I often felt anymore that I was dishonoring my bed by daring to wake up before my alarm even went off. With Aaliyah dealing with the fine details of my scheduling and business replies, I had the time to sleep till a more reasonable hour, but that wonderful luxury seemed like an indulgence I couldn’t really afford anymore. Ever since the incident with the werewolves, relaxation was seeming like a poor use of my time. There was far too much for me to learn about the world for me to relax when I could be training for my… Werewolves! Evelyn!? Somehow I completely forgot that I was suppose to be training with Evelyn Morris for her dance recital. I logged onto my website, involuntarily amazed yet again at the beauty of its design, and brought up Evelyn in the client directory. Aaliyah had reorganized my messy email system into a sleek interface that allowed me to bring up information of a client with a click of the button, including every email between us. The last email was a notice of cancellation I only vaguely remembered seeing. I must have only skimmed the dates and fixed my availability accordingly without even paying attention to which job was canceled. I never really had cared about why someone canceled before. I would just try negotiating schedules to fit someone else into the spot or take advantage of the free time.
As I read the brief explanation Mrs. Morris gave, I felt more than a bit confused. The family was obviously wealthy, but who really moves away so suddenly? Poor Evelyn must have been upset about her recital. The one blessing was that Evelyn wouldn’t have to worry about why Emil stopped coming to school. I shuddered as I thought about how my classmates might disappear. There would be no way to truly know if they disappeared as slain monsters or an innocent victims. They’d probably just be gone, swept away by some mysterious team in black. Part of me still questioned whether or not I should try trusting that to be some government agency protecting the people like the M.I.B., but I couldn’t really bring myself to put faith in something when I was completely lacking in information. With how the one agent-person pulled a gun on Jarod so willingly, I didn’t really feel the group seemed to care about innocent casualties. I was grateful that they saved Jarod and I from our own ignorant foolishness, but I was not going to assume they’d leave me alive if I encountered them again. I wasn’t going to assume they would actually be there to save me again either.
I wished I knew even the little magic I know now back then. Perhaps I would have been more calm facing the wolves, at least calm enough to see if magic had been used on them. I had trouble believing that werewolves were killed so easily with bullets if the myths about them were remotely true. There had to be more too it. If the group that killed the werewolves was anything like I was guessing, I wondered if they could handle Alma. Were they tracking her already? Part of me desperately hoped they were onto her magical killing streak. Another part wanted to face her myself and avenge all those who had died in my presence. There was yet another hope lingering within me that disturbed me greatly. That small hope wanted Alma to survive at all costs, because I didn’t want to witness a single hair of her beautiful head harmed. My life would surely be simpler if I had never met that girl, but I wasn’t certain if simpler would truly be better in this case. Who was to fight her if I didn’t, and how much drive to fight would I have if such a seductive threat hadn’t been repeatedly thrown in my face? I almost wanted to give into Regina’s desire to date just to help distract myself from thinking about Alma, but I knew that wasn’t remotely fair to Regina.
Was there anything I could do that was truly fair to Regina though? Even though I cared about her, I couldn’t date her completely for the right reasons. Not dating didn’t seem completely fair either with her having spent so much time pursuing me, especially considering that I let her kiss me. I hoped she wasn’t upset at me for letting Emma kiss me. How could I have expected Emma to jump at me like that though? I couldn’t get myself to be even slightly upset over kissing Emma. That was another problem. Why couldn’t I fall in love and live happily ever after like a modern fairy tale? Complications could be interesting, but not in romance. Simple would be nice. How was I suppose to reach any sort of reasonable decision between any of the girls, the twins included, when they all had very enjoyable qualities? The twins… I think I would absolutely abhor and enjoy dating either of them. Picking between them was virtually impossible though. I still wasn’t even positive I had ever seen a true personality difference. There were far too many layers of subterfuge even with my gift of telling them apart for me to ever truly feel I knew them. If only I didn’t enjoy their games, things could be simpler on that end at least. Why did Alma have to be a psychopath?
I forced all thoughts of my crazy circumstances out of my head as best as I could manage and started focusing on the magic in the air. There was less all the time in my house, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that the place started behind for some reason. I lapsed in my conviction not to think about girls for a moment as I wondered how the twins possibly managed to keep such a level of concentration all the time. Even with a couple weeks of practice, magic was still exhausting for me. Nonetheless, I continued practicing until mother knocked on my door and asked if I’d be joining her and father for breakfast. My parents were enjoying that I had more free time to start eating with them regularly again. Father kept asking about my finances, obviously shocked at how well little Aaliyah was managing things for me. She had even asked for my permission to start looking into possible investment options, such as a software company she thought would be taking off soon. I didn’t really feel I had enough of a nest egg to start investing anywhere, not with my parents expecting my money to go to college, but I couldn’t really argue with a girl who helped make my company prosper. I still had trouble with the idea of such a tiny girl having multiple doctorates. I lived in a world where everyone seemed to be a step ahead of me in one way or another.
Even Jarod was getting into automotive endeavors well beyond the scope of my experiences. My car, Mila, was a joint project between Aaliyah and Jarod, but he seemed to understand how her mechanics worked quite well, having designed the incredible engine, even if he was left in the dust on the software side. Even with my occasional feelings of inadequacy and mixed feelings over how the girls acted around me, I was really glad to have my friends. I always got along with most people at school, but there usually seemed like a distance was kept between us, even with the guys on the track team. Being Regina’s closest friend was probably a large part of that problem, since there were so many rumors about her around the school which became imposing when combined with the countless committees she lorded over. I hoped at least some of our classmates would remember her for all the things she accomplished for us at the school. The Prom this year was gorgeous, our parades were always well-coordinated, and our numerous other events always had a surplus of funding, even if Regina’s father ended up backing half of it. She never let our class down even once when she promised to accomplish something.
Like clockwork, Regina was knocking on the door slightly before I was finished eating. I scarfed down the rest of my food while she talked with my parents. Then I convinced her to let me drive us to school, which was amazingly easy to do. “I can’t believe you let the ‘evil twins’ have a ride before me.” I smirked and said, “‘Evil twins’? Were you talking with Aaliyah after I left?” She shrugged and told me “Jarod was the one that brought it up, and who was I to argue as they stole you away? What did you end up doing together?” Thoughts of the twins and I in the tub came to mind, but I quickly explained “We went shopping together. The twins donated a bunch of clothing to charity before moving here.” I glanced at her and found that she didn’t look entirely pleased. “James, why are you blushing? What sort of clothing were they buying?” I named stores, talked about different outfits, and didn’t seem to convince her the shopping trip was innocent at all. I was definitely not going to tell her why I was really blushing when she was put off about just clothing. As a last-ditch effort, I hit Aaliyah’s favorite button, switching Mila to her digital interface instead of the typical DB5 look. “Mila, would you explain to Regina that I went where I said.” Regina was so taken with the idea that my car talked that she had me drive around until the last possible moment before we were suppose to be in school. Perhaps things could get less complicated if I was clever enough.