THE STARRY LOUNGE
And now was when my days of slavery began.
Okay, I might be exaggerating, it wasn't actually that bad. It was just that I had to take a lot of yelling and scolding. Hm, I might actually have deserved getting yelled at now that I think about it, but still, I was born clumsy so what could I do? Sure, washing the dishes meant that I actually broke them.
My food turned out quiet good, if it weren't for...
...me, falling and dropping the food on the floor! Calden never even got to taste any of it.
My purpose in life just wasn't to become someones maid! I tried to make Calden understand that but he still ended up scolding me badly.
"Do you think you can stay here for free, huh?!"
"You're nothing but a leech, a leech that deserves to get a good beating!"
"Is there anything you don't suck at doing?!"
Sure, I was frightened for a while, but when I got to know Calden better, I soon came to understand it was all just empty threats. I still could't help flinching each time he yelled at me, but I didn't panic by fear either, so it was an improvement.
And as I felt I was no longer as afraid of Calden as I had been, my curiousity started to take over. The first words Calden said as we came back to his house after the previous incident was:
"Do not, I repeat, NOT! enter my room at the second floor. If you do you will be left out in the desert, and I won't let you in again, no matter what! Understood?!"
Now, after I had been living in his home for almost a week, his words didn't seem as important. He wasn't there, and I was just going to take a little peek. He wouldn't even notice!
My first impression was what an ugly color the walls and the floor had! Everything looked so old and boring! The next thing I noticed was how neat and clean it was; almost like no one even lived there. The only thing in his room that showed some kind of personality was the picture above his bed.
Well, yes, I wasn't actually supposed to enter the room, but I had to get closer to see what the picture showed...
Is that Calden?! I thought. Well of course it was, except he had hair that was a lot shorter. This must have been taken about two years ago. And that girl, who is she? His girlfriend? I felt a sting in my chest, which surprised me. Of course, that was only because I was shocked, finding out that someone like Calden actually had someone he loved!... Right?
Then I heard a step behind me.
"Oh, um, hi Calden!" I said, tried to look as innocent as possible. "There was a bird up here! It must have flown through the window, weird right?! I heard these noises and had to..."
"My windows are always closed."
The tense voice as Calden interrupted me surprised me more than anything. Wasn't he mad, finding out I had broken the most important rule, on top of that knowing I was lying straight to his face?!
Oh, he was mad all right. His yellow eyes were burning with rage.
"I'm tired of this," Calden said, his voice completely calm. "Tomorrow, I'll find a place for you to stay at." Then he turned around and left.
What?! Was that it?! No yelling, no screaming, no bullying?! He looked so mad, but could still stay calm. Then I started shaking. The Calden I had met before, the screaming one, had never really been mad. It was the quiet Calden that was mad, raging mad, and he was more scary than the one that was constantly screaming at me...
That night I had trouble sleeping. The feeling of doing something terribly wrong, but not knowing exactly what, made the thoughts spin around like a twister in my head. I was completely unable to make sense of the thoughts.
When morning came I still hadn't slept at all. But I was clear on one thing: I owed Calden my life and I had done a terrible mistake by not even being able to follow the one and only rule he had set up for me.
Calden was up very early that morning and my feelings of guilt became even stronger when I saw his face. I was just about to apologize when he started talking before me.
"Guess what?" he said, but left no chance for me to guess. "I found a place for you to live at! The owner of the home is called Synestra, and she lives quiet close to the center of Lunar Lakes." That was the first time I got to know the name of the town. "It's a long walk so we should start going now, before it get's too warm."
Said and done, we began the early walk. We didn't speak much along the way, Calden said something about Synestra being kind of weird so I got a little prepared for that. Though it seemed as though yesterdays event never even happened, I still felt like I should apologize. But I never did.
Instead I became mesmerized by the town of Lunar Lakes, the weird buildings people called home and the beautiful, but at the same time, odd, environment they were living in. I looked up at a huge crater, and saw a road that led up to the top. Was there people living up there?
I was so busy admiring everything I sometimes had to run to catch up to Calden!
We soon reached the destination of our walk. It was still morning so I never had the chance to see any of the people living there, what did the people living in a place like this look like?
I was soon to get to know the most weird house in Lunar Lakes; the Starry Lounge, the home built by Synestra herself. Before entering the front door Calden told me this was also a hair- and style-lounge.
