Chapter 5: Homecoming
And I know I was wrong,
But I won’t let you down,
(Oh yeah, yeah, yes I will)
I was doing my makeup when the doorbell rang. What the heck, it’s only 7 O’ Clock. Gigi and Kevin were early. We had all decided we would drive to the dance together since Gigi had a car and I did not. Also I was pretty worried about my parents meeting Daniel. They had occasionally asked me about him since he arrived in August but I hadn’t really given them any details.
Gigi barged into the house with a shy Kevin behind her, she stomped back to the bathroom and stood in the door way. “Cute!” She exclaimed when she looked at me. “Red is your color,” With that she marched back out into the living room and sat with my parents and Kevin. The two of them were really cute together. I finished up with my makeup and French braided my already wavy brown hair then went out to join them. A few minutes later I spied a certain Romanian boy walking down the sidewalk towards our house, he paused at the end of the driveway, and then walked up to the door.
“Is that your date?” Mom asked.
“Yep,” I said.
“He’s handsome,” she said. Daniel stopped outside the front door and rang the doorbell. I walked over and let him in with Gigi close behind me.
“Elisabeth,” He said coolly. “You look beautiful,” Daniel smiled down at me and fastened a small corsage of white roses around my wrist; I couldn’t help but blush. I led him into the living room where my mom took lots of pictures of all of us. After a bit we all piled into Gigi’s car and drove off for the dance.
Gigi and Kevin disappeared soon after the dance began, no doubt canoodling in a corner somewhere, it was pretty obvious that Kevin liked her as much as she liked him.
“Would you like to dance?” Daniel held his hand out to me with an expectant gaze. I gave a small smile and nodded to him. I rested my hands around his neck as his hands went to my waist. “I’m quite surprised that you said yes to my invitation you know.” He said. “A pleasant surprise nonetheless.”
“I was surprised with myself to be honest. I mean, no offense or anything, but you still kind of creep me out a little bit.” I said my cheeks filling with chagrin. We danced to Iron and Wine for a few silent minutes, feeling not too terribly awkward. A faster paced song came on after that and we didn’t dance for a while. I sought out Gigi to find her and Kevin kissing up a storm in the corner. Guess I couldn’t talk to her tonight.
The boy from History that I switched seats with walked over to me the next time a slower song came on. “Will you dance with me, Elisabeth?” He asked all shy and awkward. I agreed. About halfway through the song Daniel stalked over to where Todd and I were dancing.
“Excuse me, but I believe that’s my date you’re dancing with,” Daniel said. I swear if he were a bird his feathers would be bristling right now.
“Oh, um, sorry,” Todd mumbled and scurried away. I put my hands on my hips and glared up at Daniel.
“That was a little unnecessary don’t you think?” Daniel frowned at me then wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me into his chest. Damn he smelled good, also this was definitely the closest I had ever been to him. What did this gorgeous boy want with me? How could he possibly be interested in my knotted brown hair, boring hazel eyes and too pale skin?
“I am sorry, but you deserve to have a gentleman dancing with you,” He murmured in my ear. “A princess deserves no less,” A princess? “Don’t tell me that you don’t feel the pull towards me Luminita.” Daniel said pleading. “Because I know that I feel it towards you.” There was that Luminita name again.
“It’s pretty hard not to feel it, Daniel,” I caved. “Ever since you set foot outside my door that first day I’ve felt the attraction towards you,” I felt like we were the only two out on the floor, like no one else was there. Just the two of us.
“Then the feeling is mutual,” Daniel trailed off. Our faces were slowly closing the distance between each other, just a few more inches and we would be kissing. Or we would have been if Gigi hadn’t rushed over and pushed us apart.
“Hey!” I exclaimed stumbling back a few feet. “What gives?” I demanded. Gigi stared over at Daniel for a few moments, he glared right back at her.
“Sorry! I tripped,” She said unapologetically. I grabbed her arm and wrenched her away from Daniel. I dragged her to the outside patio area for questioning.
“Alright, what’s going on?” I asked. I crossed my arms and gave her my best cold stare. “We were in the middle of something,”
“Yeah, I know. You were about to let him kiss you!” She threw her arms up in exasperation. “What’s gotten into you? You hated him two months ago, remember that?”
