Lexy and the Newest Problem
I woke up slowly just a couple hours after Annabeth had gotten back. Jake had come back seemingly drunk and Annabeth’s mood was odd, even to me. She didn’t feel like her usual self, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly was different.
I pushed myself up onto my forearms determined to get up, despite the earliness of the morning. I was determined to be prepared for everything that I needed to be. Despite a lack of formal training, I was going to figure it out.
I knew cases like Annabeth and I were rare in themselves. All the people we had met from this world had been educated and trained since they were children. And that meant that I was very behind, and so was Annie.
I made myself move to my room, trying not to stumble over a sleeping Jake who happened to be right in the middle of the room.
I was not a morning person, but I was someone who understood when things needed done, and this sadly was one of those times.
I opened the door to my room quietly. I didn’t want to wake anyone else yet. It was early still, and Annabeth and Jake had only been back for about 2 hours. Normally, I would have been getting ready for school about this time, but this was different. This had a lot higher stakes than a bad grade or even not getting into a good college. This was something that actually mattered.
I rummaged the closet that supposedly was all mine. It felt strange to have such nice clothes at my disposal, but I also knew there was a very fine line that I had to be very careful about crossing. I was not royalty. I was solely there as Annabeth’s guest. And if she wanted to get rid of me, she could at any moment.
So, I had to look nice, but not too nice. I had to be smart, but not too smart. I had to take a stand but be willing to back down. It was plain and simple politics. But I didn’t want to play that game. I wanted to just be me. But clearly that wasn’t an option. And I hated that more than anything.
I ended up picking a pair of leggings though and a t-shirt. Figuring while everyone was still asleep, I could get a workout in. I hated working out, but it was clearly necessary for this life that was now mine.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Seth popped head into my room, still looking half asleep.
“Getting ready,” I answered as I pulled my hair up into a high ponytail.
“Okay.” He answered slowly. “For what?”
“The day.” I replied shortly.
“What’s with the attitude?” He grumbled.
“I don’t have an attitude.” I snapped.
He raised his eyebrows at me in questioning.
“I heard it. I’m sorry.” I mumbled in defeat.
“It’s okay,” He flashed me one of his classic smiles.
“You know I’m not a morning person,” I looked at him seriously.
“I do,” He responded. “So why are we up?”
“Because today, we have a lot to do.” I reminded him.
He looked at me, his blue eyes so sleepy. “Like?”
“Starting with training,” I told him.
He furrowed his eyebrows in confusion.
“What do you have in mind?” He asked looking like he was dreading my answer.
“Right now, it’s time to work out.” I told him.
“That’s -“ He paused for a second. “Actually, not a bad idea.”
I smiled as I tied my shoes. There was still a twinge of pain in my side, but today it felt bearable.
“I’m going to go change.” He told me as I heard him move toward the door and pushed the lounge chair away.
I nodded, but I realized he couldn’t see it, he was already gone.
I was ready, and now it was the hard task of waking up Anna.
“Anna,” I whispered, gently shaking her. “Annabeth, wake up.”
“Why?” She grumbled at me. “It’s still dark out.”
“We have training.” I told her.
“Please don’t make me go,” She begged, pulling the blanket up over her head.
I tried really hard to keep the surprise to myself, but I didn’t understand. “You don’t want to know how to protect yourself?” I asked.
“No, not really,” She replied sleepily.
I didn’t understand. She had almost died. She was lucky to have as few injuries as she did. But she had no intention of being able to protect herself? I guess she was the Princess, and she had people who would do it for her. But how could she trust people she literally just met?
“Okay,” I got off her bed. “I’ll uh see you later.”
She did some half-hearted wave thing, and I turned around and left.
As soon as I was out of the room though, I felt immediately out of place. I was in physically training clothes. Not royalty approved. But it didn’t really matter to me. I was struggling hard with the idea of wanting to not lose whoever I was and to not succumb to the pressures of this new life. I also knew that I was putting a lot of the pressures on myself, but I wanted to make the right choices. I was the oldest of my sisters. And I was older than Annabeth by just a few months, but still I was older, and she was like a sister to me. I was the big sister. And that meant everyone was in my care. My protection. I needed to get them all out of this alive. And the more I had learned, the more it was seemingly impossible.
