Chapter Sixty-Five

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Meredith started her car in Duluth, Minnesota, in late September. Kyra's twenty-first birthday had rolled around, and she did as many fresh twenty-one year old's did, went drinking until they vomited their guts on the sidewalk. Thankfully Kyra hadn't hit that point yet, but she distracted by any movement that came. Anything shiny, she had to stop and look at.

Makayla and Marta, Kyra's other friends, were in charge of getting her into the car, as Meredith turned up the heat. "It's so cold," Kyra complained, climbing into the back. Meredith rolled her eyes but didn't touch the heat.

"Kyra," Makayla, the only other sober one of the group, cooed. "Settle down. We're going to the next bar."

"Pub," Kyra corrected.

"You're in America. It's a bar." Meredith pulled out of the parking spot and headed toward the next bar.

Kyra stuck out her tongue.

Marta snickered in the back. "Kyra, tell us about River Falls. How's college? Are you learning anything?"

"I don't know what I'm doing, but I realized that it's just college," Kyra said matter of factly. "None of us know what we're doing. We just pretend. Classes are boring, and it's hard. It's not worth the money. I don't understand what I'm going for."

"Audiology," Meredith reminded. "You're going to be an audiologist."

"Why did I decide that again?" Kyra asked.

"You wanted money."

"Oh yeah," Kyra trailed off. She watched pretty lights trailed past the car as Meredith drove, getting onto the highway. Pushing her nose to the window, Kyra looked like a fish against the glass. "I want cake."

Meredith rolled her eyes.

"Mer," Kyra moaned, "Mer. Mer. Mer. Mer. Mer. Mer. Mermaid. Merman. Mercedes. Mercenary. Mer... Mer... merchandise. Merchant. Mercy. Mer.... Merciful. Mercifully. Merciless. Mercilessly. Mercilessness-- ness-- ness. Mercilessnessly. Mer. Mer. Mer. Mer."

On the verge of slapping her drunk friend, Meredith only asked, "Yes?"

"Oh, you're paying attention, good," Kyra replied happily. "I have to pee."

"Hold it. We're almost there."

"But I have to go now."

Meredith kept on driving; Kyra was cleaning the car anyway. Thankfully Kyra kept herself contained until they reached the next stop, where Kyra ran into the bar, followed by Marta and Makayla. Locking up her car, Meredith phone started to ring. At past midnight, she knew exactly who it was.

"Hello, Harry," Meredith said. "Aren't you up early on this fine morning?"

"I leave today for a tour. I thought I might give you a ring," he responded.

"And you knew I was up. How?" Meredith asked. "You know better than to wake me."

"Well, Kyra posted on Instagram, and I was emailed."

Meredith paused, waiting outside the bar in Duluth. "How does that work?"

Harry sighed. "Your friends' social media accounts are monitored so the monarchy may be prepared if anything happened."

"Like compromising photos?" Meredith asked. "Which I assume is why you called me, Harry, to warn me to keep Kyra's phone away so that no compromising photos of me happen."

"I also wanted to make sure you were having fun."

Meredith rolled her eyes, not really believing him. Loud music pumped from the bar, shaking Meredith's bones. She shivered. Winter was coming fast in the north Midwest. Soon enough, snow hit the ground. Everything froze over. Yet, it meant winter break happened faster. Meredith counted down the days until the next break. A month into her junior year of classes and everything went fine. But she wanted to be in the arms of Harry again. Whether it was London, somewhere warm or somewhere cold, she didn't care-- only that it was Harry.

From across the street, some males smoked cigarettes. One glanced at her, and she turned her back.

"Did you get my present?" she asked. "I sent it Bill to get around some of the security."

"Not since you asked yesterday," Harry joked. "These things take time."

Meredith knew that.

"You could always just me what you got me."

"You're thirty-three years old, and you still don't know patience," Meredith mocked. "It'll show up, I assume, and you can open it then. It's not a big deal or whatever."

"Then you should just tell me."

"Patience."

"Mere."

"Nope."

"Come on."

"No." Meredith's eyes fluttered back across the street, where both guys looked at her. In the dark, neither of them knew her face. Her female voice traveled across the street as she talked on the phone. "What else is going on, Harry?" she asked loudly through the cell phone. Her eyes wandered over to the men, who still looked at her.

"I just got up," he said nonchalantly.

"Are you excited?" Meredith moved into a more defensive stance, looking at the men directly. She gripped her purse.

"Well yeah. Anytime I can travel, I love it. Granny sends me more places than any other royal."

"You do make people smile more than anyone else."

"Hey now."

Meredith tried to think back to the words she just said, but she couldn't remember. Also, she didn't have time. The guys had started to cross the street. "Harry, I'll talk to you later. Kyra wants me." She hung up before anything else.

Slipping into the bar, the guys didn't follow her in. Meredith breathed a sigh of relief.

"Mer!" Kyra yelled. "Merica! Oh wait, Harry's British. Mertish! Merdom!"

Meredith was going to kill her. Walking over, she asked, "Merdom?"

"Yeah, like the United Kingdom. Would it be Merted Rogdom?"

She stared at her best friend. "You've had too much to drink."

"Not until I vomit."

"Is that the goal?"

"Yes. Now, is your and Harry's celebrity name Hadith or Merry? Honestly, I know people will like Merry because it's cute, but I think Hadith works so much better. You're scruffy around the edges so I think it gives people fair warning," Kyra rambled. "Oh, I got it. Engith."

"What?"

"England and you. Or there's Merland. Ooh," Kyra screeched in laughter, clapping her hands. "Now that's the one. Merland!"

"I thought you settled on Hadith?"

"Merry works too. It's the goal." Kyra paused and clutched her stomach. Instinctively, Meredith stepped back. Vomit streamed out of Kyra's mouth and onto the disgusting floor. Meredith had to look away or she would be next.

"Well, I think this is the end of the night."

Kyra had her hand on her mouth, unable to answer. She only nodded. Tears started to fall.

"Come on, adult." Meredith gripped her friend's shoulders. "Let's get you to bed."

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