Conflict

I wake to the sound of heavy footsteps and the rustling of cloth. Slowly I sit up looking

around my cozy little room, familiar sights stare back at me. I hear the footsteps again. Carefully I slip out of bed, making sure to not make a sound. I tip-toe to the door, slowly I open it just a bit, and look down the hall. There's no one there. I walk out into the hallway making sure not to make a sound, daddy wouldn't be happy if he caught me up this late. As I reach the end of the hall I peer into daddy's room, he is up and moving around.

"Daddy, what are you doing?" I ask, walking into his room. He looks startled, and drops what he has in his hand.

"What are you doing up Nyx? It's way past your bed time." He says swooping me up into his warm embrace, giving me a kiss on the cheek. I giggle, and squirm in his large arms.

"I heard footsteps and it woke me up. What's going on daddy? What are you doing so late? Can I help!" I ask excited, I love to help daddy with things. I manage to squirm my way out of his arms, and run over his bed. There are two suit cases laid out on the bed, one was mostly full, the other still empty. I look up at daddy, eith questioning eyes. What's going on, why is he packing? Slowly he walks over to the bed and sits down; I climb up onto his lap, looking at him expectantly.

"Nyx, honey, I have to go away to war. I have received a call from the base and all troops are to report at 0600." He says staring me in the eyes.

"So are we moving again? I'm going with you!" I say getting all excited. I want to go with daddy, I'm going to be a soldier just like him when I grow up. So this war thing might be good experience for me.

"No Nyx, you can't come with me, it is too dangerous. War is not a place for a five year old." He tells me, my spirit falls. Once daddy says no, its final, there is no arguing with him. As my eyes start to tear up, I wipe them away, crying is for babies, I wont cry. Daddy wraps me up in a hug and I lose it, tears start running down my face.

"But where will I go daddy if I can't go with you?" I sob, trying to stop myself from crying. I don't want daddy to leave, he's all I got left.

"You're going to your grandmother's house. She is your mommy's, mommy. She has agreed to take you in, which is very generous of her." He says stroking my hair as I rest my tear stained cheek on his broad chest. My grandmother, I'm going to meet my grandmother. Daddy had never said anything about me having a grandmother before, I just thought that I didn't have any. I didn't have a mommy, so why would I have grandparents. Sniffling I look up into daddy's face, "How long are you going to be gone, am I to live with her forever?" I ask him.

"No, you won't live with her forever, I will come back for you when the war is over." He says, not answering my first question, but I understand. Finally the tears stop, and daddy carries me back to bed. As he tucks me in, and kisses me on my forehead, in the light of my nightlight I see a tear run down his cheek. "I love you Nyx." He says as he walks away.

"I love you too daddy." I turn over, in my bed surrounded by my stuff animals and fall asleep.

The next morning I awake to a stranger sitting in my kitchen, he has on a nice suit, and has a funny hat. His hair is just starting to grey at the roots, and he seems to be smiling at me. Suddenly I remember what me and daddy talked about last night. "Are you my grandpa?" I ask running up to him and climbing up into his lap. A look of astonishment crosses his face.

"No, I'm not your grandpa. My name is Joseph. I work for your Grandmother, Lady Tanith, I am her driver. I drive her where ever she wishes to go, and she told me that I was to pick you up. So here I am, and here you are, are you all ready to go?" He asks me, bouncing his knee up and down. I laugh, even if he isn't my grandpa he's nice. I get up and run to my room to get changed.

Years have passed and father still hasn't come to take me home. Every day for three years I sat at the bay window looking out over the drive way. I used to dream of him driving up and taking me away from this place forever. When I was five and had first arrived here, my welcome was Henry, the butler, and a maid, Annabel. Grandmother wasn't even there, she was off at some high class party, and couldn't be bothered to meet her granddaughter till the next day. Even then, when she finally let me come in, and 'be presented' to her; when went to run up and give her a hug, and she slapped me. Telling me that a young lady never acts so brashly, and that I should learn to control my emotions. I was five, all I wanted was some love and affection, and all I got from her was cold uncaring contempt. She made sure to show me right off that I was not wanted. That the only reason she had taken me in was because I was her only daughters child. The only ones who payed me any attention were Joseph, Henry, and Annabel, they are my family, not Grandmother.

When I was eight, I was introduced to my cousins Freya and Emin, they are my cousin Ixchel's children. Whenever Grandmother would go away on her trips I would stay at Ixchel's house. She was more like a mother to me, than anyone.

When I turned ten Grandmother sent me away to boarding school. I was to become a proper lady, no more fighting with the kitchen boys, no more acting like a boy. She was to be disappointed though, I joined fencing class and did hand to hand combat. Anything to make her mad and prepare me to be a soldier. Back then I still had the dream of becoming a soldier like my father. When I was thirteen I was kicked out of school for beating a kid up. That's when Grandmother decided to take things into her own hands. She got me a private tutor and I was not to leave the house unless it was to attend some event with her. I went to every tea party, every charity convention, every old crone party you can think of. Then finally when I turned fifteen, and was about to give up on ever seeing my father again I got a letter. I was to attend my fathers promotion ceremony to General; he was to be the youngest General in U.S. history. I was so excited, I ran to Grandmother's study and begged her to let me go. At first she refused, but somehow Ixchel managed to convince Grandmother to let me go. I was so excited, the ceremony was to be in two weeks. I was on my best behavior, making sure to give Grandmother no reason to change her mind. The whole time I day dreamed about what would happen when I saw my father again, how he would sweep me off my feet and take me away from here.

The whole flight down to Washington I was nervous, butterflies flew about in my stomach. When Grandmother's private jet finally landed, I jumped up and ran down the stairs. Joseph came more slowly. There was a Rolls Royce waiting for us, Joseph opened the door for me, then got into the drivers seat. When we arrived at the hotel room, I was so excited I could barely contain myself. I got all dressed up in my evening gown without complaint, and even put on high heels. I don't like high heels, I think it is just another form of torture forced upon girls to make boys laugh. I was to meet my father at the Hall where they were holding the ceremony. As I walked into the room I looked around for my father, but couldn't see him. I was confronted by a man who must have been in his mid-thirties.

