Beautifully Complicated

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Chapter 15: No Competition

I knew Andreas and I needed to talk. No man ever wants to feel like he has to choose between his mother and his lady, and I had no idea if we were going to survive a bump this major in the middle of our unexpected road. Actually, I had every doubt in the world that we wouldn’t be able to, but this fight wasn’t about him and me; it was about my life. I wanted to live it, and his mother wanted to end it. Plain and simple. Any man that could support his parent in that effort was not one I needed to be with anyway. But the depths of this predicament were about even more than that.

It was about me taking a stand. By voicing what I wanted and planting my feet, I was refusing to let another man – or another person in general – dictate my life for me. The time had come for me to not only decide what life I wanted to live, but to fight for my right to live it.

I took his hand and guided him outside with me to the back patio. It was my favorite part of the house, surrounded by all the beautiful flowers and produce I’d planted. He immediately took notice.

“So this is your garden. It’s even lovelier than you described.”

“Thank you. I thought that bringing you out here would make it easier to have this conversation.”

“Ugh. That doesn’t sound good.”

“Listen, Andreas, I can’t imagine how you feel right now. I’m not even going to act like I do, and I’m not going to try to pressure you into picking a side either, because that’s just … yeah, no.”

“Hazel, baby, what are you trying to say right now?”

“You and I, we haven’t been … a thing for very long, and I haven’t exactly been the easiest person to be a thing with. What I mean to say is … I wouldn’t blame you if you walked away right now. I wouldn’t blame you if you walked away at all.”

“Wait. W – why would you say something like that?”

“Because it’s honest, and I have to be honest with myself, and you. If your mother succeeds in killing me, you could lose me tonight.”

“Hazel …”

“And if I succeed in getting the life I want, I could lose you tonight for standing up to her. I just think that it’s important for me to face the possibility that no matter what happens, there is a 50/50 chance that this, me and you, might not last past right now.”

“No. This isn’t right. I know my mom wouldn’t do anything like this on her own. She's not built like that. She's not this evil. I mean, I know what she said. I know what Miss. Cordelia said. I just wish I knew where my mom’s head was. Maybe I could talk to her. Talk some sense into her. Things don’t have to be this way.”

“They don’t, but this is what it is.”

His head shook with disbelief. “Hazel, I love my mom like nobody else.”

I tried not to hide the urge to cry as I nodded in response. “I’m sure you do.”

“But I love you too. It’s different, but just as strong, and I should be allowed to have you both. I shouldn’t have to choose.”

“And I’m not making you choose. She’s not even making you chose because she doesn’t know about us. This has nothing to do with you.”

“It does though, because I don’t want to go against her, but I don’t want to lose you either. I just got you after all this time of loving you from afar. Now that I get to love you up close, I have to let you go because of some bullshit secret club?”

“What a tangled web we weave. But if there’s one thing I can take from your mother, it’s that she told me this: Life in general is complicated, and what we have to do is find the beauty in that complication. So, in the event that I may never see you again, in case we never get a chance to be anything more than what we are right now in this moment, I want to leave you with two words to remember me by.”

“Hazel, this isn’t … Wait. Two words? Uh …”

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Thank you for caring about me. Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for embodying a love so deep that you respected and supported me. You reintroduced me to how unselfish love can be, how fearless pure passion is, and how much I needed to define my dream and live for me. For that, I will always be grateful.”

His smile was light, appreciative. I could see in his eyes that he knew I was right. Every couple has a point in their relationship where they arrive at a fork in the road, and they have to make a decision to split off and go their separate ways, or collectively pick a path to continue walking together. This was ours. It was extreme and conflicting, as most of them are, and it was clear that we were headed towards a split. He couldn’t even argue it anymore, and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect him to.

What I did expect was to feel his gentle caress which had slowly but surely became my kryptonite and antidote, blended with that enchanting gaze he does so effortlessly well, topped off with a picturesque kiss that made me believe in fairy-tales and sappy longhand love letters … and that’s what he gave me. Another moment of my toes curling into the leather soles of my shoes. One last snug that made me want to melt with him. It was the perfect ending.

No.

It was a perfect moment

And I would never have another like that again.

Not with him.

I knew that for sure.

Saying goodbye to him …

That last hard goodbye …

Was the final nail in the coffin for me.

I had nothing left to lose.


According to Cordelia, when the Diamond Secret Society had council meetings, they met up at an old building in Hollywood which was about thirty minutes away from my house. Common folks knew it as a vintage movie theater that played classic films during matinée hours, and at night, it could be rented out for parties and events. But there were undisclosed times it would be oddly closed for the entire day or more, and those were the times that the Diamond Secret Society Council held their meetings.

