Reads: 22

When I groggily wake up the following morning, I find myself lying on the couch pressed against Annette’s back. She looks like she passed out too. I find it funny holding her in my arms, considering our size. Yes, this is cringy as hell, but this is the level of closeness we’ve...arrived at.

I hate it…but...next to her, I get the best damn sleep I’ve ever had in my entire life...no, I’ll give her 2nd place considering how she wakes me, giving Vincent that title. I shift, glancing around...the basement is packed with family members. My head pounds when I sit up for a better view. I groan, and all eyes turn to me.

“Why do you have to wake up so noisy.”.

Annette snuggles into the back of the couch as I lean down to her ear. “So that annoys you.”.

She hits me...hard. I fly off the couch...smashing against the wall on the other side of the room...……. I hate when Annette fucking hits me, it always bruises for a few hours. I can confirm that my body heals faster...since I’ve been with her. Before, I never even got a hang nail...but this damned woman paints bruises on me on regular bases! That aching, burning, teeth-pulling annoying pain starts up inside of me! It’s louder than it usually is...Annette has pissed me off already! “Dammit, Annette, that fucking hurt!”. I lie on the floor, glaring at her back. My body even put a nice little crater in the stoned wall.

“You will live.”.

Annette doesn’t even look back to see if I’m alright. How does a simple backhand hurt so goddamn much?! A wave of nausea washes over me when I stand up, but I ignore it. I would typically drop this exchange with her, but that shit hurt a bit tooo much...annnd I didn’t deserve it. Nope, this calls for retaliation. I fill a cup from the bar with something...doesn’t matter what, then ease over to the couch. “Revenge!”. I drench her face with the potent liquid.

Annette is pissed when she bolts upright, and I take off running. The couch practically screams as I flee through the sea of people...who are on the ground...kneeling…weird…... I don’t have time to think about it.

“You are dead! You little punk!”.

True, I know I am, but this is sooo worth it. Zipping up the stairs and bursting out the door, I run to the courtyard before she catches up to me. Annette snatches me up by my oversized shirt, which I smirk, wiggling out of. She reaches for me, but I’ve already moved.

“What’s the matter, old woman, moving a little too slow there.”.

Annette’s jaw tightens as those green eyes turn to fiiiiire! Old woman is the icing on the cake for me...I’m so having a funeral this day, but as I said, worth it! The ground starts shaking, and I bet it’s Annette’s doing. She launches at me as I scramble for my footing, but I drop to the grass, rolling out of her reach.

For some decent time, she chases me around, and I can tell she’s a little impressed that I managed to dodge her so far, but when I smirk, Annette snatches me up by my undershirt. Honestly, all the rolling around has done wonders for my stomach. She shakes me relentlessly like I’m some fucking doll she doesn’t want to play with.

“Annette! I’m getting sick!”.

She draws me back in 1 hand, then throws me into the pond. Her aim is fucking perfect. I splash dead in the center...I’m just going to lie here and pretend I can’t swim. For all she knows, I’ve never been in water…which I haven’t in this life. I flail a little sending some bubbles up, then smirk, seeing Annette has dived in.

It only takes a few seconds, but she has us out of the pond, holding me out in front of her. She’s giving me this...funny as hell blank stare. “You can swim, could you not?”.

I keep my face straight. “I’ve never been in water before.”. Annette immediately drops me, walking off. “Ow!”. I burst out laughing, rolling on the ground.

“Remember this.”. Annette glances over her shoulder at me, making that threat ominous as hell.

I know she’ll get me back, but this was, again, soooo worth it. I laugh harder until Annette pauses….. Oh no…no no no no no! A gust of wind pulls me up way way way above the ground. “Ooookay...you...wiiiin!”. My stomach really isn’t liking this. Annette laughs, sending me back up in the air. “Annnnnette, I conceeeeede!”. All I get in return is her fucking laughter as I rise and fall...again...and again….and -

“Are you 2 children!”. Kent burst into the backyard, fuming, with Anthony on his heels, looking just as pissed.

“I told you all to keep them hidden!”.

I then notice our...audience. The basement group followed us up. They look away from Anthony’s gaze when he reaches them. Annette finally lowers me to the ground...and I can’t hold it in any longer, yes...I puke where I lay. Annette burst out laughing again, turning away. I simply wipe my mouth once I’ve gotten that out of my system. “Revenge.”.

“You are just going to lose again, you little punk.”.

“Enough, you 2!”.

Kent’s voice is on a whole other level. The pitch alone grants him the entire yard’s attention…... Standing beside him are 2 out of my 4 siblings.

“Oh...shit.”, Annette and I mutter out.

Paula burst out laughing. “You 2 have made my day.”.

