The following day
“Arabella it is time for you to wake up,” Valentine says while shaking me awake, when I open my eyes Valentine is standing above me looks emotionless as ever. “Here is an outfit for you to get changed into, the council wants to see you again. While you get dressed I will take Apollo so he can go to the bathroom and feed him.” he then picks up Apollo and hands me some folded clothes. I get up when he leaves the room, they gave me a cream-colored, soft, knitted sweater, lacey gray undergarments, black skinny jeans, and small ankle boots. This looks like it came out of my closet. I sigh and go into the shower to change. I tried to ask Valentine questions but he never answers like why is my hair a different color? Where are my parents? If this is some cult or something, yes I really did ask him that. He laughed at me.
When I woke up after the painkillers wore off I refused to look underneath the gauze. Even when the nurse came and changed them. I don’t know why, but I’m scared. I sigh and pull the shower curtain to get out. When I come out of the bathroom there is food and a water bottle. I quickly drink the water and just take a few bites of the food. I wonder if they have decided to execute me. It’s not like I have anyone but my parents and Apollo who would miss me. My heart breaks a little more, I don’t have anyone. In all the stories I read the girls have so many friends. Some even have siblings to laugh and cry with.
Valentine sighs when he sees I’ve hardly eaten, he hands me Apollo and tells me to follow him. When we exit the room another man moves to walk behind me. “Are they going to kill Valentine?” My voice shakes as fear grips my heart. He sighs and looks at me sadly but doesn’t answer. “Will you take care of Apollo if they do?”
“Of course,” is all he says. When we reach the door to go into the courtroom he turns and looks at me. He takes Apollo from me and nods to the man behind me. The man pulls my arms behind me and cuffs them. I look down at the ground as tears start to escape, I guess today is the day. I hope where ever I go in the afterlife that I can make friends. Valentine pushes the door open and walks through them, both men grab an arm and move me to stand in front of the chair.
“Arabella, I would like you to meet a few people. This is Ubel he has agreed to take you in and teach you our ways.” The man in the middle speaks, pointing at a man standing behind me to my left. I turn to look at him. He is tall but shorter than Valentine. His black hair slightly greying and wrinkles around his eyes. He is not out of shape but I wouldn’t say he was fit either. He is wearing a dark grey dress shirt and black slacks with designer shoes. He screams wealth. His face is shaven nicely so his trimmed beard is not unkempt. His grey eyes, however, seem too dark. As if they say he is hiding secrets behind his eyes,
“Pleasure to finally meet you, Arabella,” He tells me smiling and reaching his hand out for me to shake. I meet his grey eyes but then look down, he awkwardly chuckles as he realizes his mistake. “This is my son, Ivan.” He says putting a hand on a young man standing to his right. My eyes move over to him, he is smiling at me. Ivan has grey eyes like his dad and is slightly taller than him. Unlike his dad, he is very fit and I can make out his muscles underneath his short-sleeved dress shirt. He is very attractive, his jawline is sharp and he has a dimple on his left cheek. His teeth are perfectly straight and white. His hair cut to have faded sides and longer on the top. Like his dad, his face is shaven to perfection. Ivan is also dressed very nicely, but his top is black and matches the rest of his outfit. You can just make out what looks to be a tattoo on his neck underneath the collar of his dress shirt.
“It’s great to finally meet you, Bella,” Ivan says, giving me a nickname like we’ve known each other for a while now.
“Arabella, I will allow you to ask me some questions before you leave with them.” The man sitting in the middle tells me, bringing my focus back to him.
“Who are you?” I ask the first question that comes to mind.
He smiles and nods his head, “My name is Tobias I am head of the council for our people. Much like the United States president.” He clarifies for me.
“Where are my parents?” I ask next, my voice cracking slightly.
He sighs and looks away from me. “I’m sorry to tell you this Arabella but your parents broke a big law and they are being punished for it. Not only did they cross clans but they also had a child and abused you.”
“Please, they were only trying to protect me!” I cry out as tears threaten to fall. “Will, I ever see them again?”
“Arabella, understand that your parents are in a lot of trouble and might face life in prison or execution. You won’t be seeing them ever again.” A man says that’s sitting next to Tobias. The tears finally escaped my eyes that I was holding in.
“Ubel will answer any further questions,” Tobias informs me abruptly. “Oh yeah, and we have arranged for you to marry Ivan once you have a better handle on everything.” He tells me standing up.
“You are joking right?” I ask, shocked.
