Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Reality Bites

Author’s Note: In another story (Imitating Fiction), I created the idea that my Riley Parra novels existed in the Squire’s Isle universe as a TV show. I wrote this story as a response to something that happens in the fourth book, so if you haven’t read all of Riley and plan to, SKIP THIS ONE. It’s short and full of spoilers.

Miranda knocked lightly on the bathroom door. In the living room she could hear Nicole and Kate giving their drink orders to Amy. “Dean? You okay? The natives are getting restless. I can only pause the recording for so long.”

“Fine. Just a second.” Water ran in the sink, so Miranda eased the door open and stuck her head in. Nadine was lightly slapping her cheeks with water, leaning forward to look at her eyes in the mirror. They were red-rimmed, wet, and Miranda slipped inside and let the door shut behind her. Nadine smiled and a fresh tear rolled free. “So stupid.”

“It’s not stupid at all.” She put her arms around her wife and held her from behind.

“She’s a fictional character.”

Miranda smiled. They were watching the fourth season finale of Riley Parra, a drama about a detective caught up in a war between Heaven and Hell. The Tivo was currently paused at the halfway point between Part One and Part Two, a cliffhanger that had left one main character dead and two others mortally wounded. The episode had started with Gillian, Riley’s wife, being brutally assaulted and murdered. The last scene of the episode involved a standoff between Riley and her partner, the angelic Caitlin Priest. It ended with Riley shooting Priest, and then Priest shooting Riley in the back.

The image currently frozen on their television was an overhead shot of the two main characters bleeding on the concrete. While the others had gone in search of snacks, Nadine had quickly excused herself to the bathroom.

“Gillian is more than just a character to you. To all of us. If this was just a TV show, we wouldn’t have watch parties for every season premiere and every finale. You’ve followed the character for four years. I know she’s your favorite, and I know you think she’s hot.”

Nadine laughed a little at that, and Miranda kissed her neck. “But she’s not real. I met the actress, and I know she’s alive and well in Vancouver no matter what happens on a silly show.”

“Knowing it’s not real is different from being unaffected. You’re invested in her life. You want them to be happy with each other, so something like this is a blow. But I have faith. Remember last season when Riley sacrificed their relationship to end the war? That all turned out well, didn’t it?” She kissed Nadine’s temple.

“What if it doesn’t get fixed?”

Miranda stroked Nadine’s short, dark hair and met her eye in the mirror. “Then tomorrow, we’ll have a private funeral for her. Just me and you, so you don’t have to worry about anyone laughing at you or thinking it’s silly. We’ll say goodbye properly, and give you some closure.”

“You’d do that for me?” She relaxed against Miranda.

“I would. But we have to find out how it all ends before we do anything rash. So let’s go see what’s next.”

Nadine splashed her eyes again and Miranda gave her a thumbs-up before they went out to rejoin the party. Kate saw her coming and clapped.

“All right! Let’s get this show back on the road. I can’t wait to find out how they’re getting out of this one.”

Nicole crossed her fingers. “A spin-off with Kenzie and Chelsea.”

Amy shook her head. “Nope. Hallucination. The demons didn’t attack Gillian, they’re attacking Riley and this is all in her head.”

Miranda waved the remote control. “How about we just see what happens for real?”

“Boring,” Kate said, but she gestured for her to go ahead and unpause.

Miranda started the episode, and Nadine cuddled tightly against her side. The scene faded to black and, after a moment, faded back in as Riley woke up on the exam bed of what looked like a back-alley doctor’s office. Marchosias, Riley’s demonic nemesis, leaned over her and smiled when he saw she was awake.

“Oh, this isn’t good,” Kate muttered.

Nadine found Miranda’s hand and held tight, willing to ride the worst of what was going to happen as long as Miranda didn’t let her go.

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