"You look lost, who you looking for Miss?" He said extending his hand to me.

"I'm looking for my Father, Evan Liadan? He said he'd meet me here, do you know where he is?" I asked him hoping he could direct me to my father. As I had spoke his eyebrows rose marginally.

"So your Liadan's girl, it's a pleasure to meet you, young lady, I'm Lieutenant Conall. I don't know where your father is unfortunately, but I shall go look for him. Here, I'd like you to meet my son, Nicolas, he is sixteen, and probably the only one here close to your age. How about you two talk and I'll go find your father." He said directing me over to his son, then left.

"Hello, I'm Nyx." I said extending my hand, he shook it. He offered me a seat next to him, and I sat.

"So why did you get mixed up in all this?" He asked.

"Evan Liadan is my father." I told him. He nearly jumped out of his seat.

"You're Evan Liadan's daughter." He said seeming shocked and impressed. Just then I saw him, it was father. I bolted up and walked as fast as I could in those cursed heels.

"Father!" I called as I neared him. He turned at the sound of my voice, a broad smile crossing his handsome features. He turned and swept me up into a hug. I laughed, it was him, it was really him. "My look how you've grown!" He said setting me back down on the floor.

"Excuse me sir, sorry to interrupt but we are ready to start the ceremony." A man said to my father. Letting me go my father straightened his uniform and I fixed my dress. He led me to the head table and pulled out a chair for me. For the rest of the ceremony I didn't really get to talk to my father. He was always busy talking to the other Generals that had attended. I was introduced to everyone, they smiled and told me how nice I looked. It started to feel just like the parties that Grandmother forced me to go to. I ended up hanging out with Nicolas for most of the party.

When the party had come to an end, finally I got the chance to talk to my father. He was thanking the last of the guests for coming; I came over to stand by him.

"So, what's next, am I finally going to be able to move back in with you? Can I finally move out of Grandmothers?" I asked him as the last guest left. He turned to look at me a sad look in his eyes.

"I'm sorry Nyx, but I can't do that. I promised your Grandmother that you would come back. It was the only way she'd let you come tonight." He said avoiding eye contact. My heart fell, I had to go back. Father wasn't going to take me away, he was going to make me live with that devil woman.

Heartbroken I turned and ran. After that I never saw my father again, I got letters from him and he sent me presents on my birthday; but never again did I see him.

Twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, slowly I lower myself to the ground. I wipe the sweat off my forehead with a towel, I finally finished my chin-ups, the last of my workout for the morning. My muscles are sore, and I know I better start moving before they turn to butter. Slowly, very slowly, I get myself up off the floor. Standing, I stretch, raising my arms high above my head and arching my back; I can feel my back pop and crack. I take a swig of my water, and look at my watch. Shiz! Grandmother is going to have my head if I'm late to her stupid tea party. Quickly I grab my things and run out the door. "Wait! Nyx you forgot your purse!" I hear a cry as I rush out the door and onto the streets of downtown New York.

"Thanks Elijah, toss it to me." Elijah throws me my purse as my driver pulls up to the curb, I catch it, then hop in. "You better step on it Joseph, it's going to be close." Joseph nods. I put up the privacy barrier and start to strip. I have twenty minutes max to change into my afternoon summer dress, get my pantyhose on, apply some make-up, and fix my hair.

I have barely managed to get all this accomplished, as the car finally pulls to a stop by the front door. Henry, our butler, knocks on my door before opening it, they have learned that to do so otherwise is dangerous. "It's okay Henry, you can open the door." The door opens and I step out, "How do I look? Am I presentable?" I ask running my hands over my dress, fretting about my appearance.

"You look fine Miss, but if you don't hurry you shall be late, and you know how that annoys Lady Tanith." Henry commented.

"Yes. I know, I know, heavens forbid that 'Lady Tanith' gets annoyed." I roll my eyes and start running; I hear a chuckle come from Henry and Joseph.

I slow down to a brisk walk as I near the garden. I straiten my dress, and fix my hair as I pass by a mirror in the hall; I'm passable, barely. Oh well, I'll hear it from Grandmother either way. As I enter the pavilion, everyone is already there. The conversation dies down to a hum as I walk up the steps to where they are seated. "Ah, Nyx, it is nice of you to finally grace us with your presence, I presume you have a good reason for being late?" Grandmother raises one eyebrow, showing her disapproval of my tardiness.

"Yes of course, there was horrid traffic between here and the mall." I answer, raising one eyebrow of my own daring her to challenge my remark before everyone. She says nothing, so I take my seat next to one of my Grandmother's cronies, Martha, I think, and settle in. The tea party lasts for a couple hours as the ladies gossip, and talk about recent events and what their husbands are doing. I sit sipping my tea in silence, only speaking when spoken to directly. These tea parties are my Grandmother's way of torturing me, she knows I hate them. But if I want to be able to pursue anything of interest to me, I have to go to these events, and any others that my Grandmother insists upon.

After I came back from my fathers promotion ceremony, things changed. Grandmother and I had some...discussions about the way I was living, or lack there of. We made a deal that I could do a certain amount of activities that I wanted to do; if I went to all the activities that she wanted me to go to. So in other wards I had to do everything that I was now, and if I find time I can do a few other things. Lets just say, I find time. I might be a little late to a few things, but that doesn't bother me.

After everyone has left, I leave and go up to my room, which is on the second level of the house. I collapse onto my bed, and thank God for letting the tea party go by without incident. Now that it's over first things first, I have to get out of this get-up. I had already ditched my three inch heels before coming up the stairs, now it was time to get rid of the rest of it. Just as I have finished changing and wiping all the make-up off my face, there's a knock on my door. "Come in!" I shout as I put away my summer dress.