I dust myself off, standing beside Annette...ignoring that...laughter. “Who are these 2?”.

Annette flicks my forehead. “Use your brain.”.

“I mean their names, you violent – gracious woman.”. Her glare made me change my words around there.

“Olivia and Beatrice, what do you want?”.

The blond’s pretty face scrunches up, but the other 1 doesn’t react.

“We came to meet our Sister.”.

Nothing in the blond’s voice says so. In fact, she sounded like she growled out the word ‘sister’…... Annette seriously doesn’t know how to introduce anyone. How am I supposed to tell who is who – Know what, it doesn’t matter, I’m not interested, but I still glance at Annette. Her I don’t give a shit personality is annoying as hell….. I wonder if I was this hard to deal with before my death.……... Nah! I was never this stubborn, unreasonable, childish, unsociable, unpredic –

Annette socks my shoulder…I skid across the grass like the rag doll I am. Revenge! I will have it! She walks into the house without a second glance at me. I lie on the ground...frustrated at – “This goddamn body!!!”.

“If you don’t remind me of Sister when she was younger.”.

“Anthony, don’t you ever say that shit again. I’m more like my Father.”.

“I don’t know, Princess, you both charged out in the open knowing you aren’t supposed to be here.”. Paula laughs again, making me roll my eyes.

“...I got a little drunk…I forgot.”. Once I’m back on my feet, I turn my attention to my sisters. “Who is who?”. The blond once again scrunches up her face. Her hatred for me is clearly there. It’s the strongest I’ve felt from anyone. The other one offers a smile taking a step forward.

“I apologize for the late introductions. I’m 1st Princess Beatrice Lux-Williams. And this is -

“2nd Princess Olivia Lux-Dormer.”.

Beatrice doesn’t seem fazed by Olivia’s interruption. They both stand, waiting for me to introduce myself…I don’t.

“You are aware of the King’s order?”.

“I’m aware.”. I look over at Olivia. She acts as if they discovered something grand finding us here. If the Moons are as strong as they claim, it’s nothing they can do. That must be why I have such a smug look on my face. Olivia isn’t pleased. Such a pretty face always in a scowl, such a shame.

“You don’t wish to see, Father?”.

I give Beatrice a look saying, we both know he isn’t there. To my surprise, she giggles.

“Beatrice, serious face.”.

Olivia glares at me like I just laughed. She’s slowly irritating me.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t expect her to be so readable.”.

Is that why people can read my mind? I’ve always been honest with my approach to anything. It has either gotten me screwed in the past or helped me. I glance over to the mind reader who has wandered closer. Paula smiles at me...giving off that plaything vibe……… I swing my eyes back to my sisters. “Can we get to the point. I’m hungover and tired.”.

“What do you know about, Father?”.

I frown at Olivia. How the hell would I know anything?! They both know he’s dead, at least.

“May I ask, is there somewhere we can talk in private?”.

“Sure, this way.”. Paula smiles at Beatrice, gesturing us to follow her.

“I don’t want to go anywhere ‘in private’ with you 2. Someone tried to kill me.”.

“They wouldn’t try anything here.”.

Kent...somehow made that sound like a threat, but I don’t care. I don’t plan on letting them have their way.

“Fair enough then.”. Beatrice doesn’t seem upset in the slightest.

“Can you just answer so I can leave!”…..

I move my eyes back to Olivia...she is on 10. “No. I have no need to. As I said, you want me dead.”.

“That’s not a secret. Father dotes on 1 daughter but freezes the rest out!”.

“That seems like an issue with him, not me. Maybe the fact that I died coming into this world meant something!”. That irritation is turning into agitation. Olivia has gotten under my skin.

“We were children ourselves. You ca -

“No, but you aren’t innocent anymore. I was and still is, but that didn’t stop you from wanting to kill me.”, I say, interrupting Olivia. I’ve become...a little hostile without realizing it. I’m holding her jacked up by her jumpsuit...which is funny seeing my height. She has some inches over me, but she or Beatrice isn’t nearly as tall as the Moons.

“How did you move so fast?”.

The same question seems to be playing in Olivia’s eyes. I can tell they took those rumors to heart. I release Olivia, taking a step back. Something else is swirling in her blue eyes…that I don’t want to know. “Tell whoever it is trying to lure me back to send an order with my name on it. The name my parents gave me and the name my Father called me.”.

While Olivia’s eyes clear, Beatrice’s brow draws together. That’s right, it’ll prove Vincent is dead, which I don’t think is needed. I don’t understand why everyone wants to pretend he’s alive. That pain from the Broken Bond is real. Most of my energy is spent keeping that in check.

