Chapter 2:

How could a necklace seal my fate? I didn't know at the time, but that necklace was what spurred a series of events that were about to wreak havoc on my life. None of that was on my mind, though. I raced down the hall, intent on showing everybody my new treasure. The first ones I would show would be the ones I was closest to.

I raced into Chris's room, and he shouted in surprise. "Helena!" he whined. "I'm getting dressed!"

"Look!" I ordered.

Melissa paused in trying to wrestle a shirt on my brother. "That is very beautiful," she declared.

"Isn't it the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?" I asked her.

"I've never seen anything more so!" she agreed. "Except…"

I looked up at her, and she shook her head. "No, I'll tell you when you're older."

"Melissa!" I whined.

She laughed. "Alright. When I was a few years younger than you, I met a woman…your mother. She gave me a comb and said that she'd be back for it, and for me. To me, that was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. She was true to her word, too," she added, then went back to wrestling my brother, trying to get the shirt over his head.

"You've never told me that before," I stated. It made me wonder what other secrets were being withheld from me. How did mama and papa meet? Where was mama from? How did mama know so many people?

"I know," she replied.

"How did you meet mama?" I asked.

She finally got the shirt over Chris's head, and they both sighed in relief. "That," she declared, "is for you and your mama to discuss, Helena. Chris, don't you like your sister's necklace?"

He glared at me. "It's ugly, like her."

"Christopher!" she exclaimed as he jumped onto his bed.

I smiled and shook my head. "I'm sorry, Chris. Next time, I'll knock before I come in."

"It's a very pretty necklace," he mumbled into his bed. He paused and glanced at me. "And you're very pretty too."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."

Melissa laughed. "You're like your mother, Helena. You're good with people."

My heart stopped. That was the first time anyone had told me I was like mama. That feeling of unease suddenly vanished, and I felt like I was walking on air. "Really, Melissa?" I asked.

She laughed. "Go downstairs, Helena: silly girl."

I nodded and walked out of the room. Grandma Francine and Grandma Nadine would want to know about the necklace. Knowing Grandma Nadine, she was already downstairs, and Grandma Francine would be with Aunt Penelope. I went downstairs in search of them.

"Helena!"

I turned. "Eric! How'd you get down here so fast?"

He smiled. "Servants are very useful."

I laughed. "Of course. Say, do you notice anything different about me?"

He frowned. "You're…wearing a pretty dress?"

I shook my head. "No. Mama gave me a necklace."

Eric frowned. "I've seen that before. Yes, mama gave Vincent one just like it before we left."

What? That was my gift…why would I have to share such a thing with him? I smiled. Mama had said that Aunt Stacey had one as well. It was only natural to give it to the first born, wasn't it? But still, it made me so mad. It didn't seem as special anymore.

"Are you mad?" Eric asked. "I mean, your mother gave it to you, and Vin got one too. I'd be pretty mad."

I smiled and held up my hands. "I'm not mad."

"And he got it before you did. That must make you feel pretty bad."

"I don't feel pretty bad."

He paused. "You're right. I'd feel very bad if I were you."

I smiled at him. "They say that jealousy is a green monster."

He frowned at me. "Who says?"

That made me stop. Who did say that jealousy was a green monster? "I…don't know," I replied.

We looked at each other and laughed.

"Helena, don't let it get you upset. Vin probably threw it away. It's a girl's necklace. Why would he keep it?"

I nodded. "Alright. I won't let it get me down." I was surprised that a boy three years younger than me could make so much sense. I always thought that he was just a brat, but… I turned and watched him as he put a bug in a girl's hair. She screamed and ran away, crying. Yes, he was definitely a brat. I shook my head at him as he laughed, clutching his sides.

He saw me watching him and sobered. "Don't forget, we have a date with a sandcastle tomorrow, princess."

I laughed mockingly and waved as I walked away. "I won't forget. After all, I've got to bury my noble prince."