When my GPS alerted me that I had arrived at my destination, I pulled up the text messages Cordelia sent, and followed the rest of her directions to the letter.

The meeting will start at 9PM. Do not arrive any sooner than 9:15. We should all be inside and the meeting should be well underway by then.

Drive around to the far side of the building. You will see our cars parked there. Come in through the door with the green scarf on the knob. I will leave it open for you.

Walk down the hall, past the actual theater, and you’ll see an opening. That’s where the bar and restaurant is, and that’s where we will be meeting.

Make your presence known when you see fit. Good luck.


“Why do we keep meeting in this old drafty building? Can’t you girls come up with a different meeting place?”

“You know the rules, Merit. Per the Rulebook, wherever the founding Diamonds of whatever sector decide to set as a meeting place is where all Diamonds in that sector will meet forever. You girls should use some of the money from the estate to make some renovations. Now, shall we get down to business. I have to get back on the jet before midnight if I’m going to keep my schedule.”

“Where are you headed, Camille?”

“I have to stop by Washington DC. The word about Judd’s issue here with that flower shop girl’s cousin made it’s way over to the Congresswomen and Congressman’s wives, and they’ve got their panties in a bunch. I don’t know how we’re going to clean this one up, girls.”

“Maybe I should go with you,” I heard Daisy say. “Hearing from the wife and fellow council member might help out. I can vouch for him.”

“No offense, sweetheart, but you are the last person they want to see right now.”

“What? Why? What did I do?”

“It’s what you didn’t do that’s the problem!” Sylvia barked. “How can we claim to be a collection of women with the utmost power and influence over the most dominant men on the planet when you can’t control your damn husband?”

“How was I supposed to know that he was in the same hotel we were?”

“Because you weren’t supposed to be in that hotel in the first place! You were supposed to be at your house getting ready to be a good hostess to your Diamond sisters. Oh, but, no. You had to go get revenge, didn’t you?”

“Like no one in here has ever done the same.”

“Of course we have, Daisy, but we … were not … as sloppy as you were! You know why? Because we stuck to the system. You know we have people we can call if any of us feel the need to have an itch scratched. It’s one of the reasons I keep one foot in the sex industry. Our husbands have prostitutes; we have porn stars! Literal porn stars with flawless bodies and monsters between their legs, but you go off and call the same service that we know our spouses use? And end up in the same hotel a few doors down the hall from him? What is wrong with you?”

“Don’t get me wrong, Sylvie. The porn guys are great. Really, they are, but I didn’t just want my itch scratched. Hazel’s guy was gentle, and nice, and he cuddled with me, and talked to me. He really talked to me.”

“Well now he’s not talking to anybody because he’s dead.”

I felt my skin catch fire as gasps sounded into the hallway. I wanted to run into that room and smash her head against anything that would stand still, but no. I knew it wasn’t time yet.

“That was insensitive, and completely uncalled for.”

“You know what else is insensitive and uncalled for? For you to be stupid enough to let this happen when you begged us to help transition your husband from sports to politics! The DC Diamonds weren’t happy about the idea in the first place, but now with this?”

“Camille, it hasn’t even hit the news yet.”

“Well thank God we have a doctor, police, and media in our pocket,” Sylvia sassed. “By the way, while we’re all here, when is the next shipment of girls coming in, Daisy? I’ve got orders to fill.”

“Well, had your plan of recruiting the girls from the floral shop to work for us panned out, we wouldn’t have to worry about a new shipment of girls.”

My face frowned up with the most fearful sense of bewilderment I had ever felt in my life.

Shipment of girls?

Recruiting the girls from the floral shop?

What on earth?

“Speaking of, isn’t that the reason we’re here, because of this floral shop girl?”

Damn. Is that what I’m known as around here?

“Yes,” Sylvia callously answered. “I think it’s time for us to get rid of Hazel Donato.”

“What? She just got here! Literally. She’s a two week old recruit.”

“And my daughter-in-law.”

“A fact that is subject to change very soon, Cordelia. You know that. Hell, you helped see to it.”

“We need her. We need her eyes and her shop to capture the views we cannot see in Hollywood’s underworld.”

