“Sophia, it’s time you take your life more seriously! You’ve been partying around for way too long.”
I looked up from my phone to meet the glare of my mother, her green eyes piercing mine. The frown on her face was almost burned into her skin by now, showing wrinkles that weren’t visible otherwise.
I dropped my gaze back to my phone with a sigh. “I am taking my life seriously.”
My mother sucked in a breath, ready to argue, but my father cleared his throat, interrupting her. “What your mother means is that times are changing and we need to be on the same page. All of us.”
I glanced up at my father, my chest tightening. If they wanted someone to lead their company at some point, they had three other children to choose from. Why did I have to shine as well?
I dropped my phone into my lap and turned to my father. “Dad, you know I’m trying, but I can’t and don’t want to focus all my energy on this. I have other things I want in life, other goals. I have dreams!”
“Goals such as, who can party the longest?” My mother chimed in, voice dripping with sarcasm.
I rolled my eyes at her. “No, mother. I want to create a fashion brand and you know that.”
She snorted and shook her head, her perfectly curled blonde hair bouncing left and right. Time and time again, we always argue about the same thing. She won’t accept my opinion, so why should I listen to her?
My father leaned forward and patted the back of my hand. “We know you have goals of your own and we fully support you, but there is a time and place for everything, and what you wish for still needs some time. You can’t just jump into running a business, you need to learn about it first. You’ll need experience if you want to build a successful fashion brand and you can do that by helping us. We would love to work with you and teach you all we know.”
I frowned, as I looked into his glistening eyes, knowing he had a point and hating it.
I didn’t want to disappoint him, but I couldn’t help feeling so out of place. Didn’t he see the way my mother looked at me, the way she treated me like I was wasting all their money and their energy, her annoyed sighs and looks, and the way she always compared me to my siblings? I wondered if she hated me because I wasn’t more like her or the rest of our community, but I never wanted to be like them and getting dragged into my family’s business was like stepping into quicksand.
My phone vibrated in my lap and I glanced at it, seeing another message from Ashe popping up on my screen. “Dad, can we talk about this tomorrow? It’s Ashe’s twenty-first birthday tonight, and I’m already late.”
My mother crossed her arms, glaring at me. “Can’t you just focus on what’s important for once? Your friend can wait until we decide on a schedule for you. You’ve wasted so much time doing nothing already.”
“My friend’s birthday is important,” I said.
She let out an exaggerated sigh, pinching the bridge of her nose. “You take care of her.”
My father turned his back on her and rolled his eyes playfully. A smile spread over my lips, but it quickly vanished again when my mother’s glare hit me.
“Let’s compromise, Sophia. I know you’ve been sneaking off with Claire and Robert to train fencing. Why don’t you start training officially again?” He asked, and I huffed, knowing I shouldn’t have trusted that guard.
My father clasped his hands together, a knowing smile spreading over his face as he arched a brow, waiting for my answer.
I crossed my arms. “Fine.”
He beamed at me. “Wonderful!”
I nodded and stood up, expecting to be able to leave now, but my father stopped me, his smile faltering.
“What is it?”
He cleared his throat as his eyes darted around the room. “You also should receive lessons from your magic tutor again.”
I dropped back onto the sofa. “You don’t mean that guy, do you?”
“Who else would he mean? We can’t trust that magic of yours and if we get someone new, they might spread your magical accidents around all Tierelia, maybe even further, and then what would we do? Your former tutor knew how to keep things confidential,” my mother snarled at me.
I clenched my hands into fists and stood up, glaring at her. “You know what? If I’m such an inconvenience and an embarrassment to the family, why don’t you put us all out of our misery and just kick me out of the house and take me off the family register?”
She stared back at me with an arched brow, almost as if she expected my outburst, causing my blood to boil even more. My father inched closer to the edge of the sofa with that smile on his face that he always put on whenever he didn’t want me to lose control. It rubbed me the wrong way and I swallowed hard to get rid of the burning sensation in my throat. They both already expected me to lose control of my magic, even if they didn’t say it out loud.
“Sophia,” he said softly. “We’d never want to get rid of you and we aren’t embarrassed by you either.”
My mother clicked her tongue as she eyed me up and down. “You’re almost twenty-one and you’re still throwing temper tantrums whenever we tell you something you don’t want to hear. You’re not a teenager anymore.”
“Kaylee, please,” my father said under his breath as he brushed through his thick, dark hair.
