Nox Inferno

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Pretend

Chapter 46: Pretend

I felt groggy and numb. Even as I blinked a couple times, I couldn’t tell where I was.

“Hey, you are up?” A voice added. The body which the voice was owned by pulled me into a hug.
“Where am I?” The words fell from my lips.

“We are back at the palace.” The body sat back down. They began messaging my hand, “We told Kai.”

Those words snapped me out of my funk, “You did, what?!” I shouted.

“He is our Dux; we were wrong from keeping this from him.” Zephyr said.

“I don’t care if he was the King of the Universe. Why didn’t you ask me?” I snapped and yanked my hand away from Zephyr. I didn’t want him to see me as something broken.

“You aren’t broken.” Nyra’s voice added.

But her words did little to comfort me. How can I be certain any of this is real? What if I am imaging things?

A cold, wet towel was placed on my head. I snapped my eyes back to Zephyr.

“You are burning up again.” He whispered as he patted my forehead.

“What did Kai say?” My voice broke. I could barely hold back my tears.

“He wants to take you to Oziel tomorrow. But he doesn’t want anyone else to see you this way. So you need to get up soon. We have to walk Satan and family back to the portal.” Zephyr pulled me to my feet.

“He wants to pretend I’m not broken?” I said dejectedly. If I knew this is how everything would turn out. Would I have chosen to stay home, instead of going to Ravenwood?

Zephyr grabbed my arm, “You. Are. Not. Broken.” He said through gritted teeth.

“Aren’t I?!” I yelled, “I was seeing a person who wasn’t there for weeks. I thought he was human. Those burns, I probably did it to myself.” I gestured to my legs, “How can you say I’m not broken?”

“Gabriel could still be an Angel. We don’t-“

“No!” I shouted, “Don’t say that name ever again! He wasn’t real!!”

The door opened, “Is everything okay in here?” Mama Fra asked.

“We are fine Mama. Twyla was upset that you missed the party.” Zephyr lied. They didn’t even tell Mama Fra. Are they that ashamed of me?

Mama Fra looked dubious, “If you say so.” She shook her head and closed the door.

“Who knows?” I asked.

“Just Kai, Alvina and myself.” Zephyr said quietly as if uttering these words where dangerous, “We don’t want anyone else to worry. They might send you home if they found out.”

“Found out I was broken.” I stated. I inhaled and wiped away my tears, “I was a good actress in the musicals I played in. I will pretend.”

Zephyr let out a sigh of relief, “This palace may look beautiful from outside. But if anyone finds out about this, bad things can happen to everyone who-“

I cut him off, “Who knows me.” He opened his mouth but closed it again. He couldn’t even deny it.

“When do we leave?” I asked, I made sure my voice was even. Just like at home, no one could tell when something was bothering me. I was good at hiding my emotions.

“In a couple hours. You might want to take a shower and get ready.” He smiled. I can do this.

I forced out a smile, “Thanks Zephyr.” I walked out of the room. I had to remind myself to let my body sway as it usually does.

“Good morning, Twyla.” Clementine beamed at me.

“Morning.” I hummed out. If I could play this part, well enough. I might even forget I was sad.

“Where did you go during the party?” Clementine asked, “Did you meet a guy?” She added with a coy smile.

I balked at her suggestion, “No.” I rolled my eyes and shoved her a little which caused her to laugh. Good, she doesn’t suspect a thing.

“Good morning.” Kai said. His eyes burned holes through my facade. It was almost like he could tell I was pretending.
“I’m going to take a shower.” I excused myself and walked away from Kai and Clementine. I still wasn’t over Kai acting like a jerk last night.

“I think he was jealous.” Nyra’s voice echoed in my head.

I stiffened, “Can you not talk to me for a while? I just feel insane when I hear your voice.”

“I’ll be here if you need me.” She said before shutting off out communication link.

I smiled weakly. I quickly stepped into the shower. I let the water hit my face. It seemed to cool down the storm inside me.

My whole life was swept into a hurricane last night. I know everyone is trying to help me, but I keep pushing them away. I know I shouldn’t. I have read enough books and watched enough movies to understand that much. They are there to help me cope but it different when it’s happening to me. Every time I saw this same cliché scene I would laughing. I would never be like that; I use to tell myself. I guess I was wrong.

A loud bang startled me from my depressing thoughts, “Are you planning on leaving water for the rest of us?” Alvina barked through the bathroom door.

I sighed and turned off the water. Wrapping a towel around myself, I looked in the mirror. I touched my eyes, yesterday they looked so innocent. Today they are clouded and dark. I guess that’s all part of growing up. Suddenly, for the first time in my life. I was scared to grow up.

“Pretend.” I whispered to myself as I fixed my smile into place.

I swung open the door, “Good morning, Alvina.” I showcased my carefully sculpted smile.

She looked taken aback for a minute. She didn’t expect me to look my usual self. I guess I am getting better at acting. Maybe I was an actress in a past life.

“Yeah.” She responded and push past me. She slammed the door shut. I didn’t have time to wonder about what’s wrong with her. With a shrug, I headed to my room. On my bed laid a black dress. It had spaghetti straps and it was covered in lace.

I smiled, it looked like armor. Black has always been my favorite color when I was upset. There was something so elegant and fierce about the color black.

I pulled it on. I struggled with the back; it was some sort of lace up contraption.

“That looks uncomfortable.” Kai laughed.

Pretend, I reminded myself. “Imagine wearing it.” I scoffed as I tried to no avail to put it on.

“Do you want help?” Kai asked.

I looked at him questioningly, “You know how to use this?” I asked with a coy smile.

“My mother looks like a teenager.” He said like that would explain everything. He pushed off the wall and walked behind me.

“I’m still mad at you.” I said out loud. I was meant for myself than to him.

“You should be. I was a jerk.” He said quietly as he fiddled with my dress.

“At least you admit it.” I said. Every second I talked to him; I lost a little bit of my resolve. Why can’t I hold a grudge?

“I was mad because…” He trailed off, “Anyways, I’m sorry for being a douche. I don’t want to mess up our friendship. Done.”

Friends. That word sent a lighting bolt through my heart. My heart couldn’t take any more damage right now, “If you don’t mind, I need to finish getting ready.”

“Right.” He looked at me once more, “I’m going to go.” He pointed to the door. I just nodded. I didn’t trust my voice. If I opened my mouth, I might say something I would regret.

When he left, I plopped myself onto the bed. My chest felt heavy, there was this weight on my chest. After staring at the ceiling for a while, I decided I should finish getting ready.

I sat up and began to comb my hair. Suddenly a hum filled my head.

“Nyra, please stop humming.” I asked.

“I’m not.” Nyra responded. The sound got louder until it turned into a song.

“Fly, fly little owl. Things are about to get a little foul. Come to me. And you will see. A brand-new sight. All you have to do is take flight. Take my hand. Let me show you all that is planned. Fly, fly little owl. Danger is on the prowl” The words repeated over and over again.

I’m going insane. I held my head. That isn’t real. There is no voice, it’s all your head.

“What are you doing?” A voice interrupted. I stared at the figure for several seconds. The fogginess in my vision cleared as did the voice.

Pretend. I chanted the word over in my head, “Nothing. I was just rubbing my temples. It helps with stress.”

Clementine laughed, “What do you have to be stressed about?”

I smiled. If only she knew.

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