The night was calm and peaceful, an ironic contrast to the thunderstorm of nerves and trepidations washing around in the pit of his stomach. He stood outside her balcony. His betrothed. Although he supposed that that long ago promise wouldn't be considered binding by any sane person. But Nick wasn't any sane person.
He remembered back when he was twelve and she was eight. They had played out by the ocean, and then laid on the beach, soaking up the sun.
"Nicky, do you think I'm pretty?" she suddenly asked.
"Do you think I'm prettier than Shelly Hopewither?"
"She's got bigger breasts."
"That doesn't answer my question."
"Huh, I thought it did." Allison rolled over and got up with a distinct "humph", and started to walk away. Nick scrambled after her.
"What's with you?" he asked.
"Nothing," she replied nonchalantly, but she quickened her pace.
"Come on, don't be a baby, you know I was just teasing."
"I'm not a baby."
"Then stop acting like one."
"Stop being mean to me. You're just like Howard and Zachary, why don't you just go be their friend and leave me alone," Allison said this with a distinct sob in her voice and took off in a run. Nick stared after her for a moment then took off in a run after her, catching her easily, and pulling her to him.
He held her by her upper arms and looked down into her tear stained little face. "What did Howard and Zachary say to you?" He would find them later and make them pay for whatever they said that hurt her feelings so badly.
"They said that I was ugly and a brat and they didn't know why you let me hang around you, and--that's it," during her speech she started to cry harder and harder.
"What else did they say?"
She blushed and looked away. "They said that I must have more under my dress than they could see, for you to put up with me all the time." Ally didn't comprehend fully what they meant by that last comment, but she understood it was bad. Now she couldn't keep herself from bawling.
Nick looked ready to murder, "I'm going to kill them," he muttered under his breath, to her he said, "Ally, don't listen to them, you're fun, intelligent, and I love you hanging around me all the time."
"I" ... sniffle ... sniffle... "don't believe" ... sob... "you."
"You are also the prettiest girl I have ever seen."
"You're just trying to make me feel better. You don't think I'm pretty," she said between sobs.
"Yes I do."
Nick really meant it to. She looked like a little wood sprite with her big green eyes, and little button nose. Her wavy blonde hair was so smooth and soft, that he would find himself stroking it absently sometimes.He had loved her from the first moment he had seen her, though he was too young to really understand his feelings, or what to do about them. Instead of telling her he loved her and would do anything for her, which he would, he teased her and poked her and pushed her.
But today, with her being so upset, and him staring down into her pretty little face (even with her puffy red eyes and snotty nose), he couldn't make a joke, instead he did the only thing that entered his mind to do. He kissed her. He pressed his lips ever so lightly to hers, and he felt a spark of fire race through him so intense and wonderful he never wanted it to end.
When he finally pulled away she asked, "Do you really think I'm pretty?"
"Pretty enough to marry?"
"Will you marry me then?"
Allison gave him a cute little smile, and a kiss on the cheek and ran off home. Nick thought that she would forget about her marriage proposal, but she didn't. After that, she would tell him about her plans for their future, whether it was that they were going to run a circus, and he would be in charge of the lions and she would be the tightrope walker, or they were going to open a vineyard, he would plant the grapes and she would smash them. And even though her plans were wild and impractical, Nick liked hearing them, and picturing the two of them together, married, in the future. So soon, for both of them, it was a given that they would get married one day, and they would talk about where they were going to live and what they were going to do, and no matter their planned future, they were always together.
So here he found himself, standing outside her balcony, on a calm and peaceful night. The eve before her wedding, ready to kidnap the bride. He climbed her balcony, and up into her room. He saw her for the first time in what seemed like forever. She took his breath away, she was how he remembered her, but different. She was older, of course, and she had only grown more beautiful. He could see her body because she had kicked off her covers in her sleep. While she was still tiny, she looked ripe and full in all the right places. Her nightgown had ridden up to reveal one creamy white thigh, and Nick could all but resist to reach out and stroke it.
He thought about what he should do from here. He didn't want to scare her, but he had to wake her and take her out of here. He wondered what she would do when she saw him, if she would be angry of if she would hug him and welcome him with open arms. Well, he would find out one way or the other.
"Allison?" he said gently. She opened her eyes groggily, then upon seeing him, let out a blood-curdling scream.