Author: Living of Love PM
Eleanor Avallone is a Pariah. A human being. Part of a family who doesn't accept who she can't help being. Or can she? Ryder Crosswell is a Legendary. Possessing abilities. He is bored of his life, ready to leave his nosy father and gossip-loving mother. Truths start unraveling, proving to them that while they thought they knew everything, they really knew nothing.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Romance - Chapters: 3 - Words: 18,038 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 02-14-13 - Published: 02-11-13 - id: 3100295
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Many years ago everyone would have been recognized as Pariahs. Ordinary human beings. In fact, the world only understood there to be Pariahs for thousands of years. And over these years people made up stories about humans with powers. Like superheroes and what not. Little did they know these, "superheroes," actually existed. Well, I wouldn't exactly call them superheroes. Today, they are known as the Legendaries. The Legendaries were afraid to expose themselves. Which, in my opinion, was nonsensical, considering the powers they bore. Nevertheless, all was revealed in time. The Legendaries started coming together, growing rapidly in numbers. Tired of concealing their true essence, the Legendaries bestowed their propensities upon the world. Eventually, as you probably have guessed, the Legendaries surmounted.
Pariahs and Legendaries have grown to, not hate, but have animosity towards one another. Bitter animosity. That is why a Legendary and a Pariah falling in love is absolutely unheard of. Pariahs marry Pariahs and have Pariah children. Legendaries marry Legendaries and have Legendary children. The unspoken rule. There are rare cases where the Legendaries have a Pariah child. Such exceptions, as myself. Both of my parents are Legendaries. I, too, was supposed to be. But much to their dismay, I wound up a Pariah. They were devastated.
Powers present themselves before the age of one. Always. When mine never showed up everyone was baffled, to say the least. Everyone expected me, Eleanor Avallone, to be a great Legendary. Even greater than my father. Which says a lot considering he rules over The United (once known as The United States of America). He is the most powerful. My family is, and they have ruled for generations. I was alleged to be next. When my powers failed to appear, he was enraged. So enraged he wanted to declare I had died due to some kind of disease, and in reality send me away. Never to be heard of again. He would have gotten away with it too, if it were not for my mother. She refused to give me up.
Since I was such an epic failure, it gave them all the more reason to have more kids. Children who did not disappoint. And they did not. I have three siblings. Opal is sixteen and she is a siren. Or a slut. Whichever name you prefer to call it. Demetrio is fourteen. He has the ability to shapeshift. It's pretty awesome, not gonna lie. Finally, there's little Jacey who is seven. She is a healer. She is also my favorite. My father, Zakiyah, has a hyper-active brain. He's way beyond genius level. He's also a technopath, which means he's able to control technology. Fun fact: the first born are always the strongest. He was, just like me. Except, not like me because I'm a Pariah. My mother, Anga, can manipulate weather. You don't have to be perceptive to know when she's pissed.
My father basically kicked me out at the age of eight. I think I might have broken some kind of record for the, 'Youngest person to be kicked out,' category. Instead of leaving me on the streets, he built a small home for me to live in. Behind his monumental mansion. The one where the rest of my Legendary family lives in. How magnanimous of him, right? My family ignores me for the most part. The only one who doesn't treat me like shit is Jacey. Only because she doesn't know any better. Sadly, one day she, too, will be like the rest of them. I suppose you could say I've been living a Cinderella life. Except these people are my blood and I am not forced to clean.
I've watched the Legendaries my whole life. Observed their every move. They are arrogant and stuck up. They look down on the Pariahs, and laugh at how measly they are. The thing is though, there are so much more to Pariahs than meets the eye.
After the cupcakes were cooled and frosted, I aligned thirteen in a row on the kitchen table. I grabbed the candles and put one in each of the cupcakes. The match ignited as I stroke it against the rough surface of the matchbox. I lit each candle, turned off the lights, and took my place in front of them. I squeezed my eyes shut and made my wish. The same thing I wished for every year. I want somebody to accept me, for me. I opened my eyes and blew out the candles. "Happy thirteenth birthday, Eleanor," I whispered to myself.
