew translated to “Give me attention, human slave!”, but there was no time for that.
“Sorry, baby.” She looked down at her furry companion apologetically. “Snuggles and catnip when I get home though, okay?”
He simply glared at her, then resumed licking himself.
By the time Emberlynn had finally shuffled her one-night-stand out the door and watched him disappear grumpily down the steps, Emberlynn had her phone to her ear. It nearly made it to voicemail before someone answered.
“Emberlynn?! Where the hell are you?!”
“Hey, Anneliese…” Emberlynn muttered weakly to her coworker as she finished locking the apartment door behind her. “So, uh, on a scale of one to ten, how dead am I?”
“ELEVEN. Charlotte’s on a RAMPAGE. Curtain’s in less than two hours!”
“It’s our first preview show!”
“Yeah, I know…”
“We need you, Emberlynn!”
“Yeah, I know!” She sighed in exasperation, letting her own frustration at herself get the better of her. “I’ll be there in like ten minutes. I’m sorry. Tell Charlotte not to have a cow, okay?”
“Too late.” Anneliese replied darkly. “I can hear the mooing already…”
Emberlynn rolled her eyes as she hung up, finally stepping out the front door of the apartment building and making her way down to the sidewalk below. She didn’t own a car, since she lived downtown now, where the public transportation system was excellent and most major things were within walking distance. And luckily for her, the theater was just two blocks down the street from her apartment.
God, I’m so dead. Emberlynn was still kicking herself for her carelessness as she made her way down the street. This internship was the only thing left standing between her and her Masters degree. But what if this screw up was enough to ruin everything? Charlotte’s employer evaluation was critical, and if she was really that mad…
“No. It’s gonna be fine.” Emberlynn muttered out loud to herself. “You can do this. Don’t let Charlotte get to you. You’ve got the next eight months to make it up to her.” Assuming she doesn’t fire you for this… Ugh. A small voice whispered.
She shook this thought aside as quickly as it had come, determined not to let herself lose focus. She just had to show up, kick ass, and everything would be fine.
Still, Emberlynn couldn’t help but marvel at how unbelievably shitty the last twenty-four hours had been.
She just hoped that meant there was nowhere else to go now but up.
Hope everyone enjoyed my little April Fools joke 😉 (Sorry to anybody who was left freaking out over this one haha (or to the handful of you who were actually rooting for this 😛 ) Forgive me!) Like I said to some of you, it WAS a real, canon part of the story though! A 100% canon dream 😛 I wasn’t lying! Hehehe
I will now be going back to my normal five-day schedule 🙂 Next chapter will be next Monday, the 8th!
I’d also like to give a HUGE shoutout and thanks to the incredibly-talented Nobbi (Echova on the gallery!) for creating Emberlynn’s gorgeous apartment for me (and not just the apartment itself, the entire lot!) It came out beautifully, and I’m excited to get to finally show it in the story! ❤