Home > Hidden Away (KGI #3)(13)

Hidden Away (KGI #3)(13)
Author: Maya Banks

It relieved her that she felt the stirrings of interest—feminine interest—in this man. That she could look and appreciate and even wonder about him made her want to do a fist pump in the air. Up yours, Allen Cross. You haven’t won. You didn’t destroy me.

A plaintive meow broke her from her thoughts and she turned to see the cat sitting on the countertop, eyeing her expectantly. Sarah smiled and walked over to rub her hand over the cat’s head.

“I suppose I need to name you. I can’t continue calling you Cat, can I?”

The cat blinked and let out a purr, then walked over to the cabinet where Sarah kept the cat food. She reared up on her hind legs and pawed at the door. Sarah chuckled and went to oblige the hungry animal.

Her new neighbor had already established a routine. She felt like some stalker watching his every movement. Part of it was her wariness, but the other part was curiosity. There wasn’t much else to do out here but watch the water. There wasn’t a lot of traffic down this way because of the smaller number of houses, most of which were rentals. He was the only other person she saw on her end of the beach with any regularity, and she found herself fascinated by him.

He was up early in the mornings, jogging, sometimes running. Then he’d disappear into his cottage only to reappear later with his fishing gear. He’d set up, wade out into the surf to cast his line and then wade back and position his pole in the holder. Then he’d kick back in a rickety-looking lawn chair, ice chest on the ground next to him and wait.

She had to admire his patience. He’d sit for long periods of time until the rod tip bent, when he’d leap up to set the hook and begin reeling in. Most of the fish were smaller, but she’d stood in her window watching for a solid half hour watching him wrestle a huge catch to the shores.

He’d unhook it, admire it, hold it up in the sun and then wade out to free it again. Then he’d begin the process all over again.

She envied his freedom. The complete lack of care. He didn’t look as though he had a worry in the world other than enjoying his quiet day in the sun. She poured the cat food into the bowl and set it on the floor, then stood back as the kitty began devouring it like it was a piece of prime steak.

“Patches,” she decided. “Not terribly original. I’m sure there are thousands of other calicos out there with the same exact name, but I bet you’re the only one on this island.”

Patches didn’t look up from her food.

Sarah went back to the window to see if she could catch another glimpse of her neighbor. To her surprise, he’d changed into a pair of swim trunks and was now standing at the water’s edge. The waves foamed and covered his feet as he stared over the horizon.

He raised his arms and then began a series of motions that looked to her like a martial arts workout. Maybe Tai Chi? She watched, absorbed by the sensuality of his movements. She might have expected a man of his size to be clumsy, but he moved with a grace that surprised her.

Lyrical. He moved in harmony with the water, as though he blocked out everything but the beauty immediately surrounding him. She was, in that moment, insanely jealous of the peace that surrounded him like an aura.

She stared unabashedly as he went through the motions. At one point he turned, and she could swear he saw her watching him, but she shook off the notion. She was staring through an opening no bigger than an inch and he was at least fifty yards away. Maybe farther.

Still, it was enough to pull her away from the window. She needed something else to focus on. The isolation was driving her insane. Her gaze snagged on her laptop bag.

The waiting was making her crazy. Maybe she could check out the little bookstore in the town square. She’d even seen a section in the market where they rented DVDs. She hadn’t even turned on the television to see if it or the DVD player worked but movies would be a welcome distraction.

And she totally needed to get out of this cottage before she lost her mind.

She grabbed her bag, made sure the cat was nowhere near the door and let herself out. As she descended the steps to the beach, she looked to her right to see her neighbor swimming at a fast stroke away from shore. She stood and watched for a moment until he got so far away she could no longer see him and then she headed down the beach in the opposite direction.

Her first stop was at the coffee shack, where she set up in her usual corner, accepted a cup of the local brew from Marie and then she went through the steps to check her email. As suspected, she had no new messages. It was tempting to search the local news in Boston but she was too paranoid. The last thing she wanted was to tip off anyone as to her location. And who knew what could be accomplished on the Internet?

Yes, she was paranoid, but she could live with that. It might just save her life. It didn’t help that she was a complete idiot about technology.

Her instinct was to hurry through her coffee, go to the bookshop and rush back to her cottage. But she tempered that urge and remained to sip at her coffee and watch the goings on in the little café, such as they were. She hated the idea of going back to the cottage, where she’d once again be alone. She hated being alone. She was a people person. She liked being around people even if she didn’t interact with them much, loved the big city with all the flashes of color and culture.

She glanced out the front window to watch the passersby and speculate on their circumstances, where they came from, where they were going. When the waitress came to offer her a refill, she smiled and accepted, determined to stay and enjoy her break from isolation.

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