The Flower at the Doorstep

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Funerals and Disappearances go hand in hand

Funerals are supposed to be sad, and my father's funeral was no exception. Except, for me it was more of a angry funeral, since there was no body and no confirmation that he was actually dead, aside from a flimsy letter and black flower. And that could hardly count for me. I was planning on renting an apartment, but dad's inheritance money didn't come in for another week, so we were going to stay with my aunt Kat for a week until I get money for rent.

My aunt told me that we would be leaving soon so I called my siblings over. When they were all here I started, "As you know, we're broke until the money from dad gets transferred to us, so during that time we will be staying with our aunt Kat,"

My brother, Kai, looked at me annoyed. "You didn't have to call me over just for that, you know, I was having a good conversation with that girl over there," I knew that, that was why I called him over. I didn't want him getting anymore touchy at a funeral. Kai's twin brother, Kris, grabbed a champagne glass and downed the whole thing before I could protest that he was too young.

"Well," My youngest sibling, Amira, the most level headed of us all, spoke. "It's not like dad could've planned his death." And with that we all sobered, realizing that we would never enjoy our dad's presence again.

After a long drive, we arrived at aunt Kat's home and workplace. After she showed us to her small room, I threw myself onto her small couch, not bothering to go wash up as I fell asleep. I was so tired from all the greeting and meeting and crying and back patting that I just wanted to end it all with a nap that would give me a clean slate.

When I woke up, I felt amazing. Groggy, but amazing.

The rest of the night I slept, and the next day I woke up to very angry brother. "What?" I asked, wanting to go back to sleep, even though I had slept long enough for two days.

Kris dragged his hand through his hair, while squeezing a stress ball in the other. He must've been really mad, because typically he only did one or the other. "Why is aunt Kat trying to get me to model for her?" He asked. "I mean, Amira is a minor, so she would need to get the consent of the guardian, which is you, but you were asleep, so she just tried to have us do modeling before even waking you up to sign the contract... that's illegal!" He sputtered, barely pausing for breath.

Amira spoke up from somewhere, "I want to do the modeling!"

I sighed. "I'll just sign the contract then," I offered, wanting him to get off my bed as soon as possible.

"No, that won't work, because the contract explicitly states that the minor will be subjected to immodest clothing, stances, and other subjects." He argued.

"I don't care, Kris!" Amira yelled again. "I want to do the modeling and you're just going to have to deal with it!"

"Well then, just say no, or have someone else do the modeling," I offered, nodding off. Kris paused for a couple seconds, making me even more tired.

"What if..." He started. "You and Kai did the modeling? I'm sure Kai wouldn't mind the attention." He asked, looking at me hopefully.

"Is nobody listening to me?" Amira asked, finally coming out of her hiding place in the far corner.

"Fine," I answered, not really listening to what any of us were saying. "I'll get up in a couple minutes." After half an hour I was fresh and clean, ready for whatever aunt Kat had in mind. I headed downstairs and towards the pool outside. Standing by the pool, Kai was already dressed for the advertisement. After studying my body for a few minutes, aunt Kat handed me a bikini that looked like it was completely strings.

"You'll wear this in the advertisement for the hotel," aunt Kat told me, pointing the way to the dressing room.

When I was done figuring out how to put on the bathing suit I headed back to the set. When Kai saw me he let out a whistle, "If you weren't my sister I'd ask you out on a date," I elbowed Kai in the gut and tried to ignore the stares the male staff gave me and focus on aunt Kat's orders.

"Do you think I could wear a see-through jacket?" I asked. "I think that it would be more natural and bring out the look of comfort." Aunt Kat thought about it for a few seconds then shook her head.

