a girl is abducted by strange people who turns out to be a mish mash of creatures called The Creatures of the Night. She is confronted with two different young men who are not as young as they appear (o.O) She must journey to the Witches' land, which is under seige, and learn about her past she doesn't remember.
“Hey Uncle Vito!”
“Hey girl! How’s my little mob princess?” Adrianne’s uncle Vito looked and sounded like one of the many infamous Mob Bosses one would see in the movies. But the middle-aged Italian gentleman with a head still full of thick, slicked back hair in the gray pin-striped suit waved to his fourteen year old niece with the same shiny black hair and tanned skin.
“Uncle Vito, we’re not in the mob. Stop calling me that!”
“Sorry princess.” He winked and smiled.
They were pedigree Italians. Pure Italian; Uncle Vito had that permanent Italian accent that never seems to go away. Adriane didn’t care.
Her parents had never been snobbish, rich, or uptight like so much of her family. That was why her and her parents had never gone to the great Italian Family Gatherings. They had just never felt the urge to try and please the very high expectations and regulations their families had set for them.
Uncle Vito was rich, but not uptight, and not mean and just generally carefree.
The situation with him and Adriane was nothing less than… complicated. A year and a half ago, a drunk celebrity had run over her parents walking to their car from a restaurant very late in the evening. The celeb had been tried and put in jail for involuntary manslaughter for a month before they let her out when her husband posted her bail. Adriane thought that wasn’t even close to justice but was too smart to do anything stupid. Articles had popped up about the celeb in hundreds of magazines but not one had tried to do an article with the family. The only worst thing was, the star hadn’t even apologized. She then fell off the charts into the pit of washed up and infamous stars.
Adriane still felt the white hot grief burning inside her but had managed to box it in with her calm mien and cool temperament. All of her family thought she had taken it rather well, and she only cried herself to sleep for a month.
She was happy with Uncle Vito. Her parents had actually signed legal documents when she was born that if she ever had to live with a relative she would live with Uncle Vito. And she loved him. Out of all of her family, she only truly loved Uncle Vito. He was like an Uncle, brother, and father all in one humorous man.
He was overall just a very kind, good man. Uncle Vito was a hot-shot lawyer and had a mansion, but sold it and bought a beautiful stone house that was almost identical to the houses Adriane constantly designed. He had ordered a home schooling program for her when she hadn’t wanted to go back to regular school. He left her to heal by herself when she wanted, and held her tight when she didn’t. He stopped working late into the night when she arrived and instead brought most of his work home with him and did it with Adriane after dinner when she read books in the living room. She loved his vast library. It was her goal to read every book in his library, except for the numerous books on tax law that she had put aside into his room.
Adriane was bright, very sharp. Uncle Vito was too. When he had a problem with logic or something, he would ask Adriane to help and they usually found a reasonable solution. She didn’t talk much, and didn’t hold much value in appearances, which Uncle Vito didn’t approve of. She mostly wore t-shirts and jeans, so Uncle Vito bought her the expensive kinds, even though she would have worn the cheapest to be found. He put much value into appearances. His appearance was of power and money. Uncle Vito invested in the most expensive clothes he could find, the best furniture he could find, and the fanciest cars he could drive. Again, Adriane didn’t care. Uncle Vito spoiled her, but not too extensively. The perks of living with a rich uncle is that you usually get great books, great houses, and big rooms. She loved her huge room. She loved the whole house. Adriane had designed her whole room and many parts of the house, like the kitchen. It had helped distract her from the fresh, painful wound of the loss of her parents and Uncle Vito was nothing less than completely enthusiastic about it.
The house was delightfully classic and clean to a fault. Every room was exquisitely decorated with a delicate taste in artisan classics that had Adriane’s name written all over it.
The rich gray stone house had a delicate underlay of artisan influence that screamed filthy rich and lovely and intelligent all at the same time.
Adriane bounded onto the back patio, a book tucked under her arm and a messenger bag hanging precariously from one shoulder. Fine strands of black hair had escaped her ponytail and hung limply around her face. Her long black bangs sat moodily just under the curve of her eyebrows, giving her a calm, cool and mysterious mien.
“Are you really sending me to that Still Lake academy in the fall?” She asked, her sharp gray eyes narrowing ever so slightly.
Uncle Vito sighed and folded his newspaper slowly. “Yes. You told me yourself you were ready to go back to a school with other kids.”
“I know I said that but why this school?! Do you know how many celebrity kids go there?! How many rich snobs!!”
“Yes but I know how much you care about good academics and this is the best school in the west United states and its not very far away. You would come home on weekends but stay through the week. I thought you would be pleased, but then again I forgot your hatred of irresponsible celebrities and rich snobs, as you put it. But I won’t change my mind. It’s and excellent school, famous for teaching some of the brightest and most powerful young minds of the twenty-first century. And they have world-known physics courses that would instantly put you into a booming contractor business.”
