“Will you please let me paint your nails?” Willian pleads. “Look, look at mine!” He thrusts some very neat purple sparkly nails in Verity’s face. “You could be just as fabulous.”
She pushes her book aside. “Alright. Go ahead.”
A bright smile spreads over his face. “I’ll be right back.” He hurries to his room and returns with a large plastic container of nail polish. The bottles clink as he plops it in front of her. “One rule: you can’t pick black, grey, or white.”
“Well what am I supposed to choose, then?” She asks, tone light and teasing.
“Freaking color, Ver. Look! Fickle Pickle! Lavender Baby! RazzJazzMaTazzTime! CHOOSE ONE. OR SEVENTEEN. I DON’T CARE.” He thrusts the box at her, still grinning.
“Fine, fine.” Picking the rainbow array, she finally settles on something called Emerald Emerald, Wherefore Art Thou Emerald. The color is dark red. “This one.”
“Okay! Hand please.” Uncapping the bottle with one hand, he grabs her hand with the other. “Sooo. How’ve you been?”
“Oh. Well, I’ve been just great. How are you?”
“I’m doing…” he slightly turns her hand. “…fantastically well. Hold this for a moment.” She takes the bottle and he crosses his legs. “Thank you.” He grabs it back and begins on her pointer finger. “So like, how’s stuff been? Have you seen any cute cats? Or squirrels? Or vultures?”
“Vultures can be cute.”
“I didn’t say they couldn’t.”
“Y’know, they’re kinda hated on because they “bRiNg dEatH” or whatever.” He dips the brush back into the bottle and shrugs. “Like people don’t bring death. We probably kill more things than the poor vultures do. Yet we’re the most cherished. It’s weird. Vultures deserve better, honestly. All they’re doing is keep themselves alive. While people kill things for no reason. Like hunting animals for superficial things like leather seats and mink coats. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Verity tries to find words.
“Sorry. That was weird. I just really like vultures.”
“No, it’s interesting! Honestly, yeah, I agree, people suck.”
His head snaps up, suspicion drawing his eyebrows close. “Really?”
“People usually are like “oMjG nO yOu’Re sO rUdE aNd SuCh A dUmB vEgaN”. I’m not vegan, by the way. I understand that yes, animals shouldn’t be killed for no reason, but also, sometimes death is necessary. Though also vegans aren’t dumb.” He returns to her fingers. “Anyway.”
“Fine. You win.”
“Wasn’t a contest, but yesss.” He grabs her other hand.
“Okay. Serious question.”
“What’s your favorite animal.”
“Ooh.” His hair spills over his shoulder as he leans back. “That’s a hard one.”
“Well, obviously, I really like dragons. I still…” His eyes tear up a bit. “I still miss ^enter dragon name I can’t think of one^.” He clears his throat. “So dragons, yeah. But also I really like frogs. Like teensy little garden frogs.” The mesmerizing swish of his hair as he leans over her hand again captures her gaze. “What about you?”
“Oh. I like cats, I guess, though Henry VIII is pure evil and doesn’t deserve anything at all. And I guess I objectively like octopuses? Octopi? But like they also seem evil. Maybe I just like evil animals.”
“Spectacular choices, and I can also concede that your cat is completely, utterly evil.”