Pyro

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Chapter 18

Modern Day; December 19th; Parcia; Beth

“You still haven’t told her?” I said in disbelief.

“No!” Melissa said. She laid on Willow’s bed in a navy blue strapless dress that came to her ankles. I sat at Cierra’s vanity while Cierra was inside her large walk-in closet trying to find the right dress to wear. “And the longer I wait, the worse I feel about not telling her. I used to tell Amber everything. But this is… Huge. And something tells me that she didn’t even know my father was an elf.”

“You can’t keep lying to her, Melissa,” Cierra said, emerging from her closet with a maroon dress draped over her arm. “You may only be half lying when you tell her that you’re coming over to my house, but you’re still not being honest with her.”

“She’s right,” I said.

I turned and looked at my reflection in the mirror above the vanity. I thought I looked rather pale.

“Okay, then,” said Melissa. “I promise that I will tell Amber everything before the end of this year.”

“But that only gives you like twelve days, you know.”

“Shut up, Cierra.” She rolled her eyes. “I will do it.”

I turned around as Cierra said, “We’ll hold you to that promise.”

Cierra looked beautiful in maroon. The color popped against her pale skin. It was a regal design, with a beaded bodice and long, velvety sleeves. She shifted aside the long skirt to slip on gray flats. After twisting her hair up into a bun effortlessly, she turned and smiled at me.

“Are you ready to go?” I asked.

She nodded and Melissa sat up on the bed and reached down to fasten the straps of her silver high heels. I stood and started adjusting my appearance. My dress was a pale blue number with a layer of white lace over it that made me look like I was covered in snowflakes. I had borrowed it from Cierra, as she had the largest collection of dresses I had ever seen. One for every occasion. Amber was under the impression that we were having a girls’ night when, in actuality, we were going to a Christmas dance in Parcia. Felix had asked me to go and I had accepted. The fact that I would probably have to dance with him scared the shit out of me. I was afraid that I would make a fool out of myself.

My hands were sweating when we walked out of the room and I felt like I was having trouble breathing.

“Felix told me to meet him in his room,” I said when Cierra and Melissa started to walk in the direction of the large meeting room where the dance was going to be held.

“Okay. It’s in the next hallway over. The fifth door down on the left side,” Cierra said.

“Um. Okay. I guess I’ll see you guys in a few, then,” I said.

As soon as they were gone, I wished I had asked them to walk with me. But when I thought about it, it was actually better that I was meeting up with Felix by myself. I didn’t want him to think of me as a child who needed to be walked places. I wanted him to think of me as an independent woman. For some reason, this was very important to me, so I kept my chin up and started walking in accordance with Cierra’s directions.

My heart beat faster and faster as I walked down the hallway, turning my head left and right to see if he was in any of the rooms I was passing. I trusted Cierra’s directions, but I didn’t trust myself to remember correctly. I was much too nervous to be able to think straight.

Felix suddenly walked out of a bathroom ahead of me, adjusting his sport coat as he did so. I actually jumped backwards a little, I was so startled. He saw me immediately and a smile spread across his face.

“Wow, you look beautiful,” he said.

We both stopped walking with enough room for a small horse to walk between us. I couldn’t believe he had just called me beautiful. I could feel my cheeks heating up at the compliment. He hurriedly tucked his shirt and fixed his tie. It was a comfort to me that he looked as nervous as I was.

“Thanks. You look pretty nice, too.”

“Oh, geez. I haven’t even fixed my hair yet.”

He reached up and ran a hand through his blonde hair that was loose and wavy, unlike the usual spikes he had. He looked really different, and yet the same. Without the spikes, he definitely looked older, which was intimidating to me. He had such a humorous and playful personality that sometimes I forgot that he was twenty-three.

“You look nice with your hair like that.”

“Really? You think so?” He raised an eyebrow and in that moment, he was the sexiest person I had ever seen. “This is how it is whenever I’m not in public, but if you say it looks good… Here, come see my room before we go. I want to show you something.”