“I know about those. I do my research. And they look good. But I don’t want to go!”
Uncle Vito rubbed a hand over his eyes. “I’m sorry Adriane, but you have no choice in this matter. It’s an excellent school, excelling in every single course, and I’ve already enrolled you.”
Adriane, sensing it would be a disgrace to herself if she continued to argue, accepted defeat. “If you say so, Uncle.” Losing with grace was a virtue she learned by watching. She was always watchful.
Adriane had gone to public school in a nice town in Northern Cali before her parents died. She had never made many friends, and they hadn’t been very close to her; mainly because she never really let anyone in. Just her parents and Uncle Vito.
She watched people at her school, learning socializing patterns and analyzing fights. In the hallways, at lunch, in class, leaving the school grounds with other kids. Adriane watched fights and friendships develop, and began to predict when they would happen and when they would end. She got very good at it. She heard many different types of humor; vulgar and innocent both.
Many times she had been called horrible things, but her cool exterior was a bulletproof wall. Always, she just smiled politely over her shoulder at the verbal attacker and walked away, light as a feather and none the worse. Emotionally, she was invincible until her parents died. Then she had withdrawn even further away from the world. Until she had met and opened up to Uncle Vito, she had been as desolate as the endless Siberian tundra.
Now she was healed, and strong and confident, but never very talkative to anyone.
And now she waved to Uncle Vito without a smile and drew open one of the glass doors that led out to the patio and pool and walked inside, out of the California summer heat. She slipped out of her striped flip flops and left them in the closet off to her right, and let her bare feet cool on the tile for a moment before she stepped onto the plush white rug. Her feet led her to her right and to the fridge in the open kitchen, where she poured herself a glass of orange juice that she drained in a matter of seconds.
Feeling refreshed, she wandered out onto the cool white tile that covered most of the gargantuan lower floor of the house and into the tv area, where she sank onto a comfortable tan couch with her new book, and set to reading it.
The pleasant Saturday was almost over as Adriane sat down at her desk with a towel twisted over her wet hair and started researching the school she was doomed to be sent to. The standards of the school were excellent, such as the professors that taught there. As she thought, there was not one teacher that was without a Doctorate’s degree in his or her teaching field. The art professor had learned under some of the greatest European minds of the twentieth century, and the physics professor was a direct descendant of Da Vinci and just as brilliant. She was thoroughly impressed by the school, but wished it wasn’t filled with all those famous and rich people.
Adriane looked at the list of sports they offered, and wasn’t really impressed. It was definitely more of an academics school, which she approved of. They did have a fairly good fencing team that had competed internationally, but hadn’t gotten too far in Europe. Of course she realized that she should not be a snob about schools, but she very much wanted to find something wrong with this school so she could go somewhere a bit more humble.
Disappointed with finding nothing but good things about the school, she shut down her lap top and dried her hair. She brushed her bangs out straight, and then clipped them on top of her head. Flopping down on her bed, she clicked off the lamp and fell into a dreamless sleep.
Sunday dawned, and Adriane was up with the first light, like she did every day. It was only a week before she had to start the new school, and she knew she should start packing, but decided to procrastinate and went downstairs for breakfast. Uncle Vito was just coming out of his room when she had already sat at the table in the breakfast nook behind the kitchen, which was flooded with light from the amazing California dawn. She fully dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt, with nothing on her feet and every hair in place in a ponytail. The chef had already started eggs Benedict for the both of them, and Adriane sat with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
“Morning Uncle,” she smiled.
“Mornin’.” He smiled a very white smile back. This was their morning ritual.
“What’s for breakfast today, Princess?”
“Chef Garnaze is making his amazing eggs Benedict again. His waffles were delicious but these are fabulous!” Adriane said brightly.
Chef Garnaze smiled as he fried the eggs. He had worked for many rich people for many years but he had never met any people that were so grateful.
They ate quietly and Adriane announced that she was going to go swimming in an hour.
“Ah, mob princess, but that is where you are wrong. We are going shopping today.” He smiled. Adriane assumed a slightly devastated expression.
“Uniforms and winter and fall shopping. You’ve grown like a weed since your fifteenth birthday. You wouldn’t fit into the clothes you wore since then.” Adriane pouted ever so slightly. She really didn’t like clothes shopping, but when Uncle Vito had a hankering for a very nice suit or outfit he saw, he would bring Adriane with him whether she wanted to go or not and turn it all into a gigantic shopping trip. She assumed today would be much like those other shopping trips.
They hit nine stores, including Ikea, where they picked out customized furniture for the dorm room Adriane would occupy. That was the store Adriane actually got excited about. She constantly wandered off to look at their set ups and Uncle Vito had to constantly chase after her. They spent two and a half hours there, not including lunch in the Ikea café.
