On one hand, I felt like we had been in the forest for an eternity with how I spent most of it with my head spinning from attempting to follow the fey’s communication. On the other, I was surprised when Mila sent a notification to my phone, warning me of the time. Hours had passed, and we hadn’t even gone far into the forest… or had we? I only then realized that I didn’t recognize the area around me at all. “Alma…” I started as I touched her shoulder. She sighed and said, “I know. Shut your eyes.” Though confused, I did as she asked. I felt a second of motion and an uneasiness in my stomach. Then my feet touched the ground again. There hadn’t even been time for me to realize that I had been lifted. Emma was with us, and she looked to be fighting down her breakfast. “I apologize for the discomfort, but those creatures would have impeded us if we moved more slowly.” stated Alma with what might have been a hint of sympathy. I really wasn’t sure. “May we go in then?” she asked as Emma and I were still getting our bearings. Emma nodded and opened the door for us. I hadn’t been in Emma’s wing for a while now, and was surprised that some of the furniture had changed. Whether entirely new or simply altered, there were plants growing out of some of the seats. A large, round chair had grass covering the bowl-like shape and brightly colored flowers around the outer edge.
“Oh. I’ve been redecorating a bit. Do you like?” asked Emma as she noticed where I was looking. “It’s remarkable. I’d worry about staining my clothes if I didn’t sit perfectly still though.” I admitted. Emma giggled at me, so I shrugged. I was just being honest. Grass stains could get pretty bad. I followed Alma out shortly after when Emma excused herself to get ready. We were barely into the hallway when Alma turned to me and said, “James, I appreciate you taking us there and would be extremely grateful if you would do so again soon. I’m sure the others are desperately wanting a chance as well, and I’ll gladly see that no one gets hurt if the fey get too rambunctious.” She seemed completely sincere, but I had to ask “When you say ‘no one gets hurt’, you’re including the fey as well, right?” Her face was impassive as ever as she replied “Of course. They’re far too precious. I keep telling you that my family made a mistake with them.” I could feel that she was telling the truth, but I still wasn’t certain about Alma. What if she became angry, really angry? What if her family decided again that the fey were too dangerous? The questions were repeating themselves yet again in my head. What if I became too lost in the violet pools of her eyes and failed to realize the horrors she caused around me?
“I’m going to make myself presentable. I’ll see you in a bit.” I told her, turning to the stairs. “You’re always presentable, James. That’s one of the things I like about you.” she replied. I turned back, surprised by the compliment, but she was already gone. When I was partway through my shower, Mila stated “Master, I’m terribly sorry to intrude upon your shower, but there is a fairy peeping into windows all over your residence. Should I let her inside?” Oh no. I couldn’t have that one following me to the auction. “Is Aaliyah still here?” I asked, hoping she’d be able to talk the fairy into going back to the forest. “I’m afraid not, master, and she wants me to inform you that her daddy is not going to find out about the fey.” replied Mila. “Can you distract her somehow?” I inquired, hoping the little creature doesn’t decide to blast her way into the house. “Of course not, master. I would never presume to be a distraction for the princess.” explained Mila, sounding shocked by the notion. I sighed and said, “Not Aaliyah. Distract the fairy.” Mila sounded amused as she said, “Oh. My mistake, master. How foolish of me. I will attempt to dissuade our guest from visiting at this juncture.” I paused for a moment after the words sunk in, and said, “Hold on. How are you going to dissuade her?”
“Given that the fey don’t use verbal communication, I’m providing video on every window she visits, displaying her temporary departure.” explained Mila. That might work if the little fairy felt like heeding the request. I then told her “Thank you, Mila. Please inform the others that I would like to depart with haste.” I really hoped the fairy wouldn’t notice and chase after the limo. “As you wish, master.” replied Mila. I hurried to finish showering and got dressed as quickly as possible, considering all of the extra pieces for a tux. Then I hurried to meet up with the others in the front hall. “Why do you wish to leave quite this early? We’d surely be the first ones there if we leave now.” stated Alma a moment after I arrived. “Sorry to rush everyone, but a certain little fairy was just fluttering around the house. I really would prefer to leave her behind.” I explained. Duncan looked amused as he nodded. Alma simply said, “I see.” Jarod was smiling and chatting with Ai while Mai clung to his arm. Were they going to start dating? Jarod really needed to pay more attention to the girl on his arm than her sister. “Mila is the fairy still around?” I asked, before heading out the door. “She’s still around back, master, chasing after fireworks I’m displaying on the windows. The limo is ready out front.” I thanked her, and Mila opened the doors for everyone as I reached for the first one. I still wasn’t entirely accustomed to her, but I certainly felt lucky to have her.