“We can work with this. If the request can’t be met -

“It will prove someone is impersonating the King.”, Paula says, cutting Beatrice off.

“Why can’t they just force you back?”.

Olivia clearly doesn’t care about that. She is giving me 1 prominent glare. “Once again I don’t want the throne. And they wouldn’t, with my beastly moth” –

I’m suddenly slung into the air back into the pond. Revenge! On instinct, I swim to the surface this time…fuck…...

“I thought you could not swim.”.

I look up at Annette and her smug ass face. “I’m a fast learner.”. She smirks at my mumbling as Anthony moves in front of her.

“Sister, you 2 have been at it all morning. Let’s call a temporary cease-fire.”. He helps me up, then leads me into the main house.

I clean up, change into something that finally fits, then search for a nice resting place. After all that excitement this morning, I’m tired, so I head back to the courtyard. Even though I don’t like the outdoors, it’s way too many people inside. I can’t nap in that atmosphere.

As I lay under the single tree, I let my eyes drift around the courtyard. It’s more so grass/plants than anything. It has a few walkways leading to the other various homes/ buildings. I don’t have a clue what they are. The white stoned main house is in a crooked L-shape, and the opening is the backyard. It’s like a mansion size big, but other than the pond, this place doesn’t offer anything else. I close my eyes. It’s like the complete opposite of that castle. Even the way they dress...again, in jumpsuits or pants, but simple. What does this world have against dresses? I haven’t seen 1 yet.

“Baby sister.”….. There goes my sleep. I open my eyes to see Beatrice settling down beside me. “It would make sense that you’d prefer quiet locations. It seems Father truly wished for you not to take part in this war.”.

“What war?”.

“It’s intended for us to fight each other for the throne.”. She doesn’t sound the least bit interested in winning. “Naming an heir would have saved us from this fate, but Father never wanted to discuss that.”.

“Either way naming a successor or not, whoever wants that power will force their way in.”.

Beatrice doesn’t respond, making me believe she’s thinking something over. I do notice how she’s not putting up the facade of him still being alive.

“You haven’t been trained the way we have. Perhaps that’s why you feel so grounded. My Baby sister, I don’t wish to harm either of my siblings -

“Then don’t. Out of the 4 of you, I’m sure you can find a civil solution. Whether Father wanted you to fight or not has nothing to do with what you decide to do in the end. It’s your choice to be used or take control for yourself.”.

Beatrice falls silent again, taking in what I said. It’s the kind of silence I used to enjoy with Vincent. It startles me a bit, making me glance over as she smiles to herself.

“You are my sister. I feel this without any doubt.”. Beatrice stands, and I watch her brush herself off. She is way more dignified than Olivia, and I put together. “I will leave you with this to think about, Baby sister. Someone is plotting for the throne beyond the shadows. They only care that a Lux nor Moon isn’t part of the next royal family. Your blood and your family are something you can’t run away from. This peace will be a faint memory with the coming months.”. She bows then stroll off like she didn’t just say anything crazy…..

Her words agitate me, remembering what Tony said yesterday. I wouldn’t be going through this if I had died and stayed dead. Why was I brought here? I’m starting not to like this damn place.

“A very cryptic message.”. Paula’s voice disturbs my thoughts. My eyes move up to the tree..... Really, spying. “Hey, I was here 1st.”. She grins, making me doubt that. “Father has already thought someone wants to destroy our family with the royal 1.”. Paula jumps out of the tree and then sits down next to me.

“Other than Leon?”.

She nods, and I sigh. More trouble. “At least it seems like part of the royal family knows this much.”.

“...Yeah.”.

“What’s the matter? Not enough brain power up there.”. I grab Paula’s finger when she pokes my head, pulling it away. Her smile suggests she just tested me, and I passed. I’m tired of these people and their mind games. “Your reflexes are superb, and you even have some muscle.”. Paula uses her other hand to check me over, and I watch her wondering what this family has planned for me. “You’re lean and agile, not like us in any way. Do you want to spar?”……..

“No.”. I release her, not wanting any part of it. Spar is a word I’ve heard this family use at least a hundred times already.

“I’ll go easy on you.”.

“No, what are you after, Paula? Just be straightforward.”. I roll over, closing my eyes.

“I want to see why you don’t use magic. And what was that coughing earlier?”.

I mull over her words. Dammit, that has come back around. I’m not using magic, period. That shit hurts worst than the coughing. “I’m sick, Paula. The main reason I don’t want to fight.”. The silence behind me has me glancing back at her. She’s frowning, biting her lip.

“I’ll speak with you later. I need to consult Father.”.

I watch her rush off....obviously, she knows something, but I can’t be bothered to care right now. I’m tired and way past due for my nap.


Submitted: September 12, 2022

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