The cycle of Strangers

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Chapter 5

“What time do you finish up?”

“Late.”

“I’ll walk you home.”

“It’s fine.”

“I’ll be waiting anyway.”

“Sure.”

I walk away from the counter into the storage room. I’m not staying out there, if he’s just gonna stay out waiting for me. Maybe if I stay here long enough, he’ll get the hint and leave my ass alone. Miss boy- I’m sorry you don’t have friends, but I don’t see how that involves me.

The last four hours of work go by. I stand and walk into the cloakroom. Collecting all my stuff, I put my white puffer coat and scarf on, making my way back into the main store.

“Thanks Molly, I’ll be back in next week.”

“Of course, honey. I’ll see you two next week.”

“Huh?” I glance upward, pursing my mouth slightly open and loose. I blink and re-focus.

Gio emerges from his seat and walks up to me with his black puffer on. His eyes sparkle between himself and Molly. There’s something only they know. I don’t even want to guess. I don’t even want to think it is what I think it may be!

“Gio is starting here next Friday. He’ll work on Saturday too.”

“But Molly, you said we don’t need any new employees.”

“I really admire your work here, Rosalina, I do. But more customers are showing up here by the day and we really could use extra help. Especially with Christmas on the way.”

“Surely you can’t hire a stalker into a family-friendly shop. That’s illegal.” I whisper the last part, hand covering the side of my mouth, away from his sight.

“Rosa, be nice. C’mon, you’ll love him.”

“But-”

“See you two later.” She waves us off, opening the front door.

One by one, we walk through the door and I don’t stop once I’m out. I continue walking in the winter’s cold, giving no notice to the sharp winter breeze. It’s the type of cold which makes your blood freeze.

Winter really reminds you of warmth, it’s like a calling to stop you from taking heating for granted. The minute you leave the house, you can’t help but crave for a blanket around your shoulders. Gosh I have such a love/hate relationship with winter!

The sky is dark, with only bright lamp posts to illuminate the pathway. Great.

“Please leave me alone, you fool!” I call back to the thing.

“I’m just walking home.” I jump at the closeness of his voice, only now realizing his body right beside me. Reflex causes me to punch him lightly several times on his arm. Not to hurt, but more or less to catch him off guard

“Hey! Why?” His right hand rubs his left arm, as his voice whines out in the cold’s echoes.

“You scared me.” I state, eyes darted forward, not changing my tone but keeping it it low and calm.

“New emotion unlocked! Fear!” He triumphs, pulling me in for a side hug.

“Get off!” I push him away. He stumbles back, mouth ajar and thumb connected to his bottom lip. His eyes stare up to my face, analysing me so intensely it’s as if he’s trying to get a reaction. His eyes flash a sense of darkness and I can’t help but laugh.

“You’re so easy.”

He blinks a couple of times, fast, slow, fast slow, “What?”

“Why did you look at me like that?” We continue walking towards my house, not caring that he’s probably off track for his own place.

“Like what?”

I imitate the face he gave me, making sure my pupils are as dilated as possible. I blink several times at a similar speed. He watches my face, more excited of me making fun of him than anyone I’ve seen. Idiot.

“Stop trying to act cute.”

“I wasn’t-”

“You were imitating me.”

“And what about it?”

“I’m cute, so you’re trying to be cute!” He announces, before I push his head away and walk a little further down the street.

He catches up.

“Do it again.”

My mouth wides at such a request. Do you see what I mean? Guys are so easy. I did one thing and he wants more. The male species are just like dogs, you give them one thing and crave for more.

“No.”

“Please.”

“No.”

Suddenly his arms drape over my shoulders, holding me back from walking any further forward. My head goes backwards, looking at the very many stars in the black canvas above us.

“Get off.” I grunt.

“Rosalina.” His voice turns husky as he whispers into my ears, tone laced with some sort of heavy accent. “Please.”

I fling his arms off me and turn around to face him. I stand on my tip toes, reach up to his own ear. I lower my tone, trying to match his energy.

“No.” I whisper.

From there, I continue walking back home. Alone.

How can you want to be friends, yet act as if you want more than that?

Gosh, I’ve only spoken to him twice.

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