"I was worried about you." Morgan replied.
"You had no right to blab to my sister about our private conversations!" Liz fumed, "She told my Mom, now I'm grounded AND I'm not allowed to see Raj!"
"I'm sorry i had no idea Cat would say anything to your Mom." Morgan apologised.
"It doesn't matter what you thought would happen Morgan, i told you about me and Raj in confidence!" She yelled, "Who else did you gossip about me to?"
"No one i swear!" Morgan pleaded, the tears of frustration starting to prick her eyes.
"I don't want to hear it!" Liz shouted, holding up her palm to silence Morgan, "How am i supposed to believe anything you tell me? I thought we were friends."
"Liz we are friends." Morgan replied, quietly.
"Not any more we're not." Liz spat meanly before turning and storming away.
Morgan felt the tears well up and overflow, spilling down her cheeks at Liz's comments.
She knew she shouldn't have betrayed her friends confidence, but she had never intended for any of this to happen. She realised Liz would be furious that she wasn't allowed to see Raj and forgiveness was going to be a long way away, if in the distance at all.
"Hey are you alright?" A voice asked through her tears. Morgan looked up to see Declan peering concernedly into her face.
"N-No." She replied feeling the shudder of her sobs rack through her body.
"Come on, it can't be so bad can it?" Declan asked trying to cheer her up.
"My best friend hates me and everyone thinks I'm a baby." Morgan sniffed sulkily.
"Well i don't think that." Declan smiled, "Why don't we get out of the hall?" He offered and Morgan nodded, eager for him to takeover and spare her some of the humiliation she was experiencing.
"So you wanna talk about it?" Declan asked after they were both installed in the book club's reading room.
Morgan shrugged and wiped her tear stained cheeks, "Sorry to have a meltdown on you." She smiled. "I've just made such a mess of everything." she gestured helplessly.
"Everyone feels that way now and again." Declan replied kindly, "You know the saying a problem shared is a problem halved? I'm a pretty good listener, if you're interested?"
Morgan regarded the boy in front of her. She had known Declan for years from seeing him around school but she had never really spoken to him until he joined the book club. He was on the school paper and loved literature, both reading and writing it and this was the extent of her knowledge about him. Yet here he was being so kind and patient with her.
She felt herself relax, a sense of ease washed over her and Morgan found herself recounting the argument with Liz, reasoning over why she had decided to tell Cat.
Declan sat and listened patiently the whole time, occasionally interjecting with a "Uh huh" or an "I understand."
Morgan suddenly heard herself droning on and on and stopped mid sentence, "Gosh I'm sorry Declan I'm really babbling aren't i?" She apologised.
"Not at all, i told you I'm a great listener." He replied.
Morgan smiled, it was true he really was, she wondered how he would react if she revealed her more private worries to him and then shook it off. She had never discussed her Dad with anyone outside of her family, it was too weird.
Other Sims seemed to feel that they knew her Dad just because he had been a big celebrity before his arrest. Of course it didn't help that Sim Entertainment kept showing a true stories documentary about Robson and Marcia, the lady he had murdered. Nope way too complicated, she thought.
"There's something else, isn't there?" Declan asked, noting her expression.
Morgan shrugged her reply not wanting to tell a lie and say no but not really wanting to go into it.
"Whatever it is you can tell me." He encouraged.
"Do you think that a person can be 100% bad?" Morgan asked, prompting a confused look from Declan.
"Anyone in particular?" He replied.
"Just generally speaking." She clarified.
"Oh, no i guess not. I mean things aren't always black and white are they?" He answered.
"I suppose they aren't." She considered, "But do you think that if someone did something really bad that they can still be a good person?"
"I guess it would depend on what they did and if they were sorry for it." He replied, "Hey you know Liz will forgive you right? Just because you were concerned for her doesn't make you a bad person Morgan."
"Oh i know." She smiled, realising that he thought she was talking about herself. "Listen i have to get to class, but thanks for this." She added.
"Any time." Declan replied.
On his way home from the junkyard that afternoon Noah spied the object of his affections Shay hanging solo on the swings, and decided today was the day he manned up enough to talk to her. As subtly as he could manage he sauntered over and took up position on the swing next to her.
