On March 19th 1994, Her Royal Highness Lady Avalyne Elizabeth Badis Cavanaugh welcomed her first grandchild Ava Marie Monroe Cavanaugh the First. Lady of Vancouver, British Columbia Guarde Madre of Surrey, British Columbia.
For her tenth birthday Ava was awarded a trip to Nigeria where she toured the slave ports built by American Settlers.
For her eleventh birthday Ava Monroe served food in Surrey’s Downtown Core to those who needed a hot meal and a place to be for an hour.
For her fifteenth birthday Ava returned to Nigeria where she helped build a school for African students of the female persuasion.
For her twenty-sixth birthday however, Ava Monroe celebrated with the entire Royal Court at The Sugar Factory Nightclub in Gastown Vancouver. Anyone who was anyone special was there on the first floor, partying the night away.
The two story nightclub played host to a variety show filled with music, Drag Queens of the highest calibre all hailing from Vancouver, Surrey and New Westminster British Columbia.
Ava remembered clearly walking through the entrance just off of Main Street and Cordova from the parking lot.
She remembered walking past the security guards dressed in Armani Noir with their perfectly placed crescent moon and geometric white gold and diamond silver pins pinned to their lapels.
She remembered the weight of Junior’s hand as he held her close with one arm, excited for her to see what he’d had done to their personal haven away from the outside world.
She remembered seeing celebrities and Politician’s and dignitaries all ready for a night of fun and frivolity as she walked through and greeted them wearing her Alexander McQueen black thigh high dress with the thin straps and it’s diamonds sewn into the hem.
It was after that she didn’t remember, for days, weeks months and years she would wonder what happened that night, how Junior got away from her somehow, for years she wondered how he’d gotten lost in the crowd and just vanished from her life.
Her husband of two years just gone suddenly, not a letter not a note whispered from a security guard or even a cop…one day he was there in her arms and the next he was gone.
Six years later as she sat on the terrace of their formally shared two story penthouse apartment smoking a cigar Ava wondered how she’d lost track of her husband. At first she assumed he’d been taken. There had been a search that lasted six weeks.
No ransom note came, no phone call or contact from kidnappers telling her their price, and so people stopped looking and started assuming.
Their bank account had been all but wiped out, money from the Cavanaugh Group was missing, but Ava knew that it wasn’t Junior who had taken it. She was absolutely certain about that, in large part because Junior had plenty of money, he didn’t need to steal she reasoned, even as she knew stealing wasn’t about needing necessarily but about the wanting.
Junior Deighton had grown up with a privileged life, he like his grandfathers before him had gone on to create great things in the City of Vancouver, he had helped build upon a six generation legacy, his vanishing made absolutely zero sense.
It was their wedding anniversary six years after his disappearance that Ava started to wonder if he’d left her…if he had made the choice to leave her, as hard as as much as she wanted to deny that as a possibility, it became increasingly harder to ignore that he had just had…enough.
They had a wonderful life, filled with friends and family, and unlike the stories people on the outside, as wealthy as they were that wealth had never come at the risk of the families they were raised with.
Both had loving parents, both had boring predictable jobs that seemed more exciting on the outside than it did on the inside, and both of them came home night to their cat Jasper and their pitbull mix Lux.
The only think Ava could think was that he had left her, personally, leaving her with a stack of bills and pissed off people.
The Sugar Factory was still running, and doing quite well for herself but Ava hadn’t been able to return since the night Junior dissapeared.
As she looked out at the beautiful sky filled with heavy fat cloud, Ava smiled as she saw a hint of a rainbow in a thinner cloud that felt as if it were just a few inches from her face.
For a moment her hand reached up to touch it before she snapped back to reality. “That fucking bastard”, Ava said quietly as she took a deep inhaling puff of her cigar, not that flavoured bullshit but a real Cuban cigar bought at the store just down the block.
As wealthy and as high as Ava Monroe Cavanaugh lived, she still enjoyed supporting her local community. The groceries in her fridge were all bought in Gas Town at Artisan shops and fresh food markets. The clothes she wore daily came from a store called “Angel’s”
Today’s outfit was a tie-dye shirt in blues and golds, with a pair of black jeans cut off just under the knee.
