I pushed open the door to see my mother sitting at the edge of my bed. I stood at the doorway, refusing, or more accurately, not daring to move any closer. Questions swarmed in around my head. With each second, the questions increased. It was like the exponential growth of fruit flies. One second you've got two lonely fruit flies, you turn back to them two seconds later and they've made enough babies to invade Normandy.
It was her who had avoided talking to me for all these years, why was she suddenly promoting the interaction? And more importantly, what was it that she needed to talk to me about?
I looked at her and took in her appearance. She wore the normal maid uniform, a black skirt with a loose fitting white collared shirt, but my mother's natural charisma made her stand out above the rest of the maids. She wasn't a physically beautiful woman, but the poise and stateliness in which she held herself made up for the lack of physical appeal. That wasn't saying that she was ugly, of course. My mother was definitely attractive, but at first glance, she wasn't the kind of woman men had fallen in love with at first sight.
My father on the other hand, was an extremely attractive man. In high school, he was one of the center jocks, a varsity basketball player, and a potential womanizer. I've always wondered why none of the good genes ever got passed down to me.
Anyhow, despite his appearance, he was a good person. He wasn't born in money, and he wasn't the brightest crayon in the box, but he had always worked many times harder than anyone else. He never worked on his grades, but he was a rising athlete and many colleges were willing to take him in under an athletic scholarship. For it, he practiced everyday until he dropped. He stayed after many hours after practice had ended, and constantly drilled himself to perfection. Unfortunately, he sustained a major injury towards the end of junior year and lost every single scholarship that he had so painstakingly earned. Because of his family's financial issues, he was no longer able to go to college.
As for his history with my mother, they went way back in time. He dated my mother from the senior year of high school, married her six years later and eventually reproduced via meiosis in order to spawn a single, female offspring. I had known my father only up until I was six or so, but I remembered his gentle smiles and words vividly. He was a good person, but like most good people, he suffered from a major flaw. With his low level of intelligence, my father was unable to find a job capable enough to support both me and my mother. My mom was required to find a job by the circumstances and was fortunately offered a place in the Darling housekeeping staff. During this period of time, we rented out a small house owned by the Darling family and managed, although not without difficulty, to pay our rent every month.
Now, I am forced to shamefully admit that even as a child, my stomach managed to possess an inhumanly large food capacity. Needless to say, my appetite imposed no trivial financial strain on my already struggling family. My father eventually got fired and went jobless for a period of one year before he decided with misguided altruism that he was only burdening the family. He left.
From then on, my mother's attitude towards me made a one-eighty degree turn. I acknowledged the fact that I was very much held accountable for my father's abandonment, as did my mother. I was pretty sure that she hated me, and I couldn't blame her for it. The woman had every right to. She had loved my father dearly, even despite his blatant, significant flaws and because of me, her happiness and the love of her life had left her. I periodically dwelled on this issue and cried for my mom. Had I been a better kid and actually tried to curb my monstrous appetite, perhaps my father wouldn't have had to leave her.
"Fienne," she called out to me. I suppressed a shiver towards her icy, unfeeling tone.
"You've been getting close to that maid of yours lately, haven't you?"
I guessed that "that maid" she was referring to Sera.
"I've always been close to Sera," I replied, just as calmly.
Her icy blue eyes bore into me, silently chastising me for matters yet unknown. "I don't want you to mingle with her."
"Why not?" I had to watch myself from letting my building irritation show.
"People like her will only hinder your studies. You won't gain anything from being 'friends' with them." She bitterly emphasized the word 'friends'.
"I'm sorry, I can't agree. Sera's one of my best friends and she is certainly not hindering any part of my life."
"Fienne, I've seen your grades lately and they're dropping." I couldn't say anything witty back to that. It was the truth, my grades were dropping.
"I'm still getting straight A's!"
"You used to get straight A+'s," she drawled.
"Well, Sera's been with me even when I got straight A+'s. I don't see why you have to blame Sera for it. If anything, it's because I'm not studying hard enough. If it pleases you, I'll do everything in my power to get straight A+'s this term," I corrected myself. "No, I will get straight A+'s"
Evidently, my promises were lost on her. "I've requested for Sera to be removed from her duty."
I couldn't hide the anger anymore. "You're firing her?"
"No, she will be moved to the kitchen department. She's been idling around anyways. This way, you will have less distraction and Sera will learn to be more useful around here.
"You can't do that!"
"I think I can. I am your mother, and the head of the maids in this household. I have every power to do so."
"I promise that I'll get straight A+'s this quarter!"
