Memories (Completed)
Author: Jewel Heart

Chapter 27
27

I stepped out of the closet and looked at myself in the three way mirror. I was wearing the ball gown that Pier Le’ Font had exclusively designed for me and which Scarlett had adjusted.

It looked beautiful on me. Everything fit. My curves were noted, my legs looked long, and my hourglass figure was clearly visible. The ankle boots were comfortable, even though they were high heels.

I examined my sides. I still look like a toothpick, though.

My hair was wavy and elegantly fell around me. My bangs were side swept across my face, gently brushing my eyes. I was wearing makeup tonight as well. Some eyeliner, light blue eye shadow that looked white, and pale pink lip gloss. Around my neck hung my necklace. I touched it gently.

What happened when I was Bloom?

“You look gorgeous,” someone suddenly said. I turned around and saw Molly standing at the door.

Molly looked pretty in her pale pink ball gown. It was sleeveless and had beads at the top and was completely ruffled at the bottom. She was holding her feathered mask in her hand. She looked like the old Molly. The one that was always cheerful. A Molly that I haven't seen in twelve years.

“Thank you,” I said shyly.

It was a little awkward between Molly and me right now. I had explained to her about Rakesh, and she had taken it a little too good. I still don’t know what to think about her reaction.

“I'm serious, Lumex,” she said. “You’re dazzling.”

“Am I?” I smiled.

She nodded. “Are you finally happy that you are having a birthday party? It’s taken you seventeen years to finally come to your senses?” She paused. “Seventeen years,” she repeated. “Time flies. I mean, next year you’ll be a senior and after that, you’ll be gone.”

I shrugged. “Don’t worry, Mom. I won’t leave you. James and I can go to college here in Florida. I don’t need to go to Harvard.”

“But it’s your dream, honey.”

I sighed. “Dreams can change. All I really care about right now is being with my family.”

“Lumex,” she whispered. She had her, ‘don’t let me stop you,’ look. She sighed. “The party’s started. James is waiting for you downstairs.” My face must have lit up, because she laughed. “Aren't you happy tonight?”

“I don’t know. It might be the medicine,” I joked.

Molly smiled and walked over to me. She opened her arms and I hugged her. “Oh, my baby’s growing up,” she sniffed. “In a few years, you and James will be married. You’ll be focused on him and will forget about me.”

“Aren't you getting a little ahead of yourself?” I said panicky. I didn’t even want to start to think about marriage.

Molly sniffed. “Nope. The way you two act around each other, I wouldn’t be surprised if you got engaged tonight.” I grimaced. She stroked my hair and kissed my forehead. “Sweetie, where’s your mask?” she asked.

“Over there.” I pointed next to the sink.

Molly picked up the mask and brushed away a tear. The mask she held was the kind that only covered my eyes and most of my nose. On the top of the mask were glued beads that were on white wires, sticking up, and moved to the side. It was one of the prettiest masks that I had ever seen.

Molly came up to me and placed the mask on my face. I adjusted it and then looked at myself in the mirror. Someone beautiful stared back. I had chalky white skin that was whiter than the dress, dark brown hair that fell around me like a waterfall, and mysterious chocolate brown eyes hidden behind a white mask.

“Wow,” I breathed. Molly smiled at me.

“It’s time, honey.”

Molly walked out of the door of my bathroom and I followed her. Our heels made sounds as we walked through the hallways. I could hear the music as soon as I left my room. It was rock. I didn’t recognize the singer, but I liked the music.

My stomach was tied into knots as I followed Molly to the staircase. I chewed on my cheeks as I took slow, deep breaths. I hugged my stomach and tried hard to listen to my heart. It was beating fast. My nerves didn’t have so much to do with James being at the party, but that the last time I had a party like this for my seventeenth birthday, I died while I was coming down the steps.

We reached the staircase a little too soon. I was already wary of everything that I did. I put my arms down and relaxed my expression. I took a deep breath before we started down the stairs. I tried to keep my expression as emotionless as possible while we walked down. Every kid from my school had been invited to this party.