"No." She said, looking frustrated. I nodded and went to stand next to Kai, trying not to cover my body. Aunt Kat sent a makeup artist to me, having them touch up my face, fix my hair underneath the floppy hat, and place a pair of sunglasses on the band of the hat. They led me to a chaise lounge and placed a filled glass in my hand. They directed me on how to pose when they took a photo right above me. The photographer had to stand on the chair so he could take a shot like he was looking directly down at my face, so I was sitting with my legs on either side of the chair to allow room for his feet on the chair. It felt uncomfortable to be wearing such a skimpy bikini in front of a staff that was all men, except aunt Kat. They all looked around my age, and most of them were very handsome.

Anyway, after a few more pictures we were finished, and I changed back into my normal clothes to head upstairs. Before I could go upstairs though, one of the staff tapped on my shoulder.

"Hi," He introduced, smiling at me charmingly. "Could I get your phone number?" He asked, holding out a piece of paper with his eyes staring at me intently.

"Sure," I answered, blushing as I took the paper and pulling a pen out of my pocket to scribble my phone number down. Usually I wouldn't do this, but he was so handsome that I couldn't help myself. He looked at me with a big smile on his face, thanking me as he went back to his work area. I went back upstairs to continue my plans for the day.

After I finished a few chapters I headed downstairs for dinner. "Aunt Kat do you want some takeout?" I asked.

Instead of answering my question she asked her own question, "What money are you going to use for the takeout?"

"Could you treat me?" I asked, my inheritance from dad wasn't going to be transferred to my card until next week, that's why I asked our aunt if we could stay with her a few nights. But she didn't know that, and my aunt is a very frugal and petty person.

"You think I have enough money for that?" She asked me, walking into the kitchen from the lobby out front, dressed in her work clothes.

"Then could I take something from the fridge?"

"Don't you know that all the food in this place is for our clients and those workers who do well?"

"Then what will us four eat? You obviously can't share your small portion of food," I asked, exasperated and starving.

"That's not my business, I'm only letting you sleep here for a few days. Besides, I've been letting you sleep on my bed this whole time, you should be thankful." She rebuked. I scoffed.

"You don't know what you're talking about Kat,"

"Shouldn't you call me aunt Kat?"

"No, because you're only a month older than me, and I didn't even know you were alive until dad died."

"Since you think you're all that, leave then," She sneered. "You won't survive a day, because you're too delicate to work or feed your family." She dares to question my ability? She was already wearing me thin with her complaining, this was the last straw.

"Just wait and see," I said, storming up to her room to pack up our things.

In the room, Kai, and Kris looked up surprised.

Amira kept typing on her laptop, she spoke to the air, "Interesting, this is the second time I've heard you slam the door since the day dad told you that you couldn't date that boy from school,"

"What's happening?" Kris asked, standing up when he noticed my clenched fists.

I blew my hair out of my face, "We're leaving, we'll find somewhere else to live for awhile," I didn't offer anymore explanations as I pulled out my suitcase and threw in my clothes and toiletries messily. Then I put everything else that was mine into my bag.

"Let's go," I called out, throwing my bag over my shoulder and dragging my suitcase behind me. The three of them scrambled to get their bags and catch up with me.

I opened the back door, looking straight at Kat. "I hope you get out of this god forsaken place, don't sell the house dad gave you. Live a good life," I said, waiting for my siblings to go through the door before slamming the door behind me. I let out a deep breath I didn't know I was holding. "Let's go," I said, heading towards the motel that was a few blocks away from us.

"Where are we going?" Kai shouted out, holding Kris and Amira's bags including his own.

Ignoring him, I ordered, "Hold your own bags," Kai shouldn't be doing all the work. I just wanted to punch everyone in the face, right now I needed food and an hour of good sleep. And I wouldn't be getting that for another half hour, so I could only silently fume until we got there.

Thankfully my anger died down before we got to the hotel, so I was able to calmly ask for one of their rooms without making a scene. Before I gave the receptionist my card, Kai pulled me aside. "Can we afford this? I know their rates are cheap, but can we even afford that?" He asked. My pride came running back, but I couldn't afford leaving... so. We stayed.

Thankfully, there was a buffet at the hotel, so me and Amira went to eat while Kai and Kris argued.