"No! I'm going to be burying you, Helen of Troy!" he called after me.

I bit back the urge to yell at him. That was papa's name for me. He couldn't use it. Why would Vinny throw away the necklace? I ran my fingers over the dove lovingly. Mama got it from her grandmother. Then Grandma Nadine would know about it? Or was it mama's grandma on her father's side?

I caught a glimpse of Grandma Nadine. She was talking to Aunt Stacey. That wouldn't do. If I asked her about it, I might hurt Aunt Stacey's feelings. It was best to wait until later. I looked around the room and saw people I didn't even know in my home. They were strangers, and they were talking and laughing as if they had always been here.

"It's frightening, isn't it? We don't even know most of these people."

I turned and let out a cry of glee upon seeing who it was. I clung to Grandma Francine. She hugged me with one hand and held a flute of wine with another.

"You look as pretty as a new fallen snow, darling," she cooed.

"Do you notice anything different?" I asked, pulling away so she could see.

Her green eyes looked me up and down. "Helena, that is a very beautiful necklace you are wearing. What kind of bird is it?"

I loved Grandma Francine so much! I hugged her again. "You noticed!" I exclaimed.

She nodded. "Of course I noticed. I notice everything about you, child."

"It's a dove," I said.

She smiled. "Doves are usually in pairs."

That soured my mood, and, as if she sensed the change, Grandma Francine quickly went on. "When your grandfather was alive, he bought me a dove. Placed it in a cage, he did. Within a few days, it died. Doves are a lot like us. When your grandfather died, I didn't think I could go on. Of course, I had to. But if it wasn't for you, Helena, I don't think I could have. You see, when your grandfather died, your mother was pregnant with you. And I had to be there to watch and take care of you. The dove…it didn't have a reason to go on living. Without its true love, it died."

Half of what she said, I didn't understand. I understood that my grandpa died, and grandma moved in with us so she could help take care of us. But what was she saying? I didn't like the idea of Vinny having the other dove.

"Grandma, I have to go," I said.

"Show the necklace to your Aunt Penelope. She'd like to see it."

I nodded and walked away from her. I'd show it to Aunt Penelope after I talked to a certain cousin of mine. The very idea of marrying a cousin disgusted me. Maybe it had nothing to do with marriage. Maybe it just meant that as the first born children of our parents, we should keep in touch. Yes, that was all it meant.

That couldn't have been all it meant.

Vincent was exactly where I thought he would be: a special library filled with books for mama. Papa bought so many books for her even though he didn't like books. That was so romantic! Even at ten, I wished for something like that to happen to me.

"Go away, I don't wish to be disturbed," Vinny said, not bothering to look up from his book.

"How nice, do you say that to everyone?" I asked.

He glanced up and stood, shocked. "Helena. I never expected you to come here…"

"I need to talk to you," I said, taking a seat in one of mama's large chairs.

When I was younger, I would sit on mama's lap as she read to me. Eventually, I grew tired of books. Why read when the world was real, tangible, and right outside? There was an ocean to swim in, beaches to explore, and buried treasure to find (although we still hadn't found any).

"Sit down, please," I requested.

He did so, glancing at his book momentarily before closing it. Was he remembering what page he was on? I suppose I interrupted him. I wasn't sorry. This was too important!

"You got something recently," I stated.

He frowned. "Got something? I'm sorry, I don't recall what-"

"This," I said, pointing to my necklace and not in the mood to play social games with him. "You also got one, didn't you?"

He sighed. "Did Eric tell you?"

I smiled and clasped my hands together. "Perhaps. Does it matter?"

He ran a hand through his hair, reminding me of papa. Papa? No, he was nothing like papa. I banished the thought from my head. "He really wasn't supposed to tell you."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I knew it would upset you."

"It doesn't upset me."

He sighed. "It upsets you."

"Why would it upset me? It has nothing to do with me. Why should I care if you got something that I also got?"

"You shouldn't, but you do." He stood.

