(It is evening. The sky is tinted-blue, hinting at turning dark soon. Mia and Josh are standing on the doorsteps of a dark-gray Victorian mansion.)
Mia: I-I'm nervous...
Josh: (reassuringly) I know this place looks creepy, but we'll survive.
Mia: No.. it's not that... (rubs her arm uncomfortably) I haven't seen him in a while... what if it gets painfully awkward?
(Josh gives her a side hug.)
Josh: Don't sweat it, princess. We'll go in there, chat for a bit and leave. There's no way we're missing out on The Apocalypse. I heard that movie is insane.
Mia: Hmm... (looks down) There's no welcome mat.
Mia: (disappointed) I... got him a doormat... and it's gone.
Josh: Oh. (scratches his head) Maybe a thief saw it, and thought, 'damn, what a great mat.' And they probably ran off with it! I wouldn't worry too much about it.
(The door opens. Standing before them is a man is in his mid-twenties. He has black hair, blue eyes and a pale complexion. He's dressed in casual attire - black top and jeans. His face lights up when he sees Josh.)
Zac: Hey, man! (holds out his hand) Good to see you again.
Josh: (shakes his hand) How's the girlfriend and kids? They're not still driving you bonkers, are they?
Zac: (chuckles) Ahh... I'm just about surviving, I can tell you that. (Looks at Mia) Hey there.
Mia: Hi... long time, no see.
Zac: Mmh... how you been?
Mia: Fine... and you?
Zac: I'm good.
(He steps aside, opening the door wide.)
Zac: Well, come on in. Make yourself comfortable.
(Mia and Josh enter the mansion. The living-room is very spacious, decorated with Gothic furniture. There is a magnificent chandelier above them, emitting a low amber glow. There are large blood-red velvet curtains that are drawn together, sealing them in darkness. The seating area is the only section of the room that is lit up, due to the shining candles stuck to the nearby black walls.)
Josh: (stroking his chin) You sure you're not a Vampire Prince or something? You certainly look like one and you live in a haunted palace, my dude.
Mia: (smacks her fiancé's arm) Don't be silly.
Zac: (laughs) You always crack me up, you do... (smirks) what if I were a vampire? Would you be scared?
(Josh bursts out laughing. It is a hearty chortle that bounces around the acoustics of the living-room. He pats Zac's back.)
Josh: Ahh, you're the real joker here, buddy. What if I'm a vampire hunter? Would that scare you?
Zac: (grinning) That'd be cool. I wouldn't put it past you.
(A woman comes down the stairs, capturing everyone's attention. She is in her late-twenties, yet she looks much younger. She is wearing a leopard-print dress, highlighting her hourglass figure. She has hazel-brown eyes, tanned complexion and golden curls that sway down to her small waist.)
Josh: Hey, Amelia.
Amelia: (smiles sweetly) Hola, Josh! It's maravilloso to see you again. (Looks at Mia) And who's this?
Josh: Mi mujer, Mia Dagenhart.
Mia: (rolls her eyes) We're not married yet.
(Josh kisses his fiancée's forehead.)
Josh: I know. I just love calling you my wife.
Amelia: Oh, how sweet. (Nods at Mia) I've heard a lot about you... (Glances at Zac coldly) Isn't that right?
Zac: (laughs nervously) Hahaha... well, anyway... (gestures towards the seating area) Have a seat, guys. There's food and drinks here, so feel free to help yourself.
(Mia and Josh sit down on the black Gothic-styled armchairs, while the other couple sit across from them on the matching sofa. There's a table in front of them with plates full of cupcakes, biscuits, and brownies. In the center of the table, there are vintage tea cups, kettle, sugar bowl and a milk jug.)
Josh: Don't mind if I do. (Reaches for a cupcake) I can never reject food. The former fat person will always live in me.
Amelia: (giggles) You and me both.
Josh: (doubtful) You used to be fat? No te creo.
Amelia: I was! I weighed like... two-hundred pounds.
Josh: You would've been tiny next to me. For real, I looked like a sumo wrestler.
Amelia: (giggling) Oh my gosh! I imagined you- (laughing hysterically) Sorry! My mascara! (Dabs at her eyes) I imagined you having a little ponytail and wearing a huge underwear - tan ridículo!
Josh: Laugh all you want, but I betcha I'd rock that style.
Amelia: You're so silly... (calms down) I don't know if you feel this way, but I'm sorta thankful for my past. (Her expression turns serious) I mean, it was hard at times, but it taught me many things... like how to take care of myself better and the importance of dieting properly. I've worked hard to come this far... It makes me appreciate my effort, aprecia la vida.
Josh: Yeah, I agree.
