Secret of the Tenei Star Chapter 7
The Two Faces Of...
Cleo winced as she listened to the summary of Gremio's not-so-mundane day. She was shocked to hear how anyone could embrace enough of a deep and sudden hatred at just the first greeting to attack a person without warning. Such crimes and prejudices were not heard of in Gregminster, at least, not under Barbarosa's rule. But she could not deny the fact that the near-assailant was new in town, and paid no mind to the regulations set there.
"Damn," Pahn mumbled. "That-that isn't right."
"Gremio, I don't get it," Cleo said. "Those are supposed to be her friends? I don't know about you, but I could definitely do without people like them. . ." Then under her breath, she added, "Especially those who don't hold enough regard for me not to hang around them so I wouldn't have to worry about such horrible people."
Gremio's tone turned aggravated. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Wake up, Gremio," Cleo stated firmly. "You say you and Emily love each other, but if she really cared for you, she would lose those 'friends' of hers before something serious happened."
Gremio's eyes narrowed. "You're wrong about Emily. She does love me," he declared, casting Cleo a frustrated look. "I'm not going to listen to this." He began to walk out of the room.
Cleo's mouth fell open. "Gre-"
But he was gone.
"Come on, come on, Gremio," Emily was pleading, practically pulling Gremio's arm. The couple stood in front of the McDohl residence.
"No, no, no, I can't," he told her. "I'm on duty tonight, and Master Teo tells me Cleo and Pahn will be gone running another errand of his."
Emily pouted, though she wasn't really hurt by his words. "Oh, all right," she reluctantly said. "I guess tomorrow, then?"
Gremio smiled. "I'm sure we could go out tomorrow."
"Hee hee, I hope so," she responded with a grin. She reached up and gave him a kiss.
Faint footsteps then began approaching. Cleo stepped toward the couple, holding a little package, then stopped. "Hi, Gremio," she greeted her friend, then looked at his girlfriend. "Emily." She spoke the name without any emotion.
Emily took a hold of Gremio's arm and feigned a smile to Cleo. "Hello, Cleo," she greeted her with false enthusiasm.
"Hmm. If you would excuse me. . ." Cleo made her way past them and into the house.
"Argh," Emily groaned, finally showing her grief. "They all just hate me, don't they?"
"No, no, they don't," Gremio reassured her. "They just think that. . .I don't know. . .that maybe you shouldn't be hanging around so much with those friends of-"
"Those friends of who?" a familiar voice grunted.
Gremio and Emily turned their heads to see Suede only meters away, an ugly smirk painted on his face.
"It's 'friends of whom,' moron," a second voice insisted. Shark emerged from behind his friend.
Suede whirled around to face him. "Well, I say it's 'who'!" he snapped back. "'Who'!"
"I said it's 'whom,' owl butt!" Shark said stubbornly.
"It's 'who,' you gangster film reject!" Suede snarled. "As in, 'who's gonna get his tail whipped if he doesn't stop arguing with me over something so retarded'!"
"Hehe. . .more like who's retarded," the quiet, amused voice came from the large-eyed man. He then chuckled lightly as if he had made a funny.
Shark and Suede both turned to Soros, shocked looks on their faces.
"Whoa, I don't think I ever heard him speak!" Suede declared, his jaw dropped.
"Heh, I can agree with you on that one," Shark informed his friend. "Except, it's 'I've,' not 'I.'"
"Grr. . ." Suede cast Shark a dirty look. "Don't you ever quit, you gangster dildo?"
"Make me," the short man shot back cockily.
"I'll make your day-"
"Shut up already!"
At the gruff voice's command, Suede and Shark both closed their mouths, and almost seemed to freeze in place. Behind them, Aaron came forward, and set his eyes on Emily. Emily could only glance at Aaron for a split second as her face turned slightly red before lowering her gaze, as if in fright. . .or guilt.
"Heh, heh. . ." Aaron stepped up to the couple. "So, fancy meeting you here, Em. Oh yeah, and your friend." He leaned forward in mock ignorance. "I'm sorry. What was your name again, Gremio?"
Gremio rolled his eyes. "Funny."
Behind him, the door to the McDohl residence opened, and an unsettled Cleo walked up to Gremio in a huff.
"Gremio!" she scolded, not taking notice of the four hoodlums. "Weren't you supposed to be watching Teo's son?"
"Well, yes," Gremio started. "But Young Master was asleep when-"
"Yes, he is asleep," Cleo cut in. "But you were-" She stopped, realizing it was useless. "Argh, forget it."
"Heh heh, aw, lighten up, doll," Suede snickered.
Cleo was about to turn around when she suddenly felt a force from behind connect with her backside in a whap. With her jaw dropped, she spun around to face Suede, who wore a disgusting grin. Then, with a scowl and absolutely no warning, she whipped her palm across his face with immense force.
