Modern Day; September 21st; Cleveland, Ohio; Cierra
“I know everything,” Melissa said to me as she put her tray down next to mine at lunch and I felt the table vibrate underneath my hands.
“Really? What’s that like?”
I started laughing, but she didn’t crack a grin and suspicion grew in the back of my mind as she sat down. She was paying more attention to me than her food, which was unnatural and a warning sign to me.
“I’m not joking. I found out, Cierra. I went there.”
I took a gulp of my chocolate milk to appear casual, while inside I was a little alarmed. The cold liquid felt like a jolt of ice as it traveled down to my stomach.
I choked on my milk and started coughing uncontrollably. My eyes watered and the tears moved down my face. Melissa looked sympathetic as she patted my back. It didn’t help at all, but I appreciated the gesture. I noticed that her hands felt large and warm. I noticed everything.
“Yeah. It was an accident, how I found out. But I know everything now. Willow told me.”
“He did? How much, exactly? Did he tell you about… Us?”
“Yes. I know what you are.” I braced myself in case she called me a mutant and slapped me across the face. But instead, she hugged me. “I wish you had just told me.”
“Then you… Believe everything?”
“Of course I believe everything. I’m not an idiot. I know that this world is full of supernatural things.”
I laughed and she shrugged before adding, “For lack of a better word.”
“Wow.” I cleared my throat one last time. It appeared that everything was okay now and I wasn’t going to choke to death. “So you know everything now. No secrets between us.”
“Actually… About that. Willow and I are sort of… Together now.”
This didn’t surprise me at all.
“Yay! I didn’t know you were official, but he told me that you kissed.”
“Are there any secrets that you two have from each other?”
“Not really. I mean, we can read each other really well. Like, more than most people. It’s a twin thing, I guess. Also, since we share a bedroom, we’re always around each other and I can see what he’s feeling. When I came back to the room last night, he was grinning like an idiot. I don’t know what you did to that boy, but he’s crazy happy right now.”
“I don’t know what I did either. I’m just me. All I did was show up.”
I laughed. Sometimes Melissa was so cute. She had such a low opinion of herself, which was sad, but it was humorous in comparison to how Willow practically worshiped her. I had to hear him talk about her all the time – over the dinner table, over the breakfast table, while getting ready for school…
“Oh, Melissa. That’s why he likes you.”
She looked confused.
Then she said, “Did you say that you share a bedroom?”
“That’s weird! I didn’t know that. What’s that like?”
“We’ve shared a room since we were infants, so…” I shrugged. “I think having the room to myself would be weird, actually. I would probably get lonely. I’m very much a people person.”
“It’s funny because I’m exactly the opposite way.”
“I’ve noticed.” She shoved me, but she was smiling. “Joking!”
“What are you girls laughing so hard about?” Willow said as he sat down across from us.
“We were just talking about how I’m obviously a people person and Melissa is obviously not.”
Melissa feigned offense and we laughed.
After lunch, we walked down the hall together. Melissa and Willow had Calculus together next and I usually walked them to their classroom because that made the most sense.
“Hold on, let me get a drink of water,” I said because my mouth was dry.
I got a drink at the drinking fountain while Willow and Melissa probably did something cute behind my back. When I finished getting water and stood up straight, I saw a colorful poster on the wall directly above me. It was advertising the Homecoming dance.
“This seriously better not be a long test,” Melissa was saying.
“It probably will be, knowing Krieger,” said Willow.
“Guys!” They looked at me in such a way that suggested they had forgotten I was there. “Do you want to go to the Homecoming dance?”
“Are you asking both of us?” Melissa said with a smirk.
I shook my head at her.
“No, but if you guys are interested in going… I’ll go. I mean, we could go as a group.”
“Who would you go with?” said Melissa.
I couldn’t help but smile as I said, “Scott.”
Her eyebrows disappeared under her bangs.
“That’s super cute. I actually know who you’re talking about now. I met him.”
“They’ve been together for forever,” Willow said, rolling his eyes, and I punched him lightly in the arm.
Melissa was smiling now.
“How old is he, again?”
She nodded, looking impressed. I could feel heat in my cheeks. Every time I thought about Scott, I felt embarrassed about how excited I got.
“Normally, I would be interested in attending Homecoming,” said Willow, “But did you see what day it is? October tenth. That’s the same day as—”
“—the vow renewal!”
A light clicked on in my head, but of course Melissa looked confused.
“Lady Catherine and Lord Darylis are renewing their vows of marriage that day. Everyone in the Underground is invited to attend and of course we’re expected to come, being their offspring.”
“That sounds really unpleasant,” Melissa said.