No one in my family remembered it was my birthday. They hadn't since I moved in this house. My vision blurred. A renegade tear escaped, soon followed by a flood of tears spilling down my cheeks. I devoured my feelings in cupcakes until I felt like I was going to explode icing. My stomach ached and I couldn't get up. Too many cupcakes. I lolled my head back and stared up at the chandelier. Let there be light. Light surrounded me. I snapped my head up and blinked a couple of times. "What the..." I whispered. No. You are a Pariah. You don't have powers. This must be a dream. I shouted. "Wake up!" Nothing happened. I pinched myself. Three times.
Not a dream.
My mouth went dry as I looked back up at the chandelier. Dare I try again? Oh, what the hell. I took a deep breath. Off. Darkness replaced the light. My eyes widened in disbelief. I slowly arose from my chair and turned on the light using the light switch. Can I do anything else? I thought for a minute, then grabbed a spoon and set it on the counter. Up. It flew up above me. Down. The spoon clattered back onto the counter. I bit my lip hard and tried something else. I stared at the spoon. Bend. It slowly folded in half. Straighten. It molded back into it's normal structure. I picked up the spoon examining it and dropped it. I bolted to my bedroom, slamming the door shut, and sat on the floor. I looked around my room. Up. Everything was suddenly in the air. My bed, my desk, all of my papers, my nightstands, my lamps. Everything.
Down. The ground shook as the furniture dropped. I shook my head slowly as a mischievous grin spread across my face. I barked out a laugh. I can't believe this. After all these years. "I should tell them." I said aloud. Then I really thought about what this meant. If I show my family what I can do, they're going to change. They'll finally accept me. No. Not me. My power. I knew what I had to do. Even though it meant I had to suffer, I made a promise to myself.
I will never tell anyone of this. This is my secret to keep.
Tonight my father is hosting a gargantuan ball. Excuse me father, the nineteenth century called, they want their customs back. I can usually get out of going to events. I haven't been to one in a couple of years. Which is why I am being forced to attend this one. Yay. Everyone is deceived to believe I actually live in the mansion. My parents put on this big dissimilation, making everyone think they love their Pariah daughter just as much as her Legendary siblings. Good actors they are. The workers are compensated for keeping quiet about me. They are kind to me considering I am a Pariah, just like them. They are also fundamentally the only people I associate with. The rest of the world assumes I'm either utterly shy or a raging, spoiled bitch. I find it to be facetious.
Magnolia comes rushing into my room. Her platinum blonde hair is a hot mess.
"Eleanor, I have your gown." She carries a black garment bag in her arms. She looks slightly excited for me to put it on, as I haven't dressed up in ages. I, on the other hand, am not feeling so bubbly about the whole thing. "Hurray," I say flatly.
"Oh, come on. It won't be that bad." She disarms. I raise my eyebrows at her in full disbelief. We both know that is the hyperbole of hyperboles. I'd rather crawl in a hole and stay there forever than go to the stupid ball. I've already accepted that I'll be spending the rest of my life alone. I have no problems embracing that, living under a rock. "You're right. It will suck." She agrees, nodding once.
"Now, that's what I want to hear. None of this optimism blasphemy I'm hearing of. Plus, didn't you know? I'm a mad at the world teenager." I declare.
"My bad, I forgot." There are many things I love about Magnolia. Her sense of humor is one of them. We can go back and forth like this for hours. Days even. It really helps she understand my humor. I would have to be careful around my parents tonight though.
"So, what color is it? The dress, I mean." I ask, inwardly wincing because I already know the answer. They gave me the same color dress for every event I attended. I just hoped this year would be different. "Black."
"Of course. The color of death." I roll my eyes, collapsing on my bed. Staring at the ceiling like it is the most intriguing thing that has ever existed.
"Eleanor, black is your favorite color," Magnolia smirks, sitting beside me. I hate my name. Not only is it awkward, but it also means pity. And no, it isn't a coincidence. My parents supposedly changed my name, claiming they wanted me to have some ancestors middle name. They never told me what they had originally named me, but I bet it was a whole lot better than Eleanor.
"Yeah, but they don't know that." I know I shouldn't be upset by such a small detail. But I am. I'm immediately agitated with myself for even feeling such disappointment.
"True," her smirk fades. "Alright, enough chit chat. Get your ass in that shower."