I truthfully had no idea where the gym was or if there even was one, but I had assumed there was. I mean, training had to happen somewhere, right? But where that somewhere was, I had no idea, so I just wandered aimlessly.
“Can I help you Miss?” A guy in his mid-thirties wearing a black tuxedo asked me.
I couldn’t help it, I knew my face showed my surprise at the interaction of another person.
“Um no, I’m okay.” I answered.
I know I could have asked him, but my distrust for everyone in this place was way more of an issue than me not being able to find the gym.
“Well, you need to get out of here then, because this area is off limits.”
“I’m sorry,” I told him and turned my back.
I could hear that he was hiding something in my head. But I didn’t care. There were so many secrets in this damn castle I was shocked the castle was even still standing with all this dirty laundry in it. It made me glad Annabeth hadn’t grown up here. There was no way her and I would have ever been friends if she had. And I might have even ended up following my family because I wouldn’t have known any better.
“Lex?” I heard Seth’s familiar voice call down the steps.
I turned to him and smiled. I couldn’t help it. It was nice to have just one thing left of my childhood.
“Where did you go? I’ve been looking for you everywhere.” He stated, slightly out of breath and a little frantic.
“I was looking for the gym and didn’t realize till I started wandering that I didn’t know where that was.” I told him.
He shook his head at me in disbelief.
“Come on, it’s this way.” He told me, nodding to the opposite direction I had just come from.
We walked in silence through the beautiful halls of the castle, and I took it all in, memorizing all of the pieces we passed. I wanted to remember it all. I had a feeling it would matter one day, and I wanted to be able to tell my children about it. And my sisters. And really anybody. That this was my life now. And I wanted to remember these moments when everything got too crazy.
“Let’s start by going for a run,” Seth suggested as we finally stopped in front of a set of double doors, made of the same mahogany that lined the castle.
I wasn’t in a place to argue, so I agreed. I mean, I had had so little athletic training in my life that I didn’t have the slightest idea where to start. And a run seemed like a good place to start.
So, I nodded, but when he opened the doors to the gym, I was taken aback by how incredible it looked. The long wall across the room from us was lined with weapons of all types. I didn’t even know what most of them were. There was a track outlining the room. And then there was every type of weapon imaginable against the back wall. There was a space for shooting bows and arrows, for throwing knives, for hand-to-hand combat. There were weights, and ellipticals, and bikes. There were boxes to jump up to and off of. It was like I had stepped into a whole other world, which was saying something since I was already in a whole other world.
“Wow,” I couldn’t help but whisper.
Seth looked over at me as I looked around in awe and smiled.
I shook my head mentally and pulled myself out of the amazement, creating a blank outward appearance again.
Seth must have noticed because he frowned, however he did not comment. He just rolled with it.
The run was much longer than the one I had made countless times with Annabeth from school to my house over the years. I struggled to keep up with Seth who I knew was jogging slower than his usual pace to lead me to an attainable goal. That did not mean that I wasn’t struggling though. After 16 laps – 3 miles, Seth said we could be done with that.
As soon as he gave me the okay to stop, I didn’t take so much as another step, and my body bent over putting my hands on my knees as I attempted to catch my breath.
“Tired?” Seth asked, handing me a water bottle that appeared to be solid gold.
“I should have mentioned,” I panted, “That I am not even slightly in shape.”
“You did good,” He encouraged after nearly choking on his water from laughing at me.
“You tried to kill me,” I stated, still breathlessly.
He feigned offense and I rolled my eyes.
“That earned you another mile,” He gestured to the track.
“Torture me another way please,” I pleaded with a slight laugh.
“Hand-to-hand combat?” He asked, raising his eyebrows at me.
I sighed. “Sure, why not?”
The smirk on his face made me want to punch him, but I knew in a few moments I would have the opportunity to maybe make up for 6 years of him being absent from my life, and maybe then we would be even.
