Chapter 10: Duplicitous Nature
The tug of war for Jeremys’ attention had begun, without me even knowing that there was a competition, let alone that I was participating. I was almost thrown over the line and nearly lost the second it started. All alone on my side with my feeble human power while on the other were two vampires with the strength of a thousand bulls. One had the advantage of having a vast amount of money that could bribe the boy, and the other had the knowledge that I could never accumulate in all of my remaining human years.
I needed a few days at first to process what had happened first with Ali, then overhearing the Ly-Richard conversation and lastly Angelica with her diabolical meat hooks that were sunk deep in my little brother.
It was utterly bizarre that Angelica doted on Jeremy as if she was his grandmother or his godmother. To make it even worse, Jeremy was seduced by the newly appointed ass-licker of Satan with her infinite wisdom and knowledge that could finally satiate his ever going ‘Why?’ questions. For the first time, he could get a better answer than ‘Um, let me google it, and I’ll get back to you.’
It was hard to get Jeremy’s attention on me; I was the old, dull rock in a box that was now full of the big gleaming jewels. And the biggest one of all was Lysander. Such was the attention of a child; I was an everyday, mundane thing like a small beach pebble. Then there was the male figure he admired, looked up to and that was before he knew the man was something more than human. His supernatural status only made Ly an extra Jeremy's hero. Of course, Jeremy would take and favour the new shiny bling.
Although that doesn’t mean I was going down without a fight. Even if Ali was now jumping sides for whatever reason, she was right about one thing; this was a dog eats dog kind of world. Ly and others were about to find out never to underestimate a chihuahua. The dog might be small in stature; however, that doesn’t mean it was less ferocious and any less tenacious to chew through your ankles. That little beast was going to achieve its' goal no matter how long it took. Those tiny yet pointy and crooked teeth could do some nasty damage and cause quite a lot of pain – which, I admit, might be an ulterior motive on my part.
I was from early morning till dinner time with Jeremy, sitting idly by as he studied, played or talked with the vampires. Ly seem to think that my presence was a good idea since he didn’t forbid nor prevent me from doing so. He was still watching me most intently, and if not him, there were others in the position of a guard, which was very conspicuously hidden from my baby brother. I had no wish to inform Jeremy of that fact; somehow, I wanted the illusion he was shown to remain in place as long as possible. Jeremy was already robbed of most childhood innocence; first with cancer then second with the ‘truth’ of the world. Perhaps Jeremy didn’t yet feel the consequences of the big secret, heck he was even overjoyed by it. But soon it will impact his life, and I feared for the worst that might come to pass. What would happen to Jeremy if his role model that was placed on the pedestal would betray him? Probably the trust he had put in Ly would deteriorate to the point of never trusting adults again. That was why I played along with Lys’ charade when Jeremy was near – to keep him from that bitter pain.
Jeremy did start to forget the resentment he felt for me the longer we were together and soon was back to his usual chatterbox self.
“Ly is so cool!” Jeremy gushed proudly. “He showed me his old soldier collection, and the old games he had played on a thing called Game Boy and-”
I dug my nails into my thigh to stop myself from making a very dark expression. “Uh-huh.” Replying politely with a smile while glancing from the corner of my eye to the oh so cool and fantastic kidnapper. Ly sat in the corner discussing something with G in a quiet, serious tone. I bit my inner cheek, knowing that they were probably plotting how to take Potty away from me and laying out the straw on my floor.
I was still not allowed to go to the bathroom unsupervised, and that was where Ali came in. When I took showers she would be there. We were both silent and not acknowledging of each other, which was total bull–crap. Ali didn’t even show remorse or give a decent apology. Nothing, nada, null, zilch.
Why should she point her nose upwards when she is the one that switched sides. Completely unreasonable those Russians. Must be an Ali thing. It would be unfair to label all the people of Russia like this.
This was the first time I was grateful for my immense imagination. It took the loneliness away with the thoughts of how I would make everyone pay. The pictures of my enemies humiliated and screaming kept me warm and toasty at night when I needed to use Potty.
