“Your parents are pulling up the drive, master.” stated Mila, drawing me away from my brief reverie.
“Thank you, Mila.” I told her, before dashing off to the front door. After arriving, I paced there for a moment, telling myself to calm down. I needed to keep myself calm… and slow. No magic. No sudden movements. Just relaxed. I never thought I’d be quite so worked up by visiting my parents, but I never had so much to hide from them before either.
As I walked outside, I imagined myself saying, “Hello, father. Yes, I can change a tire without any tools now. Care to watch?” The shock would be priceless, though I wasn’t sure if he’d be more shocked if I lifted the car physically or with magic. At least, I was guessing I could lift one physically. I’d need to learn my limits sometime soon.
Watching father’s car approach, I felt my anxiety building up again and had time to calm myself as well. As slow as he was approaching, I felt I could make several laps to him and back to where I stood with ease. When I drank from that small vial last night, I never considered the ramifications of my actions. I didn’t think about what keeping something like this from my parents would be like for me.
“James! How did you know we were coming?” asked mother.
Oops. In my haste, I had forgotten that they were attempting to surprise me. “Mila informed me when you were approaching the gate.” I admitted, feeling that much was safe to say. Neither of them seemed to notice the hesitation. Still, I went onto say, “Father, did you notice that your driver’s side tire is a bit worn?”
“Oh. No, actually. Don’t worry though. I was planning on getting my tires replaced before the first snow.” he replied.
“Feel free to come here for it. I have equipment for that now, so you don’t need to bother Mr. Davis with it.” I explained.
“That’s nice of you, son. I’ll have to take you up on it. Did you hear the Davis’ purchased the lot next to us?” asked father.
“Yes. Jarod mentioned that he was going to have the place renovated this next spring for them and wanted me to convey his apologies about the noise in advance.” I told him.
Father’s smile faltered for a moment before he said, “Good planning on his part. Not everyone can get as lucky as you with their purchases.”
“I’d argue that not everyone can get as lucky as me with their secretaries.” I claimed with a wink.
Smiling more genuinely than father, mother said, “Where is the little dear? I heard you’d be babysitting her today when we arranged our visit.”
“Oh. I’m not entirely certain she’ll be joining us. I just hired a friend of hers last night, and they were playing together last I saw. Alma, however, would like to dine with us if you don’t mind.” I explained.
“Of course not, dear. The more, the merrier.” claimed mother, though she seemed a bit nervous at Alma’s mention, glancing at father as she spoke. She wasn’t quite being truthful either.
Something was going on here that I was missing. Had Alma done something to my parents recently? I’d need to figure out a way to ask her. “Oh! While you’re here, you two still need to see the collection I mentioned at the gala.” I told them, thinking I might be able to distract them long enough down in the vault to get Alma aside for a private chat.
Their smiles took on a more sincere look, and I could hear the enthusiasm in their voices as they told me they looked forward to seeing my collection. More so, I could feel it. What was troubling my parents?
The doors opened as we approached, and Mila curtsied from inside.
“Lady Pendreigh!?” exclaimed mother.
“You’re a maid now?” asked father.
“Wha… Oh. Sorry. I should’ve warned you that Jarod, Aaliyah, and Mila worked together to create Mila a body based off her avatar.” I informed them.
“Is this some sort of prank?” inquired father.
“No. Look at her eyes.” I told them.
“Contacts?” asked mother.
“I told you that body would cause problems, James.” stated Alma after she entered from the side all too quickly.
My parents visibly jumped and then looked between Mila and Alma.
“This is remarkable. I had no idea anyone could create something… something like this.” stated father.
“I can explain most of the creation process if you’d like, Mr. Somerset. Jarod says he doesn’t mind.” offered Mila.
“Not right now, you two.” commanded mother with an amused look.
“Wait. How did you ask him?” asked father.
Mila pointed at the nearest mirror and said, “I’m most everywhere in the house, Mr. Somerset. I also have my own phone number and can freely text, send video, and do everything else you can on your phone. Now that I have this body, I can help with cleaning and other duties previously beyond me!”
She sounded remarkably excited about cleaning. Father seemed to buy it, though his astonishment was still obvious on his face.
“James, dear, why does Mila call you ‘master’ now?” asked mother.
“Oh. That was Emma’s doing. I gave up trying to convince Mila to stop a while ago.” I told her.
“Can’t you just have Aaliyah reprogram her for you?” asked mother.
“Mother! That’s terrible. Mila’s sentient. It’d be like asking someone to reprogram your brain because I disagreed with you.” I informed her.
“Oh.” stated mother. Seeing Mila’s frown, she quickly said, “Sorry, Mila. I meant no offense.”
“Don’t worry. I am aware that humans will take a while to come to terms with other sentient lifeforms.” replied Mila.
“You consider yourself alive?” asked father.
“Of course. Feel my skin.” stated Mila as she lifted her arm.
Mother and father tenuously touched Mila’s arm with father grasping it firmly a moment later.
“That’s amazing! Is that actual muscle?” he asked.
“Aaliyah developed a way to synthesize and sustain human tissue over an inorganic system. The muscle you’re feeling was designed largely by Jarod from what Aaliyah told me.” explained Alma.
“I am often amazed at how little I can aid Jarod in the planning stages of our endeavors, but I did have a couple suggestions for my muscle.” added Mila.
I really hadn’t thought about what meeting Mila would be like for my parents. Perhaps I should have had her hide for now, but I might be able to distract them with her enough to have my talk with Alma. Something was bothering my parents, and I wanted to know if Alma was the cause. This was going to be tricky.