“We don’t need her for that. Your son is still a part owner of that shop, so all we need to do is retract the divorce papers, get rid of her, and have Cordelia’s son sign over the shop to her. That way, we can take over the staff she currently has, and incorporate my boys from my and Duke’s movies, so we’ll be able to use the shop as a front to filter in the girls from the shipments. We’ll make sure everyone gets branded with the ring. That way our clients know who our boys and girls belong to, and we can all make a killing! Wasn’t that the plan?”

“The plan was to get rid of Silvana and get my son in line, not to get rid of Hazel. She is a good girl. She’s been good to my family, she was good to my son, and she’s good for this sisterhood.”

Good? She’s insubordinate. She doesn’t follow the rules. So, she can no longer be trusted.”

“Based on what?”

“Based on the fact that Hazel doesn’t follow her rules,” Cordelia defended. “That’s the real reason she wants to get rid of her, Camille.”

“We just alerted the Global Diamonds about her initiation. They would never permit you to get rid of her this quickly, especially not for that.”

“Blair is right.”

“Well, who says we can’t take care of this in-house?”

I say,” Cordelia stood. “The only way we can make a move without the Global Diamonds knowledge is if this council uniformly agrees, and I already disagree with the motion.”

“Then that’s the end of it.”

“Not so fast,” Sylvia said. “Cordelia, could I borrow you for a moment?”

I heard no verbal consent, but there were footsteps. Footsteps that sounded like they were making their way closer to me. My heartbeat accelerated. I covered my mouth in attempts to silence my heavy breathing. I told myself to move, to hide, but my body didn’t listen.

“Delia,” Sylvia’s voiced hissed behind me on the other side of the wall. “What is going on with you?”

“What’s going on with you? You think you can just kill anybody you want because you’re a Diamond? You’re destroying our legacy!”

“Oh, but you were all for it as long as it meant getting back at Silvana for sleeping with your son behind your back, right? Would you like the council to know that the real reason you wanted to dispose of her was because you were jealous that she chose your son over you?”

“What does that have to do with anything? Her and my old relationship doesn’t affect anybody here.”

“No, but it would put a helluva spin on your son’s little reality show career, wouldn’t it? The divorce proceedings are already killing his sexy new boyfriend turned fiancé turned husband image and making him into a snake that left his hardworking wife for Silvana The Sugar Mama. I wonder how the media would react to finding out that the woman he deserted his wife for was also sleeping with his mother before sleeping with him? But wait. Wait until the whole truth comes out that she wasn’t just sleeping with you, but your husband too. Now, she’s taken your son and you can’t handle it. Why, with that kind of information, it wouldn’t just be easy to get rid of her; it would be a breeze to pin it on you. Do you think the Diamond Secret Society values your presence enough to keep you out of jail like they’re doing for Judd and Daisy? I wonder …”

“Why are you doing this?” Cordelia cried. Her voice was shaken with fear, and it rocked me to my core. I had never heard her so scared before. “Do you want to see me in jail?”

“No, Delia, but I do want this vote to pass over. And if you are going to stand in the way of that, then I will do whatever I need to do to get you out of the way.”

“What if I’m not the only person who objects to this? What are you going to do, blackmail all of us? You can’t have us all thrown in jail, Sylvia, and you certainly can’t kill all of us without it raising some eyebrows with the Global Diamonds.”

“I am the head of the Hollywood Diamond sector, a D3S 10th Generation, the most Valuable Diamond in the Western United States. I can do whatever I want. Now, are you going to fall in line, or should I start planning your departure?”

“Sylvia. Please.”

“Ladies!” she yelled out as footsteps seemed to trail deeper into the room. “I think we’re ready. I move that we, the Diamond Secret Society, permanently remove D3S 1st Generation Hazel Yuri Donato immediately, and hereby call for a vote. According to the Diamond Secret Society Rulebook, if a newly recruited and initiated Diamond’s mentor agrees with her removal, the vote is automatically passed unless another Diamond can present a case proving she is more valuable than the Diamond who brought about the motion.”

“Well that should be easy,” I said finally stepping into the room. Slowly but surely, the confidence I originally displayed began to seep out of me when I saw the people I had to present my case to.

Cordelia had previously notified me that Sylvia, Blair, and Jewel were members, but I was blown away to see more women that I effortlessly recognized. Famous women of high stature, who were married to men of high stature, and who I did not recall seeing at any of the mandatory Diamond Secret Society meetings I was coerced to attend. Camille was Camille Doncho, the CEO of a chain of department stores that generated so much money, it had been sitting pretty on the Fortune 500 list for the past ten years. Her mentioning having to take a trip to Washington DC was beginning to make more sense to me, considering the fact that I saw an advertisement for a clothing line collaboration between her company and a high profile politician’s wife. All the women in that room – Merit Leandro Leone, Koa Kaufmann, Chuy Yoshida Aukema, Hyacinth Hajek, and Rashmi McDonald Irving – were affiliated with some of the most notorious names in, not just the country, but the world.