As we entered the front doors I was first met with the strong smell of different kinds of perfumes; an odd mixture of roses and grass, musk and mint. There was so much of it I ended up with a headache! Then I saw the woman standing behind the counter; she was very muscular and seemed gracile, but her sense of style was really weird! But what I thought was even weirder was her makeup...
"Oh, well, hello there Calden!" she said happily with a nice smile on her lips. "It's great to see you! I see you brought the girl as well!"
Synestra swiftly moved away from the counter and within a second she was standing in front of me.
"Oh, my aren't you a pretty girl!" she burst out in a high-pitched voice that almost gave me tinnitus! "But darlin, that style is completely of. Makes you look like a pinky cow with cropped ears, oh my, oh my!"
"Look like a... what?" I said, as she was speaking so fast I had no chance of understanding her. But it sure did sound like she just gave me an insult. I could even hear Calden chuckle in the background.
"Oh, you heard me, alright, darlin! Well, what was your name again?" Seriously, that voice would turn me mad soon.
"My name? Umm, Leni Fox."
"Oh, so you're an pinky ear-cropped foxy then, huh! Well, that's better than cow, I guess! Thumbs up for that!"
I stared at Calden with desperate eyes. Of course, he was still smiling, enjoying this. Was I really going to live with this maniac?!
"Well then, Foxy!" I was trying to tell her my name was Leni, not Foxy, but she spoke madly fast! "If you wanna be my assistant," and she pointed with both her fingers at me, "you have to look like my assistant! Time for you to get a new style!"
"What?!" I burst out, scared like hell. "No way! Absolutely not!"
"Leni!" Calden called out suddenly. "You know, you are actually standing in front of Lunar Lakes most outstanding stylist, and you refuse to accept the offer of a makeover, for free?! Shame on you!"
Oh, he was enjoying this very much, indeed. Made me regret I even wanted to apologize to him!
And he was to get even more entertained as my first makeover was done.
"OH NO!" I yelled, almost in the same high pitched voice as Synestra's. "This is awful! And what have you done to my hair?!" I thought I had gone to the future but this style was like going back to the age of the hippies.
Calden burst out laughing and Synestra didn't look too happy with my reaction.
If I thought that was horrible, the second outfit was even worse! Who would even want to walk around with plastic bananas and berries on their clothes?! The high heels were far too tall for me to be able to walk with; I fell down even standing still, breaking the heel. Synestra tried her best not to burst with anger...
"I'm sorry!" I said, not feeling sorry at all. "But isn't there something else I can wear, that's a little more discreet, with some pink? Please?" PLEASE?!
"You sure got me a boring assistant!" Synestra shrieked, speaking to Calden but looking at me accusingly.
Well, boring or not, I wasn't going to dress like she wanted me to!
But, WOW, did she surprise me!
"Synestra, this is perfect!" I said when I walked in front of the mirror with my dyed, curled up hair, dressed in a futuristic-styled suit. Never would I walk around in an outfit like this back home, but at this place, it was just perfect! "Thank you, I love this!"
But all Synestra would say was: "It's boring..."
"Well, I guess I should be leaving then."
I turned around to Calden, seeing as he was bored now when the show was over. "Wait, there is something I want to say." I took a deep breath. This might be the last time I saw him and I had to say it. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I dropped all of the food I made for you, sorry I broke all of the plates."
Calden gasped. "You broke ALL of them?!"
"And I'm sorry for going up to your room, breaking the only rule you told me."
By some reason I was only met with irritation in Calden's eyes. "Was that all?"
"No," I said. "There is one more thing: thank you. You offered me a shelter when I was desperate, and saved me from those hoodlums when things were turning bad. I'm glad you were the first person I met at this place!"
I thought Calden was blushing for a moment, but of course my eyes had to be deceiving me. He had a way too harsh look on his face to be blushing!
"Why are you thanking me?" he said with a confident look. "I was the one to get you into trouble in the first place, and if you're not careful, I might try to sell you again."
My face became flushed red with anger. Here I was, apologizing and thanking him, and he was threatening me again?! And why was Synestra smiling stupidly like that at us?!
I tried my best not saying anything stupid, when Calden went and left the building. That familiar sting in my chest appeared again as I saw his back when he was leaving, but before I had the time to reflect on why, Synestras outvoiced my thoughts.
