Abandoned: Part Six
This time around, Taite was not nearly as intrigued with the amazing spa treatment. Perhaps that was because now she knew what drudgeries awaited her after the grooming was over. The spa was just a mirage, a pretense that would not be lived up to. The relaxing beauty treatment simply said, “Hey, there’s nothing else good about this place, but at least you look gorgeous!”
The old Taite would have been pleased simply by looking good, but appearances meant nothing in this place. Why should they? The entire Adoption Wing was cold and grey.
“All right, everyone!” a large pink Uni called out to them. “If you’re finished your grooming, you’ll be going with either this Elephante, Tracy, or that Moehog, Chrome. Now, listen for your description and I will tell you who to go with. Red Kougra, Yellow JubJub, Starry Chomby, Blue Poogle, Brown Kau, White Usul, Island Yurble, Yellow Krawk; All of you go with Tracy!”
Taite moved forward with a number of other pets as the Uni called out more descriptions. Once the Elephante took a headcount, she began speaking to them over the other worker. “Okay, okay! In case you haven’t heard, my name is Tracy! I will be taking you to see Liv, the Director of Neopian Adoption, for your room assignments. No talking in the building, you hear? Some serious work is going on and we don’t want to annoy the people doing that work! If you have any questions, ask now!” There was a pause. No one had questions. “None? Fine then, let’s go!”
The group moved slowly out of spa, and Taite sighed to herself. ‘Here we go again.’
Taite was following Liv down a random corridor when a flash of movement caught her eye. At first, she suspected that it was one of the other three pets walking with her to their rooms. As she turned her head to better inspect it, the Usul realized that it was just another pink Uni, leading a Neopian through the halls. Taite watched as the teenage girl explained something to the guide, using her hands expressively. The Uni said something back and the girl’s brunette ponytail bobbed as she nodded her head. Then, she tilted her face to the side and Taite almost gasped. That was... No, it couldn’t be, but it almost looked like...
“Belinda,” Taite whispered. What was she doing here?
Liv craned her neck to look back at the Usul. “Is there something wrong?”
“Um... No. Sorry, I guess I was just thinking out loud.” Taite smiled reassuringly and Liv, apparently satisfied, kept walking. When Taite turned back around to look at the girl again, both she and her Uni escort were gone.
Liv stopped in front of a wooden door, identical to every other door in the building, and nodded to the blue Poogle standing in front of Taite. “All right, Duchess. This is your room.”
The small pet nodded and happily slipped past the threshold. Taite shook her head, knowing what a letdown the bland bedroom would be.
At that moment, Taite heard heavy feet running down the hall. She looked up in time to avoid a collision with a large Cybunny. As Taite took in the blue ring of fur around the girl’s neck, the wooden clipboard in her paws, and the haughty look in her eye, she knew right away who this was. This was the same Cybunny who had greeted Taite and Belinda the first time around. Taite couldn’t exactly place her name, but for some reason ‘Susan’ came to mind.
Liv turned to face her. “Can I help you, Suzette?”
The Cybunny grinned. “Yes, yes. I am looking for a... Taite the Usul, reportedly painted white.”
Taite tilted her head to the side and spoke up hesitantly. “That would be me.”
“Wonderful!” Suzette looked relieved. “I have someone here who requested to see you. They seemed to be in a rush, so I was wondering if you would come downstairs with me? If it’s okay with Liv, that is.”
The Uni nodded her consent. “Of course it is. Taite, I’ll make a call to the staff and tell them to drop your luggage off downstairs.”
Taite nodded, although she wasn’t really listening. Her heart was pumping and she felt slightly dizzy. The mysterious person who was here to see her had to be Belinda! Maybe she had come to her senses, maybe she didn’t have to take that stupid River in anymore!
Taite wasn’t sure why she was so excited to return to the owner had left her so readily, but she was. After Desdemona and Monday, she was more than happy to go back to Belinda.
Taite shivered at the thought. She and her owner would finally be reunited!
Suzette looked at her somewhat strangely. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yes!” Taite grabbed her purse and followed after the Cybunny.
Taite had to jog to keep up with Suzette. Apparently, she was in a hurry. The Usul clutched her purse tighter as she lengthened her stride. They turned the corner, and Suzette slowed down a bit, probably to make a good appearance to the people in the lobby.
The room was full of energy. Neopians with nostalgic-looking pets sat in chairs or stood against the wall. A few people were filling out some papers on wooden clipboards much like the one Suzette carried. A desk to one side of the room held an appreciable stack of unopened Neomail. Despite all this, what truly caught Taite’s attention was that not one of the workers down here was pink.
“Wait here,” Suzette instructed her. “I’ll be right back.”
Taite grinned. This was it! Suzette was going to get Belinda. Everything would finally be right. The Usul wrapped her arms around herself and leaned back against the doorframe. All she had to do was wait.
A minute later, Suzette strolled back over to Taite. Smiling, she said, “Taite, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Jacob Beaumont.”
In that one second, all of her hopes of being reunited with Belinda came crashing down.
