"Hey there, pretty girl," greeted the yellow-eyed boy, merrily waving a hand above his head.
Evelyn had just been lying out under the warm summer sun, enjoying the view. But since this was Evelyn Brooks, she could not sit still for too long without getting restless. Only moments ago, she had jumped to her feet with the intention of finding one of her surplus of friends.
"Hey there yourself, handsome boy," the silver-eyed girl returned, whipping around to face him.
Her eyes sparkled with the aid of the rays from the sun, somehow managing to brighten her already vibrant face. She charged forward to come face to face with the boy. Though cheek to cheek was more like it because the moment she was within jumping distance, she threw herself into his open arms, something that had by now become ritual between them. They both squeezed like their lives depended on it then burst into fits of chuckles and giggles. And just like their first embrace, Christian lifted her right off the ground. Their laughter grew in volume.
"Funny, I was just about to come looking for you," she admitted.
"Oh, really?" He sounded skeptical. "I thought so."
It was her turn to be the skeptic. "Oh, really?"
"So how'd you know?"
"I got a feeling."
"A feeling?" she echoed. "Am I friends with a clairvoyant?"
He smirked. "I'm not allowed to tell anyone."
Her eyes rolled. "Of course."
Once her two feet were firmly planted back on the solid ground, they grinned at one another, he playfully bowed like a gentleman would to a lady, she pretended to looked flattered by the gesture then stood him back up and her arm hooked around his. Completely comfortable with the position and proximity, the girl even laid her head on his shoulder as they continued walking.
Looking at this happy, youthful pair, one would never know that they had only just met mere days ago. If their broad smiles were of any indication, they could've been lifelong friends, perhaps even new lovers only just discovering the bliss of romance.
Though they were far from the latter.
"So, pretty girl," Christian began. "What's on the agenda for today?"
"Well, I was thinking we could …" Evelyn trailed off, gnawing on her lower lip and reconsidering voicing her idea.
The sturdy boy came to a halt, peeking down at her out of the corner of his eye. "You were thinking we could what?" When she didn't meet his eyes, a frown etched itself between them. "Evelyn? Come on, talk to me."
To his shock and dismay, she lifted her head, not to look at him, but to turn away and hide a light blush tinting her ears. "Never mind. It's … silly."
"Silly, eh?" To try and coax the idea out of her, Christian grandly gestured to himself, poking his chest with a thumb. "I'll be the judge of that, so just tell me." But she was not eager to do so. "Ah, come on, Evelyn. Even if it is silly, I like silly."
She shook her head to dismiss it. "Forget I even mentioned it."
"You technically didn't mention it."
The witty remark he hoped for in return did not come. "Forget it, Christian."
He pinched her chin to lift her gaze to lock with his then proceeded to slyly wriggle his eyebrows. "I'm very easily persuaded by a pretty face, you know."
The girl was defenseless against the attack on her reluctance. She had to bite back a grin pulling at the corners of her mouth and suppress a snort threatening to escape. And when biting her lip wasn't enough, she had to cover her mouth. "Okay, okay," she laughed. "I'll tell you."
Her friend was very much chuffed with himself. "I guess I'm not the only who can be persuaded by a pretty face."
"We all have weaknesses, Christian. Ours just so happens to be beauty."
"We are very beautiful people, aren't we?"
Evelyn lightly shoved him. "You're so modest."
"So are you going to tell me or what?"
"Um, well … I was thinking … maybe we could … have a … picnic?" A bundle of nerves formed as Christian's eyebrows quirk up. "I've never had one that wasn't on a piece of property that I've stepped on a million times and with so many people," she explained to justify her request.
"Oh, that's it?"
"Mhmm. That's it. " The girl began to shake her head again and played with a lock of hair, conveniently shielding her face from his view. Evelyn shrugged to feign indifference. "But I don't know. That's just me and my silly idea. We don't have to do that of course. If you have anything better, we could always do that. Do you have any ideas?"
His free hand scratched his smooth, hairless chin. "I think a picnic sounds—"
She waited for it. A picnic sounded dumb, it sounded childish, it sounded ridiculous, and it was absolutely out of the question. Why would she even suggest something like a picnic? The only reason Nate ever went on picnics with her was because it had no choice.
"A picnic sounds like a brilliant idea!"
"You really think so?" she queried doubtfully, but there was hope in her voice.
"Of course. It's been ages since any of us had been on one, so I don't see why not." He pulled her closer with the arms still hooked with hers. "Plus, you're our guest, my dear lady friend; if you want to go on a picnic then we shall go on a picnic."
"Oh, Christian!" She threw herself at him again, hugging him with all her might. "You're the best," Evelyn squealed.
He shrugged. "I do try."
"Hey!" She dropped back down to the ground. "Can we invite Nina and Nate, and Leo and the girls?"
"It wouldn't be a proper picnic if we didn't invite them all, now would it?"
Evelyn let out a wistful sigh and her hand shot out to clutch his. "What have I been doing all my life without you by my side, Christian?"
"I don't even know. It must've been a very dull existence."
"It was," she said solemnly, dropping her chin to play along. "So very dull indeed."
"Especially with Nate," he added.
The noise that came out of her mouth was a mix between a snort, a giggle, and a gasp. "Christian," she hissed. "Don't say that. What if he had heard you?"
"Let him," Christian claimed. "Nate can be so darn stuffy sometimes."
"Some might call that stuffiness maturity."
"Well, I call it stuffiness. And I can do that because I'm family, he's like a big brother to me, and it's the little brother's job to mess with his older brother."
Though she never really cared that she didn't have any siblings, in that moment Evelyn found herself feeling a little envious of the bonds that came with having another person who shared your blood, the unconditional love. She understood if she was meant to have a little brother or a big sister, her parents would have blessed with another child, but it would've been nice to know the feeling. All she could was nod absently in response as all these thought jumbled in her head. The girl didn't even realize a pout formed on her features.
Her friend sure noticed it and the sight bothered him. He never wanted to see her look so sad, so unlike herself. "Hey. Evelyn?" A swift, yet lighthearted elbow to her ribs brought her from her reverie. "You okay?"
She blinked to focus, a slight blush exposing her embarrassment for spacing out. "Excuse me, what? I'm fine, I'm okay."
"Just so you know, family isn't dictated by bloodlines, my pretty little friend." He punctuated that sentence with a tap to the tip of her nose. "I'd consider you family. I'm pretty sure everyone here would."
A modest, appreciative smile curved along her lips. "Thank you."
Christian could not resist asking. He had to do it. Feigning innocence, he titled his head before speaking. "Do you see Nate a big brother, too?" The surprise and hesitation from the girl next to him was all he needed to satisfy himself. The boy didn't even give her a chance to reply. "So are you going to go tell everyone about this picnic of ours, or what?"
Her enthusiasm swelled. "Why don't we surprise them?" she suggested, growing more and more gleeful by the second. "We could sneak past them and pack all of their favorites and make the food ourselves!"
"I think they'd all really like that." She got two thumbs up. "Good idea, Evelyn."
"You really think?"
He blinked a golden eye. "Of course, pretty girl. Don't be silly. I'd never lie to you."
"Then let's get going, handsome boy! Before it gets too late!" Evelyn jumped in action, grabbing his hand again, and dragging him back toward the house. The yellow-eyed boy merely chuckled the whole way, running a hand through his tawny hair, so very pleased he could make his new friend so happy.