The day after the Fiers returned to Sunali, following their celebration of the Lunar New Year in Windenburg, Dysis’ boyfriend Rashad came to see her because he liked to see her every day (and was at least slightly clingy). The couple joined a post-workout Darius for a light late night salad.
The darkness, caused by Asher’s energy-saving conservationist policies, didn’t bother them as everyone had grown use to the mandated energy cuts by now.
Aster, the eldest Fier sibling who’d moved out ages ago, also came by. She was sitting with Deli, who was doing her university coursework, as always, when Rashad came to greet them. He was polite, asking about their recent trip to Windenburg and complimenting Dysis. He told a few jokes as well.
Deli tried to converse politely with him, but she never stopped studying and seemed to be on the verge of tears the entire time. She was honestly relieved when he returned inside.
Unfortunately, Deli still had a massive crush on Rashad. Remember? She’d seen him first; she’d liked him first.
Also, since she had no love life to speak of and had recently been scolded by multiple people for being weird or antisocial, she didn’t care to hear Rashad gushing about his girlfriend even if she was happy (in some way) about him adoring her sister.
Aster tried to cheer her up. “Our lives are long. There’s no need to rush or force things. You have so much time to experience that kind of love. Don’t worry about him.”
Deli wasn’t convinced. As a vampire, she was immortal and thus had time, but vampires were rare, so she doubted there would ever be anyone like her that she could share that long, long time with and as humans didn’t seem attracted to her, her prospects there didn’t seem great either.
Still, she was finally curious enough to ask Aster about her own experiences.
Aster: I had a “slow” start. I’m the oldest, but our brothers who I’d grown up with, were all well-established in their adult lives with spouses and children by the time I started my first serious relationship—that relationship was an absolute disaster.
I dated a man, K. Vatore. When we first started getting serious, I was the happiest I’d ever been. Things were going well with our father… I had experienced wild success in my journalism career. I was given the title “Scribe of History,” the highest accolade a journalist could receive, and I was engaged to K.
But, while working on an article, I discovered massive corruption in the industry, generally, and my own organization, specifically. I couldn’t let it go, so I exposed it, which I still think was right, but the backlash got me blacklisted and ended my entire career in journalism.
I’d been writing since I was a child, and that job had been my dream job, so even though my reputation soared and I became a famous do-gooder, I was devastated as I’d lost my job.
Before I could sort out what to do next, I discovered that K. had been cheating on me and that he’d married someone else during our engagement.
Deli was sympathetic, but Aster was doing well now. Aster had been or at least seemed to have been doing very well since Deli was born and in ways that Deli couldn’t relate to, so Deli was a bit rough in her response.
Deli: But, later, you met a fellow vampire and married him. There aren’t any vampires for me to marry.
Aster: Caleb wasn’t a vampire when I met him.
Deli didn’t know what to think. Excuse me, but what?! Caleb wasn’t a vampire? Wasn’t it common knowledge that Caleb and his sister Lilith were vampires from the beginning, when Deli’s father had moved here?
Aster: Caleb had gotten into a fight with our father and lost, so he was turned mortal. When I realized what Dad had done, I was embarrassed. I tried to avoid Caleb, but I kept running into him everywhere. He didn’t hold that I was related to our father against me. In fact, he seemed worried for me. I guess he thought Dad was abusing me and/or encouraging me to be violent.
There were problems, but, actually, Dad had never acted maliciously towards me. Caleb was shocked to learn that I’d been reared on plasma fruit instead of human plasma and probably thought our father would suddenly change.
It’s true that I was naive at the time. My career had been ruined because I’d gotten involved with a corrupt organization unknowingly. With our father, I didn’t know much about what he did outside our home. For the most part, he seemed to go to work and come back normally.
At any rate, Caleb and I became close. When I learned that K. had married and divorced Caleb before K. met me, we became even closer as we’d both fallen for and been cheated on by the same horrible person.
Long story short—I turned him back. Naive and raised on plasma fruit or not, I’d been studying vampire history since I could read. I was a Grand Master by then and I turned him back.
Deli: And Dad?
Aster: He apologized and accepted Caleb.
Deli’s mind was blown.
Unfortunately, she also didn’t feel consoled at all. Aster had had it rough and Deli was sure that there was a lot that she didn’t understand or know. Many of these things were probably awful things that had happened to Aster that Aster didn’t say and maybe some of them were even their father’s fault, but now, it felt like her sister was extremely favored by him.
Deli couldn’t imagine turning a human. Even more than that, she couldn’t imagine her father accepting it. Maybe he let Caleb go because Caleb had been a vampire previously, but apparently when Aster broke rules their father just rolled over and did nothing. Why?
Deli’s other vampire siblings, Barin and Calanthe, hadn’t turned their human spouses. Both had passed away. What was worse was that Barin became a widower when one of his children was only a toddler.
It just seemed like what happened for Aster and even what happened for Dysis could never happen for Deli.
Adelise, who had not been eavesdropping, but who had heard something of the conversation and noticed her daughter’s mood, asked if she were okay.
Deli said that she was fine and that she was going to take some ocean samples for work before the sun rose. She just wanted to get out.