I do as I'm told. Magnolia is only thirty years old, but has taken care of me ever since I was booted from the mansion. Wow, that sounds like one of those lame reality game shows or something. Anyway, she's my best friend. Well, only friend. She is amazing, nonetheless. I couldn't have asked for anyone better. Magnolia always has the best advice for me and she's taught me so much. In terms of flat out things I should know in life, but also educational material, as well. I'm eternally grateful she didn't let me become an airhead. And I was well down that road since my parents failed to provide any type of schooling for me.
After I shower I apply some eyeliner, and wing it out. Mascara too, of course. For the hell of it, I put on some red lipstick. Go big or go home, right? As for my long, wavy, black hair, I leave it down. Once I'm finished, I walk into my room and slip on the dress. I turn to look in the mirror. The dress is extremely sexy. It has side cut outs, an open back, and jeweled straps. A low v-cut, showing quiet a bit of cleavage. The gown has a seductive slit in the front, which stops mid-thigh. It hugs my every curve. They gave me this dress to make me look like a slut. To make people believe I chose this dress all on my own. Except, it doesn't make me look indecent. I look older. And sexier. Not that I'm sexy or anything.
I kind of like it.
"Can I come in now?" Magnolia yells outside my door. My eyes stay on my reflection as I reply.
"Yeah, come on in." I turn around to let Magnolia have a look. Honestly, I was ready for some crude humor, some jokes. That, however, is not her reaction. The minute she sees me, her mouth drops open. "Holy shit, Eleanor," She whispers, her bright blue eyes wide.
"What? Do I look bad?" I ask worried, looking down at my dress frowning. I feel a rush of embarrassment for thinking I looked good a few seconds ago. Magnolia shakes her head vehemently.
"No! You look... I mean, I knew you had a curvaceous body and an ass, I envy. But, Jesus, you hide the girls well. Are you sure you're not the siren?"
I stare at her blankly registering her reaction. I blink once. "Hilarious. You're funny."
"I'm one hundred percent serious." She attempts a stern look, but her smile is tugging at the corners of her mouth. I roll my eyes at her as I start putting on my pearl earrings. Magnolia helps with with the matching necklace. I slip on my killer four inch heels, which are a must, considering I'm only five two. My feet are going to need a funeral tomorrow because these fabulous shoes are going to murder them.
I grimace. I am seriously aching to stay in bed and not face thousands of morons. I don't particularly have the most patience, but one can only handle so many idiots. Skipping isn't an option though. My father doesn't request much of me and when he does I must comply. I've never disobeyed him, so I don't know what the repercussions would be. I certainly am not willing to find out. "Okay. I'm ready for the torture to begin. I hope this goes by quickly."
"Now, now, Eleanor. We both know torture is meant to be slow and painful," she teases, trying to lighten my mood. I know what Magnolia is thinking. If she was me, she wouldn't want to go either. "Right. Thank you ever so much for the reminder."
"That's what I'm here for, darling," She winks.
"Clearly." I pause, take another look at myself, and sigh, "If I survive this, I'll see you tomorrow." I hug her before I walk off to the mansion. Into the home I don't inhabit, but everyone is bamboozled to understand otherwise. The moment I swing open the doors Jacey runs up to me. She must have been waiting for me. I feel a slight tug at my heart.
"Oh my God! Eleanor, you look like a model!" I couldn't help, but smile at her enthusiasm. This had to be every girls little dream. "Thanks Jacey, so do you." I tap her nose with my forefinger. Jacey beams, her big brown eyes widening with utter euphoria. She looks adorable as always. She has on a pale pink, floor-grazing taffeta dress. A delicate pink sash, circles her waist, and has a flower in the front. Her dark, long hair is down, like mine. She giggles and wraps her arms around me tightly. I smooth a hand over her hair, feeling her happiness rub off on me. My baby sister still loves me. She grabs my hand after a few moments and starts dragging me towards the party.
I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. Everyday is the same. Well, not literally the same, but the same routine. I've wanted to move out since I turned eighteen four months ago, but my parents insisted on my staying. I'm not sure why, but I have. I'm a dumbass.