“No Arabella I am not. Now I have other things to deal with.” Tobias says getting up from his seat and leaves.
“Would you like her to be handcuffed for your journey back home?” Valentine asks.
“She can be uncuffed, I imagine this is the dog that was in her file?” Ivan asks looking at Apollo. Valentine nods and motions for one of the guards to uncuff me. After he uncuffs me Valentine hands me, Apollo.
“This is Crow, he will be with you when I can’t be,” Ivan tells me as he starts to walk towards the door with his father. I turn to look at Crow as he pushes me to move. He has black hair and an emotionless expression. He doesn’t look down at me but I can just make out his surprisingly dark almost black eyes. His face sharp and with light wrinkles showing his age. I turn my face away from him to make sure I do not walk into Ivan who is walking in front of me. Crow releases my upper arm but grabs hold of my right shoulder tightly. His hand looks way too large to be resting on my thin shoulder.
I look around at the dimly light hallway and notice there are no decorations and the walls are a dark earthy brown color. The floor is, however, is gray concrete. After some turns and more dark hallways, we finally reach a large dark wooden double door that has intricate designs on it. Valentine goes over to a panel by the door and slides a key card then places his hand over it. The door opens after the scan is complete. My eyes do not need to do any adjusting as I feel the cool morning air comes through the door. “Take care Arabella,” Valentine tells me as we exit through the door. I don’t say anything and just nod in response then continue forward with the rest of them. A black car pulls up followed by a black Hummer. Ubel moves to go to the Hummer while I am pulled to the car. Crow opens the back passenger door and then nudges me to get in. I follow his direction and get in. Ivan gets in next to me but Crow doesn’t get into the passenger seat I suppose he wanted to ride in the Hummer. I put Apollo onto my lap so I can put my seatbelt on but I freeze when I see a hand move toward Apollo. Quickly I pick him back up and turn him away from Ivan’s hand.
“I was only going to pet the pup, I wasn’t going to hurt him.” He tells me as he puts his hands up in mock surrender. “Put your seatbelt on, we won’t leave until it is on.” He tells me as he puts his on. I do this time, but as I turn to grab the seatbelt behind me I look at the door handle. Quietly I grasp the handle and try to push it open. Ivan chuckles, “The door is under child lock, little one.” He smiles at me, “You didn’t think we were that stupid did you?” I watch as he reaches over, I can’t help but flinch. He sighs but pulls the seatbelt over me. As soon as the click is heard the car starts to move. “It isn’t too far, only a little over an hour.” The car ride is silent after that, nobody saying a word. I lean my head against the window and absent-mindedly pet Apollo. I have no idea where we are. It looks like we are in the middle of a forest on a road that is only wide enough to fit one car at a time.
We drive through the forest for miles before coming onto a two-lane road then going onto a highway. After awhile Ivan breaks the silence. “Where was your favorite place you lived?” He asks me, I look at him.
“Probably Sweden, though I didn’t speak the language very well it was still nice,” I tell him truthfully, Mom was happiest there. Instead of her staying home with me Dad did and she worked. When we get off the highway we go into the forest again. Soon after entering houses start showing up. We make a right turn and go down another one-way road. Suddenly a large estate comes into view, it looks so old with vines going up and surrounded by iron fencing. We stop at the gate and the driver pushes a button on the sun visor after the gate starts to open. Now I can see more of this castle-like house made with gray bricking. A large water fountain is in front and the driveway circles around it and then looks like it goes towards the back of the house. The driver stops in front of the large two round doors. “Are we still in the United States?” I ask as Ivan opens my door.
He chuckles, “Yeah, we still are. This place was however built well before it was called the United States. It’s been updated since then so you don’t have to worry about electricity.” He opens the front door, a huge chandelier hangs above a blue vase with a large bouquet in it, underneath the vase is a cherry red round table. The floor is real cherry wood flooring and has a rug underneath the table. A man comes from a doorway from our left to our right is a large wooden staircase the man greets us in a dress shirt and slacks.
“Miss Kynaston’s room has been prepared per your request. The remodeling finished just shortly before your arrival. Would you like me to show her to her room?” The man asks Ivan.
“No, I’ve got this. Is lunch ready?” The man replies with a short yes and then walks away. “Would you like food first or to see your room?”
“Do you have servants?” I ask still shocked. He chuckles and says yes.
“Why don’t we have lunch in the room.” Ivan then motions for me to follow him up the steps.