Chapter 3 – Sylvain

Vain & Glory header image

Sylvain walked the few blocks back to her apartment, wondering why she even bothered to try for a relationship with her sister. Ever since they were children, Glory’s inability to lie meant that she never bothered to sugar coat anything. When Sylvain asked her if she stole her favorite Scrunchie, Glory told her it looked better on her anyway. When she asked if the prom dress she’d chosen made her look fat, Glory told her she could stand to lose a few pounds. And when she asked why Glory was marrying a man that she so clearly didn’t love, Glory told her she’d rather have financial stability over love. 

She passed Pollasky Park, a small patch of land on the waterfront near the boardwalk and the pier. Over the years the park has expanded to include a playground, dog park, and a few garden areas. She thought back to the times her mother sat on a bench gazing at the water as Sylvain and Glory climbed the jungle gym and watched the dogs play in the dark park. The last time she came to Pollasky Park with her mother, Glory stayed home, sick with the flu. Sylvain played on the jungle gym, took turns with the other children sliding down the slides. Her mother got them cocoa and Sylvain sat beside her on the bench.

“Have you been seeing any of the Folk lately, Sylvain?” Her mother asked.

Sylvain nodded. She wasn’t sure if she was being punished or if this conversation was simply an acknowledgement of her gift, so she stayed quiet. She stared at her cocoa, watching the steam rise from the Styrofoam cup.

“I’m not going to punish you. The Sight is a gift, but it can also be a curse. What are the rules you must follow?” 

“Answer me, Sylvain. What are the rules?”

“Never let them know you can see them.” 

“Yes. What else?” 

“Always carry iron,” Sylvain said. 

Her mother nodded.

“What else?” 

Sylvain sighed. 

“Sylvain, this is important,” her mother said. “I won’t always be here to protect you.”

Her mother looked near tears. At eleven, Sylvain was old enough to know her mother was sad, but too young to figure out why. She nodded, and told her mother the rules she’d ingrained in her for her whole life.

“Never eat or drink anything from a fairy, never make a fairy bargain, and never trust an Unseelie fey.”

Sylvain’ mother pulled her close.

“Good, very good, my dear.”

That was the last conversation Sylvain had with her mother.

Sylvain blinked away fresh years. She hadn’t thought about that conversation in ages. Like everything else, Sylvain and Glory handled their mother’s disappearance differently. Glory was angry at her, and believed she had abandoned them. Sylvain, who investigated her parent’s room and knew that her mother hadn’t taken any of her belongings, believed she had every intention of coming home. 

Sylvain’ phone rang. She grabbed her ear buds from her purse and put them in. 

“What’s up, Lani?” she asked.

“Hey, hey, sweet cheeks,” Lani said.

“Hey. What’s up?” Sylvain said. She did her best to keep her voice steady.

“Not much. You Good?” 

“Yeah, I’m good. Just walking home from lunch with Glory.”

“Uh huh. And how was that?”  

Sylvain’s heartbeat quickened. She’d made the mistake of telling Lani about her fights with Glory before. It never ended well — last time Lani threatened to kick Glory’s ass, and the next day Glory spoke to a lawyer about getting a restraining order.

“Fine,” Sylvain responded. 

The silence lingered between them for several minutes before Sylvain opened her mouth to speak. 

“Well, I’m glad,” Lani said. Sylvain could tell she didn’t believe her but she didn’t press her. “Well, tonight is Cassidy’s birthday, and I want you to come out.”  

Sylvain wasn’t a fan of Cassidy, Lani’s on again, off again girlfriend. Sylvain didn’t want to go. But she knew that it was important to Lani. 

“Alright. What time?” Sylvain said.  

“Great! Meet at my house by, like, nine?” Lani said.  

“Sounds good, see you then.” 

When she got home, Sylvain cleaned up the food from the counters and floor. She swept up the glass and saved any dishes that weren’t broken. After that, Sylvain crawled into her bed, Nebula close behind her. She sat up and pulled her laptop onto her lap. She was thankful that the Nautilus hadn’t discovered her hiding space for her valuables, otherwise she’d be out searching for a new computer. She pulled up Google Docs and began typing a blog about her lunch with Glory and the struggle of seeing fey. 

 

She pulled up in front of Lani’s house shortly before nine. Cassidy stood outside, smoking a cigarette and picking her nails.   

“Hey, hot stuff,” Cassidy said Sylvain crossed the lawn.

“Hey, birthday girl,” Sylvain said. “Where’s Lani?”

Cassidy nodded towards the house.  

“She’s still trying to figure out what to wear,” Cassidy said, and rolled her eyes. 

She could hear Chet Faker’s “No Diggity” as she stepped inside the house. She walked down the long hallway that lead to Lani’s room.

“Oh, you’re here!” Lani said. She threw her arms around Sylvain. She smiled and hugged her petite friend before Lani stepped away and went back to her closet.

“Everything ok?” Sylvain asked. There were clothes strewn about, some draped over the mirror. The bed was piled high with dresses and jeans and shoes. Her makeup palettes rested at the end of the bed. Lani caught Sylvain’ eyes and shrugged. 

“Not all of this shit is mine. Cassidy tried on a bunch, too, but because she’s tall and toned and I’m a short Jigglypuff nothing looks good,” Lani said. She crossed her arms.

“Stop, Lani. You’re not round, you’ve got the perfect hourglass figure. You know I’d kill for your tits and ass,” Sylvain said. 

