Nineteen white and green waxy candles brilliantly burned atop of my green frosted cake which read in lavender writing “Happy 19th Livy!” I inhaled the smell of the burning candles and savored the smell, which sent my saliva glands into frenzy. Nothing in the world smelled better then birthday cake or tasted better in my opinion. Before blowing out my candles and making a wish I looked around at the two most important people in my life. Declan Killian and Bradley Walkar sat around me both beaming each holding a gift they insisted on getting me. I know both boys we’re on the edge of their seats awaiting for the wish I had to make.
But I would never tell.
It had been a little over six month since my mother’s death and almost every night since she appeared in my dreams. It was my mom before she had the cancer. Big blue eyes, soft pink lips, and ivory skin that her warm brown hair framed perfectly. In my dream she always had a look of anxiety on her face that I soon to realize was always there. Thinking of her in my dream would often keep me up late into the night. Her secrets that she took to the grave with her made me cringe. I always thought it was what you see is what you get with my mother. On her deathbed I was proven wrong.
Meeting Declan and the ‘captain’ have been a shock to me because they we’re so involved and important to my mother and her life. Yet I did not have the opportunity of getting to know them until Declan promised my mother to look out for me after she was gone and the captain came to visit my mother and revealed their secret romance. The situation made me feel stupid and unworthy to be my mother’s daughter. I hadn’t had any idea of the secrets my mother hidden for me. After her death it had seemed so obvious that there was more to meet the eye.
Ever since my mother died I had a sour taste left in my mouth like an infection that would not go away. Part of me wanted to forget all the lies and remember my mother as the beautiful author who had always been truthful instead of the deathly looking lady that lied to her own daughter.
Gah! What I would give to go back in time.
That was my wish.
I smiled again at my two friends, they smiled back. In my head I repeated my wish yet again, ‘I wish that my mom never died and everything would go back to normal’ then inhaled slowly and deeply. Before blowing the candles out I chanted the wish again and again. I could feel tears starting to swell up in my eyes as I chanted it for the last time, then in one swift motion exhaled and let my breath extinguish the burning flames. My two friends cheered as the candles smoked and the scent made my mouth water.
As the smoke disappeared up into the room, a single shivered slithered itself up my spine.
“Sorry I can’t stay Liv” Declan said pulling me into his arms then lifting me of my feet into a big bear hug. “But my ladies are at home awaiting my return.”
“Of course” I cranked my head up at him, and I’m not kidding, Declan was gigantic. “Back home to your family which you won’t let me meet.”
Since my mother’s death Declan and I have grew close, in months he knew everything about me, my hopes, and my ambitions, everything that made me who I was, and yet, I knew so little about him. He promised that in time, he’d let me into his life like I let him in mine, but I didn’t think it would take this long. I knew the reason to why he had been so secretive and that was my mother.
“Olivia I said you would soon.” He had a grin spread across his face, the exact grin that for sure was why his wife had fallen for him. “I have to drop by tomorrow so I’ll see you then, and your spa appointment is at nine tomorrow, so enjoy.”
“Okay!” I said excitedly. “Thanks for the spa coupon!”
I was surprised when Declan handed me an envelope with a $250 spa coupon. He beamed and told me that a spa coupon was what every girl wanted. That made me laugh, because I have never even set foot in a spa.
After Declan left Bradley and I decided to go for a walk down to the beach. The beach in November was always my favorite scene. The gray water rolled softly up onto the sandy beach. The smell of the ocean and the sound of the waves often sent me in a daze.
Bradley and I walked hand in hand.
Bradley was only my friend of course, but yet more than friends. We had known each other since we were in kindergarten and since then we’ve be inseparable. Three days was the longest we haven’t seen each other and to both of us that was hell. Bradley and I have never had any romantic feelings for each other but everyone we went to school with, and extended family thought there was a secret romance. It was always so flattering to see how jealous girls got when Bradley and I we’re together. I don’t blame them though, Bradley was stunning. He had shaggy blond hair, grey eyes, and a rough face full with stubble. He looked like a punk- rock star which made the girls weak in his presence. Bradley has a weird personality though. Even though he was appealing to the eye he carried an attitude around with him. He was shy and had a low self esteem which made him seem rude. That was his father’s fault. Bradley’s father was unemployed, and a criminal. Convicted years ago for child and domestic abuse, he spent a year in jail just to return back home and repeat his old ways. I remember during junior high Bradley would stumble his way into my mother’s house, big purple and black bruises covering his exterior. Bloodied and broke my mother would nurse him back to health than call his mother to let her know he’d be here until he was ready to go back home. At first she used to call the cops but they did nothing and Bradley’s father would just take it out on him when he returned home, so my mother would just keep him for as long as she could. My mother was a mother to him more than his mother was. It was hard for him as well when she passed.
