Reese shifted his weight, then leaned against the massive elm that shaded him from the bright morning sun. Wisps of blue smoke rose from the tip of the cigarette that hung from his mouth, and seeped through the curtain of long, dirty bangs. The smoke filtered his vision of the blonde girl on the bench, its swirling stench dirtying her fresh face and naïve-looking charm. It gave her a grimy appeal, made her look like one of them. When he waved the smoke clear and flicked his head, forcing his hair out of his line of sight, she looked too clean. Too shiny. Like a brand spanking new dime that had never been spent. Never been touched.
He had seen her sitting on the patio outside Starbucks, with her purple shoes and ridiculous neon green backpack. She was fresh. She stared like an idiot at every person who walked by, was in awe of everything. She gobbled a simple muffin like it was her last meal. With nothing better to do, he had followed her.
He’d waited down the block from the video store. When she came out, her face was beet red and she stomped away. He fell into step behind her, stayed back half a block. When he passed the video store window, he glanced in. That loser with the lame finger ink who always hassled the girls caught sight of him and flipped him off. No wonder she stormed out. Asshole probably hit on her too.
Now she was sitting there on that bench, eating cookies. She must have one hell of a sweet tooth. Or parents that didn’t let her eat the good shit at home.
He inched closer, going from shade tree to shade tree, and stopped about ten feet behind her. He stood beside another elm, trying to look like he wasn’t staring at her. Or stalking her.
She never turned around, just watched the people who passed in front of her. Then she shifted in her seat and bounced up and down like a distracted little kid. When she turned her head fully sideways and looked down the street, a breeze caught her long blonde hair and blew it aside, revealing a clear-skinned, freckled cheek and perfect button ear.
His heart flipped and a small pang of arousal grabbed his stomach.
What the fuck was that? Had to shake that off. Don’t want to complicate things, to deal with any girl shit right now.
He slid behind the tree and finished his cigarette, staring across the park’s expanse to the wide river far beyond.
He butted his cigarette against the tree, dropped the filter on the ground, then peered around the trunk at the bench.
She was still there, fidgeting and leaning forward, watching something across the street. Then she jumped up and jaywalked, hesitated, and stepped into the deli.
So she needed a bathroom. That’s what all that twitching was about. She’d better buy something or shit would hit the fan.
He jogged across the street and headed for the alley.
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