“You and everyone else, bitch,” Lani said and smiled conspiratorially. She walked to the bed and sifted through the clothes there. 

“What about that blue dress?” Sylvain suggested. Lani scoffed.  

“What about this?” Sylvain said, holding up a gold dress.

“Eh.” Lani replied. Sylvain pushed back the pile of clothes and sat on her bed. Lani scrunched her nose and poked at her hips. She pulled the dress off and tossed it onto the growing pile on the floor. “So, what’s up with you? You call the cops about that break in?” 

Sylvain shuddered as she thought about her morning. 

“You know I didn’t. I don’t even know how to explain to them what happened.” 

“So you just explain it to the ‘gram then?” 

“Bitch,” Sylvain said. “You know that’s how I make my living.” 

“Oh, to be Sylvain Oberle – making money from my special gift,” Lani said as she pulled a white off the shoulder dress out of the pile of clothes. 

Sylvain bristled but said nothing. 

“Ok, I’m ready.”

They got to the club at 10:30 and settled in the VIP section. Almost immediately, Sylvain caught the eyes of a man staring at her from across the room. His eyes were so electric she could see them in the dim light of the club. He lifted his drink to Sylvain in salute. Sylvain smirked. After a few seconds he walked over to their table and stood before her. He was tall, his hair was long, and he looked at Sylvain like she was the only one in the world. He smiled and took her hand, planting a kiss on her palm.   

“What’s your name, lovely?” He drawled.   

“Sylvain,” she said. “And yours, stranger?”   

“Gideon, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Sylvain. Care to dance?” Sylvain nodded and he pulled her off the couch and onto the dance floor. 

She looked into his eyes. For a fraction of a second, he looked almost monstrous. His eyes a bit too big, his smile too wide. She blinked, thinking that it was the booze affecting her a bit to much. When she looked at him again, his features were normal. She continued to dance and to flirt, but in the back of her mind she couldn’t help but wonder if there was more to Gideon than meets the eye.

They danced until sweat dripped down Sylvain’s back and her curls went flat. Her lips were numb, her vision not quite focused. She looked up and kissed Gideon. Her lips collided with his and she felt her whole body tingle.

“you wanna get out of here?” He asked.   

Sylvain nodded. He gripped her hand and led her outside. 

He pushed her against the back wall of the club. He pulled Sylvain’s hair to the side and began a trail of kisses on her neck. She moaned, her body aching for him. His hand slid between her thighs. He ripped the seam of her tights with little effort.

She looked at him, wanting to catch his lips with hers. But when their eyes met, she gasped. In the club, his appearance was easy to overlook. But in the alleyway, beneath the street lamp, there was no mistaking his features. His glamour had been a very powerful one, but now it was gone. Her heart jack hammered through her chest. I can’t let him know I know, she thought.

“I – I think I’m gonna be sick,” Sylvain said. She pushed him off gently and stumbled down the alleyway. She covered her mouth, and hoped he wouldn’t follow her.

She pulled her phone from her boot and started dialing Lani’s number.  

“Sick, eh?” Gideon said.She turned around. His eyes reflected in the darkness. The tips of his ears pointing up out of his hair. “C’mon now love, you’ll need to do better than that.”   

Sylvain shook her head and backed away.

“I can’t-”   

“What’s wrong? Don’t you want to make love?” He bit his lip and looked her up and down. “I know I do.”   

“I can’t-”   

“Why not?” Gideon demanded.  

He strode towards her. She stumbled backwards and fell to the ground. Still, he knelt before her. Sylvain slid backwards on the ground, wanting nothing more than to get away from him.   

“Why don’t you want to be with me?” He shouted in desperation.  

“Because you’re a Gancanagh!” Sylvain shouted.  

Gideon stopped. The silence hung heavy between them. When Sylvain looked up he was glaring at her. Gone was the desperation from his face. He was cold now, angry. 

“Danuat,” he whispered. His hand cupped her chin roughly.

“Please. I won’t say anything. No one would believe me.” Sylvain said. She cursed her voice for faltering. She took a deep breath, urging herself to remain calm. 

“You’re not supposed to see me,” Gideon said. His grip became tighter on her chin. Sylvain yelped. Any tighter and he could break her jaw.

“Please,” she begged. 

“Shut up,” Gideon growled. He punched her in the nose. Blood spurted from her nostrils. He pulled her up off the ground and gripped her neck. “You’re not supposed to see me.” 

He hit her again, and this time black dots danced across her vision. 

“Hey, hey!” 

Came a voice from the club. She looked over to see two men run towards them. She recognized one as the security guard from the front of the club. He gripped Gideon’s back and tossed him off of Sylvain. She wheezed as she took one step, then two. Her ankle twisted, nearly sending her back to the ground. 

Sylvain grabbed her phone from the ground beside her and began to run. 

“Hey, don’t go! We gotta call the police!” They shouted after her.

She did not stop. She did not look back. After two blocks she stopped running, her feet throbbed with pain. Her toes were completely numb. She looked down at her hands. They were covered in scratches, her nails chipped and bloody. She urged herself to keep walking. Just a little further, she told herself.

She stopped before a blue house on the corner of Glenwood and Pitosi. The lawn was perfectly manicured. There was a rose garden in front of the living room window. Two cars sat in the driveway, a Saab and a Corolla. 

She put a hand on the mailbox to steady herself. She had no idea what would happen when she knocked on the door, but couldn’t stand being alone.    

She slowly walked up the walkway and knocked on the front door.  

 

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