Warn for violence.
He was twelve when his parents were killed. It was a political thing, they had opposed the mayor and her associates too vocally, too many times, so they were kidnapped, executed, and dumped in the river. He didn’t understand what had happened, only that they were gone. He was sent to live with his aunt and uncle. They were very nice and they gave him everything he needed, but he still cried himself to sleep every night for a year.
On his thirteenth birthday, the three ladies were hired to take care of him. They were beautiful and sweet and kind and he liked them very much. They weren’t the same as his parents, but he cried less and smiled more.
When he was fifteen, his aunt explained how his parents had died. She said that they had been rebels, working as terrorists, and that it was important not to cause trouble. He nodded and said that he liked things the way they were. She patted his head and sent him back to the ladies. The ladies lived with him until he turned seventeen and then they smiled and said that it was time for him to be a grownup. They promised he’d see them again and they packed their things and left. He cried again that night, but then he took their advice and grew up.
For his eighteenth birthday, his aunt and uncle threw a huge formal ball at their estate. Four hundred guests, champagne and caviar, crystal and silver. It was one of the biggest events on the social calendar, anyone who was anyone was there. He was feted and made much of and his aunt declared it a citywide holiday.
While the city’s elite ate and danced and drank in the grand ballroom, a window upstairs was eased open and three figures in formal attire slipped in. They went to the bathroom and touched up their makeup, then smiled at each other and walked down the hall to the main staircase. They smiled sweetly and descended the stairs into the party. He saw them and was glad, even though he didn’t think they had actually been invited. They stayed together as they circled the glittering room, chatting amiably if they were approached but refusing all opportunities to dance in favor of watching the crowd.
At ten minutes until midnight, the band announced a special dance for his aunt and uncle. They moved to the center of the floor, she all in blue velvet and he in black tie. The crowd parted, leaving a wide circle directly under the Swarovski chandelier, and they began a slow, stately waltz. For a few minutes, it was like a dream, all warm, soft amber light and little rainbows shimmering on the soft gold marble floor. The music was mellifluous, wrapping everyone in a haze of contentment. So, no one noticed that the three ladies had separated and worked their way to the front of the crowd of onlookers, surrounding the elegant couple. At five minutes to midnight, one of the ladies stepped forward and threw a needle-like silver dart, dipped in a truth serum, into the back of his aunt’s neck. It glistened as it flew and it seemed to fit with the rest of the glittering scene until she lifted her fingers to the back of her neck and they came away bloodied. Then she spun around and her eyes met the eyes of the lady who had thrown the dart.
“Who are you and what the hell do you want?”
“The truth, Madame Mayor. Only the truth.”
The other two ladies stepped forward, one holding a Colt 45, the other a silver stiletto.
“What are you talking about? Guards! Arrest this woman.”
The one with the gun shook her head. “I don’t think so, Madame Mayor. You’ll want to use what little time you have left talking, not arresting.”
“Possibly, but you’ll be dead too soon for that to really matter.”
“Not to repeat myself, but what are you talking about?” Her calm was absolutely icy. There were no cracks in her perfect façade.
“Who is this party for?” The one with the stiletto spoke softly.
“My nephew, Samson. For his eighteenth birthday. But I hardly see what that has to do with anything.”
“Where are his parents?”
“Dead. They have been for six years.”
“How did they die?”
“Shot in the back of the head.”
“How do you know?”
She barely seemed to know that she was speaking. “I was there. I shot my traitorous sister myself. They were too close to getting enough support to call for a new election. I couldn’t have that. I like the power I have.”
Samson stepped forward, eyes wide and aghast. “Aunt Helen…My parents…You said they were terrorists, that they were planning to attack the hospital and hold it for ransom.”
Her head didn’t move. “I lied. I needed you to be the good child and support me. And you did.”
He stood, shell-shocked, and stared at her.
“Samson,” the lady with the stiletto spoke again. “I’m sorry you have to see this.” She lifted her hand and flung the stiletto, end over end, until it lodged between Helen’s ribs. The mayor gasped and collapsed.
“Stay back.” The lady with the gun stepped in next to the body. “No one helps her, no one gets near her.”
Helen bled out on the floor of her own mansion. When she was dead, the three ladies walked over to Samson. Each of them kissed his cheek. “Remember your parents well.” Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone Venganza walked out the front door, got into their black SUV, and disappeared into the night.