I timidly followed him into a room a few doors down from the bathroom. It was bigger than I expected it to be. Roughly the size of my room at the Curran house, Felix’s room was the same taupe color that all of the rooms I had seen so far in the Underground were. In the corner was his bed, queen-size with a headboard that doubled as a bookshelf. He had three more bookshelves along the walls that were crammed with books, CDs, and movies. I didn’t have to check to know that they were in alphabetical order. Felix liked everything to be organized. Even his hair. His desk was against the wall across from his bed. His laptop was open and playing some music quietly that he stopped with a quick click of the mouse. He looked over and saw that I was now staring at his wall decorations. Above his bed was a giant red flag with a cannon and the word “Arsenal” printed above it in white letters. He also had movie posters of Pulp Fiction and The Dark Knight hanging up.

“I like your room,” I said, looking into his blue eyes.

“Thanks. This is what I wanted to show you.”

He walked over and gestured at the headboard shelf of CDs. When I came over and saw what he was pointing out to me, I couldn’t help but smile at him.

“You have every Linkin Park CD?”

“Yes.” He looked pretty proud of himself as he plucked one off the shelf and held it in front of my eyes. “And this one is signed.”

“Oh my God!” I said, staring at the signatures on the front. “How did you…? Where did you…? Did you meet them?”

“Yes, I did. It was a long time ago, when they were just starting to get popular.”

“What were they like?!”

I was having a very hard time containing my excitement and Felix’s eyes were laughing at me.

“Chester Bennington was hilarious and Mike Shinoda was a total bro. It was awesome. They were all so nice.”

“I am so incredibly jealous,” I said slowly.

“I can tell!” He laughed. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone’s eyes get as large as yours are right now. You can look at it, if you want.”

I sat down on his bed and looked at his CD collection while he put his shoes on. My hands continued to sweat like I was about to take a big exam or something.

Deep breaths, deep breaths, I told myself.

“Are you ready to go?” he asked me after a few minutes.

“Yes.”

I returned his CDs to their original positions and stood out in the hallway waiting for him to lock his door.

“You know, I was beginning to wonder if you would actually come when you showed up,” he said. “I’m really glad you did. Though you looked terrified when you saw me.”

He was laughing again and this time I felt like he was definitely mocking me to some degree.

“Don’t laugh at me!”

“I’m not, I’m not! You’re just so cute sometimes.” I shook my head at him, not knowing what to say. “Who am I kidding? You’re cute all the time.”

I stared at the floor as we walked together. It occurred to me that he might try and hold my hand and I don’t know whether or not I wanted that to happen.

“I’ve only been here a couple times and it still blows my mind,” I said.

“You know what blows my mind? The fact that you’re an elf. It’s too good to be true.”

I looked over at him, at his quiet happiness.

“Why do you say that?”

“I just always get excited when I find out that people are elves. It’s nice to find people that are like you.”

“What would be so wrong with me being a human, if I was human?”

I didn’t know why I was fighting him, but I just needed him to answer me.

“Nothing! Nothing at all.”

“Good, because humans aren’t that different from elves. Just because we have special abilities and live longer doesn’t mean that we’re any better.”

“I know!”

“Remember that I used to be human.”

He raised a finger, saying, “That’s not exactly accurate, but I see what you’re saying.” He grabbed my hand and pulled me so fast that I almost tripped over my own feet. “Come on, I want to dance with you.”

He took me into the large room in which the dance was being held and straight to the dance floor. I had no time to protest before he had one hand on my waist and the other hand in mine.

“Felix!” I said as we began to move across the floor along with everyone else. “Warn me next time!”

“That’s no fun,” he said with a wink.

The music was some jazzy cover of a Christmas song, so it didn’t take long before I had picked up on the rhythm and was moving appropriately. I was surprised that the steps just came to me. Felix raised his eyebrows.

“What?”

“You’re leading.”

“I’m what?”

“Leading. Taking charge of the dance. I no longer have any control.”

Once he had said it, I realized that I was definitely pressing Felix forward with my hands and my feet. I didn’t know if this was a good thing or a bad thing, so I just smiled at him.

It was uncomfortable for me to look at Felix the whole time, so I began to look around the room. We were surrounded by elf couples, some with a talent for dancing and others obviously without one. I finally saw Scott and Cierra dancing together. Their cheeks were pink from moving around and they looked so happy in each other’s arms that I felt weird for looking at them. I tried to spot Melissa and Willow, but I couldn’t see them anywhere.

“What are you looking for?” Felix asked me.

“My sister,” I said, surprising myself.

Felix looked dumbfounded.

“Your sister?”

“Yeah. Melissa.” I smiled. “Amber is adopting me.”