I quickly spotted James, who looked dashing in his tuxedo. I saw Jeff and Max who were also wearing tuxedos.

Then I spotted Violet who had put her long hair in a side ponytail and was wearing a green cocktail dress. Her mask was in her hand. It was one of those masks that you had to hold against your face. She was arm in arm with a boy who I didn’t recognize, not just because he had his mask on, but also because I didn’t know him.

 Scarlett was next to Jeff, him apparently being her date. She was in one of those mermaid dresses. It was a brown and pink and she had put her hair in a bun. Her mask was plain brown and on her face. It was easy to recognize the short girl with springy hair among the crowd, luckily.

Then, I saw Vivian with Max. She was wearing a ruffled brown dress and had fake brown roses in her hair. They all looked dashing. Her mask was one of those that covered your face completely. It was orangey brown and sparkling. It was easy to distinguish her aquamarine eyes. They were one of the first things that caught my attention.

Lastly, I saw Demetrius in his tuxedo by some of the kids that he usually hung out with. His mask was on his forehead and I could easily see him.

James was waiting at the bottom of the staircase for me. He grabbed me by the waist and lifted me down the last two steps. I laughed and we shared a kiss. When we pulled away, I was surprised to see that he didn’t have any lipstick on him. James had a black mask, like the kind that El Zorro wore.

“Happy birthday,” he said and gave me another quick kiss.

“Why aren't Viv and everyone here waiting? I saw them, but they were spread out.”

“They’re coming,” he said looking away from me and at my Aunt Loren.

I waved at her. She smiled in return and then answered her companion. Just then, the whole team pushed through the crowd.

“Happy B-Day, Lumex,” Max said and gave me a hug.

“Thanks.” I received a quick hug and happy birthday from everyone else. Then Brooke popped up. “Hey,” I said. “Is the food good?” I eyed her chocolate muffin.

“Super,” she agreed.

Brooke was wearing a silk orange floor length gown and had her mask on her forehead. Her big bushy hair was a loose around her and curls bounced. Andrew wrapped his arms around her waist and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Hey, is Claire here?” I asked excited. “I think I have an idea on a prank that we can pull—”

“No pranks,” James disagreed. I looked at him and smiled sweetly. It was clear that he didn’t want me to wander off.

“Please, no pranks tonight,” Brooke begged. She didn’t want to let go of Andrew. I sighed and agreed.

“Good,” James said cheerfully. “Let’s go dance,” he said pulling me away from the group just as a waltz song began. We headed to the middle of the dance floor and he pulled me to him.

“James, I can't waltz,” I admitted sheepishly.

“But I can,” he smiled. “And that is why I will lead.” He placed his hand on the small of my back and then placed my hand on his shoulder. We began dancing, and I was surprised to see that I actually could waltz. “See?” James teased. “You’ve been able to dance any kind of dance since—oh, I don’t know, maybe the sixteenth century?”

“Well, if I'm so experienced, then why am I stepping on you foot?”

“You need practice.” I laughed. He sighed and looked at me adoringly. “I swear you’ve never looked more beautiful.” I smiled at his compliment. I wanted him to think of me as beautiful. I wanted him to think of me as the only beautiful thing in this world. “And, just the fact that you’re alive, it’s enough to keep me happy forever.”

“You know, I'm still not so sure that the battle is over,” I said. “I can't relax. I don’t feel relieved.”

“None of us do.” James’s smile dropped. “You’ll never stop being in danger. There are more people out to get you. Rakesh isn’t even the one in charge. He was just a servant. And there's more.”

“But, tonight especially. How are we so sure that I’ll survive tonight?”

“We’re not,” James said bleakly. “But we are all hoping that you will. And we are all ready to defend you if we have to. None of our jobs are done tonight. We can't take a vacation from protecting you ever. Especially not me.”

