Let's check in with the Campions—everybody's favorite couple ever!!  *cough* *chuckle* *snicker* ;)

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Scene 5: Delusion and Deletion

A.D. 2015 

The honeymoon had been going absolutely swimmingly. In other words, smoothly enough for Lacey to sustain sweet delusions of love.

They were only spending one more night in Athens, as Greece’s main attraction for romantic getaways lay in its many-splendored islands. Lacey was glad that the rest of their honeymoon would be set against the backdrop of such stunning seascapes. Just as glamorous makeup and elegant outfits could build self-esteem in the absence of any real confidence, she hoped that scenery so beautiful could inspire rapture, maybe fostering feelings that otherwise might not exist.

Athens was a perfectly nice place, she mused, looking out on the city from the rooftop restaurant. But apparently not beautiful enough for that. Not enough to ignite love beyond these delusions thereof.

On the topic of love, her mind briefly wandered to her whimsical inkling of power, the other day. The local guy and baker girl… Dan and Tess…

Then her cell started to vibrate, setting her designer purse abuzz, as animately as if Katherine herself were inside. The familiar feeling brought her firmly back to reality. Just in time as the entrees arrived.

Ryder let out an audible sigh as the waiter set down Lacey’s plate. Audible to her ears alone, that was to say, in light of how closely attuned her heart had always been to every sound he made.

“Is everything all right?” she asked, after the waiter had left.

“Yeah, everything looks fine with mine. It’s just that they forgot to put the dressing on the side,” he replied, gesturing toward her salad.

Indeed they had. She always made that request when she dined; it was often forgotten. “Oh, I don’t mind. It looks pretty light anyway.”

He nodded, accustomed to Lacey’s reluctance to ever trouble people over trivial matters. Much unlike her mother—who, in response to the dressing disaster, would have thrown a fit and sharply docked the tip.

At any rate, whenever Lacey’s salad arrived dressing-laden, that meant she would be able to eat even less of it. More calories per bite. Hence Ryder’s unhappy sigh. It pained him to watch his wife starve for the sake of… for the sake of what, even? There was no good reason. But such were Katherine’s orders; Lacey dared not contravene them.

It was thanks to Lacey’s eating habits that they were dining at the hotel restaurant for the third time on this trip. Though the Mega Bretania boasted some of the city’s finest fare, Ryder would much rather have ventured elsewhere, to sample more authentic Greek cuisine. But he had not mentioned that, as he knew it’d be torture for Lacey to be surrounded by the savory sights and smells of a gyro stop, all the sizzling grilled meats and freshly baked pita, unable to try so much as a bite.

“This place has such a lovely view of the Acropolis,” she remarked as her fork danced aimlessly about her dish, silver tines teasing at the vinaigrette-drizzled lettuces. “It’s so nice how they light it up at night.”

“It is. I really liked the Acropolis Museum, too. Did you?”

Lacey took a slow sip of water. Yes, she had—for the first few minutes, at least. Till she had recognized a certain petite brunette in one of the galleries and spent the rest of their museum visit trying to make sure that Ryder didn’t see her. “Yes, I liked it very much.”

“You’re more excited for the islands than Athens, though, right?”

She nodded with an effervescent smile. “Especially Santorini. The sunsets are supposed to be so gorgeous. Oh, and I had meant to mention—isn’t one of your veteran friends living there now?”

Ryder’s food felt suddenly heavy on his tongue. Everything always felt heavy at the thought of this one man: the former prisoner of war whom Ryder, Grant, and a team of Navy SEALs had gone in on a mission to rescue, long ago. Though they had succeeded in saving Simon, the poor guy remained the most troubled among Ryder’s veteran friends, for all the harrowing shit through which he’d been. He had sought peace since then, making his home in paradise on earth. Though no matter where the man lived, no place could ever erase trauma like his, Ryder knew.

He cleared his throat, but he could not so quickly clear away the thought. “Yeah. I think Simon is still living there.”

Something in his tone signaled that this conversation was not going to proceed. So Lacey just continued toying with her leafy greens.

“Are you sure you don’t want to check your phone?” Ryder urged her, a little while later. “Your purse is having a conniption.”

Lacey giggled, reaching to do as he suggested. “I probably should; it has been pretty active, even by the standards of my mother…”

As soon as she opened her inbox, a deep furrow formed in her brow. Her eyes flitted over the first text from Katherine, realizing instantly that the scandalous message had been sent by accident; it was clearly not meant for her. Neither was the next. Nor the next, nor the next…

Then a new text flashed across her screen: “Goodness!!! Lacey, DELETE those. All of them. NOW.”

If she failed to comply straightaway, she feared that her mother would know and would fly overseas to unleash all her rage. So Lacey’s frantic fingers hastened to obey. She had already read enough anyway. The unthinkable scandal of what she had seen had already sent chills down her spine, her heart into a hammering frenzy, all her wits into wild disarray.

From across the table, Ryder easily perceived her panic. “What’s wrong?”

She stuffed her phone back in her purse and shook her head. Part of her wished that she could hide this truth from Ryder.

But her heart was so open with her husband that she knew it would be impossible. “Those texts weren’t meant for me. They were addressed to… to Parker.”

Ryder blinked. “My father?”

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... SCANDALLLL!!! o_O  Any reactions? We'll find out more about these shady family secrets in upcoming episodes ;) ...


P.S. Dedication to @annie_king, bronze medalist in the Fateful Olympics fanfiction contest, for her lovely Lacey-centric fanfic "To Love You More" :D


Next scene, we'll check in with Clotho, back in 2020 B.C.—right after she bade farewell to Rider :'( ...

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