“Are you scared of me? Is that it?” As if to make a point, he covered the distance between us in three short steps, and backed me off into the landing to the stairwell behind me, stopping only when our bodies were a few inches from coming into physical contact. The invigorating scent of his cologne invaded my nostrils, causing my mind to go into total and complete turmoil.
I shut down, unsure how to react. I hadn’t anticipated being cornered in a vulnerable spot where we were shielded from view. Normally, I was a sucker for guys who smelled as good as he did, but this was Brandon Morris. I couldn’t decide whether to lean closer and inhale slowly, or scream and push him away.
I wanted to deny his accusation, but he could see the truth in my eyes. It was pointless to pretend as if he hadn’t just sent my heart into a race. By then he could see how badly I shook. I could not disguise it fast enough for him not to notice.
“Should I be?” I asked softly, fear forcing my voice to quake.
Fighting the nausea threatening to consume me, I made a mad dash for alleyway’s entrance. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. I shrieked and sprinted faster, almost colliding into the thin man who appeared out of nowhere in front of me. I managed to stop in time to crash into him, but as soon as I caught sight of his profile I regretted not plowing right through him.
He looked like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Tall, long, and lanky, with shoulder-length white hair, unnaturally pale skin, and eyes that gave the impression of missing irises, he was no less horrifying than the black figure I’d seen at the stairwell or the ghostly woman in my bedroom. He was clad from top to bottom in dark clothing, which gave him all the more menacing feel. As he stood, staring at me in a way that communicated I was about to become food, I could have sworn my stomach dropped to my feet. This was no ordinary attacker. He didn’t have rape or mugging in mind, but something much more sinister.
Movement several yards behind him caught my attention and I glanced around his left shoulder to the woods, noting the quick blur of a figure darting from behind one tree to another. Something was off about the way this person rushed by. It sparked a sense of familiarity that horrified me.
“Brandon, I don’t think we’re alone anymore,” I murmured as another flash of white scurried ever closer. It was too dark for me to determine who it was, but I was certain of one thing: we were being watched.
“What…?” The meaning of my words didn’t immediately dawn on him.
“Someone’s out there.”
Brandon spun around abruptly. He scanned the area briefly as he backed into me while sucking in air. His suddenly rigid posture warned me whoever was out there was not friendly.
Without a single word of explanation, Brandon turned to me and took my hand in his, pulling me down the path we’d used to get to the gazebo. He towed me along in a haste, leaving me no room to protest, or figure out what the hell was going on. A weird, high-pitched hissing sound emanated from somewhere behind us. It startled me and I was tempted to glance over my shoulder, but Brandon’s next words stopped me.
“Don’t look, Leah!” His tone was as serious as I’d ever heard it, which freaked me out even more. What was he so scared of?