“Well maybe he’s changed, maybe I wanted him to kiss me, Gigi!” I said a little too loud. Gigi recoiled a few inches away from me, her face turning red with anger. Gigi was a little like Tinkerbell. You know how her face always turned bright when she got angry? Yeah, that’s how Gigi is with her already copper pixie hair.
“Well excuse me for being concerned about my best friend! I’m sorry that I was trying to protect you from the freak that you were so afraid of just last month, the weird Romanian guy that claims to be a vampire, the one that never eats and can’t even remember your stupid name!” Gigi yelled. People standing nearby awkwardly made their way back inside to the dance while we stared each other down.
I broke the silence with, “I don’t need your protection, Gigi, I know what I’m doing. So just stay out of it,” My voice ice. Gigi’s face drained of the red color and was replaced with only hurt. When I saw her face I softened my own expression. “I’m sorry,” I said after a moment. “I didn’t mean to get so mean.” Gigi said nothing but instead backed further away and then turned on her heel. “Gigi!” She stormed away back into the building not even looking back. We had had our fights of course, but never over a boy. Never over something so stupid.
I hadn’t realized it but at some point I had started crying. I walked over to the nearest bench and collapsed down onto the seat. Reaching up to wipe my eyes I glanced a tall figure coming towards me from the corner of my eye. Daniel sat next to me looking over at me warily. I don’t think he knew what to make of the situation. He reached over and tentatively put an arm around my shoulder; I caved for the second time that evening and leaned over resting my head on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” He said softly. I sniffled into his jacket.
“You don’t even know what happened,” I muttered.
“Not exactly, but I know enough to figure out that I’ve come between your friendship with Gigi,” He said calmly. “Is there anything I can do to help?” Daniel asked.
I sat quiet for a few minutes getting my breathing and tears under control. How embarrassing, I mean, really. “You can tell her that you’re not a vampire,” I finally said. Daniel froze and finally looked down at me. “You could say that to me too,” I whispered.
“I…have nothing to say to that,” Daniel said defensively.
“What? Daniel, vampires aren’t real, how could you believe that you are one.” I said. He pulled his arm from my shoulder and stood up quickly.
“Because they are real, because I live with some, because I am a vampire prince and you are a princess,” Daniel ranted. “I came here because you and I are supposed to be together when you are old enough to rule and wed. We are meant to be the next rulers of our clans. The Florescu’s and the Vieru’s united under one name,” So not only does he think he’s a vampire but he also thinks I’m a princess?
“I am most certainly not a princess,” I shot back. “And also if you were a vampire you wouldn’t be able to go out during the day and you would have fangs and all of that…other vampire stuff,” Daniel rolled his eyes then reached down and grabbed my hand, pulling me behind him. “Where are we going?” I demanded.
“To my house,” Daniel said curtly.
“So I can show you where you come from Luminita,” Now the way he said that name just sent a chill through my bones. Once we were out of the building Daniel loosened his grip on my hand, but still held onto it. Can all I do is make people angry? It seems like that’s all I’ve done tonight. And me leaving with Daniel will probably only make it worse between Gigi and I.
The night air was chilly for October in Virginia, I soon found myself shivering although we were still about ten minutes from Oak Street. Daniel noticed my being cold and his eyes softened; he shrugged off his jacket and handed it to me. I gave him a grateful look while pulling it around my shoulders.
When we reached Riker’s house Daniel directed me into the living room once more and asked me to wait while he ran up the stairs to grab something. It felt weird being back here since I stormed out on him last time, and this time I didn’t have Gigi there to back me up. Things kept getting stranger and stranger and I wasn’t really sure what to think. I wandered over to the piano and sat down at the keys, I placed Daniel’s jacket on the bench next to me then gently rested my fingers on the keys. What was I doing here? I should just leave and go home before all of this gets weirder; go back to the dance and find Gigi and apologize.
I stood from the bench having decided I was returning to the dance, but that of course is when Daniel came bounding back down the stairs. Under his arm he carried with him rolls of ancient looking parchment and also in his hands he had a couple of photos. Daniel gestured for me to take a seat over on the couch so I did, he joined me in a moment after dropping the papers in front of me.
“Alright,” He began with a deep breath. He held the photos out to me first, they were baby pictures. “This is me as a baby,” He said with a small smile pointing to the picture in my left hand. “I had quite the chubby face, didn’t I?” He did, he had very fat cheeks as a baby, not anymore though. “And then this is you as a baby,” Daniel said softly.