Once we got to the restaurant I couldn't wait, I left Amira at a table and headed straight towards the food. I ate off my plate as I dished myself more, and more. Fasting for three days can really make a person hungry. I turned to where Amira was sitting to wave her over here to eat, but she was gone. Gone? I rushed over there, hoping she was just in the bathroom, but what I saw made my bones run cold. A white flower that had black tips. LILAC. Our biggest enemy. The one that had sent mom away with a simple letter. The one that sent dad to his death. The one who had killed my only friend. The one that I hate with every ounce of blood in my body.

I didn't have an appetite anymore. I didn't want to live anymore, but I'm the only protection my brothers have. So I have to hold out for them, if not for revenge. I headed back to our room to tell Kai and Kris the bad news.

"Hey, where's our food?" Kai asked, looking disheveled.

I sighed as I fell onto the soft bed. "Ami has been taken by LILAC,"

"Well," Kai sat down. "That sure hit the fan pretty quick. Didn't even give us time to settle in." Yeah. And now my plan to live a quiet life is upturned.

"OK. Guess we have to come up with a new plan," I said, sitting up. "We could take up uncle Leander on his offer about enrolling in his college, have him train us."

"Aids, that school is ISSAC. The school people go to to sell their souls to the government world," Kris spoke up. I sighed, he always had to be the pessimistic one.

"I wasn't asking for your opinion. I'm your guardian, so whatever I say goes." I got up and grabbed my suitcase, looked at Amira's, and walked out the door.

I called a taxi again and waited for the two of them to come down. I asked the driver to take us to my uncle's address. I texted uncle Leander to let him know that we were enrolling this year.

Hey doll! Sorry, just got your text. You'r going to have to wait at least 3 months until I can get you four a spot :( why did you change your mind?

Tears welled up in my eyes. I hadn't talked to uncle Leander in so long I didn't realize how much I had missed him.

Aw... bummer ㅠ^ㅠ. But yeah, I changed my mind because I'm fed up with people targeting my family, and I can't do anything about it. I answered, wiping my eyes.

So you finally want to continue the family tradition, huh? I knew you would someday. #proud-uncle I rolled my eyes at his use of hashtags but I was smiling.

Seriously, uncle Leander? You're more focused on the fact that I want to continue my training than on the fact that people are targeting us? I answered.

Of course I am doll face. I know that if you train, you'll kill them all if they touch anyone you love. You're more powerful than you think, Aidyn.

Thanks. I turned off my phone. We were at his apartment. The house of the head of ISSAC, who lived 2,000 miles away from the school. Where people went when they wanted to kill or be killed.

"Well! We're here! But we'll have to stay with uncle Leander until enrollment starts," I got out of the car, opening the trunk to pull out our suitcases and send the driver on his way.

"I told you this was a bad idea! Now we'll have to stay here until enrollment starts because you can't afford a hotel and tickets to Georgia," Kris was such a party pooper. He acted like he was smarter than me. As if I would ever let a 16 year-old beat me, especially my sibling.

"We'll drop off our luggage and go out. Would that make you feel better?" Honestly, Kris is like a four-year-old, I don't know how he's survived this long. Oh wait. He's stayed alive because I kept his butt off the streets. You're welcome.

After dropping our stuff off and telling uncle Leander where we were going, we headed to the beach, which was a ten minute walk from his place. The water was cold, but the view was beautiful. And so were the guys there. One of them was covered in bruises. Maybe I could use this to my advantage. I walked towards him, nervous. Let's hope I don't screw this up.

"Hey," I said, sitting down in front of him. "You from here?" I'll be honest I already had a crush the size of a boulder just because of his looks. He had bright red hair, blue eyes, and his shirtless torso was... muscular. Totally my type.

"No I recently moved from Leeds," Oh my God. My crush just turned into a mountain.

"Where did all these cuts and bruises come from?" I asked.

"Ah. I got into a fight," he had this reminiscent smile on his face. God, he was so handsome.

