Next morning, I woke up at 8 am sharp after having a 4 hour sleep. Despite that, my mind was refreshed as I managed to get a full, uninterrupted REM sleep and I felt better than ever.
After having my morning coffee, I opened my laptop before even having breakfast and started working. However, there were a few distractions that prevented me from putting my 100% focus on the work such as a text message from a certain father figure that said he was coming over to the hotel to hang out.
I was confused when I saw the text, however Phil was already halfway to the hotel when I noticed the text. I sighed and put the phone back down, but at the moment it touched the desk, another text message chimed in. I grabbed it back and read the text from Haley next, "Abby and I are coming too!"
Haley: Don't let dad come into your room!
Haley: Chase him away!
Haley: If it's too late, then text me before I go up there!
Haley: Abby and I want to use the hot tub! We even brought our bikinis!
[General POV – an hour before]
"Luke! Do you want to pick up the poster now?" Phil shouted from the dining table after he ended his call.
"What poster?" Luke asked in confusion, already forgotten about yesterday's affairs when he woke up the next morning.
Phil was taken aback and he said carefully, "The…Iron Man poster?"
"OH!" Luke's eyes lit up immediately. "That! Yes I want to go there now!"
"Great. Go change your clothes, and we will go there." Phil said as he ruffled his son's hair and patted his shoulder before Luke moved away. Claire was in disbelief and she said, "Why are you going there now? And what did Ted say?"
"Huh?" Phil turned to Claire before remembering his call yesterday. "Oh that. He said he's fixing the light features at his house today, and wants me too…" His eyes fluttered as he thought of an excuse before saying, "..lend him my jean overall?"
"Why are you asking me?" Claire became confused by Phil's reply, but she didn't make much of it.
"Okay. Actually, the first part is true. Ted is finishing the work at his house. They are going to have their power back this afternoon ." Phil said squirrelly and continually checked out his behind to make sure no one else was listening to it.
"Here's the thing. When Ted and I followed the electrical line last night…"
"God, this place is a dump." Ted said as he walked climbed into the attic, with Phil helping him to hold the flashlight from behind him.
"How long has it been since you guys came out here?" Phil asked as Ted stepped on the attic floor carefully to avoid harmful hazards.
"Eer…Like in 2 years?" Ted said before moving a pretty big box out of the way to get to the router.
Phil scrunched his eyebrow and said, "You guys shouldn't keep that up here. It'll be difficult to reset it."
"I know." Ted agreed and said, "Miranda asked me to put it there before. Now, I will bring it back down." He ripped the router wire out and took off the device from the walls there.
Phil was looking around to see a bunch of old instrument cases, a few old chairs, and even a creepy looking ceramic girl doll sitting inside a glass case. He shuddered as he locked eyes with the doll and asked, "What's that?"
"Oh…That's Annabell. Believe it or not, Ed used to sleep with it."
"Ed did?" Phil asked in confusion. "But he's so manly." He blurted out.
Ted laughed a bit and said, "Not after he knows what it is. He loved the doll while he was a toddler, but changed his interest in instruments after that." Ted said before looking longingly at the doll.
"Really?" Phil asked in disbelief.
With sadness in his tone, Ted said, "More like, Miranda took all of his toys and replaced it with music stuff to … 'cultivate' his interest in music. Now that I think about it, she had thrown away most of his toys. I don't know that she kept 'Annabelle' here."
Phil empathized with Ted before he said creepily, "Maybe she did throw it out, and it came crawling back."
Ted also shuddered and stepped away from the doll quickly. He turned to Phil and said with gritted teeth, "Dude, I sleep in the same house with this. Or, do you want me to give it to your daughters? You have 2 of them, right?"
Phil shuddered at the thought of the doll living in his house and said, "N-No. My girls don't play with dolls anymore. You can keep it…as a memoir. But promise me something."
Phil suddenly turned solemn, making Ted swallow his saliva. "What is it?" Ted asked.
"Don't…EVER…let Claire know that you have a creepy girl doll in your attic."
"W-Why? Will she have a heart attack?" Ted asked in concern.
