May 11th excerpt:

Melody stooped to pick up what looked like an action figure from in front of the small section of Pokemon toys. She wrapped a hand around it casually, only noting that it was clearly out of place with the bright and colorful Pikachus and Char-whatevers. She hadn’t even bothered to put her purse on the counter yet; she’d spotted it all the way from the front of the store with just a passing glance. Probably Lloyd shirking cleanup for the closing shift again.

She carried it at her side to the front counter, her hand swinging slightly with each step. She tossed her purse on the cluttered shelf below the register with a casual flick of the wrist, and the bag gave a muffled clatter as her belongings banged against each other. Then, pushing a handful of her beaded braids behind her ear, Melody lifted the action figure up to take a look at it.

Her nose immediately wrinkled and her brow pinched in irritation. “God dammit, Lloyd,” she muttered. “How many times I gotta tell him to quit letting people play with the expensive shit?”

This model was clearly more than just an action figure. It was a custom made piece, without a doubt. She couldn’t even see the joints. She gently tilted the little man’s head with a finger and thumb, careful not to strain the delicate work. She brushed along the hem of the tiny jacket and smirked at the itty bitty boots. The little toy even had a very real-looking knife clutched in its hand.

She turned the action figure over to look for its tag, but something else caught her attention. The little messenger bag hanging over its shoulder … “Oh, for fu- really, Lloyd?” There was a mini stuffed in the bag, one of those D&D type toys barely over an inch tall.