Sophia was in deep sleep when Tristan’s thoughts woke her up.
Hmm… There was a point in his words. Unlike what Tristan thought, there were players and indeed there were layers. They were just yet to come. But she had to agree on one point, the first level got extended a tad too much. There was much work to do now.
“You cannot blame me, Tristan, you took an unnaturally long time to genuinely regret. So blame yourself if you have been stuck in the painting for more time than you wished.”
Sophia meditated and sent her thoughts to Tristan, “Boy, Keep that tone out of your voice Tristan. It will not do you good. But let’s shake hands and make a deal on the end of the Level one of the game as you say. Soon you will enter the next, and let’s see how you fare in there.
But let me warn you; from the next level, you are on your own. I will not be hearing you or communicating with you in any manner. The return to your life is entirely your own responsibility.
Also, the first rule still applies. “If ever, in this eternity, you feel that your heart can beat for somebody else… If ever, you think you can put someone else before yourself, if ever you can re-arrange your priorities, you will come back into life.”
All the best Tristan.”
Tristan was beyond shocked at Sophia’s words. What exactly does she have in mind? Next level? And no communication. Great.
What the hell was going to happen to him?
The next day Scarlett woke up stone cold and painfully sick. She threw up till afternoon, unable to keep anything in her stomach, even water. Finally exhausted she slept again till evening three.
If it was possible for a non-living to die, Tristan died a hundred times. Watching and worrying and hanging helplessly.
He kept chanting her name, like it will give her the strength to through the spell. What a hangover she had… The wine must have been bad or she must not be a great alcoholic. Good wine does not do this to anyone. Tristan did not know whether he was whispering her name to give her strength or keep himself from crumbling into pieces.
She will never be able to thank Tristan enough for this. Every time he said her name, she knew she had to keep going and be strong. All this puking hurt her insides but she did not feel so alone. Even though she was taking care of herself, it felt as if Tristan was doing it for her. Somehow, after many visits to the washroom and painful retching, the bloody hangover was over and she managed to retain a glass of juice. She was so exhausted that she fell asleep again.
At three she woke up with her stomach grumbling a complaint for ignoring for so long. After downing another glass of juice, she waited for fifteen minutes. If she was going to vomit again, it might as well go down the drain and join its predecessors than claim a piece of her car. But nothing came up. Thank god for small favors.
So immediately she got ready and dashed to Magic Brew. She needed Maggie’s healing decoction and peace of mind to think clearly. As she was entering the café, Leah from the office called her phone.
“Hi Scarlett. Where have you been? I have been trying to call you since ages. What happened?”
“Oh Leah, I am sorry. I was not well. Terrible headache. I slept off after taking meds. Didn’t check the calls on my phone.”
“Okay. So, are you coming to the office now?”
“Now? No way at all. I am totally dead. All good? Something important? Any problems?” The episode with Mathew the previous evening came crashing down to her.
“Oh no… nothing at all. Just that a meeting with the Chase Holdings has been fixed in another two days. Thought you would like to know it for drawing up the agreement.”
“Oh yes of course. Two days right? Oh, its such a crash week for me Leah. My parents are moving to this city this week and I am totally busy and then there is the case of… well, I am also helping a friend to move out and find a new place to live.”
“Oh, but I am afraid I cannot change the dates. This was a lucky chance. The next available dates are, like, at least two weeks later…”
“No issues Leah. It’s ok. I just said. See you at the office tomorrow then. I need to eat something or I might be dead before tomorrow.”
Maggie emerged again with extravagant food on a tray and asked her, “Why are you going to be dead before tomorrow?”
“Because I am famished, starving. ”
“Hmm.. why don’t you eat properly from home?”
“I don’t like to eat alone.”
“Hmmm…. Shall I join you then?”
“No. Don’t touch a thing on my plate. You want? Then get another. I need all this. Not sharing. Not this time.”
Maggie laughed her trademark laughter and suddenly the world seemed a better place. That is the magic of friendship. “You little elephant…” Maggie teased her and went to the counter to attend another customer.
Scarlett smiled between mouthfuls. She had to love this woman. It was one of her lucky days when she walked in through the doors of Magic Brew. It took remarkably less time for Scarlett to clear the tray. She knew she shouldn’t eat like this. Or else, by the time Tristan came out of the frame he will not even glance in her direction.
“Excuse me, mind if I take a seat here?”
Sophia McClaire again.
“I will take that as a yes,” and she sat down. Today she looked different. Sharper. Younger. “ Hope you have not forgotten me yet.”
Forget her? How could she! “No. No, I haven’t.”
“If you have recovered from the shock of seeing me, maybe we can talk about Tristan.”
Scarlett spluttered the drink she was sipping. Man. That was really subtle.
Sophia continued, wiping off the droplets of the drink Scarlett had spilled from her dress. “Hmm…thank you for sharing the drink.”
She was gentle and funny yesterday and today she was pointed and all business. Okay. Then that is how it is going to be. Yet there was thin line of humor in her voice and challenge in her attitude and Scarlett was only too ready to oblige.
“My apologies Mrs. McClaire. I was caught off guard. Here, let me help you clean the mess.”
“No dear, it’s okay. We have a bigger mess to clear. Don’t you think?”
“Oh yes, we have. I am all ears.”