At finding her and Julian standing in front of her, her aunt screamed and very nearly had a heart attack.
Jess waited for recognition to kick in and her aunt to be relieved to see them, but it never came.
She had to hand it to Kellum. He tried to warn her. He tried to halt her from popping in to say hi, I’m home.
She just hadn’t been in the mood to listen to him.
Her aunt was still screaming when Jess tried to think back over anything said after Dez’s announcement, “Welcome home, my Queen.”
Aunt Sarah telling them to get out of her home floored her enough that she just stood there staring at the older woman. That and the baby in her arms. Had they really been gone that long?
Sure, it felt like an eternity, but had it really been long enough for her baby cousin to already be here? She’d missed everything.
Kellum followed and still trying to explain. “Jessalynn, I can explain everything. If you would accompany me_____.”
“Aunt Sarah, you can stop screaming. It’s just Jess.” Her sister announced, as she entered the room.
By now the baby was out screaming her aunt and drowning out everyone, but Jess only had eyes for her sister.
She looked the same. Except for the weariness around her eyes. Except for the cool detachment in her stance.
Where had the little girl who always threw herself into her sister’s arms go?
Her baby sister stood hand and hand with Jetidi and she split her attention between her aunt and the screaming baby and the two teenagers standing nearby.
Jetidi had his eyes down casted and his head bowed.
“Thad honey, mommy is sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. Mommy is sorry. Hush, baby boy. Hush, my love. Mel, are these friends of yours? And where did they come from? They just appeared out of nowhere.”
Not the way she pictured her homecoming.
That was over two weeks ago. Not much has changed since then. Her aunt remembered who she was now, but things were still tensed between all of them. Mel might not have forgotten her, but Jess felt like she barely knew her sister. The quiet girl who moved silently around the house and who was always glued to a freaky alien boy was not the sister she knew and loved.
Sighing, Jess moved closer to the baby crib.
Thaddeus Michael Rue laid sleeping peacefully. It must be so nice to be so clueless to the world around you.
Julian’s arms went around her, and he pulled her closer so he could whisper in her ear. “I’ve been looking for you. Aren’t you afraid of waking that spawn of Satan?”
Her little cousin did have a set of lungs on him that could put anyone to shame. He was also very moody and temperamental.
Unless you caught him in rare moments like this one, he was always red and did slightly resemble a little demon. He was a handful. And completely adorable. When he was sleeping, and trust her, when she said that wasn’t often.
“I swear he hates me. The only time I can get around him is when he’s like this.”
Julian’s arms tightened around her. “In case you haven’t noticed, babe, he hates everyone.”
She sighed again and blinked them out of there. No way was she going to chance waking him.
Once in her room, she threw herself on her bed. That was her new plan for her life. To stay in this bed forever, wearing these warmups and t-shirt. No combing her hair, no washing. Just laying here.
Julian crossed his arms over his chest and stared her down.
For the last few days, he’s been very vocal about not liking her new plan. She stuck her tongue out at him. Until he could come up with a better one, she was sticking with hers.
She couldn’t leave this room without someone bowing to her. Her family have been abducted by the invasions of the body snatchers. Don’t even get her started about Dez and his new jobs for her. She was not going to rule a new kingdom. She could barely manage to take care of herself.
No rephrase that, she couldn’t manage to take care of herself.
Her life was one giant hole of sucking, oozing, cesspool of pus and shit. Shit and flies. And worms.
Realizing he wasn’t getting anywhere with her; Julian sighed and did what he’s done their whole life. He joined her in her hole of sucking, oozing, cesspool of pus, shit, worms, and flies. “How long are we going to pout over this turn of events?”
His arms offered the comfort she needed. “She remembers you. She finally gave you that lecture about never shutting your family out again, that you’ve been looking forward to for months.”
Yeah, but it wasn’t the same. Her aunt might remember her but there was distance between them.
It pissed her off because she couldn’t figure out if it’s because she abandoned her family, or because she was erased from their memories.
“How could they do that?” She asked very softly, almost hoping he didn’t hear how pathetic she sounded. “Am I really so horrible that they’d make it where I was never born? I swear even the damn dog doesn’t remember me.”
“I swear to God I’m going to kill those sons of bitches.”
Threats like that is why Kellum had sent the advisors to one of the other cities. Julian threatened them daily, and as soon as Aunt Sarah remembered both of them and realized what happened, she hunted for a weapon. Jess heard through the grapevine that even Frick had threatened to do bodily harm to them.
Julian was waiting for her to want to hurt them, but she couldn’t get beyond too hurt to be pissed.
Everything the advisers did was to keep her from being queen, and here she was, queen. Except that she wasn’t. She refused to be.
“Those dickless asses will get theirs one day, I promise. That’s the perfect punishment. I’ll make them all dick______.”
Smiling a little, she covered his mouth with a finger. “You know who, is listening.”
“I hope so. He needs a detailed report on what I’m going to do to those______.”
This time she put her whole hand over his mouth. “You’re so adorable when you’re being psycho.”
“I’m not joking, baby. If you don’t get out of this depression soon, I’m going to hurt someone.”
Seeing that he was serious was just the kick she needed. “Okay, baby. You’re right.”
His eyes widen dramatically. “I am?”
“Don’t get used to it. Things could be worse, right?”
“Right.” Smiling, he gave her a huge kiss. “What do you feel like doing first? Pigging out or maiming someone?”
Jess bit her bottom lip and traced his lips as she thought about what she wanted to do. Since lying in bed and feeling sorry for herself was no longer on the table then she should do something productive.
Aunt Sarah was coming along. Dez has been reassuring Jess daily that now that her aunt could remember her that her confusion would lighten up over time.
It couldn’t be easy not having a niece, then having an eighteenth-year old niece overnight. All the memories were there now, it was just that her aunt could remember her not being here too.
Mel didn’t have that excuse. Her only problem was that little freak alien attached to her.
Her little sister wore that little freak alien’s mark now. That is what really pissed her off.
Jess didn’t care what Dez said. Somehow, she knew that little punk had done it on purpose and if she didn’t get her real sister back soon, he was going to be the one getting hurt.
“I want to get out of here.” She announced.
His eyes widen again. “You can’t hear them but there are some warning bells going off somewhere and everyone is being put on high alert.”
Happy with the mood he was in she kissed him hard, then climbed out of the bed. “They will have to deal. I’m getting my sister back. Dez, take down the barrier and I don’t want anyone following me.” No one may like her plan, but no one could refuse her now either. Well, almost no one.
She winked at Julian. “I’ll be back for you, babe.”