"You know if you are late one more time, I might have to suspend you from going on your little outings." My Grandmother says as she enters the room, her sharp nose upturned and mouth pinched into a frown. It is a look that I am use to. I have received it since I was five and she found me fighting with a kitchen boy.

"Grandmother, I'm seventeen now, almost eighteen, I will not allow you to treat me as you did when I was a child." It is and old argument, that one day I promise myself I will someday win.

"Nyx I don't care how old you are. As long as you live under this roof, and belong to this family you will do as your told." A sneer reaches my grandmothers thin lips, making her already unattractive face even less attractive.

"No, once I turn eighteen I am free from this hell hole and shall do whatever I please." I say firmly, standing my ground. "You have no legal hold over me once I'm eighteen."

"You know your just like your mother, and look where that got her, dead." She retorted. This is my Grandmothers favorite button to push.

My mother died in child birth in South Africa, her and my father were stationed there. My mother was a nurse, and she helped the locals. One day she was out helping some local village women and she went into labor. My father had told her not to go out so close to the baby coming, but, nothing could stop my mother from helping others. Since there was no hospital close by the women carried her into a hut, and sent for my father. I was born at three in the morning, they had to turn me around and in doing so my mother ended up losing a lot of blood. My mother died, after naming me, from blood loss. My father cried for days, soon after that he got reassigned to the U.S. My Grandmother blames my father and the military for my mothers death. Even though my Grandmother had refused to even talk to my mother after she ran away with my father. She didn't like the idea of her daughter married to a military man. Imagine the scandal and the gossip that would fly if she did. Well, my Grandmother got even more of a scandal, when her daughter ran away and married her military man without her permission. My Grandmother cast her off after that and never spoke to her again. She even refused to go to her funeral. I guess that just goes to show you what kind of family this is. Here Grandmothers word is law, no one disobeys her, and if you do, your never spoken to again. Lovely isn't it.

"You know, you can only use that one so many times Grandmother, before it becomes uneffective."

I shoot back. Grandmother turns red with frustration.

"Well, what about that sorry excuse you had today, we all know you weren't at the mall. You don't ever go shopping." She says, trying to make a come back.

I shoot her down. "Yes I do, I went with Freya yesterday, or do you not remember? We went shopping for new summer clothes, and a dress for her party tomorrow."

"Well, if your late to the opera tonight, there will be none of your little activities tomorrow." She says briskly leaving my room. I shut my door, and collapse on my bed, screaming into my pillow. Only a few more weeks till I can leave, I have to keep reminding myself. Sighing, I get up and look at the digital clock by my bed. It's 2:30 p.m., I don't have to be home until six. I have last minute fittings for my dress for tomorrow night. I don't even know what it is, Freya picked it out for me. Freya picks out all my outfits for every event I go to. It's not that I can't do it myself, I do have a sense of fashion. It just that Freya has so much fun doing it, that I let her. That reminds me that I have to get my outfit ready for tonight. I go looking for Annabel, she'll know where it is. Annabel is my personal maid, I barely ever use her. Just for things like getting all my outfits ready and cleaned. And like tonight, for example, she'll probably end up doing my hair. I find her in the kitchen, helping Guss, our main cook.

"Hey Anna, can you get my outfit for the opera tonight ready? I will be home at six for the fitting, but I have to be out of here by 8:30 to make it in time. Please, and thank you." I say to her as I steal a roll from Guss.

"Sure, am I doing your hair tonight? Or are you finally going to do it yourself?" She asks teasing me.

"I don't see why you can't do it for me, plus a Lady doesn't do her own hair. She might prick herself with a bobby-pin and that would be a horrible shame." I say shaking my head, trying not to laugh.

"Well, the 'Lady' might have to hurry up, or else she wont have time to go and play with her guns." She says looking at the clock. I look up and swear, crap she's right. I stick my tongue out at her and rush out of the kitchen.

As I get into the car and we pull away from the house Joseph asks me, "How was the tea party Miss, enjoy yourself for once?" There is a bit of a smirk on his face, he knows the answer he just likes to tease.

"Oh yes, 'cause how can I not like sitting around listening to a bunch of old crones talk about how in their day things were different. You know that I just love their watered down tea, and little biscuits that are so soft and mushy, because they can't chew anymore. Those are my favorites! I wish I could spend all my days like that rotting away in that garden." I reply with enough sarcasm dripping from my mouth to drown an elephant. Joseph belts out a laugh, nice and rich.

"You know if it wasn't for you, I don't know if I could stand this job anymore." He says still chuckling. I smile at Joseph, he is the nicest old man I have ever met. Except Henry of course, they are my family, what kept me from going insane over all these years.

"Thanks Joseph, and stop calling me Miss, you know I don't like it."

After that the drive was pretty quiet, I stare out my window looking at people who I can see, but who can't see me. I love New York, the sites, the people, the smells. People bustling about hurrying off to where ever. Minding their own business, not caring about what is going on around them. I find it peaceful, even though others call it a headache.

Finally we pull to a stop in front of an old apartment building that has been turned into a shooting range for the government and the military. The only good thing about being related to my father is that you get certain benefits, this is one of them. I got a pass to here when I turned sixteen. It was my birthday present, the only thing I have ever asked my father for. I come here at least once a week, to cool off. Even though I don't want to be a soldier anymore I still keep up to par with my training. I go to the gym every morning, and do a two hour workout. I also picked up boxing when I got back from Washington. I still practice fencing with my old instructor, and I do hand-to-hand combat twice a week. Shooting was just another venue for my anger, plus I was thinking about maybe joining a special forces unit, or maybe become a U.S. Marshall.

"Thanks Joseph, be back around five to pick me up, I've got a fitting tonight at six, and I can't be late." I tell him as I get out of the car.

"Not a problem Nyx I'll be here five o'clock sharp. Just make sure you get out of there in time."

