14th day of December in the year 2140
I went to see Matteo today, as I previously planned… Things did not go as expected.
“Is there no way I can talk you out of this?” Monty pleaded as we pulled into his driveway. His parents’ house was just further down the street. “Please?”
Lizzie met his imploring gaze with an apologetic expression. “I need to do this. It’s my duty as a scout to protect this colony, and I feel like the best course of action is to attack the bandits.”
Monty sighed and cut the engine. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Alright, let’s go.”
They exited the vehicle and made their way back down the driveway, heading down to the end of the cul de sac. Four homes surrounded the asphalt circle, all occupied by members of the council and their mates. Their destination was the home furthest to the right; a gorgeous brick home with a slate grey roof and black shutters. A large tree surrounded by bushes stood at the left-most corner of the lawn, and a white car sat in the driveway.
The angel and the human walked briskly up the drive and up onto the porch, where Monty opened the door and burst in. “Pops? Lizzie and I need to talk to you.”
The inside of the house was painted a pale yellow. The door and crown moulding were white, contrasting the mahogany floorboards. Lizzie knew the layout of this home by heart already, as it was exactly the same as Monty’s place. The space immediately to their right upon entering was a sitting area with a low hanging chandelier and baby blue accent chairs around a glass coffee table. The kitchen and dining room were painted brick red; the countertop was a cool grey, the cabinets were white, and the dining table was a round, rustic wooden piece that split down the middle to expand into a spacious oval table–though only on special occasions, when more of the Alagonas were over.
“We’re in the kitchen!” called Zenobia from the rear of the home.
Lizzie followed Monty through the living room and into the dining area. Zenobia was seated, drinking tea and reading a yellow notepad. Matteo was in the kitchen, preparing their breakfast. He nodded in their direction and asked, “You kids hungry?”
Lizzie shook her head and murmured, “No, thanks,” while Monty answered, “Nah, we already ate. Thanks, though.”
Matteo nodded pensively and returned his attention to the skillet before him, using a spatula to poke at the eggs. Monty and Lizzie each kissed Zenobia’s cheek in greeting before they joined her at the table, their eyes lowered.
It was another moment before Zenobia removed her reading glasses from her face and spoke up.
“Matt, you need to expand on your third point. It’s a little vague.”
The elder angel grunted, mulling over his wife’s suggestion. “I’ll add to it in a moment.”
“What are you guys working on?” Monty asked.
Matteo removed the eggs from the skillet, placing two on a plate with bacon and toast, and one on a plate with just toast. He then carried both plates to the table, placing the lighter portion before Zenobia as he sat beside her.
“Your mother’s helping me review some things for a proposal I want to make to the council.”
“Wait–Ma, why’re you eating so little?” Monty demanded.
“Meat upsets my stomach in the morning,” she explained with a half-shrug.
“Then you should be eating more eggs for the protein.”
“That’s what I told her, but she won’t listen,” Matteo pointed out in a gruff tone.
“Oh, stop it, you two. If I eat too much in the morning, then I get nothing done. Besides, I prefer snacking over meals. You know that.”
“We’re just trying to keep you healthy, Ma,” Monty sighed, his eyes taking in the bags under hers. “You not sleeping? What’s going on?”
Zenobia raised her hands in defeat. “We may have stayed up last night talking about everything going on.”
“Yeah, that’s on me,” Matteo admitted. “The time flew by.”
“Then why’re you two up so early instead of sleeping in?”
“I could ask you the same thing,” said the elder angel. He took a sip of his black coffee as he eyed the two of them. “You both normally stay home on the mornings of Lizzie’s day off. What’s going on with you?”
Monty shared a brief glance with Lizzie before saying: “Lizzie has a proposal that she wants to make to the council.”
“Oh boy, here we go,” Matteo muttered as he took the notepad and pen that Zenobia handed to him. He began making a note in the margins when he said, “Let me guess; you want us to focus on defense and trade. Don’t waste your breath, the council already ruled in favor of that.”
Lizzie cleared her throat and looked Matteo head-on. “Actually, I think the best course of action is to take the fight to the bandits.”
Matteo’s pen stopped mid-sentence. Zenobia sipped her tea in an effort to hide her smile. Monty pursed his lips and pinched the bridge of his nose.
Lizzie remained as she was, locked in a staring match with the elder angel. He was searching her expression for any hint of indecision. Her determined visage never wavered.
“You would help us fight your own people?” he asked.
“They were never my people,” she insisted. “My family, the tenants of the halfway house, and this court–you’re all my people. I swore to protect this colony, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”
“Is there anyone who can back your proposal?”
“I polled the scouts; eighty percent are in favor, the rest are undecided. My brother and sisters, who are training to join the scouts, are all in favor, as is my mama.” Lizzie smirked. “And I was expecting your support, too.”
Matteo nodded pensively. “I’ll take your proposal to the council, and I’ll back it personally… If only ‘cause that’s what my proposal was about, anyway.”
Lizzie breathed a sigh of relief. “Yes! Thank you so much, Matteo.”
“Out of curiosity, do you have any suggestions for recon?” he asked. “I already figure we’ll have to pull out all the stops. Remiel, the Montgomeries, and Monty’s animals.”
“Gee, thanks,” Monty grumbled, displeased that his father and girlfriend were in agreement.
“Actually, yes,” began Lizzie. “If you want recon on bandits, then you need to think like a bandit. Have them take me and my siblings on those missions, and we’ll get you all the information you need.”