Auden was a shy, smart girl, one who knew what to do in order to avoid getting hurt. She didn’t take risks, not with school, life, or people, certainly not boys. She had never been hurt, but she knew people who had, and she knew what it did to you. That was why she was very surprised when her parents opened up a door to so many hurtful possibilities.
“Auden, come here.” Her father said, beckoning her over to an open armchair in the library/study that her father had claimed as his own, and used mostly for work.
“We have something…important to tell you.” Her mother said, her eyes darting around like little fish. Auden sat down, trying to be nonchalant, but worries flashed behind her eyelids when she blinked.
“The first thing we will tell you now, but the other one will wait until later.” Her father said, clearing his throat. “We’re moving. To Elasia.”
Auden struggled to keep her voice clear and emotion free. “Where is Elasia?”
“It’s a new country in Africa. They had a land dispute, so they just made a new one!”
“Honey, it’s for your father’s business.” Her mother explained softly.
Auden blinked again, struggling to hold back tears.
“I’ll be in my room.”
I stared out the window, in both the car and the plane, and that was all I did on the ride to our new house, which was actually a mansion, with rolling hills, a paddock for a horse, and seemingly endless space, or that’s what it had looked like in the pictures that the realtors had sent us. Apparently there had been some issues with one of dad’s factories in America, so he started building one here, and that’s why we were moving. So he could oversee it.
It wasn’t that I had any ties to the US of A, because I didn’t. I had never really had any friends, boyfriends, or fun in the States, so I didn’t even really know why I was so disappointed to be leaving.
“We’re here!” Mom announced, although that was pretty apparent in itself. The entire property was fenced in, with a beautiful iron fence. The gates opened slowly as we rolled up to them. Before they opened, I noticed they had a lion on them, so that when they opened the beast appeared to be split in half.
“Mr. Marley?” The guard asked, looking over a clipboard. Dad nodded and flashed his ID. The guard nodded and said something into his walkie-talkie that I didn’t really hear. We continued driving, rolling slowly as to take it all in. And there was a lot to take in.
In the center of the circular driveway was a large fountain, with a half-naked mermaid spewing water into the air, her tail curved, as if she was swimming in the air. All of our land was lush and green, and I could just make out the shapes of five horses in the distance.
“Honey, let’s get inside and we can tell you the second part of the surprise.” Mom said, but we didn’t get the chance to do that. Right as she finished that sentence, a party of three burst out of our new house. One of them was short and petite, and the other two were very, very tall, with broad shoulders and a long gait.
“Jim!” The man shouted, bear hugging my father.
“Henry!” Dad shouted, hugging him back.
They must have realized how ridiculous they looked, because they both pulled away, offering their hands to each other.
I knew Anna and Jim, but I really hadn’t a clue to who the boy was. Jim owned a competing company, one who specialized in bikes, like Dad’s did. They had always been “friends”, but who really knows in the world of business? Anna was one of Mom’s close friends, but then again, Mom had a large group of close friends, and an even larger group of just plain friends. You see, when you’re married to someone as successful as Dad, you really have to know how to handle popularity. I was definitely the flunk in out family, the one who had no idea what to do in awkward social situations, or just social situations in general.
“Anna, it’s lovely to see you again.” Dad said to the short woman, kissing her hand.
“And is this…?” Dad said, a twinkle in his eyes.
“Yessir, it sure is! Everybody, this is Callum!” I wasn’t sure, but it seemed like Jim winked at me. Must have been my eyes just playing tricks.
“Well, this here’s Auden!” Dad introduced me, grabbing hold of my shoulders and shoving me forward a step.
“Hey.” I said, awkwardly. Callum waved, even though I was only a few feet away from him.
The parent’s exchanged a look, and they all went to the car to grab stuff. I go the feeling I was supposed to stay, so I did.
Jim walked back into the house, with my dad’s shoulder’s under his arm. Mom and Anna followed, deep in conversation. I was left there with Callum, trying to discretely stare at him out of the corner of my eye.
The first thing I noticed was that he was attractive, very much so. He had a swoop of black hair in front of his eyes, like all of the “cool kids” did. His eyes were green, like the color of rich moss in the middle of the woods.
“I gotta get my bag.” I said, breaking the silence. I went over to the car to get it, but Callum got there first.
“I’ll get it.” He said, grabbing it from my hands. Politeness with a cold core.
“I’ll take it.” I snapped bag, yanking it from his hands with a new ferocity that I hadn’t ever seen in myself before. I walked to the house, following the path Mom and Dad had taken. I heard Callum following a few seconds later, the white gravel crunching under his feet.
“Mom?” I called, standing in the immense entry hall. The floors were real marble, and there was a large crystal chandler dangling from the high ceiling. Three doors opened off the hall, one of them already open. I heard voices coming from the direction, so I went in.
In the hallway, paintings lined the walls, like we were a part of all of the activity going on in the canvases. The carpet was pristine, a creamy white. I walked past the kitchen, a shining, gleaming affair with a chrome colored oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher. The counters and floors in there were both marble, and the cabinets matched the color of the carper in the hallway.
“But really, this is a wonderful arrangement-” Mom was saying, but she cut off when I came into the living room, Callum at my heels.
In the living room, a plasma screen was mounted on the wall, right above the fireplace. There were honey colored hardwood floors, and white leather couches, as well as two giant armchairs. The walls were lined with bookshelves, already filled with Dad’s books, as well as some of mine and Mom’s.
“Oh, hello, honey.” She said, uneasily, as the silence turned tense. “Why don’t you have a seat.” She moved over to the edge of her couch, and Anna moved over to sit with her. That left the other couch for me and Callum. I sat down in the far corner, and he sat in the far side.
“I know it’s soon, but I know you want what’s best for your father’s company, and so does Jim. That’s why…You and Callum are to be married.”
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