Part 9

Cecilia Vadamerca had a certain distaste for mankind. If you'd ask her socialite parents, who she has not spoken to in years, they would have no idea when it started. She didn't just wake up one day not liking other people. More so, it was something that loomed over the edge of her former passive countenance, slowly growing larger and stronger until she could hardly swallow the venomous words she longed to say without choking.
When she was a teenager, Cecilia filled up countless journals with her admission of unhappiness, the tip of her pen tearing the pages as she scrawled the words. She just found life tedious, and managed to get no joy or thrill from it. She had no friends at school, though she pretended to laugh and talk nonsense with the girls who considered her a friend. She was the most popular girl at St. Agnes, what with her beautiful, feline face and rich auburn hair. Not to mention that her parents were very wealthy.

Cecilia ran away from St. Agnes' the first chance she got, moving to Clapperclaw Valley without so much as a note to her parents. Her father, Edward Vadamerca, had paved the way in the oil prospecting business. He was the typical frigid salt-and-pepper businessman, who married Sophie Moffat when he thought the time was right. She was the type of woman who was born to be a trophy wife, with her ice blond hair and statuesque figure. Even though neither of them were very maternal, they had Cecilia back when it was the "thing" to have a darling daughter to bounce on your knee at parties. She hasn't tried to contact her parents since. Cecilia heard that her mother was currently marketing her own brand of skincare masks made with sea nymph cells. Cecilia knows she should feel some swell of pride that her mother is finally doing something for herself, but she doesn't. It was when she was living on her own that she began to experiment with Crossing.

A Crosser (or "those Crosser bitches" as the lesser-brained human men of town called them) were a certain set of women who found themselves more attracted to other species. Who could only obtain pleasure wrapped around the arms and tails of strange men. Satyrs, fauns, and incubus were popular sexual conquests. Cecilia found those too compliant, she longed for a challenge. She stopped going to those dirty, strange bars that catered to her kind of people and waited for an opportunity to come to her. She got a job working at Oberon Inc, a company that did testing on fairies and tried to absorb their magical essence and market it for consumer use. People called their business inhumane, but Cecilia didn't care. She felt inhumane herself.

That's when she met Syrian.

He worked at the apothecary near her apartment. She had always passed it without a thought. If you asked him, he wasn't just interested in the healing of the body, but of the spirit. She first spoke to him while he was sitting at a park bench, a well-worn copy of The Holy Bible pressed in his paws. His eyes were huge and dark, and he was over seven feet tall, she noted. She had never seen a minotaur up close before.

It didn't take much, she would recall smugly. The male gender was always easily attracted to her. She just smoked a cigarette with her heavily-lidded eyes, the smoke spiraling around her like an entity all its own. He watched her for a few moments, curiosity making his eyes twitch. She had the strangest desire to touch the hooked tip of his horns. They looked worn, but still seemed like they could pierce skin and cause damage. The minotaur introduced himself, "My name is Syrian," he said. His voice was gruff, like it had not been used often. She smiled, a dangerous thing on her, and did the same.

She would get her thrill, after all.

.

"Baby cousin, what are you doing here?" The woman asked. She had answered the door with agitation on her features, the sleeve of her silk kimono falling below her shoulder, exposing the pale concave of her collarbone.

"Cecilia, how are you?" Eli said, clearly shook by the cold reception. He and Cecilia had been raised in a similar fashion, and for a while in their teen years it had been them against the world. That was before Cecilia began hating everything and everyone, before Eli had retreated into meekness and turned his musical hobby into a career. Cecilia stared at him, blankly. "What are you doing here in Clapperclaw, Eli?" She asked, her voice not betrayed any emotion other than slight irritation. She was very skilled at doing an impression of a Greek statue, beautiful and stoic and without feeling.

"I need your help." Eli explained, "We need a place to stay. I haven't asked much of you, Cecilia, and I always put up with your wiles. Can you help us?"

Cecilia looked at her cousin. She hadn't seen him in many years, not since he had been able to grow facial hair. It sent a pang in her stomach, a guilt. She did not enjoy the feeling, and considered slamming the door in his face full stop. She blew the hair out of her eyes, and pulled a cigarette out of her kimono. "Come on in, I guess." The group let out a mutual breath.

.

Cecilia's house was by no means luxurious, it had been badly taken care of, but it was beautiful in a way. It had high ceilings and impressive moldings, and you could tell that it was owned by someone who had been spoiled as a child. There were amazing, expensive paintings on the walls, even though the ceiling was leaking.

"Have a seat," Cecilia gestured to the overstuffed burgundy sofa in the living room. Zecheriah, Poppy and Kitten complied, while Eli sat next to his cousin on one of the stools adjacent from the couch. "So maybe when I ask this time, I'll receive an answer. What are you doing here?"

"Kitten and I had to leave Heymouth," Eli gestured to Kitten, who said quietly on the sofa. She blushed under the scrutiny of Cecilia's gaze. "For personal reasons we would rather not discuss. She's with me, that's all that matters."

"Okay," Cecilia said, and crushed her cigarette on the upside-down bottom of a glass sitting on the table behind her. "Do you expect this to be permanent?"

"Oh, no. Just until we find jobs and get our own place. What do you say?" Eli asked, he nervously twisted the cuff of his shirt-sleeve in his hands. Cecilia stretched her arms, looking more cat-like than ever. You could have heard a pin drop in the anticipatory silence.

"That's fine, I suppose. I have a spare bedroom you can vacate." Cecilia scratched her neck and frowned. "And who are these two?" She gestured to Zecheriah and Poppy.
"We're friends," Zecheriah answered, "Just passing through. We'll be meeting up with Kitten's friend as soon as we find her, and we'll be out of your hair."

Cecilia nodded, absently looking at the floor. "Well, then, I trust you can find your own way around the house. Help yourselves to anything in the house. I work nights and sleep days, do I'd appreciate it if didn't make a lot of noise. And try not to bother Syrian, I'd like to keep him as unattached as possible."

With that, Cecilia stood up and walked away, closing the door of her bedroom behind her. They all exchanged glances, wondering what they had gotten themselves into. She had left with little explanation of anything, including what or who Syrian was and if they would be meeting him any time soon.