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Paris May was not an ordinary teenage girl. She was the envy of most, if not every, girl in her school. At the age of sixteen, she’s a model for her mother’s thriving houston astros cheaters shirt industry. She wasn’t skinny like the other models who reminded her of starving children all over the world, but instead, she was slim, a little less than average weight. She wasn’t tall like the others either who were either five feet ten inches or six feet tall. She stood a sturdy five foot four, which isn’t tall at all for a model. In fact, she was one of the shortest girls out of all the juniors and seniors at Adana High School. But her height and weight have little to do with her modelling career.
Usually, when someone looked at her, they appreciated her physical form thoroughly, from head to toe. She had silky dark brown hair that waved on its own and highlighted itself during the summer, and her bangs swept to the right over the flawless skin of her forehead. It was lightly layered and the longest part was on her back, which reaches the small of her back. Her nose was petite and straight. She had soft lips that were full. The upper lip slightly indented the lower one and gave her a look of unintentional sensuality. Her eyes were large, almond-shaped and heavily lashed. They were the deepest of violets superior to the iris and they got lighter towards the pupil. They were also flecked with silver. Paris had soft, pampered skin the color of white gold, and it always glowed, no matter what time of year it was. Everybody knew that the seasons could do nothing to interfere with it, because she was born with that coloring. Even if she was a little slim, it did nothing to draw the attention away from her curves. One thing was for sure, she was gifted in that department.
Her appearance was only half of who she really was. No, it was less than half, because she never truly paid attention to her physical being much. It was always her mother who took care of that. Paris was the president of a charity fundraiser that runs all year long at her school. She raised almost ten thousand dollars annually and all but fifteen percent of it went to the poor. The rest went to the school for books and repairs. She wasn’t your usual shallow drama queen. If she ever saw that someone needed help, she would rush to it, even if it was beyond her experience, and do as much as possible for them. She was caring. That aspect of her had all the girls liking her as well, but their attitudes towards her were laced with feminine rivalry. For that reason, she had no close friends. She never let it get to her. She didn’t mind, because her mother was her best friend, and if she had her, she didn’t need anybody else. Normally, she’s a quiet kind of girl. But when you got her started about something she truly believed in and felt strongly about, she oozed charisma from every pore of her body.
Just by looking at her, most people just assumed that she was the most popular girl in school. This is true. They assumed that she was also a model student and got straight A’s. This is also true. They assumed that she was possibly the only human girl with a perfect life. This is false. She was one of the three Winged Spirits alive with a perfect life. But they didn’t know that. She didn’t know that. At least, she wouldn’t know until it was her birthday, and when she found out, they way she reacted would determine whether she would live, or die…
At that moment though, she was not thinking about life or death. She was thinking about her chipped nail.
“Oh, Paris. Look at what you’ve done!” Her mother, Bethany May, a short, plump woman with an impish look in her brown eyes grabbed her hand and observed the nails on Paris’ fingers with dismay. “Oh, I told you to be just a little more careful! It’ll take forever to get another appointment at that beauty salon and I just don’t have the time.” A frown creased her arched brows and she clicked her tongue.
“Mom, I can pay for another one, don’t worry about it.” Even considering the circumstances, Paris felt a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. Bethany May would not worry if she heard that the apocalypse was tomorrow on the radio but a hair out of place is enough to drive her insane. At the age of forty-two, she was more successful that most women or men her age and older. Because of her job, she always took care of her appearance, which meant that she took care of Paris’ appearance as well. Bethany had short, red, curly hair that barely touched her shoulders in comparison to Paris’ long waves. Because of that hair, she could spot her mother a mile away. Well, almost. Her mother wore designer houston astros cheaters shirt and dallas cowboys vintage sweatshirt every chance she got, which is every day, and booked appointments at the salon, spa and cosmetics specialists every month or so. She was a woman of high maintenance but she was as soft as a stuffed animal on the inside. Nobody but Paris got to see that side of her. Everyone else, her friends, Bethany’s employees, Paris’ teachers, etc only got to see the cool, professional side of her.