I've decided to skip the whole college thing. That pissed off the parents supremely. Unfortunately, not enough to kick me out. In my eyes college would have been a huge waste of my precious time. Although, my time is also being wasted in this hellhole. School was always exceptionally easy for me. I figured college would be equivalent. Besides, every Legendary works in a field that pertains to their power. College isn't necessary anymore, but rich parents like to send their children to show off how intelligent their offspring are. I refuse to let my parents display me like I'm some kind of fucking trophy. My mother interrupts my thoughts, barging into my room.
"Ma, how many times have I told you to knock?" I grumble. She believes she's exempt from my knocking rule. It annoys the hell out of me.
"Oh. Sorry, dear." It's almost like she forgets I tell her this every time she enters my room without my consent. "I just wanted to tell you that your father would like to speak with you."
"Okay, I'll go in a minute." Instead of leaving, she leans against my doorway. I raise my eyebrows at her, encouraging her to spit it out.
"The ball is tonight, you know." My mother lives for these events. They're her chance to brag about anything she possibly can. Exaggerate about how well I'm doing and how I'm such a great son. When the truth couldn't be further. "I'm aware." I nod once. Crap. Now she's going to go off on one of her gossip rants. I can see the devious twinkle in her eyes.
"Did you hear? Eleanor's going to be there tonight. Nobody's seen that little bitch in years." She laughs once. This catches my attention. I sit up. "She is?" I remember in school all the kids would talk about her. Make fun of her. It always made me angry. I guess I've always condemned judging someone without actually meeting them in person. Regardless of whether they are Legendary or Pariah. God, I'm such a little girl. "Yes. Can you believe it?" My mothers excitement, annoys me.
"I'll believe it when I see it." I reply, ready to escape the conversation. I walk past my mother to fathers office. He's always there. He even sleeps in there sometimes. I knock.
"Come in." I hear my fathers deep voice, muffled from the closed doors. I inch open the door, not completely entering the room.
"Father. Mom said you wanted to speak with me."
"Yes, that's right. Take a seat." I feel the sudden urge to turn around and head back to my comfortable jail cell. I mean, bedroom. He's about to tell me something I don't want to hear. Should've known."Okay." I say warily, not liking the direction of the conversation that hasn't even started.
"Son, you're going to do me a favor."
"Oh, am I?" I raise my eyebrows, incredulous and slightly pissed at his demand. He narrows his midnight eyes at my keen rebuttal. "Yes. You're going to live with the Avallone's for a few months."
"Why the hell am I going to do that?" I glare at him.
"I'm trying to uncover the truth about them. About Eleanor to be more specific. You're going to be Dr. Avallone's apprentice, but you'll really be observing their lives." My father is a journalist. The most successful, but the worst kind. This is what he does. Ruins peoples lives. I can be an asshole, but I'd never be able to do what he does for a living. Unlike most people, his power has nothing to do with his career. My father can time travel. He doesn't do it often though. Time is not something to be messed with. They even made a movie about it hundreds of years ago. Back to... something. I don't remember. Apparently it was pretty popular in it's time.
"Why would I do your dirty work for you?" I scoff. He smiles pompously, knowing I won't be able to refuse his offer.
"If you succeed in getting me an interesting story, I'll let you leave. I'll even pay for all your expenses." It is indeed, a great offer. Before I even consider agreeing, questions need to be asked.
"How did Dr. Avallone even agree to this?"
"He thinks you're interested in his work."
"He's the leader of The United. I'm never going to be nor do I even have the chance to take over his occupation."
"He knows. He's searching for a right hand man. To help him out with some of the more tedious decisions. He thinks you'd be a great choice, once you're a little older." He's quick with his responses. My father and I are alike in the way we think. He wouldn't agree to do something like this without interrogating the person asking either.
"Okay. Well, wouldn't spying on him and his family be a foolish idea?"
"I don't know. Maybe because Dr. Avallone would kill us both." I shrugged.
"I'm almost positive he's hiding something big. Once everybody gets the truth, they'll all be on my side. I might even be able to take over the rule of The United." He's also obsessed with that. Convinced he can do a better job. I disagree. My father is too selfish to be a leader of any sort.
