The hero and the princess - 12The wedding cake was caramel, tiered, with butter cream frosting and an edging of delicate licorice lace around the bottom. When Dante's grandmother whispered that a wedding cake should be white he faked a panic, asking with an increasingly loud voice: "The cake isn't white? It was supposed to be white; isn't it white? Why isn't the wedding cake white?" until Moonbeam elbowed his ribs and the grandmother walked away in a huff.
He didn't care what color the cake was; it was the perfect flavor, and he absolutely ruined it by sticking his fingers in the icing and feeding bits to his wife.
May was her real name. She'd given fakes to the others, just like Dante had pretended he wasn't blind.
He never stopped calling her Moonbeam.
"You have cotton candy eyes." Moonbeam told him the first time he removed his glasses for her. He told her to prove it, and she took him to the state fair where they ate and whirled until they were absolutely ill. They brought home three bags of cotton cand
The hero and the princess - 11Dante did not go to the park when the weather was nice. He had enough descriptions of the buildings, and his game wasn't fun anymore. He didn't go to the coffee shop, either, mostly because he still didn't like the taste.
Vanessa had a surgery, and Dante used staying home to be a help as an excuse to never leave the house. He developed a project or a chore when the family went out to movies on the weekend, and never felt well when it was time to do the shopping.
He didn't notice his carpet was stained with spilled desserts; Vanessa and Daphne meticulously scrubbed to get rid of the texture, the smell, but the color just wouldn't come up.
Dante kept her forgotten cardigan under his pillow. Her shoes he left on the porch, and one day they were gone. But the cardigan he kept hidden; it would wander away, if he let it.
The seasons changed and the weather turned cold. Dante enjoyed the cold weather; he never wore his boots, no matter how much it rained. Then change blew in again and the wea
The hero and the princess - 10Vanessa didn't understand what she was supposed to be doing, or saying. She looked into Dante's room and saw the girl, and the mess, then looked over her shoulder at Daphne, the sister.
"Well I don't know what she expects from me but Well I'm Vanessa; I'm Dante's mom. No no, don't get up we can shake hands later." Moonbeam was half standing, but sat back down.
"I'm May. It's nice to meet you."
"May. That's lovely. What do you do?"
"I study art."
"Fantastic." She looked around again; Dante hadn't moved, not even to look at her. "Well, you two are old enough to make your own decisions and Well I'll keep Daphne out of your hair. You kids have fun."
And she closed the door behind her.
Dante was mortified. His sister AND his mother had caught them in the act of learning the colors of desserts. What else had they been doing? Dante thought he was in shock, because for the life of him he couldn't remember anything but caramel.
Moonbeams earring jingled, and
The hero and the princess - 9Dante wore a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled to three-quarters because his sister assured him it was: "Hot." After much convincing, he also agreed to cook in his bare feet.
"If I drop something it could break my toes."
"So don't drop anything. You don't want sock lines on your pruned feet."
Dante agreed, though neither discussed the circumstances that would involve the removal of shoes.
She threw a dish towel over his shoulder and let him do the cooking; he prepared blackened salmon, rice pilaf, green beans, and garlic bread. There was no dessert, because he had high hopes for Moonbeam.
Dante answered the door at 7:08 and showed Moonbeam through the house. The table was set with candles and cloth napkins because his sister said it would disguise the fact that the table was really in the kitchen. Dante seated Moonbeam in his sister's chair and gave very specific instructions of: "Don't move" as he served their plates from the stove.
"Do you need any help?"
"Absolutely do not m
The hero and the princess - 8Dante was not surprised that he enjoyed the opera. Of course he had to remain skeptical and aloof, because that's how men were expected to act.
"Is that Italian?"
"It doesn't matter."
They sat in the balcony, so he could get "the full experience." And Dante was not disappointed; the music swept over his body and swelled within him until he was so full of it Dante was afraid he may burst. It was the most beautiful moment he had ever experienced, and tears seeped from the corners of his eyes.
