I told the bird I'd deliver my return letter in person because we're going to Corallone to plan the wedding anyways and because it will be a nice surprise for Lillia.
As we arrive in Corallone I see Lola waiting for us on the steps. We get out of the car, the butler taking our luggage up to our rooms. Lola smiles at us all, "Welcome back. I hope you're all doing ok and are excited to plan a wedding. Soraya, Lillia is in her room, I'm sure you know where that is."
Nodding I head inside and straight to Lillia's room. Opening the door I walk in to see a tall, dark haired man with only a towel wrapped around his waist walking out of the bathroom.
"Who are you?" I say shocked.
"Lillia!" He shouts quickly and from her room Lillia emerges, her midnight hair ruffled as though she's just got out of bed.
"Soraya?" She says surprised but then she looks to shade and then to me then says "Shade. Meet Soraya. Soraya meet Shade."
"Who is he?" I ask her.
"It's complicated." She replies.
"Of course it is." I say disappointed.
Turning on my heel I walk out of the door and storm towards the gardens.
"Soraya!" I hear from behind me but I ignore it.
Then Lillia grabs my arm and spins me around saying quickly "I'm not sleeping with him."
"Oh really then why is he using your bathroom and walking around half naked."
Lillia sighs "Because he's using my spare room and because he's my Altro. I'll explain that later but for now come back to my room so I can explain. Please."
Complying only because she sounds genuinely upset and sorry, we go back to her rooms to find Shade fully dressed in black skinny jeans and a faded blue top, his hair still messy from the shower.
"Lillia, I'm going for breakfast." Shade says.
"Ok Shade, I'll tell you if I need you."
Shade nods before leaving the room and closing the door behind him. Lillia gestures to the sofa and we sit, her curling her legs underneath her which I've noticed she does when she's nervous or comfortable. As soon as I sit down she starts talking, telling me about Anokan people, her heritage, her powers, Shade and how they're bonded, about how she's very likely the last Anoka left. By the end of her speech I understand and take a breath before saying "Thank you for sharing that with me."
"It was time people knew." she says in reply.
"I have a secret too. That I would like to share." I tell her as quickly as possible so I can't chicken out of it.
She nods encouragingly, letting me know that it's ok to tell her, that she won't tell anyone else unless I say it's ok.
"I can control energy. Like electricity and anything with electrons. Which is every element ever made. I don't use them because last time I did I severely hurt someone. That's why my hair is white, not like my parents hair colours."
Her face remains neutral as she says "Okay. Does anyone else in your family have powers?"
I shake my head, "Well, where did you get them then?" she asks sounding genuinely curious.
"We think it was because I was born in a storm, and every year on my birthday without fail, there's a storm. It never rains, but there's always a storm. It doesn't matter where I am in the world, there is always a storm." I say with a shrug.
"Cool." Lillia whispers, scooting over to me and leaning into my side.
"I missed you." She whispers again.
"I missed you too." I reply.
She reaches up and kisses me gently on the lips, just as the door opens to reveal Shade with a tray full of food. "Bad timing?" He says innocently.
"Bad timing Shade, but I am hungry so bring the food over here." Lillia announces, "Also please show Soraya the version of you she knows."
Shade glows before becoming the black feathered hawk and squawking once before changing back into human form.
"You delivered all the letters?" I say startled. Shade simply nods before handing us the food and saying "Miss Soraya, it's nice to finally meet you as a human."
"You too." I reply as me and Lillia dig into the food he brought us.
An hour later after we've caught up, a knock on the door sounds and Shade gets up to answer it. Dalia runs in without hesitation, hugging us both before starting on a monologue in a fast pace that's hard to follow.
"So, Soraya, you're being my maid of honour, Lillia, you're being my bridesmaid. Aya I need you to help me set up the wedding reception room, Lillia you need to help too. Oh My Goodness I'm getting married. This is so exciting. I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with Miles. You both need to come see my wedding dress and try your dresses on for that matter. Come on let's go! Now! " Then she grabs both of our arms and drags us out of the room towards hers.
When we enter Dalia's room, we are instantly surrounded by a lot of red faced, flustered maids running around with boxes of fabric and pins and needles in their mouths. Two of the maids spot us and immediately drag us to the changing room, where they proceed to give us a dress bag each and order us to try them on.
Unzipping mine, I see a shin length, spaghetti strap, tulle skirted dress that is white at the top and fades into blush pink. With it is paired with heels that are made of pink tulle that wraps around the ankles and ties in a bow. The entire outfit is gorgeous. I emerge from the changing rooms to see Ray dressed in a halter neck, floor length, tulle skirted dress that has a white top and grey skirt that fades into white. And goodness is she stunning.
She stands looking at herself in the mirror, turning to see every angle.
