In The Shadows

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Ch. 3: Does It Hurt?

Craning my neck, I continued to stretch my limbs, twisting my body to so that I was sure that I wouldn’t pull a muscle. Being home was nice, nostalgic, and I was able to be around with the people that I care and love the most. However, just having to be with them all day throughout dinner was exhausting. If I wasn’t with my parents and my brother, I was with Fletcher or my cousins, or my uncle and aunt. All of them wanted to have a piece of me because they missed me.

It was sweet but damn, it was so tiring and all I wanted was to be alone. After having family time with all of them, I went up to my room and was relieved that none of the maids had touched anything except place them on the bed, letting me unpack all by myself. I guess they really learned after the last time I had caught one of them touching my stuff.

Back when I haven’t left, when I was still the kind, selfless, and precious princess they knew, I was the nicest person in the house. I hung out with maids, made sure to help the cooks whenever I had the time, and even played poker with the men that were hired as bodyguards for me. After being recruited, I admit that my personality had changed and though I did not mean to be as scary as I was for that time, it was needed.

A maid had unknowingly opened one of my suitcases (thank God it was the one with my clothes though) after I had told them that I would be the one to put my things away so I freaked out on her and threatened her multiple things. Safe to say that after that encounter, none of the maids had dared to open any of my bags without permission, even if my phone was ringing inside and it was an emergency. Everybody in the house, including my family, were pretty shook about it, seeing that after ‘exploring’ my attitude had changed.

My, how things had changed.

After changing onto my sports bra and leggings, I went to the east wing of the estate, walking inside my very own studio room. It was a fourteenth birthday present from dad, telling me that I should no longer have to dance around the hallways or at their office since it was the biggest room in the estate. Ever since then, I danced, studied, and got peace there.

It had become a rule that if I was inside the studio room, nobody should disturb me while music was playing. After the music, then they could knock. It was for my safety so that I wouldn’t be distracted when I danced, making sure that the risk of me falling on my ass was less.

Placing my phone on the stereo, I chose a song randomly. It was always pop. I’ve always fused ballet with hip hop dance, it was something that always got me to let loose and then, afterwards, something more serious. Twisting my foot and placing it upfront, I shut my eyes and listened in the music, letting it play through me. Letting loose to music wasn’t as complicated as rehearsing over and over again on a ballet piece, it just relaxed me more.

“Hey, new girl.”

My eyes turned towards to meet dark ones. Her hair was bright blue, straight, and long. We were at the same height and she looked about maybe in her mid-twenties. Definitely older than me and definitely beautiful. Her outfit was simple—black crop top, black jeans, and black heels. “I’m Sapphire. I’ve been assigned to be your guide, trainer, and partner here at Nightkiss. You do well here and not piss anyone off, you’ll be good.”

Nodding, I followed her inside the estate. It was definitely bigger than our home and there were more people here than I could count. They all stared at me in curiosity, their eyes raking over me, taking my appearance which only constituted of denim jeans and a shirt that said ‘The Beagles’ with four pictures of beagles with their respective costumes and wigs that represented the members of the band The Beatles.

Should’ve definitely changed before I left the house.

“How old are you?”

“Nineteen.”

“And how do you know Daniel?”

I shrugged. “I, I don’t. Um, he found me in my house. I don’t know how but I—”

“Okay, first off,” she twirled where she stood, sending me stern look. “when you’re asked questions by anyone here, you give short-ended answers. You don’t tell them where he found you, who brought you in, why he brought you here in the first place. I’ve only asked two questions and already your answers are telling me that as young as you are, you are also as innocent as you look. This world we live in is corrupt. If you’re going to survive, adapt.”

Nodding, I pushed my hair back. “I know.”

She cocked a brow. “Excuse me?”

“I know it’s a corrupt world,” I answered clearly, irritation taking over my tone for the way she just spoke to me. I know she was warning me but treating me like the way my family had treated me just sent me over the edge. “I’m not stupid. I may not know as much as you but I know damn well from my family that the world is fucked up no matter how much they coddle me.”

“Who’s your family?”

When I only stared at her, she scoffed. “I’m your guide, trainer, and partner. We’re building trust. Tell me. All I know is your first name.”

“I only know of your fake name.”

“How do you know it’s fake?”

