The phrase ‘don’t cross the line’ left Seraina clueless. What line shouldn’t be crossed? And what would happen if she were to do so? But she didn’t ask the System to clarify, as she knew it wouldn’t give her an answer. It seemed pointless to her that the System was back, and if it couldn’t be of any use, she felt she might as well go back to being System-less for the rest of the mission.
In contrast, having it again meant that she wasn’t alone here, and had an assured method to go back to the Digital Realm - or what was left of it. She just hoped that when she got back, there would be a way to salvage what remained of the realm and find a way to revive her System. It had done its best to send her to the Novel World, so she wanted to do something in return that would express how grateful she was to it.
Her train of thought was broken by Callen, who was holding the chosen bottle of wine and giving her an impatient look. It was obvious from his expression that he had been standing for a while in front of her, waiting for her to acknowledge his presence. Even back in the original world, Callen wasn’t a man of patience and hated to be ignored.
He started off being nice to Seraina, but his growing emotions and her connection with Asher made him frustrated.. His old friendship with them fell apart, as he became irate about things that didn’t use to bother him, and it never went back to what it was before.
“Do you enjoy keeping me waiting?” He sneered and, with one hand around the bottle’s neck, he reached out with the other and made her stand up, his grip on her arm tight. Holding her hand, he guided her up the stairs to the entrance of the cellar, unconcerned if she stumbled along the way.
It was soon time for his parents to return home from work and they insisted on everyone sitting down in the evenings to enjoy the meal in one another’s company.
They believed it was important to eat meals around a table, instead of eating in their respective rooms. And it was a way for them to share what happened during the day, how their work was faring, etc. However, for the og!Seraina, it was awkward and nerve-wracking.
Everyone would talk amongst themselves whilst forgetting that Seraina existed. To Callen’s parents, she was just a wife, an added extension of him, and not worth acknowledging more than that.
So Seraina ate her meal in silence and waited for it to end; the sooner it ended, the sooner she could go back to her room and she wouldn’t have to worry about running into any of the family for the rest of the day.
Being in her room was the only reprieve she had from having to be in the same place as Callen and his parents. The only good thing about staying at this house was Asher, who visited often with the excuse of having business with Callen.
Plus, on the days he was there, Callen would seek out Seraina less, giving her more space to breathe and not having to worry about every move she made, lest she ended up upsetting someone.
Now that the Host Seraina had the plot, and knew how everything was going to play out, she felt sorry for the female lead of this world. And she cursed the System for the first time in not letting her go OOC, and forbidding her from changing how the novel was written.
Maybe the Plotters were... No, she couldn’t finish that thought. Thinking like that about the Plotters was dangerous, and she had to try to not be swayed by their ways of ruining the plot.
The way the novels were written was how the authors intended it, and nothing should change that - no matter how pitiful the female/male leads were.
Seraina controlled her thoughts and focused on what was happening in the present. The next part of the plot was important and showed the original of this world how little the male lead, Callen, cared for her: even if he did believe that he loved her more than anyone else.
It was saddening for Seraina, but it gave her the resolve to find a way out of this situation, even if she ended up hurt in the process. The grip on her arm tightened as Callen stopped at the top of the cellar stairs and turned to face her: the grimace still etched on his face.
The grey pallor on his skin seemed to deepen, and he wheezed slightly as he said, “In a moment, we’ll be dining with my parents. My father has just signed a big contract, so don’t ruin the meal by saying anything unnecessary.”
He paused to take in a breath. “Just stay silent and then go back to your room. You remember why you weren’t allowed to step foot out of there, don’t you? Think of your sister and what you put her through.”
Then, before Seraina could respond, he released her arm and moved towards the dining room, his steps unsteady as he walked.
Seraina wanted to roll her eyes but his sickly appearance made his words less intimidating. But seeing as she was playing the part of the timid female lead, she couldn’t speak back to him, which was infuriating, to say the least.
Seraina reined in her anger and followed Callen into the dining room to meet his parents. They didn’t spare her a glance and fawned over their son as he took his seat at the table.
The meal hadn’t even started yet, and Seraina already felt tired. She had a feeling that she would be there for a while, and just the thought made her lose her appetite.