Last episode, we said goodbye to Arhun, that reclusive and romantic vampire! With one less competitor, how will the remaining contestants fare?
As Day Eight rolled around, everyone around the house found themselves busy. Maybe it was wanting something to do with Arhun’s presence being missed, or maybe it was the feeling that the competition had become even more real than before. Amira really was an incredible woman, and at the end of this, one of them would enter a relationship with her. With eleven days to go, they would have to work hard.
Zissy was checking on her social media, which had been picking up recently ever since she’d posted her review of GeekCon and its inclusive foods. A lot of sustainable eco-bloggers had followed her, something that made her perk up quite a bit.
Meanwhile, in the living room, Ursula had engaged Shiro and Skye in discussion. As always, her confidence shone through as she spoke.
“The competition’s definitely heating up, but I’d say we all have a decent shot. And you, Shiro! On the first day, I was sure you were going to be the first one off, if I’m honest, but you’ve really come out of your shell.”
“I’ll…take that as a compliment…” Shiro said, trying not to look as bemused as he felt. Ursula didn’t miss a beat, turning to Skye next.
“And you’re doing well for yourself, too. Personally, I’m a little jealous.” She laughed. “No hard feelings, though.”
“Ah, yeah…” Skye tried to sound natural, but the sharp contrast between how Ursula talked to her and how Arhun would have congratulated her stung slightly. If she’d known how much she would miss her friend, she’d have tried to help him in some way. Ursula and Arhun were very different.
Behind them, Scorpius was working on a painting, humming a gentle tune. He wasn’t quite listening to the conversation behind him, but he could sense Ursula’s exuberance from a mile away. She’d probably had a bit of a shock, landing in the bottom two like that. But then that was for her to know.
Some time later, Zissy was out for a morning swim around the back of the mansion when she noticed the weather starting to turn. It looked to her like a storm was incoming, so she flicked her tail and started to head back before the rain could start pouring.
As she pulled herself up the ladder and dashed inside, the heavens broke and the water became speckled with splashes, growing heavier by the minute. The clouds above rumbled, and Zissy watched through the window as the rain kept pouring down.
“I don’t think any of us are going outside today, people!” She breezed into the kitchen. “That’s a real Sulani storm out there.” She tried not to look too excited as she said it, but she couldn’t help but love the sound of the rain beating down on the waves.
“Oh!” Amira lifted her head. “Well…we’d better stay indoors today, then. Good thing today’s our day off, or we might have been sunk.”
Only she and Skye were in the kitchen, and as Zissy sat down to join them, she felt apprehensive. She’d hoped to go swimming today to clear her head a little after the rose ceremony, but in the end, it looked as though it wasn’t to be. A Sulani storm meant you had to be careful and stay indoors as much as was possible. The rain especially could be a problem, but the mansion was built quite high up.
“I’m sure it’ll let up later,” Skye said, gently. “Too bad we couldn’t all go for a dip.” Skye had also been planning on going for a morning swim like Zissy, but she’d stayed to have a quick chat with Amira. Just as well, really.
Skye went upstairs to get changed, while Scorpius finished off his owl painting.
“Nice painting, bud.” Shiro walked up. “What are you going to do with it?”
“Oh, I was thinking of letting it dry and hanging it up in the other room. It’d be a nice present for…well, whoever’s in the house next.”
“It’s really nice. Colourful, too.” Shiro gave him a grin. “Want a hand carrying it?”
While the guys were hefting the painting to a good place to dry, Ursula was sat on one of the benches, delving into one of the books she’d found. The bookshelves of the mansion were well stocked, and to her surprise she’d found one she’d been wanting to read for a while. The crew must have filled the shelves recently, because it was a relatively recent release – The Shadows of the Past by Mortimer Goth. Creeperific.
Back in the living room, Skye came to join a conversation Zissy and Shiro were having.
“I just feel like nature can be so scary, and we need to respect and take care of it.” Zissy sighed, happily. “I love storms. They have such wild energy.”