The baby in the photo didn’t exactly look like me, but usually babies don’t, so that didn’t mean anything. I stared hard at the tiny girl in the photo. She was smiling brightly and being held by who I can only assume to be her mother. The mother was very beautiful, and she, well she did look like me. She had the same curve to her nose, same cheekbone structure and wavy brown hair. The mother smiled down at the baby with such a soft expression on her lips, yet her gaze was fiery and intense. Fire and ice.
“Do you see it Luminita?” Daniel asked quietly. “Do you see how the woman looks so much like you? Or should I say how you look so much like your mother. Ileana was a great ruler. She took charge more than your father, Vladimir, did. I like to believe that that’s why you’re so headstrong.”
“You’re saying that this woman is my biological mother?” I asked. So it was a dumb question, but my brain was feeling pretty dumb right about now. Daniel nodded then reached over for the papers sitting on the table.
“This paper was signed by your parents and my parents saying that when the time came, we would be married. So it’s our betrothal contract.” He handed me the paper. He was right, I could see all of their signatures, although I couldn’t read any of the paper because it was all written in Romanian. And there was my name, Luminita Elena Vieru right next to his, Daniel Vasile Florescu. This is too weird, too much. I don’t know how much more of this a girl can take.
“Finally, these are maps and family trees, be very careful with them.” Daniel said. He handed me the map first. The map was of the Carpathian region of Romania, on it were two stars, one marked Vieru and the other Florescu. “Those are our territories.” Daniel confirmed. The two weren’t very far away from each other; they were pretty much only separated by a mountain.
“So that’s where I was born?” I ask. Daniel nods and puts his hand on my knee. “So where was I born?”
“In your family’s castle of course.” He said the word castle calmly like it didn’t imply being royal or anything. Like it was just a word in his everyday vocabulary. “You are a princess after all. Benkosky castle is a grand place that sits overlooking the valley below, really quite beautiful.”
“You’ve been there?”
“Of course, we’ve been holding our meetings there for as long as I can remember.” Daniel said. Daniel took the map from me gingerly and replaced it with the family tree. “This is my family tree, we couldn’t locate yours, anyway, you’ll see my parents above me, Constantin Florescu and Elizaveta Florescu, then next to my name at the bottom is yours. You and I have been slated to marry each other for the past seventeen years.”
“But how could they know that we would like each other? That we would…love each other? I don’t even know anything about you,” I said kind of panicking. “Who even does arranged marriages anymore?”
“Elisabeth…” Daniel started. “It’s…it’s not about love,” He said carefully. So they just wanted us to be together for the sake of politics? I was definitely not down with that. “This betrothal is a political move to unite our two families, one you should be honored to do, love or not.” Daniel proved my fear, it was just an arranged marriage, we were never meant to like each other. Yet I somehow found myself very attracted to him. “I know that’s not what you want to hear, but that’s how politics are in the vampire culture,” He said. I stood quickly throwing his hand off of my knee in the process. “Elisabeth don’t do this again,” He pleaded.
“I have no desire to be part of an arranged marriage, to honor people I have never even met. People I didn’t even know existed,” I said. Then to throw even more insult to injury, “Especially to a bunch of loons that believe they’re vampires,” I spat. Daniel recoiled away from me and stepped back a couple of feet. After a moment though, his hurt turned into anger.
“A bunch of loons huh?” Daniel grabbed my wrist roughly and dragged me into the kitchen behind him. “I’ll show you just how crazy we are,” He said. “You know that thermos I’m always drinking from?” The question was rhetorical as he didn’t wait for me to answer. Daniel opened the refrigerator door and there sitting on all of the shelves were bags of blood, pints of it like you would donate to the Red Cross. There were bags of every type there, O-, AB+, A-, all of them. I was stunned, I felt like I was in some kind of horror movie.
Daniel reached for his thermos then grabbed a random bag of the dark red liquid. He ripped it open with his teeth then poured it out into the thermos. He looked right at me as he drank from it, the blood spilling out the corners of his mouth a little bit. I couldn’t, I couldn’t take anymore. I turned and ran out of that house as fast as I could muster. I ran the mile back to my house without breaking into a walk once. I tore through the house for my bedroom and collapsed onto my bed sobbing wildly. I had finally reached my breaking point of weird shit; I was thoroughly emotionally exhausted. And I thought Daniel and I had been making progress.