“You’re painfully skinny,” Ava turned from the lounge chair she was seated on to gaze over her left shoulder and smiled when she saw her grandmother standing there.
Elizabeth was where Ava got her mocha coloured skin tone, and her caramel brown eyes, they shared a long Nubian nose and a perfectly adorable face, “I keep thinking when I look at you that I see myself just….wiser” Ava decided upon making Elizabeth throw her head back in laughter.
“Well played,” Elizabeth said standing at the door, “put that out and come inside we need to talk.”
Ava sighed quietly and gazed down at the ash tray resting on her left leg, putting the cigar out after one long puff she took a sip of water from the bottle on her right, the glass table that Junior had picked out years before she’d moved in.
Everything in the apartment she suddenly realized was about Junior, “well that shit’s going to change.” She said out loud as she stood and walked across the patio through the open double doors leading into the living room.
Elizabeth had lit a fire in the cool spring afternoon which Ava rolled her eyes at. “It’s too hot for that,” Ava said as she took a seat on the coffee coloured couch sitting to the left of the fireplace.
Elizabeth took one of the two matching chairs opposite her, the heavy oak coffee table in between them, “so what’s up?” Ava said quietly as she suddenly found herself feeling under dressed in compared to Elizabeth who wore a pair of black slacks and a bright red and blue shirt that seemed to flow with air as she moved. Her hair falling in ribbons of curls around her broad shoulders.
“Whats up” Elizabeth said testing the soliloquies around her mouth. “You need to go back to work.” Ava had closed up Five by Five Fashions by selling every inch of it to a company in China who had paid out the nose for her designs, in order to cover Junior’s debts. It had cost her everything she had with the exception of the apartment which she refused to sell.
“I don’t have a work to go back to” Ava replied quietly staring at her grandmother seriously, she was trying not to narrow her eyes, she didn’t want to come across as rude, but she was already feeling her spine straighten. Feeling the tug of frustration, that still people wouldn’t just leave her alone after the scandal.
“You need to repair your image, you are the Elder Madre In Waiting, your people need to see you overcome. They need to see you rise.” Ava stared at her for a moment turning her gaze quickly to the fire. Her people, she thought. The same people who suddenly vanished from her life when Junior did.
The same people who called wanting money, muddying the water with their lies about who Junior was when the press weren’t looking. None of the rumours had been substantiated, but the fact that they existed was enough for many.
Ava turned back to her grandmother and gazed at her seriously. “What if I abdicate?”
For the first time in more years than Elizabeth cared to count, she felt her jaw go slack in actual shock. No Madre had ever done that, not in a thousand years, not since Sister Mariah, there was too much wealth and power for a Madre to simply step down. “Are you sure that’s what you want?” Ava shrugged her shoulders immediately, rubbing at her face with both hands.
“Do you have any idea how entitled we all are?” Ava asked quietly gazing at her grandmother, “it’s like…we’re descended from Kings and Queens and Popes, but we are not Kings or Queens or Popes, we are the daughters that have gone denied and our entire world is organized by men.”
Ava felt a rush of breath escape her lungs as she said the words, took a deep breath, “Junior was in charge of everything, and if it weren’t for my trust I’d be homeless right now…oh well and for the fact that you’re basically a Queen.” Ava said staring at her grandmother hard.
“Everyone I know is so full of themselves, I don’t think I want to lead them. I want to go back to Surrey.” Ava felt her heart pounding as she said the words. “There are things I need to do…and I can’t do it from a tower.” Elizabeth smiled quietly to herself and sighed.
“You’re going to find Jonah aren’t you?” Ava shrugged again, “it seems as good a place to start as any. I haven’t seen my mother since I was born…I don’t even remember her…how can I lead her people when I don’t know where I came from?”
“Will you take security” Ava nibbled her lip and cleared her throat “I want to say yes to that,” she replied, “but how can I fade in with them if I don’t look like them?” Ava asked quietly watching her grandmother’s face twist in a series of contorted motions that she always did when she was thinking.
“A room-mate is innocuous enough,” Ava rolled her eyes quietly, she was twenty-six years old, that’s all….that was the fucking thought.
