The land of Desmonia was known as the land of the demons. Every generation, a king would have as many children as possible. Then, when they came of age, they were charged with murdering their siblings. The survivor would become the ruler. The cycle repeated until the first and last queen. Queen Natalia was not complacent to wait until her father’s death. On her seventeenth birthday, she slaughtered her entire family.
Queen Natalia was the first woman to survive the trials, killing all but one of her siblings. It was not mercy or love. Her sister sacrificed a servant in her place and Natalia believed the lie for many years. During that time, she launched an attack on three neighboring kingdoms: Hanhyo, Glyswing, and Cielidad. Hanhyo and Glyswing quickly fell. Her march began on Cielidad, the birthplace of Desmonia. The land of her ancestors trembled.
The night before the final battle, Natalia’s long lost sister stabbed the queen through the throat. The queen of demons died as she lived. Her sister reigned as Queen Valeria the Bloody. Cielidad never fell.
A century would pass before Natalia was reborn.
I couldn’t remember much about my parents, other than their love of saints. That was obvious even from our names, Anastacia and Carmen. So, I took my sister to mass every Sunday. I made sure she received a first communion and a confirmation. I argued with many foster parents. I did everything I could to keep them alive for Carmen. I was nineteen years old when I adopted my twelve year old sister. Divine intervention seems to be the only answer as to why we were finally together.
Of course, in the five years since then, I kind of wanted to strangle her.
“Carmen, are you trying to give me a heart attack? Es lo que quieres?”
She rolled her eyes.
“Sis, you’re twenty-four. You are hardly on your last legs,” Carmen said. “Besides, it’s my life, and I can date who I want.”
I was definitely going to have to go to confession this weekend.
“Not that puta you can’t. Whatever happened to that nice girl, Noa?”
“At least Sandra doesn’t mind being seen with me,” she said.
“I’ll keep that in mind the next time a police officer brings you home,” I said.
Carmen crossed her arms, but I noticed the flush across her cheeks. Apparently, she at least felt a bit bad about all my wasted lectures on Mexicans and the police.
“We weren’t doing anything that bad,” she mumbled. “You’re just mad you haven’t had a date in six years.”
I flinched. Raising a teenager was a pain in the ass.
“I was a bit busy. For some reason, I thought feeding you was more important. Clearly, I should have reconsidered.”
Another eye roll. I looked at the clock. I had a final in two hours and my books were still open on the table.
“Here is what’s going to happen. You are going to stop dating her and if I ever see her near the house again, I am going to run her over with my car. Then back up and do it again. Then, I am going to make you help me bury the body or else I take away your phone too.”
She snorted. “Please, you won’t even kill the rats beneath the sink.”
“Leave Gus out of this.”
“You can’t stop me. In a month I will be eighteen.”
“Is the eighteen year old also going to start paying for her own internet? Otherwise, I think it’s safe to say your ass is mine until college.”
“For the record, if you push me, I will not hesitate to transfer to Baylor. I will sign up for all of your classes.”
Her eyes widened. She held up her hands in surrender, knowing I had very few limits when it came to keeping her on track. I had once gotten permission to follow her around school for a day, taking a rare sick day. Carmen had yet to forgive me for it, but she never acted up in class again.
I sat across from her, energy drained.
“Were you scared, mija?”
“Want to take the day off tomorrow?”
Her voice sounded small. I nodded.
“I’ll write you a note. We can grab lunch after my final.”