He says with a wink. I shut the door, and walk up the steps and into the range.

"ID please." Says the woman at the front desk, she must be new, no one cards me here. Just then Nico comes in.

"Hey look who it is! How you doin'? Hear from your dad lately?" Nico comes up to me and wraps me in a bear hug.

"It's good to see you too Nico, and no I haven't heard from the old man." I say hugging him back, it's nice to see Nico again, he hasn't been around the last month or so. "So where have you been? I haven't seen you around lately."

"I had boot camp. I was in Nashville, Tennessee for nine weeks. I swear if I hear anymore country music I'm going to explode." He jokes, pretending to rip his hair out.

"Well that wouldn't be good, then what would I do? I'd miss you to much." I put on a pouty face pretending to be ever so upset. Nico and I ended up bumping back into each other when I picked up boxing. I had barely recognized him. He looked a lot different in his gym clothes, than in the suit he had worn to the promotion ceremony. His dad Lieutenant Conall, had bought him a small flat on the outside of town. He was going to a finishing school here in New York, until he was old enough to enroll in the Army.

We start walking towards the door and the lady behind the desk stops us.

"I need to see your ID please ma'am." She blocks the door with her baton. I straighten, but before I can do anything, Nico interrupts.

"Denna this is Nyx, General Liadan's daughter. She comes here all the time, so don't get all hyped up." He says staring her down.

"It's ok Nico, I don't mind. Plus she doesn't know, its alright, don't you get all 'hyped up'."

I say pulling out my ID and showing it to Denna for inspection. She nods, not really even looking at it. She just stares at me in this awestruck kind of way. I hate it when people do that, whenever people mention my fathers name everyone just goes into 'awe mode' as I call it. Its annoying.

"I'm sorry ma'am for the trouble, please forgive me." She says as she performs a slight bow.

"Don't fret, it's ok, your new. Plus why else do I have this ID for, if not for someone to check it."

Denna nods, and Nico and I walk out of the entry way and through the door.

The racket of the shooting range can be deafening, if your not use to it. I pull out my ipod and turn my music all the way up. The blissful noise of Three Days Grace, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Drowning Pool, blare in my eardrums blocking out the sounds of the range. The constant rhythm of gun fire is soothing, it clears my mind and helps me to concentrate. Everything else around me fades out of focus as I unload on the poor targets. My accuracy is up to ninety-eight percent, heavens forbid I actually get sent out onto the field one day. As I reload, I checked the time, its four o'clock, I still have an hour left. I set my alarm to go off at four thirty even though I doubt I'll hear it.

I am working on my sharp shooting when Nico comes up and waits for me to finish. After I fire my last shot I put the safety on and take off my goggles. "What's up?" I ask as I wipe the sweat off my forehead and take a swig from my water bottle.

"I was just wondering, if you wanted to catch a movie tonight. We haven't hung out in a while and I thought maybe we could hang." He says trying to act nonchalant, about it.

"Nico, I'd love to go see a movie with you but, I have to go to the opera with Grandmother tonight." I tell him. His face falls, but he recovers quickly.

"Alright then, I see how it is you'd rather go to the opera, than go to the movies with me. Well if that's the way its going to be then, fine see if I care." He says trying to act all snooty.

"Nico, you know I'd rather go to the movies than to the opera." I tell him going along with the act, pretending to feel guilty. Which in fact I did, I really wanted to hang out with Nico. But, if I want to do anything at all for the next few weeks, I have to go to that stupid opera tonight. Then I have an idea. "Hey Nico, how about you come with me to a party tomorrow night? My cousin Freya is throwing a party at her flat tomorrow. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you came along." I tell him crossing my fingers. He smiles, his whole face beaming.

"That's great! I'd love to come." He says very enthusiastically, a boyish grin sweeping across his face.

"Cool, I'll pick you up at six? The party starts at eight but I have to help Freya with a few things. Is that ok with you?" I ask him.

"Yeah, sounds good, it's a date." He says, then blushes.

"Yah, it's a date." I tell him and he turns back to his ususal shade of color. As he walks away there is a spring in his step. I laugh. This would be our first time going on an official date. Wow, it only took us three years. Nico and I have hung out a lot since he moved to New York. Besides for having boxing together, we usually hang out at least once a week. Depending on how packed my schedule is, but we have never been on a date. Oh heavens, I just invited Nico to a family party. Oh shiz, Grandmother is going to have a fit. Oh well, what can I do now, I can't uninvite him that would be rude. As long as he doesn't talk to Grandmother I think it shall be fine, I hope. Turning off the safety I continue to shoot away my stress.

On the way back to the house I call Freya. I get the answering machine. I leave her a message, telling her that I will be bringing someone to the party tomorrow. Hanging up, I sigh. For the rest of the day I continue to fret about Nico coming to the party tomorrow.

I wake up to the sound of my alarm clock blaring in my ear. Groaning, I turn over. Blindly I swat in the general area of my clock until it stops making that horrendous noise. Yawning, I stretch feeling my muscles readjust. I look at my clock, its 6:30 a.m. time to start a new day. When I get out of the shower Anna has all my bags ready for the day. I have my morning workout, then brunch with Grandmother and the mayors wife; at two I have boxing. After that I have to run home for a quick shower then I leave to go pick up Nico and head for Freya's party. My day is full, I don't think I can pack anymore into it.

As I rush my way through the day, trying not to think about tonight. Brunch with Grandmother and Lynda, the mayors wife, is dull. They talk about politics, and what they have planned for the next charity banquet. My Grandmother has a hand in every charity banquet or ball, and I am usually force into coming along. I have attended enough charity banquets to last me a life time.

After changing into my sweats, I grab my bag and head over for boxing. I don't know if Nico is going to be there. He hasn't been there since he left for boot camp. When I arrive at the boxing gym Nico is already there working the bags. As I come in he waves to me, I smile and wave back. My trainer is waiting for me by the ring. "Hey Nyx, how you doin' today?" He asks as I put my bag on a bench.