"Would you like me to teach you some things?" I asked, not wanting to be too upfront.

"Like what?" He leaned forward. I tried not to blush. Oy vey. This was going to be harder than I thought.

"I could teach you how to fight," I said, leaning away from him, trying to act nonchalant.

"Really?" He asked, raising an eyebrow. "And what sort of payment are you asking?" Oh dear. Here comes the hard part.

"A room to stay in, and then I can take you to one of the most elite colleges in America, I could also pay for the plane tickets," I could see Kai and Kris coming in our direction. At least if he says no I'll always have uncle Leander to run to.

"Hmm.... what if you show me some of your moves, and then I'll decide," I stood up, knocking down my brothers would be easy, they have no experience with fighting since they were all homeschooled and dad wasn't around often enough to train them as much as me.

"Sure! Those guys would be easy," my brothers may be strong, but they don't have the skills I do. I cracked my knuckles, regretted it, then knocked Kris down.

Kris was the weakest of us all, so he was easy. He tried to fight back, but I gave him a punch to the gut, one down, one to go.

Kai was prepared, both fists up and a grin on his face. When I blew my first punch, all the amiableness disappeared from his face. He knew that I wasn't playing. He stayed on defense instead of offense, but finally that guy came walking up, watching me up close.

"What's wrong with you, Aids?" Kai said, wiping blood from his mouth. "I know you're mad about yesterday, but that girl was just a friend." Kris stood up, helped Kai up, and dusted himself off.

"Yeah, don't take out your anger on me, Aidyn!" Kris defended.

"I'm sorry, Aidyn," the guy stepped forward. "I made your boyfriend mad. But, I think I wouldn't mind taking up your offer." Yay! Beating up my brothers became even better.

"Oh. Don't mind them, they're just my little brothers," I tittered. "Would it be okay if they joined me too?" He frowned.

"Well... I only have one room, and I live with someone else. We have this policy of one guest per roommate... if you feel uncomfortable about it I can ask my roommate if she's willing to compromise," so his roommate is a girl... I pulled my brothers aside.

"I don't want you staying there," Kris hissed. No. I'm not kidding. He was hissing like a cat.

Kai gave me sly grin. "I'm for you staying there, about time you find a guy," what he actually said was a lot more explicit, but this is a story that my family are likely to read... and we can't let what he actually said ever reach their ears.

"Kris, I can fend for myself. And Kai, ew," I ended the conversation and turned to the guy.

"My brothers can stay with my uncle until enrollment. So do we have a deal..." I held a hand out, waiting for him to reply.

"Finn. Wonderful doing business with you, Aidyn," Finn smiled as he shook my hand. I was going to have to be careful about this crush. I can't let my feelings get in the way of training.

...

In the next three months I learned that Finn had gone to the alternative ISSAC in London, and was already enrolled at ISSAC, so he was just along for the ride. Another thing I learned was that Finn was hardly ever home, and when he was he used that time to either tease me or do inexplicable damage in his office (I'm always hearing small booms and see smoke seeping out the door, I was very concerned until he told me that he did science projects. I was hardly calmed down by that fact). his roommate was interesting as well. Her name was Lena, hardly home during the day, and brought all sorts of people during the night. It was strange, Lena would try to flirt with Finn, but he would slyly push her away, disgust in his eyes. Finn didn't exactly strike me as the racist type, but every time she tried something on him he looked at her like he was horrified.

I peek out of the bedroom to see if Finn and Lena were still on the couch. They were. So I would just have to stay I here until it was a reasonable time to go to bed. I closed my laptop. There was no way that I could get anything done today.

Finn? Are you still in the living room? I hope I don't have to live with his witty banter.

No, darling. but don't be jealous, don't forget who's in my room right now. I could practically hear his voice.

Yeah... Thanks I rolled my eyes at his nickname. I shook my head, I couldn't imagine him saying this in person, nor would I ever let that happen. I couldn't believe that a person could be so cheesy...

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