I wet my lips and leaned my head against James’s chest as a slow song played. This I actually could dance. We were quiet for most of the song.

“James, when are you leaving?” I asked. I hadn't been able to get my mind off of his trip for the whole day.

“February,” he said.

“And how long will you be gone?”

He hesitated before answering. “A month or two.”

That was what I had been fearing. If I was so stressed out about being killed tonight, then who knows what will happen in the couple of months that he is gone?

“Are you taking Violet and everyone with you?”

“Yes.” So, he’s leaving me defenseless. “But, I know that Demetrius will take care of you.” I looked up at James. “I hate to admit it, but I actually think that the next best protector for you would be Demetrius.”

“You’re still coming back, though,” I said stubbornly. “I don’t care how good of a guardian Demetrius is, I still only want you by my side.”

“I’ll always come back. Whether you need me or not, I’ll always be there for you.” Suddenly a pop song started playing. James stopped. “Okay, this I can't dance.” He smiled down at me. “And apparently my parents wish to speak to you.”

I stared at him confused, but let him drag me to the other side of the mansion. Heidi and Jeremiah were standing by the food with their daughters and their dates.

Jeremiah wore a tuxedo and a simple blue mask, while next to him, Heidi had pulled her hair back into a tall bun and wore a long white dress. Harmony was in a light blue dress that reminded me of the one that Cinderella wore. Jenna had a dark red cocktail dress and one of those handheld masks. Giselle was in a black dress that, honestly, looked a little gothic, but her curled platinum hair gave it a twist.

“Happy birthday, Lumex,” Heidi said, hugging me. “Your party is beautiful.”

That was a strange expression. “Thank you.”

“Happy birthday,” the rest of the Eventides chorused when Heidi had pulled away, after kissing my forehead. I smiled at them.

“Ready to open some presents yet?” Giselle asked.

“Giselle, not yet,” I shook my head as I blinked back tears. “You guys, thank you so much.”

“Why?” Harmony asked as they all exchanged puzzled looks.

“You stepped in and fought Meredith and Bill. You saved my life.” James felt me tense and squeezed my hand reassuringly.

Meredith and Bill have been executed during the fight. They had been too big of a threat and had had to be eliminated from the picture. I was still sad to have lost my cousins. Even if they had killed their parents and attempted to do the same with me. On the other hand, my mysterious Uncle Matthew had fled the house on Friday, as soon as James’s agents went to destroy all evidence of Rakesh’s downfall. We now had someone else to track down.

“It’s our job, Lumex,” Jeremiah said. “You don’t have to thank us for anything. We’re all just glad that you’re alive.”

I choked up. “Thank you.”

The party was fun in the end. James and I socialized with most of the guests. We danced and we had fun.

Somewhere near the end of the ball James dragged me outside to the garden.

There was food set out on two long tables covered by a white sheet. Bugs weren’t a problem because of the long net that stretched over our heads, spreading throughout the entire garden. Still, the real party was going on in the house. There were a couple of my relatives out here: Bailey, Miki, Pablo and their dates. And also some of my classmates: George Wilson and his girlfriend, Maria Arteaga.

James pulled me close to him and we began dancing to a new slow song. James was lost in thought, staring out at the garden.

“Are you okay?” I asked him.

“I'm fine,” he assured me. “It’s your birthday,” James said suddenly, looking at me with a wry smile. “No, let me rephrase that,” he added. “It’s your seventeenth birthday.”

My eyes didn’t brighten, but they did soften. “I survived,” I finally admitted to myself.

I might have sounded a little smug, though most people lived through their seventeenth birthday, I wasn’t like that. This was my first seventeenth birthday party. My first—as Melody would say—completed coming of age. It was hard to believe that I have survived almost forty-eight hours of being alive after seventeen years of living.

James gave me a sad smile and pulled me closer as a slow song began playing. We danced in silence for a few minutes, passionately staring into each other’s eyes. At some point he said, “No, you haven't survived.”

