I stand outside of my closest friend’s apartment door staring hard at the wood. If I don’t do this, Mom will. So, I get over my racing nerves and rap my knuckles on the door. It doesn’t take long for it to swing open, revealing my old friend dressed quite lavishly in pastel pink.
“Aszurya. It truly has been a while since I’ve last seen you. How have you been?”
“I’ve been alright, I guess. My brain has been a bit foggy lately. You?”
“I’ve been excellent as can be. Though, your brain being foggy troubles me. How long has this been?”
“Since Monday. Well, Friday. I slept through the weekend by accident. Anyway, I didn’t come here to be mothered by you, Alaric. My mom is throwing a tremendous party at the manor and wanted me to invite people.”
“You are inviting me to a party? When is it?”
“Friday! You couldn’t possibly mean this Friday. Aszurya, I need time to prepare! And what of the others. They’ll be livid.”
“Then bring them too.”
“All of them?” Alaric asks, bafflement scribbled all over his green skin. I nod my head in affirmation but his bafflement just increases.
I nod my head.
“Yes. Why are you giving me that look?”
“Because this isn’t the ‘you’ I know. You haven’t gone to one of your mother’s exquisite parties in years. I assume you and Blithe have made your amends.”
“Yeah. Just come to the party. We can talk more, then. I would stay but I have a few more stops before I head over to the manor again.”
Alaric nods before stepping back and shutting the door in as I walk down the hall. Before I get to the stairs, I warp myself out of the building and into the suburbs of the eastern mainland.
If I thought going to see Alaric was going to be hard, I’ve obviously never made up with acquaintances I’ve hurt. The thing is D’nai wasn’t just an acquaintance. She was a true friend that wasn’t afraid to tell me the truth. She was like Alaric: always there when I needed them. Yet I pushed her away countless times.
I haven’t spoken to D since she and my brothers came to help me. Even after, I wasn’t exactly in the right state of mind to go to her for advice. I guess this is what Mom meant. I sigh and knock on the door. My mind roams as I wait for her to open up the door.
Once she does, I’m shocked at the memory of how much shorter than me she is. She looks up at me and smiles. Just as quickly as the smile appears on her face it is replaced with surprise.
“Hey… how ya been?”
“Good. Good… you?”
“Same. I guess.”
I shove my hands deep into my pockets. An awkward silence falls between us. We’ve never been this awkward. Even after arguments. Is this what time does to regular people?
“So…. What’ve you been up to? I heard that you had gone off on some retreat?”
“Yeah, something like that. You look different. I sense something familiar but off about you.”
“Oh… Um… Aszurya. I’m pregnant.”
“Really? When… Who? Nevermind. Congrats or whatever. Um, are you free on Friday?”
“Oh, not really. I’m booked with appointments and then my boyfriend invited me to a party. Sorry, I’m sure we could hand out another time.”
I nod my head and turn away from the small house. I frown deeply as I continue down the steps. I have absolutely no idea what just happened. Swallowing hard, I extend my wings and take to the airways.
My family has been keeping me busy all week which I am thankful for. My mind still feels foggy, but the constant tasks help me focus. Today has been hectic, as it is the day of the party. I’ve been helping out the boys and staff while my sisters play with the younger ones to keep them out of our way.
Everything is finally in place, more or less, and Mom has released me early just as she promised my sisters, both blood and in-law. They have something planned for me. I asked Naraa but, all she said was that they are helping me get ready for the party. Looks like someone finally taught her to lie properly.
I just don’t understand why they are so happy to be around me. Even if they are just getting ready with me, I only need an hour to do everything, not six. What could they possibly have planned for me? My thoughts get interrupted when a smooth hand touches my elbow. I spin around, ready to punch whoever it is touching me but stop when I see Aiden standing before with his thin eyebrows raised.
“Relax, it’s just me, Aszurya.”
“Sorry, I’ve been out of it lately.”
“Your head still hasn’t gotten better?”
I shake my head, trying to remember when I told him that my head was fuzzy. I haven’t seen him since I fell asleep next to him in my room. But I guess my family must’ve told him.
“Where have you been?”
“Out and about.”
“Are you coming to my mom’s party tonight?”
“Well, I might just have to drop by then.”
Aiden smiles at me and kisses me roughly before continuing down the hallway. I stand where I am and watch the man walk away from me. He was so evasive when I asked where he had been. I wonder if that’s how others feel when talking to me.
“Aszurya? What’s taking you so long?”
I turn around to see my sister-in-law Julie walking towards me wearing a long white robe. She frowns at me as I give her a blank stare. When she asks me if everything is okay, I nod my head and let her lead me into one of the suites hidden on the third floor.
Anastasia, Azinaraa, Kyomi, and Audrey are all waiting inside the suite with similar white robes on. Their faces seem to light up upon seeing me, stopping me in tracks. I bite down hard on my lip as Julie steps in the middle of the room as if to confront me on their behalf.
“Okay, Aszurya. We’ve all decided that we won’t be wearing any glamours tonight. So, drop all of your glamours now so we can see what we are working with.”
“Are you sure you want to do that? I don’t want to drop my glamours.”
Ana gets up from her spot on the ground and takes hold of both of my hands. She smiles up at me, the action reaching as far as her light green eyes, confusing me even more. I really don’t understand why they are doing this.
