Wednesday, May 22, 2019
The Golden Lily Chapter 15
I FELT SO BAD for Brayden the next daytime that I actu alwaysy(prenominal)y c on the wholeed him, as opposed to our usual texting and e-mailing.Im so sorry, I said. Running out the manage that its not my usual style. Not at all. I wouldnt countenance left if it wasnt a family emergency. Maybe that was stretching it. Maybe not.Its okay, he said. Without seeing his face, I couldnt differentiate if it truly was okay. I suppose things were winding down anyway.I wondered what things he meant. Did he mean the dance itself? Or was he discourseing nearly us?Let me go for you out to make water up for it, I said. You always do everything. Ill handle it for a c string upe. Dinner emerge be on me, and Ill even pick you up.In the Subaru?I ignored the judgment in his t unmatchable. argon you in or not? He was in. We make the necessary arrangements, and I hung up feeling better about everything. Brayden wasnt mad. Adrians visit hadnt ruined my fledgling relationship. Things were back to normal at least for me.Id kept to myself the day after the dance, wanting to catch up on work and not stress about social matters. Monday morning started the school week again, back to teleph wiz line as usual. Eddie walked into Easts cafeteria when I did, and we waited together in the food line.He cherished to cognize about Adrians visit to the dance, and I gave a glossed- all over version of the night, simply construction that Adrian had gotten drunk and needful a ride home. I made no mention of my role in getting the queen to act on his behalf or of me organism the most beautiful creature walking this earth. I certain(a)ly didnt mention the way Id felt when Adrian had touched me.Eddie and I walked over to a panel and found the unusual destiny of Angeline trying to cheer up Jill. Normally, I wouldve chastised Angeline for what shed done at the dance, save on that pointd been no damage done this time. Plus, I was alike distracted by Jill. It was impossible for me to se e her down without immediately assuming something was wrong with Adrian. Eddie spoke before I could, noticing what I hadnt.No Micah? he asked. He was out the door before me. I figured he wouldve beat me over present.You had to ask, didnt you? Angeline grimaced. They had a fight. I swear, Eddie looked more upset about this than Jill. What? He didnt cite anything. What happened? You guys seemed to be having such a great time on Saturday. Jill nodded morosely but didnt look up from her uneaten food. I could unspoiled b bely catch sight of tears in her eyes. We did. So good that he actually talked to me yesterday and asked well, he asked if I wanted to father Thanksgiving with his family. Theyre from Pasadena.He legal opinion he could either get permission from the school or talk to you guys.That doesnt sound so bad, said Eddie cautiously.Thanksgiving with his family is serious Its one thing for us to hang out together here, but if we start expanding that becoming a couple outside of school She sighed. Its firing to go too fast. How long would I be able to hide what I am? And even if that wasnt an issue, its not safe anyway. The whole point of me being here is that its a safe, controlled environment.I movet just engender off to meet strangers.It was an early(a) step of progress to her accepting the difficulties of a casual relationship with Micah. I offered a neutral comment. Sounds like youve thought a lot about this. Jill looked up sharply, near as if she hadnt even realized I was thither. Yeah. I guess I have. She scrutinized me for a few seconds, and weirdly, her distraught rule softened.She smiled. You look really pretty today, Sydney. The way the light hits you its kind of amazing.Um, thanks, I said, uncertain as to what had prompted that comment. I was pretty sure there was nothing incomparable about me today. My hair and makeup were the same as ever, and Id chosen a white shirt and plaid skirt uniform combo today. I had to make up for this wee kends color splurge.And the burgundy trim in your skirt really brings out the amber in your eyes, Jill continued.Its not as good as the bright red, but still looks great. Of course, every color looks great on you, even the dull ones.Eddie was still focused on Micah. Howd the fight come about? Jill dragged her stare from me, often to my relief. Oh. Well. I told him I didnt know if I could do Thanksgiving. Probably if Id just given him one reason, it wouldve all been fine. precisely I started freaking out, thinking about all the problems, and just went off on a ramble, saying we might go back to South Dakota or peradventure family would come here or maybe you wouldnt let me or, well, a bunch of otherwise things. I guess it was pretty obvious I was kind of reservation it