My cheeks flame with embarrassment as Amila cuts her own. However, no one says anything though Allen and Nolan both see.
“So, when do you think she’ll be going to the academy then?” Nolan asks with a mouth full of food.
“I’m not sure we are still trying to find her a new tutor. I thought about asking one of the tutors from the academy to come. She is great in all the other subjects just she needs to have a better understanding of our rules. I don’t want to send her to the academy and then make a big mistake.” Ivan tells him as he takes a bite. I slowly bring a piece of the lamb to my lips. It’s tough to chew but good. As Ivan talks with his cousin, I take a look around the big table. At the front of the table is Ubel, then to his right is Sarah. At the other end is an older couple which I can only guess is Ivan’s grandparents.
“Their grandparent’s names are Abigail and Peter, but call them ma’am and sir. Next to Abigail is their aunt.” She has dyed blond hair that is cut to about her shoulders. “Her name is Romana and her husband who isn’t here is Killian. They have two daughters the eldest rarely goes home, she stays at the academy. Her younger sister who is sitting next to Romana is really she and I think only about 7 or 8. Her name is Cleo. Now to the left of Peter is Ubel’s younger brother, Rowen, and his partner’s name is Zane.” Malachi tells me quietly, “They Rowen adopted the little girl next to Zane, Flora, I think she is two now.”
“Same-sex marriage isn’t allowed in the clan but they can still date and live together.” Ivan explains to me, “Amila came out a few months ago. Aunt Everly still hopes it is just a faze.” He whispers into my ear, causing goosebumps to run over my skin at the feel of his warm breath. I only eat about a quarter of the food before I am full.
“So, Arabella…” Allen says getting my attention. “What was your life like outside of the clans?” This gets everyone’s attention, I look at Ivan but he too is looking at me curiously.
“Fine?” I say but it comes out more like a question. “I... uh... was homeschooled for most of it. Most of my time was spent learning something new.”
“Where did you live before?” Amila asks me excitedly.
“All over, they tried to stick with more populated areas,” I answer her as I push around the mashed potatoes on my plate. I still don’t understand why they moved use to such a small town.
“Stop trying to make it sound adventurous!” the grandfather, Peter yells. I flinch at his raised voice. “Why don’t you tell them about your mother?” he demands, I clasp my shaky hands under the table.
“She helped teach me every language, every subject in school, and was a brave woman,” I tell him as tears try to escape my eyes.
“Did they tell you she was executed, Arabella?” He tells me with a smirk on his face.
My heart freezes.
My body stops shaking.
My face grows wet.
“He’s lying,” I look over at Ivan who won’t look at me. “Ivan? He’s lying right?”
“I can assure you I’m not lying. I was there, I am the...” Peter goes on but I can’t hear him anymore. My breathing picks up. No, she can’t be.
Suddenly everything changes.
I’m not in the dining hall anymore, I’m back at the council hall where they told me I was going to be marring Ivan standing in the same spot. . It’s different though instead of just the nine there is an audience the only person I recognize is Peter Churchill. There are about ten people in the audience and five are wearing grey robes while the other is wearing black robes. Peter is wearing a black robe. I try to call out but everyone continues talking as if I didn’t just suddenly appear in front of them.
What is this? Wasn’t I just in the dining hall eating dinner when… he told me Mom had been executed. I turn when I hear the door open. Oh god no, is this that foresight but if Mom was already executed that was in the past I thought foresight was seeing future events. Mom is being pushed out the door, she is dressed in a red robe and looks like she hasn’t showered in weeks. She’s covered in bruises and cuts. “Mom!” I cry out to her as Valentine pushes her… she goes through me though when I try to catch her.
The door opens again and Dad is pushed out, he doesn’t look as bad as Mom but he has a black eye and a busted lip. He is wearing a torn light orange robe.“Elanor!” he yells and tries to yank away from the man holding him but another man comes and hits his other eye. I try to grab the man’s arm but it’s like I’m a ghost.
Tobias stands once everyone is settled and addresses the audience. His voice booms around the room. “We have asked you all here today to bare witness the sentencing of Elanor Page and Edward Kynaston. First, Mr. Kynaston, please step into the middle.” The guard pulls him into the middle and then steps behind him. “You are found guilty of marrying someone outside of your clan and producing a child of said union. Your father would also like for you to know he no longer clams you as his child and you are no longer a Kynaston. You are to serve life, here in the prison.” He pauses and motions for the guard. The man pulls Dad to the side. Dad is still alive. “Elanor Page, step forward,” Valentine pulls her into the place Dad just left. “You are found guilty of marrying outside of your clan, producing a child from the said union, child abuse, and your mother would like you to know you are no longer a Page.” He pauses and looks right into her eyes. “You are sentenced to be executed here today in front of these witnesses.”
“NO!” Dad yells and starts to fight against the men holding him.
“Peter, if you will please,” Tobias motions towards Mom who has been chained to the floor. Peter steps out from the crowd and ignites a flame in his hand. No. Please, no. I try to grab him. I try to stop him. Nothing works and Mom’s body is engulfed in flames when his hand touches her. She screams in pain. Dad screams with her and sinks to his knees. I can’t. I can’t breathe.
I scream with them but I am no longer in the hall I’m leaning in the dining chair with Ivan kneeling down in front of me. I look up and see Peter still sitting there with a smug grin. Tears stream down my face as my heart continues to ache and my ears continue to hear my Mom’s screams. My eyes won’t stray from Peter even as Ivan tries to gain my attention. He killed her. He killed her as Dad watched and screamed in pain with her. My hand wraps around something cold from the table and I don’t even glance away when I hear a thud next to me and people begin to shout. Peter loses his smug smile and his face begins to morph into fear instead. When his hands engulf in flames I pause and look at my hand. I am clutching the knife Ivan used to cut our food. I drop the knife and a sob escapes me. When I start to lose my fight to stay standing I am lifted up and taken out of the room. I close my eyes and let my body sag, but whoever is holding me doesn’t feel warm, or cold. I open my eyes as I am placed down onto a soft surface. I am on my bed. I look up.
I scream so loud my throat grows sore instantly. It’s a ghost! But it isn’t white like in the stories, it’s a muddy brown color. The ghost thing grows bigger at my terror and another smaller one appears. What the hell is going on? The smaller one comes to me and... hugs me? When it wraps its torn robbed arms around me the fear leaves and a weird feeling of safety washes over me. The only feeling left in me is grief. They killed Mom. Oh god. A loud sob shakes my whole body. No! Why’d they have to kill her? Being taken from them and her being dead is too much. My heart hurts so much. The ghost thing starts to rock us how my dad used to when I was young. Slowly I start to calm down and my tears dry up.
The door opens to the room I am in but I don’t lift my head. “I found her!” a feminine voice yells.
“Oh shit,” a deep voice says. “Bella?” he sounds closer. “I am going to help you out of your dress and run you a bath ok?” warm hands take my cold, numb ones. The warm hands start to pull me up and off the bed but as soon as my skin is no longer touching the ghost thing the grief hits me again and sobs once again start.