“It’s just…” Bel fluttered one hand. “Everyone assumes. It’s not just because people here know my parents. It’s just…” Her hand gesture took in a body and a face that were, by all objective standards, beautiful. “There’s this. There’s this, and I’m friendly. And people assume friendly means… friendly.“
“And then you’re here,” Porter picked up. “Here in Addergoole, where sex is practically an obligation and the primary after-school sport, and everyone, everyone is looking to hook up.”
He looked down at his hands. “And it doesn’t take someone offering to Jas up your Hugs-” He paused to let Bel giggle, a little desperately, at his mangling of the Words for repair and emotion. He gave her an echoed smirk, and then continued. “-for you to start wondering ‘is there something wrong with me?'”
Bel nodded, her blonde curls bobbing. “And you wonder… well, I like the dating things. I like the romance. Maybe if I just tried…?“
“And there’s no shortage of people to try with, really. Not here.” Porter leaned forward over the table.
“Not anywhere. Everyone’s ‘doing it.’ And it’s all so… sorrid. And what I really wanted…” Bell was fingering the tip of one of her horns.
“…Fairy Tale romance. A story of love. A story of flowers and wine and devotion and a hand to hold.”
“Exactly. Exactly!” Bel leaned forward, now, until she and Porter almost bumped foreheads over the table. “Exactly.” She looked Porter straight in the eyes, and then, her nose nearly touching his, started giggling.
Porter’s lips twitched in an nervous smile. “What?”
“Come all the way to Addergoole. Come all the way to Addergoole to find a boy who doesn’t think friendly means sex.”
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