“What are we looking at?”
She jumped at the sound of his voice before snapping the blinds shut. Her boyfriend raised his brows as he reached so far up so that when he peeked through the coverings, she couldn’t stop him.
“Oh, hey, we’ve got new neighbors! We should go introduce ourselves.”
“Maybe later when they’re not moving their shit inside.”
“I mean we’re already spying on them. We might as well do it now.”
Ignoring him, Kallen brushed past him to grab a bowl of cereal for herself, when she heard him say, “Wow…” in such a tone, she couldn’t help but backtrack.
But whatever had suddenly appeared rendered him so speechless, her question was left unanswered. Curious, she ducked under his arm to join in on the observation and was well-rewarded for what she saw across the street was one of the most beautiful women she had ever lay her eyes upon. A large, black sunhat crowning her waist-length emerald hair, its brim was so large it nearly obscured her charcoal, circular sunglasses and threw her slinky, black, floor-length dress into its shadow. If it weren’t 80 degrees outside, Kallen would have been jealous over how stylish their new neighbor was. But it was, so she only snorted.
“Did someone die or something? What’s with all the black?”
“Hey,” her boyfriend chided. “Could be. You never know.”
Shamed into silence, she wordlessly apologized to the woman, when she heard a clink. Glancing behind her, she saw Gino stretching. His fingertips nearly brushing the ceiling, he groaned before letting his arms swing to his sides.
“We’re going to go say hello.”
She meant to protest. She meant to dig her feet in and argue that they should wait, that they should give her some time to settle in before showing up on her doorstep, but he was so excited and enthusiastic that he was out the door and halfway across the street by the time she opened her mouth to persuade him otherwise.
Slipping on her flip-flops, she slammed the door shut as she sprinted after him. Cursing under her breath with every slap on the boiling concrete, she tried not to feel too underdressed before the lady by reasoning with herself. Who could blame her for wearing a tank top and shorts at the peak of a Californian spring? If anything, she was the strange one, with all that dark clothing. Or so she tried to tell herself anyway.
“Oh, this is Kallen,” he added. “My girlfriend.”
“I see,” she said coolly. Her voice seemed to melt, it was so soft and sensual.
“So are you alone or…?”
“My family.” She reached up to gracefully adjust her sunglasses as she looked up at him. Kallen winced as the enormous diamond flashed at her.
She nodded. Cool, indeed.
An awkward silence settled over the trio, but apparently Kallen was the only one who noticed because Gino kept smiling and their neighbor preoccupied herself with the movers. Gently she tried to nudge him towards bringing about closure to the stunted conversation, when they saw a figure turn the corner.
“Oh, hey,” brightly greeted Gino. It was all she could do to resist from grabbing him by his braids and dragging him back home. Meanwhile the man’s brows disappeared behind his fringe before returning to what she presumed to be their usual place as he hitched the toddler up and stepped forward to shake his hand.
“Lelouch vi Britannia.”
“Wow, fancy name.”
“Well, like it or not, it’s the only one I have.”
Gino laughed. “True that. And what’s this little guy’s name?”
“Hi, Leopold. I’m Gino.”
But the boy only hid his face before furtively peeping at him. His father glanced at him, and Kallen noticed the jade pendants hanging from his ears.
Well, these neighbors were at least far more fashionable than their last, she could say at least that much.
“I’m sorry but you’ll have to excuse us,” suddenly said Lelouch. “We’ve much to do with limited time.”
“Oh, yeah, of course. We should have dinner sometime together though. Once you’re all settled in, you guys can come over and we’ll fire up the grill or something. We got a pool in our backyard that I think Leopld would really like.”
Lelouch smiled while his wife’s scarlet lips remained completely horizontal.
“That’s very gracious of you.”
Gino nodded as he grinned at them. Placing his arm around the silent lady’s waist, their new neighbor politely returned his smile, though with far less enthusiasm.
“Now, if you’ll excuse us.”
As they returned to their own home, Kallen couldn’t help but glance over her shoulder. There was just something so strange about the couple… Not because the mistress of the house across the street was so cold and silent, or even because the master had maneuvered around giving a direct reply, but because… Well, she was quite pale, wasn’t she? And he with that strange arm sleeve. Perhaps he had a bad tattoo that he wanted to cover up?
Strange. It was all very strange. Though to be fair, they were probably saying the same thing about them. It wasn’t every neighbor, after all, that came heedlessly running just to introduce himself and invite what technically amounted to complete strangers into their house and home.
But then again: when were first impressions ever really normal?