30th day of August in the year 2140
This was, by far, the best day of my entire life!
I came home with Monty after my day shift at the border to find a surprise party waiting for me. Monty worked with Mona, Mama, everyone at the halfway house, and most of the court to put it all together. The kids decorated the lobby with streamers and balloons, and instead of cupcakes there was a cake baked by Aunt Desi and decorated by Micaela and Carmen. Sal and Micaela brought little Raf, so I got to see the cutest baby in existence. Some of the angels even brought gifts: Cienna gave me a small potted flower, a unique little plant the likes of which I’ve never seen before. She says it’s a hybrid of a marigold and a carnation–I don’t know what either of those look like, but they must be pretty to make such a cute flower.
Aunt Desi got Micaela to make me a super cute sundress. Sam and Ricky made me a hunting knife and a leather sheath to hang on a belt. Alexa gave me a deck of tarot cards from her collection. Brook got all the kids at the halfway house to sign a small journal; each signature came with words of thanks and endearment… But I think the best gift of all was the night I got to spend with Monty.
Mona took over around nine in the evening and sent the younger kids to bed since it’s a school night. All the older teens helped her pick up the lobby and return it to its usual state. The angels who had joined us took off to their own nighttime routines. I was about to go into the kitchen and start washing dishes when Monty pulled me aside, his finger raised to his lips in a shushing motion as he gestured for me to follow him.
The couple had arrived at Lizzie’s studio apartment in a matter of minutes. The human shut the door behind them and spun around to study the prince, her gifts still in her hands. His sides were shaved short again, but the curls that sat atop his head were dangerously close to his eyes. He was still in his scouting outfit; a navy sleeveless shirt and a pair of baggy black shorts with two white stripes on either side. He had spent the majority of his shift running with the Savannah sounder–his nickname for the wild boars that Monty brings to life and has patrolling the border. The angel was too busy taking in the human’s room to notice her staring.
“I just realize I’ve never been in here,” he said as he entered the small kitchen. Lizzie’s fridge was covered in drawings by a couple of the younger tenants, a picture of her with all the tenants, another of her with her surviving family, one of her with Gavin, Gabby, Kaine, and Benji, and a final picture of her and Mona.
Monty frowned. “I’m also realizing that we’ve never taken any pictures together.”
Lizzie bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing before she responded. “You might want a shower before that happens.”
His cheeks reddened as he ran his hand through his hair. “Point taken. Want to come back to my place?”
Warmth flooded her cheeks as Lizzie’s eyes widened. “I, uh, think that I want a shower before that happens.”
He smirked. “Alright. I can wait for you here if you want.”
She nodded wordlessly and set her gifts down on her bed before she hurried to her dresser, pulling out clean underwear when an idea hit her. She spun around to face him, catching his attention as she did.
“Actually, it might be best if you go and help the others,” she insisted. “I’ll only be a moment.”
Monty shrugged and smiled. “Fine by me. I’ll meet you downstairs.”
As soon as the angel had closed the door behind him, Lizzie ran back to her bed and pulled the sundress Micaela made from the pile. It was a soft eggshell, and the skirt had a layer of shimmering chemise over ivory-shaded cotton. The sleeves were off the shoulder and the neckline dipped down at the center of the chest in a tiny V. Then she scurried over to her closet and looked through her shoes. Sneakers, boots, house slippers…
Her expression brightened as soon as she found the pair of white ballet flats. She’d never worn them; they came with the mountain of clothes, shoes, and accessories sent to her by Aunt Desi years prior. The note at the beginning of her diary had advised her to hold onto those flats for a “special occasion.” She had not realized what the old prophetess had meant until that very moment.
Tonight’s the night I finally tell Monty that I love him.
Lizzie returned to the first floor lobby twenty minutes later. She let her natural curls fly free, falling around the middle of her back. She had only practiced putting on makeup a couple of times, so she instead opted on mascara and clear lip gloss. The ballet flats fit her perfectly, as did the sundress.
The teens who were still awake and picking up the last of the decorations all stopped what they were doing to ogle at Lizzie. She had never worn a dress before, so the attention wasn’t something she had expected.
“Ohmigosh!” Zara gushed, just as Brook said, “You look amazing!”
Ruben, Shayla, and Tyler all offered their own compliments before Ruben winked and gestured to the kitchen with a nod. “Monty’s waiting for you.”
“Be good,” she told them with a smirk. “Don’t stay up too late, you have school tomorrow.”
Then she strolled into the kitchen, where Monty and Mona were washing dishes while Gavin and Kaine put them away. The latter duo saw her first; Kaine wolf whistled, while Gavin set down a stack of biodegradable plates just to clap at her entrance. The other teen joined in, making enough noise to grab the attention of the Alagona twins. Mona had been washing dishes and handing the rinsed objects to Monty so they could be dried. All the while, she had been whispering intently to her brother, in a tone so low that Lizzie could barely hear her. Mona’s whispering came to a halt at the applause Gavin and Kaine gave the nineteen year old; she broke out into a grand smile, a knowing look in her eyes as she took in Lizzie’s attire.
Monty, who caught sight of Lizzie at the exact same moment as his sister, smiled warmly in her direction and held a dish and rag out to the two teenagers. Taking the hint, Gavin stopped his clapping to take over as dish dryer, allowing Monty to squeeze his sister’s shoulder and bid her good-bye.
“Be good,” Mona called out, mirroring Lizzie’s warning to the younger teens in the lobby. “You might have tomorrow off, Lizzie, but Monty still has to be up early as hell for his duties.”
Monty pouted his lips. “I think I can afford to be late tomorrow.”
Mona raised her gloved hands in defeat. “Hey, that’s between you and dad.”
“I’ll handle him!” Her brother called out. He took Lizzie’s hand in his–she wondered if he could tell that she was blushing–and led her out of the kitchen. The two of them waved at the teens in the lobby as they made their exit through the front doors; Monty’s bike was parked on the street, with his silver helmet hanging from one of its mirrors.
He paused at the bike, locking eyes with Lizzie as he brought her hand to his lips and kissed it gently. “You look gorgeous.”
Her heart caught in her throat. “Th-Thank you.”
Then she watched as Monty mounted the bike, handed her the helmet, and brought the engine to life. She slipped the helmet onto her head, grateful to have her face concealed as she joined him. Her arms wrapped around his torso, gripping his shirt in two fistfuls.
If he keeps looking at me like he did just now, Lizzie thought to herself. Then things might actually progress tonight further than I planned.
Then they sped off into the night, and into a future Lizzie could never foresee.