“That’s fantastic! I’m so glad to hear it.”

He smiled down at me. We were almost the same height, but he was a smidgen taller. It felt amazing and strange to be in his arms and I found myself staring into his eyes again. It was awkward, but he was so handsome that I didn’t want to look away. Suddenly, his grip on my waist tightened and he leaned down to brush his lips against my cheek. My heart was hammering desperately in my chest when he pulled away and I was speechless for a full minute afterwards.

“What…? Why did you do that?”

“Mistletoe.”

His eyes flitted upwards and I followed them. Sure enough, there was a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the center of the dance floor to trap any unsuspecting elves beneath it. Of course it was just mistletoe. I mentally scolded myself for thinking that the kiss had meant anything more.

“Oh, yeah.”

We continued to move across the dance floor, but I had to look away from him again. I was too embarrassed that I had felt something when he had kissed me. I knew it was just a simple infatuation, but I wasn’t going to let it conquer me.

After a while, we both agreed to take a break from dancing for a while. It felt wonderful to dance, especially with Felix, but I needed to talk to Melissa. Plus, my feet were beginning to ache from staying on them for so long. While Felix went to the bathroom, I walked over to the table that was spread with refreshments and poured myself some punch. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a navy blue dress and felt a wave of relief wash over me as I looked up and saw Melissa putting various desserts onto a small plate.

“Melissa!”

“Hey, Beth,” she said, looking surprised at my enthusiasm.

“He kissed me.”

“What?”

“Felix. On the cheek. He kissed me. I’m so confused.”

“Why?” She smirked. “Isn’t that what you wanted?”

Yes. No. Wait. Why did I think that? Oh God.

“I don’t know what I want! And even if I did know, what would be the point of it all? Nothing is permanent. I’m just going to find someone else. Or he will.”

“That’s so pessimistic. I’m tired of you being so negative all the time, Beth. Isn’t it exhausting?” I took a sip of the punch. “I remember when I used to be that way. Since I met Willow and Cierra, I’ve been so much happier. I’ve realized that it’s so much easier to think about things in a positive way.”

I took another sip of punch before saying, “I’m just trying to be realistic.”

Ugh, what’s in the punch? It tastes so bitter.

“Well, I’m going to go back to Willow. If we’re not going to last, I may as well make the best of our time together.”

There was a bite to her words and I felt like I had been slapped as she walked away. Usually she didn’t react that way, so I felt confused. She knew how I felt about romance, so why was it bothering her so much now?

Yeah, I definitely don’t feel well.

I drained my cup and tossed it into the nearest trash can before going to stand against the wall. My heart was pounding in my ears as I put a clammy hand on the wall to steady myself. I took a few deep breaths and closed my eyes, but it didn’t help at all. As more time passed, I felt worse and worse.

“Beth? Are you okay?”

I opened my eyes and saw through my blurring vision that Felix was standing next to me. I couldn’t see his face clear enough, but could imagine that he probably looked as worried as he sounded.

“I feel like I might throw up…”

“Oh! Thankfully, I can help with that.”

He put a hand on my forehead and I could see blue light reflected in his eyes. I had become used to feeling relief after seeing the blue light, but this time I didn’t feel anything except increasing nausea.

“… Didn’t help…”

I turned and ran from the room just before my stomach lurched. I held my hands over my mouth and looked around desperately for a bathroom. I had just made it to one when my stomach emptied itself into the toilet of the first stall. I closed my eyes and tried to forget the burning sensation in my throat and the remaining pain in my stomach. I heard the bathroom door squeak open and felt a warm hand on the small of my back.

“It’s okay. I’m here,” Felix said.

Part of me was mortified that he had to see me in such a state, but the rest of me was so glad that he was there with me.it becomes difficult to He was a comfort to me, despite how fluttery he made me feel inside. I opened my eyes and blinked a couple times before I really believed what I was seeing.

“Felix… Look at it.”

“As much as I care about you, I didn’t exactly come in here to look at your vomit,” he said with a touch of humor in his voice.

“No. Just look.”

“Whoa.”

In the toilet bowl, a pile of red, green, yellow, and brown flakes floated in the water, dampened by the liquid of the toilet and my stomach. At first they reminded me of the tiny flakes you feed to fish, but much larger. Then I noticed the pattern of veins on each of them and I shook my head in disbelief.

“Felix, I threw up leaves.”

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