“Would you two mind joining me for dinner at my home?” I asked.
“Isn’t this a bit short notice, son? Your mother surely has something planned already.” stated father.
“Well, dear, I was actually going to talk you into eating out after we finished shopping.” she admitted.
“Perfect. Mind taking your car?” I asked.
From my phone, Mila informed me “No need, master. The restorations to your vehicle are complete. I already have the new model parked outside.”
“Oh. Excellent.” I told her.
“What happened to your vehicle, son?” asked father.
“When we confronted the man who was making the aforementioned zombies, he destroyed my limo and car.” I replied.
“What? Why would you confront such a man?” asked mother.
“That sounds extremely dangerous.” stated father.
“No more dangerous than being shot.” I argued.
“Speak for yourself. I nearly died where a bullet wouldn’t have fazed me.” stated Alma.
I sighed. Why did she have to mention that in front of my parents?
“Wh-what?” asked mother.
Staring at Alma, father inquired “What happened?”
“Same thing that happened to your son’s car. The man was able to produce some form of light absorbing spell that devoured everything it touched, except James. Your son’s virtually invulnerable to magic when he has enough energy.” explained Alma.
“Son, is this true?” asked father.
“Yes, and he’s still out there. I was too worried over Alma to stop him.” I admitted.
“Stop him? You wanted to pursue him?” demanded father.
“How you think you’d feel if someone harmed mother in front of you?” I asked him, staring him down. “I felt rage like I hadn’t known before and almost gave into it, but Alma was calling for me. I could see the ragged beating of her heart, father, exposed in front of me.”
Perhaps I had said too much. My parents were obviously taken aback by my words.
After a moment of silence, father cleared his throat and asked Alma “How did you survive?”
“A vampire arrived to save me. She used another type of rare magic to heal my wounds.” she replied.
“I… see.” stated father with no conviction to his words.
“Shall we be off?” I asked.
“James, dear, I know you have a chef, but I don’t want to impose on him with such short notice.” stated mother.
“Marco has already been informed of you joining us. If you don’t come, he’ll have prepared too much.” insisted Mila from my phone.
“Oh-oh.” mumbled mother.
“Since her return, Mila has taken over a great deal of scheduling from what I’ve been told.” I informed them. “She has a great knack for handling situations before they evolve.”
“Returned? Where did she go, son?” asked father.
“Her primary systems were in the car when it was destroyed. The new model’s safely in my home.” I explained. “Come on. Let’s be off.”
I stepped outside with everyone and failed to notice my car at first. Mila was showing off. Father had taken a couple steps, looking around, when Mila turned off her camouflage, showing my new DB5.
“I see this is every bit as much of a Bond car as before.” stated father, smiling for the first time since I had arrived.
“I can give you a rundown of many features if you would like.” offered Mila.
“Later, please.” I told her.
“Alma, would you mind squeezing in the back with Portentia and me?” I asked after turning around to look at them.
“I am actually off the clock now. I was planning on going out on patrol.” stated Portentia.
“You know I wouldn’t try to stop you. I’ll see you later then.” I told her.
“Be sure to lock the door.” ordered father.
“No need, Mr. Somerset. My integration into your home’s security system allows me full access to the locks. Your home is always protected.” stated Mila.
Well, his smile was gone again.
“I don’t mind allowing your parents the front. They’ll be more comfortable.” stated Alma as she stepped around father on the driver’s side.
Mother looked at me and asked “Are you sure, dear? You have such long legs.”
“I’ll be fine.” I told her. “Just don’t smash me with the seat.”
After everyone was inside, I said, “Let Mila do the driving, and she can update you on what exactly I had placed in your home.”
Father just nodded, though he looked surprised when the car started to move. I really should have gone over this with him sooner, but I didn’t know how to approach the subject. Alma had to sign an agreement before Mila would start her briefing, but there wasn’t any argument.
From the insulating armor within the walls to the hidden weaponry throughout the home, Aaliyah spared no expense outfitting my parent’s home to be a robust fortress. There were numerous types of sensors I never knew existed.
“So much for privacy in one’s own home.” stated father.
