The summer sun loomed down with a vindication; it seemed to want to burn the soles off their feet. Dogs barely begged for walks – Arian only ever coaxed Captain Nemo out if it meant they could walk to Kendra’s house and she could sit there with her girlfriend while their dogs played around in the shade of the apple tree that still hung over the garden fence.

Between kisses stolen while lying in the living room, ice cubes melting, forgotten, in their cups of Sangria, Kendra asked about the portal.

In proper fashion, she nudged them all away, in favour of more Sangria and a shrug. “We’ll see.”

Her aunt experimented with making ice cream that summer. She started with lemon – lemon grinds, soda water, ice, sugar – and would scoop it up into a small bowl when they were sitting in the room she had adopted as her own. Kendra loved it, suggested she try making peach ice cream as well.

Arian cried the first time she tasted the ice cream – it reminded her of her mother using the same recipe to make strawberry ice cream.

That summer, during a flash storm in the middle of July, her uncle went straight to her parents’ house while she was at Kendra’s, having dinner with her parents and gladly sheltering from the storm. She came home that evening, drenched like a sewer rat and with a smile on her lips, to see most of her old things in garbage bags, standing at the foot of the stairs.

“You’re officially moving into our attic bedroom,” her uncle said when he saw her, blowing on a mug of tea. “We start tomorrow.”

She’d never felt more at home.

On Kendra’s days off from the cinema, she sat on the window seat her father had helped her set up two years ago, and thumbed through the book she’d found at the library. She hid it every time Arian walked into her bedroom; she wanted it to be a surprise.