She ignored me. "That'll be it. I will be sending your new maid to greet you in a few days. She's a down to earth woman and is quite the scholar. She will definitely be a positive influence on you."
I was almost furious now. "I don't want another maid! I want Sera!" I yelled, but she had already left.
If Sera had been assigned any other task, I wouldn't have been so upset, but kitchen duty was the most menial job in the household, and I was almost positive that Sera would not be able to handle the intensity of the job. Sera couldn't tell the difference between asparagus and cauliflower. Asking her to help chop onions and peel carrots was ridiculous. I would almost never get to see her if this was going to be the case. She would no longer eat with me, joke with me, or tell me any of her sexual fantasies. Any free time she had would be spent wiping the inch-thick layer of grease off the stove vent. She would be exhausted. There was absolutely no way her high-maintenance body would be able to cope.
I sat on my bed for several more minutes and sighed. I stuffed my face into my pillow and used it to muffle my scream of agitation.
The twins walked in ten to twenty minutes later and I was still on my bed. My head was buried into the pillow and my head was throbbing. Gee…I was doing way too much thinking.
They came over to me and stood at either side of my bed.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Ace asked.
"Do you guys have influence… over the staff? I mean, would you be able to make some changes?"
"Well, honestly speaking, no. The staff answers to the head and the head answers to my mother. If we request something, it won't go through," he looked at me, sprawled across the blankets almost lifelessly. "What happened with your mother?"
"Sera's being assigned to kitchen duty."
"Are you kidding?"
"No, my mother transferred her." Perhaps it made me seem a bit high maintenance, but I needed Sera in my life. I wanted to hear her jokes, her stories, her voice. There was no doubt that my mother was trying to drive Sera away. She clearly knew what kind of person Sera was and she knew that the girl wouldn't be able to handle kitchen duty. In this household, if a servant couldn't manage the tasks he or she was assigned to, they were fired. That was the policy. There was zero tolerance for incompetence.
"Why is she doing this?" Cyan asked.
"She thinks that Sera is influencing me negatively. My grades have dropped and she's concerned about it."
"You've got two A-'s and A's for everything else," Cyan raised an eyebrow.
"Yes, but I used to get straight A+'s."
"That's probably our fault. We've been dragging you around, haven't we?"
"No! It's not your fault! If anyone is to blame, it's myself for slacking off. Truth is that I haven't been trying as hard as I was before. My rank in each course has dropped at least five places."
"Well, you can subtract two since we don't really count. We weren't there before so you really can't put us in your before and after comparison," the twins shrugged.
I sighed and rolled over to stare up at the ceiling.
"Babe, you're tired. Go to sleep and figure this all out tomorrow."
"Ace, I've slept for like… what? Twenty-four hours straight?"
"Yes, but that was more like… being knocked out for twenty for hours. I think you need to get some peaceful slumber."
"I'll try. Agh, this is driving me crazy," I let out a little shriek of agitation.
I couldn't think at all. My mind had broken down on me and probably wouldn't be back in business until spring. That was human hibernation for you.
"Just sleep," Ace commanded. "We'll stay with you until then. If it puts your mind to ease, we'll talk to our mother about it."
"Oh would you really?"
Cyan spoke up. "Yeah, after you've fallen asleep."
They helped me into the covers and tucked me in. Of course, I hadn't realized the intimacy of the situation. I was too busy rambling.
"Oh! But I'd feel terrible. I mean, I should do it myself shouldn't I? I mean, it's my problem you know… I feel so bad involving you guys with my issues—"
Ace cut in. "Well, we're making it our problem. We don't want Sera to leave either. She's a good person and she takes good care of you."
"She really is. Oh, did I tell you about the time she…" I rambled for maybe about another hour or so. I told them about the time Sera had accidentally poured water on my head when I sat near a plant, the time when we nearly killed an innocent bystander in our attempt at minigolf, the time I got mad at her and poured all her makeup down the drain, and many other things. It was really a wonder how the twins managed to sit through and listen to all that crap. It was an hour before I actually fell asleep, and for that entire hour, the twins simply sat there and listened to my monologue. How they put up with me, I had no clue.
I woke up several hours later. I sat up and noticed how heavy the covers felt. I looked down to see the twins sitting on the ground, their heads resting peacefully on their arms on the sides of my bed. They must have been really tired. I had been told that the twins had spent the night at the hospital with me and Cyan had later informed me that Ace hadn't slept at all. Likewise, Ace had said the same thing about Cyan. As inconsiderate as I may have sounded, I felt peaceful with the two of them next to me. Certainly, the twins had their flaws despite their perfect exterior front they managed to put up, but they were great people.