"No. She will love it." Phil said and was checking around the boxes, when suddenly a paper bag fell down from the gaps of the boxes. Unlike the other stuff there that was old and dusty, the paper bag looked relatively new.
Ted and Phil were both curious, and they stood around the fallen paper bag. Phil picked it up and his eyes widened as he saw what's inside it.
"So. to make sure Ed didn't suspect anything, Ted asked me to go bring him back…so that…we could ask him if he knew anything about what's inside the paper bag." Phil said solemnly before pausing for a bit and smiled. "And maybe jump in the hotel pool for a little bit."
"Luke. Make sure to pack your swimwear!" Phil shouted to Luke before turning to his daughter and asked, "Alex, you want to come?"
With a pen wedged behind her ear, Alex looked up from behind the book she was reading and said, "And do what? Waste my time? That would let Sanjay Patel best me in the final exams? No thank you. I'd rather keep studying."
Phil "Haley. What about you?"
Haley, who was texting while sitting on a couch nearby, widened her eyes as she got an idea. She turned to her dad and said, "No Dad. I'm going out with Abby."
"At 7 in the morning?" Claire said in suspicion.
Haley's eyes shook and she replied with a stutter, "We-We're going Hiking."
"Oh." Claire exclaimed in realization and said, "Be sure not to go somewhere dangerous. You know what, I never knew you liked hiking. Maybe we can go up a hill together sometime. Are you going there with Abby alone? Do you want me to come with?"
Haley was horrified by what she had done and said hurriedly, "No need mom. Desiree is taking us there. And, look at the time. I need to go now! BYEE!" She ran away to the front door and got out of the house quickly before Claire could try to bond with her again.
"Uh…I thought we could do something together." Claire said in a pitiful voice as she saw Haley leave.
"I'm just concerned she's going hiking with high heel shoes." Phil said. Claire thought for a bit and then shrugged before walking away to make breakfast for the rest of her family.
"Drive Drive Drive!" Haley ordered Abby as they saw her dad's car pull out of the driveway. Abby's blue dodger car followed behind Phil's Prius stealthily as he drove it to the 5 star hotel in West Hollywood. It wasn't an easy road for the girls to go there alone, therefore they had no choice but to follow Phil.
"Are you sure he'll let us in? He went there to work?" Abby asked in concern as she followed Phil's car.
Haley rolled her eyes and said, "I'm sure. No one's going to a hotel to work. That's a myth! People go to a hotel to play around, or to have an affair! Some time maybe both."
Abby nodded as if she learned something new, not knowing that she was slowly being corrupted by her popular friend.
However, as Abby followed Phil, there was a minivan behind her car, following her without her knowing about it.
"I knew it! She's not going hiking!" Claire said angrily as she followed Haley and Abby's car. As her daughter was being dodgy, Claire's inner mama-bear personality was awakened to protect her daughter from making terrible mistakes, especially as Haley was in her early adolescence.
"Now…What the f*ck should I do?" I muttered as I thought about the situation. After thinking for a while, I sighed and decided to not do anything about it and turn my focus back on my job instead.
"If they want to fool around, then let them play. If they distract me too much, I will just kick them out." I muttered before I got a call from Mrs Henderson, snapping me out of my focus again. I groaned and wiped my face in frustration using my palm before picking up the call.
"Hi Mrs Gorgeous. How may I help you today?" I said with a grin after getting back into my classroom joker personality as I talked to her.
"Mr Newgate. There's some new developments about the Decathlon that I need to brief you about. Am I disturbing you right now?"
I was confused because the woman could guess my feelings accurately even though we were talking through the phone. But, my experience with her told me that it was nothing as she was an expert on this type of thing since I got into middle school 3 years before.
"A little bit. But I can talk." I replied honestly.
"Don't worry. I'll be quick. A Caltech university dean, Professor Gabblehouser, was interested in the Decathlon competition-"
"I assume they weren't coming for fun right?"
"Yes. They are coming for you." Mr Henderson said with a calm voice.