"Oh my, oh my...!"
"Oh my, oh my?" I repeated and looked questioningly at her.
"Well, it's rather obvious, looking at you two, that..."
But Synestra never got to finish her sentence, as the door to the lounge was opened. Synestra pushed me towards the counter and put a huge smile on her lips as the first costumer of the day entered. I forced a stiff smile.
"Well, good morning, miss Loveland!" Synestra burst out. Standing so close, I couldn't help but gritting my teeth at the sound of her voice. "How very nice of you to come!"
"Good morning, Synestra!" miss Loveland greeted back. Apparantly she remained unaffected by the terrible voice. Then she turned at me and smiled.
The young woman was very pretty, and somehow not weird-looking at all - she might as well have been my companion traveling through the time machine.
"Oh, good morning to you, too! Who is your friend, Synestra?"
I quickly introduced myself to her: by this point I would do anything to stop Synestra from talking.
"It's really nice to meet you! I'm Leni Fox, Synestra's new assistant!"
"Oh, that's a really nice name!" she said and smiled broadly, showing her perfectly white teeth. "My name is Amelia, but my friends call me Ami. You can call me Ami if you want!"
Amelia had a very catching smile and I couldn't help but smile back. She was my first friend at this place, and I was so happy!
Luckily enough Synestra came up to her.
"Mrs Ansari, am I surprised to see you!" Synestra said squeakingly. "Is things going better with your husband?"
"Well, of course!" the woman said and glared at Synestra, wrinkling her forehead.. Wow, I really wasn't the only one getting a headache by her voice! "Raja is still a mere farmer but it seems as though his side business is going well; it's not like I can't afford your styling!"
"You don't want to get on Kara's bad side," Ami explained quietly to me when I got to sit down beside her. "Especially lately when her income seems to grow - suddenly she get's even more annoyed and those that gets in her way ends up hurt one way or another. Which makes you wonder just what Raja, her husband, is doing when it comes to his ´side business´".
It turned out Ami and I had a lot in common - except for us both being blonde and blue eyed, we were as naive and made a list of all the things we both were afraid of. I couldn't be happier, finding a friend like her in a place like this! I really enjoyed being in her company.
As Synestras makeover on Kara ended she left and we all felt like we could take a breather. Suddenly the place got a lot louder and the mood much lighter. Finding a friend somehow made Synestras voice more bearable.
Ami however was soon done and had to leave - but she made sure to invite me over some day to her place for dinner. I couldn't be happier, but when she left I suddenly realized she had forgotten to give me her adress...
When we were about to close the lounge the first male costumer arrived. He looked at Synestra with a familiar face and greeted her happily, but then he saw me.
He suddenly stopped his movements and stared at me for a moment. Neither did he blink, neither did he say anything. I couldn't help blushing. Please, stop staring at me! Was there something wrong with me, or what?! But I couldn't say that. Instead I just stupidly stared back into his eyes, dumbfounded. He had such dark eyes I was actually amazed by them, and that shiny silver hair...
But then he started to move his lips.
"Oh!" he said and smiled. "A new face! Haven't seen you before, which is a shame, since I love your face, it's so beautiful!"
"Umm, I'm Leni," I said modestly. "Synestra's new assistant." I had been telling that line the whole day but saying that to a guy who had gone into a complete flirt-mode made me more shy than usual. Sure, I got used to guys flirting with me while in high-school, but this time it felt somehow... different.
I felt a hand forcing me to the side as Synestra took over my place in front of the costumer. He sighed and looked disappointed at her.
"Why did you just interrupt my nice conversation with Leni?" he said accusingly and with dissapointment. "Not nice, Synestra."
"Well, Eythil," Synestra said and smiled broadly. "You see, you can't go around and flirt with my assistant any way you want!"
"I was just making her aquiantance!"
"Oh, really?" Synestra said ironically. "That look you have, when raising that one eyebrow of yours, that is so your flirt-mode."
"No, it's not! My flirt-mode looks more like this." Eythil switched to a different pose. "See? Much more handsome!"
"That, just now, was so your drunk-mode!"
"I don't have a drunk-mode!"
"Yes you do! Remember that time, when you..."
And so they went on.
I couldn't really join their conversation so I just ended up listening to them. It was clear that they had known each other for a long time, but just what kind of relationship they had been having remained unknown. I couldn't help feeling really curious about it but hopefully I would be getting some answers later on.