Zac: No fair. I wanna relate about how I was a potato and turned into a french fry... but what can I say? (Flexes his arm) I guess I've always been a stud.
(His comment makes Amelia roll her eyes. Meanwhile, Mia is laughing away. She is trying to stifle her laugh by covering her mouth with her hands.)
Josh: (smiling) Man, it's rare to hear her laugh these days. But the times you do, you gotta soak it up and enjoy it. (He takes a bite of his cupcake.)
Amelia: If I were her, I'd laugh every second of the day with you.
Zac: (clutches his chest) Ouch! Hit me right in the feels, why don't you?
Josh: (sniggers) There goes our tough stud.
Amelia: No estoy bromeando, you made me laugh so hard the last time you were here, I thought I burst my side! I considered getting a quick check up to make sure it was okay.
Zac: (nudges her playfully) As you can see, Amelia's a bit of a drama queen.
Amelia: (glowers) Hmph! Says the one who always has drama following him. (Crosses her arms) Seriously, I thought I was a hot mess until you came along... You're a walking disaster, Zac Goldheart.
Josh: (reclining comfortably) Where's the popcorn at? Forget going to the movies after this, Mia. Let's just stay here and enjoy the free show.
Mia: (shaking her head) you're unbelievable.
Zac: (laughs) Alright, fair enough. I admit I'm not the most perfect guy around.
Amelia: (sarcastically) There's a surprise. (Softens her tone) I still love you, though.
Mia: So... (clears throat) how did you two meet?
Zac: It's a long story.
Amelia: To put it simply, we met at Lindor Studio. Who knew I'd meet the love of my life while shooting a toothpaste commercial?
Zac: No one would've seen it coming, especially since you weren't exactly the kindest when we met.
Amelia: (scoffs) Pfft! You were too intrusive. Of course I wouldn't tolerate that.
Zac: I was just doing my job.
Mia: (mutters) Your job...
(Questioning eyes look at her. Mia notices this and snaps out of her thoughts.)
Amelia: Everything alright?
Mia: Everything's fine... I was just thinking how his job is the reason we drifted apart... (forces a thin smile) but it's nice to see that it brought you two together.
Amelia: Mmh... So, how did you and Josh meet?
Mia: Oh... um... well...
Josh: We met online.
Zac: Online? I never would've guessed.
Amelia: How interesting.
Mia: (clearly embarrassed) Yeah... it's... uh... something new I decided to try.
Josh: Same. I never tried online dating before. Actually, I created my profile as a joke at first. Then, when I was scrolling through my matches, I came across this princesa hermosa (Proudly gestures towards Mia) and I thought, there's no way she's real. What would a gorgeous babe like her do on a dating app? I was convinced that she was a fake profile, and so I messaged her for a laugh.
Mia: (tittering nervously) You weren't the only one that thought I was fake. I was amazed by the amount of guys that called me a catfish...
Josh: Can you blame them? You look like a model!
Zac: Makes sense. She used to be a supermodel.
Josh: (exclaims) What? Wait... How come I never knew about this?
Mia: (shrugs) I wasn't really a proper model. It was just a part-time thing. No big deal.
Josh: (confused) You told me you were a writer.
Zac: She used to write a lot.
Mia: I'm surprised you know that. You were barely around to see me write.
Zac: Well... I've read your work...
Josh: Which one?
Mia: (abruptly) It doesn't matter!
(Confused looks are thrown at her. Mia pretends to not notice.)
Mia: Anyway... the main reason we're here is that we want both of you to attend our wedding.
(She opens her purse and pulls out a decorative card, which she hands to the couple.)
Mia: You can bring your children along too.
Amelia: (uncertainly) I don't know... they're like wild animals at parties. It's a nightmare.
Mia: Don't worry. There'll be other kids there too - they can make friends with them. We've even hired children entertainers, so I'm sure they'll be fine.
Zac: Thanks for the invite.
Amelia: (raises eyebrow) Won't it be a little... weird to see your ex at your wedding?
(Mia and Zac exchange a glance with each other. Mia gulps.)
Josh: (shrugs) I'm cool with it. It's been over five years since they've went their separate ways. We've all moved on. I say we should forget the past and celebrate the future. Celebremos el amor y la amistad.
(Poking his head out from the banister is an eight-year-old boy. He's watching the adults discreetly while another little boy, half his size, is making a noticeable racket next to him.)
Mia: I think we have little spies.
Amelia: Ryland! Junior! Come down here.
(The youngest boy is instantly running down to where the adults are seated. The older boy is walking over to his mother, Amelia. Mia waves at him, but he ducks his head and hides his face in Amelia's shoulder. The youngest boy gallops over to Mia and he stops in front of her.)
