“Okay, now that everyone’s here we can get started.” Hydrangea smiled at us after Hero took a seat in the last remaining chair. I could feel him staring at me, but I couldn’t even look at him. He resembled her way too much.
“Alright, so River, Welcome to F.R.O.” She waved her arms around, showing off the room.
“Fae Restoration Organization. We’re trying to restore your family to power and break away from the scientists.” She explained.
“How long had this been going on?” I looked around the room at the familiar faces. It was obvious that this wasn’t the first meeting.
“Honestly, we’ve been doing this for a few years, sweetheart.” My mom chimed in.
“Are we the only members?” If we were going to overthrow the scientists, we were gonna need a lot more people.
“Of course not, we’re just the board members.”
“What do you guys do?”
“We strategize. We need a plan.” Hydrangea spoke passionately about F.R.O., it was liberating to see her so invested in something. She was never like this when I worked with her. She was a cold woman who didn’t mess around, but there was no passion behind her coldness.
“Do we have a plan?”
“Multiple, but we need to be absolutely positive they’ll work.” She sighed. I had a feeling she was about to tell the story of the incident, and my feeling was right. “I had just gotten married when it happened. His name was Moss Blu, and he was the one who originally got my family into F.R.O. when I was a teenager. He was very passionate about the organization. He wanted to get out, explore the world. They had a plan, they were gonna travel through the forest and try and find what was out there, and then come back. The got about five miles into the forest, and they were all electrocuted to death. I told him to go, I told him it’d be a great opportunity. He didn’t want to go, but I talked him into it. And he went, and so did my parents. All three of them died. And ever since, I’ve been completely devoted to this organization. Now it’s all I have.”
She wasn’t even tearing up as she told this awful story. I would’ve expected at least one tear, but no. She was so much stronger than I ever even realized. Maybe that’s why she was so cold all the time, she had lost so much. She always blamed herself for what happened to her husband and her parents. She threw herself into her detective work so she could distract herself, and she tried so hard not to make another mistake. She thought things over too much, which caused her to slip up again. And now, she didn’t have anything to lose, so she threw herself into this.
“And that’s why we need to make sure our plans are completely fool-proof. We already have limited members, we can’t afford to lose anyone. That’s why we need to figure out everything the scientists are doing to keep us in. We need to figure out how to get past them. We need to be one step ahead at all times.”
“So far, all we know is that they have some kind of electric field surrounding the valley, and anyone who tries to cross it dies. We don’t know how to get past it, but we have people working on that. We also have the ocean, but we don’t know what they have out there. We also have people working on that, but nothing on either so far.” My mom explained. All this information was making my head spin.
“Actually, we’ve got something on the ocean. They have something out there too, it’s kind of like a large fisherman’s trap. We’re figuring out how to disarm it, even if its just for a little while.” Hero announced.
“So what does this mean?” I asked.
“In a few years, we might be able to send someone for help.” Hydrangea admitted excitedly.
“And how long is that going to take? Do we really want our children growing up in a world like this?” Fern cried. Oh yea, I forgot to mention, Fern is pregnant with her first child, so she’s been extremely moody for the past month.
“I don’t think we’ll be ready anytime soon, these scientists are much more advanced than us. It’s gonna take us years. Maybe your children will be the ones going on the mission.” Hero tried to encourage her, but that just upset her even more.
“I don’t want my children to have to risk their lives for this.”
“Yes, but we don’t know them yet, we can’t make their decisions for them before they’re even born.” Maple chimed in.
“Well it won’t be my children.” She crossed her arms like a child.
“Fine, we’ll have more people for the job anyways.” Drea smiled and changed the subject. “Speaking of that, Carrot how are you coming on recruiting new members?”
“I’ve gotten at least ten more people involved, all of them originals.” Originals were what we called vampires and Fae who were here since the beginning of the experiments.
“No younger recruits?” Mom asked, and he shook his head.
“No, none of them are very interested. They don’t want to fight for something that could endanger their lives.” He said solemnly.
“You could always stop by one of my concerts, there’s lots of younger, rebellious people who go to them. I bet you could get at least five more for the team.” Dill offered, and Carrot nodded.
“Will do.” It was weird for me to see my brothers interact, I had no idea they even knew each other.
“Alright, well I’ve got practice right now, I’ve gotta go.” Dill stood up and said goodbye, then left.
Drea sat down in Dill’s empty seat, and turned to my mom. “So how is Basil doing with the books? Has he been able to score any more?”
“He’s there right now, actually.” Mom smirked.
“Oh, your uncle has been going back to the lab, volunteering for more experiments, and he’s been stealing a few of our old books every time he goes. He’s helped us out a lot, I mean look what he’s already gotten us.” She waved her hands over the table. There were a lot of old books here, it must’ve taken him forever to steal all these.
“Is he doing okay? Are they hurting him?” I worried.
