When he looked up from the hair in his hand, his jaw dropped open. Our eyes met, and even in the poor light from the motion sensors, his eyes were the most brilliant shade of blue I’d ever seen.
Something deep inside me, something I thought to have been nonexistent, stirred.
He wasn’t much older than me, maybe just a few years. He was dressed in a tight black t-shirt and dark jeans. The leather jacket he wore during his earlier activities against the truck was gone. His sandy blonde hair lay in contrast to all the darkness, grown just long enough to keep tucked behind his ears. His blonde goatee and eyebrows matched. Black and grey tattoos, designs I couldn’t make out, started on top of his right hand and ran upward, covering his entire arm, disappearing under his t-shirt, emerging again out of his collar, stopping at the base of his neck.
When he spoke, the aggression from seconds before was gone. “You?” he asked in a whisper, which quickly turned to a frustrated shout. “What the fuck? I could have killed you!” The gun wasn’t pointed at me anymore. It was resting in his hands instead, like it was an accessory, as unthreatening as if he were holding his keys.
“I know,” I muttered. Part of me hoped he would have killed me. I stood up and brushed the hair from my eyes. The blonde stranger looked confused. He scratched at his goatee.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” he asked as he tucked the gun into the back waistband of his jeans.
“Nothing. I’m not doing anything,” I said. I reached into the truck, grabbed my backpack from the seat, and started walking toward the fence. The blonde stranger kept pace beside me, eyeing the truck and then my bag.
“Are you...are you living here?” he asked. Now, he was just getting on my nerves. I didn’t know this guy. He had no right to ask about my business, gun or no gun. “Answer me. What are you doing here?” He grabbed my shoulders and turned me to him.
Even with the layer of clothing in between us, my skin started to burn instantly. I shrugged out of his grip “Let me go!” I screamed. When he recognized the panic in my eyes, he did just that.
“Just tell me why you’re here,” he said, in a softer, less demanding tone. He smelled like leather and wind, and he kept rubbing his hand over his facial hair. I wondered if he always did that when he was trying to figure something out.
“Why are you here?” I asked, turning the tables on him. The best way to not answer a question was to ask one.
“This is my dad’s yard, and I’m in town running the shop out front for a while. I’m staying in the attached apartment, so technically, I live here.” He tucked his hands in his pockets the way any boy at my high school would do. He couldn’t have been more than twenty-three, but when his face was set in that hard expression, with his forehead creased and his lips set in a straight line, he looked much older.
“Shit,” I said. I was hoping he was trespassing just like me. Instead, I’d been caught—and by the fucking owner’s son no less.
I needed to get the fuck out of there.
I side-stepped him, to the left and then to the right, and he finally let me pass. I ran for the gate and tried to pry it open as fast as possible, but it was at least twelve feet high and extremely heavy. This was the reason I had cut the hole in the fence to begin with. I heaved and heaved until finally it gave way. Then I turned and found the stranger who, just moments ago, held a gun to my temple, was now helping me open the gate.
“You didn’t think you were that strong, did you?” A smirk played on his lips.
“Thanks,” I muttered as I stepped through the gate and hurried down the road.
“Hey, wait,” he called. I froze. I thought he was going to tell me he was calling the cops or his father, or someone who would end up sending me back into the devil’s lair of foster care. Instead, he asked, “What’s your name?”
He hesitated. “Jake,” he finally said. He leaned up against the gate on one arm, crossing his legs at the ankles. I barely noticed I was biting my lower lip. I stopped when I realized I was openly gawking at him. He would be one hell of a good looking guy... for anyone who might like the creepy, angry, violent type.
I don’t know what compelled me to tell him my name. For all I knew, he’d use it to file the police report. “Abby,” I said as I turned again to walk away.
“Hey, Abby?” he called to me. “Next time just come through the gate. Or better yet, knock on the door.” He nodded toward the main building, and then gestured to a small garbage can hiding where I’d cut a hole in the fence. “No more cuttin’ holes, okay?”