Confessions of an Heiress: Part Two
Part Two- We’ve Got Magic to Do.
As Taite made a move to leave the wall against which she had been standing, Cardea swiftly jumped in front of her. An unsuspecting Dior slid off the Uni’s back and onto the floor, but her “Hey!” was lost as Cardea asked nervously, “Where are you going?”
“To find Kiran and ask her what Tiffany, Tally, and Delta are doing here and why they’re so upset!”
The Uni pushed her nose down so her eyes were level with the Taite’s. “You don’t want to get involved in that. Trust me, Taite. That’s the last thing you want to do.”
Angrily, Taite pushed her way past Cardea and ran for it- that is, she moved as fast as physically possible without colliding with any of the hundreds of other pets around her. She heard Cardea’s voice behind her, but disregarded it. As a Uni, Cardea was much bulkier than the lithe Usul, and there was no way she would be able to maneuver through the crowd quickly.
Once she was assured that Cardea could not catch up with her, Taite paused to get her bearings. Her head was still reeling from the fact that Tiffany, Delta, and Tally were there in the Smugglers Cove with her. This did not make it any easier.
As Taite looked around, she didn’t see a single pet she knew. She had tried to head in the direction Kiran had gone, but it was impossible to know exactly where the Acara might be amongst this sea of faces.
“Yoo-hoo! Taite! Over here!”
The Usul turned at the sound of her name, but she did not recognize the voice. Her stomach sank when she locked eyes with Caesarette. The island Kiko was bobbing in the air just two or three pets away, and she was waving Taite toward her. The smile on her small mouth might have seemed warm, but her blue eyes were as unfriendly as they had been a mere half-hour ago. For a moment Taite considering escaping her as she had done Cardea, but her inbred manners would not allow her to ignore the hostess of the party. Besides, Caesarette might have seen Kiran recently.
“I’m terribly sorry for leaving you so rudely over there,” the Kiko said unemotionally, gesturing toward the far wall of the cove. “But, you see, my good friend here, Baden, was late getting here and security wouldn’t let her in, so I had to rectify the situation. Anyway, I told her all about our little chat earlier and she was simply dying to meet you. So Taite, I would like you to meet Baden. And Baden... Well, this of course, is Taite. That goes without saying. Anyway, Baden helped plan this little soiree, as well. Isn’t that nice?”
Taite shook the hand- or wing, technically- of an unusually pretty faerie Pteri. The bird’s face was uncannily similar to Caesarette’s in the fact that it held a fake smile and mistrusting eyes.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Taite. I heard you’re here with Kiran. How long have you known her?”
And just like that, it was off again. Baden would ask a question. Taite would answer. Caesarette would ask a question. Taite would answer. Baden would ask a question. And on and on it went, until finally Taite decided to put a stop to it.
“It’s been so... fun talking to you, but I promised to meet up with Kiran. Do you know where she might be?”
Caesarette’s eyelids half-lowered, but she responded. “I think I just saw her heading over to get something to drink with that little- ah, I mean Asha. You might find her that way.”
As soon as the Kiko pointed, Taite was off.
She had not traveled more than a few feet before she ran into Asha. The orange Kougra looked worried, but upon seeing Taite, she swiftly altered her features. “Hey, you! Enjoying the party?”
“Umm... yeah. Sure.” Let’s go with that, Taite added silently. “Have you seen Kiran lately?”
Asha glanced behind her, before shaking her head. “Nope! Sorry! I haven’t seen her since we got here. I bet she’s somewhere dancing, though. You should go look through the crowd. You’ll probably come across her there.”
Of course, Taite knew good and well that Asha had seen Kiran tonight. She was also willing to bet that Kiran was somewhere near and had sent Asha to make sure Taite didn’t find her. That was the way Kiran worked.
The Usul’s eyes focused on the giant fountain only a short distance behind Asha. Instead of water, it was flowing with Sparkling Grape, Apple, and Raspberry Juice. Taite had a feeling that Kiran was standing near it, chatting with some of her friends or perhaps watching Asha closely. But with the Kougra’s eyes trained on her, Taite wasn’t going to be able to head over there.
“Thanks Asha,” she said distractedly, still watching the cascade of juice. “I’ll go look for her out on the floor.”
It was fifteen minutes later when Taite was finally able to approach to the fountain behind Asha’s back. The Kougra was standing where she had left her, probably scanning the floor in case Taite decided to come back. Taite just hoped that she wouldn’t turn around before she found Kiran.
The royal Acara was sitting alone on the edge of the fountain, her dark dress splayed out around her. Her purple arms were folded, legs crossed at the ankle. Nothing was unusual about her appearance except for the fact that her mouth was pressed into a tiny frown and her eyes were angry and very worried. She was also chewing her bottom lip.
Taite sat down beside her, and Kiran inhaled deeply in a desperate attempt to compose herself. The Usul did not let her friend’s emotions faze her. “Kiran, we need to talk.”
The Acara stood up, grabbed a plastic cup, and dipped it into the raspberry stream of juice. She took a sip, then stared down at Taite. “What about?” she asked, struggling to keep her voice casual.
Taite stood up as well. “You know what about.”
A lazy smirk spread across Kiran’s face. She grabbed Taite by the arm, and dragged her out to the floor where pets were dancing. “Taite, it’s a party! Relax! Have fun!” She swayed to the music, her paw still clutching the Usul’s arm.
