The Star and the Ocean: Chapter Nineteen

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Everything hurt.

May groaned as she rolled onto her side and smothered her pillow over her face.

“Is this what death feels like?” she muttered miserably. “Because I think I’m dead.”

“I have it on very good authority this is not what death feels like,” came a groggy voice from beside her. “You’re just very hungover.”

Startled, May scrambled up to sit. She hadn’t expected anyone to reply.

A sharp pain struck between her eyes and she groaned again. Squinting, she saw Em stretched out beside her, an arm draped over her eyes.

“You’ll want to drink that,” Em grumbled, pointing passed May with her free hand.

A full glass of water sat waiting on the bedside table. May picked it up gingerly.

“Thank you,” she mumbled, taking a small sip. Em grunted in reply.

As she slowly rehydrated herself, May’s memories from the night before came creeping back.

She looked down at Em.

“What hap-”

“Nothing else happened,” Em cut her off, anticipating her question. “I helped you up to your room, you asked me to stay, and we both passed out.”

“Oh.” May blushed, relieved.

It didn’t take long for that relief to be replaced by a flood of embarrassment.

‘Em,” she spoke quietly. “I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Em rolled onto her side to face May. “You’re allowed to change your mind. I’m the one who should apologizing.”

May blinked in surprise. “For what?”

“For making you uncomfortable.” Em buried her face into the pillow without looking up.

May sighed. It was just her luck the first time she had been needed to say no was with someone she actually wanted to say yes to.

“It’s not that I didn’t want… I just panicked a little, I-”

“May.” Em put her hand over May’s free one and peered up at her. “It’s okay. You don’t need explain.”

May swallowed hard. “Yes, I do. I don’t want you to think that I don’t like…” She trailed off, too nervous to finish her thought.

“It’s fine.” Em smiled, closing her eyes again. “I like you too, you fucking nerd.”

May hadn’t expected such candor. She laughed even though it made her head throb. “I was worried it might have just been the alcohol. I wasn’t sure if you… You know.”

“Liked girls?” Em filled in the blank yet again. “Surprise.”

May gave another weak laugh. Placing the glass gently on the table, she squirmed back beneath the covers. With her head on her pillow, she watched Em until she opened her eyes again.

“So,” May hesitated, feeling her cheeks burn. “Does this mean I can keep kissing you?”

Em snorted.

“That depends,” she replied, smirking into her pillow. “Am I allowed to call you Maybe yet? If we’re kissing each other, I think I should at least get to call you by your nickname.”

May couldn’t suppress her grin. “Fine, I guess so.”

Em closed her eyes again. “It’s a deal then.”

Hand in hand, the pair drifted back to sleep until an unfamiliar sound startled May into wakefulness. She propped herself up on an elbow and listened.

“Em,” she gave the other a shake as the sound went off again. “Em, do you hear that?”

Frowning, Em groaned and turned her face deeper into her pillow.

Again, May heard the unfamiliar ringing. It seemed to be coming from down in the living room.

This time Em shot up, fully awake.

“Shit, that’s my phone!”

Without another word she hovered out of bed and, completely airborne, maneuvered out the bedroom door. It all happened so quickly the air she left swirling in her wake tugged the bedding straight to the floor. May sat up, watching the whole thing in surprise.

Em’s voice rose up excitedly. She was talking to someone but May couldn’t make out the words. Curious, she hauled herself out of bed and weakly made her way down to the living room.

“Sorry, bud,” Em laughed into a small mobile phone. “It died ages ago and I only just got around to charging it.”

She paused to listen to the reply on the other end as May made her way into the room. Even from where she stood, May could hear a man’s loud voice booming from the ear piece.

Em laughed again. “Actually, I’m on an island!” Another pause. “Well, it’s kind of a long story.”

Glancing to the side, she caught sight of May and beamed excitedly. “Hang on. Can we video chat? There’s someone I want you to meet.”

May felt what little color was left in her face drain away. She felt like garbage and imagined she probably didn’t look much better.

Before she could protest, Em initiated the video. She held the phone up while the feed connected.

A knot formed in her stomach; in no way did she feel prepared to find out who was on the other end of this call.

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Ko-Fi May

Banner art by @beverlylove

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