"And why don't you tell me the reason for your visit?" Synestra asked as the conversation really didn't get anywhere.
"To see you, of course!" Eythil said. Then he looked over at me. "Meeting Leni was of course the big bonus as to getting here." Then he blinked with his right eye. He was so in his flirt-mode!
"Very nice of you, but we have to close down the lounge now. Shooo, of you go!"
"Yeah, I will! Just a moment." He looked at me again as he walked backwards towards the entrance. "I would love to take you out on a date someday soon!" he said confidently. Was he taking for granted that I was single?
"No, you won't!" Synestra shrieked after him.
Eythil smiled broadly, showing all of his teeth. "See you soon, Leni!"
It went awfully quiet as the doors closed.
Synestra sighed and not until now did I see just how tired she was. "Well, I would kill for a cup of coffee!" I didn't doubt a second she actually would. "Come, I will show you to the kitchen."
I sighed as well and sank lower into the chair as the inviting smell of coffee filled the air. As we were waiting a thought came to my mind: Synestra loves green. But what she loved even more was the combination of red and green. The kitchen design really proved that.
"So, you're not thinking of accepting the date Eythil offered you, right?"
I stared at Synestra's face as she calmly placed my cup of coffee on the table in front of me. Her question sure took me by surprise.
"What, shouldn't I?" I said in a tone which was meant to sound indifferent. She sat down by the chair next to me.
"I don't think it would be very appropriate," Synestra said in a surprisingly dark voice, for Synestra that is.
"Why not?" I asked, as though I was still trying to decide wether to accept or not. Actually, I was just really curious and wanted to know the reason why she seemed so opposed to it. "You two seem to be good friends."
"That's because I'm his FRIEND, and nothing else. And even that is a stretch for someone from the Spellbound-household."
"And why is that?"
Synestra seemed surprised. "You don't know about the Spellbounds'?" I raised my eyebrows. "Oh, right, you are the ear cropped foxy that came here through a time machine. But still, it's surprising that you haven't heard of them since you got here! Or you never met anyone besides Calden before you met me?"
"No, I never did."
Synestra lowered her gaze. "Well, of course Calden would never talk about them. You know, he was in a relationship with Eythil sister. Their relationship is a proof of how it will never work out between commoners and the Spellbounds."
Now she really had my attention!
I remembered the picture I had seen above Calden's bed the evening before, of him and a girl with long, silver her and dark eyes. Of course, she had to be Eythil's sister! And the revelation made me feel the sting in my chest yet again. Eythil sure had a beautiful sister...
"Then... what happened?" I asked, though I wasn't sure I actually wanted to know.
"Well, what all of us knew was going to happen, though Calden was too madly in love to notice." Synestra sighed. "She dumped him, and in a very cruel way at that. He was really heartbroken after that and I guess that event is what put him into the "grumpy old man"- behavior. But, you know, today is the first time in almost three years that I can see the old Calden return, and I think the reason is most possibly because of you."
"I hardly believe that!" I objected. If he was a violent, threatening person selling scared girls it was no wonder he had gotten dumped.
Synestra didn't think it was worth it trying to convince me. It went quiet as we took a few sips of the coffee. It tasted almost like the coffee I had at home, but with a slight minty flavour to it. I placed the cup back on the table.
"But what is it with the Spellbound-family? Why shouldn't they hang out with commoners?"
"Because they are a very rich, influent family with connections all over the world. The president is Domrex Spellbound, Eyhtil and Aelia's father. Everything the family members do outside of the house is strictly supervised since everything is about having a good front. If a relative to Domrex ends up in a bad situation everyone will know about it and that would hurt his reputation. Aelia and Calden's relationship was doomed from the beginning."
I went quiet as I had too much to think about. Sure, it was interesting hearing something like that about Calden's past and I wanted to know more, but the sting in my chest wouldn't go away. As I was drinking the last of my coffee I thought about what Synestra had told me about the Spellbounds ...they are a very rich, influent family with connections all over the world...
The reason I even came to this place had been to find my mother, and somehow I saw this as an opportunity. If the Spellbounds really had all these connections maybe they knew something about her... And for me to be able to get that information, I had to get closer to one of the family members. It became clear to me now.
I had to accept Eythil's offer, and go on a date with him. He was the only lead I had in order to get closer to my mother.