Fall came awkwardly. Alden had to come up with an explanation of what had happened to the gym, but that was forgivable and forgotten in the light of the news that he had discovered telekinetic abilities. They finished the addition the the house. Delia turned sixteen and began to wear her mother's red lipstick.
Alden had noticed. He felt like he'd swallowed his tongue now anytime she came near. Collin had noticed that. Something had happened.
Lu noticed nothing, but that was sort of standard for him.
Delia cornered Alden after dinner. He'd gone out to the old storage shed that sat about an acre east of their houses. He was sitting on the ground with his head against the wall, his eyes looking up at the stars until she stepped into his view.
"You've been avoiding me," she said, her hands firmly on her hips.
"What?" His voice caught in his throat. "I haven't been avoiding you."
"Please, you haven't spoken to me since I kissed you."
His face turned bright red. He'd thought about that every night for the past week. The weight of her hand pressed against his chest to steady herself as she leaned over him. The way her dark curls fell in a circle around his head. Her lips light and dry as they just barely touched his own for half of a second.
He had been avoiding her because he didn't know what to do.
"Look, all you have to do is tell me if you do or do not feel the same way. If you don't, we can pretend it didn't happen and I'll keep my feelings to myself."
She was pacing, now.
She didn't want to admit that she was banking on what her dad had told her. Alden lost focus on that saw and nearly lost his finger because she had distracted him. He had to at least like the way she looked. But, that thought just made her mad. He liked her enough to ogle her, but not to actual harbor any romantic feelings towards her? She was wasted on a guy like that.
He could see her spiraling in her own thoughts and it didn't look good. He had to tell her how he felt, or this would not turn out well for either of them for a very long time.
"I feel the same," he said quietly.
She stopped in her tracks and looked at him to gauge whether or not he was being truthful.
"Delia, I think I've been in love with you my whole life. I just didn't know it until recently."
She sat next to him and looked up at the stars with him. She felt like smiling and crying at the same time.
The nights had gotten cool lately and she started to shiver. He nervously put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close against his side. She leaned her head back against his chest. This was all she wanted. For the rest of her life, this was enough. His arm around her while they looked up at the sky.
He couldn't believe how good her hair smelled. How perfectly she fit in the nook between his arm and his torso.
Collin was going to be furious when he found out, but there was no point in hiding anything here. Everyone had gotten too good at expecting secrets and snooping them out. Minus Lu. He was oblivious to the teens when it came to things like this.
Alden turned his head and paused. He was thinking way too much about whether or not his next action would displease her. He decided to go with it. He kissed her forehead. She smiled and curled up impossibly closer against him.
"You want to tell my dad, don't you?" She more stated than asked.
"You know he'll find out anyways," Alden said. "I'd rather not be dishonest with him, then have him find out, then be banned from seeing you."
"He'll try to ban you from seeing me as it is," she laughed.
"Yeah, but at least this way your mom will still like me."
They walked back to the her house, comfortably joking with each other as if nothing had changed at all. That may have been the best feeling of the whole night. They could be more than friends and the best of friends all at once.
"Seems like the two of you worked out whatever differences you've had recently," Molly smiled at the sight of them re-entering the house.
Delia just smiled and sat beside her mother on the sofa.
"Collin, can I talk with you outside for a moment?" Alden asked.
Collin shot a look at Delia, then followed Alden to the front porch.
"You can't have her," were the first words out of his mouth.
"Collin, I was hoping to date Delia with your consent," Alden frowned. "You know she's going to do what she wants whether you agree to it or not."
"And you want to be boyfriend to that?" Collin said with mock disgust, then sighed.
"I know," Collin said. "But, I don't think you understand the jeopardy you might be putting her in. If the people we worked for in the past were to ever find you, it would be the end."
"Isn't that the danger you've already placed her in?" Alden asked and Collin had no reply. "Molly chose to live here, I'm assuming knowing the danger. She chose to love you. Can't I have that? If you deserve that, don't I?"
"You do," he said. "I just always hoped it'd never be my daughter that you'd choose. If hoped she'd get away from this someday. Now?"
He shook his head.
"I can protect her," Alden said. "I will protect her."
"I know that, kid."
Collin put his hand on Alden's shoulder.
"Like you said," he sighed. "She'll get what she wants, my approval or not. I guess you'll have it so that she doesn't start sneaking around. Her mother would never forgive me."
Alden hugged Collin tightly.