After taxing at a high velocity, the hunk of metal cheated gravity and took off into the blue abyss. I felt the pressure working on my being and that exhilarating feeling of being lifted up into the atmosphere.

A sense of anticipation surged through my body, but the feel of the cold silver necklace on my chest quickly brought me down from my reverie.

The world labelled me an orphan. After nine-years of house hopping, I was finally in the city where I was born. Both my parents had perished due to certain reasons. How they died did not really matter because in the end, they were never to return and roam the earth again. I like to think that they are now happily frolicking around in heaven.

I am not the only child in the family. My brother and I were separated after the Russian couple decided that they could only support one child, preferably a male. Both of us (together) did not fit the bill and so, he is now somewhere in Russia.

The airplane managed a rather smooth landing and soon everyone clambered onto their feet and were soon shuffling out of the plane. Where was the fire?

I slowly took my hand luggage out of the overhead compartment. Being the klutz that I was, with feet camouflaging as hands, I accidentally dropped the bag onto my own head.

My glasses slipped off the bridge of my nose and broke into a million pieces after being sandwiched between my carry-on bag and the solid metal. Whipping on my sunglasses that were in the front pocket of my black jacket, I unhappily proceeded to the nearest exit of the plane.

The wait for the remaining luggage was as swift as a swallow. Thus, in less than five minutes, I was standing in the lobby trying to find my 'family'. The social worker had given me the profile of the family I was going to be adopted into, so searching for them shouldn't be any problem. I hope.

§

The crowd slowly dissipated. Soon, only two souls remained there. The woman in a long flowing dress, strode towards the awkward teen that was standing beside a fountain.

"Hi! You must be Xelerine. Nice to meet you," the woman extended her hand with a smile.

"I'm your new guardian. Now now, I'm not going to force you to call me Mom or mummy or anything sentimental like that. You can just call me Kate. Mr. Sheffield is currently trying his best to secure a ticket back home. He is not here now 'cause he has a meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan. I know, if given a chance, he would be on the first plane back. Not that it is easy to get a ticket on such a late notice but hey, he is known as an influential person for a good reason. I, on the other hand, was 'bout three quarters way home from Alaska where I was studying those awfully cute seals. Wait till you meet Oscar. He's the most cutest! Ah... I'm blabbering again; anyway, feel free to ask if you've got any questions, okay? It feels good to be back home! "

She should have been in the Guinness World Record because she obviously was used to speaking long sentences at the speed of 12 words per second in just a single breath.

A big burly man drove up to us and promptly collected our luggage. He then deposited both Kate's and my luggage into the car boot.

I was ushered into a very luxurious vehicle and was speeding off to my new house in no time. Kate was fast asleep.

The house was located on a steep hill and had the grandeur and simplicity of Roman architecture. My eyes were drawn towards the charming garden that was right behind the mansion.

"I'll leave you here for now, James will show you the way," Kate chirped and added in an undertone, "Don't worry, his look is definitely worse than his bite that I now believe is non-existent. Or was it his bark ... Oh! By the way, he's your step-bro."

She gave me an encouraging shove towards a rather tall person around my age. Taking tentative steps towards the hostile teen, I wondered whether he was always this uptight.

James whizzed away without even bothering to help me with my luggage. He naturally did not go to etiquette school . The word 'chivalry' must have been missing from his lexicon.

Suddenly, right at the threshold of the house, he did a full one-hundred-and-eighty and had an impatient look on his face that ordered me to hurry up. Normally, I would just do the opposite of what anyone wanted me to do, but not wanting to step on any tail today, I made haste into the house.

The hall was amazing but it was the magnificent stairway that had my jaws gaping. It was polished to the last inch and splendiferous without a speck of dust to be found anywhere. I did not feel inclined to walk up the glass staircase that looked like thin ice.

While I was daydreaming, I failed to take note that James had started a lecture on what could and could not be done. I only caught the words 'Stay out of my room'. I was sure everyone was just dying to go into your room. My eyes rolled on their own accord.

"Do you understand me?" he asked.

My head automatically nodded. He then took off like a rocket.

Now what am I supposed to do?

Suddenly, a butler materialized out of the shadows.

"Do you require my assistance, miss?" His dry tones ricocheted off the walls. He must have had training at some butler schools. Were there any butler schools?

The butler took a glance at my luggage and escorted me to my new bedroom.

The first thing I noticed was I had my own majestic poster bed and my room was decorated in different hues of blue ranging from white with just tinge of blue to royal blue. Contrary to popular beliefs, the room covered fully from ceiling to floor in blue did not make me feel, well, blue. In a way, it calmed me down to see consistency.

Out of the nine families I had been adopted into, this family being the ninth, eight of my bedrooms were decorated in blue. The only one that was different was my bedroom in Japan. I got the chance to splatter paints of different spectrums onto the black wall of the bedroom.

What I wouldn't give to go back to that time but that was in the past, anyway, didn't someone once said 'least said, soonest mended'? Unconsciously, a quasi-serene smile crept onto my face.

Now, I wonder how long would it take the butler to excuse himself? Adding to his list of perfection, it seemed that the butler was also telepathic.

An audible click resonated. Left alone, I did what I wanted to do the moment my eyes clapped on the bed.

