You wouldn't think it would matter, being on another floor and all, but apparently, it did.
Grumbling out some annoyed, incoherent words, Angelica covered her head with a blanket and rolled over.
Then she paused.
Something was off. Someone was missing.
Damon. Damon wasn't here. But he was off with Ember, being healed.
Dismissing the thought, she closed her eyes.
Except... something still felt off.
If it wasn't Damon, then who-
Shooting out of bed, panic rising in her chest, Angelica threw herself over the railing of the loft. She gave the room a sweeping glance, and upon not finding her sister, scrambled out the door. Screaming Nyx's name, she begged her sister was okay.
A small voice called back, and Angelica swerved into a room.
Before her stood Maroon, a plate of pancakes in hand, and Nyx, seated at her counter.
Letting out a relieved sob, Angelica threw herself at her little sister. The girl beamed as she hugged her sister, her face and hair sticky with syrup.
"Gods, Nyx, you scared me," Angelica whispered, holding her sister close.
Nyx drew back from her sister, mild concern in her eyes. Tilting her head, she asked, "Why? I was just eating breakfast with Maroon."
"I didn't know that," Angelica said.
Nyx frowned. "I left a note."
"I can't read," Angelica replied.
The little girl paused. Her mouth popped into an 'o', as if she just now remembered that her sister was illiterate.
"Sorry," Nyx said.
"Never mind that. I'm just glad you're okay," Angelica replied, again hugging her sister close.
Nyx snuggled into her sister's chest.
"Wake me up before you leave next time, okay, little Nyx?" Angelica asked.
The girl nodded, and Angelica drew away. Pressing a kiss to her sister's forehead, she asked, "Is breakfast good?"
Nodding vigorously, a wide smile on her face, Nyx exclaimed, "Maroon made me chocolate chip pancakes!"
Angelica snorted. "You don't put syrup on chocolate chip pancakes."
"Nyx does, apparently," Maroon said, setting the plate on the counter before she wiped her hands on her apron, "Do all of the rooms have kitchens?"
Angelica paused. Looking up, she discovered a stove, a pantry, and an icebox that her room did not have.
"No," Angelica said, "My room has a book case, not a kitchen."
"Huh," Maroon looked back to her kitchen, "That's creepy."
Angelica snorted. "How is that creepy?"
"Because I like cooking," Maroon replied, "And Evelynn told me Cazriel knew exactly what rooms to give us."
Nyx frowned. "That's nice, not creepy."
"Exactly," Angelica said, "Keep that up, and you're going to sound like Amber."
Maroon snorted. "If I ever start to sound like Amber, shoot me."
Nyx's frown deepened. "That would be mean."
Letting out a small laugh, Maroon shook her head. Returning to her counter, she grabbed the bowl she made the pancake mix in and readied to wash it out.
However, that plan lasted about ten seconds before Diamond poked her head in, having smelled the pancakes.
"Do I smell pancakes?" Diamond asked.
Maroon paused. Setting the bowl on the counter, she looked to Angelica.
"I'm already the gopher. Don't make me the cook, too."
Angelica just gave her an apologetic smile, and said, "Pancakes do sound good."
With an exasperated sigh, Maroon threw her hands up in defeat, and stalked to her ice box to get out more eggs. Diamond disappeared to go wake the others.
Half an hour later, all of the wrong winged sat around the table, eating Maroon's chocolate chip pancakes.
Nothing but small talk ensued, Angelica sticking to her decision to wait until after breakfast to begin the meeting.
The meeting, she decided, that would discuss what to do about Averrok.
What to do about Averrok, because Averrok was likely the country Cazriel had been talking about. If she was to rule Averrok, she had to figure out how to do that without angering the people. That, and she needed a court and a set of laws and a whole ton of other stuff she didn't even want to think about at the moment.
A whole bunch of stuff she didn't want to think about at all, especially since her mate and second in command was not at her side.