"Agh!" Suede brought a hand to his burning cheek. "'Ey, what did ya do that for?"
"Yeah," Shark threw in. "If you were going to hit him, at least use the right tools. It's just too bad Aaron still has my knife. . ."
"Shut up!" Suede growled. "Urgh, I didn't know she could pack a wallop. The little b-"
"Hey hey hey!" Pahn rushed to the scene, appearing alongside Teo. "If you punks are going to make trouble, why don't you go take it somewhere else?"
An amused smile formed on Aaron's face. "Oh? And just who do you think you are?"
"He is the servant of General Teo McDohl," Teo informed the group with a tightened expression. "Which is I. And if you don't want to deal with the Imperials, I'd advise you to leave. Right now."
"Oh," Aaron responded, finding the fact rather interesting. "Well, we wouldn't wanna cause a scene on the property of someone important, now would we?" He let out a chuckle, and turned to his friends. "Come on, guys, I don't think we're wanted around here."
"Well, it's obvious the lady doesn't want Suede around," Shark chortled under his breath.
Suede glared at Shark, then the four social misfits slowly turned to walk the other way.
"Hey Suede!" Shark's voice began to fade. "Would you mind telling me what the hell a gangster film is?"
Pahn came to Cleo's side. "You okay?" he asked her in concern.
"Ugh. What a jerk." Cleo's frown did not budge as she looked in repugnance after the creep who had offended her. "Yeah," she sighed to Pahn. "I'll be all right."
Teo McDohl rested his chin on his hand in thought.
Gremio faced his boss with a blank stare, awaiting his words of judgment. A sweat drop almost formed on Gremio's face in the dead silence of the tense moment.
Finally, Teo's voice broke through the stillness. "Gremio, I-" he started, shaking his head, a disappointed look on his face.
Gremio's face finally showed signs of anxiety. "Master Teo-"
"Let me finish," Teo insisted, cutting Gremio off with a raised hand. He took a deep breath, exhaling in a purposely-boisterous sigh. "Now, Gremio, you know I've been just the least bit suspicious of Emily ever since she came here. But, I've learned to accept her, because she seems to be a good person. But those. . .ahem. . .friends of hers, now that's a different story." His look turned agitated. "Because of yesterday's events, I cannot have those ruffians coming around here any longer. I can't afford to put my son in danger. And Gremio, I'm sorry, but if that means keeping Emily away from here too, then that's exactly what must be."
Gremio lowered his eyes to the floor in comprehension. . .and guilt. "I-I understand, Master Teo," he answered sincerely, his cheeks growing warm in shame. He began to move away from his locale in order to head up the stairs, when Teo stopped him.
"Gremio," Teo started solemnly, "for what it's worth, I think Emily's a wonderful girl and I'm glad you found her. But. . ."
". . .but I think that, maybe you ought to be looking for someone who doesn't have a four-part abomination following her. I-I mean, I guess it really isn't her fault her friend reeled in that sort of crowd, but she really should have thought twice about inviting them into her life without a second thought, and especially right after one of them greeted you with an attempted assault!"
"I know, Master Teo, but-"
"I'm not just concerned for your safety, Gremio," Teo interrupted. "I'm concerned about the safety of my son. I don't want those friends of Emily's hanging around here because they're a danger to him. If you can't understand that, then at least respect my decision. I know you've been doing your part in watching over my son, but I'd appreciate it if you could also do this for me."
"Look, I don't want you to think I'm coming in between you two, all right?" Teo continued assuredly. "But I hope you will soon see that maybe there's someone better for you, someone who will give you the same respect that you give them. Because the way things are going now, Emily is travelling on the path to breaking your heart. . ."
Little did I know that, within the following week, Master Teo's word would hold true.
That night, up on the second story of a nearby house. . .
The girl pulled away from her lover and smiled.
Her male companion gave her a mock pout. "Aww, so soon?" he teased.
She continued to beam at him, then moved toward him. Kissing him again, she let out a sigh, then lay back. The stillness passed about them for but a moment.
"Say, when are you going to get rid of that loser?"
The girl's mouth fell open. "Hey, he's not a loser!"
"All right, all right," the man said defensively. "So he's not a loser." A moment of silence. "So when are ya gonna dump him anyway?"
She sighed, and stared straight ahead. "Be patient. I'm still trying to find a way to break it to him."
He smirked. "Aw, you know I can't wait forever."
She didn't respond.
He sat up, looming over her. "Hey, what's up with you?"
She remained silent.
"Aw, don't tell me you're getting a conscience over this," he groaned, sounding disappointed.
Avoiding his stare, she lifted her gaze to the ceiling uncomfortably, still saying nothing at all.
He shook his head and lay back down. "You're hopeless, Emily."
Emily's eyes closed for a second as she absorbed his words. Then, finally, she retorted.
"Give me more time, Aaron."
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