“He does what he has to too help us.” She simply stated.
“You’re okay with that?” I asked, I would’ve thought my mom would protest his return to the lab after everything he went through with scientists.
“No, but he’s a grown man. He chooses to go, there’s not much I can do to stop him.”
“Alright, does anyone have anything else?” Drea asked, trying to keep the tone in the room light.
“No, I don’t think so.” Maple looked around the room, and everyone nodded.
“Alrighty then, you’re dismissed.”
“Except River, you stay.” Drea smirked at me as everyone else started to leave.
“Actually Drea, would it be okay if I talked to him for a minute?” Hero asked. Drea looked at me, looking for an answer.
“No, not today.” I tried to keep myself from getting angry with him. I knew it wasn’t his fault, but he was so easy to blame, it was hard not to.
He nodded slightly and left the room quickly. I felt kinda bad, he used to be like an uncle to me. But now it was hard to even look at him without seeing her.
“He’s not a bad guy, River.” Drea said softly as I approached her.
“I know, I’m just not ready.”
“Understandable.” She smiled. “So, did you like the meeting?”
“I did, but why didn’t any of you tell me before?” I had been wondering that the whole time. They all were in this, and I had no idea. How long had it been going on like that?
“We were going to actually, that’s why I needed you on the Gardenia case and not Fern. She was already in this, and we wanted to make sure you were ready.”
“And so you think I’m ready now?”
“I know you’re ready now.”
“I know I am too.” I smiled at her.
“So, how would you feel about being co-director?” She asked.
“Really? Why not someone who’s been here longer than I have?”
“Two reasons: One, you’re the heir to the Fae crown. If your family was still in power, you’d be the king. Two, because I like you a lot better than anyone else here.” She explained. I felt like she was flirting with me.
“I’d love to be your co-director.” I flirted back.
“Welcome to the team.” She beamed.
“There’s also something else I wanted to ask.” Drea looked away from me shyly.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Well, um, would you maybe wanna go out sometime?” She was nervous, and she looked freaking adorable. It was impossible to say no to her.
“I’d love to.”
She kissed me quickly, I barely had any time to react. “Goodnight, Co-director.” She smirked, before running out of the conference room.
I had a lot to process tonight.
“Uh hey, Maple, can I talk to you?” I nervously entered Maple’s bedroom. I was about to do something that could jeopardize everything I had currently, but I didn’t care anymore. Things needed to be said.
I was actually surprised he was even still awake. It was almost two in the morning, and I fully expected to walk right out of here without saying anything. Trust me, I’ve done it a million times before. I would wait until River started to snore, then I’d sneak out of the room and come in here to talk to him, but he’s always sleeping. But not tonight.
“Yea sure, give me a sec.” He said, without even looking up from the screen. I took a few more steps into the room, and I was now standing in the middle of the room.
He got up from the desk and made his way over to me. “Wanna take a seat?”
“No thanks, I’d prefer to stand.”
“Are you okay? You seem really nervous.” He asked me, making me want to run out of the room without saying anything.
“Um, yea. I just h-have something I need to say to you.” I told him, my voice cracking under my nervousness.
I took a deep breath, trying to remember the speech I practiced in the bathroom mirror a million times. “Um, so, we’ve been friends for a while, right?” I asked, and he gave me a puzzled look, then nodded. “Well um, I was just curious, but do you remember last night in the hot tub, when you said you were interested in someone?”
“Well, I was wondering, who is it?”
“Why do you wanna know?”
“I was kinda hoping it was me.” I admitted.
His face lit up like a Christmas tree. “Wait, really?”
“Yea. Ever since I started getting to know you I started to like you. It’s been really confusing, to be honest. I’ve been dating a girl for the past seven years of my life, I never thought I’d ever fall for a guy. But I guess shit happens.” I laughed, and thankfully so did he.
“What about your girlfriend?”
“She dumped me. Said I was too distant. I had a hard time being near her when I knew I was falling for someone else. I couldn’t do that to her, and I didn’t want a repeat of River. So I waited until she dumped me.”
“So now what?”
“Well you never answered my question, was it me?” I asked, and he nodded. “Thank god. I was gonna look like a damn fool if it wasn’t.”
“But Carrot, if we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna have to keep it a secret from River.” He frowned.
“Why? He’s pretty open-minded. He has a gay step-sister.”
“I know, but I don’t want him to feel like a third wheel. It’s weird living with a couple, and I don’t wanna put him through that. Not right now.” He grabbed my hand softly. “Can you do that?”
I nodded. “I’d do anything.”
Maple smiled at me. “Me too.” He said, before pulling me into a kiss. Kissing him was so different from kissing Cinna. It was magical. I could feel him start to get hard against me, and I decided to be a tease.
So with a sudden burst of confidence, I pulled back from the kiss and grinned at him.
“Night.” I kissed him on the cheek, then walked out of the room with a huge smile on my face.