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Veiled Perfection

By @astrid_hartman

A Grim Meeting

She hated her society, the burdens that everyone had to bear. Her family was part of a hierarchy in the Cameldon section of the city, the city’s Elite. But she felt unworthy to be a part of this higher society, it had made them almost un-human. The Elite’s bodies were perfect, free of scars, whereas most of the city’s population had at least one scar.

In her world, emotional pain caused physical scars on the body.

The Elites rose above this by controlling themselves so much that they no longer cried or felt any sort of any pain for fear that it would scar them, “maim” them like the rest of the population.

She did not find the other people in the city, the servants that worked for them, ugly at all. She admired their ability to be able to feel, for a side effect of not feeling pain also meant that feeling any positive emotions was in rare supply. The scared ones were referred to as the cicatrix. She often time wondered why her parents bothered at all to be a part of the Elite. They were such cold, unfeeling people.

Sacrificing so much just for position. Just to be better then everyone else. 

Because of the rigid society sect they belonged to, some of the Elites had a twisted game of trying to emotionally hurt one another to see who was stronger, or who would get their scar first. Mainly the younger, more immature did this but when she was called into her parents’ study one afternoon, she realized she had become a part of this game as well.

“My dear,” her father began, his voice almost mechanical. “We have someone very special we would like you to meet.” Her heart accelerated as she turned, watching a man enter the room behind her. Her mother’s mouth parted at the sight of this man, her only form of a smile. 

“This is Jameson Grimes.” Her mother explained, extending her hand to shake the man’s. 

“Pleasure to see you all again.” Mr. Grimes replied, his eyes drifting from her mother’s to where she stood. His blues eyes rooted her to the spot, freezing her with their coldness. She knew it was not his fault that they were cold but his eyes were such a chilling color that the lack of emotion only made them more pronounced. 

“Again?” She questioned, turning to look at her father, who stood behind his desk.

Her father’s cheeks turned the slightest of pink, the closest she had ever seen him come to anything but perfect. He cleared his throat, looking between Mr. Grimes to her mother. 

“Jameson is a fine friend of the family and we were hoping you two could become friends.” Her mother explained. She did not miss the way her father’s eyes soundlessly thanked her mother. 

“Nice to meet you, Miss Emerlin Langley.” Mr. Grimes extended his hand to her. She swallowed, shaking his hand briefly. Even his hand was cold.

Was he even alive?

Were any of them?

“What brings you to our humble home, Mr. Grimes?” The whole room tensed at her question. They knew something she did not. Mr. Grimes looked at her, glancing at her parents.

“May we have a moment?” Mr. Grimes asked, looking at her parents. Her eyes widened in shock. She had never been alone with a man before. Would her parents leave her with a man she had just met? 

But they did. Her father bowed, her mother curtsied as they swept out of the room, leaving her entirely alone with Mr. Jameson Grimes.

“I know this must seem so strange to you and I apologize.” His lips stretched, trying to offer her a smile but she just shivered at the sight of it. “Please, let us sit down.” She sat down, as did he, using the two chairs in front of her father’s desk. 

She fidgeted, looking anywhere but at the man in front of her.

“Emerlin.” Her eyes snapped up to his, mouth slightly parted in surprise at being addressed in such a familiar manner when they did not even know each other. Mr. Grimes quickly realized his mistake, swallowing, as he ran a hand through his hair. “There is something I must discuss with you.”

“Yes?” 

His eyes sharpened, watching her extremely closely as he spoke again. “Your parents have arranged for us to be married… Soon.”

Her eyes widened, heart pounding. She gasped, standing up. He missed none of this, watching as her mind wrapped itself around what was happening. She swallowed, realizing that this was all a test to see how strong she truly was. If she really was an Elite.

Could she be so detached, even with matters so trying as this?

His calculating eyes continued to watch her as she slowly sat back down, clearing her throat. “Oh?” She tried to make her voice sound as indifferent as possible.

If he was surprised by how well she was handling this, he did not let on. “I thought I should be the one to tell you, naturally. I know that we have just met and apologize that we never had a chance to be properly introduced prior to all of this. My family, the Grimes, is a very well to do family, living just outside of the Cameldon sector.” This got her attention. Not from Cameldon? Would her parents actually marry her off to someone who was not even an elite? 

“Are you-“

“I am an Elite.” His tone was final and her eyes fell to the floor, looking at his dress shoes. 

Her tone was cautious, each word carefully picked. “I did not mean to question your status, Mr. Grimes-“

“You may address me as Jameson and, when the time comes, ‘my dear’ shall due as well.”

Before she could rein in the angry blush across her cheeks, her body had already betrayed her. He, of course, did not miss this. 

She cleared her throat, beginning again. “Jameson,” the name felt like a violation of something moral, “I did not mean to question your status, I just thought that the only area that the Elites lived was in Cameldon.” 

“Your parents were not from Cameldon, originally.” Her eyes locked with his. What blasphemy was this? Her parents had always lived in Cameldon. “They were from a sect just outside, where my family and I are originally from. Like most Elites, they had to work their way up the social ladder. By marrying you, I am starting my climb.” 

She bristled, not caring that his eyes narrowed at this action. She stood and he stood with her, towering over her.

“Good day, Mr. Gri–Jameson.” His name almost lodged itself in her throat.

“I must ask you something else, because I’m old fashioned and like to make things official.” He kneeled, making her step back in surprise. “Emerlin Violet Langley, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

She wanted to run, to leave Mr. Grimes kneeling in the study. This all felt so wrong. But what was she supposed to do? Wait and marry for love? How silly. Only the cicatrix could afford to feel such a thing because with love comes heartache, something no Elite would dare go through. Who knows how many scars that would put on one’s body.

Most elites had arranged marriages, her parents included, it was not uncommon at all and was rather the norm in the Elite community. 

She just thought she had more time.

“It would be my honor.” She forced the words out of her mouth, trying to mean them but failing.

Mr. Grimes mouth broke out into the most genuine smile, flashing white teeth.

It was the most terrifying thing she had ever seen. 

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