Damon was a prince. He knew about all the things a kingdom entailed. Having him here would be very, very helpful.
Yet, alas, he was not here, and she'd have to figure this out on her own.
Dismissing the thought, she tried to enjoy her breakfast.
It wasn't a hard thing to do, with how absolutely wonderful the pancakes tasted.
"Where did you learn to cook like this?" Serafina questioned, staring in wonder at the pancakes, "I have been on almost every single continent on this planet, and I have never tasted pancakes this good."
Maroon shrugged. "My mom and I used to cook, when we had the money to buy the materials needed. I guess it just stuck with me."
Amber frowned, eyeing the girl suspiciously. "You never made me anything that tasted this good."
"Because I had sticks and a campfire to work with," Maroon replied, "You want me to make something decent, you have to have just a little more than that."
Lilac snorted. "You want to make anything edible, you need just a little more than that."
Amber rolled her eyes. "What? Burned everything you ever tried to make?"
"Burned or undercooked it, or burned it on one side and undercooked it on the other," Lilac replied.
"Amateur," Maroon scoffed, scrubbing her bowl.
"Maroon knew how to evenly cook things," Amber said, almost bragging about her best friend.
Lilac smirked. "Maroon could, but you couldn't?"
Amber's lip twitched back in annoyance, and Lilac chuckled. Ruffling up her hair, he said, "I'm kidding."
She smacked his hand away, hissing at him. Diamond sighed, flopping dramatically on the table. Looking between her brother and her friend, she mumbled, "Why can't you two just get along?"
"Because he-," Amber said, glaring at Lilac, "Works for the Demons."
Lilac frowned. "You know, I don't have an issue with you because you're the daughter of the man who threatened to kill my parents and lock up my sister."
"I was never aligned with him, and you actively are," Amber almost snarled.
Lilac sighed, and mumbled, "Look, princess, I am not on their side. Not anymore. We went over this already."
Amber did not believe him. Not one bit, as proved by her death glare. Lilac just sighed, and returned to his breakfast. Amber opened her mouth to start something else, but Diego decided to interrupt.
"So, Angelica, what did you want to talk about?" Diego asked.
Amber shut her mouth, but did not stop glaring at Lilac. Lilac ignored her.
"Well," Angelica started, not particularly in the mood to be discussing this, "I'm supposed to rule Averrok, right? How do I do that?"
Diego blinked. "Elaborate, please."
"This town has no standing government, and I can't just stand on the roof and shout that I'm their queen now," Angelica replied.
"Sure you could," Maroon said.
"She doesn't mean literally," Diamond snorted.
Maroon just shrugged, putting the now clean bowl back in its place.
"I'm just saying," Maroon went on, "This town has no standing government. It's not like there's anything to overthrow. So you could quite literally announce yourself queen, and nothing could be done about it."
"I am not doing that," Angelica frowned.
Again, she shrugged, and finally took up a place at the table, eating her own plate of pancakes. She paused, took a moment to asses them, and mumbled, "Needs more vanilla."
Then she shrugged and kept eating.
"Anyway," Angelica said, dragging the conversation away, "Any suggestions?"
"You could probably just have Cazriel announce you Queen," Jackal said, watching as his kids ate without protest for once, "This entire town seems to respect him. I doubt they'd question him. And for all you know, they already know you're going to be queen."
"Unless he didn't mean Averrok," Maroon pointed out.
Angelica frowned. "What else would he mean?"
"Your mate is a prince, right?" Maroon said, "Maybe you're supposed to marry him and become queen of... Liezmobeh? That's what it's called, right?"
What was the Angel's country called?
"You're the one who grew up there. You should know," Amber snorted.
"I left when I was ten, okay. I don't remember squat," Maroon said.
"Except your mom's pancake recipe," Diamond said.
"They do say you only remember the important things," Lilac offered.
Maroon snorted, amused. "Ice cream and pancakes. The essentials."