"I'm alive." Is my answer, he chuckles.

"I can see that. So what you want to work on today? You want to scrimmage or what?" He asks me as I start to wrap my hands. I think about it, "With who, because I don't want to box with a newbie." I tell him. I don't want to waste my time on someone who can barely fight. But then again I can't go to the party tonight with a black-eye.

"You could fight with me, or if your too chicken to do that I could probably scare up someone." He challenges me. I smirk at him.

"Yah right, like it'd be a challenge." I tease him.

"So it's a match." He tells me, sticking his hand out for me to shake on it. I take his hand meeting his firm grip with one of my own. Jokingly he shakes his hand out pretending that it hurt. I stick my tongue out at him, and finish wrapping my hands.

Once we have all our gear on, and we get one of the other trainers to ref., we start the match. The bell tolls and we start to circle. Boxing is like a dance, the way you switch your footing back and forth. The only thing with this dance is that eventually someone gets hurt. Which is ok until the one getting hurt is you. As the fight continues on to the fourth round, more people start to watch. Your head gear blocks out some of the noise but it doesn't block it all out. So far it has been a pretty even match, bets on who is going to win fly around the room. I can hear Nico rooting for me in my corner, I blush but try to ignore it. Rick, my trainer, smiles at me, he knows why I'm blushing. I cut an upper left at him knocking him in the jaw, the crowd roars. That'll teach him to not tease me when we're in the middle of a match; I think as he recovers from the punch. It wasn't too hard, I didn't want to break anything, but it definitely got his head back in the game. He tries to get under my guard, with an undercut to the stomach, I knock his arm away and get him square in the shoulder. That one hurt I can tell, as he tries to roll it out, he grimaces. Getting eager to finish this before I start to wear out, I dash in for a sucker punch to the stomach and a quick jab to his jaw. He manages to block the punch to the stomach, but I get him squarely in the jaw. Making him stagger a bit, quickly I move in for a series of punches to his abdomen. He doubles over and I hit him again in the head, he falls. The ref counts to five since its only a scrimmage, I win the match. Taking out my mouth guard and off my gloves I go over to help Rick up. He's a little dizzy and is definitely seeing stars, but otherwise he's ok.

"Sheesh, girl what do you have in those mitts, lead?" He complains. I smile, its always a joke with him. Although he's probably the only guy I know that can lose to a girl and not be too offended by it.

"No, just bricks." I says laughing.

"Well that would explain it. Next time take the bricks out before we fight." He says rubbing his bruised jaw. "No, really though, you did a good job out there." He tells me patting me on the back.

"Thanks, you didn't do too bad yourself." I tell him jokingly, trying to cover up the fact that I was blushing again.

"Hey, Nyx." He says pausing to look at me. I stop and turn to look at him.

"Yah." I reply.

"Would you like a job? Just part time for now, but I think you'd be a great trainer." He asks me. I blink, I wasn't expecting that. But as I look at him I know that he's serious. I stand there thinking about it. Finally I answer him slowly.

"Sure, but until I'm eighteen my schedule might be a little crazy. But if you don't mind putting up with that, I'd love a job here." I tell him growing on the idea by the second. I'll need a job once I move out. I already have money saved up from all the birthday money and other amounts of random cash that has been given to me over the years. I never spend any of it, if I need anything, unless it is equipment for my 'activities', as grandmother calls them, she pays for it. So having a job will be nice. Once we get out of the ring a crowd of people surround us, slapping us on the back, teasing Rick and congratulating me. I smile at everyone, laughing when they make a joke at Ricks expense. I can see Nico trying to make his way over to me in the center of the mob. After things calm down a bit Nico makes his way through the slowly dispersing crowd.

"Hey, you did a great job out there Nyx." He tells me giving me a side hug, squeezing me a bit.

"Thanks, Nico." I tell him. Before either of us can say anything else Rick interrupts.

"Hey did you hear, Nyx is going to work for us. I offered her a job after the match." He says putting his hand on my shoulder. A smile spreads across Nico's face.

"That's great Nyx! Now you have a job for when you move out, that's perfect." He says beaming at me. I smile, yah it is perfect. I'm going to love working here doing something I enjoy. I look at my watch, its almost four o'clock. I should probably leave now, I'm going to need a nice, long shower to work out my muscles before Freya's party.

"Well, I'm going to go, I have to get ready for my cousins party tonight." I say to Rick. Looking over at Nico, I say, "I'll be by to pick you up around five? Is that good for you?"

"Yah, sure." He asks me, I nod. "Alright cool, see you later. Hey wait, it's black tie right?"

"Yah, unfortunately. Well I'll call you when I'm on my way." I say as I collect my bag and walk out the door waving good-bye to everyone.

As we pull up to Freya's uptown flat in Green Witch Village and Joseph opens the door for us. Freya comes running out onto the sidewalk. "Thank goodness you're here, I thought you were going to be late! I need your help picking out my dress for tonight." Then she notices Nico standing next to me. "Whose this, you didn't tell me you had a date!" She exclaims. I could feel myself turning red. Oh for the love of God and all that is holy please don't tell me this is how it's going to be all night. I had never brought anyone to a party before. Oh well, there's no turning back now.

"Freya, this is Nico, he's a friend of mine. Remember I told you yesterday that he was coming." I tell her trying to jog her memory.

"Oh yah, your date. What did you say your name was, Nico?" She ask him making room for him to come in. He nods. There is an awkward silence.

"So...Freya, about that dress problem. Lets go and find you something to wear tonight." I say dragging her away and off into her room, leaving Nico just standing there.

Once behind closed doors I sag, did she have to say it like that."So where'd you find that one? He's cute." She asks once I shut the door, and Nico is out of earshot.

"He's just a friend from the shooting range, that's all. Don't you go reading any further into it." I tell her blushing slightly.