"So, what do you say?" He asks. I think for a minute. I don't know why I do, leaving is all I've ever wanted. "Fine. I get to leave, no questions asked. And you're not giving me a dime. Once I'm out, I'll be supporting myself."
He nods in agreement to my request. "That's my boy."
I roll my eyes and leave. Well, at least this will be interesting. Better than what I've been doing. Which is nothing. Eleanor Avallone. I've always wanted to know the truth about her as well. People talk so much shit, I can't say finding out who she really is won't be entertaining. I grab one of the many tuxes in my closet and make myself look presentable for the ball.
When we arrive I notice there is a fuck load of people. I hate being around big crowds. Not because I'm antisocial, but because I'm an empath. Over the years I've learned how to block out people's emotions assailing me. Anyhow, the larger the group of people surrounding me, the more strenuous it is on me. I grab a glass of champagne from a servant offering and down it. Drinking will take the edge off in the meantime. I grab another.
"Hello, Crosswell's! How wonderful you could join us this evening," Dr. Avallone greets us. Outwardly everyone plays nice, but inside they're humming with annoyance. Everyone is plastic. Fake. I umbrage that I take part in the vomit inducing socialization.
"Hello, Dr. Avallone, thank you for having us." My father replies.
"Ryder, I'm thrilled you've found an interest in my work. It will be a pleasure to have you, these next few months." Yeah, I'm real interested.
"Oh, the pleasure is mine, sir. Thank you for allowing me to stay in your home," I smile, charmingly. The bastard has no clue.
"It's not a problem." He looks up the stairs, I follow his gaze.
Holy God. Standing at the top is the most beautiful girl I've ever seen. Her dress is black and extremely alluring. Her olive skin is glowing.
"Eleanor, delightful of you to finally join us!" Dr. Avallone booms. I blink rapidly, trying to comprehend what Dr. Avallone just called her. That's Eleanor? What the hell is everyone's problem? She maybe a Pariah, but who cares? She's hot. This assignment just got a whole lot more intriguing. She briefly looks uncomfortable as everyone stops talking to look at her. Eleanor gracefully glides down the stairs to join everyone with a smile on her face. Suddenly, Dr. Avallone's drink is all over him. Eleanor's eyes go wide and she practically yells. "Father! Look at the mess you've made!"
Something is off. She's not genuinely surprised that happened. Strange. She walks away and doesn't even notice me. Also, strange. My father raises his eyebrows at me, meaning he wants me to stalk her. I mean, follow her. I excuse myself and commence the search.
We arrive at the top of the staircase, people are overflowing the ballroom. My father bellows. "Eleanor, delightful of you to finally join us!" Everyone, I mean everyone, stops what they're doing to look at me. Could this get anymore awkward? It seems I've spoken to soon. People start whispering to one another. Fantastic. I loathe attention, and he knows that. He did it on purpose. I lift my chin, pretending to be oblivious to the stupid amount of people staring at me, and start descending from the stairs. I plaster a wide smile on my face. I briefly look at the drink in my father's hand. It spills all over him.I feign shock."Father! Look at the mess you've made!" It takes all my strength not to burst into laughter. He appears to be thoroughly confused, which is seldom considering his powers. This makes me all the more satisfied with my doing. I clap my father on the shoulder. "You should really get that cleaned up."
The second I walk past him I can't hold back my smirk any longer. Unfamiliar faces greet me, only faking kindness because of who my father is. I find a server with a tray full of champagne and steal one. I down it and keep walking. Maybe if I get drunk, my father will send me to back to my home. I consider it for about five minutes, until I realize how daft that would be. Not only because of what my father would do, but because of what I would do. I've never gotten completely wasted before. Who knows what kind of drunk I am. I can't risk it. Especially if I am a drunk who rambles incessantly. I keep making my way through the crowd, not sure where exactly I'm going. I run into my beloved sister. Unfortunately. She's wearing red, her trademark color. She's been dying her hair blonde since she was fourteen. Amazingly, blonde hair suits her. She starts the word attack,"Serpent."
"What's a ninnyhammer?" She furrows her eyebrows.
"A fool. I win."
Opal rolls her eyes. "Whatever," and walks away. I smile, pleased. She always starts the word wars, but I always win. Always. After my articulate combat with Opal, I find Demetrio. He's not as bad as Opal. He's polite to me in public, at least.
