I flopped onto the humongous plush bed in my humungous guest room in Cezoram’s family’s humungous mansion that looked more like a fortress. I was beat in plain American. Not only did we have to take another train and subway, but we also had to take an extremely long cab drive. As much as I wanted to meet his family, I really just wanted to sleep some more and this very comfortable bed wasn’t helping much.
I woke up from a very short nap sometime afterwards and was forced into a very nice black and red formal dress and ushered down into the dining hall by a maid.
I wanted to kill myself.
Yes, dinner was nice. Yes, the dress looked amazing. Yes, the conversation was good.
No, I did not enjoy myself.
Cezoram was busy talking to everyone who wasn’t me and his parents – who I thought I would give a chance to – kept dragging him away from me when he tried to talk to me or vice versa so I was completely and utterly alone. It was nice though, to see how polite Cezoram could be when he tried, but still. It was useless to be there when everyone else made me feel like I was invisible. Thus, I politely excused myself (not that anyone noticed) and began wandering around the mansion.
I was just about to officially admit I was lost when I found what looked to be a hidden doorway. Well, it is an old mansion. Hidden doors and such shouldn’t be a surprise. I timidly pushed the door open (just in case it broke or something) and peered through. I met with a set of stairs that looked like they hadn’t been used in decades. Common sense told me to head back, however, my curiosity said otherwise and I carefully climbed the winding, narrow staircase that lead up through the darkness of the house.
When I was about to feel like this was a waste of time, I slammed into another door. “What in the world…” I said as I opened it and was blasted with cold December air and a very beautiful vista of the outlying forest and the back gardens. Wow… Even though it was dark, the lights from the mansion lit up the trees and bathed the entire garden, making it look like it was on fire.
I looked around for a place to sit on the roof (where I was) when I saw – guess what? – nothing. Of course, I thought. that entryway probably hasn’t been used in forever. Why would there be furniture out here? Although I didn’t want to, I had no choice but to sit down on the edge of the roof and hang my feet over the edge, careful not to get anything on my dress (though that may be impossible).
Somehow, I my train of thought went to the last time I wore a nice dress, which would be the previous Valentine’s Day Ball.
I remember yelling at Cezoram and bolting as per usual during the middle of the ball. He had been getting annoying and wouldn’t stop pestering me for a dance with him. At the time, I said a stubborn, obstinate and vehement “NO WAY,” and proceeded to wander around the castle. I turned the corner to go looking for Trisha when I found her in a rather… awkward position on my end. I quickly dashed back around the corner where I came from to compose my thoughts.
WHAT THE HELL IS SHE DOING HERE?! My brain exploded. And with Fred, no less! Well, at least she has taste. You see, I had stumbled upon her and Fred KISSING. Not exactly what I expected, certainly not what I was looking for. But even at the time, I had to admit, they made a cute couple.
For some reason, that thought really depressed me in the present.
Damn, why can’t I be in a cute couple with someone? Okay, so I have Cezoram, but not one person has said we make a cute couple. Then again, we aren’t even a couple yet. Great, now I’m even more depressed. I voiced my sorrows to the ever-listening night via a loud, heaving sigh which was actually heard by someone.
“I thought I would find you up here.” Cezoram’s voice practically purred behind me. “You really know how to pick a good view.”
“Yo.” I said, still staring out at the forest.
“Are you made at me? I didn’t mean to come off as ditching you.” He said as he sat down beside me.
“No, not really.” I sighed and hung my head. “I’m just not good at these fancy parties. I come from a small-town-middle-class American family with one friend. I’m not the best a socializing. Plus, I could hear the women there talking about me. They said that I didn’t belong with them.”
My original expectation was that he was going to say that I did belong with them and to cheer up, but once again, he did the unexpected. He smiled and patted my head. “They’re right. You don’t belong with them. You’re better than they are. And don’t you forget.”
For a moment, my suppressed tears vanished.
I groaned. It’s so freaking cold here. Pulling the covers over my head, I created a little heated sanctuary in my bed. Haven’t they ever heard of a HEATER? My inner ranting was cut off by my cellphone vibrating on the nightstand beside me. No… it’s too cold. I waited it to stop vibrating to tell me that it was only a text, but it kept vibrating and vibrating and vibrating…
I answered while glancing at the clock and almost dropped the phone in shock at the time. “Who is this and why the hell are you calling me?”
“Good morning to you too, Juliet.” Cezoram greeted overly-cheerful.
“Ugh, what do you want?” Deciding that I wasn’t going to get back to sleep anytime soon if he was on the phone, I walked to my bag and pulled out some comfy sweats and a long t-shirt. I mean, I might as well get a morning walk in since SOMEONE isn’t going to let me go back to sleep!
“Is it wrong for me to want to hear your voice as soon as I wake up?”
“Is it wrong for you to wake me up at five in the morning just to talk to me?”
“Ouch. Someone’s mad.”
“And awake too early on a break.”
“Whatever.” I quickly hit the button to turn it on speakerphone and started changing. God did it feel good to get into sweatpants again. “So, anything in particular you wanted other than to hear my lovely angelic voice as soon as you wake up?”
“I wanted to know what you were doing today.”
Well, I guessed, I won’t have to worry about him being a behind-the-back stalker. “I don’t know yet. I’m going to take a walk and then figure it out later.”
“A walk? Be careful. I don’t want you getting lost or hurt.”
“Zor, listen.” I calmly took a deep breath to settle my beating heart. “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
“I worry anyways.” A slight chuckle was heard on the other end. “And did you just call me Zor? It was really cute.”
“Shut up!” My phone gave an obedient “beep” when I was rid of his voice.
Once I stepped into the forest, the entire air around me changed. Gone was the sense of alienation from the other women who were staying at the mansion, the conflicting emotions tumbling around my heart about Cezoram, and the mental exhaustion of thrying to fit into a world I didn’t belong. The only thing I took into the forest was myself. Hell, I even left my wand and phone back at the mansion so I wouldn’t get distracted.
Now this is more like it. The snow crunched under my boots and the dappled shadows painted the ground here and there on my path. I always loved walking through the forest; it made me feel like I was the only one in the entire world. No parents fighting, no brother criticizing my every move, not studies to be done, no Cezoram ticking me off and no problems to deal with. Just me and my thoughts.
And whatever was rustling beside me.
“Hello? Someone there?” I called out. “Cezoram, if that’s you, that’s just creepy.”
Creepier still was that there was no response.
Okay, maybe it’s just an animal…or a ghost… or – wait – maybe it’s a nice fairy or something! Yeah, so don’t. freak. out. My curiosity captured my senses and I found myself following the noise.
“Be careful. I don’t want you getting hurt.”
Shut up memories. I’ll be fine. I thought. You’ll see, Cezoram. I don’t need you.
The rustling turned into rushing the closer I got to a steep drop-off. It wasn’t huge, but it looked like if I fell, I would probably be in extreme pain for a long, LONG time. Plus, the turbulent river didn’t exactly scream “safe”. Making a mental note to not fall, I grabbed the nearest branch for support so I could safely look over the edge at the beautiful river. It was like…something out of a painting, almost. There wasn’t any ice, but the banks of it looked partly frosted over. I could have stood there all day. Man, this is amazing! I’ve never seen a place like it! If only Cezoram could see it-
“What the hell am I thinking-” KRACK! Before I knew it, I was tumbling through the air, en route to the freezing cold waters below me and to what seemed to be an inevitable doom.