James was so completely adorable. Despite watching me play games, laugh, and enjoy my party, he spent over an hour worrying whether or not this was the right type of party for me. Seeing that most of the guests were business associates of my daddy’s, he worried that I might be stuck with the same type of party to which Regina was accustomed. My daddy would never even have the idea of using me for business enter his mind. I quite obviously made the guest list. Daddy would be getting additional job opportunities due to more of the Slayer’s relatives getting to know him, and I wouldn’t need to be so direct about setting these ones up. Everyone who met James here would like him and eventually be a client for his business. Ai and Mai would be benefiting from a few new contacts as well, though they wouldn’t see the benefit for years yet.
At the moment, they simply were acting on their father’s behalf as they were accustomed to doing. Eventually, they would be taking over a business Alpy would secure for them, and their contacts here would help them find new markets for their wares. They had no clue how wonderful their future would be or what trials awaited before they reached it. The evil twins wouldn’t even recognize me as a friend for a while yet. James was ahead of the curve on that front.
I gave James a hug so quick that only Carl was capable of noticing. Of course, Carl had a tremendous advantage compared with most anyone at noticing what was happening around him. I waved to him, enjoyed his smile in return, and then resumed my position to finish Emma off in our game. To her perspective, I hadn’t even moved.
“Want a snacky thingy?” Evanna asked, startling James from his internal debate about how cute I would look in business attire.
He took a moment, trying to find his bearings. “Snacky thingy? Umm… sure.” he replied before grabbing a perfectly delicious strawberry filled with cheesecake. Then he quickly lost himself in the flavor and contemplated how Carl possibly managed making the immense amount of food by himself. Amazingly for James, he didn’t manage to block out the fact that he preferred Evanna’s company over Louise’s.
Louise felt that she had fallen in love at first sight upon meeting James and would look back on him fondly for many years. In fact, her crush on James would save her from a number of bad romances and let her notice her future husband, who was also named James. She never would realize how her crush would be annoying Evanna over the next year for them.
Evanna liked James as well, but was strong-willed enough not to go chasing a fancy when she was quite aware that she was in the past. Due to her position on the matter, she managed not to flirt with James so overtly that he felt uncomfortable around her. In fact, he enjoyed her company, though he never really sorted out his thoughts on the matter, at least not yet. Eventually, those two would be friends.
Daddy walked over to me, knelt down, and asked “Would my princess like her cake yet?”
“TIME FOR CAKE!!!” I exclaimed, making daddy laugh.
James would be needing a nice slice of cake soon, and I always needed cake. Daddy lifted me up and carried me into the ocean room where Carl would soon be wheeling out a cake designed to look like a fantastical castle with me waving from a window. Unknown to most, the inside of the castle could be considered an assortment of cakes rather than a single one. Every slice would fit its intended devourer’s preferences. This might seem problematic to most, but the creator of this cake knew precisely where every crumb would end up. There was no chance of anything going wrong.
James might disagree, though not in regard to the cake, but he couldn’t see the whole picture. He was distracted shortly after the cake was brought out by Alpy’s arrival. Unfortunately for him, she didn’t understand his body’s magic well enough to affect his mind with magic as she wanted. She was looking forward to speaking with him again but didn’t want to offset her plans, so she came with full intent of disguising herself from him without needing to hide her identity from her distant relatives. The moment James stumbled, Alpy knew something was wrong. She quickly deduced that her magic was the cause and tried adjusting the spell on him, though she still got it wrong.
“Alpy!!!” I exclaimed.
She always got annoyed when I called her that, but she said, “Happy birthday, Aaliyah. There are two gifts here, though I wrapped them together. The first is from Adelmar and Anwen. They send their apologies for not being able to attend but wanted to send a gift nonetheless.”
A deal Adelmar had spent two years arranging was falling apart just before fruition. The eldest of the vampires generally appeared to be on very bad terms with one another, so he never considered that they might actually be working together. The three were very careful in their planning, and he still wouldn’t know why things fell through after reexamining everything. Slayers weren’t accustomed to dealing with those far brighter than themselves and rarely considered that anyone could be, which caused them to overlook many important details.
“The second,” continued Alpy, “is from me. I do hope you enjoy them both.”
I smiled and asked “Can I open them now? Pleeease, daddy? We see Alpy so rarely.”
He laughed and gave his assent, so I tore open the outer box. I knew the tiara inside the next box far better than Adelmar had guessed, though he did realize it was mine. Alpy was more disturbed than pleased when I immediately place my tiara on my head. Given that the tiara was thousands of years old, she didn’t feel it should be out of a display case ever. Alpy’s gifts to me were a dozen outfits which she designed to be cute while still business-like, though she’d never admit to designing them herself. She was often annoyed about how I mismatched my clothes, so she purposely made the outfits with interchangeable parts that would still match. Silly Alpy couldn’t admit that she liked me even to herself.
I jumped up and hugged Alpy, much to her embarrassment. “Thank you, Alpy! These are wonderful!” I exclaimed.
Alpy shifted me to one arm, so she could send a text to the twins, telling them to distract James. Poor Alpy really, really wanted to spend some time with him in a less stalkerish fashion than she typically did, but she didn’t want him to look at her now, not with how her spells were affecting him. I didn’t bother telling her that James’ slice of cake was medicating him to reduce the detrimental effects of her spell.
She talked for a few minutes more before saying, “Unfortunately, I have pressing business that needs my attention and won’t be able to stay any longer.” Then she set me on the ground and said, “I hope you have a wonderful birthday.”
I skipped over to James while Alpy gave her farewells, so he could see my tiara.
“That can’t possibly be real, right?” he asked before glancing toward the front door as Alpy left.
“Boss-man, sir, Adelmar and Anwen Slayer would be offended if they knew you accused them of giving fake gifts! They sent their cousin to give me my tiara! Isn’t it pretty? An ooooooooooold friend made this just for me!” I exclaimed.
The twins nodded in agreement, though they didn’t know the full story. Neither doubted that the tiara’s jewels were real, not with the wealth of the Slayers. They weren’t privy to the tiara’s origins like Alpy was. The tiara was made for me by the first Slayer, a friend of mine who had dreamed of marrying me when I returned as I had promised that I would. When I did return, over a decade had passed for him. He was a grown man and his wife was pregnant with a child her body couldn’t handle. I taught him how to save his wife and child, and he presented me with my tiara, which was far too large. He hadn’t imagined that my body wouldn’t age. After insisting on resizing the tiara himself, he said that his gift would be awaiting my return. When he realized his life here was almost over, he showed his sons my face through their telepathy and had them promise to give me the tiara when I returned. On the wall of a cave, a picture was painted of me wearing my tiara, and the second son stayed to watch over it for me. Eventually, the section of wall was removed and the tiara with it to a new home on an island where my picture still sits. They’ll never know how many times I’ve touched it up over the years.