"Beautiful." I say startling her.
She turns around and stops, her mouth gaping open, "What?" I say, suddenly self-conscious.
"Beautiful." She says, copying my compliment.
A pair of maids rush in and start pulling at the dresses, adjusting, pinning, stabbing both of us multiple times, making us yelp and then laugh about it two seconds later. Then we're pulled out into the busy main room that has lots of people stood in dresses, being fitted or adjusted. Then we're dragged through that room to Dalia's own bedroom that's painted white with sky blue accents running through the room. Her bed is four poster with curtains hanging down from each side. As we stand in our dresses, pins occasionally stabbing into our sides if we move certain ways, Soraya says out of the blue, "I told my family that we're dating. I hope that's alright. I know we probably should've discussed it first but I couldn't help myself."
"Ray, it's fine. I don't mind you telling people as long as you tell me you have so I know whether or not to talk about it in front of them. In fact, you telling them takes massive stress off my shoulders because I was worried I was going to have to avoid talking about us in front of them and I'm not sure I'd have been able to."
Ray breathes an obvious sigh of relief just as Dalia walks in, immediately squealing and clapping over our dresses. After at least half an hour of Dalia fangirling over our dresses, she eventually goes to change into hers. She emerges in a crisp white ball gown, that has off the shoulder sleeves that are full length arms. The dress has no embellishment except for a crystal belt tied around her waist, that's shaped like a bouquet of flowers as though you have an aerial view of them. The sleek, elegant design suits Dalia perfectly as she twirls around.
"It's perfect Dal." Ray says sweetly.
"It really does look perfect Dalia." I repeat smiling warmly at her. She smiles back before ushering us out of her room to go and get changed again. Once we are we're free to go and so I say to Ray, "Want to go on a ride? We never got to do the last one."
"I'd love that." She says.
We quickly get changed, walking quickly to the stables. I call over Dragonfly and Petal who trot over obediently. We tack them up before setting off on a hack through the woods. As we walk steadily, Ray laughs nervously, "This is much easier in the ring."
"Yeah, I suppose it is but you get used to it." I reply in a somewhat reassuring voice. We walk in silence for a few minutes before I ask "Would you be okay showing me your powers?"
She's silent for a few minutes her face considering it before she nods once. She halts Petal and I do the same, pulling on Dragonfly's reins gently to tell him to stop. Ray lets go of her reins and opens her hands so her palms face upwards. Sparks of lightning appear on her palms and then she says "I can transfer them to other things."
Then she flicks her wrists and the lightning flies through the air hitting a tree and causing it to split in half.
"What about you?" Ray asks.
"Do you have anything sharp I can cut myself with?" I ask. She shakes her head so I say instead "Okay, I'll show you my force field then."
Spotting the fallen tree that Ray split I put a force field around it and move the force field. The tree floats in the air before being deposited out of the path.
"Nice." Ray says from next to me, "We should probably go home now shouldn't we? We promised Dal we'd help set up for tomorrow."
"True." I say sad our ride has to come to an end, but we turn around not ones to break promises.
After showering and changing we head to the the grand hall where the reception is being held to help set up. I drag Shade with us, sure he can be of some help somewhere. When we enter the hall has been transformed. The ceiling adorned with multiple chandeliers and the walls decorated with white satin banners, bows at every interval. The hall itself is now filled with round tables, surrounded by white chairs with bows on the back. Some of the tables are laid with wine glasses and champagne flutes. Also the entire set of cutlery for a four course meal. Appetiser, starter, main and desert. We quickly get our orders from a maid walking past to help set the rest of the tables and we quickly get to work.
Five hours later we're still setting tables and mopping the floor, hanging up decorations and being ordered around. I'm used to it from the past but Ray isn't and the whole time she complains about how hard this is and how she'll never be mean to maids or butlers ever again now she knows what they go through. I just laugh at her as she struggles to stand up as we're finally allowed a break.
"I can't feel my feet." Ray says as she collapses onto my lap as I'm sat in an armchair in my room.
"You're sat on me Ray." I say smiling.
"I am?" She replies her words beginning to slur as the exhaustion catches up with her. She relaxes into me and realising she won't move I accept it, wrapping my arms around her waist and allowing her to lean her head on my shoulder. A few minutes later Ray is fast asleep on me and I am unable to move for fear of waking her up.
Shade, can you come to my room please?
Shade walks in and starts giggling profusely and I give him a glare in return at which he attempts to stop but ends up giggling even more.
"Just pick her up gently and put her on the bed please." I say ever so slightly annoyed.
He does as I say, gently picking her up and placing her on the bed. I stretch my legs that are dead from a sleeping human, well, a human sleeping on them and then I pick up a book and climb onto the bed next to the sleeping Ray, her hair splayed around her head like a halo.