“Come on, Aszurya. We are trying to help you for tonight.”
“I don’t want your help. I don’t get it. Why are you all doing this for me? You guys are so happy to see me. Stop faking it. I know you all hate me.”
Ana and Julie both frown at me. Julie rests her hand on my shoulder, reassuring me and smiles a sweet smile.
“We don’t hate you, Aszurya. We all love you. You are our family.”
I turn my head away and scrunch up my face. I truly don’t understand why they are acting like this. They don’t love me. They never did. I was always the outcast. No one wanted to be around me. So how is that love? What the hell is love, anyway?
“Come on. Go take a shower so we can get started.”
“And don’t forget to wash your hair. I need it to be nice and clean for the best results.”
I give in after a quick look at all of the women in the room. I can sense nothing but good vibes coming from them all. I walk into one of the two large bathrooms connected to the suite. Like my own bathroom, there’s a spacious stand-up shower and a long white porcelain tub on the black tiles.
Once the door is shut, I begin to peel off my layers and unbraid my hair. Turning on the water I let it warm up a bit before stepping in and closing the glass door behind me.
I scrub the sweat and dirt from all over my skin with the rose-scented soap, carefully lathering my skin with the soap suds. Next, I wash my hair a few times, massaging my scalp just the way my mom did when I was a little girl with long hair. Rinsing off the soap, I step out of the glass shower and dry myself off with a towel. Some time while I was washing my hair, one of the others came in and left a black robe by the towel rack.
I walk out of the bathroom to find Audrey painting Naraa’s toenails and Ana and Julie carelessly talking. Kyomi is the first to see me and gestures me over to the vanity. I sit down and watch William’s beautiful wife comb through my hair.
Will and Kyomi met when I was 18, at one of the parties my parents threw. Naturally, I wasn’t in attendance but a few months later, I found out at the family dinner that the two were dating. Not long after, Will invited me to his wedding, which I was forced to attend, and the two went on a honeymoon to Paradise Falls where they had lots of fun.
And I mean lots of fun.
Kyomi gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Lilybelle, ten months later who was the perfect balance of her mother and father. Lilybelle, Lily for short, was born with Kyomi’s dark blue hair, full lips and small round nose. Her eyes are vibrant blue like her mother but everything else was of her father’s family. Her skin tone, height, and everything Siethen-like. She’s a pure beauty that will surely attract many men when she’s older with her soft personality.
I watch as Kyomi’s long fingers assist the blow dryer as she carefully dries my hair. As she begins to curl my hair, she showers me with compliments and I begin to see why Will fell in love with her.
A pain buries itself in my chest right above my hearts as I watch my family bond around me. Once everyone’s hair is done by Kyomi and nails are painted by the artist Audrey, we sit around in a circle and discuss the party.
“Michaelis is going to love my dress. It’s a strapless maxi dress in a pretty pink with a cinched waist. It’s pretty and simple. And the twins will be matching in beautiful light blue tea dresses.”
“It’s a good thing they have two different eye colours otherwise we would never be able to tell the difference, Audrey.”
I smile to myself and lean into the bed closest to me. Naraa describes her dress to us, telling us how she made it the colour of aged paper, light and flowing. She paints a picture in the air with her magic and leaves the others gasping as the colourful butterflies flutter against the layers of off-white sheer. The others paint equally beautiful dresses in the air and marvel over it together. I’m the only one that doesn’t participate, which doesn’t go unnoticed.
“Aszurya, what are you going to wear?” Julie asks me, putting me on the spot. I shrug my shoulders and drag my knees closer to my chest.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” Ana inquires.
“Didn’t you plan it out?” Naraa chimes in.
“No. I didn’t put much thought into it.”
This sends everyone into a frenzy. They all get up trying to think of something that I can wear. I let them go on for a few minutes before standing up and playing with one of the tendrils Kyomi set free.
“I don’t want to wear a dress. I’ll just find a jumper from in my closet.”
“Don’t you have romper dresses?”
I nod my head, cocking my head to the side at my older sister. She smiles at Julie before ordering me to go find one. Frowning, I walk out of the suite and toward my chambers. I’m almost there when I bump into my brothers walking up the grand stairway of the south.
“Woah, what’s with the fit?” Chris asks the question I know is on every one of their minds.
“Your wives are getting ready for the party,” I say with a shrug. I leave the boys confused and find my room.
In my large half-empty closet, I search through the mass of black fabric to find my favourite black romper dress made out of chiffon. I throw it over my shoulder and walk back to the others as a few memories of my mother arguing with me over what to wear begin to surface. This was the only thing close to a dress she could get on my body. And that was only because it’s like shorts.
Once back in the girls’ suite, I create a clone to wear the outfit while the others make changes to it. I sit on one of the beds and examine what they have done with the romper dress. At some point, one of them changed the colour to a royal purple.
“What do you think?”
I stand up and add some lace three-quarter sleeves and a black belt around the waist to accentuate my waist. The others gasp and begin to cheer at the masterpiece we’ve created.
For the first time in my life, I feel welcomed around the other women of my family. I feel like a part of the family. I feel content. Smiling to myself, I finally let the girls embrace me for the first time.
For the rest of the evening, we spend time with each other and listen to music, getting ready for the party to come. I just might have fun this time.