The stars we’re brighter than usual tonight. The cool November wind blew through my brown hair and again my face. It was a nice feeling, and I closed my eyes and took it in. I sat down in the sand pulling Bradley down with me; he laughed and rolled over me laying down beside me in the cold sand. Then he spoke, his deep voice almost a whisper. “How come I get this feeling you’ll be leaving soon?”
I looked at him, shocked because I haven’t told him I was going to live with Declan yet. “Because I am.”
I haven’t told anyone about the conversation I had with my mom before she died. No one knew of the Cicael that was hidden safely in my bra close to my heart or that my mother admitted she lied. Only Declan knew that I was going to live with him because I didn’t have the heart to tell Bradley.
“I’ll miss you.” He sighed and put an arm around me.
“You’re coming with me.” I said running my fingers through his hair. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I won’t leave without you.”
He chuckled and pulled me down in a laying down position. “I don’t know if Declan will approve of that Ivy.”
Bradley had always called me by my first name instead of Liv or Olivia, it’s been this way for ever and I don’t ever want it to change. I was Ivy to him, and that was the way it was.
“Why do you think I’m leaving with Declan?”
“Isn’t obvious?” Bradley rolled onto his stomach and started to write him name in the sand. “He just comes strolling into your life, and you only have a couple more weeks left until the new owners move into your house. Surly she has some scheme; she’s not going to leave you homeless.”
Bradley was right; my mother had found new owners for the house just before she died. She gave it to them fully furnished, full of appliances, and was even leaving the new owners all our DVD’s and cd’s. It was obvious that ether my mother had forgotten about me, or ether she did have some secret plan mapped out for me.
“We’ll whatever.” I laughed. “You’re coming with me, if you want too.”
Bradley turned a shade of pink before touching the top of my hand with his for finger, I didn’t pull away but this intimate touch was not a norm between Bradley and I. “I don’t think I could live without you, I mean if you left I’d be nothing, I’d have nothing.”
“I love you Ivy.” He whispered and turned a brighter shade of red. “Wherever you go, I’d be sure to follow.”
“I love you to Bradley” I whispered, shock and disbelief swept over me. I had never had a conversation so awkward with Bradley but it was flattering. “I couldn’t live without you ether.”
The waves crashed against the shore as the tension softened. Bradley was now drawing a design around his name with a stick he found in the sand around him. Bradley was very artistic, and in high school ran the art club. He was so amazing; I guess I always had a small crush on him.
Bradley and I walked back to the house hand in hand again. He stopped in front of my door to say goodbye. Bradley always liked to be home and in bed before his father, it seemed to cause less fights and less bruises. He looked at me with his grey eyes sparkling with love. He reached for my hand and kissed the top of it shyly. “Have a good night Liv, I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Okay Bradley, thanks for the song.” For my birthday Bradley and his “band” wrote me a song. It was like a soft lullaby that I had always loved when I went to his band practices. They even called it “Livy’s song”, just for me. That was my birthday present from him. He recorded the song onto a CD so I could download it onto my ipod.
When Bradley left I was left unsure what to do. I wasn’t too afraid of the big empty house because growing up I was always alone in it, but knowing that my mother had died in the room upstairs gave me shivers. I went into the living room, where I usually fell asleep watching movies late into the night. The fireplace was on which made the big living room warm and cozy. It made me remember when my mom was home, and she’d sit with me and tell me stories.
One of my favorite stories was the story about the fall of Cayden. A story no doubt that she made up on the top of her head. I loved listening to it though; it was a big event when she told me it. I’d put on my special PJ’s, make popcorn, and wrap myself up in a big blanket then snuggle down on the couch with my mom. The fireplace would be on like it was now and we’d pig out on popcorn.
