When I catch my breath, I rush downstairs and out into the lot, completely ignoring Janice and the children.
Ryan is stroking the beast's neck. I walk up slowly behind him. The large violet eye of the beast looks at me, and I stop cold in my tracks. It looks and looks, until finally letting out a low purr. Ryan laughs, and I can't help but laugh with him.
He spins around fast, "Woah, didn't hear you coming! Way to scare me, Felicia."
I give a small smile, "I'm sorry. But you scared me even more! What were you thinking, running out here to this animal we don't even know!"
"I'm sorry. I don't know why I did it. I just did."
I shake my head, "Oh, Ryan! I wonder about you!"
"Wanna know something that will make you wonder more?" He chuckles.
I don't answer.
"Her name is Sparky!" as soon as he says her name, the beast nudges his shoulder with her beak. Ryan rubbs her chin, "Come pet her. She's nice."
I come up slowly, reaching out. Sparky doesn't move as I come near. When my fingertips finally reach her neck, I'm shocked. I had expected soft feathers, but her feathers are coarse. I look closely as I stroke her. Each feather is like a thousand bones strung upon a frozen string. The tiny bones make a slight tinkling noise as they brush against each other.
"Hello, Sparky." I'm breathless.
Sparky purrs again, in an almost laughing way. She nudges me a little too hard with her beak, and I fall over in Ryan's arms.
"Hey," he says, quietly.
"Hi," It's barely audible.
And then, without warning, his lips touch mine.