They were both sitting in Paris’ couch. Her room was different. She liked it for many reasons but one of the main reasons is because it reminded her of herself. The room itself was a large rectangle and had a high ceiling. There was a bed with a canopy and millions of pillows stacked on the plush sheets of all different sizes and shapes. There was a desk with a glossy laptop on top. Beside the desk, there was a chair on four wheels. There was her closet with its double doors that slid open and revealed at least hundreds of hangars all occupied with houston astros cheaters shirt cramped together. Then there was the couch that they were sitting on, a little faded out on the seats from good use. Everything about her room was pink. All of it was the same shade too. The one thing that wasn’t was the floor which was made of a glossy wood panelling.
Her mother looked up and the frown disappeared. She abruptly removed her hand from Paris’ and gave a tinkling of laughter. “Sweetheart, money’s not the issue here.” Then her smile became a look of concern.
“Did you forget that the shoot is tomorrow?”
Paris felt her eyes widen involuntarily. “Oh, my goodness! I completely forgot! How stupid of me!” She smacked the palm of her hand on her forehead. Tomorrow was the day her mother’s co-workers were supposed to doll her up in tons of accessories and take photos for the season’s newest designs. Even though the shots are supposed to be taken from far, which meant they were taking shots of her whole body, a single chipped nail could cause the critics and judges to lessen the ratings of the company in a millisecond. She couldn’t see that happen for her own stupid mistake.
She stared at the five nails on her right hand. She had gotten a French manicure and French pedicure at the salon yesterday. All the nails were long. All of them but the one on her ring finger which had a chip right in the middle. She frowned at it and let out a flustered breath.
Her mother patted her arm and smiled a smile that brought out the crinkled in the corners of her eyes. “You know what? I think I can file them out for you. Don’t you worry, baby girl.” Paris raised an eyebrow.
“I wasn’t the first one to flip out when I chipped a nail. It was you.” She shot her a smug smile.
Her mother raised both her eyebrows. “Yes, well, at least…” Paris could tell she was browsing her mind for a cute comeback. “Never mind.” They both burst out laughing. When the laughter died down, Bethany looked down at her watch.
“Shouldn’t you be getting for school?”
“Mooooooooom….” Paris started. “I don’t feel like getting out of my pyjamas.”
“Well, you have to go to school. Come on, get up.” Even as she was saying it, Bethany stood from the couch and held out a hand to her daughter.
“I don’t even want to go, mom. Oh, c’mon. Don’t make me go.” Paris pouted and she hoped it looked sincere enough.
Bethany tried glaring at her daughter but her twitching mouth gave away the smile she was trying to hold back. “No, you most definitely cannot stay at home today. You have a test in biology and I don’t want you to miss it.” She drew back her hand walked to Paris’ closet, pulled open the door and started rummaging through the clothing.
“But mom, I hate my bio teacher! To add on to that, he’s a pervert! All the girls think so.” Even she could hear the desperation creeping into her voice.
“Paris, hate is a strong word.” She pulled out a pair of grey, Bermuda shorts and placed it on the arm of the couch.
“Okay, fine then. I strongly dislike him.” Without realizing it, Paris got up, took off her pyjama bottoms and slipped on the shorts.
As if her mother hadn’t heard her, she continued speaking. “And he’s a married man, angel. He’s hardly in the position to be perverted. He has three children whom he loves!” She pulled out a cream-colored v-neck tee and handed it to Paris.
As she was pulling the top over her head, she muttered under her breath, “Maybe a little too much.”
“I heard that.” Bethany made her way towards Paris holding a golden, chain-linked belt in her left hand. While she tucked the new york yankees hawaiian shirt into the shorts, she placed the belt around the slots. When she closed it, she took a step back and stood there, assessing Paris. “I think the grey Chanel flats would go really well with that, don’t you?” She looked at Paris’ feet. “Or maybe, just a pair of those flip-flops I bought for you from Vegas.”
“Yeah, okay, great mom. I still don’t want to go to school.” She looked at her mother pleadingly. She pouted her lips for maximum effect.