A man in a business suit stepped out from behind the Cybunny, and Taite felt sick. She resisted the urge to burst into tears only because the man seemed as if he would not be able to handle that. Besides, she didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of all these people.
The man offered his hand, and Taite shook it. She smiled, her aristocratic manners kicking in. “It’s a pleasure, Mr. Beaumont. How are you?”
Jacob Beaumont smiled slightly. “I’m doing fine. Taite, I actually wanted to talk you about something.”
She was too busy thinking about Belinda to focus on what Mr. Beaumont was saying. Still, she managed to answer him. “Oh, really?”
The man took that as a cue to go ahead. “Yes. I believe you know my daughter Kiran.”
Whoa. That focused Taite easy enough. This was Kiran’s father? Color her impressed.
“I do her know her, yes.”
“Good, good! Then I am talking to the right girl. As I’m sure you know, Kiran is an only child. She seems to like you, which quite a rare occurrence with her. Anyway, to make a long story short, Kiran has convinced me to adopt you- if, of course, you wish me to.”
“Um...” Taite took a deep breath. She hadn’t been expecting that.
‘Think, Taite, think.’ Be adopted by Kiran’s dad? Did she want that? Did she want to be Kiran’s sister? That would be kind of weird, but Kiran was her friend- sort of. And if she didn’t take this offer, she could end up with an owner like Desdemona; or she could rot in that ugly, grey room waiting for someone to even want to adopt her. And at least Mr. Beaumont had been kind enough to ask if she wanted to live with him or not. Most Neopians just snatched up whatever pet they liked, not bothering for a second to see if the pet itself was okay with the arrangement. Still, Taite wasn’t sure she liked the idea of being adopted out to a man she barely knew.
The Usul thought it over for a while before finally answering. Reluctantly, she spoke up. “If it’s okay with you and Kiran, I guess I wouldn’t mind you adopting me.”
“Are you sure? If you don’t want to...”
Taite smiled sadly. “No. I’m sure.”
Suzette stepped in once more. “All right, then! Let me get those adoption papers ready for you!”
As Taite watched the Cybunny bring Mr. Jacob Beaumont a clipboard filled with papers, she let out a soft sigh. Was this adoption such a good idea?
Taite tried to ignore Kiran’s smirk as the two girls followed Mr. Beaumont toward the exit of the pound. Fortunately, Taite was hauling out her own luggage, which was enough to keep her mind off of Kiran’s silent ‘I told you so’. Fine. She had been wrong. Kiran had actually come up with a plan to get her out of Desdemona’s clutches and into the safety of the Beaumont household. The truly amazing part was that the scheme had actually worked. Maybe Taite had underestimated Kiran’s ability.
“All right, girls. After we get home, we’ll have dinner, and then I have to go into work. I was supposed to devise a good idea for Mr. Brownfeather’s new clothing store today, but I never got around to it. Is that okay with you?”
Kiran rolled her eyes. “Yes, Daddy.”
Mr. Beaumont laughed, but Taite missed his response because she was too busy staring at the teenage girl following Liv down the hall. It was the same brunette she had seen before, but now that the girl was walking toward them, Taite could get a better look at her. One glance set her heart plummeting. The heart-shaped face, piercing sapphire eyes, and arrogant walk... It was breaking Taite’s heart, but she couldn’t look away for all the self-control she had.
Belinda was here! Belinda was here, and she was talking to Liv, and she was leading a small spotted Uni, very much like Mr. Beaumont was leading Taite herself.
Belinda hadn’t come back for her. She was just here to pick up River, the Uni that started it all...
With that realization, all of Taite’s hurt turned to anger. How could Belinda do this? How could she be here, face this place after she so nonchalantly left her supposedly beloved pet in the hands of Dr. Death? How could Belinda be so unaffected by all of this?
The gap between the two groups was closing, and Taite started to panic. What should she do when she passed Belinda? Smile? Glare? Not even acknowledge her at all? Taite admitted that the last option sounded good, but part of her knew she could never ignore the Neopian that had meant so much to her.
So as Taite followed Kiran and Jacob past Belinda and River, she watched her former owner and tried to make eye contact. For a second, the teenager glanced at her, but she immediately looked away. Taite noticed that her gaze stayed glued to floor in an almost ashamed manner.
The Usul shook her head sadly as the two clusters continued moving their own separate ways. So this was it. This was what her once wonderful life had come to.
Mr. Beaumont looked over his shoulder at Taite. A concerned shadow fell over his face. “Are you all right, Taite?”
She shook herself out of her wallowing and managed a nod. “I’m fine. I was just spacing out, I guess.”
The man laughed. “We all get like that sometimes!” He checked his watch and grimaced. “But we really should get a move on, girls. It’s a long way to Brightvale, and it’s already getting late.”
As her father turned to continue making his way down the hall, Kiran paused and waited for her friend. As Taite caught up to her, Kiran grinned mischievously. “You coming, little sis?” she teased.
The Usul rolled her eyes, but laughed all the same. “Yeah, yeah... I’m coming.”
To be continued...