CASeries #1: KNIGHT
Chapter One: Summer’s Saturday
The peaceful morning of summer’s Saturday was broken when Valeriana Kerrigan found an alternative use for the railings. A smooth glide was not much work—she had perfect execution without much grace. Unfortunately, her landing was more of a crash. And she had it all to blame on the hem of her jeans which caught on the ornate metalwork and tugged her back gruffly, causing her to lose balance and land on the paneled floor of their living room.
She landed with a loud thud. To top it all off, her duffel bag hit her in the face like salt on open wound.
“Valery!” a loud voice reverberated, packing all the threat in one go.
“I know!” she exclaimed back, shuffling to the direction of the dining room. “Coffee,” she muttered. “I need my coffee. Mom, why didn’t you wake me?”
“I tried,” replied Lily, brown eyes peeking past the frame of her reading glasses. “Have you been sliding again?” she asked.
The lights were turned off and the windows were wide open to welcome the sunlight. Her mother and thirteen-year-old younger brother were already at the table. Jareth was squeezing out the bottle of maple syrup over his pancakes while Lily was preoccupied with the newspaper. Her sights were on the coffee, even so. There was already a cup on her end, so she spent the next few moments brewing.
“I was in a hurry.”
Her mother shook her head and sighed in defeat. “How many times has that happened? You never learn.”
Valeriana shrugged. She stirred the steaming beverage as she moved to take her seat, setting down her cup on the table. Gathering her honey-golden locks in a high ponytail, she pulled on the scrunchie around her wrist and snapped it in place.
“What time is Xandra’s flight?” Lily inquired.
“I don’t know. I heard it was twelve something in the afternoon,” she said. “I’m supposed to meet her at ten.”
Jareth was still not done with the maple syrup. Valeriana eyed the pooling juices on his plate and frowned.
“You’re not aiming for diabetes, are you?” she told him, hitting his arm as she wrenched off the bottle from his grip and safely placed it out of his reach. “Enough of that.”
Jareth made a noise of irritation. “What’s it to you? It’s not your body.” He rubbed his arm and mussed his ginger-brown hair. He then resumed nibbling on his food while hiding his grass-green eyes behind squinted lids.
Valeriana snubbed him and tossed a pancake to her plate while sipping her coffee. She then took a lump of butter and dumped it over her share, sparing the syrup a glance before ignoring it completely. Jareth was eyeing her with contempt the entire time.
“If I’m too much in sugar, you’re too much in butter.” He huffed. “That’s why you’re fat, pig.”
Valeriana bit her lip and leaned over to smack his arm one more time. “I dare you to say that again. You do not call a girl fat. I am definitely not fat!”
She watched her brother wince. Considering he had fish-belly white skin, it was sure to leave a mark.
She had just the right build and the right weight. She might have extra deposits on some parts that made her feel insecure, but she definitely wasn’t fat. Just a healthy teenager her age too lazy to go to the gym.
“Keep telling that to yourself,” Jareth told her.
“Language,” their mother cut in. “Just focus on eating, you two. Stop fighting.”
He stuck his tongue out at her, shoving the dripping slice of pancake into his mouth.
“Immature,” she said, cutting off a small piece and chewing on it. She suddenly lost her appetite.
“And you think you aren’t?” he mumbled through a full mouth.
“Stop it, Jareth. Valery, the longer you argue with your brother, the longer you’ll stay,” their mother said, a hint of a smile on her lips.
“Mm-hmm,” she hummed, stuffing her mouth and swallowing unceasingly. She reached for her coffee and drank, washing down the food she almost had stuck in her throat. With a clean plate and an empty mug before her, she stood from her seat and began heading out.
She waved. “I’m off! Bye, people!”
Valeriana kissed the tip of her fingers and brushed them on the portrait of a man on the wall just beside the door frame, flipping back her hair and admiring his image for a moment with her azure blue eyes.