They bought at least six things at every clothing store they went to. Adriane was laden down with bags by the time they finally went back to the car after going to every store.
The sun was beginning to set when they arrived home, and for once Adriane had actually liked going shopping, even though Uncle Vito made her get a couple of formal occasion outfits.
Uncle Vito and Adriane ate a light dinner and read for the remainder of the evening. Then they both went to bed.
The rest of the week seemed to pass in an instant. It seemed all of a sudden Adriane was packed and driving to her new school. She blinked, and looked around her in amazement. The long cobblestone driveway had an elegant wood and stone fence, the stone posts capped with an elegant lamp that was still lit in the early and very gray pre-dawn. As they continued down the driveway, Uncle Vito and Adriane resumed a lively conversation about ocean jokes.
“What crosses the ocean twice without taking a bath either way?” Adriane asked with a smile in her voice.
Uncle Vito frowned. “I don’t know that one. Where did you get it?”
“Old book. I’ll give you a bit longer.”
He frowned then shrugged his shoulders. “I give up.”
Adriane grinned wide. “A dirty double-crosser!” Uncle Vito groaned.
“That was bad! And that joke has been around forever! I just now remember it!”
Adriane felt a story coming on, and she wanted to hear it.
“When I was a kid, younger than you, there was this guy, ninety-something old guy with a thick head o’ hair still on his head! It was bone-white but he had more hair than I did! He was obviously Italian. Only the Italian have hair like we do.
“Anyway. This guy was a tailor for men’s suits. I picked up my fine taste in suits from him. Excellent guy. The best of the best in his line of work. And when he was fitting the suits on us, he would tell us all these wild jokes that bamboozled us till we couldn’t take it no more, y’know? And they were the wackiest answers. We young boys kept trying to figure this out all scientifically and mathematically, and he just broke all the rules. Like he could always find this loophole that wasn’t really a loophole, y’know?
“I remember the lamest one he ever told was how there was a deaf monkey on the railroad tracks, looking down at ants and he says beforehand that there wasn‘t a lever in sight. And there’s a train coming from one way and another train coming the other way. Now these trains are all on one track now, on a collision course. And the trains just pass by, not seemin’ to be touchin’ at all, and the monkey is still completely alive and unhurt and he never moved a muscle. You wanna know how the monkey wasn’t hurt?”
“Yeah!” Adriane chimed in eagerly.
“They were ghost trains. That’s it. They just passed through each other. That was it.”
“What? Are you kidding me?” Adriane said, perplexed.
“I know. Lamest joke ya ever heard, right?”
“Definitely.” Adriane agreed. “Look there’s the school!”
“I guess you’re right, princess. Dang, I hate to leave ya here. I’ll miss your company in the evenings.”
“Yeah well you’ll have me on the weekends, won’t you? It’s only an hour long drive.”
“Yeah princess, I’ll see you on the weekends. I’ll sign you in, see you settled in and let ya go to the auditorium for the assembly.”
“’Kay, Uncle Vito. Thanks.” She smiled.
After fifteen minutes of hauling luggage up stairs into rooms and getting the wrong building three times, signing extensive paperwork, Adriane watched her beloved Uncle drive back home. And for the second time in her life she felt the suffocating feeling that she was completely alone in the world.
She was ordered to change into her uniform immediately, and was rushed into the huge auditorium, which was mostly filled with literally, the most beautiful teens in the world. Adriane should have felt like a tiny, shriveled little shadow in comparison, but she really didn’t care all that much. Sure, she felt a little diminutive next to them like any normal person would, but on a much smaller scale than a normal girl would feel.
Over all, she felt very preppy and trim, with her hair casually twisted into a knot with strands hanging out here and there. The uniform was carefully thought out. It was a stylish blue blazer with a crisp white linen shirt underneath, typically worn with a tie, and that over a black, green, plain with very, very sparse red and white mixed in plaid skirt. Knee high white stockings and black shoes finished the classic, yet very attractive outfit.
The assembly was basically the “Welcome Freshmen” and “Welcome back older students” and the very basic, very boring rules, regulations and a run-down of what they expect yet again from the students and the praise for their academic teams and school spirit for their sports teams. And then it was over. The students were asked to have breakfast in the cafeteria and then students were supposed to go do whatever they wanted for the rest of the day as long as it was on school grounds.
At breakfast Adriane headed straight for an unoccupied table in the corner that had one thin, tall window. The sun warmed her and she smiled as she ate alone. Somehow, by great luck, she had acquired the one room that no one else had rented, but it was a room for dorm-mates so she had double the space with only herself to occupy it.
She flopped down on the bed, freshly made with her favorite sheets. Adriane took one look at all her trunks and didn’t think about them again for the rest of the day.