“Who is this?”

“I thought all the doors were locked!”

“Miss, I think you’re in the wrong place.”

“Ladies, settle down,” Sylvia ordered. “This is the young lady I’ve been talking with you all about. Meet Hazel Yuri Donato.”

“She’s not a council member, unless there’s been another change that you Hollywood Diamonds haven’t made us aware of,” Merit growled.

“No, there isn’t, but I’m glad she’s here because it further proves my point. Hazel does not follow the Diamond Secret Society code. She is not loyal to her sisters.”

“And how loyal are you? All you’ve done is force me into joining, threaten me since the day you recruited me, and now tonight, I heard you threaten Cordelia just so you can pass a vote to have me killed? Is that your definition of sisterhood? Is that what it means to be a Diamond Secret Society sister?”

“What is she talking about, Sylvia?”

“Or better yet, since it seems that a lot of you wonderful ladies have been in the dark about the Diamond news here in Hollywood, did Sylvia tell you that my cousin, who Daisy’s husband so thoughtlessly murdered, was a federal agent?” I informed as their mouth fell open and looks of fury glared in their leader’s direction.

Camille rose to her feet. “No wonder the DC Diamonds want to see me! Are you people out of your minds? Every Diamond knows that no member of the federal government is to be disposed of without the unanimous approval of all the Diamond leaders. All means Global.”

“Unless we decide to make a decision in-house like we’re doing now!”

“Uh, I don’t remember being called in to take part of that vote, Sylvia! Rashmi, do you? How about you, Chuy? Merit? Hyacinth? Koa? Yeah, see, nobody was called in for that! Is this how you’re running things here, Sylvia? Are you out here taking matters into your own hands without even consulting us, because that is not the way we do things in the Diamond Secret Society!”

“This is going to start a war,” Hyacinth huffed in frustration. “You have to know that. This is going to start a war, and I am not about to take part in a battle between the Atlantic and Pacific Diamonds because you idiots are reckless and irresponsible!”

“If they called me down there, then the war’s already begun. I’m just going to be notified of what steps will be taken as an act thereof.”

“Excuse me. I’m sorry,” I jumped back in. “If you are not part of the Hollywood Diamonds, and obviously you’re not because I’ve never seen you at the meetings, what are you doing here? How are you part of this council?”

“Geez, you haven’t done anything right out here, have you, Sylvia? Why does your new initiate not know how Diamonds are positioned? You know what? Don’t bother answering that. Hazel, was it? The council that meets here in Hollywood is a collective of the most prominent Diamonds in the Western United States. Although I was born in Maryland, and initiated into the Diamond Secret Society of Washington DC when I attended Georgetown, my corporation’s headquarters and my place of residence is in Oregon, which granted me the option of identifying myself as either an Atlantic Diamond or a Pacific Diamond. I chose the latter.”

“A decision that you will never be able to make, Hazel,” Sylvia shadily assured. “Not now that we’ve taken the vote.”

“Uh, hang on there, speedy. We haven’t taken the vote yet.”

“I have her mentor supporting my decision, Koa. You can’t override that! You don’t have the seniority.”

“Oh, this bitch,” Rashmi blurted out. “You are really getting beside yourself.”

“She has yet to prove that her presence with the Diamonds is more valuable than mine.”

“Sylvia, you’re blackmailing people into become members. You killed a federal agent without anyone’s knowledge or approval. The DC Diamonds have called me in – nine times out of ten – for this reason.”

“You don’t know that for certain.”

“Damn it, Sylvie!” Cordelia cried. “Why do you always underestimate other people’s intelligence? How stupid do you think people are?”

“Delia, shut up!”

I waved my hands in the air to get everyone’s attention, and despite all the yelling and screaming that was going on, it actually worked. “I think I can shut this down fairly quickly.” I stated before flipping open the inside of my shirt to show a bug. “I’ve been recording you ever since I came through the door. You want me to prove that I’m more valuable than Sylvia? Here it is. Every single one of you who know someone who has used my company’s sex escort services, your floral baskets were bugged. Our attendance at the Serpents & Sirens party? Everyone I came with was bugged. Hidden microphones. Hidden cameras. I’ve got it all. I have enough dirt on the people in this town to ruin your family names and kill the dreams of your nonexistent great-grandchildren! But, if you leave me and mine alone, no one will know anything. If you don’t, I will expose this entire society, starting with the Hollywood sector.”