“I saw and learned how to pick locks!” Jeremy proudly announced and that snapped me out of my thoughts to zero in on him. “I can even open a lock–” He joyously continued.
Who in their right mind teaches a child–?
Looking at the only possible suspect, my smile turned into a grimace. “Lysander I would appreciate it if you don’t teach Jeremy hobbies that are illegal.” Announcing coolly, I glared at the master lock–picker.
Ly smiled as he glanced into our direction. His imperial aura was ever-present even though he lounged on a big armchair. The long, elegant fingers were drumming on the armrest in staccato. “It’s an innocent and advantageous activity that Jeremy wanted to learn. Who am I to rob a child who wishes to learn of knowledge?”
“As an adult, it is your duty to deny it when it is harmful or perchance a felony.”
With an innocent grin that didn’t fool anyone, Ly placed his palm at the chest. “I am a child at heart.”
Jeremy enthusiastically looked from one to the other as if it was entertaining to watch adults behave stupidly.
I looked at Lys’ chest, which was currently behind a very ogle friendly and form-fitting shirt. It clung to all the right places, and his pectoral muscles didn’t move at all as he tapped with his forefinger on the site where the heart was. Narrowing my eyes, I internally pushed my accursed libido at the back of my mind, and with all frustration and spite I could accumulate, my words left my mouth in a low grumble. “More like a nasty, resentful old git.”
Jeremy, whose eyes were equivalent to the size of saucers, placed his palm on his mouth that was currently in a surprised little ‘O’. If his action could be put into words, it would be: ‘Oh no, she didn’t!’
I should rinse my mouth with soap, vinegar and the most potent bleach I can find to teach it not to speak when provoked. Or better yet! Drown Ly in elephant faeces then gift the elephant the Nobel peace prize for its’ honourable service.
A slight tick in Lys’ jaw was not very promising for my remaining existence. Leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, Ly gave me a serene smile that would open up the heavens and let Gods’ angel choir sing ‘Halleluja’. “You wish to repeat that?” He asked in a low, velvety voice.
‘Oh boy, abort mission, abort mission!’ my brain screamed at me. However, my ego and pride were soaring at the insight that I managed to get on his steel-like nerves. “You heard me.” My chin was suddenly position very high. It showed more pride and courage than I actually felt.
“I just wished you would correct the mistake.” Ly exhaled and feigned boredom while he with a gentle and very graceful gesture of a hand gave G permission to leave. The poor man was a blur and gave a wide berth to avoid Jeremy on the way out.
“I was taught that being truthful is a virtue.” I examined Lys' face to evaluate how far can I push him toward insanity. “To lie is a nasty habit, but due to your past I suppose you classify it as a value in character.”
Remaining as unmovable as the pyramids of Giza, Ly didn’t budge to my provocation. “As was I tought that courage is a cardinal virtue and cowardice is not.”
“Are you implying something?”
“Me?” Phonying innocence masterfully, Ly cocked his head to the side. The longer strands on the top of his head slid downwards toward gravity and covered the left eye. His right yellowish-purple orb twinkled with apparent mischief. “Nothing, I thought we were having a philosophical heated discussion. You didn’t take it the wrong way Dess? I would be extremely grief-stricken if you did.”
Scoffing at Ly, I resisted the urge to turn violent, even though my hands ached to slap him. I was amazed at how only Ly made me furious enough to turn me murderous. I had to consider that a child was present; homicide was not an altogether perfect tool for childs' development. “Oh, give it a rest; I do not appreciate your obvious ridicule.”
“You two know what's also is a good thing?” Jeremy was clearly uninterested, and way passed the argument he couldn’t understand completely. “To not interrupt when someone is talking.”
Ly broke the intense eye-contact first and apologetically smiled. “Right you are Jeremy.”
“Sorry.” My mumble was acknowledged with a patronising tap of Jeremy’s hand on mine.
“Now,” My little brother said with authority that he learned from the only Stainless in the room. “Can we do puzzles? It’s my homework from Angelica.”
That little she-imp gave him a game for homework? My God, she is actually being a decent person for a change. It’s probably just an existential crisis at the age of a few hundred or something.