“The campus looks nice. They even offered guided tours on the same golf cart trains they have in Cali.” she said out loud to herself, her hands folded neatly behind her head. There was another one in an hour that she could get one. Hopefully she could get on a empty car at the very back. That would be nice. She smiled. She would do that.
The campus was beautiful. Especially from the very back golf cart where the rich accented chatter couldn’t reach her. A ghost of a smile never strayed from her lips the whole time. What really surprised her was how happy she was here. It was just very peaceful. But one quiet little voice at the back of her mind that scared her more than anything with the truth it always spoke, spoke up. And told her, Don’t get used to it.
Monday dawned nicely. Classes went smoothly, but she noticed she attracted many stares from all the other students. But no one tried to talk to her. They just gossiped incessantly. But Adriane didn’t care. She walked on to wherever she was supposed to be.
The classes were just as good as they were advertised. Adriane liked them a lot. Everything was perfect and peaceful until she got ambushed coming from lunch.
Two blondes and a brunette had cornered her and all smiled prettily like the movie stars they looked like.
“Hi!” the brunette said. “I’m Trisha! And here are Melissa and Carly!” she gestured to the two blondes. “You look new here! Practically everyone here was here last year. So where are you from?”
“Uh…” Adriane was completely caught off guard. She hadn’t expected such instant acknowledgement. “I was home schooled.” She rattled off hastily. It wasn’t really the truth but it might hold them off a little.
Expressions of surprise lit up the girls’ faces. “Really? Wow…” They said in unison. Adriane smiled quickly at them and rushed away.
Two more encounters happened like that that day. Adriane answered as little as possible which was usually only four words at most or used an excuse that she was late for something.
Adriane rushed into her room and shut the door quickly. She really didn’t want the attention and she was confused. Why would anyone be interested in her? Surely these people weren’t truly nice were they? Adriane immediately rushed to the bathroom that belonged solely to her room and started a nice hot bath. She soaked for about an hour and a half in expensive lavender bath salts. It calmed her down and she almost fell asleep in the tub.
After the bath she snuggled into her softest flannel pajamas and drew out her favorite book to read for the fourth time.
Another confrontation happened at breakfast, then another after fourth period. She paused in the hallway, completely bamboozled about the attention. What were these people after?
This happened again and again for the next two weeks. Adriane just wanted to stay unnoticed but these people were making it impossible! She was so confused that it almost made her forget her resentment towards these people.
She began to try and find back ways to her classes to avoid the despicable people. This happened for about a month. They just kept coming! And she began to wonder if she could keep on staying unknown.
There were three people that noticed her; talked about her, but didn’t approach her yet. One of those three was an extraordinarily handsome blonde fifteen-year-old young man by the name of James. He had neat, pale, sandy blonde hair that was always immaculate with not a hair out of place. His skin was fair and his green eyes sparkled with mischief and intelligence and something colder. He and two others already had an edge over most of the school, and only as sophomores.
He believed if she avoided people so much, she had something to hide. And if someone got a hold of that, she would be done for before she could say anything. And she needed to stay out of his world.
He turned away. This could turn out to be quite interesting.
Adriane, in her hurry to the library, stopped to smell the roses. Every variety of them that the school had. There were the most brilliant hues and exquisite scents in the beautiful garden.
She was inhaling deeply, then suddenly choked when someone spoke behind her. Adriane fought the urge to whirl around.
“Nice day isn’t it? But isn’t it a bit early to be out and walking around?”
Adriane turned around and vaguely lifted an eyebrow. “Couldn’t you say the same for yourself?”
The blond guy‘s face was stony. “My class was canceled.”
“And so was mine.”
“What a coincidence.” Adriane noticed everything about him was trim, neat and flawless. She tried to find a single fault, a single hair out of place, and failed.
“My name is James.” He offered a hand. Adriane shook it firmly with a stony face. “Adriane.” She answered.
Instantly, she jerked her hand away with a gasp; because she felt a sudden burning sensation on her palm. A simple black mark sat boldly on the inside of her left wrist. There were two crossed lines with a star above. She looked back up, but James was gone.
The mark began to fade, but the pain remained, unfortunately. Adriane was also left with the time for thoughts to slowly turn endless circles in her head.
The next day, Adriane didn’t see James at all. She didn’t see him for months, and not on the numerous field trips she went on with the school, even when she saw him name on every list.
People left her alone, and she was peaceful again inside. She kept visiting Uncle Vito, kept going to classes, but a cloud hung over her. She was actually lonely. Being alone had never bothered her before, but she began to crave a relationship with somebody. She got along all right with Uncle Vito, but she wanted to be friends with someone her own age.
Adriane watched the people that went to Still Lake academy, but noticed that there was not one person interested in her at all. She felt a flashback sensation of the helplessness she had experienced when someone told her that her parents had died. It was certainly the most horrible feeling she had ever experienced.