Bound By Vengeance(2)

By: Cora Reilly


I glowered. “You’re being ridiculous.” But a flicker of guilt flashed through me at Talia’s words. I hadn’t talked Mother into letting Talia stay home but I hadn’t really fought very hard for my sister joining us either. Talia was right. I’d been worried that I’d be stuck with her all evening. My friends tolerated her when we met at home but being seen with a girl four years younger at an official gathering wouldn’t sit well with them. A party at Falcone always meant the best chance to meet eligible matches and having to babysit your friend’s sister didn’t really help with that endeavor. I wanted this night to be special.

Something from my train of thoughts must have shown on my face because Talia scoffed. “I knew it.” She turned on her heel and stalked out of the room, slamming the door shut so hard that I couldn’t help but wince.

I let out a small breath, then turned back to my reflection, checking my make-up and hairdo one last time. I’d watched countless tutorials of beauty bloggers to make sure I got the smokey-eyes-look right. Everything needed to be perfect. Mother was a harsh critic but Trish and Anastasia were even worse. They’d notice if I matched the wrong tone of eye shadow to my dress or if my hand had trembled while holding my eyeliner, but their scrutiny had made my preparations meticulous. They were the reason why I was never slacking. And that was what friends were for.

My dress was dark green, and my eye-shadow just a few shades lighter. Perfect. I checked my nails one last time for chinks, but they too looked immaculate in their dark green sheen. I smoothed down my dress a few times until I was satisfied with the way the hem brushed my knees, then smoothed my hair back again, too, for good measure, turning to see if the bobby pins were still all in place holding my light brown hair up.

“Cara, are you ready? We need to leave,” Mother called from downstairs.

I checked my reflection and smoothed my dress again, scanned my tights, then finally forced myself to hurry out of the room before Mother lost her patience. I could have spent hours checking my outfit for possible mistakes if I’d had the time.

Mother stood in the doorway when I came downstairs, letting the cool autumn air into the house. She was checking her golden watch but the moment she spotted me, she grabbed her favorite winter coat, a splendid thing that had cost many ermines their life and put it over her long dress. Even with the temperatures being unusually cold for Las Vegas in November, a fur coat was completely over the top, but since Mother had bought it many years ago in Russia and loved it to pieces, she used every chance she got to wear it, no matter how inappropriate.

I walked toward her, ignoring Talia who leaned against the banister of the staircase, a sulk on her face. I felt sorry for her but I didn’t want anyone or anything to ruin this evening for me. Father and Mother hardly ever allowed me to attend parties and tonight was the biggest event of the year in our social circles. Everyone who aspired to be someone in Las Vegas had tried to get an invitation to Falcone’s Thanksgiving Feast. This would be my first year attending myself. Trish and Anastasia had been lucky enough to have been there last year too, and if Father hadn’t forbidden me from going I’d have gone too. I’d felt small and left out whenever Trish and Anastasia had talked about the party in the weeks prior and after, and they’d done so non-stop, probably because that gave them the chance to gloat.

“Give Trish and Anastasia her best, and Cosimo a kiss from me,” Talia said sweetly.

I flushed. Cosimo. He’d be there as well. I’d only met him twice before and our interactions had been more than a little awkward.

“Talia, put those horrendous rags into the trash. I don’t want to find them anywhere in the house when we return.”

Talia jutted her chin out stubbornly but even from across the room I could see the hint of tears in her eyes. Again guilt flooded me but I stayed tethered next to the front door. Mother hesitated, as if she, too, realized how hurt Talia was. “Maybe next year you’ll be allowed to come along.” She made it sound as if it hadn’t been her decision to exclude Talia from the party. Though, to be honest, I really wasn’t sure if the Falcone’s would be too happy if people started bringing their younger children along, considering that Falcone wasn’t known for his patience or family sense. Even his own children were sent to boarding schools in Switzerland and England, so they didn’t grate on his nerves. At least, if one believed the rumors.

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