Priscilla looks at the half-eaten steak in front of her and suddenly felt sick.
Not sick sick, but more like she's-sick-of-everything sick.
Throughout the whole date, Damon said probably less than 10 sentences to her. And of the 10 sentences, 9 of them was comments about the weather and the food. She knows what she is getting herself into when she chose Damon, but she had overestimated herself at that time. She could handle Damon and make him laugh, she had thought to herself. Boy was she wrong.
Still, she must persist. She remembers what was it that drew her to him. That soft, sensitive side of her he rarely shows.
She closed her eyes for a moment, and could not help recalling the events earlier that day.
It took forever before Aurelia returned. Somehow, she went out looking for Damon but came back with Zoe. While she was grateful that Damon won't have to see her in such a state, she could not help but question Thank you forZoe's abilities, especially with the fact that she came running in wearing just a bikini and all drenched. Still, she was glad that she was no longer alone with Naomi.
"You're just one of the more privileged kids in the poor side of the world. You don't understand." Naomi had told her.
She does not deny the first sentence. But the second sentence was uncalled for, she felt. Just because she did not directly experience what she and Aurelia had suffered does not mean that she does not understand. It was not in her place, or anyone's place, to assume what she does or does not understand. She'd like to believe that having been around Aurelia for the past 2 years, she's at least not ignorant.
The rest of the time, Naomi avoided talking or even looking at her. Priscilla was okay with it, and even let her go after making sure Naomi was more or less calm.
The wait was a long, awkward one. When Aurelia and Zoe finally arrived, she never would have thought she'd be glad to see Zoe.
"Naomi, sit down. The rest of you, get out."
That aura of authority and power that Zoe assert was so strong, Naomi sat down obediently without any problem. Well, except for one small request.
She looked at Zoe and asked, "Can Aurelia stay?"
"Yes, if that makes you comfortable."
She smiled at Aurelia, whose eyes was widened with surprise and confusion. Nevertheless, she nodded and grabbed a chair next to Naomi. Priscilla was then left alone in the bedroom area of the dorm, somehow feeling a little left out every time she looks at the door and wonder what they were talking about in there. Lily had already left the dorm, not bothering to stop to help her at all, mumbling something about being late for a date. It was a little early for hers, which Aurelia had mentioned to her before she left the room that Damon had postponed the date in lieu of the whole situation.
She had sighed and decided to just get ready for the date anyway, anything to take her mind off the whole matter.
They were in the kitchen for a good 2 hours before Zoe opened the door and left the dorm without saying a word to her. Priscilla quickly got up from the couch and ran into the kitchen. Naomi looked okay. Hand bandaged, and face showing no more signs of tears. Aurelia did not tell her what happened in the kitchen, saying something about confidentiality, but assured her that Naomi was okay for now.
So she simply sat around the dorm, reading an old book she brought, until there was a knock on the door. This time, Damon was early. Something about the way Damon had looked at Aurelia who was sitting on the couch with her told her that Aurelia probably had a fight with Damon about his punctuality.
Here she was now, finally having her first date with Damon.
"So," she said, desperate to break the silence. "What do you like to do in your spare time?"
Damon shrugged. "Whatever interests me at that moment."
"Ah," she replied, not knowing how to proceed.
This date was not going well at all.
It was obvious Damon had no interest in her. She knew that, as much as she hated to admit it. He was only her, being polite because she selected him as her choice of date. But perhaps, a tiny part of her hoped, that he would open up to her eventually over time. After all, from watching so many episodes of the competition that was broadcasted on TV, it was no secret that Damon was cold to everyone he met. She ought not to take that as a personal insult. Damon had a soft side, and the only problem was getting him to show it.
"What sort of things tend to interest you?" she asked him.
He shrugged again. "Anything, really. It's unwise to not open yourself up to more knowledge and experiences."
"Wouldn't there be a point whereby you draw a line?"
"Well," he considered as he took a sip of water. "I tend not to like anything to do with finance and business. I only know enough to get by."
"A simple lack of interest."
She decided to change the focus of the topic, seeing how he does not want to talk more about the current one. "Well, I really like fashion and -"
Damon got up abruptly.
"One hour's up. I'll be taking my leave now."
Without waiting for her respond, he simply left the cafeteria.
She stared at the door he exited to for a few moments, before snapping out of it. Glancing around, she was relieved that there was not many people here in the cafeteria to see what had happened. Besides, they did not seem to be paying attention to her.
Did he just left her like that? Why, how, what...
Quickly, she downed the last drop from her glass of water, leaving the rest of her steak untouched. She wanted to get out of here, and go somewhere alone to sort out her thoughts. What was she going to do from now on? She knew that she needed to persevere in getting closer to Damon, but if every date was going to be like this - an obligation than a date - she was not sure how long she can manage this feeling of dejection at the end of every day. What can she do? After all, Damon was her sole motivation for getting into this competition into the first place. She felt that, from the moment she saw him on her TV screen, she had to be with him.
Perhaps it was all just a one-sided fantasy.
"Priscilla, is it?"
She turned around.
"Dexter," the handsome, young man smiled. "I hope you remembered me."
She forced herself to smile back. "Of course. You saved my friend's life."
"It was for you, dear."
He took a step towards her. "Would you care for a walk around the garden outside? I could give you a tour around here too."
"I'm sorry, but... I'm not really in the mood right now."
His smiled faltered for a moment, but he nodded. "Next time, perhaps."
She nodded back, and left the cafeteria.
She decided that she does not wish to return to her dorm yet, and took a turn to explore the rest of the building. She knew most of the important locations from watching episodes of the competition. But watching it from a screen was one thing. Seeing it in real life was another.
It was a simple building only 3 storeys tall, but the width of it made up for its lack of height. On the first floor, all the shared facilities like the cafeteria, library and pool was located. It was also where the stage for most challenges are helped. The second floor was where all the dorms are located. The third floor was where all the nobles stay, and also housed several facilities that are restricted to the participants, unless invited by a noble.
She had no idea where she was going, but she trusted in her sense of directions and her ability to read the signs.
"Did you just reject a noble?"
She looked up. Lily.
"Were you spying on me?" she was not in the mood.
"No," she replied. "I was simply keeping a worthy rival close by."
"I have no interest in being your rival."
"Really? You might change your mind once this competition gets intense. You cannot depend on that other friend of yours. She's only going to pull you down. If you want to have a chance of being together with Damon-"
"You were spying!"
"It was hard not to miss the sight of what happened in the cafeteria," she replied quickly. "Anyway. I am offering you an alliance with me and my allies, all of whom made it to the top 10 ranking for the previous challenge. Our plan is to help each other out, eliminate the weaker ones in the early part of this competition. After that, it's all fair game."
"This is a one time offer. Decide now, or I'll take it as a no."
And without thinking, Priscilla gave her answer.