When they slept, they were so relaxed. My eyes trailed down from their faces to their broad shoulders, their strong backs, and toned arms. Bands of muscle made themselves visible in their forearms every time the twins shifted, reminding me of how beautiful the twins really were. They were by no means bulky people. At 5'11.5, they weighed no more than a hundred seventy pounds of pure, lean muscle. Their body fat percentage couldn't have been over five percent. I had checked out male body weight charts before and the US Army's average body weight for people of 5'11 was around 185. So they weren't the biggest guys in the world, but they were in no way skinny or scrawny either.
I couldn't resist the urge to feel their hair between my fingers. Their hair was tussled a bit by sleep, but the unruly, messy look suited them perfectly. I stifled a giggle and then caught myself. What the hell was I doing? I was so selfish. Sera could have been suffering at that moment and I was there checking out the twins. I pulled myself out of the covers and moved off the bed as inconspicuously as I possibly could. I shut the door behind me and ran downstairs, hoping to catch Mrs. Darling in the dining room. I knew that the twins had promised to talk to her for me, but this was my problem. I couldn't rely on the twins any more than I already had. I had to learn how to stand up for myself. As I expected, Mrs. Darling was at the dining table, filing through several folders while chomping down on a plate of pastries. I took the chair across from her and she looked up at me.
"Oh! Fienne, my dear. What can I do for you?"
"I have a favor to ask of you."
"Yeah, I was wondering if you could convince my mother to relieve Sera of kitchen duty."
"Meaning, you want her back, yes?" Leave it to Mrs. Darling to figure me out.
"Well, sweetheart, I try not to meddle with the affairs of the housekeeping staff. I gave that responsibility to your mother and I think that your mother has good reason to remove Sera from your side."
I wanted to scream in protest, but desires and reality don't manage to collide very often.
"Anyhow, I'm sorry, but I'm not the one you should talk to. I, just like your mother, want only the best for you, but I think that the one who can give you the best is your own mother. She's a good person and knows what she's doing." I couldn't say anything back. Mrs. Darling thought highly of my mother and was under her influence day and night. She thought of my mother as a friend rather than a servant and just like a true friend, Mrs. Darling was unwilling to act out her superiority. Overriding my mother's decision without firm reasoning went against her moral code so I was pretty sure that there wasn't much more to be said. I stood up, thanked her for her time, and decided to do something I hadn't done in years—I went to my mother's room. I had to confront her. She was the only one who could do something about it. I knocked on her door and walked in when I heard her give permission for entry. She wasn't surprised to see me. In fact, the expression on her face actually told me that she had been expecting my visit.
"I need to talk to you," I told her.
"Yes? If it's about the matter of your maid, then you're wasting your time."
"You can't do that!" I shouted at her.
"As a matter of fact, I can."
"Please, give me a second chance. I'm begging you. I promise to do well from now on. I'll study two times as hard as I did before. I'll get straight A+'s again."
"No. That's not going to happen. Don't take me for a fool. You don't have time for distractions like her. If you slack off, you'll become just like your father."
"I won't be! I'm in the highest level of classes possible. I'm in all the possible offered academic AP classes right now, and my GPA is nearly perfect! There's no way I'm going to be like dad!"
"You have his genes in you and there is every chance that you will walk the same path he did."
I hated her at that moment, but I could help pitying her. There was no doubt that she was still hung over my father.
"I'm not him," I said coolly, and walked out of her room.
When I opened my door, Ace looked up sleepily.
"Hey," he greeted.
"Where'd you go?"
"I went to talk with your mother."
"I told you that we'd do that for you."
"No, it's okay."
"I'm guessing from your reaction that it didn't turn out too well?"
The conversation drifted off into silence. I was still standing near the door so he motioned for me to go over to him. I obeyed. I sat on the bed and he joined me.
"I… also spoke with my mother."
"I see. Do you want to talk about it?"
"Are you willing to listen?"
"I'm always willing," he answered in a way that gave my heart thump a bit. Startled by my own reaction to him, I decided against it.
"Actually, maybe I'm
not ready to talk about it yet. Perhaps some other time?"
"Don't force yourself. Just tell me and that guy whenever you're ready."
Another silence came over us.
"Umm, do you think we should move Cyan to a more comfortable position?" I asked, after glancing over at the still sleeping Cyan.
"Yeah, his leg's going to hurt like a bitch when he wakes up." Ace walked to Cyan's side of the bed, hauled him over his shoulder, and looked at me, as if waiting for directions.
"Umm, you can just put him on the bed. Are you sure you won't wake him?"