I puffed out a breath, crossing my arms against my chest. Then, she smiled at me, wiggling her finger in front of me. “Good. You’ll definitely survive in this world, kid. Now, come on. I’ll show you first the weaponry room, then training room, kitchen, dining room, and then your room. You’ll be bunking with me as we will be together 24/7.”

Nodding once more, I followed her lead, taking in everything she was saying on which rooms was which, what not to do, who not to cross, who I can befriend, and other things. Afterwards, we ended up on the room that we were going to share and as I sat, she took a blade from her waistband, grabbed my hand, and placed the blade on top of my palm.

“Welcome to the Nightkiss, kid.”

In a second, I missed my footing as I took a turn, falling backwards. It was a good thing that I managed to break my fall by my elbows but my tailbone was still hit. It wasn’t that harsh but I was sure that it was going to be bruise for the next few hours and that I was going to be sore.

I laid on the ground, breathing heavily.

Pain was something that I was familiar with. Not only because I was an assassin trained to be familiarized with it but because I had already experienced it ever since I was a kid and had taken up dancing. There were tumbles that I had taken that lead to my body being bruised, dislocated, or even broken at harsh times.

My eyes closed, waiting for the pain to subside slightly but it wasn’t even a minute before my father came in barreling through the door and running towards me, kneeling. “Are you okay? Does it hurt?”

If there was someone that I would have always have to count on to be there when I fall, it was my father. Sure, Caio and I were close like siblings would but nothing would beat the father-daughter relationship that dad and I have. It had always been like that ever since they found out that the child mom was carrying for the second time was a girl.

Smiling softly, I gave a small nod. Immediately, he took my hand and pulled me upright, making me lean against him, letting his front be the support to my back. “How long were you watching me dance?”

“Just about a couple minutes,” he voiced out and based on the way his breath hitched for a millisecond, I knew that it was a lie.

Before I even went and became part of Nightkiss, I would have never been able to detect whether or not someone was lying to me. Now, I began to notice everything—the slightest movement of a foot, a finger, or the corner of one’s lips could indicate a lot. It was always entertaining for me to detect a person’s future movements. It gave me a lead to what to do before they could even pull anything on me.

Nodding, I took a deep breath and raised my hand up in the air. A sign that my father took as he stood up, grabbed my hand, and helped me back up. My lower back didn’t feel good but it wasn’t the worst pain for me to experience and I was still able to work normally towards the stereo that was still playing music, so it was okay.

When I turned it off and turned around to find dad walking to me, wrapping a towel around my neck to cover my upper part of the body. He never liked it when I walked around the house in a sports bra—actually, all of the men of the family never liked it. They always told me that they notice men that work for us sneak glances at me and their eyes portrayed something of a not-so-innocent imagination.

Thanking him, we walked out and I had let him walk me back to my room. Glancing up at him, I couldn’t help but smile. Even if I had taken mom’s nose and lips, I was every bit of my father through and through. Sometimes, I think that’s why he’s so protective of me, because we’re so alike.

Noticing me staring at me, he cocked a brow. “Yes, Principessa?”

“Nothing,” I shook my head. “Just thinking how I missed home.”

“Well, leaving for six months would do that to you,” he nudged me with his elbow. I chuckled. “I know you said you were doing good for those six months and you even showed us pictures that proved you were having fun, Principessa…”

“Dad,” I nudged him back, the two of stopping on our tracks in front of my room. He still looked so worried. The thing is, lying to your family about where I was and what I was doing was always hard on me but because I knew the consequences of revealing who I really was, I had gotten used to it a long time ago. “I’m okay. It was good. Next time, I’ll visit you and mom’s home country.”

He frowned. “I wish you wouldn’t leave so much.”

Shaking my head once more, I opened my mouth to respond when my work phone rang. To my dad, it might have just been my usual phone where the ringtone is the same but the loud vibrations coming from inside indicated that it wasn’t. “I’ll have to take that, dad. See you at dinner?’

With a sigh of disappointment, he nodded, letting me go inside and take the black phone from my drawer. “Midnight.”

“Sent a case to your secured email. Check it.” Then, the line went dead.

Shutting my head, I released a breath. It hasn’t been a week and I was going to have to work again.

Suddenly, the pain on my back was prominent.

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