all up, and then he at once asked me if I didnt want to be with him anymore. Then I said I did but that it was complicated. He asked what I meant, but of course I couldnt explain it all, and from there She threw up her hands. It all just kind of exploded from there. Id never thought much about Thanksgiving or meeting ones family as a communion of passage in dating. Braydens family lived in southern California too would I be expected to meet them someday?Micahs not the type to hold a grudge, said Eddie. Hes also pretty reasonable. Just tell him the truth.What, that Im one of the uttermost(a) in a line of vampire royalty and my sisters throne is dependent on me staying in hiding and surviving? Jill asked incredulously.Amusement flickered in Eddies eyes, though I could tell he was trying to stay serious for her sake. Thats one way, I suppose. But no I meant, just give him the simplified version.You dont want to get too serious. You like him but just want to watch how fast things are going.Its not unreasonable, you know. Youre fifteen and have been dating for barely a month.She pondered his words. You dont think hed be mad?Not if he really cares about you, said Eddie vehemently. If he reall y cares, hell understand and respect your wishes and be happy at just any chance of spending time with you. I wondered if Eddie was referring to Micah or himself, but that was a thought best kept quiet. Jills face lit up.Thanks, she told Eddie. I hadnt thought of it that way. Youre so right. If he cant accept my feelings, then theres no point to anything. She glanced over at a wall clock and jumped to her feet. I think Im going to go try to find him now before class. Like that, she was gone.Good work, Eddie, I thought. You may have just dish outed get the girl of your dreams back together with her boyfriend. When Eddie caught my eye, the look on his face told me he was thinking the exact same thing.Angeline watched Jill dart out of the cafeteria, her grim eyes narrowed in thought. Even if they make up, I dont think itll last. With their situation it cant work.I thought you were all about vampire and human relationships, I said.Oh, sure. Back home, no problem. Even out in your wor ld, no problem. But Jills a special case. Shes got to stay out of sight and stay safe if shes going to help her family. Dating him wont do that, and she knows it no matter how much she wishes it werent true. Shell do the right thing in the end. This is duty. Its bigger than personal wants. Jill gets that. Angeline then declared she needed to get back to her dwell to catch up on homework. Eddie and I were left staring.He shook his head in amazement. I dont think Ive ever seen Angeline so subdued? I suggested.I was thinking coherent.I laughed. Come on, shes coherent plenty of times.You know what I mean, he argued. What she just said? It was all true. It was wise.She understands Jill and this situation.I think she understands more than we give her credit for, I said, recalling how much better-behaved shed been since the assembly breaking into dances aside. Its just taken her time to adjust, which makes sense, considering what a change this is. If youd seen where shes from, youd und erstand.I may have misjudged her, Eddie admitted. He seemed astonished by his own words.Part of me had expected to get chastised by Trey today for having skipped out on Brayden at the dance. Instead, I found Trey missing again from our morning classes. I almost worried but then reminded myself that his cousin was still in town, maybe muddling Trey in family stuff. Trey was competent. Whatever was going on, he could handle it. Then why all the bruises? I wondered.When I reached Ms. Terwilligers independent study, she was waiting expectantly for me, which I took as a bad sign. Usually, she was already hard at work at her own desk and just gave me a nod of acknowledgment when I took out my phonograph records. Today, she was standing in front of her desk, arms crossed, watching the door.Miss Melbourne. I trust you had an enjoyable weekend? You were certainly the belle of the ball at the Halloween dance.You aphorism me? I asked. For a moment, I expected her to say shed been watching t he whole dance through a crystal ball or something.Well, certainly. I was there as a chaperone. My post was near the DJ, so Im not surprised you didnt see me. That, and I hardly stood out the way you did. I must say, that was an great neo-Greco reproduction you were wearing.Thanks. I was getting compliments left and right today, but hers were much less creepy than Jills.Now then, said Ms. Terwilliger, all business again. I thought it might be useful for us to discuss some of the spells youve been researching for my project. Notating them is one thing. Understanding them is another.My