“I should get a cat,” Monty spoke his thoughts aloud as he continued scratching Sparky’s favorite spot. “Why haven’t I gotten a cat?”
“Because Mona will kill you after she sees the amount of fur they leave on your furniture,” Alexa pointed out smugly. “But you’re always welcome to come over and play with our babies.”
“Holy shit–the word fur is in fur-niture,” Chris realized, his eyes glazed over. “Do you think that’s, like, intentional?”
Alexa broke out into a fit of giggles, too amused to speak out loud. Of course that’s not intentional, dingus! She replied mentally, making sure she had linked the minds of both young men. Fur-niture, oh my fucking goddess…
Chris smirked. “Made you laugh.”
“Connor’s pissed at me, isn’t he?” Monty sighed.
No shit, Sherlock, Alexa responded, still laughing to herself. You knocked him out cold.
“Yeah, I figured,” the advisor grumbled, sinking into the accent chair. His body felt so relaxed. “I just–I just didn’t like what he was saying. Calling the kid my girlfriend… I don’t have any ulterior motives for keeping her, you know? She just looked so scared, and I… I want to keep her safe.”
“Yeah, but what if you guys did hit it off?” Chris asked. “Your age difference is the same as ours–three years.”
“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. “I’ve never thought about dating anyone before, but I don’t think I should date her.”
“ ‘Cause of the age difference?” Chris pressed, just as Alexa calmed down.
“Is it because she’s the daughter of bandits?” offered Alexa.
Monty shook his head. “No, not that.”
“Is it ‘cause Aunt Desi basically told you she’s a demon?”
“N–” His opposing argument to the porter’s question caught in his throat. Is that really why I feel this way? Do I really see demons in such a bad light?
“ ‘Angels’ and ‘demons’ are just classifications, understand?” The prophet’s words repeated in his mind. “Other than describing the appearance of one’s soul, those words mean nothing.”
He sighed. “Maybe. I’d never met a demon before today, and he tried to kill me. How do I know that I can trust her?”
“Maybe Nat was onto something,” Alexa reasoned. “If Lizzie is raised here, then she’ll grow attached to the colony–and if we’re her friends, then she’ll feel especially close to the court.”
“So we befriend her and keep her safe, but only because she might turn against us someday?” challenged Monty.
“No,” Alexa insisted. “We befriend her and keep her safe because it’s the right thing to do.”
“And who knows what’ll happen between you two?” Chris suggested. “You said her brother left her here because he recognized you and her, right? Maybe she’s important to you.”
“Like what? My soul mate?” Monty scoffed. When neither the porter or psychic offered up a rebuttal, he peeked up at them through the scratch posts and resting felines. “Guys?”
Chris had taken Alexa’s hand in his and tugged on it gently, nodding in Monty’s direction. The psychic bobbed her head in agreement.
“Uh, guys?” he began. “You’re starting to weird me out.”
Alexa sighed and pulled her straight, chocolate brown hair over her right shoulder. “Okay, um… Well, we kind of figured this out last year and just thought it was normal. It wasn’t until after our bond that Desi explained that it wasn’t actually normal, but special, and that it was because of our bond.”
Monty’s brain was a muddled cloud. “Uh, what?”
“What she means is, we’ve both been experiencing aspects of the other’s abilities,” Chris explained. “I’m able to hear Alexa’s thoughts even when we aren’t connected, and she always knows where I am at all times.”
“A-And Chris has also started psychic writing,” she clarified. “And Desi told us that both Aldo and Remi can hear her thoughts, and that she moves faster than the average spirit thanks to Remi’s ability.”
“That…” Monty sat up in his seat, intrigued. Sparky meowed at him, annoyed by his sudden movement, and jumped down from the advisor’s lap. “That’s insane! How come the rest of the court doesn’t know about this? Why didn’t Aldo teach us this, or my dad?”
“Desi says it’s a phenomenon that only happens between soul mates,” revealed the porter. “And it’s only between spirits, which explains why our moms don’t have spirit strength or anything.”
That’s when it clicked for Monty. Lizzie’s affinity for his animals, Aunt Desi’s teasing, Clint’s warning–it was all coming together, clearing the fog in his mind and sobering him just a bit. “Lizzie’s my soul mate.”
“Now he gets it,” Alexa snickered.
He thought back to the night before, when he and the lost human worked together to make Hugh, a cute, unique little bird. The wonder in her eyes as she saw Hugh fly out of his sketchbook. The way her face brightened as he chirped joyously and let her pet him.
Her asymmetrical bob of onyx curls with the odd honey brown streak. Her russet eyes that shone with hints of maroon. The way she clung to his chest, terrified of all but him.
My soul mate.
Then he recalled Kris’ analysis of Lizzie’s abuse, and his blood began to boil. “I… Can’t be with her.”
“Why the hell not?!” Chris countered, but Alexa cautioned him.
“Because her family abused her, and we don’t know how bad it was. She needs time to heal.”
“And I doubt she’ll be ready before the end of the year,” Monty pointed out glumly. “I’ll be eighteen, and as long as she’s a human, we’re going to move forward by human standards.”
The porter shrugged. “So, what? You’re just going to live with your soul mate for four years and hold all this inside?”
Monty shook his head. “I can’t live with her.”
“If he does, he could risk influencing her feelings with his,” Alexa delineated. “That’ll be like grooming her to be his mate, and that wouldn’t be right.”
“Wait–but by that logic, that means he can’t even be around her until after her eighteenth birthday!” Chris attested. “What’s he going to do? Kick her out?”
“No,” the advisor corrected his subordinate as he stood, prompting the porter to stand as well. “Lizzie needs to stay with someone who’ll keep her safe and raise her properly. She stays with Mona–I’m the one that has to leave.”