"Don't stand up!" I cried out, standing myself. "Do you have it?"

"What?" he asked.

"Do you have it?"

"Right now?"

"Yes," I said, my fear coming out in my voice.

"Would it bother you if I did?"

Why did he always have to try to sound so superior? It was infuriating! It was horrible! I felt as if I was going to lose my composure.

"No, it wouldn't bother me," I said, forcing my smile.

He shook his head. "Then I think you should leave." He sat down and opened his book again.

The conversation was…over? No! It couldn't be over! I just wanted to know what he did with the stupid necklace! Before I knew it, I had pulled the book from his hand and threw it onto the side table.

"I don't want to leave," I replied.

He frowned at me. "Then what do you want?"

The answer I was supposed to give was 'I don't want anything.' Yet, when I opened my mouth, a different set of words came out. "I want to know what you did with the necklace!"

Those words shocked me, and I put my hands over my mouth in horror, backing up and falling into a chair. Even more horrifying was the look on his face. Vincent was smiling. It was the first time I recalled seeing him smile. He never smiled!

"Now was that so hard?" he asked. "If I said that I was wearing it, what would you do?"

"Nothing," I whispered.

He laughed, and I was shocked again. "You're being honest with me. I'm surprised." He stood and walked up to me, leaning over until his face was even with mine. "I threw it away," he replied and walked out of the room.

It should've made me relieved. I should've been happy. So, why were tears falling down my cheeks, splattering against my still clasped hands? I bowed my head. I had brought it upon myself by letting that green monster out again. What was that green monster called? Jealousy? Greed? It didn't matter. It was horrible. I never wanted to act that way again, no matter who provoked me.

I learned a lesson that night. After my crying, I walked over to where Vincent had been sitting and picked up the book he had been reading. Truth and Lie: Common Detection. I felt like crying again. He was using me to try out some book. I had been right all along, and now I didn't have the green monster fighting on my side because I had nobody to blame but myself.

"Helena? Sweetie, what are you doing in here?" Aunt Sabrina asked.

I began crying again, and Aunt Sabrina hugged me until I stopped. Then she asked me to tell her all about it. So I did.

"It is a very pretty necklace, and it's very special. I'm sure that Vin didn't throw it away. He was playing with you, but that was a very cruel thing to say. I believe that if you want to make amends, you have to apologize."

"But-"

"Both of you were in the wrong," Aunt Sabrina admonished.

I nodded.

"But you learned a very important lesson from this," she said, smiling. "Jealousy is a poison that eats away at the soul. I think the best thing to do is to imagine being the other person. Would you like it if somebody was always mad at you?"

I shook my head and sniffled.

"There, there," she said, hugging me. "You aren't the only one who needs to see from a different perspective."

I grabbed her arm, and she paused. "No, please don't tell him, Aunt Sabrina. Please! Then he'll know that I…that I…"

She sighed. "I won't. You have my word, alright?"

I nodded. "Thank you."

She smiled. "I'm always here if you need me."

"I know. I must be a bad person…"

"No, not a bad person," Aunt Sabrina corrected. "You would only be a bad person if it pleased you to make other people sad."

"It doesn't," I replied.

"Then, chin up," she said, tilting my chin up.

I laughed. "Chin up?"

"If your chin's down, you can't see where you're going."

"If it's up too high, you also can't see," I said, tilting it so I could see the ceiling.

She laughed. "You'll be alright, Helena."

"You should have children, Aunt Sabrina."

She looked around the room, and I giggled. "Don't tell anybody," she whispered, "but I think I'm pregnant."

I hugged her. "I hope so."

"Now go on," she said, pushing me toward the door. "You have an apology to give."

I nodded and took a deep breath before stepping into the sitting room. Vincent wasn't there. Where was he? I walked into papa's game room. No Vincent. Kitchen? No. Study? No. The more I looked, the more frantic I became. He wasn't downstairs.

