I always believed my father was a gentleman. He stood out in a crowd; people who didn’t know him would approach him. He didn’t smile or laugh often, but people were always pleased to see him. My childhood was a pattern of leaving rooms when I was asked or trying to overhear hushed conversations behind closed doors. My childhood was, “don’t go in that room” or “don’t talk to that man.” I always believed my father wanted the best for our family, that’s why we had rigorous rules to follow. We had a tremendous house, three Great Dane’s and broad men in suits who guarded our doors. My father was protective, he loved us. At least this is what I believed until I met Wes. “Adira,” my father says in a very serious tone as he enters my bedroom, “Your mother and I are having company tonight. I expect you to stay in your bedroom. Understood?” “Yes, of course father.” “I will have guards by your door in case you need us,” my father walks over to the window sill where I am sitting looking out over the garden. He places one hand on my shoulder and gives it a gentle squeeze before he leaves the room. My sighs are heavy as I count my steps walking to the bathroom. My life has been crafted by rules designed by my father, rules I have been groomed into following. No leaving the house without a guard. No leaving the house after dusk. No boys. No wasting my parents time with disrespectful actions. No drinking. “You will not jeopardize your future by doing something stupid, like underage drinking,” my father said to me on my thirteenth birthday. Out of all of these rules, I have made one code of behavior by which my life is lived: behave how my parents would expect me to. I start the shower and turn the knob so the heat is practically sweltering. I attempt to let the steaming water take my mind off of what will be yet another night I spend with myself. Of course, nights in my bedroom with books and movies are all I know but I am not naive enough to believe that this is how all sixteen year old girls live. I’ve seen enough movies to know that most girls my age are going to highschool and having sex with boys they shouldn’t be having sex with. They’re wearing excessive amounts of makeup and wearing shirts that show too much. I don’t go to school, I learn through reading. I don’t have sex, I’m not allowed to talk to boys. I don’t wear makeup simply because my father wouldn’t allow that in his house. I don’t wear shirts that are too revealing because I, the daughter of Dorian Lockwood, must be respected by everyone. The scorching water in the shower begins to make my fingers look like prunes, so I step out of the shower and wrap a towel around myself. As I walk into my bedroom, I hear my father and another man yelling at each other. I scurry over to the vent in my bedroom that sometimes allows me to hear the conversations my parents are having with their friends. Usually, I can only hear laughing because they seem to whisper most of their conversations if it’s about anything serious. “What do you mean you had one of your men take out Antonio?” I heard one man shriek, “All of his people are going to be coming after us now! I didn’t approve of this!” “Antonio was already coming after us!” My father screamed back. “No, no Dorian. We could’ve made a peace treaty,” the man has lowered his voice but I can still hear them through the air vent. My father must have realized they were yelling because this was the last of the conversation I heard. I’ve always wondered about my fathers work and what he does for a living. He doesn’t tell me much about it besides the fact that the guards in this house work for him and that one day I will take over for him. After a few minutes of sitting near the air vent hoping their conversation would start up again, I throw on a cotton robe and lay in my bed. I get lost in my book and forget that the rest of the world is living a life that I want. I pretend to be these characters, I get lost in their worlds. A knock on the door startles me from my thoughts, I unlock it to see one of my favorite guards, Axel. Axel is short but barrel-chested, he’s bald but has tattoos covering where his hair should be. “Sorry to bother you Miss Lockwood,””Axel,” I interrupt with a smile, “Call me Adira.” He smiles back at me. “I wanted to introduce you to one of the new guards. He’s been training with me this week but this is his first day in the house,” Axel says in a sweet but confident tone. “Don’t apologize, I was getting bored anyway. Where is the new guard?” I ask politely. “Wes,” Axel calls out. A tall yet built man enters the hallway and begins walking towards us, he can’t be more than twenty years old. His hair is dark and almost reaches his shoulders. His eyes are an green, like an emerald. He’s covered in tattoos but only on his arms. “Hello Miss Lockwood, I’m Wes,” he extends his hand to meet mine. My eyes don’t leave his, like they’ve paralyzed mine. “I’m Adira,” I finally say after a few moments of silence. “Thank you for taking the time to train and work for my father,” I add, but the words come out awkwardly like some kind of word vomit. He nods his head and backs up to stand beside Axel. I turn quickly and shut my door, only to remember that I’m wearing a robe. I shake my head at myself and take one melatonin, hoping to sleep peacefully tonight. My slumber is disrupted by gunshots. They roar through the house, shattering glass everywhere. My bedroom door swings open, Wes comes in with eyes that look like they’ve changed from emerald to hematite. He yanks back my covers and picks me up bridal style. “What are you doing?” I attempt to squeal from his arms but he doesn’t budge. The gunshots continue to fire through the kitchen, so Wes runs through the backdoor while still carrying me. I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping that the shots will stop firing or maybe I’ll wake up from this nightmare. I’m suddenly thrown into the passenger side of a car, Wes is running to the driver seat and before I know it we are taking off down the driveway.