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Ash the Mastermind [WB Feb Prompt 2023]

Ash, the Mastermind


Ash has been constantly texting me daily reminders of his grand surprise for Keera. Geez, no need to also remind me on a daily basis that I’m single. I have enough of that just seeing them flirt at SOL.


I tell him I got his back and lay back down.


Carnappy: I’m coming to pick her up. Don’t forget to tell her to get ready. Tnx.


I tap the Yes, got it from the message quick-reply template and bury my head on my pillow. It’s a Sunday morning, Ash. This is the time to sleep. Recuperate. Hibernate. Until Monday comes and I need to get out of the cave again.


When I turn to Keera, I throw her my mini pillow. She doesn’t even move. Oh gods, she sleeps like a log.


“Keera, get up. Ash is coming over.” My phone beeps again, Ash sent pictures of him buying flowers now. Crap. “Keera! Get up!”


I shake her and she turns her back on me.


“Come on, I promised Ash you’d be ready when he gets here. I had one job!” I pull the blanket off and for one brief moment I wish she was naked underneath the sheets.


Instead, she’s already dressed up. “Good morning to you too, Leah.”


“What–”


She chuckles, pulling me with both hands until I tumble over her. “By ‘get ready’, Ash meant it for you.”


“I’m not interested in dating him.” I try not to breathe because then my chest will press on hers. My arms are already having a hard time trying to keep myself afloat.


“Right, you’re only interested in watching him have sex with me.”


I fall off the bed, my dignity crumbling like a building being attacked by a bulldozer. She sits up, laughing and helps me up but my entire body is limp.


“I’m kidding. Up you go.”


“I’m not gonna be the third wheel of your date. I’d rather be alone and read my collection of erotica.”


The door opens and Ash slips into the room with flowers and chocolate. “Is your chaperone ready?” Ash asks.


“She hasn’t bathed.”


“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m Keera’s chaperone?” I snap at them.


“And I’m Ash’s chaperone.” That voice. I turn and Ash steps aside to reveal Bran standing behind him. He grins, his judgmental gaze studying my unbathe body, my bedhair and goldfish PJs. “Leah Brennan in her natural habitat.”


“My gods, why did you let him in! I’m not properly armed!” I rush to the bathroom and slam the door behind me. Forgetting my clothes and towel and everything. “Can someone get me some clothes? And a towel…”



~ - ~



Bran and I follow the two into a park. Sure they’re sweet and cute together and I’m happy for them–I want to. But the bitter woman in me can’t fully give that support.


Then there’s this guy who eats chips so loud, he doesn’t need a boom mic to be heard.


“Sorry, do you want one?” He offers me the bag of chips.


“Why are you here supporting them? Aren’t you jealous? He’s a noodle yet he’s the one banging her.”


Bran starts to eat again, every crunch grates my ears. “Is his dick a noodle too?” He scoffs. “Men will be men. He’ll get hard and he can slip it in, no problem.”


I choke on my drink and instead of spitting it, the liquid squirts from my nose instead. I cough violently, almost as if out of air.


He takes my cup of juice from me and rubs my back. The smell of orange juice is strong in my nostrils. “Were you trying to kill me?” I growl.


“With what? A dick joke?”


I glare at him and he goes back to eating his chips like nothing happened. “I’m just surprised you’re taking this well.” I search my purse for a tissue or a handkerchief.


The raven on the trash bin has been staring at me with judging eyes. It caws. I swear it felt almost as if it's laughing at me.


He nudges me with his elbow. “I’m not taking it well.” Bran hands me his handkerchief. “Unfortunately for me, she doesn’t need a man who can protect her. She needs a man who can love her.”


I wipe the orange liquid from my arms and face. “You can’t?”


“Not as sweet as him, I guess.” His gaze is glum, his chewing quiet. I guess I miss him eating loudly if it means he’s in a cheery mood.



~ - ~



The two happily tested different rides. I don’t even know what they need a chaperone for. Their adults and they know what they want.


“I can do one more ride,” Ash whines.