"Eleanor." He nods.
"Hey, Demetrio. What's up?"
"Nothing really. How are you?"
"I'm okay." I give my little brother a once. He's really not so little anymore. He's towering over me and I'm pretty sure I see some scruff. How old is this kid again? Fourteen? I'm quite positive fourteen year old boys aren't supposed to look this manly. I can't hold back my awe any longer. "Wow, you're starting to look like a man."
He smiles shyly. "I am?" He pushes his black hair out of his eyes.
"Yeah, you are." I confirm.
"Thanks?" He squints his golden eyes, trying to decipher whether or not that's a good thing.
"It was, in fact, a compliment."
"Well, thanks. I'll see you around, Eleanor."
"Bye. Have fun."
I watch him leave. Still shocked to see my little brother growing up so fast. After a minute or so of staring at the ghost of my brother, I snap out of it. Wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do now, I go to the bar and grab another glass of champagne. I'm only seventeen, but no one gives a crap. Well, maybe not.
I finally find her after twenty minutes. She's at the bar with a glass of champagne in her hand. I haven't really thought about what I'm going to say or how I'm going to introduce myself. I'm standing there thinking as my eyes wander her body. That dress is doing wonders for her body. Man, she has a sensational ass. It's impossible not to notice. I'd do anything to reach out and grab it. I stare at her ass for another minute before I remember what I'm supposed to be doing. Not what I want to do to her.
"Aren't you too young to be drinking?" I ask smiling, turning on the charm. She whips around, almost bewildered that someone is even bothering to converse with her. My eyes flick down to her cleavage. She can't possibly be wearing a bra. You'd be able to see it with the open back on the dress. Damn. This girl has such a body. Now I want to squeeze her front and her back.
I force myself to look back up at her face. Which is unbelievably gorgeous. It's almost laughable how attractive she is. She frowns, fully aware that I was just staring at her breasts openly and eyes me suspiciously.
"Why do you care?" She disarms. I try not to laugh. "Don't your parents care?"
She rolls her eyes. "What are you, my babysitter?"
"Testy, are we?" I have to admit, I wasn't expecting Eleanor to be this way. She's definitely not shy. Possibly a bitch, but I'm sure she's just defensive. She downs her drink, sets the empty glass behind her, and answers me.
"Only when people pry." She walks past me, brushing my shoulder. I ignore the titillation I feel from her body touching mine. Even though it's not even skin to skin contact. Before I get caught up in the thought of skin to skin contact, I follow her.
"Aw. No need to get sensitive now."
"Vexed is more like it." She continues walking.
"I only asked you a question."
"Actually, you asked three." She is a smart ass. A smart ass with an exceptional ass. I enjoy games. Why not play hers?
"Oh, I'm sorry. I had no idea being sociable was so offending," I mutter sarcastically. She stops abruptly and spins around to face me. I almost collide into her. I wouldn't mind my mouth colliding into hers. Those lips are tantalizing. Her bottom lip slightly fuller than her top. That red lipstick. I squeeze my eyes shut briefly. I really gotta stop. I open my eyes and she's staring daggers at me. She practically snaps. "Okay, let's socialize." Eleanor gives me an icy once over. "Who are the hell are you?" She asks. I return the once over, smiling slyly. My once over is a bit more, shall we say, inviting. She blushes.
"Ryder Crosswell." I reach out to shake her hand. She ignores it.
"Oh, come on. I'm not going to bite." She eyes me doubtfully, but takes my hand anyway. A wicked grin spreads across my face, as I pull her hand closer. "Actually, maybe I-" She yanks her hand away before I can finish my sentence and starts walking again. How rude. I chuckle and continue to follow.
"Have you no sense of humor, Eleanor?" I ask.
"You're not funny. You are an asshole. An annoying asshole."
I gasp dramatically and feign offense. "I am equivocally hurt by your profane depiction."