I gave him a puzzled look. “I'm alive, James. I'm living and breathing…and I'm here.”

“You don’t understand, Lumex,” he sighed. “I’ve failed again. You haven't survived,” he argued grimly. “The moment your heart stopped beating, I failed. The moment your heart stopped beating, you died, and I died.”

I shook my head. “I’ve survived because of you. You saved me. You are the reason that I'm standing here.” I looked down at my feet, afraid that I would step on him. “Because you took that decision—that decision to allow me to change into a vampire—to awaken my powers and senses,” I argued softly. “Because you allowed me to have power—power that could have consumed the old Lumex entirely—I was able to survive.”

He hid his face in my hair. “I didn’t have anything to do with you killing Rakesh,” he disagreed. “You killed him because you wanted to live. Because you wanted to survive. And technically you did. But in my world, you didn’t.”

“You idiot,” I laughed. I probably shouldn’t be taking this so casually, but it was hard to ignore. “You don’t know how wrong you are.”

Abruptly he lifted his head from my face. “You’re the living dead,” he said. “Is that clear enough or should I go into a complex explanation of the difference between humans and vampires?”

My smile grew fond. “James, do you know what I realized this morning?” I asked. He frowned in confusion because of my sudden change of topic. My smile grew wider. “Listen carefully.” I didn’t elaborate on what he should listen to. This way he’d try harder.

I amusingly watched him get angrier as he struggled to hear it. The song had changed into a rock song—one that I didn’t recognize—and we were still dancing slowly, off beat. I took this time to once again study him. To feel him; to connect with him, both physically and mentally. Everything was the same: the gray eyes, the fined out cheekbones, and the gorgeous, silky golden blonde hair. His body structure was still large, bulky. He was tall and strong and gorgeous, like always. One thing had changed, though.

What is that?” he asked startled. “That faint beat? Oh, God, please tell me that it’s not the music.”

I laughed again, my voice ringing in the large space. “It’s not.” I carefully stretched on my toes to kiss him, all the while dancing. He lowered his head to help me reach his lips. Smiling, I pulled away and looked at him. “My heart is still beating. Just very faintly.” My eyes skimmed behind him. “So, in a way, I'm still quite alive. But I’ll tell you one thing,” I said, pulling away. “You are always going to be the main priority in my life. That’s why I killed Rakesh.”

“You silly, silly, girl.” He wrapped his arms around my waist and we began dancing again to a new slow song. We danced in silence for a while, sparks flying in the air as he held me.

I studied his eyes. They aren't so sad. They’ve finally brightened.

“Lumex, you are my world,” he said abruptly. “You are the one who illuminates it.”

I smiled at that. Again, it was selfish to consider myself as the only one he would ever want and love. But, there was a burden to carry through. Immortality doesn’t always come with hugs and kisses. Some people have to work on it to make sure that nothing falls out of place. For me, that load would be the world.

This war hasn’t ended. The battle between good and evil has just begun—both inside and outside of me. Carrying through my task won’t be easy. I had never thought of it that way. If I rip to pieces from the inside out, it’ll be a disaster. I’d have to be cautious from now on. Never again can I slack off and imagine that the world is a safe place. Because, for it to be that way, I might have to die one last time.

This isn’t a game. There can't be a winner and a loser without consequences. In time, I hope that the terms will be clearly set out in front of me.

But for now, I’ll just have to rely on my instincts.

“Make sure that nobody ever takes my place,” I said.

He flashed a new smile. One that was filled with warmth, love, and sadness. “That’s impossible,” he said softly. He tipped my head so that, for the last time that night, my lips would meet his.

There’s a lot still going on in my world. The deaths won’t stop here. We will still have to fight. But now, I am able to help. I am no longer afraid of being killed. Because now I have something to defend.

James is my world. He will always be. But, there is something much bigger than just my love for him. There is something much more important. Something that is worth protecting.

A future.

 

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