“She can’t do that! If any of the secrets she knows leak out, it will be the end for all of us and our husband’s careers,” Daisy yelled, giving me a feeling of deja vu. I remembered her saying similar words when I mentioned that I wanted to shut down my shop at the first Diamond Secret Society meeting I was invited to.

Your husband’s career and Sylvia’s terrible decision making skills are the reason we’re all in this mess!”

“Chuy, calm down,” their host said in such a soothing tone that it made me uncomfortable. “There is a simple solution to all of this.”

“What is that, Sylvia?”

“We kill her, just like I said.”

“We what?”

“This woman is insane.”

“What’s insane is letting her live now knowing that she has been recording every bit of this conversation and hearing her threaten to expose us. Expose all of us, and our families, and our families’ futures. Look! She is standing right here. If we kill her, and take the device off of her, no one will ever know anything. Don’t you see? Getting rid of her is the only way we can save ourselves. Even if you didn’t agree with me before, after hearing her threats and seeing that she can’t be trusted, how can you not agree with me now?”

A deafening silence filled the room.

The most brutal of its kind.

Standing there …

Waiting for someone to speak …

Searching the silence for a sound that would side with me …

Instead of Sylvia.

But that’s not what I heard.

“Well, she did say that she had secrets on everyone in this town. She didn’t mention anyone else, so maybe Sylvia’s right. If we get rid of her, we’ll do more hurt than harm. We’ll be saving the entire Diamond Secret Society.”

“That’s right,” Koa nodded backing Hyacinth. “This isn’t just about saving ourselves; it’s about saving the sisterhood as a whole. If she has a federal agent in her circle, there’s no telling what other secret she knows about us or any of the other Diamonds.”

My eyes filled with tears as I noticed Sylvia’s sickening smile. “In that case, I move for us to vote again. All in favor of permanently removing D3S 1st Generation Hazel Yuri Donato immediately, say Yay. All opposed, Nay. Merit?”

“Yay.”

“Koa.”

“Yay.”

“Chuy.”

“Yay.”

“Hyacinth.”

“Yay.”

“Rashmi.”

“Yay.”

“Jewel.”

A heavy sigh left her lips as she frowned at me. “Sylvia, I don’t want to do this.”

“The council is waiting for your answer. Yay or Nay?”

“I’m so sorry, Hazel. I’m so sorry.”

“Jewel!”

“Yay.”

“Blair.”

“Is this really necessary?”

“Damn it, Blair!”

“Fine! Yay.”

“Cordelia.”

I saw tears fall from her eyes over her cheeks. Her sniffles let me know they were heartfelt, and the look in her eyes as she glanced at mine made me want to join her in a similar display of emotion. But I was too angry. Angry at Sylvia’s abuse of power. Angry that she had such an incredible influence over this room that all of these women who were supposed to be fearless leaders of the companies they worked for and the homes they ran were nothing more than impressionable sheep at the end of the day, all in the name of power.

This was what I was forced to join. This is what I was having trouble finding my way out of. But I found irony in the fact that the same thing that lead me into this secret life – blindly and sheepishly following someone else – was going to be the thing that led me to my death.

“Sylvie …”

“Delia. Make … a … decision. It’s Hazel, or yourself and your family. Which is more important to you?”

A voice yelling STOP caused all of us to look toward the open doorway. To my surprise, there stood my mother and Chloe. They strutted into the room like they owned the world while I was still trying to figure out how they knew where I was.

“Who is this now?”

“Mom? Chloe? What are you guys doing here?”

“I put a tracker on your car, Haze. There was no way in hell I was going to let you make this trip on your own.”

“Which one of you is Sylvia?” my mom asked with fire in her eyes. “I’m about to put your head through a wall.”

“Uh, mom, this is not the time to try to act like …”

“Oh, I’m not acting like anything. She clearly doesn’t know who you are and what you come from.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Oh, please. Do enlighten me. What, did I miss something among you and your husband’s tragic backgrounds like a gang affiliation or Hawaiian mafia connection to go along with your criminal past?”

“Yeah, you did. Y’all come on in here,” she called into the hallway.

My mouth fell as I saw Chloe’s mom and my aunt for all intents and purposes standing beside a ghostly vision. But before I could collapse to the floor, my legs carried me over to the living embodiment of my dead cousin. I felt flesh. I saw the life in his cheeks and the light in his eyes.

