When Valerie woke the next morning and found herself alone, she wasn’t at all surprised. Part of her was incredibly relieved since she’d no longer have to worry about what Johnny might do next, but a bigger part was very anxious about money. He’d taken everything.
Still, Valerie knew she didn’t have time to mope around about her sudden destitution, because she couldn’t risk Amelia being taken from her. Instead, she needed to find a solution, and fast. Luckily, she had become quite resourceful since moving to Newcrest, and wasn’t as helpless as she’d been before.First things first, she had to get outside, despite the storm, and collect all of the rocks that had fallen from the sky. She was impressed by how many had fallen outside her house, and between the three of them she immediately earned back almost §300 straight away. She breathed a sigh of relief. Amelia wasn’t going to starve. But still, she had nearly §3,000 saved up with Johnny, enough to build Amelia her own bedroom upon aging up. Amelia’s birthday was coming closer and closer, and §300 wouldn’t be enough to provide her with everything she’d need to start learning about the world.
Valerie headed down to the river and got back to fishing. It was the only way she knew how to make money, aside from selling her plants, and that wasn’t bringing in nearly enough money yet. Still, she was getting better and better at catching fish, and managed to catch a nice handful in the rain. She didn’t stay out any longer, though, as she was finding every second she stayed out she was becoming more and more afraid of being struck by lightning.
Instead of continuing to put herself at risk, Valerie sold the few fish she’d caught and pulled out her phone as she began her journey back. She dialled a number, and he answered after the first ring. “Hello?”
“Hi, is this Akira?” Valerie asked, her feet slipping slightly in the muddy grass as she continued home.
“It is. Valerie, I assume?” His voice crackled a little, and Valerie assumed the storm was interfering with the signal. Still, she couldn’t help but smile when she heard him say her name.
“No, try again,” she replied, “it’s one of the other girls you gave your number out to. You have to guess who.”
“Nice try, but you’re the only girl I’ve given my number to,” he said, and Valerie was sure she could hear him smiling. “What can I do for you, Miss Mayor?”
“I wanted to invite you over to meet my daughter,” she replied quickly. Valerie had thought long and hard about whether to tell Akira about Amelia, but ultimately she knew Amelia was a part of her life now, and any man would have to be okay with that.
“I’d love that,” Akira replied enthusiastically. “I can come over now if you want? I don’t have work today.”
“That sounds good,” Valerie said, encouraged by his excitement to meet Amelia. “I’ll be waiting,” she said with a smile as she hung up.
Akira arrived less than an hour later, and Valerie couldn’t help but find herself closely inspecting everything he said or did before letting him meet Amelia. After Johnny, she wasn’t going to let herself rush into anything. She couldn’t afford to make that mistake again. And despite her best efforts to trip him up, he still managed to impress her at every turn. “Maybe I don’t need to be so worried,” she thought to herself, but she tried to hide how she was feeling, still a little afraid that the other shoe was about to drop.
As they continued to chat, Valerie found herself more and more comfortable with him. He was friendly, charming, and in her eyes, definitely more handsome than any other men she’d met around Newcrest. She could definitely see herself falling for him.
“It’s sweet, you know,” Akira said, smiling dreamily at Valerie.
“How much you want to protect your daughter. You invited me round to meet her but so far all you’ve done is ask me about what I want from the future and whether I have anyone else I’m interested in.” His smile broke out into a grin. “Valerie, I know we’ve only just met, but I think you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. If you need to take things slow I understand. I’m guessing it has something to do with her dad. But you don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to.”
Valerie’s brow furrowed a little. Had she really been that transparent? “I–I’m sorry, Akira. I didn’t mean to grill you. My relationship with Amelia’s father, Johnny, moved way too fast, and I don’t want to have another child when I don’t even have a bedroom for Amelia yet.”
Akira laughed lightheartedly. “It’s okay,” he said, placing his hand on Valerie’s arm, “I’m not looking for a quick WooHoo here. I just want to get to know you.”
Valerie smiled shyly, and Akira pulled out his phone. “Oh, Plum, it’s ten already? I need to get going, the last train to San Myshuno is in half an hour.” He stood and started walking towards the door.
“Let me walk you out,” Valerie said, standing to follow him.
As soon as they were outside, Valerie surprised him by moving in for a kiss. He didn’t know how to react at first.
He quickly figured it out, though.
Note from the Author: Slightly shorter one this time! Been a hectic weekend but at least I still got this out on time, very proud of myself. Next chapter coming on the 7th at 7pm GMT!