With a clang, Jeremy opened the box of new puzzles on the floor. The smell of a freshly cut cardboard filled the air, and I noticed that the game which was usually made from a picture were simple mathematical multiplication equations. It was so well handmade that I, for a few seconds, though it was factory-made. I sighed but refrained from a gesture where the face meets palm with a great slap to the forehead.
In my mind, I saw myself with a raised glass giving a toast. Here is to my stupidity, it made me think that for a change Angelica would know how to have fun and let others enjoy.
I heard Ly stood up from his throne-like chair, and my relief as if a heavy burden was lifted from my shoulder. Perhaps I would be in luck and could have my brother for myself for a change.
Ly sat beside me on the plush carpeting with an elegant plop that would make ballerinas green in the face with jealousy. “Well then let us do homework.”
“I can do it myself; I just don’t want to be alone,” Jeremy grumbled and began with the task laid on the floor with concentration.
Ly sat cross-legged and leaned on his long arms, watching the young boy with a small smile. I did not doubt that to some extent; he cared for Jeremy; otherwise, he wouldn’t bother himself with my baby brother and waste his time just sitting on the floor watching a kid learning how to multiply.
With what Jeremy told me, he did form a bond with the fake doctor at the hospital and perhaps even considered Ly a close friend, a confidant during the illness. I thought earlier that Ly theatrically arranged for me to overhear when he proclaimed that hurting children was a big, fat no. Perchance my assessment was wrong, and he really was protecting Jeremy from being abused. That little grain hope gleamed brightly from the great depths again and with it came the feelings I had considered dead and buried. I already once knew that duality was a part of Lys’ everyday life; he never hid the fact that he could play the long game. He nearly got away with his ‘tantrum and uncontrollable’ act for almost fifty years in the Camaraderie without anyone knowing otherwise.
But the complete personality change for the sake of protection? That was impossible. There were two possible explanations I could think of. Either he hid his real personality masterfully, which I knew he was more than capable, or he was insane. I was rather inclined to the second one; it would give some explanation and shift the guilt toward his weak mental state. I could handle and forgive it easier; I suppose. However, if he fabricated the feelings of love just for the sport of it, to that I couldn’t give an absolution. There was too much hurt that Lysander caused in me to just throw it over my shoulder and say: 'Let's go again!'
My mother might have been a sucker for redemption, but I saw too much to truly believe and old dog can learn new tricks. The stripes don't change.
Leaning back on my arms while quietly contemplating and observing Jeremy in his semi-fun semi-scholarly activity, I touched something of cooler temperature. My head turned toward the sensation, and I blushed scarlet yet at the same time paled to the point I could be mistaken for drowned victim.
My hand was on Lys’. An internal shriek of horror echoed in the everlasting chambers and corridors of my blank mind as my body froze. Becoming a living, breathing embodiment of icicle was never on my wish of what to be as I was growing up, yet here I was. Slowly with a dread of what was to come, I lifted my eyes.
If I can turn back time, if I have this ability please this is the time to show yourself. I beg of you!
His face was still toward Jeremy, but Lys' eyes, were wholly focused on one target; me. The once long forgotten, entombed and limp bond revived with an electrical hum. It demanded to be heard and be noticed while it started to draw the ends together like an extended elastic that was threatening to entangle us. What once was promised, it now could be again with all its’ highs we had felt before. Ly slowly looked to where our skins touched, and I felt the vibration of his low growl as it shook his elegant fingers beneath me. It wasn't a warning of anger, but of want and that scared me sensless.
Gradually with the heat of a thousand suns, those eyes made its’ path up from our palm to my face while I stayed frozen. But not with fear, but with the fact that I could not stop or hold the stream of emotions from flowing between my fingers. The desire and attraction from just this touch were enough to light me ablaze. Ly looked intensely into my eyes as if all the secrets I tried to hide were written there. Cocking his head to the side without any emotional change to his features, Lys' eyes grew soft and utterly readable. For the very first time since we met again, I saw zeal and earnestness in his eyes. There were slow electric like pulses on my palm. They were the strokes of Lys’ thumb on my upper palm and it was entrancing as if he was putting me in hypnosis.
