when you want something
don’t you ever stop chasing
and when you learn to love it
don’t you dare let it leave.
“Ka-Kayden. .?” I managed to call out to him, even though I had been reduced to a panting and sniveling creature. I reached out to him but my fingers just grazed his arm before I collapsed.
I dug them into my knees, completely out of breath. I was exhausted.
“So you finally caught up,” I watched as he slowly turned around, a soft smile on his lips when he extended his hand to me to pull me off the ground. “I knew you needed to vent. . . but I didn’t think you’d be this out of shape.”
The warmth in his palms spread along my skin as he lifted me up and rolled his eyes at my choice of clothing. “You couldn’t have put on a jacket before chasing after me? Too much work?”
Somehow, I didn’t feel bothered about his teasing. . . because that was all it was, teasing. For the first time, someone was joking with me not discretely insulting me. It felt strange.
“What?” I asked, not really understanding what he meant. His grip somehow slipped from my hands to my shoulders. I glanced at his hands wearily, trying to ignore the goosebumps that had appeared on my skin.
I looked up at him in confusion.
“Don’t you feel better now?” he asked pointedly, my question pushed aside. Mirth danced in the depths of his azure irises. I didn’t know if he was kidding or being serious.
I groaned instead of answering, my heart slowly returning to its normal pace. I took a step back. “Why are you so weird?”
“I was born this way. It’s one of the reasons I’m homeless,” was his casual reply.
“Oh, they kicked you out?” I couldn’t help but ask, surprise making me stare at him openly. Why anyone would throw someone like him out of their house, I had no idea. Yet I stopped myself from pressing the subject further after noticing the looks I got from the pedestrians around me.
Kayden didn’t answer, simply shoving his hands into his pockets before walking off again.
I quickly fell into a jog to keep up with him, the cool wind feeling like blades across my face. This is what I get for running out without thinking.
We walked for a while, and when the silence became unbearable, I grabbed his arm and pulled him to a stop—not that I had the strength to, he was just considerate enough to pause. “Where are we going?”
I hope he isn’t upset with me, I thought as I waited for his reply. I was just curious, that’s all. I didn’t mean anything by it. Maybe I should—
He turned and smiled at me. “I never told you thank you, did I?”
“Actually, you did.”
“Really? I can’t remember,” he shrugged, “I guess I just have to say it again.”
It was at this point I realized that Kayden was a very dazzling specimen of the male species. Why on earth was he homeless? It was someone like me who was unwanted that deserved to be. . .
Blinking furiously, I cleared the thought out of my head. It was best not to think things like that. I was barely surviving in my home to begin with, I wouldn’t be able to stay alive out in the streets. “Okay?”
“How about breakfast?”
“Is this a date?” I gaped at him, surprised that he wanted to buy me food of all things.
It was only seconds later when I noticed that he had been staring at me strangely that I realized what I had said. I tripped over my words trying to explain that I had been joking and was in no way insulting his obvious masculinity. Panic made my heart start racing again. Why do I always mess things up?
Then he laughed.
It was a loud laugh that attracted the gazes of everyone around us, a laugh that was unrestrained, a laugh that was just him.
Kayden didn’t mind the stares like I did. He didn’t mind attracting the gazes of disgusted passerbys. He didn’t care because he was normal, he had nothing to be afraid about. He wasn’t like me.
He looked at me and I looked away, feeling an emotion I hadn’t felt before rising in me.
“Call it whatever you want, princess,” he said. “Are you coming or not?”
I swear to God that it wasn’t that word that made heat rush to my cheeks. It was the embarrassment, the cold. . . No, I was furious. It was anger. How dare he call me princess?
“I. . . You. . .” I fumbled through all the words in my vocabulary and somehow came up with nothing to reply him with.
Kayden shook his head. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
I was completely and utterly the epitome of rage. That was why I let him drag me by the hand into the diner across the street.
I wasn’t the slightest bit happy. . . Not at all.