“Along, long time ago” She would start “There was a land called Cayden which had fairies, leprechauns, dwarves, and humans, like us. Like any other place, Cayden had rulers, a king and queen that lived in a beautiful big castle called Cayden castle. But more importantly that the king and queen, there was a protector of Cayden”
“There was someone more important than the king and queen?” I’d ask her.
“We’ll not more important I guess I should say, but this protector played a serious role. She was the only one that could control the magic that the castle had.” My mom would laugh as though it was an inside joke and snuggle into me more. “The protector, she had a daughter, a young baby named Ivy Olivia.” She winked at me, and she knew I loved when she added me into her stories.
“Living among the Caydians there was a fairy named Cael, who was really bad. He wanted the castle and the land of Cayden all to himself so he and his army stormed into Cayden. The protector fled with the people into a nearby village to save her daughter then she’d return and save Cayden but it was too late. Cael took over Cayden and killed the king and queen.
“The protector promised the villagers that she’d return to Cayden when the time was right and unleash the magic that Cayden had hidden in its walls. But the time grew longer and Cayden grew more dangerous. Soon Vampires, werewolves, and monsters crawled over Cayden killing all the good people and creatures so the protector took her daughter and hid her where no evil would ever touch.”
“Where did she take her Mommy?” I’d ask.
“We’ll here Ivy Olivia.” My mom would laugh. “The safest place in all the lands in the universe”
“What did the protector do then?”
“She went back to the village and formed a group called the ‘Cayden Knights’ to watch Cael. So when Cael left the castle, the knights would come tell the protector so she could sneak back up to the castle. When he left one day, she snuck up to the castle. There we’re monsters swarming the castle but she killed them and just before she was going to unleash the magic, she heard a young girl crying for help.
The princess of Cayden was still locking in the tower- the one winged tower.”
“What is the one winged tower mommy?”
“The one winged tower is a tower the king made for the fairies when they formed an alliance. See, fairies used to be at war a long time ago with the monsters and the monsters would cut one wing off so they couldn’t fly in the afterlife. So the humans made a tower in honor of the fairies so they wouldn’t feel ashamed.
“So the princess was found in the tower and the protector had an important decision to make. Should she leave the princess and save the villagers, or should she save the princess and come back when the time is right. What do you think she did Liv?”
“I think she saved the princess mommy.” I said knowing I was right because I’ve heard the story so many times before.
My mom nodded and then pulled me into a hug. “You right, she saved the princess and brought her back to live with the villagers.”
My mom would then leave the rest of the story open for me to finish. I usually finished it with the protector going back to the castle with spider man or some other character from the television shows I’d watch going to save the day which would make my mom laugh and hold me tighter but as I got older I often made other conclusions like the daughter had come back and took the protectors place.
I think my mom always knew the conclusion, but maybe she didn’t. Maybe there was no conclusion. Maybe Cael found the villagers and slaughtered them all. Only she knew I suppose. Or maybe the conclusion was yet to unfold.
I fell asleep on the night of my birthday, huddled on the same couch my mom and I huddled on when she told me the story. That night I dreamed of Cayden and the castle. I also dreamed of my mother that night, she was beautiful as always with ivory skin and dark brown hair. She also had a single wing sticking out of her back, and cried of not being able to fly into the afterlife.
I cradled her in my arms and told her she could have my wings, but she told me it was my turn to be the protector so I needed my wings.
“I think I can make it to band Bradley, I don’t know Declan is coming over to talk.” I said to Bradley over my flip phone.
“We’ll okay its being held in the jam room at nine.” He and his band had rented out a storage room downtown and called it the jam room. “I really want to see the new look Ivy, so just try and come okay? Bye loves you!”
The phone went dead before I could tell him I loved him too.
I was walking down towards my house feeling like a million bucks. I guess Declan’s spa coupon wasn’t too bad. I went for a tan, got a pedicure, and got my hair restyled. My hair was now jet black that was wavy and curly. For the first time in my life I know had bangs. Yes Bangs. They we’re adorable, I thought to myself. They made me look older. Bradley was going to flip when he saw, and I know he was going to joke and say that I should be one of his groupies. Gah. I felt myself blush as a guy walking in the opposite direction gave me an approving nod.
Declan was responsible for this, I thought and he was going to be over at my house in less than ten minutes!
