Where there's a Will, there's a Tiara

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Chapter 2: The Darkness of Morning

When my eyes fluttered open to a strange buzzing in my neck, the light that managed to reach my face stung and I blinked back tears while trying to take in my surroundings.

Where am I?

The underside of the table had some kind of squiggly blue lines all over it, but between the hangover and the mascara caking my eyes together, it was impossible to identify where I was. When I tried to sit up, the loud crack of my head meeting the leg of the table echoed through the entire room and I heard bare feet approaching me on the tile floor.

“Adelaide?” Kat called out for me. “Is that you? Where are you?”

Her voice sounded as groggy as I felt. “Yes, I’m here and I need pain meds and sausages.”

“What is with you and the sausages?” Her voice had moved into the kitchen and the vague sound of water hitting the glass accompanied the jingle of medicine in the bottle. Oh good, at least I’m at Kat’s house and not… Nico’s.

“Here,” she said, handing me the headache medicine and a glass of water. “Maybe if we just sit on the floor, it will feel better.”

I downed the pill with three large gulps from the glass. “You think?” My eyes were still struggling to adjust to the bright light of morning.

“I don’t know. Maybe we should consider partying less on days where we’re supposed to go to work?”

“Are you suggesting being responsible, Kat? Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?”

“Your best friend won’t be back until this headache finally stops,” she groaned and buried her head in her hands. A small groan escaped her lips, and she rubbed the back of her neck.

I dipped my head between my knees, trying to stop the room from spinning. “So are we going to Jan’s birthday thing tonight, then?”

“Are you seriously asking me that right now?”

“We made it back to your place and didn’t let Nico in so I’d say we were responsible enough to trust our judgement.”

Another buzz shook across the floor near me and my still closed eyes didn’t help my hand pat across the floor to find the source of the buzzing which I now knew to be my phone. Finally, my hand contacted the phone, and I squinted my eyes open to peek at the bright screen.

A grinding sound from the street was the only noise that accompanied me as my eyes finally adjusted enough to read the screen. Delightful.

“Eighty-two missed calls from my mother?” I practically screamed.

“Keep it down, will you?” A half-hearted punch to my shoulder accompanied Kat’s groan.

“But Kat, you don’t understand, my mother called me eighty-two times. You know what happened the last time she did this? She made me come home for some kind of course and told me if I didn’t start listening she’d—”

“Write you out of the will. I know. I was there.”

“Yes,” I sighed, throwing my hands in the air. “And I’d been doing so well pretending to be a mature adult or whatever and now she is going to ride my tail for days.”

“You could just turn it off. What’s a few more hours at this point?” She swiped at my arm, apparently trying to knock my phone out of my hands.

“No, that will just make it worse. It’s already…” I looked at the clock. “It’s already after nine in the morning and if I leave it any longer, she’s going to know I saw it. Or slept in. Either one is bad.”

“Can you at least do it somewhere else?” she shouted, almost immediately covering her ears to protect her head from her own shouting. “I’m going to die.”

“Well, figure out how not to die because we’re going out tonight.”

I pushed myself up off the floor and my head and shoulder throbbed in unison but the room was no longer spinning. I’ll just grab a glass of water and then check the messages to see what she wants before I reply.

I was halfway through a glass of water and about to open the messages for what was sure to be a lecture about responsibility when my phone rang again. My mom’s name lit up the screen.

The last of my water would have to stay in the glass for now. Best to get it over with as soon as possible. I swallowed my nerves and put down my glass, trying to put on my awake voice, though I knew she’d never be fooled.

“Hello,” I croaked into the phone. Betrayed by my own voice in less than two words.

“Hello, is this Ms. Becker?” a gruff voice on the other end of the line asked.

“You are not my mother,” I said, my brain working in overdrive to figure out why on earth I had picked up the phone to someone else’s name. And why I had thought it was my mother. Kat struggled to her feet and crossed the living room toward the kitchen.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“Ms. Becker?” the gruff voice said again. If he hadn’t known my name, I would have hung up the phone right there. This was obviously something my mom was setting up to test me or whatever.

“Yes. Sorry, this is Ms. Becker. You can call me Adelaide,” I took a shaky breath and continued. “May I ask who’s calling?”

“I’m sorry I have to tell you this over the phone Ms. Becker. Is anyone there with you?”

“Yes. Yes I’m with a friend.”

“I’m sorry to tell you this, Ms. Becker, but there’s been an accident. Your parents passed away early this morning.”

What kind of sick joke is this?

Deep in my stomach, the pit started to grow. There is no way my mother would allow anyone to use her phone to perpetuate such a crass joke. There was only one logical explanation. My parents were…

I couldn’t even think the word, so when Kat asked me what was going on, I just handed her the phone, hoping the man whose name I never received was still on the line.

“Yes, thank you,” she finally said before hanging up the phone. “Adelaide are you okay?”

No.

And then the floodgates opened.

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