"Right, whatever, just wait till Grandmother meets him. That should be interesting." An impish grin spreads across her beautiful features. We both know how this is going to go over with Grandmother. I'm not looking forward to it in the least.

"Enough about me, lets find you an outfit." I say changing the subject. There is no point in fretting about it now.

Finally I get Freya to decide on a dress, and help her do her hair. Then it is my turn, I pull out the torture device that Freya and Ixchel have picked out for me this time. My dress is made from the finest silk and it is gorgeous. The dress has a low back and neck line, and angles off after the knee. The theme for this dress is onyx, which cover the neck line and the clasp for my dress. Along with it Annabel has packed a heavy onyx necklace with matching earrings and stilettos with an onyx trim to them. The dress fits perfectly, its material hugging my every curve. As I finish applying my make-up there is a knock on the door.

"Come in!" I holler. I'm putting my mascara back into my bag, finally finished getting ready with only seconds to spare.

"Hey get out here, the parties about to start!" Freya says. You'd think that it has been me, and not her taking hours to get ready. I sigh, time to face the crowd. As I enter the foyer I see Nico talking to Emin. I walk across the room, as I near Emin stops talking. "Well, well, well, if it isn't my favorite cousin, come and give me a hug!" He exclaims coming over to wrap me up into a giant hug. "How have you been, I haven't seen you in a while. Your looking good, nice dress." He takes my hand and twirls me about, I can't help but laugh. Emin is one of the only relatives that I have that are bearable. Still laughing I look at Nico, I don't think his jaw could be any closer to the floor. Emin grins as he sees Nico's face, "She cleans up well doesn't she." He says with a wolfish grin. Nico attempts to pick his jaw up off the floor, and somehow manages not to stare. I stick my tongue out at Emin in a very childish manner. "Just ignore him, he just likes to tease." I say. Pulling Nico away from Emin and in another direction.

"You do look beautiful tonight, that dress suits you." He says his cheeks turning pink. "I haven't seen you in a dress since your dads promotion ceremony. Its nice for a change." He says as his cheeks turning an even darker shade of pink.

"That's because the only time they can get me into one of these contraptions is at these mandatory parties forced upon me by my Grandmother." I tell him, starting to feel uncomfortable as more and more people show up. "Oh, and by the way, when and if you meet my Grandmother, do not tell her where I know you from. She'd skin me alive." I tell him making sure he understands, he nods his head indicating that he understands.

"What am I to tell her then?" He asks, a perplexed look crossing his handsome features.

"Just tell her that you're a friend of Emin and Freya's, that I met you at one of their other parties. Don't worry Emin and Freya will cover for us." I say. As I pass Freya I whisper in her ear telling her the plan, she smiles. "Not a problem, I'll go tell Emin." She excuses herself from her group and goes to seek out her brother.

The party is going along well and I am actually starting to enjoy myself for once. Emin and Nico get along like they have known each other forever and hadn't just met tonight. I have managed to avoid my Grandmother after the initial check up to make sure I have shown. She even commented on my appearance saying that I look nice for once. I take it as a compliment and get away before we start to argue. As the night progresses and everyone gets a little more tipsy, people start hitting the dance floor. Nico crosses the room to come stand by my side as another dance starts up.

"You look like your having fun." He says leaning in close, talking right into my ear. I smile, I am having fun. "You want to dance?" He asks extending his hand to me, I hesitate, then take his hand letting him pull me out onto the dance floor. "Thanks for inviting me tonight, I'm having a great time. Your cousin Emin is a real riot, we've already planned another time for us to hang. Your cousin Freya seems really nice too." He says as we twirl about the dance floor.

"Yah they're the only decent ones in the family, every one else is just plain horrid. Anyways, I'm glad your having such a good time...and that you didn't back out of coming." I say smiling up at him.

"It's my pleasure, to be the date of such a beautiful young lady." He says, I blush. I don't know what to say. We continue to dance as the song goes on, but as the song comes to an end he seems reluctant to let go. I find myself not wanting him to let go, his arms wrapped around my waist are strong and comforting, plus he's warm. I look up into his eyes and our gazes lock. Slowly he lowers his head down to mine and for an all too brief moment his lips meet mine. A tingling sensation goes down my spine, but as I he leans in for another kiss, someone clears their throat. I look up to see my Grandmother glaring at us. I startle, Nico jumps. I whisper to him to go find Emin, sending him away from the danger of my Grandmothers temper. But before I can say anything Grandmother says, "I will not allow that kind of behavior. I will speak to you when we get home." Curtly she storms away trying to make as little of a scene as possible, even though everyone's eyes are on us. I sag, sitting down I exhale, well that went better than expected. Just then Freya came rushing over trying to look as casual as possible. "Oh my god! What just happened! All I saw was you and Nico dancing and then I saw Grandmother get up and make a bee line towards you two." She says letting her words all flood out in a jumbled mess.

"Nico and I were dancing and then he kissed me, the next thing I know Grandmother is right there giving us a death glare. She scared the crap out of me, and poor Nico is probably terrified. All she said though was that she would talk to me later at home. I though she was going to explode." I say sort of in a daze. I look up to see Freya grinning. "What?" I ask.

"No wonder the old bag looked so upset, a military man kissed her granddaughter. Man, Nico has some guts, that or he's just plain stupid. Either way I think he's a keeper." She gets up and joins the party again a smile playing across her features. Confused, I sigh. I give up trying to understand her. I need to find Nico and see if he's ok. Just as I'm about to get up Nico appears beside me, seating himself on the sofa next to me. "What was all that about? What's with your grandmother?" He asks as he tries to get comfortable.

"She's a psychotic freak who hates everything and anything that has to do with the military and or me." I say resting my face in my hands. I massage my temples with my fingers trying to rub all the stress away, unfortunately it doesn't seem to be working. I feel a strong hand on my back, steadily rubbing back and forth.

