She was surprised when she saw him, and caught herself halfway out the door with the breeze brushing her hair into her eyes. She was slow to let go of the handle and let the door fall shut behind her, slow to pull her hair back. When she smiled, it was careful and raw, like pulling an old gun off the closet shelf.
And they both paused, trying to remember after all this time, if it was loaded.
He took a breath, tucking his hands down into the pockets of his coat.
She drew her hair behind her ear.
“Hey, Trouble,” he murmured.
Her smile cracked wider, slanted, and suddenly obvious.
“Hey, Stranger,” she said. “How have you been?”
The breeze sank to the floor as soon as it came through the windows, rolling stubbornly across the length of the room. Its persistence chilled the wooden floor while most of the room held onto the day’s summer warmth. The sun had gone down hours ago, and the stars glittered through the wavering glass. Karleigh leaned her shoulder against the door frame and looked at the white light stretching across the room.
Her door was barely open far enough to let her through, but she had slid her shoulders into the gap, and then waited.
It was so strange to hear nothing in the middle of the night.
“Don’t panic,” he murmured, gentle, but tense, just behind her. “But… don’t move.”
She froze. Her shoulders locked where they were. Her hands hung in midair. Her lungs hardly dared to pull in air. She steadied herself on her toes, unable to risk lowering her heel to the floor and finish her next step.
One moment, then two.
He stepped in behind her, lifted a hand, dusted a spider off her shoulder.
She took one quick breath in, and then she laughed it out, because she had panicked.
Then, turning, she glared at him, because there had been no need to.