He led me to the rink across the gym and handed me a pair of gloves. It looked like we were going to be sparing.
“Okay,” He stated, looking at me with his intense blue eyes. “Try a jab, cross, hook, cross.”
“English please,” I said looking at him dumbfounded.
He had the nerve to smile! And I furrowed my brows in annoyance.
“Are you going to teach me or not?”
He shook his head with laughter but began to do the combination slowly. He then did again, and I did it with him, matching what he was doing.
“In case you’re ever in a fight,” He told me, “We’ll call that combination, Soul.”
I froze. “Will I be expected to be in a fight?” I felt the nerves of not knowing enough hit me at an alarming rate.
He looked at me, taking a step into my personal space, his eyes never left mine.
“Probably, yes.” He said gruffly. His voice had suddenly seemed to have left him.
I tilted my head up a little, feeling something I didn’t know what to do with come over me.
“Maybe,” My voice was barely above a whisper, but I was feeling dangerous. “Maybe, I can just do this.”
I stood on my tippy toes and kissed his cheek. He closed his eyes as I moved to kiss his lips. It was soft at first. But when I went to pull away, he deepened it, his arms holding tight to my body in a way they hadn’t before. It was desperate. Like we were desperate, and maybe we were.
Finally, I pulled away. My leg was wrapped around his knee and I pressed in. The unexpected movement caused him to go off balance and I pushed him backwards, landing on top of him in a straddling position.
He looked at me in surprise and distrust, but I just smiled.
“I win,” I whispered feeling dangerous.
He looked at me, his face flushed.
“That was all to win?”
I shrugged, starting to get up with a smile. “Why tell you? What fun would that be?”
He pulled me down, back on top of him, and I couldn’t help the gasp that escaped my lips as he rolled putting me under him.
“That is quite mean,” He stated, his voice serious.
“It worked, didn’t it?” I teased.
He leaned in and kissed me again. There was something in his kisses that sent electricity through me. That made me feel at home.
Suddenly the door of the gym was thrown open.
I pushed Seth off of me immediately and stood up.
Two people walked in, but they didn’t even look our way.
I breathed a sigh of relief and gave Seth my hand, helping him up.
Things were suddenly weird, and I realized I might have just started something I couldn’t finish.
“I think I will run some more,” I told him, and took off toward the track before he could stop me.
I could hear the hurt overtake his thoughts, but I couldn’t even look at him. I had won, but why did I feel like I had just lost?
When I decided I had trained long enough for the time being, I headed back to my room, and where Seth went, I wasn’t sure.
I opened the door, and to my surprise, Annabeth was sitting on my bed.
“Annie?” I couldn't keep the surprise out of my voice. “What are you doing here?”
“Where have you been?” She demanded.
She looked angry, and I couldn’t help but feel confused.
“I went to train with Seth like I told you I was doing?”
“When did you tell me that?” She furrowed eyebrows trying to remember.
“This morning when I woke you up to come with me and you told me no?”
She shook her head but relaxed a little. “I don’t remember. Sorry, I was just –“
“Worried? Like I was last night when you just fucking disappeared?” I couldn’t keep the bitterness out of my voice. It wasn’t fair to her, and I knew that, however, I had the worst night of my life, coming face to face with my father and she was off galivanting with the first hot boy who threw himself at her.
“Look, I’m sorry,” She said, sounding genuine. “I can tell you all about my adventure if it will make you feel better?”
I smiled. She knew the way into my heart.
“It would yes,” I responded, “However, I need a shower, and then I think we’re expected to be at breakfast.”
She made a pouty face. “I don’t wanna go.”
I laughed. It was funny to think we had a choice. However, I humored her.
“You don’t have to go.”
She rolled her eyes at me.
“Of course I have to go,” She responded sounding like a true adult, being responsible and stuff. “We don’t have a choice. We have to make good impressions.”
“We?” I raised my eyebrows.
“Yes, we!” She sighed. “You’re my partner in crime. Don’t forget it.”
