When the light began to recede, traces of their new location came into view. They were still outdoors–the court had learned the hard way that their runners could destroy a home by teleporting indoors–and standing on the driveway of a two-story townhome.
It was a cool peach with dove white accents. To their right was a set of stairs that curve towards the end of the driveway, lined with black iron railings and leading to the white front door. Directly ahead was a garage door the same shade as the entrance. The alarm of a vehicle could be heard from within, blaring a deafening call that echoed in all directions.
“Chris, you’re not allowed to port within a mile of my house ever again,” Mona grumbled, releasing her hold of the teleporter and fishing inside her hoodie pocket for her keys.
“Oh, yeah? Can your car instantly take you from here to the other side of the world in under five seconds?” Chris boasted, lowering his arm as Monty and Lizzie let go.
“No. It also doesn’t start prank wars and eat all my good snacks!” She aimed the bulky key at the garage, pressing a button on the controller. Her vehicle was immediately silenced.
The lost girl eyed the bickering pair briefly before shooting a questioning glance to the angel she had remained attached.
He smiled reassuringly. “Don’t worry, they’re like this all the time. They’re joking.”
“Let’s get you inside–” Mona began as she turned back to their guest. She cut herself off when she studied Lizzie; the child had resumed her dual grip on Monty, her eyes scanning the house and neighboring homes. She shot her brother a look.
Great, she’s already second-guessing this. “Lizzie, do you want me to go in with you?”
Her head bobbed furiously.
“Okay.” He squeezed his right arm between them, reaching up for one of hers. Once he got her to release her hold on him, he took her hand and led her to the stairs.
“Oh, Monty–” The pair looked back at Chris as Mona continued up the steps. “What do I tell Frankie? The council’s been looking for you, so he wanted me to bring you in.”
He felt Lizzie squeeze his hand tightly. He passed his thumb over the back of her hand. It was a small gesture, but he could tell it had eased her by how much more relaxed her grip had become.
“Tell them all I’ll be there first thing tomorrow. I’m busy.”
Chris scoffed. “Yeah, alright. No way they’ll shoot the messenger.” A bolt of lightning struck the driveway where he stood, and the runner was gone. Mona’s car alarm sounded once more, and they could hear her curse the teleporter as she silenced the security blare for a second time.
Lizzie had gasped and recoiled at his sudden departure. He waited a moment, allowing her to regain some composure before squeezing her hand.
“Hey, let’s head in.”
She nodded, eyes lowered. “Okay.”
He led her as they climbed the steps. They met Mona at the top just as she unlocked the front door and swung it open. His sister entered and flipped on the light, gesturing for them to follow; he did so, giving Lizzie the time she needed to ease in and gaze around comfortably.
Monty watched as she took in the front room, his green eyes darting back and forth between her russet ones and their presumed targets. First the tan suede sofa, then the mahogany-dyed fabric of the two accent chairs, then the low wood coffee table that brought them all together, its round shape and wheels making it one of Mona’s favorite pieces in the entire home.
Lizzie stepped forward and Mona shut the door, granting Monty his continued study of the new human. The dirt on her face and body were not new or the result of a recent ambush as he had suspected; the filth was caked on like a second skin, as if the child had not bathed in a long while.
Or ever. “We have three bathrooms, but one of the two upstairs has a tub. Mona can lend you some clothes for now until we can get some from the colony.”
“I can’t guarantee they’ll fit,” his sister remarked, smiling apologetically at Lizzie. “But I’ll ask around for some kid’s clothes, okay?”
Lizzie’s face reddened to a considerable degree as she muttered, “Not a kid…”
The twins shared amused glances. “Okay, ‘not a kid’, go with Mona so you can get cleaned up.”
When she didn’t budge, he added, “I mean, unless you like smelling like muddy ass.”
Mona raised her hand to smack her brother’s arm when their guest ripped her small hand from his and retorted, “Better than smelling like a bitch.”
She then huffed and ascended the steps, Mona cackling at her tail.
“I am loving this kid!” she called out over her shoulder, leaving her twin on the first floor wearing a flushed, dumbfounded expression.
Monty chuckled to himself as he recovered from the embarassing insult. Here I was worried that she and Mona would butt heads, and now they’re finding common ground in tearing me a new one. He was about to run his hand through his hair when he caught her scent off his palm. His lip curled in disgust, and he made a beeline for the downstairs washroom.
Well, it’s not like I was wrong.
To Be Continued
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