Then it was like I was plunged into icy water. Feelings of having no control were making me forget how to breathe and the memory of unbalanced positions of power made goosebumps erupt all over my body. The last time I was so enamoured I hadn't realised that I was slowly getting entangled into a spiders' web.
That broke the spell on me, and I quickly turned away, taking my hand violently from his grasp with such haste as if it was a poisonous animal for which there was no antidote.
“I need some air.” Mumbling an excuse more to myself than to Jeremy, I quickly sprinted to the double French doors that opened on the balcony. The fresh air hit my face with a chilly breeze that cooled my blushed cheeks. Also, it gave my mind the much-needed clarity while guilt came crashing with its’ ton like weight.
Stupid Dess, Ly is not a changed man just because you momentarily remember the past that put pink tainted glasses on.
I put my forehead on the cold marble railing, hoping the strength of the stone could be beaten into me with repeated hitting with my head against it. With a inhale, I looked up at the dark sky, not seeing any stars because of the mist. It was as if the night was reflecting the state of my confused mind. With an exhale that was much too heavy for someone my age, I closed my eyes, enjoying the peace.
“Dess, a minute.”
Can’t I have a fucking minute for myself in this house that is not in that ghastly Spartan room!
“Yes, your imperial majesty?” Turning on my heel, I gave Ly a mocking curtsey.
In the darkness, his hair shined as if it was made from white light while he leaned on the closed French doors. I saw inside that Jeremy was completely emersed into his puzzle, not even looking up in curiosity why we left or what were we doing outside.
“Really?” Ly lifted a brow at my aggressive tone, and he crossed his arms in a clear sign of defence. “Aren’t you behaving rather childish?”
It might seem so to the outsider, but to me, it was a vital way to protect myself from him. The farther I push Ly away; the more was my sanity and my heart in better care than he ever gave them.
“Perhaps if I had a bathroom I might consider behaving better.” Mirroring his stature and brow lift, I decided that offence was the best security I could have against Ly.
“You and I both know that your personality would never allow you to do that.” Lips stretching into a genuine smile made me full of nostalgia of the times when I thought that his smile was all I needed to survive.
It made me infuriated with both of us. I will not allow myself to take a spin at the same merry-go-round that already made me sick. Kissing my teeth in a typical bitchy way, I sat on the cold marble railing. “As if you cared to know me that well.”
“I do care.” Without a beat, Ly claimed in a passionate whisper while taking a step toward me, closing the distance between us. He stood proudly there without remorse. Then as if he realised what he uttered; the warmth of the past faltered, and the cold present returned. “Or I did. Once.” Icy tone made me shiver, and if I had wavered for a moment, this had cemented my determination.
“What do you want, Lysander.” I copied his glacial gaze onto my features. “Or is this a new way of torturing me? Kill them with kindness was never so right in this context.”
Mask of indifference back on him securely, Ly turned toward the door which he opened wide and mockingly bowed while waving me through. As I stepped through his whisper followed me in. “Feeding, tonight, be ready. You shall be summoned.”
Sitting on the floor of my small cloister like cell-room was becoming a norm for me. It was quite sad, and if this was my future, it was shrouded in misery and frustration. Not to mention it was going to be as bitter as the earwax.
Waiting to be summoned seemed as if I really was stuck in the dark ages. Perhaps that was how Anne Boleyn, the wife of Henry VIII., felt before her decapitation, for which she was most likely wrongly accused. When she had been summoned, her head rolled by the end of that summons. At least I will end up with slight blood loss instead of being shorter by a head. Pun intended.
A creek of the wood made me look away from the floor and onto the unannounced visitor.
Completely awkward and not knowing what to do, Ali look at everywhere but into my eyes. “Hey.” Her voice was unsure, and she looked sheepish.
That’s new. What’s next? A wise and kind Richard? A loving and doting Andrey?
My silent glaring and complete unresponsiveness made Ali even more out of her element. “I, Uhh.”
With a sigh I hugged my knees and placed a cheek on them. “What is it? Am I accused of something else now?”