Bethany’s face softened for the smallest second but she snapped out of it almost right away. “Oh, you… Don’t you dare think that you can fool me. Now, come on. I’ll drop you off before going to work. I’ll give you some money for lunch but I’ll get something for breakfast while you get your books. Hurry! We don’t want to be tardy.” With that, Bethany flitted down the stairs. Paris sighed with a smile on her face and gathered her books together into her alligator skin side tote.
She walked down the circular staircase and entered the large kitchen. Observing her surroundings, she searched for her mother. Most of the kitchen’s perimeter was covered with counters which were layered with glass. There was a medium-sized island in the middle which was topped with coral blue tiles. Not one dish was out of place and the floors were sparkling thanks to Mr. Clean. Bethany May ran a tight ship. Her mother wasn’t in the kitchen. Paris frowned but when to the entrance. She slipped her feet into a pair of silver flip flops and opened the door. As soon as she put her foot through the threshold, a golden Mercedes honked from the driveway. The passenger’s side window opened and Bethany called out to Paris from inside. “Can you walk any slower?”
Paris jogged to the car, her feet slapping the pavement every step of the way. “Sorry, I was looking for you in the kitchen.” She opened the door and climbed in, closing the door behind her with a thud. Her mom put the car in gear and pulled out of the drive, then zoomed down the street, barely making a yellow light. “Mom! Slow down!”
“Why do you want me to slow down? This is already too slow if we want to get you to school on time.” Paris could see her mother’s eyes on the road ahead of her and knew that she was serious.
“We don’t want to get me to school on time. You want to get me to school on time.” Paris pressed the button on the door and the window closed.
“Here you go.” Without looking, Bethany reached into the compartment in front of Paris and pulled out two granola bars and placed them on Paris’ legs. “Eat this.”
“Mother, are you trying to kill me?”
“What makes you say that?” Her hand was back on the steering wheel and she swerved right.
“Other than your driving, you’re giving me these to eat?” Paris picked one up as if it was a dead rodent instead of a cereal bar.
Bethany caught the grimace on her daughter’s face and chuckled to herself. “I put them in here when I came into the car just now. Don’t worry, they’re not expired.”
Paris narrowed her eyes. “Then why didn’t you put them on the seat?”
“And risk you sitting on them? Sweetheart, I don’t think you’d appreciate a butt-squished bar. Now eat before I throw them out the window.”
Shaking her head slightly, Paris opened the pink packaging. It was the type of bar with a thick layer of yogurt stuck to the bottom of bran flakes. Sighing for the second time, she bit into it, while her mother made their way to Adana High School.
Paris was only in her first period class and she already felt like putting her head on the wide desk and taking a nap. Mr. Pierce might have a PhD in English Language Arts, but he certainly has no education in entertainment. She didn’t expect all her teachers to be fun, and friendly like her art teacher, Ms. Britta, but the least she expected is for the teacher to not speak in a monotone voice, which is exactly what Mr. Pierce does every day.
Paris glanced around the purple painted room. She sat exactly in the center of all the desks. Most desks had two students sitting at them, but Paris sat alone. The girl who used to sit beside her moved out of town, and since everyone had to sit in alphabetical order, she would stay alone for the rest of the year, not that she minded. She liked the feeling of knowing no one was looking at her paper when she wrote something. She wasn’t exactly talented in that area of school. She did admire poetry though.
There was a tall, well-muscled boy sitting diagonally from her. He had sandy brown hair, bronzed skin and eyes the color of the sea. His name was Kevin, and he was one of the guys who supposedly had a crush on her. He turned his head in her direction and when he caught her eyes, he smiled and winked while mouthing, “Hey”. She smiled back at him, but turned to face the teacher. Kevin was gorgeous, and she knew at least three girls who were dying to just talk to him. While Paris may admire his physical form and beauty, she had no intention of getting involved. She didn’t trust men when it came to that. She would never trust them after what her mother had told her about her father. Her real father. Bethany had had many boyfriends, but none of them had lasted as long as Paris’ biological father…
While Paris wrote an essay in class about Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Bethany drove herself back home. She had told Paris that she had to go to work, but she had lied. She’d taken a day off so she could start re-assorting the house. After all, Paris was going to turn seventeen in a few weeks, and she didn’t have much time left. Thinking about her daughter, Bethany’s eyes swam in tears. Oh, my poor, poor baby girl. My girl, I’m so sorry… Bethany knew it was no use crying, because her tears couldn’t save Paris’ fate. It couldn’t change the fact that Paris was going to have to take responsibilities that no one but two other people in the whole world would have to take.
