Grappling Gizmo, I ventured off the bottom step, feeling the cool chill that swept through the open door.

Catching her breath on the doorstep was Lily, courteously complimenting Toby on his Barrel costume, from the rounded white mask that covered his face to the skeleton bones on his clothes, which he proudly declared to be glow in the dark.

"Where's yours?" Toby then said, pointing to the green coat that was wrapped around Lily. "I thought you were gonna be Shock?"

"Yeah, and I told you that being a witch and devil was boring," I said, stepping around the door, keeping Gizmo held close to my chest. "Lily and I are going as Kim Boggs and Edward Scissorhands, who are way cooler."

Soft footsteps approached, and I felt the fabric of Amanda's skirt swish against my left leg. She placed a hand on Toby's shoulder, bracelets jangling as they slid down her wrist. "Let Lily come in Toby, that way we can get this door closed."

Backing in Amanda's arms, Toby freed up space on the doorway to allow Lily in, and I pushed the door to behind her with my foot. With the breeze sealed off, warmth returned to the hallway, along with the familiar scent of popcorn and burning wood.
Gizmo was now even more inclined to break free, and he sprung out of my arms the moment I crouched down. He immediately brushed his body against Lily's nearest leg, staring up at her.

Lily stiffened at the unexpected softness, but the tension dissolved as she glanced down and saw Gizmo, Unzipping her coat with her free hand, Lily's head moved ever so slightly, undoubtably her taking in what looked more like the Halloween aisle of a supermarket than a conventional hallway.

"Toby went a bit mad with the decorations," I explained, and Lily turned around.
Her coat had fallen away to reveal slender shoulders and the top of her costume. I averted my gaze to meet Lily's, her cheeks glowing from the cold.
Fortunately, she turned away again as Toby tugged at her closest hand.

"Lily, lily, come help us make popcorn!"

"Taylor's still costume-less, so how about we leave those two to get ready upstairs?" Amanda intervened, outstretching a hand to Lily as Toby reluctantly released his. "Let me take your coat love."

My gaze darted from the toy spiders that dangled from the staircase across to the orange paper chains above the lounge, then down to Lily.

All those bizarre sensations from the last few weeks seemed to suddenly culminate in a mental explosion that rendered me frozen. Unable to look away, I took in every aspect of her: the fluffy fringe that hung just above her eyelashes, lean fingers that smoothed the silky white fabric sweeping along her body, the slight dimple that emerged amongst the crevice of her turned up lips.

"What is it? Is there a stain?" Lily's concerned voice snapped me out of my creepy staring. Her forehead rumpled before she bowed her head and ran her own eyes over herself.

"No, no," I managed, the acknowledgement of the simple beauty in her presence stripping me of the ability to say more than one word. Somehow, honesty crept onto my dumbstruck tongue, forcing my lips to move against my will. It's look lovely. Not that you don't usually look lovely, you just look lovelier than usual."

'Wow. That totally didn't sound weird. At all. Thanks a lot brain.'

Despite having taken up the remainder of this year's appropriate amount of time to stare at someone in the last few minutes, I couldn't stop myself from sneaking another glance at Lily.

Her flushed cheeks had reddened, but the crinkle beside her eyes that matched her smile suggested that she was pleased rather than embarrassed.

"Thank you," She murmured. There was a genuinely surprised inflection to her voice. A hint of vulnerability flickered in her expression, before Lily recovered herself. "I'm sure you'll look great in your costume too; I can't wait for you to see it. Come on, let's get upstairs so I can show you."

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