It was February first, the day of the second ball. I didn’t feel like getting fitted for a new dress, so I dug around in my walk-in closet. I felt like wearing black—not to be dramatic—but the only black clothing I owned were pants and jackets. I settled on the opposite of black, a slim-fitting white dress with a missing back. Maybe some purity on my body would seep into my body.
Before I left, I checked my email. Lord Mel had emailed me a week ago. I quickly wrote him back, feeling guilty I took so long to respond.
I met Talia in her room. When I stepped inside and saw what dress she was wearing, my heart seemed to mend itself. She wore the gown I’d had handmade for her birthday back in October. It was the prettiest shade of blue, cobalt. On either side of the dress were sequins that ran all the way to the floor. The gown was a sleeveless halter neck. She looked flawless in it.
She looked down at the dress and blushed. “I didn’t want to wear it simply because I am not worthy. It is otherworldly gorgeous. But you needed some cheering up.” She paused. “You like it?”
I nodded. I took her hand and spun her around. “It’s perfect. You’re perfect.”
Apparently, that wasn’t the reaction she wanted because her shoulders slumped.
“It’s just you haven’t smiled in two weeks. Not even a little.”
I didn’t feel like smiling. “I’m sorry, ån. You know you make me happy regardless of what’s on my face.”
She nodded but I had a feeling she would spend the night trying to make me smile.
We headed to the ballroom and the festivities were already in full swing. In the corner were a few musicians playing Enceladian instruments. I spotted Cassiopeia and John dancing in the center of the dancefloor, the Dukes and Duchesses surrounding them. Lynx and Alexander were in their own little world at one of the candle-lit tables. Caelum and Golda were also dancing but slowly, incongruous to the music.
I didn’t see Delphinus but that was understandable considering she was supposed to give birth in seventeen days. Even with that exciting news, I couldn’t muster up a smile. Really it was just one more loved one that I could potentially hurt.
We sat at the same table as Lynx and Alex. “Hey, nïx. How are you?”
“I’m okay,” I mumbled.
Lynx nodded and I knew he didn’t believe me.
“I’ll get you some food,” Talia said.
“I’ll join you.” Alexander followed her to the table that held buffet food.
Lynx smiled in Alexander’s direction. They were so in love. Good. They deserved it. “So, you’re ‘okay’.” Lynx used finger air quotes. Lainie had taught him those.
I nodded. “Just fine.”
“You don’t seem fine or okay.”
“How about tomorrow we spend the day together. Just us, no partners,” he said.
“That’d be nice,” I answered. And it would, just not when he started asking questions about my breakdown.
Talia and Alexander came back. Alex was holding two plates. He must have insisted on carrying them for Talia. He set them down in front of me and Talia. “Thanks, Alex.”
“My pleasure, Amelia.”
I almost smiled at the sound of my name out of his mouth. But I didn’t.
Talia stared at me until I took a bite of some æb, similar to chocolate cake.
Suddenly I felt a hand inch up my dress. I flinched but calmed when I realized it was Talia. I looked across the table to my brother and my brother-in-law (although there was no such thing as “in-laws” on Enceladus). They had retreated back into their world and weren’t paying attention to us.
“What are you doing?” I whispered.
She smirked and brought her hand higher up my thigh. I squirmed, wanting her to keep going. She got up to the top of my thigh and abruptly took her hand back. I glared playfully at her. “I’m teasing you.”
I felt my lips curl up. Evil. I could do teasing. I could tease her for hours and she would be begging me to give it up. I leaned in and kissed her bare neck. “I’ll show you teasing.”
She visibly shivered. “Ha!” she said so loudly I grimaced. “I got you to smile,” she said proudly.
I smiled again. “Let’s get out of here.” My voice was rich with desire.
The next morning, Lynx knocked on my bedroom door before I was even awake. I turned and noticed Talia wasn’t in bed next to me. I frowned. Where was she?
I got up and opened the door.
“Êglô vôpïr!” He said “good morning” way too cheerily. This whole day with him might not have been an excellent idea. “First we’ll eat breakfast and then help out in the Greek division.” The three other divisions were now fully remodeled. “Then we’ll eat lunch.” He threw open the doors to my closet and disappeared inside. He came out with clothes. “Get dressed.” He threw plain black pants and a simple button up on my bed. “Then we’ll come back here and play Ôpï,” a card came that I was terrible at, “and then I want to show you something. Finally, we’ll finish the day by cuddling in bed.”
Wow, he had it all planned out. I shouldn’t have expected anything less from my brother. I took the clothes and went behind my changing screen.
“Let’s go.” He practically dragged me out of the room. I didn’t even get to brush my hair.
Lynx and I worked on the Greek division for about two hours. Really, I was the one doing the working. Lynx wasn’t being superior; he just was incapable of lifting a tool. Eventually Lynx saw my fatigue. I didn’t know why I was getting so tired lately. All I wanted to do was sleep.
We left and headed back to the palace. On our way to my room, he stopped and got a food cart full of two meals.
“Why aren’t you eating?” he asked after he had finished.
“I don’t feel hungry anymore.”
His eyes softened. “That’s how I felt after Alexander died. I got too skinny, remember?”
I nodded. I remembered. I was so worried about him during those months.
“You’re losing weight, nïx.”
Was I? “Not that much.”
“It’s enough for us to notice.”
“Our family,” he answered. “You need to eat for your strength. We have the invasion coming up.”
I doubted not eating was going to decrease my fighting abilities. I wasn’t weak. Just tired. I didn’t feel feeble or fragile from not eating. I just simply didn’t feel hunger.
About the invasion . . . I didn’t want to talk about it. It was stressing me out. I didn’t want to become the Destroyer. Jae and I hadn’t practiced controlling my dark side since that day. It was too dangerous. But on the bright side, I hadn’t heard my other voice since then. Maybe that meant I had a better grasp of control.
“I’ll be okay, Lynx.”
His hazel eyes, much like Talia’s, narrowed. “There you go again with that word. Okay. Are you really okay?”
I hesitated. “No, Lynx. I’m not. And I don’t know what to do.”
He moved our plates back on to the cart and scooted closer to me on my bed. “What you will do is say you’re okay until you really are. You’re strong and you will pull yourself out of this. You don’t need us. You don’t need anyone to help you control your dark side either.”
“Did Jae tell you that?”
A look of guilt rippled through his face and then disappeared. He wasn’t one to be guilty for too long. “Alex did. But Jae told Alex. Listen Amy, you are much stronger than you think. I know you think you can’t do anything alone but you’re wrong. You don’t need anyone to save you. You are your own hero.”
My eyes started to water. He could be quite inspirational when he wanted to be. But could I really save myself? I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t be the “destruction of the entire universe”.