Willow nodded wholeheartedly, but I just looked down at the floor tiles. Thinking about our parents made me very sad. Willow and I didn’t feel the same way about our situation because he was content with being angry, while I was genuinely sad about not having parents who cared about us. I wanted to have that typical relationship with my parents, where we would always be there for each other and be honest with each other. I wanted someone to go to for advice. Someone other than Scott. I loved Scott, but everyone needs a family member to go to when times get hard.
“It will probably be difficult for me to watch, if I’m honest,” I said. “I would much rather go to the Homecoming dance. I wish we had a choice.”
“Do you think I could go with you guys? I could try and help you have more fun. Homecoming probably won’t be that great, anyways.”
Willow and I stared at Melissa.
“You wouldn’t mind coming with us?” he said in disbelief. “It would probably be really boring.”
“My whole life has been boring so far. And I’m assuming there will be some sort of reception afterwards with free food. I would do anything for free food.”
I made a sad face at her and she shrugged. Sometimes I felt so bad for her because she seemed like such a lonely person. I was glad that she and Willow had found each other because sometimes Willow seemed lonely too, even though he was always around people in the Underground. One didn’t have to be completely isolated to feel lonely.
“There probably will be food, knowing Lady Catherine. She likes to go overboard with things.”
“She seems like a Marie Antoinette, but I’m not complaining.”
“You have to dress up,” Willow said. He had a serious look on his face, which made me think he didn’t want Melissa to come. I didn’t really want her to come, either. Too many things could go wrong. “Probably the same amount of formality as a wedding or Prom.”
“I can do that. And it’s actually good that it’s the same day as Homecoming because I can just tell Amber that’s where I’m going. She won’t suspect a thing. Because of course I can’t tell her that I’m going to a country that doesn’t exist to most people. And I can’t tell her that you guys aren’t human because that would be crazy, right?”
“Honesty isn’t as crazy as it sounds.”
“He’s right, Melissa. You could just tell her. I’m sure she would understand.”
“Of course she will! ‘Yes, Melissa, you can teleport to the country of Parcia with your elf friends to attend their royal parents’ wedding. Just be sure to be back before curfew.’”
I sighed and said, “A, our parents are not royal. B, it’s not a wedding, it’s a vow renewal. C, you have a curfew?”
“Whatever. And no, I don’t have a curfew. I don’t usually go out at night, so it’s never been a problem.”
“I would just feel bad about you lying to her,” said Willow.
“People lie all the time. It can’t be that hard.”
Parcia; Lady Catherine
I swallowed my scream of glee as Daryl pushed me down on the bed. As we grappled at each other’s naked bodies under the sheets, I couldn’t help but think that this was when I was happiest: when I was making love to Daryl. My mother would have scolded me for opening myself to a man, but he wasn’t in his right mind anyways. This whole time, he had been enchanted and I didn’t regret that at all. My time with Daryl had been more wonderful than words could express and I wouldn’t have given that up for anything, even if it meant getting my dead mother’s approval from where she was—most likely hell, but I liked to think she was in heaven.
“Guh, do that again!” I said, arching my back.
I dug my nails into his skin and he groaned in satisfaction before sitting forward and kissing a circle around my belly button. He gently laid me back and placed his lips between my legs. I closed my eyes and focused on the feeling. It was hard to focus on anything else.
Just before I climaxed, Daryl sat up and said, “I’m so glad you agreed to us renewing our vows. I just needed a way to express to you how much I love you.”
“I have another idea of how you can do that,” I said and pointed down in an obvious way.
But Daryl, who was more easily distracted than he was before I had enchanted him, stared off into space as if something important hadn’t been about to happen.
“I just love you so much that it almost hurts me inside. I want other people to know how much I love you.”
“They already know. Now, can you do what you were doing before?”
“Sometimes I get the idea that you don’t love me as much as I love you.”
I gave up on ever getting fully satisfied and pulled Daryl down to lay beside me. He sighed as I wrapped my arms around his stomach and laid my head on his chest. He was warm and I closed my eyes and smiled at the feeling.
“Don’t be silly. I love you more than I love anyone.” For once, I was actually being honest. “Why would you think that I didn’t?”
“I don’t know. You’ve just been acting strange lately. Like you don’t want to spend time with me. What could be more important than us spending time together?”
Oh, I don’t know… Running a country? But of course he wouldn’t know or care about that in his state. I don’t want it any other way.
“Nothing, of course. And if I have been acting strange, I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right, my darling.”
He tilted his head down to kiss me. Then he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me tight against him. And soon his body had given into my ready and willing one. I was so unbelievably happy when I was in his embrace that it scared me. I didn’t want him to have any power over me—and it seemed ridiculous that he could, since he was the one who was under a spell. The fact that I loved him so much meant that I was willing to sacrifice things for him. The only things I truly wanted to sacrifice, though, were for myself and I wanted it to stay that way.
The more time I spent with him, the more it became apparent to me what I had to do in order to survive him and achieve my goal. It was going to hurt, but didn’t life always hurt sometimes?