Rae casually set her plate of food down on an adjacent table, trying not to look like a totally ill mannered person for not introducing herself before taking food. She wiped her nervously moist hand on her pant leg before extending it in greeting. “Hi, Miss Pitch. I’m Rae. Theo has told me so much about you--”

Her words were cut off as the woman squished her in a strong embrace. “Oh, I am so glad to finally meet you! You can both call me Makenna.” His mom turned to Koa next, hugging him too, then turning back to Rae to hug her once more. Only this time she whispered in Rae’s ear, “Thank you for looking out for him.”

“Huh?” Rae asked, confused by the woman’s gratitude.

She went in to hug Koa again, but Everett stopped her. “Okay, Mom. I think you hugged everyone enough now. Why don’t we go inside to talk? I can barely hear myself think out here.” The fireworks were nearing the finale, their rate and level of noise increasing.

“Yes, good idea! Come inside. We can chat and I’ll set up the guest beds for you,” Makenna said, motioning for them to follow her to the back door.

Rae was a little taken aback by her insinuation that they were staying the night. She sure wasn’t going to argue with anyone about it, but it still surprised her at how fast Makenna was at offering her home to two near perfect strangers.

“Guest beds?” Rae whispered to Everett in her mind.

“If that’s all right with you--”

“Of course!” Rae turned to smile at him. “Your mom is really nice.”

→ ←

Everett plopped down on the couch, motioning for Rae to sit with him. When she hesitated, he reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her onto the couch with him. When her momentary surprise faded, she surprised Everett and pulled him into a long kiss.

“Get a room you two,” Koa joked as he walked into the living room with a plate of food. “I know you guys had your secret cabin back at Imitheos, but there’s no cabin around here.”

“You knew about that?” Everett asked him bashfully.

“I’m an instructor there, and I’m barely three years older than you. I have my ways,” Koa told him.

“Okay so, Koa, that’s your name right? Well you’re gonna stay in Everett’s room, and Rae, we have a guest room that you can use,” Makenna said as she walked in the living room.

→ ←

Rae stood, feeling only a little uncomfortable. “Thank you, Miss Pitch--I mean Makenna. This is really nice of you.” Then she turned to Koa. “Will you help me get our bags out of the car?”

Koa shrugged and headed outside.

“You stay here,” Everett said to her. “I’ll help him.”

Then it was just Rae and Makenna. Slowly turning her head and attempting to smile pleasantly, Rae faced the older woman. “So, what did you mean when you thanked me outside?”

“My son has always had a tendency to attract the bullies no matter where he goes. Something to do with his sensitivity, I suppose. But when I heard what you did for him, how you stood up for him, well I just knew I was going to like you.”

Rae blushed and looked at her feet. “Oh, well… Thanks. It was really nothing. I never liked those kids anyways.”

Makenna tilted her head. “It also had something to do with your feelings for Everett, didn’t it?”

Rae nodded bashfully. “Well, that too. I haven’t ever really liked anyone as much as him before.”

“He’s lucky to have found you,” she said with a genuine smile.

At that moment, the boys returned. “What did you pack in here, Rae,” Everett complained as he carried her duffel bag. “It weighs more than you.”

Rae’s eyes widened at his comment, which just directly implied in front of his mother that Everett had picked her up to know how much she weighed. And as if it couldn’t get anymore awkward, Rae was now going to have to explain that the bag contained mostly weapons.

Mercifully, Makenna only laughed. “Just carry it upstairs like a gentleman, Everett. No need to complain.”
“Yes, mother,” Everett mocked with a small smile as he carried the bag upstairs.

Rae followed after him to see where she would be staying the night. The room was decorated with floral wallpaper and the queen sized bed was covered in a floral quilt. The theme of the room was definitely flowers. “Cute,” Rae said as she looked around.

Everett hefted her bag onto the bed and began unzipping it.

“Hey!” Rae exclaimed.

He ignored her. “Now what in the world is in here?” He started pulling out her clothes on top to set them aside, revealing the catapults, knives, and various other weaponry stuffed beneath.

He shuffled around some more in the bag but suddenly froze.

“What?” Rae asked. “What is it? You got something to say? I’m a demigod, Theo. I don’t go anywhere unarmed. My collection isn’t unhealthy, in fact, it’s quite healthy. It’s how I protect myself so if you are gonna judge--”

He interrupted her fake speech. “Sorry. No judgment. I’m gonna go get ready for bed. The bathroom is down the hall on the left.” He left abruptly.

Rae’s eyebrows drew together as she watched him go. What had him in such a hurry? Walking over to her bag, she huffed and began repacking. As she reached to put something back, she saw what it was that had him running off so fast. At the bottom of the bag she had packed her extra bra. Rae’s first instinct was to laugh, but next came an embarrassed flush. “Oh, Mood Ring,” she whispered as she shook her head and finished putting her things away.