With a running nose-dive; I landed on the soft gossamer silk covered bed with a bounce. Thankfully, I did not dislocate any of my joints. A dreamless state of unconsciousness claimed me soon after that exhilarating experience.

§

"James you are not to antagonize your new little sister. You are to apologize right away. You are not to pull any sort of prank onto her and you are from here-on in-charge of making sure she does not get hurt physically, emotionally and spiritually. Do I make myself clear?" The woman in front of me glared with the strength of a bunny rabbit. Truth to be told she looked like a constipated bunny.

"Yes mom." If I did not reply immediately, who knew what would had happened.

"Now run along and have a cookie," she tweeted.

Jeez, one minute she is angry. (Not that she does a good job of it but she is working on it.)The next she is her happy had-a-sugar-rush self again.

I sighed and helped myself to the burnt cookie courtesy of mom...

I will apologize; Right after I throw away all these infernal cookies; And get a head start on my homework.

Then maybe, just maybe, I will go apologize.

Maybe.

§

(Xelerine's POV)

After the much-needed rest, the subsequent two hours were spent shuffling around my room. I still needed to get used to the room that will house me for the next period of time.

With a sigh, I unpacked the smaller bag that contained all of my daily necessities.

Satisfied with the work done today, I got acquainted with the connecting rooms. There were too many rooms to list and it was a known fact that I did not have a sense of direction. I often lost my way in my past wardrobes. So, after doing my best to retrace my steps, I ungracefully plunked myself on the furry carpet and waited for help to arrive.

And that was where James found me. Cramped between two boxes with my hair wild from my hands constantly running through it, I must have looked like a caged animal close to hysteria. Heck, I even felt like one.

Silently walking off and then turning at a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree angle seemed to be a signature move of James.

"Look-I-am-sorry-for-being-such-a-jerk-just-now. Please-forgive-me?" He atoned for his mistake in a rush.

True to my taciturn ways and not in a mood to talk, I nodded my head again. By the end of the day, my skull might roll off my head if I kept this up. The headhunters in the world would applaud this new finding. Heads rolling without the need to slice it.

Get away from gruesome thoughts, preferably, now!

I took two deep breaths.

"Oh and dinner is served" He mockingly bowed with a flourish befitting a prince.

Without a moment of notice, he took a hold of my right arm and bounded out of the doors like a golden retriever. I successfully reclaimed the said arm right before he made me free fall down the glass stairs.

Going up the stairs, I did not really notice the height nor the fact that if the glass should break I will be, literally, swimming with the fishes. James noticed the shroud of apprehension surrounding me. He assured me that the glass would not break. Big help that does...

I took my first step down. My feet turn a bit wobbly just like jelly. James caught a paroxysm of laughter and had yet to recover from the attack.

He ran up and pulled me down after patiently waiting for thirty minutes. I do not think I will ever acclimatize to the Stairs of Doom.

"I've heard that being fashionably late is a good thing but this is starting to get ridiculous. Plus, I'm hungry" he whined true to his canine counterpart.

I allowed him to drag me through the maze. At last, I caught a whiff of mouth-watering roasted chicken with spices. Only then did I realize that I was famished. The dinning room was bare; save for the round marble table and two adults. They were both smiling and laughing.

First impressions were not overrated. I always get the jitters before meeting anyone new. It was these crucial first few seconds that shaped future interactions.

Assuming the female was my 'mother', the male should be my 'father'. Conversation ceased its flow as they both stopped talking to each other and started to introduce themselves.

Then, silence stretched out as they waited for my response. I was petrified. My jaws' hinges seriously needed oiling. I could hear the grandfather clock near the doorway ticking off the seconds.

"Urmm... Nice to meet you?" I said.

Brooks of laughter gurgled and pierced through the tension in the room that was almost tangible. "I-thought-she-couldn't-talk-for-a-moment-there," 'father' said. The whole sentence was punctuated with guffaws of laughter.

"I thought she couldn't understand a single word of English. Was about to get out that 'Essential Japanese Phrase Book' I bought on a whim last week." 'Mother' smiled.

A single chime of the bell indicated that dinner is ready to be served. The food was scrumptious. I had a very enjoyable dinner even though they did not hear a single peep from me for the rest of the night.

After dinner, James went straight to bed. I too was about to go when 'mom' restrained me.

"Honey, is it okay if I call you honey? I think it should be fine... Tomorrow you will be going to school in James' car. Do not forget to eat your breakfast! It's only the most important meal of the day. You should go get some winks of sleep. Nighty night." She lightly kissed me on my temple.

I unconsciously followed her, thinking that she was leading me back to my room. Unfortunately, she was too tired to even notice me following her. Like the lost puppy I was. I turned around and sighed.

I'm in for a long night

I tried to trace my way back to the stairs. I felt dizzy after walking past a multitude of brown doors that all looked the same. Luckily, I bumped into James while he was going to get a cup of milk.

"Can't blame ya, it's quite hard to get around on the first try. You'll get the hang of it in no time."

I wouldn't bet on that. I kept my thoughts to myself.

Too busily caught in my thoughts, I did not notice the sidelong glance from James.

Finally, at my bedroom door, I bid adieu and good night to James. I was very tired and thankfully, sleep did not elude my grasp that night.


Author Notes :

-Exerpt from Chapter-

"Wait till you meet Oscar. He's the most cutest! Ah... I'm blabbering again"

'the most cutest' is an intentional mistake.