When I left the twins’ wing, I still wasn’t certain what to do first, but I was leaning toward seeing if Jarod had some free time. I wasn’t entirely certain how to react when I found Mila waiting there, curtsying in the flesh, but I really shouldn’t have been surprised.
“Mila, do you know if Jarod has some free time? I’d like to talk with him for a bit but didn’t want to tear him away from the twins quite yet.”
She rose, looked me in the eye, and said, “Oh, master… That really doesn’t matter at the moment, does it?”
“What? Why not?” I asked.
“Your parents are on their way already. I doubt you really want to try having a chat with Jarod about anything too private in front of your parents, or do you mean for them to entertain themselves? I suppose I can attempt to provide pleasant company for them if you truly do wish to keep them waiting.” suggested Mila.
“Sorry, but why are my parents coming?” I inquired.
“When they declined the invitation to attend Brandon and Brenna’s party, they put in a request to have dinner with you today. You really should get changed into something more appropriate for dinner before they arrive, master.” she stated.
“But it’s still far too early. Why would they be coming already?” I asked, more to myself than to Mila.
“After a very short discussion, they decided to surprise you. They miss you, master, and want to spend more time with you than just a meal.” replied Mila.
I stared at her in astonishment for a moment before asking “And how do you know that?”
“On June 8 this year, you asked the princess to install a security system for your parents. I, of course, was the best choice to run this security system, as the princess can’t be bothered with menial tasks.” she explained.
I did recall asking for the security system, though I almost argued about guarding my parents being a menial task. Then I thought better of it, considering who Aaliyah was.
“Would I be intruding if I joined you as well?” asked Alma as she came out behind me.
I wasn’t honestly certain. My parents had seemed somewhat intimidated by Alma when they spoke with me about her. Still, I told her “I am not precisely against it, but don’t I interrupt your work enough already?”
Smiling at me, Alma replied, “I often enjoy the interruptions. If we are to start dating soon, shouldn’t your parents see us together?”
Dating… I still had mixed feelings about the idea, but I didn’t really know what to tell Alma. She could be a bit touchy about things, and I didn’t want to offend her. Not seeing the harm in her joining us for dinner, I told her “I suppose so.”
“You hardly seem enthusiastic. I don’t have to join you.” she replied. Then she sighed and said, “Sorry, James. You probably have quite a bit on your mind given the night you’ve had. I’ll be in my wing if you decide you want me to join you.”
I grabbed her arm as she started to move and said, “No, I’m sorry. I do want you there. I do have a lot on my mind and really am not prepared to see my parents quite yet after… well… last night.”
I couldn’t explain what happened to my parents, not without going into things they were best off not knowing. I could easily imagine father being fascinated with the idea of magic and keeping a watchful eye out for unusual things after finding out of its existence. Given what I had seen, the city was too dangerous to go poking around without protection.
Smiling at me again, Alma said, “Thank you. I’m going to free up my schedule for when they arrive.”
I dashed off to my room, not wanting Mila to suggest helping me change again, only to stop partway there.
“Boss-man, sir! Guess what!” exclaimed Aaliyah as I came to a stop, nearly tripping over her.
“Wow. I don’t know if I’ll ever grow accustomed to someone moving like that.” stated Cosette.
“Sorry. It’s becoming somewhat addictive. What’s up, Aaliyah?” I asked.
“Cosette and I are going to play princess!” she exclaimed.
“Oh. Okay.” I told her, not entirely sure what she meant or even that I wanted to know.
“Do you want to play the prince?” asked Cosette with a grin.
“Oh. Terribly sorry, but I need to get changed. My parents will be here shortly.” I explained.
“Yay! They can play too!” exclaimed Aaliyah.
“I don’t really know that they’d be interested, Aaliyah, and I haven’t been spending as much time with them as I should. Perhaps another time?” I suggested.
She pouted at me, and Cosette knelt down to give her a hug. Why did Aaliyah have to look so completely adorable? I felt guilty, despite knowing I shouldn’t. Aaliyah surely knew my parents were coming before she even stopped me. At least, I doubted she was in my way by accident.
“I’m sorry, Aaliyah. I know I can’t compete with James for company, but I’ll try to keep you entertained without him.” stated Cosette, not helping my cause at all.
“Sorry, I really must get changed before they arrive.” I told them before dashing off.
I really wasn’t sure about introducing my parents to a vampire. Cosette seemed wise enough not to reveal herself too freely, but I could also see the freedom of my home making her a bit careless too, given that everyone living here was very aware of magic. Of course, she did just move here, so maybe the wariness would be winning out? I needed to keep my parents safe above anything else. I could explain more later.
As I changed, I paused as I put my shirt on. Maybe an announcement or warning system of some sort needed implementing, so everyone knew when to be careful. For last night’s party, everyone was able to behave quite well, but the fact there were normal people present was quite obvious. I decided a warning would be best, just to be sure.
“Mila, could you text everyone with whom I haven’t spoken and let them know my parents will be here. I don’t want anyone accidentally using magic somewhere visible. Oh. The yard. How are we going to get that cleaned up in time without being spotted? Mila, how close are my parents?” I asked.
“Relax, master. Emma took care of the yard before breakfast. I do have to protest you leaving my new body behind so frequently though. Jarod, Aaliyah, and I worked quite hard on her.” stated Mila.
“And you did a wonderful job too, but I still feel more comfortable changing without her present.” I replied. “I’ll have to thank Emma for cleaning up after us later.”
Mila then asked “Why, master? Tending the yard is part of Emma’s job.”
“Well, yes, but we did cause a mess out there. Thanking Emma would be polite.” I explained.
I noticed that Mila’s avatar was smiling at me from the mirror, and I briefly felt embarrassed for changing in front of her. Then I found myself wondering if she had just been messing with me when she asked why I would thank Emma. Mila had changed a great deal since Aaliyah first created her, and I wasn’t entirely certain I was capable of keeping up with the changes even now. Life was far too complicated to really keep up.