“YOU MADE a mistake,” Sallen repeated. “You said it yourself, you only caught a glimpse of her before she disappeared behind the crowd.” Vivienne crossed and recrossed her arms over her chest.
“It was Allison,” Vivienne said, tersely. “I know what I saw. I told you, I asked Simon about it and he said there was never a girl named Allison Devon at the Pearl Tower. Don’t you think that is suspicious?”
“This is Simon we’re taking about here. He can barely remember our names, never mind a girl from three years ago.” Sallen repeated.
“How can anyone forget a girl like Allison?” Vivienne asked. “Do you think a single boy back home stopped praying for the day when Allison would come back home and pick one of them to be her boyfriend?’
Sallen chucked and gestured out the window. “Hello! This is Coral City. Everyone is beautiful here.”
Sallen was right about one thing, it seemed like everyone walking past them was young, lithe and gorgeous. It was like no one aged here. Although the sights of Coral City were incredible, Vivienne could only focus on her own reflection in the car window. The Hentons had sent a grey limo to pick them up. Their chauffeur was a rude old man with a hacking cough and warts all over his face. Vivienne wondered if Lord Henton was in the business of hiring staff that reminded him of himself.
Sallen went back to staring wide-eyed at the city. They called it the city of floating lights for a reason. At night, the gold lanterns that lined the streets made the entire city look like it was drifting under the ocean. Vivienne didn’t remember much of Coral City. She had only been here once, when her father took a part-time job arranging the books at the public library. Once, her mom went back to Ignias to visit her grandparents and there was no one to watch her at home. There were marble lions outside of the library and he left her there to climb on and off of the statues all day.
As the limo slowed down in the traffic in front of the library, Vivienne opened her window for a better look. Unfortunately, as soon as she stuck her head out the window, the people on the street started calling out her name. Vivienne forced a smile and waved back. Then she quickly rolled the tinted window back up prayed the traffic would pick up.
“They really like you,” Sallen observed. “The more you avoid them, the more they want to get close to you.”
“I just want to go back home,” Vivienne whispered.
“I want to go home sometimes, too,” Sallen said, empathetically, and then she grew serious. “But I want to be here more.”
Vivienne ran her fingers through her hair. Madame Jayer had sent one of her handmaidens to arrange her hair in curls that morning. It felt odd to feel each soft curl against her cheeks. She felt too delicate, too flimsy. They had also done Sallen’s hair differently, her hair was in braids clipped to the back of her head. Vivienne guessed that this was in line with her new role in the news as being the sad, jilted, dowager who had scrambled for a match after the Midnight Masquerade.
Vivienne didn’t like the role she was forced into as the tragic childhood lover of the prince. They seemed to constantly expect her to dress in flowing dresses, lurk in the darkness and look sad all the time. In reality, she just wanted to drive her fists into Blake’s stomach a few times and maybe land a good kick in his shin for being stupid enough to believe that joining the undead was the solution to his problems.
Vivienne knew that no matter what she would never let that happen to her. Even if she had to avenge someone she loved, she would never become so desperate as to become a monster. She couldn’t imagine herself ever making that choice. Her father said that she was different, she was special, she was the child who was always happy. Blake was weak. For all his money, his breeding and his courage, he simply made the wrong choice when it really mattered.
He would have led such a promising human life. Vivienne wondered how he could live with himself in having thrown all that away.
“Viv? Did you hear a single word I just said?”
“Hmm?” Vivienne asked as she suddenly realized that Sallen had been checking her phone and giggling.
“There’s going to be a party at Gambit Castle. We’re supposed to accompany our Anemoi there.”
“Another party?” Vivienne sighed. “I’ve only started recovering from the last one!”
“There’s more,” Sallen motioned for Vivienne to hush. “We’re supposed to keep an eye out for a woman with a scar over her left eye. She is part-demon and has been sighted trying to approach the king. She has been implicated in several suspicious deaths in the past year of members of the nobility.”
“And they want us to do what if we find her?” Vivienne asked with a roll of her eyes. “Smother her with all the chiffon and ribbons that we’re wearing? Or better yet, blind her with the all the flashing cameras that follow us everywhere?” Even as the words left her lips, Vivienne thought back to the sight she had seen through Calbert’s eyes. If Prince Mercury could take out a giant bear-like demon animal, maybe in drinking Nectar they can take on a murderous sorceress. Vivienne decided she was going to spend her time between then and the ball pressuring Calbert to show her more.
“We are Orlins now,” Sallen said solemnly, “we have a responsibility to the people of Coral City.”
“I don’t know about you but I don’t intend to die for them just because they took some pictures of me in a dress and asked me for an autograph.”
“Oh, you are hopeless, Vivienne!” Sallen replied and shoved her phone back into her pocket. “Not everyone has the luxury of being the luckiest girl in Ignias! Some of us have to work for what little scraps we get.”
Then there was silence in the backseat of the limo. Vivienne wondered if Sallen really meant it in that she was going to attempt to catch the demon in order to win her share of fame. Vivienne suddenly started worrying that this party was going to be even more chaotic than the last one.