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Chapter 3

Aexis stumbled into her house, tossing her backpack to the floor, and setting her bow gently against the wall before closing the door behind her. Out of breath from running the last couple of blocks home, the dark-haired teenager kicked off her shoes and began to climb the stairs to her room. “I’m home!” she called out.

“Your late,” came the reply. Wesley Rune poked his head around the doorway, his shaggy brown hair just as wild and unkept as usual. “Whatever happened to calling ahead?”

“I’m sorry.” Alexis said with a sigh, pausing on the fifth step. “Ozaki-senzi ran practise overtime. He’s getting obsessed with the competition.”

“I ran you a bath, hurry and clean yourself up. Supper’s just about ready.” Wesley said with a grin, disappearing back into the kitchen.

There was no need to tell Alexis twice, practically jumping into the lukewarm water. Minutes later, Alexis ran back downstairs wearing yoga pants and a tank top, her damp hair wrapped in a towel. She landed in a chair at the kitchen table, stomach grumbling away from the aroma of her father’s cooking. Roast beef, potatoes, carrots. A simplistic and unusual meal by Japanese standards, but her father wasn’t Japanese. Wesley Rune had moved to Japan from England almost twenty years ago now. As much as he took up much of the native ways, every once in a while the urge for a traditional meal from his own country struck. Alexis didn’t mind, she loved her father’s cooking.

“How was practice?” Her father asked, setting the plate down in front of her. He had soaked everything with the beef gravy.

Alexis groaned at the question and focused on the meal. She had no desire to tell Wesley of her disastrous day. He had always encouraged her archery skills, and was one of the few topics that were safe talking to him about. She felt disheartened and embarrassed by her performance, and afraid her father would be disappointed in her.

“That bad?” Wesley asked, filling in the silence for her. Alexis nodded. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine for tomorrow.” He encouraged, giving Alexis a smile. She smiled back and the two returned to finishing their meal.

“Where’s mom?” Alexis asked instead, steering the conversation away from her and her lousy practice.

“Mia came around early to pick her up. Something came up that required her attention.”

“Nothing bad, right?” Alexis asked quickly, Mio Asami’s words still haunting her thoughts.

“I think it was something to do with the caterers,” Wesley replied, giving Alexis a reassuring smile. They both knew the stress her mother was under currently. Not only was she organizing a new exhibit at the museum, but the history behind a number of the artifacts were magical and many were worried about breaching the International Statue of Wizardry Secrecy laws. “I promised, we’d meet up with her by eight, better hurry up and get changed,” he added looking at the clock. It was already quarter to seven, and they had a good thirty to forty minute drive ahead of them.

Alexis nodded, but the nervousness over tonight’s gala wouldn’t go a way. She wanted to tell her father what Mio threatened, but that was one of the taboo subjects. It didn’t make any sense to Alexis, how her father married her mom, a witch, and priestess, yet refused on a number of occasions to talk about magic. He never remained long in a room where someone was performing magic, and would always cut her off whenever she tried to tell him about her day at school, what spells she’d learn, quidditch tryouts, or even the charms she made at her uncle’s shrine. It was like he had blinders, and a stubbornness to refuse to take them off. It made for tense living at times, yet her mother remained, met his wishes and was always patient with him. Her mother had said once that her father had a bad history with magic – but wouldn’t go any further with the details. Alexis had tried, on several occasions to talk to her dad about his past, his life in England; family, friends, school, without any luck. He would close himself off, get a distant look on his face, and grow angry or annoyed, either he would change the subject or leave the room.

“Something wrong?” Wesley asked. Alexis was startled out of her dark thoughts and shook her head.

“There’s security at this thing, right?” Alexis asked as she stood and gathered up their dirty plates.

“Of course, both kinds,” her father cleared his throat, and she knew she was walking on thin ice. “Now, get ready or we are both going to be late.” Alexis nodded and dumped the plates in the sink before climbing the stairs once again to her room.

The soft blue, contoured fitted dress hung off her closet door. It was knee-length with silver, braided straps that came together at the back. It sparkled in the light that made Alexis giggle to herself as she dressed and spun around in it. Next came her hair, for the next fifteen minutes Alexis brushed, pulled and pinned her thick wavy black hair around trying to create a decent look for herself. It was much more challenging without her mother and her magic. Her arms got tired, and she had to start over twice before finally settling on a half up bun style with a number of white pearl studded pins to keep everything in place. This was her first opening gala at the Museum, she wanted to look perfect. It was a special occasion, and as her father said, they were there to support her mother, meaning best behaviour.

“Ten minutes!” her father shouted from below.

Grabbing her make-up kit, Alexis quickly laid the foundation down, taking the rest with her as she flung herself down the stairs. Purse in one hand, shoes in the other. Her father stood waiting at the door, suited up in a style of elegance she had never seen him in before. His unruly hair was combed back neatly. He looked like some English gentleman from the early 1900s.

“Look at you,” Alexis said, followed by a whistle. Wesley eyes circled in annoyance.

“We’ll be late,” he said, pushing her out the door. “You look wonderful too,” he added as a whisper in her ear.

Chapter 2                                      INDEX