Chapter One - Twins and Daughters.
Chapter One – Twins and Daughters.
“What do you love?”
Freyja said nothing. What did she love? A laugh climbed up her throat.
“How do you remember Luna?”
Freyja let out a sardonic breath. “Who?”
A blink. The sound of pen on paper. “Your friend, Luna Elliot. The one who died. The one you’re here because of.”
Freyja stared out the window. Her eye caught a bird struggling midair. “I am?” she murmured idly.
A deep breath. “What memory stands out in your mind?”
Her lips curved as she eyed the bird. Was it injured? Would it drop and die?
Yael sighed across Freyja, forcefully putting down her notepad. “How do you expect me to help when you don’t answer my questions?”
Freyja flicked a lazy look her way. “I don’t.”
“Why are you here, then? What brings you here daily?”
Freyja glanced at the miniature clock. 8:02 AM.
“Duty,” she replied. “And a stubborn friend.”
Yael raised a brow. “Duty to a friend?”
Freyja shrugged. Eyed the bird that was still flying. But for how long? Everything fell eventually.
“Why lie to a friend?”
“The alternative is to kill him,”
Yael blanched. “What?”
Freyja smiled, a little contrite. “Kidding,”
Unsure, Yael eyeballed her as if she was the only empty teabag in a box of full ones. As if she was an abomination. The odd one out. It wasn’t the first time Freyja had gotten that look. It didn’t bother her anymore.
Another glance at the clock. 8:05. Freyja stood.
“This was fun,” she murmured, holding out her hand. “Let’s do it again tomorrow,”
Yael blinked, lips parted, blue eyes fluttering in confusion. With black hair coiled in a severe bun atop her head, Yael was an olive-skinned woman in her late 20s. She wore glasses in a world no one did, insisted on actually doing her job right, and was presently completed bewildered by Freyja.
Yael was beautiful. Yael was annoying.
Yael was pressing her lips together. “Please tell your friend you don’t want to come here, or actually answer my questions. This isn’t healthy.”
Freyja said nothing because she would do neither. Withdrawing the rejected hand, she waved it in goodbye and left.
“You got an uninvited guest,” Blake told her the moment she returned. Hunched against the wall, he chewed on a toothpick as he waited for her response. He looked bored.
“Uninvited guest,” Freyja mused. “A name?”
Blake lifted a shoulder. “Don’t know. Didn’t care enough to ask.”
A little annoyed, Freyja grinned at him. “I’m pleased to see how well you’re doing your job,”
A grunt, another chew on that damned toothpick. “She’s a kid,”
“A kid,” Freyja echoed, more confused than before. “I see. Okay. Fine. Thank you, Blake.”
His attention was back on his phone. “Whatever.”
Ignoring her ruffian of an employee, Freyja strode to her office and pushed it open. Bathed in tones of red and cream, it was the only room she actively lived in. An armchair sat before the floor-to-ceiling window, a loveseat on the opposite wall. Before Freyja was her large table, behind which was an office chair. Resting on the desk were neat stacks of papers, a bundle of pens, a laptop, and a sovereign of a paperweight.
Freyja didn’t notice all that as her attention shifted to the figure in the armchair. It was a young girl of perhaps six, with wide lilac eyes and hair an eerie shade of red that brightened her office. Lilac eyes locked on hers and blinked once, twice.
Her face was dirty, and she was in extreme need of a good shower. And a haircut. She sat there covered in nothing but torn rags.
The girl was getting dirt all over her precious floors.
She also looked extremely familiar. It was daunting enough to make Freyja feel threatened.
Freyja lifted a brow. “Well, hello,” she greeted drily.
The girl only watched as Freyja walked to her office chair and sank in it, observing her every move with catlike focus.
The clock ticked. They stared at each other. And stared at each other. Then stared at each other some more.
Then Freyja ran out of patience.
“Well? What do you want?”
Two blinks. A tension in the shoulders.