I felt a small smile pull at my lips.
“How could I?” I paused, taking a breath. “Come on, we should get ready.”
She nodded at me. Her eyes scanning the room quickly as she walked out.
“Did something more happen last night?” She asked.
I hesitated. Did I really want to tell her about what had happened with my Dad? Or with Seth? Was it necessary? Would it effect how she saw me?
She raised her eyebrows at me in questioning and I felt myself squirm under her scrutiny.
“I suppose you could say that…” I said finally.
“We need to get ready,” She stated, “But we’re not finished with this.”
She closed the door to her side of the room, and I let out a sigh of relief. I wasn’t sure I was ready to talk about it all yet. So much had happened in the last week. I wasn’t sure I should be speaking at all.
I shook my head and made my way to the shower. I let the warm rushing water take away all of my worries and pain. And when I finally got out, I felt like a new person. I had taken longer than I had intended, so I felt a little rushed to pick out something appropriate to wear. Eventually, I settled on a navy blue high/low dress , though the height difference wasn’t crazy. I don’t know what it was about the dress, but when I put it on, I felt powerful. I knew I wasn’t untouchable by any means. However, being best friends with Annie, meant I really had to try and present myself to be.
So, I braided my hair and made my way back to Anna’s room. To my surprise, Jake was still there, sitting in the same spot Anna had placed him hours ago.
“Whoa,” I couldn’t stop the word that escaped my lips, when she turned around.
She was wearing a dress that was shiny and sequenced on top, but the bottom was a deep royal blue that touched the floor. And on her head was a small tiara, that looked like it was made for her.
“Good whoa or bad whoa?” She frowned, looking at me.
“Good whoa,” I smiled easily at her. “You look unbelievable.”
She smiled, a lot of her hesitancy disappearing with my words.
“You look amazing yourself,” She told me, but I didn’t have the same satisfaction as she seemed to.
So, I just rolled my eyes, and played it off, like I didn’t have fear coursing through my body right now.
“What about you? Mr. Drunk man?” I teased. “Do you have a plan for how you’re going to get out of this one?”
Jake’s face flushed with anger at me, but I knew he wouldn’t say much in front of Annabeth. There was one thing I was good at, and it was pushing other people’s buttons.
“Are you done?” Annabeth rolled her eyes.
“No, why do you ask?” I tried, knowing I was pushing her buttons but also, I was trying to be funny.
As if on cue, there was a knock-on Annabeth’s door. And she simply shouted, “Come in!”
“Are you kidding me?!” I exclaimed in disbelief as I bolted to the door, pushing back against whoever was on the other side.
Jake was immediately on his feet as well, looking at Annabeth as if she had officially lost it.
“Ow!” I heard someone on the other side mumble, who I immediately recognized to be Seth, so I opened the door.
“Sorry,” I told him, only slightly apologetically before turning back to Annabeth. “What were you thinking?”
“One, why are you yelling at me? And two, I knew it was Seth.” She spat back at me.
I couldn’t believe her words.
“One, we are not in our small town anymore. It’s not safe to just tell people to walk right in your room. Two, your door should be locked at all freaking times. And 3. How on earth would you know it was Seth?”
Annabeth looked completely unphased by sudden outburst, but I realized nobody was moving. As if they weren’t sure if I’d yell at them too, even if there was a very important point to it.
“I get your concern,” She shrugged, “But I knew it was Seth.”
I felt infuriated by her lack of ability to see the problem. We were in so much danger, and she didn’t even seem to care.
“How did you know it was Seth?” I said each word slowly, trying to not totally lose my temper.
“I just knew.” She answered simply, adding to my furry.
“Anyways, here’s your clothes, Jacob,” Seth said uneasily, looking around the room at each of us. “Lexy, can I talk to you?” Seth asked nervously.
“No.” I said shortly, still fuming. “I’m going to my room, let me know when we’re leaving.”
And with that, I slammed the door behind me, heading to my room, hoping to get my millions of feelings under control in a matter of the couple minutes that I would be allowed.