"Cry me a river." She flatly mutters. I laugh. I can't help it. She's hilariously defensive. She walks onto a path that leads into the garden. She walks fast for a short girl. Her heels clicking every time they hit the pavement. The fact that she is walking as fast as she is in heels, is kind of perplexing. And impressive. I can't help, but think about the killer legs she's probably hiding under that dress. I'm almost relieved the dress that mostly covers them. Though the front slit in her dress is a nice preview, I'd be even more distracted than I already am. My pace hinders as I fantasize about her. I have a feeling Eleanor isn't aware of her beauty. Or if she is, she's good at pretending she's not.
We walk further into the garden until she comes to a halt. As if she doesn't know where to run next. I take advantage of this opportunity and step in front of her deciding to take a more serious approach.
"So, are you really a Pariah?"
"Are you really asking me that?" She's so damn guarded. Now it's starting to irritate me.
I stare at her sharply. "Yes. I am, in fact, asking you that." She crosses her arms. Which presses her breasts together even more. Good. God. She diverts my attention way too easily. I need to focus. This is only about the millionth time I've reminded myself to focus.
"I am a Pariah." Lie. Wait. How could she possibly be lying about that? This doesn't make sense. I continue to ask questions."How does it feel?" She throws her head back in exasperation."To be a Pariah? Why do you care?"
I rephrase my question. "No. How does it feel to be a Pariah when the rest of your family are Legendaries?" She stares at me for a moment and then winces. I observe her carefully, hoping she doesn't lash out at me. Instead she looks down at her shoes as though she's embarrassed and whispers."Ouch." She lightly kicks at the concrete with her heels. She continues staring at the ground. "It's frustrating." I furrow my brows. She's not offended, yet she's acting like it. Why? She meets my gaze then turns to head back to the ball. I don't follow.
I finally get away from Ryder. How is it possible for someone so extremely handsome to be so disturbingly annoying? He looks like sex in that tux. With his dirty blonde shaggy hair, and those deep blue eyes. His strong jaw and slight clef chin. His tall, possibly muscular build. His panty-dropping smile. His unbelievably- Stop it. Stop thinking about him.
My mother finds me and pulls me into a corner, out of sight. "Eleanor, you look stunning." My mom does things like this. She says nice things. She acts like my mother every now and then. As if it somehow makes up for all those years of lacking to genuinely be my mother. I know she loves me, why else would she have wanted to keep me? She only neglects me because of my father. He has that much power over her. It nauseates me. I remove these thoughts and muster up a convincing smile.
"Thanks mother. So do you." My mother and I share several qualities. Like our long black hair, and the gentle curve in our concave noses. Our heart-shaped faces. Our golden eyes. It's a damn shame too, because I look like her the most of all my siblings. She kisses me on the forehead and we return to the sea of people.
Albert, the head waiter, announces dinner is ready. Everyone scrambles into the dining hall. I take my sweet time. I'm in no rush. I walk slowly towards the head table and do a double take. Ryder Crosswell is already in his seat. Which happens to be next to mine. Usually, it's just my family that sits together. I watch as the rest of his family, his mother and father, join our table. I must have missed the memo.
"Hello again, Eleanor."
"Ryder." I nod politely due to the fact that my father is watching along with various people seated at their tables behind me.
Father fabricates a smile. "Ah, Eleanor, I see you've already met young Crosswell." Which means, I probably shouldn't have met him yet.
"I have indeed." I return his phony smile.
Everyone makes small talk. I keep quiet, just like I'm supposed to. Opal, who is on the other side of Ryder, is flirting with him. Of course. Suddenly, Jacey gets up from the opposite side of the table. I subtly shake my head. She's going to get in trouble. She comes over to me and whispers in my ear. "Eleanor, what's wrong?" I look at her, shaking my head. "Nothing, Jacey. Just tired, that's all." I poke her belly. "Thank you for asking, sweetie." She giggles.
"I can fix that." She closes her eyes and puts a hand on my shoulder. Energy courses through my veins. I smile wider. "Thanks, Jacey." She gives me a hug and returns to her seat. The thoughts about when she's going to change throw me off guard. She is going to change. Just like the rest of my siblings did. Opal followed me everywhere, mimicked my every move. Until she turned five. Demetrio loved when I tucked him in bed and read to him. Until he was seven. Oh no. Not here. Don't you cry. I stand up. "Excuse me."