The hold on Taite’s arm tightened painfully, and the Acara pulled herself close to Taite’s ear. She whispered angrily, “Listen to me. There is nothing I can tell you that you need or want to hear- nothing. So just forget anything you overheard or were told tonight. Chances are it wasn’t anywhere close to the truth.” Her paw loosened its grip, and she straightened herself to full height. Kiran said cheerily, “So let’s just enjoy ourselves, okay?”
Taite tore her arm from Kiran’s hold and stormed away. When she had properly distanced herself from her sister, she stood still, fuming. Her eyes swept the horizon until she found one of the last people she wanted to see. ‘Okay, Taite. You can do this,’ she told herself. ‘Just go up and demand the truth. She’s never been mean before, plus she has no hands so she can’t squeeze the blood out of your arm like Kiran just did.’
The plushie JubJub was dancing alone, swaying oddly to the music. She jumped as Taite spoke.
“Tally, long time no see.”
“Taite! What are you doing here?” Though her voice, like the others’, betrayed her worry, there was a definite genuineness in Tally’s delighted tone.
“Never mind that. Someone owes me an explanation-- and seeing as that someone has shirked off her responsibilities, it’s up to you.”
The blaze in Taite’s eyes wiped the grin off the JubJub’s face. “Umm, you know I think I just saw a waiter pass carrying a tray of those delicious Mushroom Pastry Puffs. I’ll go try to snatch one up before they’re gone—”
“Tally. You were my best friend. Tell me what just went down with Tiffany and Kiran.” Taite, being considerably taller than Tally, glared at the top of the other girl’s head. Tally blinked twice before asking quietly, “Was, huh? So that’s that—you really have replaced Delta and me with... them!”
“That depends on if you’re going to answer my question or not,” Taite responded coolly. “I have a right to know what’s going on.”
Tally fidgeted, and Taite knew that they were both remembering when they had been younger and things had been much less complicated. Back then, they had had a ‘no secrets’ policy. Tally sighed. “You have to understand... I can’t tell you much, or anything at all really... Tiffany and Kiran have been at it for years, but seeing Kiran use you like that was the last straw.”
Taite said nothing but turned on her heel and strutted away in the direction of the drink fountain, leaving Tally staring after her and tilting her head in a JubJub’s version of a shrug. After a moment, Tally let her eyes fall closed and began swaying once again to the music blaring over the noise of the crowd.
Kiran was staring at the wall of the cove, thinking. She was standing a ways away from the juice cascading from the fountain- her dress having been dotted with the spray already- and was very much alone. Had it not been for the fact that she had glared and fussed at anyone who dared to attempt to occupy the space, it might have been considered a miracle to get any privacy at all in a party of hundreds. But she wasn’t concerned with this- she was more worried about what to do when Taite found out... And surely she would find out, eventually if not immediately. Tiffany would tell her. Tiffany would love to tell her, to twist the tale around so it sounded as if Kiran was the bad guy... But there would be some parts of the story that would not need twisting, and it was particularly these parts that concerned Kiran the most. Everything she had done to protect her reputation, to save Taite from the truth, it would all be for nothing once Tiffany told her version of the story. And despite the sinking feeling in her stomach that this could all have been avoided, Kiran knew it could not have. If Taite had not been here tonight, the Powers that Be would surely have assumed the worst and her position in The Top Ten would be history- she would be lucky to be in the 400 at all. ‘And then,’ Kiran thought, trying to justify her actions to herself, ‘all of this would have been for nothing and Taite’s life would have been messed up for nothing.’ So there it was. It all came down to Taite, right? Of course it did. ‘Everything I’ve done has been to protect her, to save her.’ And as Kiran thought this for about the hundredth time in the past year, she almost believed it.
At that moment, Asha scurried up. “Taite alert,” she murmured.
Kiran sighed. She wasn’t ready to do this. Not yet. “We can’t put this off any longer?”
“Not really... We’ve got explaining to do.”
“Explaining? Is that what you’re calling it? Let’s not gloss things over. We’ve got magic to do.”
“Yeah, well,” Asha said, her voice filled with dry laughter, “I don’t have a wand on me at the moment, or I might just use it.” She was quiet for a second before adding quite seriously, “You think when they find out they’ll kick us out in front of all these people or wait to do it in private?”
Kiran glanced over her shoulder at five pets who were chatting carelessly. Among them was a royal boy Krawk. When their eyes met, he remained emotionless. The island Kiko clinging to his arm, however, gave a little smirk and shook her head knowingly. Kiran turned back to Asha and replied, “They’re not going to find out if I can help it.”
“KIRAN!” Taite stormed up in a fury. “I know. I know the whole story about you and Tiffany.” The lie came off her lips easily, she was so desperate to know what it was that Tally couldn’t talk about and Kiran refused to. “Maybe you’ll want to tell me your side now?” She met the Acara’s eyes confidently, unblinking.
“All right,” Kiran said wearily. She both sounded and looked defeated. “I will, I will. I’ll tell you everything- the truth, I promise. But not here. No, trust me,” she added when Taite started to protest. “This isn’t something you’ll want the public to know. Let’s just go find Dior and Cardea and tell them we’re ready to leave. When we get home, we’ll talk, okay?” All pretense had fallen away. The fake cheeriness was gone and there were tiny frown lines etched in her face. Her normally perfect posture had fallen slack and her eyes looked vacant, dejected even.
Taite had never seen Kiran this way, but she did not let her shock show. “Fine,” she replied calmly. “We’ll go home. We’ll talk. And I want to know everything. No cover-ups. No lies.” She paused. “I’m going to find Cardea and Dior. We’ll meet you outside.”
And with that, Taite turned on her heel and stalked away.
To be continued...