"How fortunate that we bumped into one another again - well, not literally this time! Here's what I owe you. Thanks for lending it to me!" He put the money into my hand so fast I had no time to react.
There was just enough for me to buy the book. Mrs. Brown smiled and her pudgy hand took the money from my still open palm in one elegant swoop. She put the book in a bag and handed it to me. I thanked her like a robot, and walked out, not quite certain of what had just happened.
He followed me out into the street, very closely; I could feel the heat of his body when his tall frame almost touched me. I did not like anyone standing so near to me. I turned around, with the intention of telling him that, and in the process managed to get the toe of my shoe stuck in some crack in the pavement. The resulting pirouette made me fall right against him.
His arms were around me immediately. I could feel his heat – he was so hot he felt feverish. For a second I was glad I had put on one of the shirts Grandma had bought me, instead of the worn and washed-out old T-shirts that I preferred to wear, which were way past their colorful days. Then I realized what I was thinking and that I was there, not moving, leaning against his chest. Suddenly I became very aware of his arms around me. My brain went into overdrive, telling me that his mysterious appearance had had once again coincided with something weird happening. First the book, now the...something in the bookstore.
"Let me go!" I breathed. My voice sounded feeble, even to me.
He did, immediately, and for a short while I looked him straight in the eyes. I had never seen eyes that blue. And of course I blushed. Damn! I hated that I blushed so easily. I could feel the red patches rising on my neck and cheeks. Oh great. I bet I was covered in blotches. His gaze slid to my necklace – the one Grandma had given me. Then his eyes were back on my eyes, with a slightly amused twinkle. The draw of his gaze was strong and insistent. I had never felt such... presence in anyone's eyes.
I shook myself awake, and counted one plus one. I felt half paralyzed, and forced myself to move and step back from him.
"Who are you? Are you one of the shadows? Why did you give me that book? How do you know my name?" My questions blurted out one after another, not giving him the chance to answer them.
Suddenly I was furious, maybe because I was embarrassed at being drawn into those blue, insistent eyes. I was certain now that this young man was not ordinary. He had been there when I got the book. He had appeared right after I saw the invisible... something... in the bookstore. He knew my name. How could he know my name? I had never met him... Or had I? I wasn't sure. He certainly had a feeling of familiarity about him. And damn he was hot. And I don't mean just his body temperature.
"Shadow?" his smile widened even more. Good grief, he actually had a dimple. "No, I don't consider myself a shadow. Indeed not," he chuckled to himself. A low purring chuckle that made me swallow.
"But in there..." I pointed at the bookstore, "there was something - or someone - who is not... human. I saw it. Or didn't. It was like movement... Invisible..."
I shut up and realized that his eyes had grown serious as they stared into mine, as though he was searching for something. Of course. My sanity. That was the thing he was missing. If he was not one of those shadows Kitty had warned me against, then he probably thought I was nuts. Not only did I stumble against people for no reason, but I also mumbled about shadows and invisibility.
"Dana!" Mom's voice saved me.
I turned hastily and walked away from him, still feeling the warmth of his body through my thin shirt, sure that I had made a total fool of myself.
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