Making my way upstairs, I felt a heaviness I'd never felt before. It was a weight on my shoulders. My guilt was weighing me down. I sighed and stepped into my room. No…this wasn't how it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to apologize. He was supposed to accept my apology. Then, I would stay away from him so the green monster—no, the poison—couldn't get me again.

"I'm sorry," I said softly. "I'm sorry I was so rude. I'm sorry…"

"I accept," a voice replied. "But who are you apologizing to?"

"Papa!" I cried. "I did a bad, bad thing. And I tried to find him and apologize, but I can't find him. And I want to say I'm sorry, but I can't!"

"I'm sure your brother understands…" Papa said softly.

"Not Chris, Vincent! I wasn't very nice to him. I've never been very nice to him. He probably hates me now."

"How about if I help you find him?" he asked.

Could he? Could he really?

Papa took my hand in his and led me back downstairs. It wouldn't work. I already looked everywhere.

"If I were a Vincent where would I be?" he asked, opening a closet.

I giggled. "Not there, papa."

He looked inside and closed the door. "Not there, indeed. Well, Helen of Troy, where do you suggest we look?"

"I don't know."

"I know!" he exclaimed. He led me to the kitchen and lifted the lid of the cookie jar. "No Vincent, but I found cookies!"

I clapped.

He shushed me. "Don't tell your mother," he ordered, handing me a cookie. "One for you, one for me, and one for Vincent."

"Vincent?" I asked, confused.

"Apologies are sweeter with cookies," papa replied. "Believe me, I know. There was one time with your mother…yes, cookies work."

I giggled again, and he looked around as if mama was hiding in the kitchen, waiting to pounce. We both pretended our mouths were locks. We locked the locks and threw away the imaginary keys. The secret was safe, and the cookies were good. I held onto the one for Vincent.

"Now, Vincent will probably be…here," papa said, opening the door to mama's library.

"Papa, that was the room I came out…of."

I stopped in surprise. Vincent was sitting where he had been before I entered the first time. He was reading the same book. Suddenly, fear gripped me. I couldn't do this. I couldn't…

Papa pushed me into the room and closed the door.

"Go away. I don't want to be disturbed."

"Vincent," I said.

"Helena," he replied, his eyes not leaving the book.

"I'm sorry. I know it doesn't mean anything to you, but I am. What I said…was mean. I shouldn't have…let jealousy and anger…eat away at my soul. Anyway, here's a cookie. Papa said that apologies are sweeter with cookies. I'm really, really sorry." I stepped up and placed the cookie on the table beside him.

His hand suddenly grabbed mine. I glanced up, afraid.

"Me too," he replied. "I'm sorry too. It's just…sometimes I think I'm the only one you don't like. I don't really understand…"

"I'm so sorry," I whispered. "I never meant…I thought you didn't like me."

"Truthfully?" he asked.

I nodded.

"I don't. I think you have an obsession with your leg…problem. Every time, it's always 'poor Helena' and 'don't you feel sorry for her'. I can't stand it."

I felt anger building up, but this time it had nothing to do with that green monster. No, this was red-hot, justified rage. "Well, I'm sorry you feel like I have a problem with my legs. Not everyone can be perfect like you." I walked across the room and was about to leave, when I paused. "I had every intention of being nice to you, did you know that? But you…you just don't understand anything! You read all these…books, but you don't understand the most important thing of all."

He looked at me. "What's that?"

"Kindness. And without it, you're going to be all alone, even surrounded by people."

"At least I have two even legs."

I paused, and he did as well. Tears formed in my eyes, but I bit back the urge to cry. "Yes, at least you have that," I replied, cringing when I heard my voice crack.

I raced out of the room before he had the chance to say anything else. Tears were running down my cheeks.

"Helena, your mother said that you had something to show me?" Grandma Nadine said, stepping up to me.

I ran past her.

"Helena?" she asked.

"Helena!" mama exclaimed. "Where is she going?"