"You kidding? Cyan sleeps like a dead man on crack."
I smiled at his description. The funny part about it was that he was totally serious.
"I'm not joking. Using the conventional 'dead man' description doesn't even begin to describe Cyan."
"Then how does he wake up then?"
"Well, he does manage to keep his internal clock, but waking him up artificially should be officially declared a sport."
"Umm, care to give me some examples of how you've managed to wake him up?"
He looked at me carefully. "You don't want to know."
I flinched. Ace placed him on the bed and came back around to sit down next to me. We drifted off into silence once again until I spoke up several minutes later.
"What should I do?" I desperately needed advice. I wasn't good with giving self-instructions and the twins always seemed to have the answers to everything so I took to asking him.
"Don't worry about it. I'll handle everything."
I protested firmly. "No."
"I'm afraid you don't have much of a choice."
"Why not? Am I completely powerless? Do you think I can't do anything on my own?" I shouted at him.
"Fienne, that's not what I'm saying."
I knew that he wasn't, and I felt terrible for blowing up at him. He was only trying to help me and yet I still vented my frustration upon him. I was scared. I was scared of Sera being out on the streets again, just like how she was before she was taken in by Mrs. Darling. If my mother kicked Sera out, there was no way for her to make a living. I couldn't help but blame myself for it. If I hadn't let my grades drop like that, none of this would have happened. I gave myself a little mental slap.
You know what the worst feeling in the world is? No, it's not loneliness, not heartbreak, and surprisingly not the feeling of running to the bakery and finding out that they had run out of Boston Crèmes. It's helplessness. To be running away from an angry mob is much better than being backed into a corner by them. I suppose that's why I flipped on Ace. His statement made me feel helpless, powerless, and unnecessary. He must have read my expression, for he spoke up again.
"The fact that you're trying so desperately to help her is good enough, isn't it?"
"Well, in the end it's the result that matters right? Even if I try to help her, if I don't succeed, everything will be useless."
He put a hand on my shoulder and turned me to face him. "You're being a hypocrite."
"Fienne, you're saying that it's the result that matters right?"
"So why would it matter if I helped you or not?"
I thought about this for a while and saw his point. Before I managed to say anything back, he spoke up again.
"And honestly speaking, the only reason why we're going to try to make this work out is because you're so distressed about it. The fact that you're trying so hard makes us want to help you."
"You should rely on us sometime. There are people out there who are willing to help, Fienne. And they're willing to help you not because they themselves possess a daunting sense of charity, but because they like you. As long as people are willing to come to your aid, then you're doing something right."
I looked up at him and smiled slightly. I wasn't completely convinced yet, but I was pretty sure that I saw his point.
"I don't know… I guess…"
He ruffled my hair. "Don't ever doubt it, babe."
I gave him a smile. He had cheered me up immensely. As much as I would have liked to handle the issue on my own, I couldn't help feeling better knowing that I had the twins on my side. "You know what, Ace?"
"You're a good guy," I smiled at him and saw him stiffen. He turned away from me and inaudibly mumbled several words.
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you."
"Never mind," he muttered. "Well, let's try to wake Sleeping Beauty up. Then we can approach your mother."
"I'm going with you."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Yeah," I confirmed. I wasn't going to hide in the shadows while the twins fought.
Ace walked over to the side Cyan was laying, looking peaceful and unassuming. When I saw the mischievous glint in Ace's eyes, I began to fear for Cyan. I didn't know how Ace was planning on waking him up, but I was pretty sure that it would be more than just a little shake or tap on the shoulder.
He looked around my room and strolled over to the bathroom. Half a minute later, he emerged, holding a ginormous bucket of water.
"Oh crap, Ace, don't you even think about it."
"Then what would you propose? Trust me, I've tried every method possible."
"How about a cup of water? That thing's like an ocean and a half!" I exclaimed, panicking.
"A cup isn't enough to do it. You have to give him the impression that he's drowning."
"Why drowning? Can't we just jump on top of him and give him the impression that he's having a heart attack?"
"Cyan can't swim, but don't tell him I told you. As for the latter question, I've tried it already."
"You've jumped on him?"
"No, I made my eight year old cousin do it."
"How about we scream fire?"
"Tried that too."
"Drag him down the stairs?"
"Jesus Christ, are you trying to kill me?"
"Hey, He's not going to be tumbling down the stairs. We're simply going to expose him to some impact… wait, kill you?" I asked, once his self-referring pronoun fully registered.
"Fienne, that would work, but our lives would be at stake afterwards. Well, mine at least. The last time I did that, he chased after me with a baseball bat for four hours."
