Sun light illuminated the vast daisy colored kitchen causing it to seem brighter and cheerier than usual. It was a beautiful July morning. The heat index hadn't reached its peak but it had burned away the humidity of the burgeoning New Orleans summer morning.
Remy sat at the kitchen table staring down into his "World's Best Dad" mug of black coffee. The second cup of the much-dreaded morning. He hadn't slept well for the past month and none at all the previous night. He'd need the coffee but a shot of whiskey would probably better serve his anxiety.
Today was a long day in the coming. Not long enough though. He'd dreaded it for the last few years. Now it was upon him and there was no more running away from his past…from what he'd done.
"Dad?" Remy sighed as he looked up into the deep blue eyes of his daughter. She was a beautiful girl he mused. She looked so much like her mother. The mother she didn't know. The mother he promised he would tell her about on her sixteenth birthday. Today. "Today's my birthday. You said you'd tell me today."
"Sadie, I…" he started then trailed off. His heart began to pound rapidly against his ribcage and his skin heated underneath the cool cotton of his starched and pressed button up shirt. Remy rubbed a cool hand over the back of his neck for relief. He was nervous…afraid. What would his baby girl think of him?
Sadie spoke again when he didn't. "You promised."
"I know, chere, but this isn't easy."
"Just spit it out."
Silence once again enveloped the kitchen. Remy's eyes once again found his coffee an interesting distraction. He couldn't look at her. He was a shame. What he needed to say to his daughter couldn't be just "spit out." It needed to be explained. His daughter needed to understand that he was young. That he'd made a mistake.
"Okay, Dad. How about I ask you some questions and you answer. Okay?"
Remy lifted his eyes back to hers. She didn't give him time to answer.
"Okay," Sadie breathe then immediately found herself at a loss. She had so many questions she didn't know where to begin. She'd waited for this day for so long. Her heart drummed so fast and her frantic brain made it hard to decide which question to ask first. She started with the easiest. "What's her name?"
"Ororo…Ororo Munroe," Remy answered daring too look at Sadie once again. He watched as her lips moved silently mimicking him, weighing the feel or the name on her lips.
"That's a…a beautiful name," she said shakily. Her voice was full of an indescribable emotion upon hearing her mother's name for the first time.
"She was beautiful," Remy whispered.
"Did you love her?" Sadie asked with a slight smile alit her face. She was hoping for a fairy tale. For a story of two lovers torn apart by circumstances outside of their control. Romeo and Juliet.
Remy briefly contemplated lying. A lie would make everything so much easier. But he wasn't a liar. That's not something he did…not to a stranger and most definitely not to his daughter. "I don't know."
"Oh," she breathed, slightly deflated. "She was your girlfriend?" Remy shook his head. "Then how?"
The words hung between them. Expectantly. Judgmentally.
Remy looked squarely at his wide-eyed daughter and exhaled…
Remy along with his best friend, Scott Summers strolled down the corridor. Classmates moved instinctively from their path, making room for the alphas…The Somebodies. Even garbed in the school's required ensemble they managed to stand out. Their crisp buttoned up shirts were whiter, the tack of their red and blue striped ties shone brighter, navy slacks and school crest embroidered blazers wore like expensive couture against lean masculine bodies.
They were sons of prominence and influence: Remy coming from very old money from centuries ago. Before America was America, the LeBeau name held deep political and historical ties from the early settlements of French Canada, to the local lore of New Orleans' back alleys, and on to the marbled halls of Washington D.C. Scott on the other hand came from a long line of men of industry that stayed well ahead of any market they chose to endeavor, amassing a fortune so large it would not run out for generations. Their families held binding ties almost a century old. And it was expected for Remy and Scott to continue the legacies their forefathers began.
The pair was more than just part of the It Crowd. They were The Crowd. Everyone else grabbed on where they could and hung on tight. Trying their best to experience and imitate the air of confidence and supremacy the two exuded.
Anna-Marie fell in step with the boys as they passed. Their long strides didn't slow but she made sure to get in step. Keeping up as if her life depended on it. It sort of did. With them she was somebody. She had an identity, a reputation, even if it was a bad one. Anna-Marie was always available at their beck and call. Anytime. Anywhere. Anything. Though the girls of the school whispered behind her back when Remy, Scott or both bothered to approach them they didn't turn them down.
Scott's steps slowed and in turn so did Remy's and Anna-Marie's. He'd spied Jean. A sophomore. A gushing gullible sophomore with fiery red hair she'd flip flirtatiously and green eyes she used to steal glances at him. She nudged her friend as the trio approached. The two girls turned, Jean giving them her full attention. The other barely raising her head finding the books in her arms pressed to her body more interesting.
Remy raised his arm and casually laid it around Anna-Marie's shoulders. Not in an affectionate gesture. She was like a piece of furniture to lounge on as he waited. She wrapped her free arm around his waist content with this nearness. She took what she could get.
"It's Jean, right?" Scott asked.
"Hey Scott," Jean responded around a face splitting grin.
"Hey," he said, as he looked her over deciding once and for all if he should bother. She hadn't filled out all the way, that much he could tell through her bulky uniform. It was a shame the knee length skirts weren't shorter.
"Come to my house tomorrow night. I'm having a party," Scott said.
From next to Jean, Reine listened. She'd never been invited anywhere. Not by someone who wasn't forced by a parent or teacher to invite her anyway. Her dark skin, pigment less hair, and strange blue eyes made her an outcast. A freak. A weirdo. Mostly a target.
"Bring your friend too," she heard Scott say. She pulled her eyes away from her books and looked at Remy. Heat rose immediately to her face and the sound of her pounding heart drowned out the words Jean was saying in response. That happened every time she looked at Remy.
He was the most beautiful person she'd ever seen that wasn't on television or in a magazine. Unlike most of the boys at school he kept his dark auburn hair meticulously groomed, tapered above the ears, parted on the side and held in place with pomade. He shaved. Clean and close without marring his smooth sun kissed skin. Reine had wondered on many occasions what did he looked like as a young child. Nothing about his features said he'd ever been anything other than breathtakingly handsome. He had a strong jawline, a straight Grecian nose with a delicate tip. His full lips dipped down in the corners.
When she dared to look she'd never not once seen a smile. Always stoic…bored with everything and everyone in his presence. But his eyes were always expressive. They always looked as if he was calculating the mysteries of the universe. Like he could see beyond reality. He didn't just look, he observed. And currently he was observing her. Dark pools of deep water were trained on her. On the surface subtle hints of movement, curiosity perhaps…but beneath that lurked the unknown.
"Reine?" Jean nudged her, never taking her eyes from Scott's grinning face. "Sounds like fun, huh?"
"Um…yeah," Reine said as she looked briefly at Jean then back to Remy. She was almost startled. His expression had changed…barely. He looked almost…pleased, only a slight lift to the corner of his mouth as an indicator. The tiniest hint of a smile.