"Hey, it's okay don't think about her. Just have fun and ignore the old bag, alright?" He says massaging my back all the while, calming my nerves. Why didn't I ever realize how great a guy Nico is, just being around him makes feel better. The feel of his hand against my, the bare skin of my back gives me chills.

"Thanks Nico, you're the best you know that?" I say resting my head on his shoulder, he puts his arm around my waist and gives me a squeeze.

"Yah, I know, I know. Hey um Nyx..."

"Yes?" I look up at him, a question written across his face.

"I, um, I was wondering..." He stumbles along trying to get the courage to say what he wants to say.

"Yes." I say waiting patiently for him to finish his statement.

"Will you...go out with me?" He finally spits out.

A smile spreads across my face. "I was hoping you would ask."

"So is that a yes?" He asks trying not to look to nervous.

"Duh, what else would it mean?" I say laughing, boys I swear, they're so thick-headed sometimes. I roll my eyes at him.

"Wait, what about your Grandmother? What are we going to do about her?" He says, making the comment I was trying to ignore.

"Don't worry about it, I'll deal with my Grandmother, okay." I say, all the while trying to think of a way to hide it from her. Which will be impossible, Grandmother knows about everything that goes on in and out of her house hold. Then again it wont really matter for too long, I'll be gone soon anyways. Oh man Freya is going flip, I can't wait to tell her!

I look at Nico who is smiling like a fool, even though I know I probably look the same. Nico bends his head to bring it closer to mine, I meet him half way and we kiss for the second time tonight. My body is on fire and I forget all about my Grandmother and the party. Finally, reluctantly, we pull away.

"Well, now that your done, do you think you could fill me in on something that I seemed to have missed." Freya says tapping her foot, looming over us. For the second time that night me and Nico jump. Sheepishly I look up at her, like a child who is caught doing something its not suppose to be doing. Without waiting for a response she grabs my arm and drags me down the hall and into her room.

"Are you trying to make Grandmother have a hernia? I mean I don't care, I commend you for finally finding someone, but do you think it's smart to kiss him right in front of her. You already avoided disaster once tonight, don't push your luck." She breathed in finishing her whole tirade in one breath.

"Sorry, I know that was probably really stupid of me." I say hanging my head. Freya gives me that, well no duh, look. "Okay so it was really stupid of me, alright, sorry I almost ruined your party." I look up at her and am startled, she is smiling. I give her this confused look.

"So now that you know what you did wrong, how was it? That was your first kiss right? Is he a good kisser?" She says bombarding me with all her questions.

"Wait, what? I thought you were mad at me? I'm so confused." I sigh. I give up trying to understand her, she just doesn't make any sense. Before either of us could say another word there is a knock on the door. "Come in." Freya says.

Emin and Nico walk into the room, "Hey I think it would be best if these two hit the road before we have an explosion in there." Emin says as they enter the room.

"Yah, that would probably be best." Freya replies. "You can get your stuff from me tomorrow, okay?" I nod. "Well it was nice to meet you Nico, you definitely make things interesting, I hope to see you again sometime."

They, walk us outside to the car where Joseph is waiting for us. Freya gives us both quick hugs, and Emin gives me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "You better take care of my cousin there boy." He says as we get into the car and I wave goodbye as we drive away.

"What a night." I say, exhausted, I lean on Nico and he wraps his arm around me.

"Hey, Nyx, why don't you stay at my place tonight? Wait for the old lady to calm down a bit before you go home. What do you say?" He looks at me, waiting for me to answer. I think it over in my mind, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea. "That sounds great Nico. Thanks." Sitting up a bit I put down the privacy barrier. "Hey Joseph just drop us off at Nicolas's place, I won't be going home tonight." Joseph raises his eyebrows at me, but says nothing.

"Yes Nyx." Is his only reply. I put the barrier back up and fall asleep in Nico's arms.

I am awakened by the ceasing of movement. Groggily I open my eyes, we are at Nico's flat. Joseph opens the door for us and Nico helps me out of the car supporting me around the waist. I thank Joseph and tell him I'll call him when I need him to pick me up tomorrow. Nico and I take the elevator up to his flat. I take a look around, it's a nice place, clean for once, very cozy. Nico goes into his room and it dawns on me that I don't have anything to wear. "Hey Nico, do you have something I can change into?" I call. Nico comes back into the living room a t-shirt and gym shorts in hand. "You are amazing, you know that?" I say giving him a butterfly kiss, as I take the clothes and head for the bathroom.

Finally out of that dress and into something way more comfortable, I look around for Nico. I find him in the living room flipping through the channels. "Hey handsome, anything good on?" I ask sitting down next to him on the couch.

"A few movies, you want to watch something?" He asks putting his arm around me and I snuggle up to him.

"Sure, what's on?"I say getting comfortable. He flips through the menu till we find something we can find something we can agree on. Both of us falling asleep before the movie is over, curled up on the couch.

The sun is an evil thing, I think to myself as I'm blinded by the light shining through the window. I look around for a clock to see what time it is, its only seven thirty. Yawning, I stretch, and turn my back to the window. Just as I am trying to fall back asleep my phone goes off. I stumble out off the couch and search for my phone, I find it in the bathroom with my purse. I must have left it there when I changed last night.

"Hey what's up?" I croak out, my voice sounding weird since I just woke up. "Oh, hey Anna. Yah I'm at Nico's, why?" I ask, completely forgetting about last night and my Grandmother. "Oh shiz. Yah, I'll be home in a bit, distract her for me, please." I tell her, sighing, I hang up the phone.

"You leaving so soon?" Nico asks from right behind me. I jump, I didn't know he was there.

