CHAPTER SIXTEEN

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ACE OF HEARTS
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

ACE OF HEARTSCHAPTER SIXTEEN: A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

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( ONE MONTH LATER )

"Something is coming," Mike spoke, his voice lowering. "Something angry. Something hungry for your blood. It is almost here."

"What is it?" asked Will, eagerly tapping his foot.

"It's the thessalhydra, I'm telling you!" said Dustin.

Lucas shook his head, "It's not the thessalhydra,"

"No, Dustin is right, Lucas," said Cassie, turning to face the group. "It's the thessalhydra."

Smirking to Cassie, Mike slamming a game piece onto the table. Followed by a loud thud, Mike shouted, "The thessalhydra!"

Dustin groaned and slammed his hands on the table, "Damn it!"

"It roars in anger!" shouted Mike, turning his head to face Will. "Will, your action!"

"W-What should I do?" asked Will, frantically looking to all the party members for help.

"Fireball him!" shouted Lucas, who shifted his gaze to Dustin.

Dustin smirked, "Fireball the son of a bitch."

Will grasps the die in his hands—shaking them frantically. As he drops the die, it counts up to fourteen. Dustin shouted enthusiastically, "Fourteen!"

Booting and hollering, the group of friends high-fived each other in victory. Mike exclaimed, "Will the Wise's fireball hits the thessalhydra!"

Shifting his feet to a stance, Mike shouts, "It makes a painful screeeeech! And then...it crumbles to the ground, it's clawed hand reaching you for one last time! And...and...and!"

Mike fell motionless onto the floor.

"Yeah!" Cassie cheered, wrapping Will into a victory hug, then dancing along with the rest of the boys.

"Lucas cuts off its seven heads!" continued Mike, watching as his friends danced. "Dustin, you carry the heads out of the dungeon. And Cassie, you break free from the chains and lead the party home!"

"You three then present the heads to King Tristen. He thanks you for your bravery and service." Mike finished.

The sound of the basement door opening followed by  rapid footsteps caused the group to look up, meeting the eyes of Jonathan Byers. The teenage boy smiled, "Jeez, whats that smell? Have you guys been playing games all day or just farting?"

"Oh, tell me about it," said Cassie, rolling her eyes and mustering a giggle. "Ten hours."

"That's just Dustin," said Lucas, laughing as he turned to the curly haired boy. "He farted."

The group laughed in unison as Jonathan told Will that they had to head home. Waving goodbye to Will, Cassie turned to Mike, "So, how did I do on my first Dungeons and Dragons campaign?"

"You're a natural," said Mike, smiling at the girl. He then leaned into her, whispering, "You might even be better than Dustin."

"Hey, I heard that!" shouted Dustin from the top of the stairs.

Giggling, Cassie turned to Mike, "It's been one hell of a year, hasn't it?"

"Yeah," Mike breathed. "It has. A lot has changed."

"Sure has," said Cassie, looking down at her hands, which were folded on her lap. Looking back up at Mike, Cassie spoke, "Do you think we'll ever see El again?"

Mike shook his head, "Honestly, I don't know. I hope so, though. She was our mage after all."

Sighing, Cassie looked back up at Mike, "I really miss her. She was like the sister I never had. Wherever she is...I hope she's safe."

"She will be," Mike assured, slinging an arm around Cassie's shoulders. "She'll be alright."

Nodding in agreement, Cassie gazed into Mike's soft brown eyes. Looking above them, Cassie noticed mistletoe hanging from the ceiling.

Cassie thought to herself, "Mike probably put it up there before I came over."

Smiling, Cassie leaned in and kissed Mike's cheek, "Merry Christmas, Mike."

Mike blushed, "Merry Christmas, Cassie."

As silence fell onto the two, Mike took a deep breath, glancing up at the girl, "Hey, can I ask you something?"

"Sure," said Cassie.

"Well...I don't know why I'm asking this...but...what do you think of us? I mean, I kind of really like you...and...I don't know." said Mike, squeezing his eyes shut and looking down at the floor in embarrassment.

"Mike," Cassie spoke softly, causing the boy to look back up at her. "Honestly, I don't know what I feel. But, what I do know is that I feel something when I'm with you that I haven't felt with anyone else before."

Pausing, Cassie sighed, "I was thinking...maybe...you could help me figure it out."

Mike raised his eyebrows, hope filling in his doe eyes, "Really?"

"Yeah," Cassie said, giggling. "I like you, Mike."

The two smiled at each other, then snapping out of the moment as Mike's mom shouted, "Mike! Cassie! Dinner is almost ready!"

Beaming, Cassie and Mike stood from their seated positions and made their way upstairs. Walking into the living room, the two spotted Steve and Nancy sitting next to one another comfortably.

Once Steve noticed his little sisters expression, he cocked up one eyebrow, "Are you kids alright? What happened?"

"Nothing," said Cassie, a small smile forming on her lips as she looked up at Mike. "Nothing at all."

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