stomach sank. Id grown comfortable in my avoidance of her and the repetitive, almost mindless nature of annotating and translating spells. So long as we didnt have to actually delve into them, I felt reassured that I wasnt doing anything real with magic. I dreaded whatever she had in mind, but there was little I could make in the way of protest, so long as this was all couched in the terms of my study and didnt involve harm to myself or others.Would you be kind enough to close the door? she asked. I did, and my feeling of unease increased. Now. I wanted to examine that book I gave you further the one on protective spells.I dont have it with me, maam, I said, relieved. But if you want, Ill go get it from my dorm room and bring it back. If I timed the shuttle bus right by which I meant, wrong I could probably use up a coarse cut off of our hour in the round-trip.Thats all right. I obtained that copy for your personal use. She lifted a book from her desk. I have my own. Lets take a look, shall we?I couldnt hide my dismay. We sat in adjacent student desks, and she began by simply going over the table of contents with me. The book was divided into three sections Defense, plan Attacks, and Instant Attacks. Each of those subsections was divided into levels of difficulty.Defense includes a lot of protective charms and evasion spells, she told me. Why do you think those come first i n the book?Because the best way to win a fight is to avoid one, I said immediately. Makes the rest superfluous.She looked startled that I had come up with that. Yes precisely.Thats what Wolfe said, I explained. Hes the instructor in a self-defense class Im taking.Well, hes quite right. Most of the spells in this section do exactly that. This one She flipped a few pages into the book. This ones very staple but extremely useful. Its a concealment spell. Many physical components which youd expect from a beginner spell but well worth it. You create an talisman and keep a separate ingredient crumbled gypsum on hand.When youre ready to activate it, add the gypsum, and the amulet comes to life. It makes it nearly impossible for soul to see you. You can leave a room or area in safety, undetected, before the magic wears off.The wording wasnt lost on me, and in spite of my inner resistance, I couldnt help but askNearly impossible?It wont work if they actually know youre there, she expl ained. You cant just cast it and become invisible though there are more advanced spells for that. But if someone isnt actively expecting to see you well, they wont.She showed me others, many of which were basic and amulet based, requiring a similar means of activation. One that she dubbed intermediate had kind of a reverse activation process.The caster wore an amulet that protected her when she cast the rest of the spell one that made all people within a certain radius go temporarily blind. Only the caster retained sight. Listening, I still squirmed at the thought of using magic to directly affect someone else.Concealing yourself was one thing. But blinding someone? Making them dizzy? Forcing them to sleep? It crossed that line, using wrong and un natural means to do things humanity had no business doing.And yet deep inside(a), some part of me could see the usefulness. The attack had made me reconsider all sorts of things. As much as it trouble me to admit it, I could even see how giving blood to Sonya might not be so bad. Might. I wasnt ready to do it yet by any means.I listened patiently as she went through the pages, all the while wondering what her game was here. Finally, when we had five minutes left of class, she told me, For next Monday, Id like you to root on one of these, just as you did with the fire amulet and write a paper on it.Ms. Terwilliger I began.Yes, yes, she said, closing the book and standing up. Im well conscious of your arguments and objections, how humans arent meant to wield such power and all of that nonsense. I respect your right to feel that way. No ones making you use any of this. I just want you to continue getting a feel for the construction.I cant, I said adamantly. I wont.Its no different than dissecting a frog in biology, she argued. active work to understand the material.I guess I relented, glumly. Which one do you want me to do, maam?Whichever you like.Something about that bothered me even more. Id rather you choos e.Dont be silly, she said. You have freedom in your larger term paper and freedom in this.I dont care what you do, so long as the assignments complete. Go with what interests you. And that was the problem. In having me choose, she was making me get invested in the magic. It was easy for me to claim no part in it and point out that everything I did for her was under duress. Even if this assignment was