He nodded, intensely conscious of the warmth of her fingers, and the softness of her skin. With her face cleared of the dark makeup, she looked so much the image of his dream girl. He tingled all over, like echoes of the love in his dream.
He cleared his throat. “My family was from Kent, with German and Danish influences, according to Dad’s family tree software. And photos of him when he was my age look practically identical to me, so I have no doubts there.”
“But you have ... talents?”
“Yes, I was talking about that with Charlie before you showed. Excellent memory, analytical skills. A good IQ, for whatever that’s worth. And I’ve had dreams.”
She nodded, taking another look at the sketch on the table. “Prophetic dreams. And I contend you are probably seeing auras, but not recognizing them as such. When did you first notice Charlie, and why?”
He thought back. “At a pep rally. Why do you ask?”
“Why did you notice him in particular?”
“Ah, he sat beside you, then went away.”
“What about the guy who sat on the other side of me?”
He tried to remember. “No clue.”
She nodded. “For no obvious reason, you picked Charlie out of a crowd. For no obvious reason, you were particularly aware of him, even when we just passed in the halls. And for trivial reasons, you accosted a guy you’d never met and demanded to know about a sister that you had no logical reason for knowing about.”
“Well, it so happens that...”
She raised her hand to silence his objection. “Why did you start to pay attention to me?”
“Well, you were staring at me all the time.”
“All the time? I doubt that.”
“I thought you were stalking me. Every where I turned, you were there, a black figure in the distance, watching me.”
She nodded. “So, you were looking for me in every crowd, hunting for a glimpse of me.”
“Well, you in your black outfit, you were hard to miss!”
“What about the six or seven other goth girls at school, who also wear black? Did you notice them?”
Sam frowned, trying to visualize. “I don’t remember.”
“You have excellent memory, but you didn’t see them. You just saw me. It’s what I’ve been trying to tell Charlie all this time. You do sense auras. You just don’t realize it. It’s like a subconscious neon sign hovering around him and me, pointing us out in a crowd of thousands of people.
“And we sense the same thing about you.”
Charlie grumbled again. “She sees it. I know what she’s talking about, but I don’t see them either.”
Sam asked, “So your talent? I assume you’re seeing more stuff in auras than what we’re experiencing?”
She smiled. “Oh so much more! I see auras on everyone, not just you guys. I even see auras around buildings. I could tell when the school billboard was due to blow down, remember Charlie?”
“A month before it happened. I’m not willing to call that a prediction. You just saw that it was weak.”
“Well, interpretation is the thing. I’ve made my share of bad calls. Some things are clear as can be. Others are just indications.”
She leaned towards Sam. “We are meant to be together. And that’s as clear as it comes.”
He nodded. “I’d say the same.” And he meant it. Doubts were vanishing by the minute.
Charlie cleared his throat. “Romance is all very well, but it gets us no closer to solving our main mystery. Why are we different? What made us this way? And is there a purpose to all this?”
She laughed like a crystal bell, “That’s Charlie grumbling about my world view. How is Sandra doing these days?”
“Sandy is doing just fine. Not an aura or vision in sight. She’s an ‘A’ student due to her own hard work.”
She smiled fondly at her brother. “Are you treating her well?”
“Dinner last Saturday night cost me $120. And she likes me for my sense of humor more than for my math skills, thank you very much.”
She turned to Sam. “And yes, I did check out her aura before I gave my blessing. She’s a good soul that worries about my goth phase.” She looked down at her outfit.
“Pardon me guys. I’ll be back in a minute.”
Sam looked at the guy across the table. Whether her claim of destiny was true or not, the idea that she was his mate felt wonderful now. But that made him... “I guess you’ll be a de facto brother-in-law. De jure as soon as I can swing it.”
Charlie was still gloomy. “Propose to her, not to me. She can check out my girlfriends, but I have no say of what she does, or who she likes.”
Sam nodded. “Do you have any ideas about the ‘main mystery’? Sounds like you’ve been thinking about it for a long time.”
“Aliens. I don’t know who or why. And if they’re responsible for my birth mother’s death, they have a lot of explaining to do.”
“Not a fan of spirits or angels?”
Sam tapped the table again. “And I’m not a fan of random happenstance. There’s something driving this pattern of events.”
She came back out of the ladies' restaurant, changed.
The black dress was poking out of the top of her tote bag. She was wearing a pink light-weight garment that was probably an underwear slip or something, but with a belt and an attitude it was as decent as other clothes Sam had seen girls wearing at the mall.
She dropped a big bundle of severed black hair on the table and shook her radically shorter remaining tresses. “I’ve been dying these black so long, it’s going to be strange to go back to red. But I’ll have to visit a hair salon to get it cut closer.”
She grinned and her eyes sparkled at the effect she was having. “Agatha’s days are over.” She took Sam’s hands.
“Charlie probably told you about his math puzzle things--how he doesn’t solve them, the answers are just there. Well, that’s how I see life. I don’t question your prophetic dream--our prophetic dreams. They just are. That’s just how the world is supposed to be.
“So in the morning, at school, I want us to be a couple. It’s time. We don’t need elaborate cover stories for our friends. Are you okay with that?”
“Yes I am.”
“And it’s Teri, from now on.”
He nodded. He wished he’d remembered a ring in his dreams, but there hadn’t been one. He had no more doubts. She was the girl he’d loved for years. “From now on. You and me.”
She smiled, suddenly timid. Then she abruptly dropped his hands and grabbed her bag. “But I have to go now! The transformation has to be complete before all the shops close.”
He snagged her free hand and pulled her to a kiss.
She brushed at her head, where there would have been hair. Another timid smile, and she was off.
Sam stood up. He picked up her discarded hair and began stuffing it into his bag. “I guess I’ll go too.”
Charlie reached out and gripped his wrist like a vise. “Sit back down. There’s some things you need to know.”