“Hey!” Annoyance shook through her as she heard the familiar voice running up behind her. It had been a voice that had followed her relentlessly for the past week, regardless of her stealthy nature.
She was sure she could easily avoid him, of course she could. She had lived her life doing just that. Yet he kept following her, and she kept letting him. There was a question to be asked there, but she didn’t. She just acted as though this was an inconvenience that couldn’t be avoided, despite the obvious truth.
She stopped, stepping out of the way on the busy street to avoid the angry muffled moans that would detest her standing in the way of the foot traffic on the busy sidewalk. Shoving her hands into her pockets, she waited for him to make his way through the crowd and find her.
A look of pure joy was worn so clearly on his face that she had to keep shock from her own. What could he possibly be so happy about? She asked herself. Suppressing her shock and confusion she kept her face void of all emotion as he approached her, out of breath.
She shifted her weight as he pressed his hand against the brick wall all too close to her arm and leaned into it, breathing heavily. Doubling over, he put his other hand on his knee and struggled to get in air. “Jesus, I have been screaming like a mad man, following you for blocks. Didn’t you hear me?” He looked up at her, his cheeks flushed.
Looking down at him, she said nothing, didn’t know what to say to a person in a situation like this.
Finally getting all the air he needed into his lungs, he stood up, standing before her. Outstretching his hand before him, he grinned. “I’m Hunter.”
His hand was masculine, calluses on his palms at the base of his fingers showed that he did a great deal with them. His fingernails were cut short, something she had always preferred in a man, not that she had ever spent much time thinking on her preferences. Overall his hands looked capable.
Hunter, she repeated the name in her head. How appropriate seeing as how he had done his best to hunt her down over the past week. And coincidental, but she kept that information to herself.
After more awkward moments passed with her staring blankly at this hand, he curled his fingers into his hand and dropped it to his side. Forcing a smile, he shoved his hands in his pockets and lifted his shoulders. The movement made her brow furrow as she tried to understand what it meant.
Turning, she started to walk through the crowd with Hunter on her heels. “So,” He fell in step beside her. “I’ve seen you around.”
“Yes, I was beginning to think you were my shadow.” Her tone was flat, her gaze set ahead of her.
He laughed. “Well you aren’t an easy woman to talk to.” He looked over at her, her straight stance, her hands thrust into her hoodie pockets, the way she avoided looking at him, barely spoke to him. It was odd, she was beautiful, he expected someone like her to be overly social, someone who could flirt her way through and out of anything. Yet she seemed… he shook his head and broadened his smile. “So I owe you a dinner.”
Shaking her head, she stopped, not knowing where else to walk to. “You don’t owe me anything.” She had been kicking herself for saving him from the very moment it happened. It was out of character for her.
She should have observed, that was what she did. Blending into the crowd, she would have watched it all, watched the shock, the horror. And walked away when it was all through the same person she was before. Unmoved, unaltered… not being constantly followed by the guy who stood staring at her now.
“I do!” He interjected. “If it wasn’t for you I would be a pancake on the street. I’d really like to take you out to thank you for saving me life, which is such a big deal. You’re my knight in shining armour.” He smiled.
Pursing her lips, she crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m no knight.” She told him. “And I’m not someone who likes being stalked.”
Hunter walked around her, standing in front of her to block her path. “I wasn’t stalking you. I just had to go out of my way to extend the invitation to dinner, since you kept running away from me.”
She furrowed her brow, frowning. “I do not run away.”
“Sorry.” He held up his hands before him. “You avoid me really quickly.”
His words struck her. She had killed more people than he had probably met in his whole life. She had so many tiny pieces of paper in her box that she had actually begun writing them even smaller to be sure they could all fit, and he was talking about her running away, like a coward.
The thought was insulting. She didn’t run from anything, she didn’t need to.
Had she ever had the need to run? She was like the wind. Normally unnoticed until the moment it became too forceful, and by then it was too late. The life she lived now, there was no chase. No reason to run.
Avoiding him really quickly.
Running away. The thought jolted her body like a bullet. “Fine.” She barked at him.
His eyes went wide. “Fine?”
Lifting her shoulders, she tried to soften the features she was sure had gone hard when he had mentioned running away. “Yes, fine. Dinner.”
His lips shot up into a smile. “Really?”
She nodded. She would go to a million dinners before anyone thought her a coward who would run away. He had taken a shot at her pride, and that was something she couldn’t stand for. It would be awkward, and she would no doubt hate it, but it was something she would get through and hopefully she could throw the Hunter off her scent.
“Great!” He beamed. “Where can I pick you up?”
Shaking her head, she looked around at the crowd. “I will meet you at the coffee shop across the street. Tomorrow, seven.”
“Alright.” Her directness stunned him. “Sounds good.” Moving to walk around him, he stopped her. “You’re not going to tell me your name?”
She turned and walked away.
“Alright, dinner tomorrow at seven. See you then.”