From the corner of his eye he took in the sight of her flame red hair which matched her ruby lips to perfection.
"Take a picture it'll last longer." She challenged, although when Noah looked up into her chocolate eyes he realised she was smiling at him.
"Sorry, it's hard not to notice you." He replied honestly.
Shay smiled wider at his compliment then pouted.
"What's wrong?" Noah asked.
"Urgh this place is so dull." She bitched, "I thought the city of celebs would at least have something fun going on." She continued.
"So what did you do in your last home town?" He asked.
"Sim City is the place that never sleeps, there's always stuff happening. This place is practically the sticks in comparison." Shay moaned.
"Well if it's fun you're looking for....." Noah began.
"You think you can keep up?" She challenged.
"Ha! I can run rings round those Sim City guys." Noah bragged.
"Oh yeah? Prove it." She retorted
Noah sprang from the swing and walked away calling over his shoulder, "Well are you coming or not?" To which Shay dutifully followed.
"So whose place is this anyway?" Shay asked once they had arrived at their destination.
"Mrs McCarty." Noah told her, "She used to teach at Bridgeport Elementary until she had some sort of breakdown, now she lives out here all alone. Just her and her cats." He giggled. "She's always yelling at local kids if their ball goes over her fence, last week she chased Jayson with her walking cane!"
"So whats the plan?" Shay asked giggling in anticipation.
Noah smiled widely, he'd known it the minute he laid eyes on Shay, she wasn't some prissy girl who liked hearts and flowers and watching the stars, this girl liked to cause trouble. And in that respect she was a girl after his own heart.
Noah saw the devilish glint in her eye at the prospect of what was to come, and he was not about to disappoint. Producing a paper bag from his pocket he scooped up the nearest pile of cat poop he could find, which wasn't hard the stuff was everywhere! Setting it on the ground in front of Mrs McCarty's gate he grabbed his lighter and set the bag in flames.
Next he reached inside his sweater jacket and retrieved the carefully stashed eggs from his pocket. Taking aim he hurled three or four at the house until he saw old lady McCarty making her way onto the porch.
He turned towards Shay and ran leaving the stink parcel and eggs smearing the front of the old lady's house.
"Oh my God Noah, she's coming!" Shay laughed.
"So what, she'll never catch us with that cane she's on." He laughed in return.
"That was so awesome!" Shay laughed, clapping her hands together in delight at Noah's display of rebellion.
"Hey! Hey you kids!" Mrs McCarty called, waving her stick at them, "You come over here and put this out!"
As her yelling had prompted only further laughter Mrs McCarty stamped on the offending parcel herself causing the contents to mush all over her sandal clad feet.
Causing a fresh round of hysterics between Noah and Shay.
"You damn kids you'll pay for this, I'll tell your parents!" She called trying to hobble over to them.
"Come on!" Noah called grabbing Shay's hand and pulling her away. The pair of them ran until their lungs hurt and their hearts were almost beating out of their chests. Noah could feel the adrenalin coursing through him at the thought of his prank and the look on Shay's face as she had watched.
"That was so funny Noah!" Shay cried, collapsing into his arms and hugging him tightly.
Noah returned her embrace fervently thinking to himself that if this was his reward for pulling off pranks then Bridgeport had better watch out!
Morgan sat on the couch reading the next assignment for book club, Romeo and Juliet. It had been suggested following on from the groups discussion about young love. Morgan had just gotten to the part where Romeo climbs up Juliet's balcony and ponders his feelings for her;
"Did my heart love 'til now? Forswear its sight. For i never saw true beauty 'til this night."
Morgan wondered how it was possible for Romeo to feel such emotions having only met Juliet hours earlier, how did he know so soon that he loved her? Or was he merely feeling lust at the sight of her beauty? How did you ever know what a guy was thinking when he looked at you? Or more importantly how could you ever know if when he told you he loved you that he truly meant it?"So what do you make of Shakespeare so far?" She heard Liz's voice ask as she felt the weight of the other girls body fall on the opposite end of the couch. It had been four weeks since their fight in the school hallway and neither one had spoken a word to the other since.
"It's Okay i suppose." Morgan sniffed.