"Geez, scare the crap out of me why don't 'cha." I exclaim putting my hand over my chest trying to slow its rapid beating. "Yah my Grandmother is throwing a fit because I'm not at the house, and she knows I didn't stay at Freya's . Oh well, I have to face her sometime, right?" I say running my hands through my hair. Nico pulls me into a hug and kisses the top of my head. I rest my head against his chest, letting him hold me there for a moment before I pull away. I need to get cleaned up before Joseph gets here. "Hey I'm gonna take a quick shower if you don't mind, before Joseph shows up." I ask even though its not really a question, he just nods and goes back into the bedroom. "Do you mind if I borrow these clothes? I'll make sure you get them back." I call as he walks away.

"Sure, it just mean you'll have to see me again, so its fine with me." He yells back. I smile, as if he could get rid of me that easily.

After I get out of the shower, I feel a lot better. Some of the stress from the night before and the talk to come, washed away with a lot of hot water. My phone goes off, Joseph is here. I finish putting up my hair into a loose bun. Nico is on the couch watching the news, I grab my bag from last night. "I'm leaving, Joseph is outside waiting. I'll see you later?" I ask hopeful.

"Yah, why don't we plan for dinner tonight, does five sound alright to you?" He suggests.

"Sounds good to me I don't think I have anything going on tonight. Well, wish me luck." I say. Nico gets up and gives me a hug, walking me to the door.

"Good luck. I'll see you later, okay." He says opening the door for me, I smile and get in the elevator.

I steel myself, the moment I walk into the house, waiting for my Grandmother to pop out of nowhere and start yelling at me. Amazingly enough I make it to my room, and manage to change into jeans and a t-shirt before Anna comes in, telling me that my Grandmother would like to see me in her room. Oh God, please, don't let this be a total disaster, I silently pray. As I come to her room I knock on the door. She calls for me to come in, the tone in her voice gives me a glimpse at her mood. This is not going to go well, I think right as I enter the room and shut the door.

"So my granddaughter finally decides to come home. Where were you, and don't tell me you were at Freya's because I know for a fact that you were not." She says as I step away from the door. "You were at the military mans house weren't you." She says before I can respond.

"Yes I was, I was at Nicolas's house. There is nothing wrong with him being in the military. Just because you don't like father doesn't mean they're all like him. Nicolas is a good guy, I don't want you bad mouthing him. Plus who says I care that you don't like him, it wouldn't be any different than everything else in my life. I'm so use to you disapproving of everything else I do, it doesn't matter to me anymore." I say, my temper rising. My Grandmother gives me this look like are you done yet.

"Well, if you want to end up just like your mother go right ahead, see if I care. But don't you ever expect me to take you back in. Once your mother left this house hold I told her she was not welcome back. When she died, I took pity on her new-born child and thought that maybe I had been to harsh on my only daughter. So when your father left for the war I agreed to take you in. Obviously that was a mistake. You are just like your mother, hopeless; utterly and completely hopeless." She finishes with a sneer.

"No wonder mother left, I don't blame her, with a mother like you who wouldn't. You don't care about anyone but yourself and your silly image, who cares. You talk of my mother, your daughter, like she was some kind of object. You disgust me, and I can't wait till I can move out and am no longer a part of your life. Till you cast me out and never talk to me again. Because I wont be your puppet, your little show doll." I finish with a tone of utter loathing.

"Fine, if your so eager to leave, go. Leave now, take your things and leave. I don't ever want to see your face again and don't ever think that you can come to me for help." She says her nose stuck up in the air, as if it would matter to me.

"Fine with me." I say and walk out the of her room slamming the door as I leave.

When I get to my room I find Anna sitting on my bed waiting for my return. "How did it go?" She asks, patting the bed beside her indicating for me to sit. I plop down on the bed and sigh. "That bad huh?"

"I'm leaving, Grandmother has decided to let me leave early, and never come back. I've been waiting for this for so long, that I can't believe it's finally here." I say as it sinks in that I'm finally free of this hell hole.

"Where are you going to go?" Anna asks.

"I'll probably stay at Freya's until I can find my own place. That's what I was going to do when I turned eighteen anyways, its only a few weeks earlier. I guess I should call her, tell her I'm coming over." I sigh. "I have to be out by this afternoon, I better get started packing. Anna will you see if you can find someone to help me pack all this up?" I ask, looking over at her. Anna has tears in her eyes.

"What's wrong?" I ask her, a look of concern on my face.

"I'm just so glad that you'll finally be able to leave and live a life that you want to live." She says leaning over and giving me a hug. I hug her back, I'm going to miss Anna, she has been a good friend to me over the years.

"I'll see you around sometime, once I get a place of my own you have to come and visit me. Just because I'm moving out doesn't mean I wont ever see you again." I say, trying to comfort myself as much as her.

"I know, you can't get away from me that easily. Now lets get packing, you go call Freya and I'll find us some help." She says getting up, and leaves the room.

Finally everything is all packed up, Emin comes over to help once he finds out and is letting us borrow his truck. Between him and the gardening truck which we temporarily commandeered from the shed; we get me and all my stuff out of there around one o'clock. As I say my good-byes to the all the staff and to Henry and Joseph, I promise to keep in touch.

When we get to Freya's flat she comes running out all bouncy and energetic. So excited that I'm finally moving in and getting out of that house. The gardening crew and a few of Emin's friends stay to help us move everything.

After everything is all settled, and I have unpacked as much as I am going to unpack for today. I flop down on my bed, in my new room, and just rest, letting it all sink in. Just then my phone goes off, it's Nico. "Hello? Hey what's up?" I answer. "Oh heavens, I'm sorry I forgot. No, I'm coming I'll be there in a few. Yah, I'll tell you when I get there. Okay see you in a bit." I totally forgot that I am suppose to meet Nico at his house at five for dinner. After all that has happened today, it just slipped my mind. Hurriedly I get up and change into something that isn't sweaty. I grab my purse and my key, I yell to Freya that I'm going over to Nico's and not to wait up for me. She yells back her acknowledgment, and says she'll be home all night, and to give her a call. I dash out the door and walk out onto the streets of New York. Now all I have to do is find the nearest subway station.