A frown threatened to take over Freyja’s face. “You haven’t made an appointment,”
A shift of the mouth.
“Are you mute, girl? Want a pen and paper?”
A shake of head.
“What?” Freyja raised an arrogant brow. “Don’t know how to read and write?”
Her face went up in flames. She cleared her throat. “An app-appoint-?” she struggled with the word. Her accent was rough and uncultured.
“An appointment,” Freyja repeated. “It’s when you consult the person before visiting them,”
Her face tilted to the side, auburn hair sliding. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know I were supposed to do that,”
Freyja eyed her nails. “Was. Was supposed to do that.”
“I didn’t know I was supposed to do that,” the girl repeated dutifully. “I’m Evangeline.”
Freyja thought that was a nice moment to remember her manners. She even threw a smile in there. “Nice to meet you, Evangeline. How do you do?”
Evangeline looked wary, hands turning into fists as she looked everywhere but at her. “I’m good, thank you,” she said slowly, as if trying to hide her lack of manners. “And you?”
Ignoring the question, Freyja rested her elbows on her desk and eyed the girl curiously. “So, what brings you here? Did you come alone?”
Evangeline shook her head, tensing even more. “My brother left me here. He said you will help me.”
Freyja gazed heavenward. “Really,” she drawled. “And who is this brother of yours?”
Evangeline didn’t answer. She stared at Freyja. “You knew my mama,” she said after a good few seconds.
That was the last thing Freyja had expected. “I don’t think so,” she said slowly. “I’m hardly pleasant company for mothers, you understand.”
The girl seemed confused but pushed on. “You was friends with her. Her name is Luna. Luna Elliot.”
Freyja’s heart dropped to her toes and her eyes narrowed. That name haunted her everywhere she went. Here it was again, this time disguised as a young girl who looked like an angel. Who looked exactly like Luna. And Freyja had known that the moment she had entered the office.
Luna had never said anything about a boyfriend, let alone a goddamned child. It was a blow to the heart; it was a betrayal at its finest. Why would she keep something like that buried away?
Still, plastic surgery existed, and Freyja was no fool. The country was full of morons biding their time and scheming to take her down, and this child could be another plan. She had no real reason to believe her.
“Where were you three years ago when your mother died?” Freyja questioned drily. “How convenient of you to show up all of a sudden.”
Evangeline lowered her eyes, colour rising in her cheeks. She looked miserable. It wasn’t something Freyja could relate to. All she felt was rage.
“With my papa,” the terrified girl muttered. “He’s dead now. He died two weeks ago.”
Did that mean the father was Luna’s hidden husband? Freyja’s head started to pound. She needed her pills.
“Okay,” Freyja ran a hand along her jaw, lost in thought. She wasn’t going to offer her condolences when she didn’t mean them. “So, what? You couldn’t stay with another relative? A… you said you had a brother, yes? What about him?”
“He said that he is my papa’s son, and I am my mama’s daughter so I gotta stay with her friend.”
So. Jerk brother, – half-brother if Freyja had guessed right – dead father, apparently no other relatives, and no education whatsoever. Freyja’s eyes bounced over Evangeline’s small frame as she took the facts in.
“And all this time you spent with this papa of yours, he didn’t send you to school?” Freyja asked sardonically.
Evangeline blushed again. Of course, she did. “We was poor,” she whispered, looking ashamed.
Freyja wasn’t about to make her comfortable. “Were,” she corrected absentmindedly. “Were poor.”
“We were poor,” Evangeline nodded obediently.
Well. At least she had close to no ego. Less chances of her being offended by the things Freyja said on a daily basis.
“What do you want from me?” Freyja decided to merely ask. “Would you like to stay, or do you want me to hunt your brother down and kill him for you? We can send the asshole to meet his beloved papa. Either way, make it quick. I have things to do.”
Evangeline’s eyes were so wide Freyja wouldn’t be surprised if they popped out of their sockets. She stiffened in horror. “Kill Erik?” she gasped loudly, shaking her head in denial.