After changing into her shorts and tshirt for bed, Rae padded on bare feet to the bathroom to brush her teeth and comb her hair. After throwing the unruly locks into a ponytail in defeat, Rae grabbed her toothbrush.

Everett entered then and paused. “Oh, sorry. I can wait till you’re done.”

“Get in here, Theo,” she said around her mouthful of toothpaste. “It’s not like I’m naked.”

She was slightly pleased by the flush that crept up his neck to his cheeks. Okay… She was greatly pleased.

They brushed their teeth next to each other, Rae noticeably trying to keep her thoughts under control. It would be too much fun to mess with him and think about the bra incident, but she tried to tone it down.

Everett sighed. “I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to… you know, pry or anything.”

Rae spit and started laughing with her head in the sink.

“Why are you laughing? You think it’s funny?”

Rae shook her head but didn’t stop laughing. She shrieked when he jumper cabled her from behind. “Okay! Okay! I yield!” she begged, but he didn’t let up.

Instead he threw her over his shoulder and carried her through the halls, depositing her on the bed. There was a mischievous look to his eyes, like he might start tickling her again, but the look started to fade as he looked at Rae stretched out on the bed. He bent down and kissed her softly, her back arching as she leaned into it from below.

When he stood up, Rae smirked at him. “Neither of us are going to get any sleep tonight now,” she told him. “At least, you might not.”

“What do you mean?” he asked confused.

“After you kiss me like that, I can’t help it if I go a little crazy and think outrageous things. I’ll probably fall asleep eventually, but I can’t promise my dreams won’t be any less… Well…” She started to chuckle. “Hopefully you can ignore my thoughts tonight.”

He raised his eyebrows at her. “All I did was kiss you.”

“That’s all it takes, Mood Ring. You drive me crazy.”

He shook his head, kissing her one last time. “Good night, crazy. Try to get some sleep.”

Rae did eventually fall asleep, though she stayed up a good hour fantasizing about her and Everett. She kept it somewhat under control for the sake of her boyfriend sleeping downstairs on the couch. She didn’t want to torture him too much. It was some of the best sleep she had gotten in a long while, knowing that she wasn’t far from Everett if she needed him and knowing that tomorrow she didn’t have to leave him.

→ ←

“So I made pancakes with milk gravy, waffles, and bacon, although I think Koa finished all of that. I also have sausage, spam, and if you don’t want any of those I can make eggs,” Makenna told a half awake Rae who had just came down stairs.

Everett snickered at the face Rae made at the mention of all the food. He himself had already grabbed his plate of food, and he returned to it after receiving warning glares from both women in the room.

“I’ll take one, no three of everything,” she said with a yawn and a smile.

Everett couldn’t help but stare a little as Rae stretched her arms above her head. He was still extremely happy that she was here. He liked having her and her thoughts around, despite some of them keeping him up late at night.

“You know it’s rude to stare,” he heard Rae say through her thoughts.

Everett swallowed in an attempt to control the blush creeping up his face. He turned back to his food once again, but he didn’t want to leave it at that.

“I know it’s rude, that’s exactly why I did it. I’m still mad at you from last night,” he countered in his mind.

“Was it really that bad?” Rae asked with a smirk in his direction.

Everett looked back at her. “I got three hours of sleep last night!”

“But I bet the hours before that were amazing,” Rae taunted, biting her lip and raising her eyebrows.

“What are you two doing?” Makenna asked as she turned around and noticed their faces.

“Oh, Everett can read minds, but he can also project his voice into someone else’s head, so they’re probably having a conversation of sorts,” Koa explained to Everett’s confused mother.

Makenna raised her eyebrows for a second before scrunching her face up in thought. “So, wait, my son can read minds?” she asked incredulously.

“Yeah, its pretty cool. Not many kids at Imitheos can do that.” Koa ended up in a deep conversation with Makenna shortly after.

After a few minutes of them talking, Makenna finally asked, “So they could be talking about anything right now?” Koa nodded in response, and Makenna turned to the couple who were still talking via thoughts. “What are you two talking about?”

Everett whipped his head towards her, a deep blush threatening to creep up his face. “Nothing,” he said a little louder than expected.

There was a loud thud as Rae fell into the cabinet next to her, her laughter filling the room. She was shaking uncontrollably, her laughter getting louder and more obnoxious by the second.

Everett looked down at his plate, trying to hide from Makenna’s suspicious gaze. “I’m the oldest person in this room, and I know a lot of things. Which one of those things is making Rae laugh and you blush as pink as one Mrs. Ritchner’s roses?” she asked, just managing to keep a straight face.

“I- I, uh,” his flustered stuttering broke the self control Makenna had and she began laughing almost as much as Rae.

Quite of few minutes later, Makenna and Rae had both calmed down. “Okay, so here’s your breakfast Rae, and then I guess you guys will set off?” Makenna asked as she handed Rae her plate.