Notes: Sorry for any typos. I hope you enjoy! Please like and comment to tell me what you think. -Sokjeta
My feet shuffled slowly as my fingers drag along the wall covered with framed pictures and portraits Uncle Beck collected through out the years. Ever so often I stop and take a moment to study the beauty of his collection of art and momentum of time and wondering why it took me seven years to appreciate the beauty of it all.
My ears picked up a slight shift in the air and the scent of expensive cologne, sweat, and musk filled my nostril. I take notice of Cooper my cousin from my father’s side, by the archway studying me in silence. I look away from the wall of art and greeted him with annoyance coloring my tone, so he could get the message I didn’t want him here. “Cooper.”
“Alayna,” he dryly greeted back. “Regretting your decision yet?”
I smiled finding his question full of humor. “No.” I turn to him and say, “I just regret not coming to this decision sooner.”
Cooper leaned his shoulder against the frame of the archway, arms cross over his wide chest and scold me with his dark eyes in a way that made me marvel at how uncanny he looked like our grandfather, well our grandfather in his younger years anyways.
“So did he send you to change my mind,” I ask turning back to take in the art in front of me because it was uncanny how all men in the Nexus family shared their faces. This included my father and I hate to associate that scolding stare with a look my father could have been capable of, if he had lived long enough to use it for any reason in front of me.
“No, grandfather did not send me,” he said defensively. “I came here to tell you, you are making the biggest mistake of your life.”
“Noted. Thanks for your input.” I say sarcastically his way. “So if that is all you came here for, you can leave.”
“Really Alayna,” he sighed with aggravation, throwing his hands in the air. “Think about what the hell you’re doing-“
“I am,” I snapped. “And what I’m doing, is for me.”
“Of course it is,” he said matching my tone. “Selfish you.”
“Selfish,” I laughed with humor. “You’re calling me selfish,” I say nodding having heard it all. “I’d take a good look in the mirror if I were you, before you come at me.”
Cooper took a step back, running his shaky hand through his dark hair, a sign he was trying to control his temper. He placed his hands on his hips and looked at me with eyes that didn’t affect me the way I knew he wanted them to. “Grandfather worked so hard trying to get you in the right school, in with all the right people. Creating a future for you.”
“But it isn’t a future that I want,” I say forcefully, sick and tired of trying to get it through all their heads that the life they all had, was not the life I wanted for myself. “I don’t want to live a lie, Cooper. I don’t care to lead, nor do I care for power, and want fake friends who only care because of the name I happen to have and the blood that runs through my veins. I just want a simple life. Can I not try for that?” I asked him.
He laughed with no humor. “Alayna, you’re the first and only female with actual Nexus blood running through your veins in a thousand years, never mind that you’re a young inbred woman of nineteen. That statement alone should tell you, you would never have a simple life. And if that doesn’t help you get it through your head, you should know you are a Nexus. No matter where you go, your name will speak for you. Our family’s history will define how others perceive you.”
“I,” I say this clearly so he could hear me, “am not held back by our family’s name. I will define how others see me. I will.” I say pointing to myself.
He turned to look away from me, right hand stroking his chin, of course I assume he does to this to take a moment and think of another way to make me see his reason. “Think about how this will make the family look, Alayna. Leaving civil life for one of those who freely become barbarians.” He spit with disgust.
“Wake up Cooper.” I say in a duh tone. “This is the thirty-first century, where we are free to be who we want to be, if its civil or not. To pretend we are humans or to be the animals nature intended us to be. And anyways, why should it even matter what I do? I’m the one that has to live this life.”
He sighed aggravated and said, “this decision does not just affect you, Alayna. Do you understand that?”
I threw my hands in the air and said clearly, “I. Do. Not. Care. Do you understand that?”
“You know,” he said wagging a finger my way, unable to look at me for the moment. “My mother was right, you are just like your father, the black sheep. Without a care, while running our family’s name through the mud.”
I walked up to him and slapped him as hard as I could mange in the face. “Don’t. You. Ever. Speak. Badly about my father.” I angrily said. “My father was a man who actually cared for thing more important then social standings and ruling. Petty squabble for power is never part of an actual decent being’s life. But you wouldn’t know that, since you been fed with a sliver spoon all your life and will only ever go places because of the name you have, then the work you actually do.”
Cooper’s face flushed with red as his nostril flared. His anger forced his fist to clench and unclench as his dark eyes began to transform. His features began to phase as his anger forced him to become his animal self.
I watched unfazed of course as he crouched over to fall on his hands and knees, seeing and hearing the rippling of bone. A growl formed within his throat, as he tears at his clothes to reveal the shedding and pealing of his skin. He feverishly tears at the left part of his body and face with his now long, razor-sharp nails, molting the tissue to uncover a thick layer of deep yellow-brown fur with black strips. Cooper sat straight up upon his knees, roaring viciously, looking at me with most of his human face gone. Which was now only a patch of skin around his right eye, part of his nose hanging by loose skin and his attached right ear that hasn’t shifted.
He breathes in and out heavily and stared at me with eyes of a hunter and I laughed. Was I suppose to scared, I wondered, staring at my cousin.