Moonbeam pretended not to notice.
The drive home was quiet, with only the gentle rain and intermittent ticking turn signals to disturb his thoughts; the radio was off, and Dante focused on the soft sounds of Moonbeam's breathing.
Dante knew they were there because the car had slowed to a stop, and she'd put it in park; Moonbeam had also engaged the parking brake, which had seemed uncharacteristically cautious. Her car door opened, and Dante opened his own, and they ran back through the
The hero and the princess - 7After week's worth of colors, Dante hadn't found a favorite. And after a week's worth of colors, Dante was worn out and sick of food. He didn't typically stay out all day on a foot and food tour of the city; typically he was home by lunch time, and never left the house again.
There wasn't a whole lot for a blind man to do alone in this town.
Dante looked forward to Fridays because he could relax; he always planned to meet Moonbeam on Saturday, and she usually ambushed him on Thursday. Friday was a necessary buffer in between, so he could catch his breath.
Moonbeam was occasionally exhausting.
He sat on the bed and kicked off his shoes, then threw his head back into the pillows and propped his feet on the desk. Supper was in an hour, and he could just sleep until then. He heard the doorbell ring and his sister walk to his room. He wasn't expecting the knock, and really wasn't expecting: "Dante, you have a visitor."
First, he put on his sunglasses. Second, he quickly patted his body to m
The hero and the princess -6Green was not Dante's favorite color.
He had tried enough green to say with all certainty that it was not his favorite. So far he was partial to red, even though it had burned him; red was sweet, more often than not, while green was usually disgusting.
"We'll cover the spectrum," she'd said after overcoming her embarrassment. They sat in the grass and Moonbeam fed him all manner of green things.
"Lime is the greenest of the greens. It is the brightest, and most vivid."
Lime made his mouth pucker and they both laughed over that. Lime was in margaritas, she explained, and they were her favorite drink.
"A green olive is more yellow, and even though we haven't learned yellow, I think you'll understand."
Dante had understood and promptly spat the olive on the ground. He turned over his should, just to be sure he didn't hit her on accident. Cucumbers were dark on the outside and pale in the middle; they tasted pale and were refreshing after the raw okra.
"Are you trying to poison me?"
The hero and the princess - 5"Have you ever touched a woman, Mr. Stranger?"
They were lying in the grass at the park, because today Dante was learning about green.
"I'm blind, Moonbeam; I'm not dead."
"I was afraid of that. It's too bad."
That intrigued him, and Dante propped up on his elbow and angled toward her voice.
"Because I like to be the first to teach you about things, so you can learn the right way. Otherwise, it's all wrong."
"Are you coming on to me, little Moonbeam?"
Dante heard the laugh and grinned in response.
"You wish. And maybe a little. You just lay back in the grass and think about how green it feels because I'm embarrassed again. My cheeks are burning red like that pepper, and I'm not talking any more until they cool down."
Though he wanted to tease her more, Dante obliged and rested back into the thick green grass. Truthfully, he was tickled by her answer; Dante wanted nothing more than to feel the tilt of her chin or to run his fingers through her honeysuckle hair.
Now he had hope fo
The hero and the princess - 4Dante had never prayed for rain so hard in his life. This was a rainy time of year, about twice a week, but never on Saturdays.
"Another clear, dry weekend!"
Dante groaned. His sister rolled her eyes.
Dante had always been told that good things come to those who wait, so he waited just as patiently as he was able. He continued his routine of asking for directions when the weather was nice and sulking in the coffee shop when it rained. He never heard Moonbeam, which wasn't surprising, but he never caught her scent either. He had a distinct disadvantage in this game, because he couldn't see her to know if she'd seen him.
She could dance circles around him, as long as she was quiet about it, and he'd most likely never know. He was sulking over this when someone joined him on the park bench. He heard the rustle of a paper sack just a second before the "Open your mouth" and something small and round pressed against his tightly closed lips.
He wasn't in the habit of accepting offers like tha