I swore under my breath and started to run to my house. People we’re cursing as I ran past them, almost running them over. I fell down a few times to, stumbling over curbs as I ran across the street. When I reached my house, I had scrapes over my knees from falling down, muddied hands from trying to break my fall and I even broke up a sweat from running trying to reach the house on time. On the front door of my house was a note that read.
I am running late, I had to get Molly something from the drug store. Your coming home with me tonight to meet the family, so pack the things you need I’ll be here in a couple hours.
P.s Tell no one. Not even Bradley!!!!
I ripped the note off the front door and collapsed at the kitchen table.
“I didn’t even have to run!” I complained to myself.
Then it hit me. I was going to meet Declan’s family! Maybe learn a little bit about my mother and find out a bit more about my future because it was totally clouded. No one would tell me a bloody thing and that caused problems in my life. I couldn’t find a job, couldn’t apply to college anywhere because I didn’t know where I was going to be in a few months. But now I could plan my future!
“Why can’t I tell Bradley?” I thought to myself.
A loud beep coming from the answering machine made me jump. No one ever calls I thought to myself, only my cell phone. I jumped up and pressed the button on the answering machine. A perky voice echoed through my kitchen.
“Ah hello there miss Meggie Bono, this is Julia Dells president of “Big kids with Big hearts” charity and as president I would like to thank you for your generous donation off 1.6 million dollars! I would really like to thank you in person so could you please call me at 555-kids. Thank you!”
The answering machine went dead and I blinked at it. 1.6 million dollars? How the hell did my mom get 1.6 million dollars? I shrugged; I guess that’s just another secret she left for me to figure out.
A soft tune followed by a vibration made me jump. I reached into my pocket and grabbed my cell phone. “Unknown number” it read. I answered it anyways.
“Um Livy?” Declan’s voice said excitedly. “I’m using a pay phone!”
“Ah that’s great Dec, did you know my mom donated 1.6 million dollars to a charity? Did you even know we had 1.6 million dollars?” I grabbed a apple from the fruit bowl and sat down at the table taking a big bite out of the apple.
“Yes she had me write the check.”
“How come you didn’t tell me?” I asked sounding a little frustrated. “Or maybe tell my mother not to because I’m still alive and trying to live off of 200 dollars a week on food, clothes, and bills she forgot to pay.”
Declan laughed on the other end. “Where we are going, you won’t need money.”
“We’re is that? Africa” I joked back angrily.
“No Livy it’s not Africa. Just you wait and see.” He said disapproving of my joke. “Did you tell Bradley that you we’re coming with?”
“No you told me not to.”
“Ah good” Declan said approving. I just shook my head and took another bite of my apple. “Are you all packed?”
“No I just got in Declan!”
“We’ll I’ll be there in an hour so get your butt in gear.”
Click. He hung up! Angrily I flipped my phone off and threw it down on the table. Some nerve, I thought to myself and walked up stairs to start packing.
I opened my knapsack up and threw my tooth brush, tooth paste (I always found it so weird using other peoples toothpaste), my face wash, a brush, a pair of jeans and a t shirt, under wear, a bra, and my PJS. Oh and my ipod which had my song on it. Then zipped it back up and ran downstairs and threw it in front of the door. Then sat down on the couch to try and have a snooze. I imminently fell into a sleep.
I awoke with a start. Declan was sitting on the love seat on the other side of the room watching me, his face glum and screwed like he was trying to pass something mean.
“How long have you been here?” I asked because it was now dark outside, but it being November it could just be late afternoon.
“Just an hour or so” He said yet moving.
“Oh.” I sat straight up rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. “So when do you want to head out?”
“You’ll leave soon. I just need to tell you something first.”
I blinked. “Yes?”
Out of the 6 months I’ve known him, he had never acted so weird. Even when my mother died he was still trying to be cheerful and happy. Never did he look so depressed or angry. I shuddered at the thought of Declan upset. Maybe it had to do with his daughter or wife. Maybe they didn’t want to meet me and now he had to figure out what to do with me. That would surly upset him.
“We’ll Livy; this is very hard for me.” He stood up and started pacing which made me really nervous. “But do you remember the story your mom used to tell you, about Cayden?”
“Yes...” I said in surprise. I thought only I knew that story, and why was he talking about it now?
“We’ll your mom’s the protector.” Those words shot out of Declan’s mouth like bullets that hit me hard.