Once out of view, I scurry into an empty room. I can hold the tears no longer. I sob silently until I hear the door shut behind me. It's probably my father to tell me to stop acting like a child and return to dinner. "Go away," I mumble.
"No." It's not my father. It's Ryder. Phenomenal. I don't face him.
He speaks up again. "Why are you crying?" I cringe as I try to come up with a valid excuse as to why I am sniffling excessively. I could tell him I had a cold. But that wouldn't work because I've been fine this whole night. The best I can come up with is to tell him I'm not. Real believable.
"I'm not crying."
"Oh, really? Turn around." I can't let him see me this way. Off. The light disappears and I can't see a thing. "What the hell?"
"Maybe the power went out," I suggest as I wipe my tears quickly. Good thing I used waterproof makeup. On. The light slightly blinds me, I blink rapidly.
"That was strange," he deadpans as I face him. "Yes. It was," I affirm. He scans my face a little too thoroughly for my liking. His demeanor tells me he's not as gullible as I hoped he was. He squints at me, deep in thought. I shift on my feet nervously. One, because I'm lying. Two, because the way he's contorting his face makes him even more attractive than he already is. Three, because I'm in trouble.
"I guess you really weren't crying." He finally let's it go. "I told you I wasn't." I walk past him.
"You're welcome," he says as catches up with me. "For what?"
"For coming to make sure you were okay."
I guffaw. "You are so..."
"I believe the word you're looking for is selfless."
"No. I believe the word I'm looking for is perturbed."
"You are a mean girl, Eleanor Avallone," he smiles. I don't even try to hide my grin. We, once again, enter the dining hall and take our seats. "Is everything alright, Eleanor?" My father asks.
"Just dandy." I reply.
"Well, while you were gone, I made an announcement."
"Oh? Please. Do tell." I feign interest. My father watched my reaction intently as he fills me in. "Ryder will be moving into our home for the next few months to observe my work and possibly become my right hand man one day." Wonderful. Can't wait. Hold the phone. If he moves in and finds out that I live in the house behind the mansion...
Oh, no. No, no, no, no! They're going to make me live with them while he's here. "How wonderful." I say, careful to leave out the calamity bursting inside of me.
Two more hours go by, and everyone is finally gone. My father calls me to his office before I can escape. I have a feeling I know what he wants to discuss.
"Eleanor, you will move into this house tomorrow morning. We set up a room for you. We even decorated it. You will behave yourself while Ryder is here. Do you understand?" He says, not even bothering to look at me. Obviously focused on something more important than his Pariah daughter. I couldn't help, but feel a surge of jealousy. If it were Opal or Jacey in here, they'd have his undivided attention. I'm so worthless to him to the point where I don't even deserve eye contact."Yes, sir." I reply evenly, thousands of emotions shaking inside of me.
"We are hoping he will find an interest in Opal and she will find an interest in him."
"All men interest Opal." I sputter, mindlessly. I snap my mouth shut, recognizing the words just flew out of my mouth. Wow. Tonight is just a let's-see-how-many-times-Eleanor-can-prove-she's-an-imbecile night. I bet my father paid someone to keep score. God knows I lost count.
"What was that?" He finally glances up at me. So that's what it takes to get his attention.
"I said, here's to hoping." I stand there for a few minutes waiting for him to finish. He looks up at me again, his gaze hardens. "I'm done. Go." He shoos me away with his hand like I'm some kind of animal.
I egress the mansion and slip off my heels to run to my home. Once I'm in my bedroom I stare at myself in the mirror again. I look so much older. I rarely take the time to really observe myself in the mirror like this. My eyes flick to my dress, off. The dress slides down. I'm extremely tense, I need to relax. I know just what will help.
I step into a hot, steaming shower. I tilt my head back to let the water fall on my body. I don't bother moving. I get out a half hour later. The shower helped a little, but my mind continues to distress about these next few months. I throw my pajamas on and hide under the covers. I just can't believe I have to spend an undetermined amount of months living with a family who has practically disowned me. Not only do I have to live with them, but I have to live with Ryder. It's a disaster waiting to explode. It makes me want to run away. Except that would be dumb considering I don't have any money. I have nothing. Someone save me from this hell I'm about to face. I close my eyes and let myself drift away into a deep sleep.