"You know, if your voice was a level deeper, like (Deep voice) They are coming for you!!! (Normal voice) Then, I would be shaking in my boots." I laughed a bit but there wasn't a reaction from the teacher. I coughed twice and asked, "Why are they interested in me exactly?"
"Publicity Mr Newgate. Publicity. The interest in STEM fields has been continuously declining in the younger generations. They figured they could use your participation in the competition to boost the student's interest in applying for these fields."
"Ahh. I understand that. But that isn't big enough news for you to call me."
"Yes. That's only a bit of a hassle, but it wasn't a bad thing. The bad thing is Dryden Academy is entering the competition."
"How is that possible? I thought the finalists had already been decided in their district?" I asked with surprise.
"They sponsored a competition today, claiming the previous competition was invalid as they weren't invited to be in the competition. They bribed judges and they agreed to it, fully backing their claims. They beat up Ryden Middle School today, and they have taken their place as finalists in the competition."
"All in a span of a day? And on the weekend nonetheless?" I asked in disbelief.
"Yes. They have deep pockets after all."
I processed the information for a while and said, "So. They bribed the judges of the competition?"
"No. They competed fairly. They only bribed the regulating committee to allow them to reenter the competition."
I was confused. "Why?"
I could swear I heard Mrs Henderson sighed. She said, "Because of you of course."
After some explanation, I finally understood the current situation.
Dryden highschool was an elite, prestigious private school while the other schools competing were from a public school. They showed no interest in the competition for years, but to suddenly force themselves to enter the competition made me think there were some weird conspiracies afoot.
It wasn't so much because of me, but because of the interest the public has on me right now. If they beat my school in the competition, then the Academy's prestige will be raised upward, giving them some advantages, mainly the press since it was a given that the final results would be front page whether "the new rising star" won or not.
"They also marked you as a 'must have' student to enter their high school when you graduate next year. So they want to create a strong impression in your mind when you lose to them showing the superiority of their program."
"They are very presumptuous aren't they? They base all of their plans on the idea that they will win." I said with disinterest. Mrs Henderson said, "Yes. But, when they lose…don't you think their face will be priceless?"
I grinned evilly as I have the same thought as the teacher. "You sure do know how to motivate me Teach."
"I'll give you additional materials. Study them all today." Mrs Henderson said before an email popped out at my laptop screen. "Efficient as always. Okay Mrs. I will memorize it before I go to school tomorrow."
After setting the discussions, I added, "Also, there's something I need to talk about."
She listened for a while and asked, "Are you sure?"
"I will contact your father. After all, only after he gives his consent will I be able to move forward with the test."
"Give me some time. I will talk to my dad about it first."
"Okay. Skipping grades is not necessarily a good thing. But, to be honest, I don't think there's much for you to learn in high school next year. After you talk to your dad, I need to get the principal's authorization to do this. It'll take a few days."
I finally ended the call after talking for a while. Although I have my concerns that Dad wouldn't let me skip grades, I feel that I could do a lot more if I focus all of my time with work and creating instead.
"I'm sure he will understand if I explain it to him properly."
As Phil drove to the main entrance, he and Luke walked to the reception desk and said, "Hi. We're looking for Edward Newgate's room."
The receptionist was a bit irritated and said, "Paparazis couldn't enter the hotel, and there's no one registered using that name here. Please leave the premises before we call security."
Phil was alarmed and he said hurriedly, "Wait. I'm not a reporter. I'm his neighbor."
"Yes. Neighbor. Adapted Father. Friend from school, which was clearly a blatant lie as she was almost 30 years old, his dog walker, milk delivery man, and a lot more 'acquaintances' have come by and asked to meet him today." She said using a mean tone. "However, I'll say it again. There's no one with the name Edward Newgate registered at our hotel today." The receptionist said sternly. Two bodyguards approached the reception desk, making Phil feel threatened.
Suddenly, the desk phone rang. The receptionist picked it up and listened to the voice on the other side for a while. She stopped the security by putting her index finger to them, making the two burly men confused.
Suddenly, the receptionist smiled and said, "You must be the Dunphy's. Mr Luthor is expecting you. Please follow the concierge, and she will lead you to his suite."