“Privacy versus security is always a debate, but I can assure you that Mila is trustworthy. Though Aaliyah may review anomalies that arise, she has no need to actively look into your home through the system.” I insisted.
“The master is correct, sir. Mother has never invaded your privacy through the security system, and no one outside of your immediate family has access.” affirmed Mila.
“Mother?” asked mother.
“Mila’s taken to referring to Aaliyah as her mother. Recovery seems to have been an intimate process for them.” I explained.
Mother nodded and said, “Oh.”
“I still don’t understand how all of this was installed without us knowing.” insisted father.
Mila explained “That information is classified. I can formally forward your inquiry to mother if you would like, but I doubt she will declassify the material.”
Turning toward me, father said, “This technology is extremely useful, son. Is this how you pull off studying with your schedule?”
“Oh, yes. I don’t utilize it as well as I might, but I do get things accomplished.” I replied.
“Your son’s being modest.” stated Alma. “He learned Mandarin in under a week.”
“Actually, I learned seven dialects of Chinese” I admitted.
“Really? That’s very impressive, James.” insisted Alma.
I was surprised by her enthusiasm, but I enjoyed the accompanying smile. She had such a beautiful smile.
“That’s incredible, son. I never knew you had such a gift with languages. That must come in handy with my old business. How is the company doing?” asked father.
“Well, the vampires are still in my employ, but the werewolf was fired.” I told him.
“Son, I’m being serious.” stated father flatly.
“As am I. The vampires you had employed were very nice people, but the werewolf was a killer. I wasn’t entirely open with the reason behind my purchase, father. Your hotel was a known favorite of numerous patrons you would deem to be supernatural, including the necromancer I mentioned earlier.” I informed him.
“I truly am sorry for pressuring you into selling, Mr. Somerset, but I needed greater access to the hotel to pursue the man.” insisted Alma.
“But why would you look for such things, knowing they’re dangerous?” asked father.
I looked to Alma, not knowing how much I could say.
Nodding, she said, “My family acts as a sort of governing body over many creatures. We’re part of every major government and eliminate dangerous creatures before they get too out of hand.”
“What? You kill them?” asked father.
“Yes. Disposing with false modesty, I am one of the most gifted magic users alive and far more skilled than most. My failing with the necromancer was due to me underestimating him, nothing more. The explosion you surely saw on the news wasn’t a terrorist cell but a clean way to cover up the mess that man made.” explained Alma in a calm, cool manner.
“So many people… why?” asked mother, looking shocked.
“I didn’t kill any humans. He had already turned every last person in the vicinity into a zombie.” stated Alma.
“We did look around. I promise.” I told them.
“But how could you be certain? There might have been children hiding…” argued father.
With a nod, Alma said, “Magic. I can tell you the precise temperature of anything you point out around us as well as things you cannot even see. I’ve proven capable of creating temperatures you would find on the sun. Of course, I have to be prepared to contain a nuclear blast at that point.”
My parents looked startled and a bit dubious.
“More recently, she created an abundance of snow in my yard, which she used to make a snow village around a small ice palace. The snowball fight was pretty great, though I didn’t win.” I told them.
“Alma did then?” asked mother, smiling at her.
“No. I can’t actually claim to be the strongest person your son knows.” she informed them.
“Ummm… yes. Well, let’s say that someone far more swift than us easily hit everyone with a snowball as we did our best to remain perfectly still. She gets… skittish.” I told them.
Father sighed and shook his head. Then he said, “Son, do you realize how that sounds? Lady… er… Alma just told us that she can create nuclear explosions, and now you want to believe there’s someone worse?”
“Huh? No. I wouldn’t call either of them bad, father. Yes, they could be dangerous if provoked to it, but that’s different. They’re just… powerful.” I told him, feeling my words were lacking as a defense. “I hope you can at least see why broaching this subject was difficult for me. Things are far stranger than I ever would’ve guessed before exposure to them.”
Father nodded, but he didn’t seem convinced. I couldn’t entirely blame him, but I really hoped I would persuade them to be safe. Things were just too complicated.