“So that’s his name,” Freyja observed idly, somewhat amused at the reaction. “Option two it is, then?”
The shaking of the head intensified. “No, no! Do not kill Erik! You do not kill other people, miss. It is a sin.”
Freyja smirked. One thing was clear. “You don’t know who I am, do you, Evangeline?”
A little shake of head. “You are mama’s friend,” was what the girl said.
For some reason, Freyja let out a laugh. Yes, that’s who she was, wasn’t she? Always a friend of Luna, always the unnoticed girl standing beside Luna, always the other girl tagging along with the perfect Luna. The girl obsessed with Luna, the girl who knew Luna the best. She was never Freyja or Freyja Lovetta. She was either a bitch or a tagalong of Luna.
Yet she hadn’t known what could be – and probably was, no doubt about it – the biggest secret of Luna’s life.
“Yes,” she agreed, still smiling. “But what about my name? My, say, habits?”
Evangeline tilted her to the side again. It was a tick, Freyja realised. Something she did when she was confused but curious. “No,” she said firmly. “Who are you?”
A killer. It’s been a pleasure.
Someone you should forget. Shall I get the door for you?
Filth dressed in fancy clothes. Nice to meet you.
Avenger of your mother’s death. Would you like to join me?
“Freyja Lovetta,” was what she settled on. “Your mother and I were good friends, yes. But I’m not a good person, as I’m sure you’ve already noticed. I don’t think you should stay here. I can arrange for you to stay in a safer place.”
Evangeline seemed to hesitate. “I wanna stay here,” she said almost shyly. “Tis a castle. I feel like I’m a princess.”
Freyja frowned. Her townhouse was far from a castle, but it wasn’t surprising the girl thought that. It was most likely the largest house she had seen in her short life. Freyja searched through the princess stories she knew, most of which belonged to the third era.
“Have you ever heard Rapunzel’s story?” she asked.
Evangeline nodded, brightening up a little.
Freyja sniffed. “Well. In this case, this is the tower, and I am the witch.”
Evangeline leaned a little closer. “Is the frightening man outside my Flynn Ryder?”
Freyja blinked. Was she talking about Blake? Well. This wasn’t her point. “No, we don’t have a Flynn Ryder in this version. Boys suck.”
Evangeline agreed enthusiastically. “Yup. Boys in me village were ugly. But that man ain’t ugly.”
Boys in my village. That man isn’t ugly. But maybe some other time. She was trying to prove a point in that moment.
“Glad we got that out of the way,” Freyja cleared her throat. “But what I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t stay here. This place isn’t good or safe for you, and neither is staying around me. I’ll get you a better house.”
Evangeline shrugged. “I will still be a princess. And I like the witch. She wanna stay young forever, and who doesn’t want that? I want that. D’you want that?”
“No, I can’t say that I do,” Freyja forced out through gritted teeth.
Evangeline beamed up at her, shyness forgotten.
“Princesses don’t exist,” Freyja reminded her rudely.
The smile disappeared. “I know. That’s why I said I feel like that.”
Huh. Well, that was true. So where was Freyja supposed to go from here?
Freyja scratched her chin and thought, what the hell.
“There will be some rules, of course,” she started. “No peeing on the bed. I don’t care how old you are, that’s despicable. No wandering out of the house without telling me. And you’ll obviously have to take care of those…” she gestured to her tattered clothes. “…and wear better clothes.”
Evangeline ducked her head, shoulders stiff. “I ain’t a dog. I get it.” she whispered sullenly.
And what do you know. There was that tiny ego. Freyja only corrected her. “I’m not a dog,”
This time, Evangeline didn’t repeat it. Only nodded. Freyja couldn’t blame her; she wouldn’t repeat that kind of sentence, either.
“Ah, yes, and…” Freyja waited until their gazes clicked. “I’d also like a blood sample, please.