technically dictate by her, that one littler choice shed given me forced me to become proactive.So, I put the decision off which was almost unheard of for me when it came to homework.Some part of me thought that maybe if I ignored the assignment, it would go away or shed change her mind. Besides, I had a week. No point in stressing about it yet.Although I knew we had no obligation to Lia for giving us the costumes, I still felt the appropriate thing to do was return them to her just so there was no doubt of my intentions.Once Ms. Terwilliger released me, I packed up my and Jills cos tumes into their garment bags and headed into downtown. Jill was sad to let hers go but conceded that it was the right thing to do.Lia, however, felt otherwise.What am I going to do with these? she asked when I showed up at her shop. Large rhinestone hoop earrings made her dazzling to look at. They were custom made for you.Im sure you can veer them. And Im sure theyre not far off from your sample sizes anyway. I held the hangers out, and she obstinately crossed her arms. Look, they were great.We really appreciate what you did. But we cant keep them.You will keep them, she stated.If you dont take them, Ill just leave them on your counter, I warned.And Ill have them shipped back to your dorm.I groaned. Why is this so important to you? Why cant you take no for an answer? there are plenty of pretty girls in Palm Springs. You dont need Jill.Thats exactly it, said Lia. Plenty of pretty girls that all blend into each other. Jill is special.Shes a natural and doesnt even know it. She coul d be great someday.Someday, I repeated. But not right now.Lia attempted another approach. The campaign is for scarves and hats. I cant do masks again, but I can put her in sunglasses especially if we shoot outside. Tell me if youd agree to this plan Lia, please. Dont bother.Just listen, she urged. Well go do a photo shoot. Afterward, you can go through all the pictures and throw out any that dont meet your weird religious criteria.No exceptions, I insisted. And Im leaving the dresses. I set them on a counter and headed out, ignoring Lias protests about all the amazing things she could do for Jill. Maybe someday, I thought. Someday when all of Jills problems are gone. Something told me that day was far away, however.Although my loyalty to Spencers was steadfast, a small French cafe caught my attention as I walked back to my car. Or rather, the scent of their coffee caught my attention. I had no obligations at school and stop into the cafe for a cup. I had a book for English class o n me and decided to do some reading at one of the cafes small tables. Half of that time was spent texting back and forth with Brayden. Hed wanted to know what I was reading, and we were swapping our favorite Tennessee Williams quotes.Id barely been there for ten minutes when shadows fell over me, blocking the late afternoon sun. Two guys stood there, neither of whom I knew. They were a little older than me, one blond haired and blue eyed while the other was dark haired and deeply tanned. Their expressions werent hostile, but they werent friendly either. Both were well built, like those who trained regularly. And then, after a double-take, I realized I did recognize one of them. The dark-haired guy was the one whod approached Sonya and me a while ago, claiming to know her from Kentucky.Immediately, all the panic Id been trying to suppress this last week came back to me, that sense of being trapped and helpless. It was only the realization that I was in a public place, surrounded by p eople, which allowed me to regard these two with astonishing calm.Yes? I asked.We need to talk to you, Alchemist, said the blond guy.I didnt twitch a muscle in my face. I think youve got me mixed up with someone else.No one else around here has a lily tattoo, said the other guy. Hed said his name was Jeff, but I wondered if hed told the truth. Itd be great if you could take a walk with us. My tattoo was cover up today, but something told me these guys had been following me for a while and didnt need to see the lily to know it was there.Absolutely not, I said. I didnt even need Wolfes reminders to know that was a imposing idea. I was staying here in the safety of the crowd. If you want to talk, youd best take a seat.Otherwise, go away.I looked back down at my book, like I didnt have a care in the world. Meanwhile, my heart was pounding, and it took every ounce of control I had to keep my hands from shaking. A few moments later, I heard the sounds of metal scraping on concrete, and t he two guys sat down opposite me. I looked back up at their impassive faces.Youve got to go inside if you want coffee, I remarked. They dont have service out here.Were not here to talk about the coffee, said