“I love the sound of the rain,” Shiro agreed. “It reminds me of when I was a kid. I never could sleep through storms.”
“Speaking of storms, have you guys ever played The Witcher?” Skye asked. “Or watched it?” She felt like she was reaching, but if she was going to join in the conversation she wanted to do so on her terms.
“Oh! I think I’ve seen some things about it online. Isn’t it like, Game of Thrones-y?” Zissy wrinkled her nose.
Shiro interjected. “Actually, I watched the first couple of episodes. It was all very well done…but I did find it hard to keep watching. It felt like it was made for the fans.”
Skye smiled at him. “I felt like it was too. Lucky I’m a big fan.”
“I prefer human stories.” Zissy smiled. “Documentaries, romances, old movies…The historical ones are the best, though.”
“You like historical stuff?” Skye asked, surprised.
“Oh, definitely. Pride and Prejudice is actually one of my favourite shows!” She smiled tentatively. “I love re-watching it. And did you know there was a show that came out about a historically sapphic woman who recorded her life in diaries?”
Skye’s eyes went wide. “You’re a fan of Anne Lister?”
“Totally! She’s got like, this super dangerous energy to her.” Zissy giggled. “I guess I like bad girls on occasion.”
“Ah, me too.” Shiro coughed. “I mean, not that I don’t like kind and lovely girls, though.” He was happy to keep this conversation going, as long as Zissy and Skye were getting along. Whatever they’d gotten out of their system during that fight, the rift seemed to be patched for the time being.
“Ooh, kind and lovely girls! Wonder who he means…” Skye winked at Zissy, who giggled again.
Later in the day, Ursula sought out Amira in the kitchen.
“Hey, I just…kind of wanted to talk to you. I know things are going to go however they will, but I’m really enjoying my time.” She steadied her nerves and carried on. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to go on dates with you, and I loved that I got to show you my favourite places in Windenburg. It meant a lot to me.”
“Ursula…” Amira smiled warmly. “It’s taught me something as well. I mean, home is important to everyone, and I know that Sulani is going to be somewhere I love all my life. But I really, I guess I took it for granted I’d stay here all my life. But I’ve learned other places can be just as beautiful. And in part, I have you to thank.”
In part. Ursula knew that probably meant she wasn’t the only one who Amira was thinking of as she spoke. Still, to see the warmth on her face was good, like fresh sunshine on the water.
Meanwhile, Zissy had just finished a brief yoga workout, stretching her muscles and allowing her mind to drift. She couldn’t help but be pleased that she and Skye were getting along, and yet she felt as though the idea of the rivalry had gotten to her head a little before. Scorpius had been good, as someone to talk to, but to see Skye so relaxed and open had made her rethink some of her earlier opinions.
Luckily, the indoor gym was a perfect getaway, if she needed to think. Yoga wasn’t always popular, and sometimes the others would leave her be if they saw her in there.
Downstairs, she helped herself to a glass of juice. Amira and Ursula had moved into one of the other rooms, talking about Windenburg and some local bars that Ursula liked. She stopped herself from sighing and instead drank more of the mango juice.
Perhaps, after all, first impressions couldn’t always be counted upon. She did sometimes tend to rely on them, and she’d found herself burned time and again by it, but right now, she was facing something important. She wanted to win this challenge. She wanted to be with someone who understood her.
But she’d been acting pretty much like the win was guaranteed, hadn’t she? And she’d been treating Skye like it wasn’t a fair competition. At the end of the day, the decision wouldn’t be hers. She just hoped it wasn’t too late to start trying her hardest.
A change of heart seems to be at hand! Will Ursula put her best foot forward? Will Zissy and Skye maintain the peace? Or will the contest for Amira’s heart bring new tension to the surface?
Keep watching to find out!
(Shiro belongs to 15aewar, Ursula belongs to VanPelt81, Skye belongs to Irishsong, Zissy belongs to marryacheesecake, and Scorpius belongs to INFINILoki! And as always, Amira belongs to me!)