"Just for exposing him to a little impact?"
"Well, I may have accidentally exposed him to a bit more than just a little impact…." He looked away guiltily.
My mouth dropped in disbelief. "You dropped him?"
"It was an accident. I swear."
"So how do you know that he's not going to flip after you dump a swimming pool on him?"
He looked down at his bucket and scoffed. "A swimming pool for what? Protists?"
"Ace…" I shot him a look.
"Trust me, he'll be fine."
Before I could protest anymore, Ace had already lifted the bucket over his head and was tilting it over threateningly. Even if, by some rare chance, Cyan would be okay with it, what was I going to do with my bed? I raced over and pushed Ace away, causing him to lose balance and turn the bucket over unexpectedly. The water came pouring down on us and both Ace and I ended up soaked through and through. He had stumbled due to the weight of the bucket, causing me lose my footing as well, and we ended up sprawled on the wet ground, me on top of him.
"Ace, I am going to kill you."
"Aw, you're saying that you don't like the position we're in?" He reached up and pulled me closer to him, wrapping his arms around me tightly.
"You're so fun to hug," he laughed. I flushed a bright reddish color. The asshole was making fun of me! I struggled, trying to ignore the feeling of comfort I felt in his arms. His body was encased around mine, and the fit was nearly perfect. I had never been hugged so tightly before, and I was unable to deny that I enjoyed it. I shook the notion out of my head. What was I talking about? The one I liked was Cyan!
We sat up with his arms still fully wrapped around me.
"So cute…" he nuzzled his face into my neck and my body temperature rose another ten degrees. We noticed that Cyan was finally waking up from the dead and Ace let go of me. We stood up to take a closer look, and saw his eyes flutter open.
"And she awakes," Ace remarked sarcastically.
He sat up and looked around him, still trying to take in his surroundings. When his eyes landed on us, he simply stared, wordlessly. Hah, like that was something new.
After a few more moments, he opened his mouth to speak. "Why are you two soaked?"
"We went swimming," Ace answered.
Cyan only rolled his eyes. "Bastard." His gaze then focused on me and he stared for quite some time before I realized that his eyes were plastered onto my chest. I looked down to see my pink five dollar bra in plain view. I was wearing a white shirt so the water had made it almost transparent.
I shrieked and pulled my bed covers around me.
"Oh, I didn't notice that," Ace said calmly. He went over to my closet and randomly pulled out one of my black t-shirts. He looked at it and read the words out loud. "Cryobank—the leading Sperm Bank in America. High quality, tough standards…"
I forgot my state of exposure and ran over to grab the shirt from his hands.
"Ugh, I hate you two," I glared and stomped off to the bathroom. I pealed off the wet t-shirt and pulled on the sperm-shirt until I realized that my underwear was soaked as well. I wrapped a towel around my body and ran out again to rummage my drawers for a new set of underwear.
"Don't you dare come over," I told them and ran back into the bathroom, blushing furiously after finding myself a more appropriate and more complete change of clothing.
Ah…. Done. I think I hate this chapter. Lol. It wasn't easy writing… at all… it was sort of like the twin-explanation chapter, but just.. um… more badly done. Ah… gee…. What have I gotten myself into? Well, I guess once this stuff is all gone and past, I can get to the fun stuff…
Oh! And did everyone read my new story? The first real chapter should be out today. I'm done with the next chapter as well so updates should be quick. I've got that story planned out beginning to end so it will probably be easier for me to write out. I must say that the plot is a lot more original than TOTM as well. No, this does not mean that I'm going to start neglecting TOTM. It just means that I'm going to be bringing you another story. I'll probably get TOTM updated once every two weeks so I'll avoid the… once every 6 month thing.
I'll be busy these few weeks so if I lag behind in my updates by a week or so, forgive me. Finals and other testing is coming up and my teachers are stuffing me with tests, quizzes, and essays. Good God…. Anyhow, thanks for your reviews! I've gotten a lot of encouragement and I'm really grateful.
Frequently addressed issues: (haha… not many are actual questions.)
The perfection of the twins—you see… this story is told in first person so everything is told in Fienne's point of view. From what Fienne sees, the twins are utterly perfect beings. Of course, as she gets to know them better and as the story progresses, you will be able to make out their flaws as Fienne begins to find them. But yes, I've made the twins too perfect for my liking.
Fienne's idiocy—damn, I actually thought I toned it down. Guess not. I thought that she was getting smarter… I mean, yeah, in the first couple of chapters she was probably the biggest idiot, but I don't think it's that bad… now at least.