I opened my eyes and looked around, realizing something was missing. When I realized what, I laughed at myself. “Mila, where’s Aaliyah?” I asked, stifling a yawn. I was so accustomed to Aaliyah waking me up when she stayed over that not finding her in my room seemed extremely odd. “The Princess is at home, taking a bath, master. Want me to bring her up for you, great lord of the house?” she inquired, sounding all too teasing. “Of course not. Wait a moment. If she’s at home, how do you know where she is?” I asked. I wasn’t informed if Mila had been integrated outside of my house and car. She said, “I asked her, master. The princess is always available for a conversation. Are you sure you don’t want me to bring her up for you?” Whether I was too groggy for this or just being slow, I had to think for a minute about what Mila was meaning, which wasn’t aided by the Alma-esque form staring at me from the mirror. I told myself not to think about Alma and tried to focus. Aaliyah… Aaliyah was a cyborg and demonstrated before that she is perfectly capable of sending out phone signals. That would, for practical purposes, give her and Mila telepathy with one another. My secretary truly resembled a super hero, save for the killing and her having the height of a very small child.
“Boss-man, sir, I don’t think daddy would approve of you sharing my bath!” Aaliyah told me, her bubble covered hair appearing by Mila on the mirror. “Cut the video! I never said to call her!” I exclaimed, caught completely off-guard. “You don’t want to talk with me, boss-man, sir!? Mila said you were talking about me,” she said. I facepalmed and told her “I’m sorry. I had no intention of interrupting your bath. I was just asking Mila for your whereabouts because you generally wake me up when you stay over. I really don’t need anything at the moment.” I heard her gasp before she inquired “Boss-man, sir… are you saying you only want to talk with me when you need something?” Why did Aaliyah have to be such a girl at times? “No. I truly do enjoy your company, princess. That being said, I’m not even out of bed yet and was just wondering where you were.” I explained. She was giggling, and I wasn’t entirely certain I wanted to know why. Nonetheless I kept talking with her until I noticed that I missed a call from my mother while I was sleeping.
“James, is there something you want to tell me.” asked mother. With all the secrets in my life now, there were too many possibilities for me to guess what she found out. “I honestly have no idea to what you’re referring.” I told her. “James, dear, have you been dating someone without bothering to tell me about her?” she asked. “What? Of course not,” I said. Mother continued, saying, “Well, a very… interesting girl stopped by today to commission a painting. She was beautiful but rather intimidating. Even your father seemed at a complete loss around her. I’ve never met someone quite so… so…” I had a horrible thought and interjected “short” before mother decided on the word she wanted. “Well, she was taller than Aaliyah, and obviously older. I was more thinking… regal. From how Ai and Mai introduced her, I believe she’s some sort of aristocrat. She definitely had quite the presence. I was just wondering if you two were dating because of how she spoke about wanting to meet your father and me for some time now. She talked about you quite a bit, dear, and I can’t say all of it was flattering. I do think she is interested in you though.” I did my best not to let my anger show in my voice as I apologized to my mother for the intrusion and said my farewells.
“Mila, where’s Alma?” I asked. “She’s taking tea in the ballroom, master. Shall I bring her up for you?” replied Mila. “No, thank you.” I told her as I set off down the stairs at a jog. What was the girl thinking to bother my parents? Was there no end to her trying to control my life? My heart was racing as I bolted into the ballroom. “James! I’m happy to see that you’re finally up. Care for some tea?” asked Alma. “What do you think you’re doing!?” I demanded. “Having tea, as I said.” she told me before taking another sip. “I just got off the phone with my mother. What were you doing at my parents’ house?” I asked. “I’ve been longing to meet them ever so much and wanted to commission a painting of us. I didn’t imagine you would mind me bringing your mother business.” she explained. “Of us? There is no us! Get that through your head. We are NOT dating!” I exclaimed, feeling more and more angry. “Will you please calm yourself. You’re starting to irritate me. All I did was make pleasant conversation with your parents while offering your mother work.” She was standing now, and glaring at me. Her tea saucer broke in her hand and dropped before she shoved the cup away, leaving it casually floating through the air.
“I don’t want you near my parents. They don’t need to be mixed up in your world of manipulations and destruction.” I told her. “You’re being entirely unreasonable. The main reason I spoke with your parents was to try understanding how I might placate you. All I do is to help you. Can you not get that through your thick skull? Really. I thought Regina had trained you better than this.” I was furious, but tried not to let the beast out anymore. “Don’t you dare say her name, Alma.” I whispered. “What? She was a lovely girl,” she said. “She’s dead because of you.” I told her, a bit too loudly. “I beg your pardon,” she replied. “If you never manipulated my life, we wouldn’t have been there for Regina to die. Worse off, I’m sure killing a werelion was part of your training plan, but you didn’t bother coming along to keep us safe. You were living here at the time, weren’t you!?” I asked, all my anger coming out in my voice. Alma looked shocked but said, “I never wanted her to die, James. She was a very gifted girl, and the loss of her was tragic. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there.” She didn’t even deny it. I told her “You’re banned from entering the central part of my home. Stay out of my life. I can’t personally keep my parents safe from you, but I think we both know someone I can hire to take care of that.”
“James!” exclaimed Mai. “You’re going too far.” added Ai. Alma’s face was as expressionless as stone when she silenced them with a wave. Her tea cup landed gently on the platter next to the tea set while she turned to the door. “I’ll, of course, cover the damage to your tea set. Have a lovely evening.” she told me before walking out. I cringed inside as I noticed the despair plainly written on Ai and Mai’s faces. I never wanted to upset them, but Alma just walked over everyone from what I saw. I didn’t understand why Ai or Mai would be so disturbed, or why they chased after her. Hadn’t she caused them pain as well with her schemes? Emma walked over to me and placed her hand on my shoulder, looking sad as I pulled away. “Emma, be honest with me. Are you just her lapdog as well, or are we friends?” I asked. She gave me a small smile and said, “I’ll always be your friend, James. Though I do some work for Alma, I’m not in her family’s employ. My mom made a deal with them to get me out of it after my dad died. I don’t know who you were talking about to keep Alma at bay, but threatening someone that important isn’t prudent, especially since she really has helped you.”
“I can’t let her hurt my family, Emma. She’s done enough damage in my life.” I told her. She shook her head and said, “What damage? Sure, she could’ve vaporized all the werelions we fought, but she didn’t know there would be that many. None of us did. As much as we always try to get good intel and plan things out, stuff goes wrong at times. Throwing around blame doesn’t help. With Alma’s help, you’ve learned to use magic, learned to fight better, and got a magnificent home. I couldn’t afford my share without her income, and the twins definitely wouldn’t be here.” She reached up and brushed her fingers through my hair before continuing with “Alma isn’t the easiest person to be around, but she isn’t as horrible as you’re trying to say. She cares about you. We all do.” I briefly rest my hand on her shoulder and said, “Thank you, Emma, but I really don’t like the idea of someone taking over my life. She needs to realize that she doesn’t own me and can’t control me. I’m not entirely sure that learning magic was for the best, since it only makes others with the talent more aware of me.” I turned and left for my room, feeling miserable. I did act rashly, but I never met someone so infuriating before. I needed to get some normal people back in my life before things got worse. This wasn’t working out.