Middle Child Press: Lady of the Bow, Ch2 ~ Blood in the Way

12.06.2013

Lady of the Bow, Ch2 ~ Blood in the Way

A/N ~ Learn to pronounce Aztec names here.

Previously ~ Angélica

"Wow, chica...you bombed that."

Angélica stopped pacing the family library and furiously whirled on her heels to face her grinning 21-year-old cousin, Reyes Moreno.

She'd never liked this guy, but a part of her had to admit he'd had it rough.  His parents divorced before he could talk, and like Angélica and her sister, Reyes had been shoved off on nannies and tutors for most of his life.

Unlike Angélica, however, he'd grown up to become a huge asshole, aided in part by his boyish charm and good looks.

"Like...you totally tanked out there, chica," he mused insidiously.

It wasn't her fault.  She hadn't known her father would have people over.  Had she known her cousin and two business colleagues would be attending dinner, she would've practiced that damned Tchaikovsky piece until even Michele begged her to put the violin down.

Michele.  Had she known?  Had that ebony-skinned bimbo sold her out?

"I mean, I knew Tchaikovsky's 'Mélodie' was shrill but damn, girl...." Reyes shook his head, chuckling.

"Shut up, Reyes!" Angélica snapped.  "And what you even doing here?  No one said anything about your being invited."

The tall, lanky young man leisurely strolled forward, clearly amused.  He'd changed in some way, but she wasn't quite sure what it was.  The clothes, sure...the clothes had changed from casual to formal, replete with form-fitting slacks, and a long, Old World coat with a high collar.  He'd cut his pitch black hair; it now framed his face perfectly.

He not only looked groomed, he actually seemed more mature, polished even.  Something was up.  Something was off.

"Didn't anyone tell you?" Reyes blinked innocently.  "I start interning this summer.  Today I took a tour of the company's labs, starting with astrophysics and ending in biochemistry.  I even got a sneak peek at the xenogeological project."

"Interning?"  Angélica laughed before she could stop herself.  "With what qualifications?  You've never spent enough time in a single school to graduate from anything!"

"True," Reyes gave her a wry smirk, "but it wasn't grades that got me kicked out; it was my attitude.  But believe me when I said that all changed once my dear uncle announced I'd be taking over after him.  Did you know he made a pact with his parents before he married your mother?  'Cause I, for one, had no clue."

Angélica visibly twitched, and her cousin caught it immediately.  Reyes's smirk widened into a grin as his eyes lit up.

"You did know!" he exclaimed.  "Well, don't worry, sweetie.  You'll have all the time in the world to perfect your Tchaikovsky at the Jaramillo-Valdez Musical Conservatory."

"¡Vete al diablo*, Reyes!" Angélica spat before she could stop herself.

"Calm down, Angél," he snorted.  "You know, it's not like you suck or anything.  The technique's there.  You just oughta practice more."

"Bite me."

"I'm serious."  He raised his hands as though in surrender.  "You started off pretty good.  Dr. Tezcacoatl was impressed until about two minutes in."

Angélica shuddered, remembering how the notes suddenly escaped her, and how horrified her parents looked when they realized the impending disaster.  She turned away from her cousin, towards the darkened center of the library.  She suddenly realized that nobody ever actually used this room; it contained real paper books that smelled of dust and age.  The floor was beautifully carpeted in bronze and burgundy, which was impractical against Southern Texan heat these days, and the furniture was just downright Victorian.

Angélica figured her parents simply kept the room for show, to impress investors and show off what classy, cultured people they were.  It was all so fake.

"You don't have to say that," she bit out finally.  That Reyes of all people would throw her crumbs to make her feel better was sickening.

"Hey, at least your parents tried to teach you shit," he told her.  "I was really into classical guitar for a while.  My mom paid for lessons, but she never actually cared that I played.  It was just something to keep me busy and out of her hair, you know?"

He was trying to bond with her, to make peace.  But Angélica didn't care.  She was Vicente Moreno's daughter, and she ought to be more important than his nephew.  Her grandparents were long dead.  Why he hadn't he changed his mind about who would take over after him?

What was it Michele said? "They've never exactly...trusted d'Auvignes."

Them? Or him?  Did her father fear that once he was gone, his in-laws would swoop in and take over?  Did he not trust his own wife, his own children?  Was his immediate family little more than a pretty ornament, or was his wife's lineage still a burden he felt the need to make up for?

I need to get out of this room.  And not just away from the room, but from Reyes as well.  When she turned back to him he was looking at her a bit hopefully, almost affectionately.  She shuddered to think he pitied her.  And she was livid that he hadn't turned town her father's offer.  Why would he?  He was a survivor too, and he clearly knew better than to look a gift-horse in the mouth.

"I better go practice," Angélica abruptly excused herself.  "If I want to get into the conservatory, I can't very well bomb Tchaikovsky, now can I?"

Next ~ Merlo

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*Go to hell! /Go to the Devil!