Lxiv. camelia rosa

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 Sunlight seeped into the exuberant room, dousing the silk blankets in a golden powder. Green leaves reached up to the windows, nearly covering the entirety of the sky, except for a few shreds of blue coming through. The soft chirping of birds filled my ears. Though quiet, it was audible and persistent, and every individual melody could be made out between the rustling of wind and hum of insects.

The walls of the room were a pale yellow. Above my head was a canopy of sheer maroon satin, and a large dusty-amber vanity with swirls of ochre sat on the other side of the room. Everything in here was a variation on royalty, gold, and deep burgundy. A touch of pretentious luxury that didn't belong in the deep wilderness.

It was foreign, but peaceful. The furnishings and flora transformed me to a medieval time in history while the ceasing tranquility instilled nothing but uncertainty. The room suddenly doesn't feel so calming. I was here, alone, despite what had transpired.

My gaze flickers to a notecard attached to the vase containing overzealous pink roses next to the vanity. The reflection in the mirror shows no trace of a struggle, and I'm wearing a sheer lilac nightgown reminiscent of a careless luxury I've never known. The notecard reads: Thank you for having patience in me, Ian.

I instinctively throw the notecard against the ground. The memories of New York had drowned me all at once; the loathing of something deeper than I can stomach rises. That's why I was here. Thirteen. The man that took everything from me in some cruel, sick game. My attention turns to the window to gauge just how tall and hidden this room was.

The window was at least twenty feet and four broken limbs up from the ground. The next possible solution was to fight a way out, and to assist me, I grab the vases with the flowers and discard the attached note. Despite the floors being carpeted with intricate Arabic patterns, there are some fuzzy slipper next to the bed that I begrudgingly put on.

I leave through the wooden door that seems so old that it must have been created before sliced bread. The narrow hallway leads down to some stairs, and I follow the stairwell to what appears to be a giant dining room. Mahogany lacquered wood at least ten feet long sits in the center of the expansive room flanked by three chairs on either side.

Thirteen sat down on one end, and I freeze in my tracks. Four men are placed in the corners of the room either in genuine fear of me or for intimidation. I chuck the flower vase at him. Thirteen anticipates this, dodging, and one of the men takes a stride towards me but halts once Thirteen raises his hand.

"No need," he smirks. "She's nothing I can't handle."

"Why don't you give me another vase and we'll find out?" I spit.

His grin only grows larger. With one motion, someone pulls out the chair next to him, and Thirteen gestures for me to sit. I take a seat on the opposite end just to spite him. Asshat.

"I'm sure you must have a lot of questions," Thirteen starts.

"Let's start with what I should even call you now. Murderer? Asshole? Giant shithead? Thirteen doesn't seem to cut it anymore, though maybe Eighty-Seven does."

His amused expression disappears. "I am not Thirteen to you. I'm Ian."

"You're still a murderer. You make fucking Cruella De Vil look like the Saint of Animals."

The asshole in front of me sighs. "Look," he says, raising out his palms in surrender, "I understand that you don't think highly of me—"

"—Understatement of the century—"

"—But I care about you. A lot. Everything I've done so far was to allow us to be together."

My gaze is visceral and narrowed. "Did you care about your brother?"

Thirteen's jaw tightens. "He got between us."

"There is no us. There never was any us. There was only a delusion you fabricated in your sick, twisted mind."

He looks down at the flowers scattered across the floor from the vase I shattered and back up at me. There was something so human-like about that movement it caused a chill to run down my spine. "They're Camelia Rosas," he says to himself more than me. "They're indigenous to Brazil, and the locals said they were the most beautiful in bloom this year. They're sure to impress anyone."

"They were beautiful," I admit.

Brazil, so that's where we are. Petals various shades of light pink hues to saturated, darker ones lay stark and tattered across the dark floor. My conscious neared guilt. The gesture, in it of itself, was kind after a storm of what Thirteen put me through. It's like if someone shit on your lawn, stole your identity, framed you for arsen, then tried to make it up to you by bringing you 99 cent neapolitan ice-cream.

"I'm glad you like them." Thirteen smiles like I've given him hope.

Sweet, sure. But in context, the context makes you want to hurt them even more because you know they are capable of doing good. My hand brushes against my neck in contemplation, and that's when I notice a scar. It's tiny, barely noticeable, but I could feel the bump of tissue. My finger runs over it in reassurance of my tactile function.

"What did you do to my neck?" I whisper.

"I set you free," Thirteen pauses. "The tracker the CIA put into your neck, one of our scientists took it out."

His green eyes look to me with caution as if he's afraid of setting me off again. They match the diverse forestry outside, and they have pools of emotion, like he's pleading. It's only when I swallow that I realize how harshly my teeth were pressed. He took away the only opportunity of Ace and I finding each other.

Thirteen gets up from his chair and starts to walk over to me and console me. He reaches out to me with arms that I stumble out of my chair in a stupor to evade. The hurt is evident on his face, but he steps back, and I can't make out anything.

"Please listen to me," he consoles, "You're going to thank me. I promise."

Tears start to well in my own eyes. His very own brother. He set up his very own brother to go to jail for a treasonous crime. "Wh-what did you do?"

"Please, Octavia, just listen to me. We belong together."

"I'm so tired of hearing this. Give me a single goddamn reason to believe you."

He pauses, and after considering, nods. Thirteen leads me down to the mansion's first floor. "Caleb!" He calls out.

A boy of around five years runs into the room with wide arms and tackles Thirteen into an affectionate hug. "Dad! Do you want to play tag?"

"Not today, but I'd like you to meet someone very special." Thirteen then turns to face me. "This is Octavia, your new mom."

Caleb immediately hugs my leg without any hesitation. I'm paralyzed with indecision.

"I didn't know you had a son," I whisper to Thirteen.

"Let me start from the beginning."

Octavia: "Vote if you agree with #Whatthefuckjusthappened"

Ace: "#WherethefuckisCupcake"

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