When I agreed to go to the beach that night, I didn’t know I was going to ask Monty out like that. Maybe if I had planned things out better, I would have found a better setting to pop the question, instead of blurting it out at a bonfire in front of all of our friends. Even more surprising was his answer: yes.
The party continued for another hour or so before Monty had Chris take my friends home. Mona went with them, since she had driven to their neighborhood in order to attend the ceremony. Chris took the Palladinos and Halls home next, then Monty and me. I was wondering why Chris didn’t just drop me off at the park with the other humans, but I got my answer when I looked around the area he had left the prince and I.
They were at the end of a long concrete driveway, stained grey from tire tracks and rain. Weeds had grown through a crack that spanned the width of the car path. It led to a wide two-car garage, its contents hidden behind a large white door. On either side of the door hung black iron lanterns, lights flickering within. A single concrete path jutted out from the driveway, curving across that corner of the overgrown lawn until it met with two small brick steps. The second step was double the width of the first, allowing visitors and residents access to the front door. It was a cream-white color and appeared to feature a window insert that took up three-quarters of its center. The door sat within a white frame that curved above it in a half-circle, where another little window sat. A section of charcoal roof extended over the second step, held up by two slim white columns at the corners furthest from the door. Large windows were positioned on either side of the door, lined with jet black shutters. A dark, reddish young tree with heart-shaped leaves decorated the corner of the lawn that was sectioned off by the walkway; obtuse chestnut brown buds clung to its branches, and Lizzie wondered what the flowers would look like come spring.
She felt as Chris released her shoulder, and she assumed he did the same with Monty, as he said, “You kids have fun!”
Light flashed from somewhere behind the human, crashing down onto the black asphalt of the street with a thunderous roar. She was only a little startled, and hoped Monty didn’t notice.
“The lightning still bothers you,” he remarked. She gazed up at him just in time for him to step closer and take one of her hands in his. “I thought it might, so I didn’t want his ports to be the last memory you had of today.”
She blinked; her russet eyes darted over to the brick home before returning to the angel. “This is… Is this your house?”
He nodded, an atypical simper on his lips. “Yeah. I left my bike here so Chris and I could make an entrance. We’re not far from Mona’s place, so I figured a short ride would be a better way to end the night. Besides, I promised you I’d be your ride home every day this week.”
Her smile was wide as she squeezed his hand affectionately. “Thank you! I’d love that.”
He nodded and gestured for her to follow as he began his stroll up the driveway. She did, grateful that he wasn’t in a hurry. Her shorter legs had to take two steps for every one of his. Her heart was beating rapidly as they eased closer to the home. Curiosity had her on the verge of letting go of his hand and running to the front door, but letting go of Monty was not a path she wanted to go down.
“So, what are the chances of you giving me a tour of your house before we leave?”
The edges of his pink aura gave way to bright orange and lemon yellow, distracting her from the half-smile he threw her way that was more of a grimace. “Uh, not tonight, Liz. Curfew is in effect–we could both be in trouble if you’re caught outside this late, you especially.”
“Oh.” Lizzie was admittedly disappointed, but she wasn’t sure why. What’s the big deal? He can show me around another day. “How about this weekend? I don’t have any plans, so if you’re not busy–”
The new colors dominated all except the pink as Monty stopped a meter short from the garage door. Lizzie paused, too, studying his aura and expression.
He’s conflicted about something, she realized. But what? He’s made it pretty obvious that he likes me, so why wouldn’t we–?
Her cheeks burned as she averted her wide eyes. ‘Why wouldn’t we’ what?! What was I expecting to happen if I entered his house?
She didn’t want to admit it, but she knew exactly what it was she was expecting. He wasn’t the first guy to express an interest in her since she first enrolled at the colonial school, but he was certainly the first for which she felt strong emotions. Lizzie liked him–hell, as she stood there and reminded herself of all the nights she spent hugging her stuffed platypus and crying over his absence, Lizzie knew it would be more accurate to say that Monty was her first love. But the butterflies fluttering around in her lower abdomen and the fast-paced beating of her heart told her that she wasn’t just expecting sweet words and bear hugs. She wanted to kiss him, to feel his hands all over her, to feel his bare body pin hers against his mattress–
What the hell is wrong with me?! She wondered, resisting the impulse to bury her face in her hands. I’ve never thought about anyone like this–not even Gavin.
Her head snapped up at the sound of her name. “Yes?”
Monty’s smile was apologetic as he leaned down. Her hand was now in both of his, small and dainty compared to his rough, callused fingers. He brought her hand to his chest and said, “I’m sorry. I’ve never dated anyone before, so this is all new to me. I promise I’ll have you over someday when I feel ready–and I trust that, if you’re not ready by the time I am, you’ll let me know.”
The orange and yellow were shoved away by a growing layer of bubblegum pink. A streak of sky blue formed across his throat as he spoke. His eyes were a deep pine in the low light of the lanterns. She was enraptured, her breath caught in her throat as his familiar minty citrus scent reached her.
“Is that okay?” he asked in a boyish tone.
When she nodded–she was too stunned to speak–he delicately brought one of her hands up to his lips, and he planted a kiss on the back of her hand.
“Thank you,” he beamed. He then nodded to the garage door. “I know you like riding the bike, but I have a car we can use. It’ll be warmer.”
Lizzie nodded, and he took a step toward the garage–only to pause when he noticed that she was still holding his left hand. Monty shot her a questioning glance just in time to watch her bring his hand to her lips. She kissed one of his knuckles, her gaze lowered.
“I-I’ll wait,” she whispered. Heat flushed her face and neck, spreading down to her chest. It took more effort to speak over the butterflies than it did to complete any training she was put through back in Jesup. “I don’t mind. You’re worth the wait.”