“It’s true, just look at her, she’s already shaking. It won’t be long now before she ruins another carpet with those sparks flying off her.”
I crossed my arms, holding my breath, wanting her to tell her how wrong she was and that I had my magic under control, but her gaze hit me again, her eyes burning, like she hated me. A cold rush spread through my body and like steam wanting to escape a boiling kettle, the lid blew off and small fireballs jumped out of me like fireworks.
“See, I told you! Jonathan, do something! I just bought this carpet two weeks ago,” she shrieked as she jumped off the sofa and away from me.
Angry tears stung in my eyes as I turned around and stomped out of the room, ignoring my father calling after me.
“Why can’t you ever just let me talk to her without butting in?” was the last thing I heard my father say before I left the house. Pascal already waited at the door to open it for me, and it annoyed me even more that I couldn’t slam the door behind me for good measure.
My blood was still boiling when I arrived downtown and to make matters worse, I knew that I’d acted impulsively. Like a child. I’d done exactly what my mother had accused me of doing and lost control of my magic and that was only going to make her trust me even less, but it was almost like she was pushing me on purpose, like she wanted me to step out of line. She knew my magic was a sour spot for me and that I disliked the tutor they hired for me.
He may have been a magical prodigy, but that didn’t give him the right to act the way he did towards me during our training sessions.
They could easily find another tutor who’d stay quiet, that part was nothing the right amount of money couldn’t solve, but they were too afraid of what the community would think if the word got out about me. Like it was anything they didn’t know already, anyway.
I was almost an hour too late when I finally arrived at the party location. Music blasted through the walls of the enormous villa Ashe had rented for this day. Excitement bubbled up in me at the loud music and laughter echoing through the air. I couldn’t wait to join the dancing crowd to forget about the argument with my parents.
I exited my car and a young man rushed toward me, taking my keys. I smiled at him and shoved a generous tip into his hand. He dipped his head, a shy smile hushing over his face as he got into my car and drove away.
I watched him until he disappeared into the distance before heading to the entrance. Marble stairs led up to the huge, dark brown wooden front door. A tall, bulky man with a long, black beard stepped in my way before I could enter, asking for my invitation. I hastily pulled it out of my purse before he nodded and pushed the heavy doors open. Now the loud music almost deafened me, but a smile spread over my lips as the vibration of the bass crawled from my toes up to the top of my head. The door closed behind me, heightening the music and vibration of the bass, now that it couldn’t escape into the night.
And the air was so thick, the smell of perfume, sweat and alcohol making it hard to breathe.
I scanned the crowd, trying to find Ashe. This place looked like a location my parents would drag me to whenever we needed to show how great we were, but unlike then, the people were actually enjoying themselves and the boring portraits of long-dead people were hidden behind thick curtains with disco lights dancing over them.
“There’s our little vamp!” Ashe screamed over the blasting music, and I spotted her waving in the back of the room, her face beaming.
All eyes turned to me and excitement rushed through my body, feeling the attention on me. I smiled, flipped my hair over my shoulder, and pushed through the crowd, loving the eyes on me. What could I say? I love the attention, and as a vampire I tended to catch a lot of it whenever I was outside the vampire community.
I reached Ashe and pulled her into a hug, a wave of alcohol hitting my nose. “Happy birthday!”
She squealed in my arms before stepping back, her eyes glazed over as she giggled, swaying back and forth on her feet. Besides a good chunk of alcohol, she probably also had a bit too much of that fairy powder again, but I pressed my lips together to stop myself from giving her a piece of my mind. It was her birthday today and I shouldn’t spoil it by acting like her mother.
I opened my purse and pulled the necklace out that I bought her.
Her eyes lit up when her gaze landed on the large blue sapphire, a gasp leaving her throat. She clapped her hands like a seal. “Put it on me! Put it on me!”
She turned around and lifted her long blonde, almost white, hair out of the way. I chuckled and leaned up, placing the necklace around her neck. “All done.”
Ashe whirled around as she presented the shining sapphire on her chest, fanning herself. “How does it look?”
The other girls standing around us cheered and nodded, flooding her with compliments, just like expected. Ashe pulled me into another quick hug. “Thank you for the gift, my little vampire girl!”
I didn’t get the chance to respond as she grabbed my hand and pulled me onto the dance floor, mingling with the rest of the crowd. She bounced up and down as she beamed at me. Strangers bumped into me, and the heat slowly got to my head, making me dizzy, but I still jumped to the rhythm of the music and enjoyed the moment for as long as it would last.