"Indeed," Lilac agreed.
"Stay on topic, Maroon," Domino said.
She sighed, shoving another pancake in her mouth.
"I doubt I'm supposed to do that," Angelica said, "Damon wants nothing to do with his country. If we're going to rule any country, it's going to be this one."
"Okay, then we'll go off of that," Diego said, "You want to rule a town with no government, but a trusted figure. What do you do?"
"Gain the trust of that figure and the townspeople, for one," Angelica said.
"Well, Cazriel already trusts you," Serafina pointed out, "Does the town?"
"I know some of them do, like Ember and Evelynn. I think the others trust me, seeing as no one's yelled at me yet for bringing in another ten people out of the blue," Angelica said.
"Then, if I were you, I'd talk to Cazriel about it," Diego said, "He'd probably know what to do."
After she visited Damon, then, she'd talk to Cazriel.
"Anything else?" Serafina asked.
She shook her head.
"Good," Diego said, picking up both his and his wife's plate, taking them to the counter, "Then, if you don't mind, Sera and I are going to go back to bed."
Maroon smirked, a hint of mischief in her eyes, and Serafina snorted.
"Get your mind out of the gutter," she mumbled, "You woke us up early. We're just going back to sleep."
"Not that it's any of your business," Diego added, holding a hand out for his wife to take.
She gave him a thankful smile as he pulled her up. Wrapping her hand around his, she gave him a quick kiss to the cheek before the two left.
As soon as the door shut behind them, Maroon snorted. "It's eight. I did not wake them up early."
"Well, I'm glad you woke us up," Domino said, "I can't ever convince them to get out of bed."
"Can't convince them to go to bed, either," Jackal mumbled, looking to Nora.
She just grinned, a mouthful of pancake showing. Her father laughed, shaking his head.
"Alright, enough of that," Jackal said, nudging her back to her plate, "Finish up, you little rascal."
Nora dove back into her plate. Aron let out some annoyed snort, upset that he hadn't been given any pancakes.
"Listen, bucko, I don't know if you're allowed to have solid food," Maroon replied.
Again, he snorted at her.
"He can," Domino said, "He's been eating solids for about a year now. I just wouldn't give him a whole pancake. I'm not sure I'd give him something with that much sugar in it at all."
Aron gave his mother a puppy-eyed look, and she sighed.
"Just a little," Domino said, "I'll make you something else later, okay, baby?"
Aron grinned, and Domino handed the toddler a small piece of pancake. Jackal let his son have a bit of his own pancake as well, after the boy in his arms snatched it right off his fork.
"Aron," Jackal said with a frown.
"Papa," Aron replied, almost mocking his father's tone.
He snorted. "Don't give me that."
Aron stuck his tongue out at his father. With a chuckle, Jackal kissed the boy's forehead.
"I love you, little Aron," Jackal murmured.
His son beamed, and Jackal gave him another piece of pancake.
"Alright, that's enough, Jackal," Domino said, "You'll spoil his actual breakfast."
Obeying his wife, he gave his son no more pancake. The boy wasn't quite happy about it, but there was nothing he could do.
"Mommy doesn't let little brother have solid food," Nyx pointed out, looking to Angelica.
"That's because Mace is younger than Aron," Angelica said, "Mace is still a baby. Aron's a toddler."
"He's awfully small," Nyx pointed out.
"And that," Domino cut in, "Would be my fault. Or, well, my genetics fault. Aron's tiny because of me, Nora's tall because of Jackal."
Nyx blinked. "Really?"
"What about that one?" Nyx asked, pointing to Domino's swollen belly.
"We'll see," Domino replied, a loving smile sliding onto her face as she set a hand on her belly, "We'll see."
Angelica couldn't help but smile as well. Hell, the whole table was smiling at the scene.
A knock sounded from the door, and Maroon yelped, falling off of her chair, frightened.
Amber snorted. "Coward."
