The Fiers threw a small New Year’s Eve party because they were still in vacation mode as there were still a few hours left until university began the next day for Dawn and Delmarya (Deli).
Every Fier vampire attended, except Calanthe, whose husband had just passed away. Other relatives, friends, and vampires, Vlad and Caleb, were also there.
Landon caught Delmarya’s eye.
But she looked away, trying to pretend as if he hadn’t.
Despite feeling shy and being slightly awkward, Deli had studied etiquette because she’d studied everything so she knew how to pull off a good introduction.
Flirting wasn’t her forte, but she was sweet enough to impress and turn Landon into an instant friend.
Asher, Deli’s father, had been lingering in the background, somewhat minding his own business and somewhat not—either way, he decided to interfere before something awkward happened.
Asher: Landon Fier! You’ve met my daughter Deli. How are you? Congratulations on your marriage!
Deli got the hint. Not only was he slightly older than he looked and married, he was also a relative. The fact that he had her mother’s unique hair color should have tipped her off.
Embarrassed and not knowing what to do, Deli stopped trying to flirt with her great-nephew, sat down, got her homework out?, and looked for someone else to talk with.
At the table, Darius was confidently telling Vlad about how rich he was and his father’s plans to build a massive new home in San Myshuno or Windenburg, not Forgotten Hollow, which was gloomy, rundown, small and better off forgotten.
Vlad found the boy’s conversation quite rude.
Meanwhile, Deli was still looking for a way to escape.
Across the way, Aster was being photographed by some very brave (foolhardy?) paparazzi who weren’t fazed by the vampires surrounding them.
Deli couldn’t shake Landon, but Aster approached and gave her younger sister a big hug.
The next day, Deli and Dysis both took steps to progress with their goals.
Deli had taken to drinking Sunlight Reversal Cocktails before going out and Dysis had started studying because she was desperate to get
good outstanding grades. The sisters helped each other when they could as Deli was an unbelievably gifted student and Dysis could move in the sun freely.
Dawn and Deli’s classes had already started, but Dysis still had some time. When the two older girls got a break from their classes, the three met at the Britechester Library to study even more.
Dysis spent the entire day studying, building skills, and doing other things she thought would help her academically. She didn’t even stop to eat.
Exhausted, she returned home during the daily blackout. Sleep, not food, was what she craved, but she knew she needed to eat something too.
Deli, who had seemingly endless energy, joined her and was talking about something. Dysis tried to be polite and listen, but she was too tired.
As Dysis and the others went to bed, Deli went out to survey Sulani’s islands and pick up any litter she found.
The tasks were easier than she thought. She finished early, but everyone at home would be asleep for hours more, so Deli went to a club.
Unfortunately, it was too late for most clubbers. But whatever—she figured she could dance alone. It’d be fun. She had the entire club to herself and could dance however she wished.
But, then, only a moment later …
The DJ packed up his gear and left.
Deli felt acutely lonely. During the day, she had to be careful of the sun and couldn’t go out as she pleased and at night, there was no one… What was the point of not needing sleep if it was going to be like this?
Trying to shake off such negative feelings, she decided to seek out her older brother, Barin, who shared her status as vampire, because her siblings at home were still sleeping and he lived closer to the club than Aster. She also never spent much time with him, so this might be nice? He was staying in an expensive high rise in the city.
When she arrived, Barin greeted her warmly, invited her in, told her to grab some plasma fruit from the refrigerator, make herself at home, and then join him as he painted in his studio.
After lingering for a moment, Deli followed him to his studio.
She must have come up quicker than he expected as he was sobbing? Why?
Deli was at a loss. She didn’t know what was wrong—if anything. Calanthe’s spouse had died recently, but Barin’s had passed away ages ago, before Deli was born. His wife had been older than him and they’d married later than average. She hadn’t even gotten to see her children grow past toddlers. He’d raised them as a single father. Deli wondered if that could still be bothering him now. He’d not remarried.
Maybe it was something else. He could have been exploring his emotions for a painting. He was an artist, after all.
Deli made a noise to get his attention. He came over and spoke to her as if nothing were wrong. Deli didn’t question him, but she had to wonder.
They talked politely of school, art, and music.
When he excused himself for a moment, she studied his work, smiling, impressed by her brother’s talent, but inside she also worried if being a vampire meant constantly being sad or lonely or worse things.