Why did she sound hurt? She wasn't the one who had a deformity. She wasn't the one who had to live with it and get shunned by it. She didn't understand. None of them did! I wanted…to die. I wanted the ground to come and swallow me up.

I raced to my room and grabbed a fairy tale book. "I need a fairy godmother," I cried through my tears. "I need seven dwarves…a witch…anybody! Please…make me normal. Make me a normal girl instead of a freak! I want to be normal…"

There was a knock at the door. I ignored it, still clinging to my book. Why weren't they coming? I wished on so many shooting stars the past years. Was nobody listening? I was bad tonight, but I apologized. I apologized! That had to count for something.

Then it dawned on me. It didn't matter how much I wished. Nobody was listening because…none of them existed. The shooting stars…they were a tale to bring people hope. Mama told me this before, but I still didn't want to believe. I didn't want to believe that I was…alone in the world.

"You aren't real… Not real, not real, not real!" I tossed the book across the room just as mama entered.

"What has gotten into you?" she asked, coming to sit on my bed. She grabbed my arms and looked into my eyes.

"They're really not real," I whispered. "Nobody is going to come help me. Nobody is going to make me normal."

Mama looked as if she was about to cry. She pulled me to her and stroked my hair. "I know it looks bad now, but things get bad before they get good."

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"Believe me, I know," she replied. She pulled away and wiped my tears with her hands. Millie, a servant, came in and handed her a warm cloth. She placed it over my eyes and had me lay down. "Things are bad now, and they may get worse, but you have to believe that they will get better."

"Mama…I love you," I whispered.

"I love you too…always and forever," she said, kissing my cheek.

I closed my eyes and heard papa walk into the room.

"What happened to my Helen of Troy?" he asked.

"Somebody must have said something to her," mama returned softly.

"She was going to apologize to Vincent," Papa said.

"No, Millie, don't worry about changing her, just cover her up for tonight," I heard mama say.

I felt the blankets cover me. Soon after, the door closed, and I was left in silence. Now I knew what Vincent really thought of me. I was just…a girl he despised. And I had been sincere in apologizing, too. It ended badly, but it was a lesson in itself. I would stay away from him.

Author's Note: I feel a bit guilty. I haven't been updating my other stories. I've been writing this one. When I haven't been writing, I've been studying. It's hard to keep a 4.0 without studying. I liked this chapter. When I was writing it, I kept wondering…was it something a ten-year-old would say? Would a ten-year-old do the things Helena did? I think I did pretty well with that. It's much easier to write about people when they're older. My beta told me she kept forgetting about the secret that Helena doesn't know. It made me smile, especially since some people don't know the secret. If you read Or So the Story Goes…, then you'll know the secret…about who she is. Riight. I've said enough about that.

Helena's a little brat. I keep thinking that when I'm writing this story. Yeah, I'm writing Chapter 7 right now. She's so selfish—not necessarily the opposite of Dru, but she definitely doesn't act the same way Dru did. In a way, I'm glad about that. There are also times when I just want to take Vinny and hurt him! He's such a jerk—but he can be. He's handsome, rich, and has power (the future throne of Astaire). He's nothing like Alex, which is another good thing. Opposed to him, though, Robert (whom you will meet later) is such a sweetheart. –Sigh- I really do like this story—much more than Or So the Story Goes. It has more humor and less angst…at least, as of right now it does (and as of Chapter 7). So, I will continue to write in this story (and probably neglect my other two until Spring Break—2 weeks!) until I hit a road-block, which I can't see happening yet. Is this going to be a Helena/Vincent story? As of Chapter 7—no, but it is a possibility. Wow, this is a long A/N.

Special Thanks to the following people for reviewing (I love reviews!): CingStarz, Mischa, effection, Electric Blue Eyeliner, aiur (you need to update your stories, kait, you've been AWOL much longer than I have—Dark Hunter's calling you… it's saying it wants you to write some more), Arya Darcy and Enverra Hearte.