To my dismay, Noelle settled on leaving me in the hands of my sister.
While I wasn’t particularly fond of the babysitter who refused to take me at my word every step of the way, she had at least proven that she was only harsh when it came to keeping me in line. There was zero malice there, and she even mentioned as much during the mortifying spanking she had given me in front of Paige. Something about not enjoying the physical discipline, but being willing to dish it out when she had to. Which made sense, considering the ideal babysitting job was the one where you got paid to do very little.
However, Miley’s babysitter had been just as no-nonsense when it came to Paige earlier. While I was working on Miley’s homework, I was not to be distracted. And as much as I detested being treated like a middle school girl, having her around would no doubt deter my sister and her friends from going much further than excessively calling me ‘Miley’ like I knew they would. But without Noelle? There was no telling what nonsense they would come up with.
The moment Paige disappeared up the stairs, I tried to get myself out of what I had just been signed up for. The whole thing was ridiculous, anyway. I hadn’t even expressed interest in hanging out with the other girls. Of course, I also hadn’t protested while Paige and Noelle were talking about me right in front of my face. “Actually, could I keep working on homework tonight?” I asked. There was no way the real Miley would make such a request, but this was fairly in line with my real self even if I didn’t currently have ulterior motives. I much preferred to get schoolwork done sooner rather than later, as then I could review my work with fresh eyes later. Except for this, it was way more about enjoying the peace and quiet of the main floor instead of throwing myself to the gaming brats that would make the rest of my evening a living hell. “I’m kind of in the zone, now. Building on the momentum would be nice.”
The distrust in Noelle’s eyes was painfully noticeable. “You’d rather work on summer assignments on a Friday night?”
As Alyssa, I was actually a little offended. Sometimes I did work on homework on Friday, for the delayed gratification of enjoying the rest of my weekend. As Miley, however, I needed to think quickly. “It doesn’t matter that it’s Friday,” I pointed out. To her, maybe, if she was used to college classes and summer jobs. But to some of us, this was enough of a break that I could get away with my explanation. “It’s summer. The days don’t really mean anything, do they?”
She leaned back on the armchair. Still giving me a skeptical look. Because the real Miley would have an angle right now, and she was probably trying to figure out mine. “You don’t want to hang out with your sister?” she asked, “When I was your age, being invited to anything by the older girls wasn’t something I’d want to pass up.”
Less was more. The first half of her reply was clearly a trap. Showing my usual disdain for Paige could potentially spark Noelle to use that as a reason to encourage me to spend more time with her. I doubted she was being selfish in terms of getting some time for herself, considering any babysitter who called herself a ‘last resort’ was probably being paid well for that specialty. Although either way, I had to be careful. “I’d rather keep working,” I simply replied. No need to complain about Paige, considering Noelle wouldn’t understand unless she knew my real age.
Noelle just shrugged. “Suit yourself. But you’re at least going to take a pizza break.”
Thank God. At least something went my way for once. It wasn’t much, but it would do. Staying upstairs would not only avoid Paige and company, but I was still crossing my fingers that I would somehow find a way out of this humiliating mess. The basement wasn’t the solution, considering all the precautions my sister listed off to dissuade Noelle’s worries. And though I still hadn’t come up with anything solid since seeing the beyond frustrating damage Paige had done to my room to prevent me from easily proving my identity, I could only assume that I had better chances on the main floor. And, of course, there was still the persistent distaste when it came to the thought of being outnumbered now that I couldn’t be as dismissive or judgmental as I normally was around them.
Affirming Noelle’s condition, despite not looking forward to serving up a plate for myself while the others were there as well, I tried to focus on the work in front of me. Being ‘in the zone’ might have been a little white lie, considering how Paige’s recent interruption and the looming pizza delivery arrival kept me from giving my full attention to Miley’s summer schoolwork. Of course, just when I started to find my rhythm again, the doorbell rang.
Slightly jumping from how piercing it was in the resonant living room mere feet from the front door, compared to anywhere else in the house, I lightly blushed when I realized how my startled expression must have looked to Noelle. Yet another mark against me in terms of proving my maturity to her.
“I’ll get it,” she said. At least she didn’t comment.
Noelle greeted the delivery guy at the door, while I put away the assignment I was working on and neatly stacked up the books and binders on the coffee table. There was no way I’d get to keep working while the others grabbed their pizza and made their way down to the basement. Clearly Miley’s babysitter wanted to at least socialize me a little bit with the girls, even if she was going to allow me to forgo Paige’s invite.
By the time Noelle had finished adding the tip to the receipt and bringing in the pizza boxes, there were easy to hear voices and footsteps upstairs as the five girls filed out from Paige’s room and made their way down the hall. Sighing to myself and preemptively cringing, I looked from Noelle to the kitchen. There really not a great spot to position myself, but I settled on staying where I was. Being last in line was preferable, as that would hopefully get rid of at least a handful of the girls if they went directly downstairs after grabbing their food.
“My fault?!” one of the girls at the top of the stairs laughed, “You were the one out of position! I may be a heal slut, but I’m not going to get myself killed to maybe save you.”
“That’s not the only kind of slut you are,” one of the others taunted.
“Don’t be crass,” Paige said, though her tone wasn’t particularly serious, “We have company. Besides, it’s not like it matters. We won, didn’t we?”
Violet was the first girl down the stairs. She started to say something in response to my sister, before noticing the two of us that were already down here. “Yeah, but next time- oh, hey! What was your name, again?” she asked.
“Noelle.” She extended the stack of pizza boxes to the gamer girl with the short, dark hair. “Mind bringing these to the kitchen?”
“Not at all,” Violet said, before turning towards me, “You should have seen that game, Miley.”
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