I shook my head; it couldn’t be true it just couldn’t. Declan was now in front of me kneeling. “You have to understand Liv, I didn’t have any intentions of telling you, it was her job to tell you but she passed before she could.”
“It was just a story Declan, there is no such thing as Cayden.” I told him.
“Liv Cayden is real.” He grabbed my hands. “I live there with my family and friends in a small village south of the castle called Brea. You need to believe me; our village is counting on you and the Cicael.”
“How do you…” I started but he cut me off.
“How do I know of the Cicael?” He asked, his eyes growing big. “Everyone knows of the Cicael in Cayden Liv, it’s the only thing that can save them.”
“You take it then!” I reached into my bra and took out the Cicael thrusting it into his chest. He cried out and fell back. His shirt smoking where it had touched leaving his flesh burnt like acid.
“I can’t!” He gasped holding his chest. “It’s passed on in the family to the female Liv. Only you can posses the Cicael. Only you and your parents, and ones dead and the other is lost. So only you can save us Liv.”
“No” I whispered and put the Cicael back in my bra.
“Yes.” Declan said now cupping my face in his hand. “Yes, Olivia it’s your job.”
“I can’t” I cried.
“You can Liv.” Declan said reassuring me. “You can for all of us in Cayden; you can for me, my daughter and my wife. You don’t need to do it right away Liv, just come live in Brea and when you’re ready we’ll all help you get our home back.”
That I could do, I thought. I could go live there with my cousin and his family and learn about who I really am. If I got what I wanted in return, I thought. “I want Bradley to come with me.”
“Ugh Livy you’re impossible.”
“Then I’m not going!” I would not leave Bradley here. He was the only thing that kept me going on some days.
“He’s my best friend Declan, he needs me, and I need him. Please don’t separate us; I wouldn’t be able to live another life without him with me.” I was crying now, big tears ran down my face and I was shaking. “I love him.”
Declan got up and paced around the room in deep thought while I wept.
Never in a million years did I think this was my mom’s big secret. I thought maybe that she was a criminal hiding from the law, I thought maybe she had a second life and a second family, and maybe even that she was of some importance, but never did I think she held in her hands a secret so big that it could determine the fate of a different world, a different land and different races. And never, ever did I think that it would be my responsibility when she died.
Minutes after Declan stopped pacing and turned to face me did I stop weeping. “He can come, when you’ve settled in.”
“He can?” I asked, a wave of relief washed over me.
“Yes, I will come get him when I feel…” He paused and blinked up at the ceiling. “Are ready and settled in. Deal?”
“Oh Olivia I’m so glad you’ve agreed.” He said pulling me into a big hug. “Now I cannot go with you right away because only one person can go in at once and it won’t open for another hour but I will follow soon I promise.”
“I don’t want to go without you.” I whined.
“I know you don’t but you will be fine.” He walked to the door and retrieved my bag. “When you get there, two young adults your age will be waiting for you, and if they aren’t there sit still and wait till they come for you.”
He threw the bag by my feet and I picked it up and threw it around my arms. It was considerably light, I thought. “Do you think I should pack more things? I mean I’ve only got one pair of PJS and…”
“No Liv.” He said cutting me off. “We don’t really wear those kinds of cloths anyways, so we restocked your closet.”
“Oh, thanks.” I said sadly. I was going to miss them all; some of the clothes had such meaning to me. Like the shirt I got at Bradley’s first gig. “Okay we’ll, let’s do this.”
I stood up and faced him. He put a piece of my curly black hair behind my ears. “Okay Liv, you’re hair looks pretty by the way.”
“Thanks.” I smiled back at him.
Declan took out a small bottle from his pocket. “A leprechaun named Phifer and a Druid named Santawanna- yes the captains daughter will be meeting you Liv, listen to them and don’t stray away from them until I am there. Do you understand?”
“Good. Now take a small sip of this Liv, I’ll see you in a bit.” He twisted the cap off the bottle and I took a small sip out of the small bottle. It tasted like flat diet coke. It made my stomach turn and I felt like heaving all over Declan.
Then darkness took over me and Declan faded before my eyes. When I opened them, I wasn’t in my living room any longer. I was standing in the middle of a green field. Trees were towering high around me, the sun was up high and a warm breeze blew through my hair.
“We’ll” I said taking of my sweater. “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.”