He stood with his insides curled up like springs in his aunt's shadow.
Aporia sat on a plush stool before the vanity, paying no mind to him at all. He knew she must be able to see him—he was right there in the mirror, she'd summoned him into the room herself, but she hadn't said a word to him. She hadn't even glanced at his reflection.
She dipped her fingertips into a jar of something glossy and sweet-smelling, rubbed it between her palms, slicked it through the dark curls of her hair until they shone likewise. Her nails were painted a rich, dark red that seemed to glow with a golden sheen when the light hit them.
He tensed a little more—toes curled down against the ornate rug, tail lashed in a sharp arc—and she finally looked at his reflection when the arrowhead point of his tail snagged on some of the drapery that hung along the wall. He wished she hadn't.
"Kariel." It was a look of seemingly gentle censure that turned the pit of his stomach to ice. "I hope y