She thought about how she had told Paris about how her father had turned away from them and escaped the duties a husband and father was supposed to acknowledge. She had told her that her father had been nice, and caring, but not mature enough to take care of them. It was all lies, but she needed a story to tell her. She couldn’t tell her the truth; she had to push it away as long as possible. She had decided that, years ago, when she learned the truth, she wouldn’t tell her until it was crucial, and it became a matter of life or death. Well, she could no longer procrastinate.
Wiping away the tears with the back of her hand and giving an involuntary sniff, she pulled into the rocky driveway. As she shut the door of the house behind her, Bethany ran up the stairs and went into her bedroom.
It was a comfortable room, decorated in warm shades of gold and maroon. She walked to the closet and took a shuddering breath, then stepped inside. It was pitch black in there, and she moved her hand around the wall. When she found it, she pressed the light switch, and a single light bulb illuminated the space with yellow light. At the far end, there was a rod covered with hangars holding tons of clothing. She pushed the houston astros cheaters shirt to one side with effort and looked down at the black safe. She had hidden it there, because there was no way Paris would even think about looking there. Her breathing became shallower and she could feel a horrible shiver run up and down her spine. She looked down at her arms and saw gooseflesh.
The headaches had been getting worse. Paris had even noticed that Bethany seemed to be more tired nowadays. Usually, she was filled with happiness. Her body ran on energy. The visions in her sleep had sucked all that away like a vacuum. Last night, she had seen the worst one so far. She knew it was going to get worse, until Paris’ birthday, but it still terrified her.
She had been running on a dark and damp street with no light. Just a flickering street lamp illuminated her way. Her feet had been bare, and the sharp rocks had given the soles of her feet gashes and cuts. But she didn’t dare stop running. If she did, it would catch her, and she wouldn’t wake up from her slumber. While she was running, she could feel her heart pounding in her chest and head in a hammering manner. She could feel the sweat wetting her hair and skin. Then, she heard the voice.
It wasn’t like any other voice she heard before. It was inhuman, and it immediately struck shock, terror and fear into her heart. It wasn’t the kind of fear you get from watching horror movies, it’s the kind of fear you don’t get after childhood. It’s ghost fear. And when you feel it, you know that every hair on your body will rise up with gooseflesh.
The thing said in a whisper, “Bethany, you can’t run anymore. I’m going to catch you, and then I’m going to catch her, just like I caught him. Two weeks is not a lot of time, you know.” Bethany had felt the tears racing down her face savagely, but she could not say anything. Then, she had awoken with a start. She was crying, and shaking convulsively, and her skin was pale and clammy. She had wept silently throughout the night, afraid to go back to sleep. She knew right away, that she had to tell Paris. When dawn made its way through the night, she forgot about telling her. And when Paris had gotten out of the car in front of the school, she knew it wasn’t the right time, yet, in the very core of her heart, she knew she was just afraid of saying anything, of ruining the innocent girl’s life forever.
Well, she’s just going to have to accept it, isn’t she? A male voice inside her head said. Not unless I can help her. Bethany replied to it. You can’t help her. It’s her destiny and hers alone. You will do nothing to interfere, just prepare her. And prepare her well. There was no doubting the tone of finality in that voice.
Bethany inhaled a sharp breath. That voice had been in her head for a long time, she couldn’t even put her finger on the day that she started hearing it in her head. It was Aegeus’ voice. It was Paris’ father’s voice… Every time she heard it, she cried. Even if she didn’t want it, tears always shed and painful, wracking sobs are wrenched from her throat. She didn’t know why he was haunting her this way. She didn’t know why he wouldn’t leave her alone. The truth is, she did want him by her side, but she didn’t want his voice, she wanted his physical form. His voice just would not satisfy her. She needed more, a supporting arm around her, a shoulder to cry on. She hadn’t specified that when he had had that last conversation with her. How could she, when there were so many more important things to talk about?
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