“No, you’re sick and we don’t want you exposing your lunch like slobs to the other passengers.”


“But the tickets–”


“It won’t go to waste.” Keera turns to me. “Right Leah?” She hands one ticket to me and the other towards Bran.


Bran takes both of it. “Any ride?”


“Any ride.”


“Uhm, hello. What if I don’t want?” I say. In case they don’t notice, I’m right here. But when I turn to Ash, he’s very pale. Motion sickness maybe. “Fine, where do we meet up?”


“Photobooth. You guys have fun.” Keera waves at us, taking Ash by the hand and leading him away from the waiting lane.


I turn to Bran and he grins. “Is Leah a daredevil or is she a noodle too?” he taunts.


Effective, I’ll give him that. “Take me to the scariest ride.”



~ - ~



As we walk towards the photobooth, Ash and Keera are running away from a restaurant laughing. They wave when they see us. My eyes deceive me because they both have wedding rings.


“Are you two serious?” My blood pressure rises.


“No, wait. This isn’t real.” Ash raises his hands. “We saw they offer free food if the couple has something between just-got-married and honeymoon.”


Looking closely at their fingers, it’s Keera’s silver rings. Ash tries to remove it from his ring finger. I’m surprised it got in, in the first place.


“And did you get free food?” Bran’s priorities, seriously.


“Free food and champagne.” Keera’s slur tone at the last word already means she’s had a lot to drink.


“You two are crazy. What if they find out it’s fake and they make you pay for it.” On second thought, these two do need a chaperone.


Ash throws the ring at Bran as soon as it’s out of his finger. “You try it. With Leah.”


“Oh, good idea.” Keera takes off hers as well. She has the best aim I’ve seen but not this moment. She tosses the ring in the space between Bran and I and it flies towards the waiting line for another ride.


Bran laughs. “Wow, you’re drunk.”


“I could have sworn you two are standing–and overlapping each other,” Keera mumbles. Yeah, drunk as hell, social goddess.


“Try it. Try it. Try it.” Ash claps. His cheeks are pinkish. Oh gods, he’s just as drunk.


“We can’t propose in the same restaurant as you did,” I say.


Ash raises a finger. If he thinks it’s his middle finger, it’s not. “I have a map of the entire park. There’s restaurants all over that you can fake a proposal.”


“You only proposed to one.”


“Why? Are there two of Keera?”


Bran pulls me from Ash before my clenched fists make it to his face. “We’ll do that. See you guys at the photobooth.”


When we’re far, he can’t stop laughing. I know I’m trying to hold it back too.


“Who knew being a chaperone is fun?” Bran studies the silver ring.


“Yeah, it’s kinda fun. But we only have one ring for the fake proposal,” I say. “Speaking of… you have one just like hers. What is it? A couple ring set?”


Bran takes his necklace out to show me. “We went to this fair. Met a fortune teller who told us to whom the ring fits is the one. Then asked us to buy from him.” He laughs. “We were new to the city, so we got scammed to buy his stupid rings.”


“She has four.”


“I bought five.”


We both laugh. For once, I get to see the side of Bran that isn’t the killer or the smug face he has all the time. I like this version of him. He’s chill and… normal.


“So, which restaurant are we scamming for food?” Bran tosses me his ring.


I smile. “I want to scam six restaurants.”


“Oh, beating the record, huh? Alright.” He points at the nearest one. “Welcome to Distance Between Our Stars.”


“That’s a weird name for a restaurant.”


We get in and pretend to order the cheapest food, planning to do the proposal in the most trope-ish possible. Ring in the glass.


Bran is very convincing with his killer smile, the dimples–my happiness is very real.


As soon as Bran kneels down, I’m ready to give my best squeal.


“Leah!” I turn and my elementary classmate waves at me. She’s grown so well. Beautiful brown locks. And with her is a handsome young lad in a Hawaiian shirt. “Omg, you’re getting married?”


Mission abort. I don’t want one of my real life friends to think this is real. Not to grumpy Bran.


“Yes, she is. To me.” To Bran, apparently.


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