Ava was driven to the apartment that was chosen for her. A two bedroom and den apartment over a little cafe called “The Creole Cafe”, she would be given a job a the cafe and she would live off of her earnings from that job except for the cost of rent which her grandmother allowed Ava to cover with her funds.
The deal was six months. Six months being Avalyne Badis and Ava would return with her decision to either abdicate or take the throne. So to speak.
The only provision they hadn’t agreed on was the room-mate issue which Ava lost. At very least she’d have someone to talk to she thought.
Driving from Vancouver to Surrey was an experience Ava didn’t want to miss, which is why she allowed her Grandmother’s driver Jason Ford to drive her in the bullet proof Ford SUV in midnight black.
Ava didn’t want to drive, she was too nervous, she wanted to watch the trees pass by, she wanted to experience Surrey for the first time with eyes that could focus on whatever adventure this would turn out to be without being distracted…besides, poor little rich girls didn’t own cars.
The drive took exactly one hour and thirty minutes, they left Ava’s apartment and her cat with a professional house sitter vetted for eight months before she was hired. Some girl named Siddha who Elizabeth was an expert in swords and guns, and could ensure the safety of Bella for the duration.
Ava trusted Elizabeth more than anyone in the world because Elizabeth had raised her, so Ava was fine with Siddha although she chose not to meet the woman personally.
They left in the middle of the night for security reasons, once Ava was in Surrey the Crown had no official role in her life anymore. Like the millions of Kris people who weren’t rich and powerful beyond means Ava would be on her own. Relying on the Goje or outsiders for help and protection, just like everyone else.
“You really sure you want to do this?” The giant Samoan who went by Jason asked her as he stopped in the parking lot of the cafe which sat along King George Highway at 108th avenue.
“Too late now” she replied looking into his big brown eyes, Ava turned and looked at the door to the right of the cafe, it stood exactly three feet from the window of the cafe and six feet on the other from the computer shop.
“Cute” Ava said as Jason snorted, he was busying himself with unloading three giant duffel bags of clothing that Ava had bought at thrift shops around Vancouver over the last few months.
It wasn’t that she was building a costume, but more that she didn’t have a need for five hundred dollar shirts when a ten dollar shirt would do…which is why she’d donated her expensive wardrobe and traded it in for something more appropriate for Surrey.
“Lovely,” Ava said as she pulled open the iron door that opened to reveal a second door, which behind stood a inclining staircase with at least forty more stairs than Jason wanted to climb. “Alright Princess, you don’t wanna be a Princess, carry one of these.” He said suddenly tossing her a duffel, Ava chuckled and threw her arms through the straps before climbing the stairs. “Wow,” Ava said half way up, “I am fucking spoiled,” despite his mood Jason laughed as they made their way up the stairs.
Ava opened the third door to reveal the entrance way directly in front of her, spacious with a coat rack hanging to her right, just inside that to the left was the open concept living room filled witch heavy brown leather furniture sitting in front of a wall to wall window looking out over King George.
Ava threw her bag down on the long couch on her left, and turned to help Jason who shook his head, “pick a bedroom,” Ava turned to walk through the living room to the hall behind the kitchen which she would enjoy using later.
There were two bedrooms, only one had a window that looked out to the back alley and the green park behind the building, from this distance she could just make out the purple and grey mountains hiding behind the silvery grey clouds.
“This one” she said as Jason walked in and threw the bags on the bed sitting against the wall across from the door.
The bathroom was just outside the second bedroom across the l shaped hallway.
“Thanks,” Ava said, “should we go get yours?” Jason chuckled softly, “yeah sorry kid” he said shaking his long black haired covered head, “I’m not your room-mate, just your driver, I’m only staying until he arrives.
Ava didn’t know Jason that well, but she would have rather have him than a complete stranger, in that she knew she also didn’t have a choice. “Okay…so when does he get here?”
Jason grinned wolfishly from behind his goatee, “should be any minute now,” Ava wrapped her arms around herself and frowned as Jason walked out laughing, she was curious…and also a little intimidated and that wasn’t a good feeling.
“It’ll be fine, whoever it is,” Ava said quietly nodding her head gently. “It’ll be fine,” she replied.