Mia: Uh... hello.
Zac Jr: Hi.
Mia: Wow... you look so much like your dad.
Zac: Haha... (scratches his neck uneasily) we get that a lot.
Zac Jr: You're pretty.
Mia: (blushes) Oh... thank you.
Josh: (chuckles) Ahh, you've got good taste, my man.
(He ruffles the boy's messy black hair.)
Amelia: Junior! You said I was pretty.
Zac Jr: (points at Mia) She's prettier.
(There is a moment of uncomfortable silence.)
Mia: So, how old are you?
(Zac Junior holds up four little fingers to her.)
Mia: I have a son who's around your age too. Maybe you will meet him at our party.
Zac Jr: (excitedly) You're having a party?
Mia: (nods) And you're all invited.
Zac Jr: Will there be cake?
Josh: Yes. A very big cake (pokes the boy's stomach) Bigger than you!
(Zac Junior squeals and laughs in delight. The other boy peeks from his mother's shoulder, appearing to be interested. Mia waves at him again, making him hide his face once more.)
Mia: So... what have you and your friend been doing upstairs?
Zac Jr: We're fighting bad guys!
Mia: (gasps) Really?
Zac Jr: (nods) And we kick their butts like this!
(The little boy starts to randomly kick and punch the air carelessly. Mia giggles and claps her hands.)
Mia: Oh wow! That's really good fighting.
Josh: (jokingly) What are you doing, kiddo? Are you tryna steal my girl with those kickass moves?
Zac Jr: No! Bad guys steal. I'm a hero!
Mia: Well, I feel much safer with you around to save the day.
Amelia: If you'll excuse me, Ry needs his medicine.
(Amelia gets up and takes her son away. They exit the room.)
Mia: I'll be right back.
(She follows them out of the room and into the kitchen. The kitchen looks quite modern - everything is black and white, matching the tiled floor. Amelia has a bottle in one hand, and a plastic spoon in the other hand. Ryland is sitting on the stool, his mouth open.)
Amelia: Oh, hi.
Mia: (nods towards Ryland) what is he taking?
Mia: For what?
Amelia: (sharply) He's sick.
(Mia steps closer. Ryland is looking at her with his shoulders hunched. Under the fluorescent lighting, she finally gets a proper look at the boy. He has tanned complexion, scruffy black hair and unmistakable black eyes. His appearance catches Mia off guard.)
Mia: Those eyes...
Mia: Who is his father?
Amelia: Not to be rude, but that really doesn't concern you.
Mia: I know, but...
Amelia: (sternly) I'd really appreciate it if you left us alone. Ryland needs to take his medicine in peace.
Mia: Oh, sorry...
(She leaves the kitchen hesitantly. Instead of returning to the living-room, she heads into the library, where she is texting Christa on her phone about the events that have transpired. In no time, Christa calls her. Mia answers the phone.)
Christa: Hey. I'm still working, you know.
Mia: I didn't mean to distract you.
Christa: It's okay. I get bored easily.
Mia: Did you see my texts?
Mia: Isn't it freaky!? (Lowers her voice) The boy looks like an older version of Max!
Christa: Hm... spooky.
Mia: It's super spooky! And when I asked who the father was, Amelia wouldn't even tell me!
Christa: Oh. Sounds like someone I know.
Mia: I- (pauses) Touché.
Christa: It's not a nice feeling being dismissed, hm?
Mia: (sighs) yeah, I know... I'm just not ready to tell everyone yet.
Christa: It's been five years. It's long overdue.
Mia: You're right.
Christa: I'm always right... Anyway, how did you feel seeing Zac again?
Mia: Strange. But like Josh said, it's all in the past. We should leave it behind us and focus on the future instead.
Christa: That's what I've been telling you all this time!
Mia: Mmh... I guess.
Christa: Are you okay? You sound kinda down.
Mia: I'm just thinking... Zac has a kid who's a year younger than Max. And he's already speaking so much! He's so active and responsive! It makes me... (sniffs) emotional wondering what Max could've been like.
Christa: I don't think you should compare kids. It's not fair on Max... How is the little guy, by the way? What's he doing right now?
Mia: Mrs Dagenhart is babysitting him. They've really bonded, those two... (sighs) I'm quite jealous.
Christa: You're going to call her Mom soon! How does that feel?
Mia: (shudders) Kind of weird, if I'm being honest.
Fan: Thank you.
Butterfly: As you requested! I'm back at uni now, so my updates will be slower than usual.
Anonymous: That subject interests me. Particularly sociopaths and psychopaths that come under that category. It's something I'll definitely explore.