"Oh Morgan, I've been such a fool." Liz exclaimed, "I should never have yelled at you the way i did, can you ever forgive me?"
"Of course i can Liz you're my best friend." Morgan replied, "I was only trying to help." She added.
"I know you were, i just got so mad after my Mom found out but i think maybe you did me a favour." Liz sniffed. Morgan could see the tears welling up in her cousins eyes.
"What happened?" She asked.
"Raj dumped me!" Liz wailed, "He said he didn't believe that my Mom had forbid me to see him, he thought i was just making up an excuse to not go all the way with him.""Liz I'm so sorry." Morgan replied, squeezing her friends hand in sympathy. She guessed she had her answer to her aforementioned question. There was one way to know if a boy truly loved you, make him wait!
"I heard from Janet that he's already seeing Carmel Bishop, urgh she's such a skank!" Liz harrumphed folding her arms across her chest in anger.
"Liz you're better off rid of him, he obviously doesn't deserve you." Morgan soothed.
"Morgan you have another visitor." Kaya called leading Declan into the lounge.
Liz turned to Morgan and gave her a wide eyed "what gives stare", which Morgan swiftly dodged by leaping from the couch.
"Hey! So should i go change?" He asked.
"Sure you can use the downstairs bathroom." Morgan replied pointing it out to him.If there was one thing that could drag teenagers from their traumas and out of their snarky moods it was the water slide. Even Liz dropped her I'm so grown up stance and clapped alongside Morgan as they took turns to slip and slide.
Morgan's friendship with Declan had continued over the weeks since her fight with Liz. They often hung out reading books or working on school assignments, but today was all about fun and to her pleasure Morgan noted that Declan had no reservations over enjoying himself. He seemed to love the water slide as much as she did.
"So what's the deal with you and Declan?" Liz asked in hushed tones.
"Nothing, we're just friends." Morgan shrugged, although as she watched him running carefree around her garden she wondered, could there be more?
OK so he was certainly pleasing to the eye, but Declan was also thoughtful and patient. He never pressed her to reveal more than she was willing to when she skirted around her conflicts over her father with him, and he always listened to her.
It was strange to think but when she was around Declan she felt instantly more at ease with who she was, it was almost as though she didn't need to cling to her childhood so tightly as Declan was anything but immature yet he liked hanging out with her.
And the fact that he didn't mind letting his serious side down once in a while was also a bonus.
As she was mid thought she heard a familiar voice calling, "So is this a private party or can anyone join in?"
The arrival of a freshly graduated Howie had initially sent shivers of awkwardness through Morgan who still felt slightly raw from the way their once firm friendship had soured.
Morgan found him in his old bedroom, which was virtually unchanged since he left for boarding school, standing in his lab coat at his bench. She smiled as the sight and familiarity of the scene brought a warm fuzzy feeling to her chest. Thoughts of Howie always invoked the sweetest of childhood memories and now he was home she hoped that she would feel them more often.
"So you ever figure out how to make the anti ageing serum?" She enquired, faking seriousness.
"Nope, afraid not." He replied, playing along for old times sake.
"Ah, maybe it needs more fairy dust." She dead panned. Howie smirked and the pair of them broke into giggles.
"You know i used to worry that when you realised that fairy dust was fake you would hate me for lying to you." Howie confided.
"Really? I always knew it was made up Howie." Morgan chided him, "But i always loved you for playing along." She hugged him briefly and left him alone to his inventing.
Howie allowed her words to linger in his head for a while, trying them on for size. "I always loved you" He shortened her sentence down to suit.
As quickly as he allowed the thought to form he shoved it aside not wanting it to attach to his head or his heart. He had spent the past several years pushing those feelings away and had all but managed to forget that he ever harboured such inappropriate emotions towards his stepsister.
It had gotten easier after his Dad and Kaya were married, that had made it official and Morgan's clear acceptance of him as her brother had nailed the coffin shut on his feelings for good.
At least he thought it had. Being around her again was a test and one that he was liable to fail, which was not an everyday occurrence for a genius like Howie. Yet a failure he was fast becoming.
He took a deep breath and tried to strengthen his resolve. He had to learn to accept the true nature of their relationship, Morgan was too important to him not be in her life and if it was an older brother she needed Howie would be that for her.