Jeff. Were here to talk about vampires.Why? Are you filming a movie or something? I asked.We know you hang out with them, said Blond Hair. Including that Strigoi, Sonya Karp. Part of my tattoos magic was to prevent Alchemists from revealing development about the vampire world to outsiders. We literally couldnt do it. The magic would kick in and prevent it if we tried. Since these guys seemed to already know about vampires, the tattoo wasnt going to censor my words. Instead, I chose to censor myself of my own free will. Something told me ignorance was the best tactic here.Vampires arent real, I said. Look, if this is some kind of a joke We know what you do, continued Blond Hair. You dont like them any more than we do.So why are you helping them? How could your group have gotte n so muddled and lost sight of our original vision? Centuries ago, we were one united group, determined to see all vampires wiped from the face of the earth in the name of the light. Your brethren betrayed that goal.I had another protest ready, and then I noticed a glint of gold in Jeffs ear. He was wearing a tiny earring, a small golden sphere with a dark dot in the middle. I couldnt help myself.Your earring, I said. Its the sun symbol the symbol for gold. And, I realized, it was exactly the same symbol that had been on the hilt of the sword wed retrieved from the alley.He touched his earring and nodded. We havent disregarded the mission or our original purpose. We serve the light. Not the darkness that hides vampires. I still refused to acknowledge anything they said about vampires. Youre the ones who attacked my friend and me in the alley last week. Neither one denied it.Your friend is a creature of darkness, said Blond Hair. I dont know how shes managed this current enchantme nt making herself look like one of the other vampires but you cant be fooled. Shes evil. Shell kill you and countless others.You guys are crazy, I said. None of this makes any sense.Just tell us where her main lair is, said Jeff. We know its not that apartment on the other side of downtown. Weve been watching it and she hasnt returned since our last attempt to destroy her. If you wont actively help us, that information will be all we need to rid the world of her evil.Weve been watching it. Adrians apartment. Chills ran through me. How long had they been spying on his place? And to what extent? Had they simply sat outside in a car, stakeout style? Did they have high tech surveillance equipment? Wolfe had warned against being stalked in parking lots, not in homes. The small comfort I had here was that they obviously didnt know about Clarences. Their surveillance couldnt have been that thorough if no one had followed her yet. But had they followed me? Did they know where I went to sc hool?And with their own words, they were confirming the terrible reality Id hardly dared speculate about. It was a reality that meant there were forces moving unseen beneath the Alchemistsseemingly all-knowing vision, forces working against our goals.Vampire hunters were real.With that realization came a hundred more terrifying questions. What did this mean for the Moroi? Was Jill in danger?Was Adrian?The only thing Im going to do is call the police, I said. I dont know who you guys are or why youre obsessed with my friend, but neither of us have done anything to you. Youre even crazier than I first thought if you think Im going to tell you where she is so that you can stalk her.Then, by the sheerest luck, I saw a patrolling police officer walking down the street. The two guys at my table followed my gaze and undoubtedly could guess my thoughts. It would be very easy to call her over. Wed filed no report about the alley attack, but accusing these guys of a recent set upon would cer tainly detain them. In sync, they both rose.Youre making a terrible mistake, Jeff said. We could have had this problem eradicated ages ago if our groups worked together. First the Strigoi, then the Moroi. Your misguided descent into their corruption has nearly ruined everything. Fortunately, we still walk the true path. The fact that hed just named the two groups was particularly alarming. These guys were scary, certainly, but less so if they were just talking about vampires in shadowy, vague terms.Using Moroi and Strigoi indicated extensive knowledge.Blond Hair tossed down a small, homemade pamphlet. Read this, and maybe youll see the light. Well be in touch.I wouldnt if I were you, I said. Mess with me again, and Ill do a lot more than just have a pleasant chat. My words came out more ferociously than Id expected. Maybe Dimitri and Wolfe were rubbing off on me.Jeff laughed as the two of them began walking away. Too bad you got so bogged down in books, he said. Youve got the spiri t of a hunter.