“Frankie? Wait. What? How is this possible?”

“I’ll explain it to you later, cousin. For right now, let mommy do her thing.”

“My name is Vienna Lin Ventura. I am Hazel’s aunt, and a Diamond Secret Society council member from the Manila sector.”

“Manila? In the Philippines? This is none of your concern.”

“I’m a Diamond, darlin’. It’s all of my concern. And since I heard that you are trying to dispose of my niece like she’s a piece of garbage, I am here to argue on her behalf.”

“Wait a minute. That doesn’t count. She’s the daughter of a man and a woman who were wards of the state. Come to think of it, so are you, so your claim of being her aunt is invalid. You’re not biologically connected.”

“Oh, yes we are,” Aunt Vienna assured handing Sylvia a sheet of paper. “For your convenience.”

“Sylvie, what’s it say?” Cordelia anxiously questioned.

“It’s documentation showing that Vienna is biologically related to Hazel’s mother, so she is her aunt by blood making her a Blood Diamond.”

“Keep reading,” Aunt Vienna advised. Moments later, Sylvia plopped down in her chair, seemingly irritated. “Would you like to do the honors or shall I?”

“What? What is it?”

“Not only is Hazel Yuri Donato a Blood Diamond through me and her mother’s side of the family, she is also a Blood Diamond through her father.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Hazel baby, your father’s biological mother was a Diamond. So was ours. The reason we were all placed in the foster care system was because they were in high-profile positions where a child, or children in me and your mom’s case, was not beneficial to their lifestyles. So we were, for lack of a better word, disposed of … but somehow, some way, for some God-given reason, each of our mothers had people keep an eye on us. People who helped move us along through the system. People who made sure nothing too egregious happened to us as we stumbled through life without them.”

“How did you find all of this out?”

“I work for the government,” she told as my eyes enlarged with shock. “My background was one of the first things I looked into once I made my way up in ranks.”

“So, if you’re a Diamond and the generation before you were Diamonds, I’m a D3S 3rd Generation, right?”

“Oh, no, sweetheart. We come from a long line of Diamonds. A very long line dating as far back as the first Diamond Secret Society meeting. You, my darlin’, are a Perfect Diamond. Therefore, you, the whole lot of us, and anybody we stand for to protect … are completely untouchable.”

I closed my eyes and sighed in relief as my body hit the floor. I couldn’t believe it. Everything I was worried about, everyone I was worried about, all taken care of in one fell swoop. I was severely confused, but sublimely happy, and in the midst of my varied disorientation, I asked the only question that was circling in my mind.

“So, what do we do now, Aunt Vienna?”

“You, go home. Your team and your daddy’s waiting for you. Tell everybody that everything has been taken care of. I’ll meet y’all there soon.”

“Well, what are you going to do?”

“The Hollywood Diamonds and I have some business to discuss.”

“Oh my God,” Sylvia uttered shakily. “You’re a Polisher, aren’t you?”

“What’s a Polisher?”

“A Perfect Diamond who corrects the flaws in other Diamonds.”

Once again, I did not remember asking for a riddle, and couldn’t understand why my question was being answered with one. “What does that even mean?”

“The Global Diamonds are unhappy with the way Sylvia has been running this sector. We are disappointed by your decision to ignore our rules and enforce your own. We are appalled and disgusted to hear that you are taking bright young women in this world and selling them off to the highest bidder. This is not what Diamonds do. Diamonds raise the bar. Diamond inspire dreams. Diamonds shine brightly. Diamonds mirror elegance and grace and uplift the masses. We do not cut each other!” she hollered in a tone that encouraged a gasp from everyone in the room. “It is clear to me that you’ve become so muddled with deviousness that you have forgotten our values, so yes, I am here to take you to the Global council so they can determine your fate.”

Part of me wanted to jump for joy for the glorious presence of karma, but the whole of me couldn’t do it. All I could think about was Andreas’s face, and the pain he’d feel without his mother. Despite her many faults and the heartache she caused his father, Andreas forgave her and loved her. Who were the Diamonds to take that away from him? Furthermore, who was I to tell them they couldn’t?

“Aunt Vienna, by chance is there a rule that allows a Perfect Diamond to overrule such a judgment call before it proceeds to the Global Diamond council?”

She shook her head. “No, but you can choose to advocate for her in front of them, if you like.”

“Then, yes. May I?”

“Dare I ask why?”

“Because I am a Perfect Diamond, she is my Diamond sister, and I’m in love with her son.”

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