With slightly pink cheeks, Ali looked at the side of the room. “I just thought we could talk.” From behind her back, she produced a full bottle of heavy liquor. “When we are sufficiently drunk, that is.” The golden colour of Whiskey gave a slight sloshing sound as it hit against the glass bottle. Giving me a broad smile, Alis’ eyes shined.
“Oh?” I broke our eye contact and looked into the corner of the room, not acknowledging her existence.
Raking her hand through her straw straight hair, Ali tried to pick up and restart the conversation. “What I’m trying to say is that I wish to put this misunderstanding behind us.”
“Misunderstanding?” I whispered not wholly sure I heard her correctly.
“Since when has betrayal been classified under misunderstanding?” The voice with which I spoke was so low that I hardly recognised it.
“Essy listen-” As if Ali just realised she made a massive blunder, she lifted her arms in an attempt to calm me.
My breathing spiked and I stood up with my finger pointing at her. “Why? Are you here because you want to or because he wants you to be.”
“Is that why you brought the Whiskey?” I glanced at the liquid with a raised brow of disbelief at the obviousness of her plan. “To get me drunk and confess?”
“I wouldn’t do that to you.” Ali furrowed her brows which made her anger even more apparent, yet she tried to control it.
“You sufficiently stabbed me in the back before, why should it come as a surprise to you that I’m suspicious of your every move.” I growled then deciding anger won't get me anywhere, I shrugged my shoulders nonchalantly, stating the obvious.
Looking to the door with caution, Ali spoke in a whisper which was flavoured with uncertainty. “Dess, haven’t you thought about anything I had told you? Figured out nothing?”
The heat in my stomach came to the boiling point. “What am I supposed to figure out? Are we playing games now?” Laughing without any humour, I noticed the cold fury in my words. I was on the warpath, and currently, the one obstructing me from achieving my goal of rampage was Ali. “I thought that was more Rosas' style than yours. However, I doubt Rosa would stab me in the back as you did.”
It was as if Ali received an actual slap; she took a step back. I wanted to hurt her as she did me. Perhaps the days’ events pushed me too far, and I just snapped, spewing vengeance, and foul words to whoever came close enough.
After a minute of fuming at each other, the little patience Ali had had in her left. “I told you what to do! And still, you see instead through your emotionally fogged glasses than setting them aside. You are not the only one that had it rough in the past months, Dess!” She clutched and unclenched her fists as if she was restraining herself from hitting me.
“Oh, and you were so calm and collected after that shower incident. God forbid someone gets the upper hand on you; your Ego can’t take it. Pride is always obstructing you to do something more than just exist.”
We were almost nose to nose, our faces contorted in anger; two felines on the verge of starting a clawing fight, sharpening our nails on each other’s skins.
“You know what?” Ali said through her clenched teeth. “I was going to tell you everything, explain what's going on, but now I won’t. Even if I told you, you are so deeply buried under the resentment, and how wronged you were that you can’t even see what’s a foot in front of you.”
Interrupting, Ali poked me in the shoulder. “Let me illuminate you; not everything is about you Dess! And if you started to observe more and for once let your head out of the emotional pit sand, you would see it!”
Turning on her heel, Ali opened the door with a loud bang which made the Created on the other side flinch from the sheer volume of the noise. Without a look in my direction, the vampire closed the door quietly while muttering something under her breath.
I don’t know how long I paced the room in a feeble attempt to calm myself. My breathing was ragged and uneven, and I felt that just a tiny amount of stress would send me spiralling. I placed my hands over my eyes in an attempt to try and unsee where I was. When that didn’t do any good, I proceeded with my never-ending anxious walk tour around my room. I banged with my foot into something massive and the stars opened up in my head.
“Fucking, Ducking, Shithole!” I hopped on my left foot while I nursed my pinky toe with tears in my eyes which were on the verge of spilling over. When the physical pain subsided, it was time to get revenge. I searched closely for the offending object.
Well, well, well.
Ali might have caused more problems with her appearance; however, luckily for me, she left the bottle of booze for my therapeutic usage of self-destruction.