Maroon threw a napkin at the girl, one that fluttered about two inches before it flopped onto the table. Again, Amber snorted.
Grumbling, Maroon got to her feet, lumbering over to the door. Yanking it open, she said, "I am not making more pancakes."
"There were pancakes?" Evelynn asked.
Nyx's eyes lit up, and she sprang to her feet, abandoning her empty plate.
"You be good, Nyx," Angelica called, watching her sister skip over to Evelynn, "Stay out of trouble, okay?"
"Okay," Nyx replied, taking Evelynn's hand.
"I love you, little Nyx," Angelica said.
"I love you too, big sis," her sister replied, waving as Evelynn led her away.
Worry sparked in her chest as the door closed behind her sister. It must have shown through into her expression, as Domino piped up.
"She'll be alright," Domino said gently, "You don't need to worry."
"I know," Angelica said, "I trust Evelynn and all, but I'm still worried about her."
Domino smiled, nodding in understanding. "I know how that feels. I never did get used to Nora leaving for training."
The girl perked up, hearing her name, and Jackal kissed her hair, guiding her back to her food.
"Does it get easier?" Angelica asked, still staring at the door.
"A little," Domino replied, "The worry never leaves, but sending them off gets easier after your brain realizes that they're going to come back every time."
Angelica nodded. Tearing her attention away from the door, she turned to her empty plate.
Well. Nyx had stolen her final pancake, it seemed.
"When did Nora start training?" Lilac asked, a bit of worry in his voice.
"Two," Domino replied, "Another six months, and they'd have taken Aron, too."
The boy almost looked sick.
Angelica didn't blame him. He'd worked for a man that took two year old's away from their parents to do whatever it was he did.
"What did he make them do?" Lilac asked.
"Nothing bad, thank the gods," Domino replied, "He was just weaning them off of me. Any real training wouldn't start until they reached six."
Lilac let out a relieved sigh.
"Why do you want to know?" Jackal asked.
"Because Valorie's insane enough to train a toddler to kill, if she was told to," Lilac answered, "I'm just glad their minds haven't been poisoned yet."
"She taught me how to use my magic," Nora offered, "It's pretty, but it doesn't do much."
"What?" he questioned.
"Yeah. I can just make everything dark, even if the lights are on, but I can't really do anything else," Nora said.
Jackal blinked. Then he dismissed the thought, and kissed her forehead. "Don't use your magic without me there to help you, okay baby girl?"
She nodded slowly, her wide eyes scared. "Did I do something wrong?"
"No," Jackal promised, "I just don't want you to get hurt if something goes wrong, okay?"
Again, she nodded. He ruffled up her hair and took her empty plate, stacking it on his. Domino finished her breakfast soon after, and Jackal took their dishes to the counter. Soon, the family departed.
Amber gave it a full ten seconds after the family left to look at Lilac and say, "That is what you worked for."
"I know," Lilac said, regret seated deep in his eyes, "Gods, do I regret it."
Diamond gave her brother's hand a gentle squeeze, and Amber rolled her eyes. Again opening her mouth to say something, she was cut off, this time by Maroon.
"Anyway," Maroon said, looking to Angelica, "You plan on checking on Damon today?"
Angelica nodded. "Yeah. Now, actually."
Maroon snorted. "So everyone is just going to eat and run, then?"
"I was planning on staying for a while," Diamond said.
Maroon gave her friend a thankful smile, and she looked back at Angelica.
"Sorry," Angelica said, "If I wait too long, he might get up and look for me."
Maroon snorted, rolling her eyes. "Mates."
"And now you sound like Nyx," Diamond snorted.
"Listen, I pity the man that ends up being my mate," Maroon said.
"So do I," Amber said.
Angelica snorted, rolling her eyes. Getting to her feet, she said, "Thanks, Maroon. For the pancakes."
"No problem," she replied.
With a wave, Angelica slipped away.