There’d been a stint in the past where part of the estate had been destroyed, which resulted in him having to bunk with Cisco temporarily. Needless to say, Marcos now fully appreciated his good fortune in having a room all to himself.
He washed his hands, dried his hair with a towel, and then made his way back downstairs.
Dinner was tenser than usual. For as long as Marcos could remember, their lord father had made a point of ensuring that the family always sat down and ate together, going so far as to ground any child who was late for the meal without good reason. It was a sacred time, often reserved for parental inquiries, but today was different. Emy’s fourteenth birthday meant something special, something that everyone knew she was not looking forward to.
“You should just relax,” said Cisco. “It’s not even going to hurt.”
Emy kept her eyes down at her plate as she said, “I don’t expect you to understand.”
Annoyance flashed across Cisco’s face. “You’re the one who doesn’t understand. This is a good thing, you idiot.”
“Francisco,” said their mother, “do not speak to your sister that way. And Emiliana, do not scorn your brother’s attempt to comfort you.”
“Yes, enma’am,” they both said.
Rare as it was, Marcos found himself in agreement with Cisco on this one. If he were in Emy’s position, he would’ve been excited to finally be receiving a reaper. Even if it did mean dying.
Chapter Sixty-Nine: ‘Thy bonds in blood...’
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With the helium tank in hand, Zeff entered the center courtyard where the rest of his family was waiting for him. They all stood together on the small bridge over the pool as rain continued to fall, filling in the silence with a kind of pattering static. His wife held Emiliana’s hand, who just looked pale as Zeff drew close. The other children stood nearby, but there was no one else around, as he had dismissed all of the family’s attendants for the remainder of the evening. Excepting, of course, the four reapers who were also present.