I shook my head at him disapprovingly. “Oh cousin, your short temper had made a mess.” I say fully knowing he could hear the taunting in my voice, as I spoke of his shredded clothes and human skin all over the floor. “You must really get that under control. You don’t want to embarrass the family with your uncontrolled tantrums, turning you into a barbaric being.” I smiled. “You know,” I say circling him, taking notice of the state he was in, his tiger fur exposed through the nail marks of his human skin readily to be peeled off. “I feel bad for you. To shift into an animal in the most excruciating way, while others of the lucky kind can morph without even flinching and leaving such a mess.” I sighed dramatically. “It just makes me glad I’m an inbred woman, never to know the troubles of shifting.”
He growled my way but it only amused me how much I could get under his skin. “Well,” I say looking at my watch. “It’s about close to when I make my leave and still I have much to do.”
I made my way around him and over the mess, so I could go down farther into the hall to retrieve a broom and dust pan. Cooper forcefully grab my wrist, stopping me. “You. Will. Never. Have. A. Simple. Life.” He panted with every word said, getting to his feet to tower over me. “Life is never simple for anyone.”
I scold him, pulling my wrist free from his hold and said through clenched teeth, “it’s time for you to leave.”
“You’ll see,” he warned before turning away and running down the hall to disappear down the stairs.
I leaned against the wall for a moment to balance myself from the anger that made me light-headed. For a moment I felt a tingling sensation over my skin but I didn’t really need to worry about shifting. Luck would have it, that I was a rare kind of inbred-the product of an animal father and human mother-who was not able to shift as other inbred or full bloods like Cooper could.
I sighed a shaky breath to settle myself before I made my way to the broom and dustpan to clean up the mess he had left before I leave.
From down the hall I hear Mimi calling my name with worry as her heavy feet climbed the stairs. “Lay! Alayna!”
I walked back to the mess, sweeping along the way and looked up in time to see her reach the top of the stairs. I take a moment to take Mimi, my godmother, nanny, and caretaker, in with new eyes that I seem to have since learning that everything was not what it seems in this fake life I was living. Her salt and pepper hair was pulled back and tied in a bun today, different from her usual loose and free hairstyle. Along time ago her creamy cinnamon skin glowed beautifully but that had been strip away becoming dull, along with her dark eyes. Her once youthful face was now wrinkled with time and I could only blame this world for making it so that my Mimi aged faster than she was supposed to. Well that, along with death, a child of her own, me, and most importantly the fact she was a full-blooded human, who were treated like crap by the animal race.
“Are you okay?” Mimi asked her tired face creased with worry, probably thinking the worst possible out come when seeing Cooper run off in half his animal form.
I sighed avoiding the question because I was never really sure anymore if I was really okay. I knelt down with the dust pan before asking Mimi, “is it in their genetic code to be so…” I paused to look for the right word to use. “Vain…or is superficial a better word?” I look up to her for any answer at all because at this point in my life I really couldn’t deal with people like them. “Am I so vain?” I asked mortified because I did shared part of their DNA.
Mimi looked softly down at me, her dull eyes finding light, as she looked me once over. “You my dear are anything but vain or superficial, a trait I might say is your best asset. As for them, well…what more could I say then they are at the will of society.”
I huffed in disappointment because I knew how true that was. Seeing fit to society is a twenty-four hours, seven days a week kind of job. Hell, it took on a life of its own. Constantly having to look your best, acting appropriately, minding what you say, and always watching your back. Who had the time and mind capacity for that?
Honestly I didn’t.
“Good thing I’m done with that,” I say rising with the mess, feeling the drag of time wasted trying to please my father’s family, my so-called friends, and strangers who only were there to judge me.
Mimi patted me on the back, smiling as she agreed with me. “I am too. Now let’s hurry up and get things set, so we could be on our way. King Nathaniel is expecting us by sun down.”
She didn’t have to tell me twice because I missed Papa Nev. I was in some serious need of a father figure with guidance that didn’t stray to far from my beliefs. He was exactly what I needed at this moment because he-like Uncle Beck was-is a secondary father to me, caring for me as if I was his own flesh and blood.
Honestly I didn’t know what I would have done, if I didn’t have Papa Nev to fall back upon. There was always the option of caring for myself and I’m fully capable of it because Uncle Beck made sure of that, leaving me his entire estate. But even if I was fully capable of doing so, I just needed to be reminded of the values I was raised upon. I needed real family who didn’t care if I wasn’t blood, they just cared and not family who care because we shared a bloodline. I needed real love.
I threw away the mess outside, taking notice of anything that would need to be boarded up before Mimi, Levi-Mimi’s son-and I leave. I make a once over around the Victorian style manor, a home I had called home for seven years of my life, after my father’s passing. Barely hovering the age of thirteen, I came here frighten, depress, and unsure because before the life I lived as a Nexus and a life with Uncle Beck, my life with my parents was a whole different world.
My parents were simple people. They never marveled and even cared for the finer things in life. They valued, values and were about love and family. So we didn’t have much when I was younger and even then I learn to live a life happily with all I did have because in a world like this it was more than what other humans had.
Here, within this beautiful land and lovely building, Uncle Beck had made a home for not just me but my mother and Mimi and even her son when he joined this rat race of a world. I grew into myself here, with the walls of the Victorian manor as my witness. I learned lessons upon lessons of life here and though I have much more lessons to learn, I would always use my life here as a reference because my life is well spent questioning the future and looking for answers from the past.
“Alayna!” I hear from the distance, Levi waving me over. “Momma said we’ll be late if we don’t get going!”
I sigh softly taking another quick turn around just so I could remember everything as it was before the Nexus’s had come into my life. Good times here were never far from my mind and I liked that even they couldn’t ruin that for me.