Koltira blinked up at the mansion as he got out of his car. His mind kept telling him that he’d made a wrong turn, but the address paper in his hand matched. He slung his bag over his shoulder and approached, suddenly feeling like his torn jeans and battered shoes were even worse off. He pressed the doorbell and waited as a little tune chimed out. A woman answered the door and smiled.
“Mr. Deathweaver, I presume?”
“I was told to expect you.” She opened the door wider for him to enter.
Inside, the house was even nicer and he pulled his elbows in and wrapped both fists around the strap of his bag to keep from touching anything. She led him down a dark hallway with dimmed lights and knocked on the only door along the entire length. After a few bumps and an exclamation of pain, the door opened just enough to let Anarchaia’s pale face pop into view.
The woman gave the girl a smirk. “You should’ve let me clean your room.”
“Eh-heh.” She batted dismissively at the air. “It’s fine, Mrs. Leavy. I…cleaned it myself. Eh-heh.”
Anarchaia grabbed Koltira’s hand and dragged him into the room, then shut the housekeeper out. Koltira blinked, first, at the size of her room. It was several times the size of his own, with a massive walk-in closet and her own bathroom. There was even a small kitchen area with a mini fridge in one corner. Not far from that was a grand piano. Bookshelves lined most of the walls, every shelf filled. There wasn’t a single window in sight.
“Wow. What’d they do, adapt a small ballroom into a bedroom?” Koltira joked, chuckling nervously.
He blinked, trying to process the information. “They…did…”
After a moment, she laughed. “No! It was custom built. I never have to leave my room this way.”
He followed her to her loft bed, where underneath was a reading nook created by several short bookshelves surrounding a giant beanbag chair. She lifted a pair of sweatpants from it and laughed nervously as she tossed them across the room, where they hit the wall and landed beside an over-full hamper.
“You, uh, sure cleaned up nicely,” he joked. “I bet it was a real mess before.” His eyes found the rest of the messes spread around the room, telling him that not only hadn’t she cleaned up for him, but she hadn’t cleaned at all in a while—except for her dishes, which sat neatly in the rack at the small sink.
The tips of Anarchaia’s ears turned red as she blushed and turned away. “Heh. Well, I mean, I did pick up a lot of clothes.”
“If I had this amount of dirty clothes, I’d only have what I’m wearing leftover.”
She pushed a knuckle against the bridge of her glasses and tucked a clump of hair behind her ear as she observed him. “You look as uncomfortable as I do at school…”
“Your house is huge.”
“It’s just a house.”
“You might as well live in a castle.” He pursed his lips and looked around the room again. “You don’t have a T.V.”
“That’s in the other ballroom,” she said.
He paused for a second, then broke down laughing with her. “Okay, okay, fine.”
She dropped onto the beanbag, leaving enough room beside her for him to sit. “Did you bring your notes?” She pulled open her messenger bag and took out her own notebook.
“Of course I did.” He sat beside her, feeling at the same time nervous, but also relaxed by her presence. “So,” he began as they each flipped to the proper pages, “how have you liked your first month of public school?”
She bit her lip and smiled. “It’s honestly…mixed. There are so many people, and some of them are really mean. But…”
“But?” he prodded, smirking at her.
“But I get to see you every day.”
“Oh.” Koltira cleared his throat and searched quickly for his section of notes, nearly tearing pages from the spiral. “I, uh, like seeing you every day, too.”
“Okay, so, I was thinking we could do a volcano—”
“No. Everyone does a volcano. I was thinking something way cooler. Ever heard of the Briggs-Rauscher reaction?”
Her fingertips flew to her mouth and her eyes widened. “I have. Where did you hear about it?”
“Contrary to popular belief, I’m not an idiot. It doesn’t seem difficult, we just need to get our hands on a few questionable substances.” He held up a hand to tick each one off on his fingers. “Potassium iodate, malonic acid, magnese…sul…fate… What?” He blinked as Anarchaia bit her bottom lip and leaned close enough to press herself against his side.
“Oh, no, keep talking.”
“Uh… M-magnese sulfate monohy…drate— Why are you looking at me like that?”
She pulled herself back just a little, her eyes staring at his lips. “You pronounced those perfectly.”
“I’m…not an idiot?”
A blush spread across her cheeks. “I just think it’s…nice when you talk like that.”
“Mm-hmm. Sorry, I just… I’m an idiot. Heh. Ignore m—”
Koltira took her cheek in one hand and wrapped his other palm around her waist as he pressed his lips onto hers. “Well, I think you’re cute when you’re flustered.”
Anarchaia pressed back into him, kissing him back. Their notebooks slowly slid from their laps as they shifted to face each other and get more comfortable. He pulled her onto his lap to straddle his legs, running his palms beneath her shirt and across her warm skin. She slipped her hands beneath his shirt and splayed her fingers wide over his abdomen. They were so wrapped up in each other as the long minutes passed, that neither heard the first knock. At the second one, the girl gasped and rolled back, grabbing their notebooks. She shoved Koltira’s to him and ran her fingers through her hair.
An older man with salt and pepper hair in an expensive suit stepped in and smiled at her, though raised a curious eyebrow at the boy beside her. “Ana, still studying?” He approached and directed another gaze to Koltira.
“Yep! We’re doing a Briggs-Rauscher reaction experiment. Would it be okay for us to practice in here? After we get the chemicals, of course.” She smiled charmingly at him.
“I’ll get you what you need.” He held out his hand, then looked directly at Koltira. “Khadgar—”
“I know who you are, sir. It’s…an honor.” He shook the man’s hand, trying to keep his eyes from going wide in shock. “Ana didn’t tell me who her dad was.” He decided to remain seated to avoid the even more awkward moment that would happen should any attention be brought to his jeans.
“Adoptive, but yes,” Anarchaia said. She blushed when the man sent a patient smile her way. “Heh. Sorry.”
“No reason to apologize for the truth. Would you like to stay for dinner, Mr. Deathweaver?”
“I actually can’t. Any other night, sure, but it’s my mom’s birthday…”
“Ah. Well, another time, maybe. Continue studying, then.”
“I-it was nice meeting you, sir.”
Khadgar said nothing as he left the room. Koltira let out a long breath and stared at Anarchaia. “You didn’t tell me your dad was the mayor!”
“That doesn’t matter! Oh my god, I just met the fucking mayor? He hates me.”
Anarchaia giggled into her fingertips. “He doesn’t hate you.”
“Look at me! What’s not to hate?”
She bit her bottom lip and leaned closer to set a quick peck on his lips. “He doesn’t hate you. But…we should probably do some actual work, now.”
He chuckled and kissed her one last time. “I’ll let you say the scientific terms this time.”
“You, mister, have a deal.”