Turning around slowly, I saw noneother than ... no. It couldn't be. Alas, there stood Darren. It could have been anybody, but the smokey-eyes were unmistakable. What do I do? He stepped forward slightly, out of the ebony darkness of the bowing trees.
"What are you doing here?" The question wasn't aggressive but it wasn't exactly friendly either. Oh, for the love of- , think, Ruby, think!
"Uh. Taking a stroll," I shrugged, attempting to controll my voice. And failing. "Needed to get away and think. Harfield manor, probably not the best place to do so." His eyebrows knotted together as soon as the H word was mentioned.
"A stroll, huh? At ..." He raised his wrist up to see his watch. " Ten o'clock? Shouldn't you be at home, all tucked up?" I detected a hint of hostility in his words. Bitter.
"Ten? Really? Gosh, must have lost track of time." Which I guess is the truth. Then reality of the situation kicked in; If he hadn't seen anything, it was okay. No harm done. Besides ... "I could ask you the same thing. Why are you out so late?" My defensive side knew that I didn't have to stand here and take his interrogating attitude considering that he was here aswell.
"Fair point. Home isn't agreeing with me at the minute." He grumbled, folding his arms across his chest. I felt undeniably smug knowing that he knew he was wrong. Another part of me was sympathetic - 'home' hasn't been in my good books for years. Not wanting to make this any more awkward, I dusted myself off, gave him a short wave goodbye and walked back down the path.
I barely stepped one foot in front of the other when Darren gripped my forearm swiftly.
"I may be a grumpy sod, but I'm not letting you walk home on your own." I glanced at him skeptically, but he was serious. Ugh, I just want to get some sleep ...
"I don't need an escort." This guy is giving me freakin' whiplash. One minute he's all gloom and doom, the next he's the rule-abiding young gentleman?
"I don't care. Walk, before I decide to carry you." With that, he nudged me, gesturing to do what he said. Sighing in frustration, I stormed forward, him following just behind.
We eventually stopped at the bottem of the driveway after approximately fifteen of the quietest minutes of my entire life. On the way there, we hadn't talked, looked at eachother, nothing. And we both seemed to prefer it that way.
"Right. My stop. Um ..." I scratched my neck absent mindedly, then whispered, "Thanks."
"Anytime. Goodnight." He looked like he was about to add something else but then, dismissing it, he nodded and walked his seperate way.
Lucky he didn't notice anything. Last time I listen to a minature devil hiding on my shoulder, I chuckled sarcastically. Striding up to the wall below my bay-window, still open, I easily climbed the grey stone surface. Getting back through the window without making any noise was a bit harder. Not impossible, but a pain.
As I slipped in to the bedroom, I stretched in relief - my eyes tight shut because of the change in light. Odd. I don't remember having the light on. I opened my lids.
Jay Harfield sat crosslegged on my bed.
"Welcome back, sweetie."