Phil and Luke breathed in relief before following the staff member from behind.
A few minutes later, 2 young girls came to the reception desk and said, "Hi. We're looking at Edward Newgate's room. I'm Haley Dunphy and this is Abby M-"
The receptionist was irritated at first, but as she heard Dunphy's name, her face changed to radiate kindness. She stopped Haley before she could finish her words as Edward had notified the hotel before about the girls and said, "I will arrange someone to escort you. Your father had already gone to the room-"
"Wait. We're not going there yet if my dad is there. C-Can you bring us there when he's gone?" Haley asked meekly.
The receptionist was confused, and she looked at the two girls properly before finding out that both girls were incredibly gorgeous. She nodded in understanding and said, "Okay. I'll notify you when he's gone."
"Wonderful!" Abby said while clasping her hand in excitement.
Haley and Abby brightened up before the staff member arranged for them to wait at the lounge. They were given the best treatment by the hotel's staff and couldn't wait to enjoy their evening at the hotel.
However, as Haley and Abby were escorted to the lounge, the staff member stopped an irate looking white woman who was following the girls suspiciously from behind.
"Maam, do you have an appointment to enter the hotel?"
"No. But that's my daughter. I need to talk to her-"
The staff looked at the hotel receptionist, but she shook her head at them as Edward had specified that only 4 people were coming in to see him today. They grabbed Claire and dragged her out from the hotel room without giving her a chance to explain herself to the hotel staff.
"HALEY!!" Claire yelled as she tried to stop the staff member from throwing her out.
Inside the lounge, Haley sipped her iced tea without any care in the world, and didn't even pay attention to her surroundings. Abby heard someone calling her friend, but as she looked around, she didn't see any familiar faces therefore she thought it was just someone with the same name.
While I was working, Phil and Luke knocked on the suite door, distracting me from my work. I walked to the door and opened it, only for Luke to immediately hug me as he saw me.
"Wait. Why? What happened?" I asked in confusion.
"Thank you for the poster!" Luke released me and ran to the room to search for the poster himself before I could invite him in. I laughed and I turned to Phil who was trying to search for something inside the room.
"Come on in." I invited him inside without paying attention to what he was doing.
Phil walked to the pantry while I sat down on the chair, trying to search for something. "Ed. Do you want to come play with us?" He asked.
"No thanks." I said as I kept an eye on him to find out what he was doing. After he checked the bar and found out there wasn't any alcohol there, his face was a bit relieved.
'Oh. He thought I was drinking? Wait. Phil isn't a suspicious guy. It must be Claire who thought I was trying to get away with something as I stayed here alone.' I thought.
'Luckily I am not an amateur and had the staff member clean up the bar before he came.'
"You know, we can have some brownies… or some 'special brownies'..." Phil said suddenly before turning to study my face, but there wasn't any change in my expression. No guilt, no fear, not even confusion.
"There's brownies?" I asked with an innocent face. Phil breathed in relief again and wanted to ask me something, but Luke suddenly walked into the room wearing an Iron Man helmet, and a black rubber baton on his other hand.
"This is so cooOOOOOL!" Luke exclaimed. "Did you get this for me too?!"
" I wonder if it can withstand being hit like the true Iron Man. Jarvis, initiate the…The batting? Test! Ziuu Ziu Ziuu Swishhh" He said before moving his limbs as he made robot sound with his mouth. He brought the baton perpendicular to his head, wanting to hit his own head with the bat to test the helmet.
I was horrified as I saw the helmet and stood up immediately. I tried to calm him down like Chris Pratt calming down the velociraptor and said, "Luke. Don't…Move."
"Why?" Luke said before putting one hand on the helmet, but still not releasing the bat. "Aren't you curious?"
I gulped my saliva in fear and said, "Luke. No. Don't… That's the original prop from the set of Iron Man 2, signed by RDJ himself. It is…priceless."
"Oh. Then…that means it's free right?" Luke said, increasing my fear.
"LUKE NO!" Phil shouted as Luke tried to hit his own head. I swooped in hurriedly to save the helmet, but-