Here is the first chapter from my next release, Stalker, My Love. This is an untraditional love story about a girl who goes missing, and her stalker who sets out to find her. Enjoy!
STALKER, MY LOVE
Chapter One: Once Upon A What?
Her voice called to him through the swaying leaves.
Deep down, Rhett Calloway knew he should go back to work at the restaurant, but her voice wanted him to climb the tree. He balanced on his tiptoes to grab a branch, nearly slipping off the hood of his truck. He was out of shape but had no problem pushing himself when it came to Rosalyn Ray. So he climbed the tree outside of the Rays’ property until he had a perfect view into Rosalyn’s room. Her blinds were open, lights on.
He straddled a large branch and, using his shirt, wiped the sweat off his face. He smelled his pits for any unpleasant odors. Clean. I’m ready for you, he thought.
Her voice told him to see her. He followed her command, using the binoculars hanging around his neck. Rosalyn was in her room, on her stomach, lying on her bed. Her legs kicked back and forth as she watched TV. She laughed at something. Rhett laughed with her. She was wearing black boy shorts and a purple tank top. Rhett could’ve stared at the exposure of her tan, toned legs, or at her revealing cleavage, but he liked to look at her face. A face so round and full of life, and her striking ice-blue eyes, there was nothing else like looking into them.
They laughed together again.
Rhett lowered the binoculars but still saw Rosalyn clearly and felt her close. He lifted a cereal bar and munched on it as he shut his eyes and said, “Work is slow tonight. Thanks for asking. How is your sandwich?”
Rosalyn would say, “Delicious. Thanks for bringing it.”
“Yep. I heard Avery’s back in town.”
“Oh? Are you excited to see your best friend?”
“It’s nice seeing him. He’s always happy.”
“Are you happy?”
“Me? Yeah. I don’t need much to be happy.”
“What do you need?”
Rhett smiled and brushed Rosalyn’s black hair off her face. “Just this.”
“I like this.”
“I love this.”
When Rhett spent time with Rosalyn, he lost himself. For minutes, and hours, he was gone, somewhere better than Pine Bridge. He lowered his hand to her cheek and said, “Two snowmen are standing next to each other in a yard.”
“Oh boy, here we go.”
“One snowman says to the other, ‘Funny, I smell carrots too.'”
Making Rosalyn laugh was the best feeling in the world. Her laugh made him whole. “What else do snowmen talk about?” she asked him.
“Probably their plans for summer.”
“They die in summer.”
“They just melt together.”
Rosalyn poked his nose. “You’re cute. Cheesy, but cute.”
Although he wanted desperately to kiss her, he decided to wait and wondered, “How did I get so lucky?”
“I’m the lucky one. You saved me.”
Flashes of the past, when Earl Wick had struck Rosalyn, made Rhett’s chest burn. Luckily Rhett had acted in time to stop any severe damage from being done. He recalled the look in Rosalyn’s eyes when she’d been saved by him. A look from a princess to her prince.
“I won’t let anyone hurt you again,” Rhett said.
“I wouldn’t be here, not without you.”
“I’m always here for you. I will always be here for you. You can rest easy. And laugh. I love when you laugh.”
Their foreheads touched, shooting warmth through Rhett’s skull. “You’ve always been my knight,” she said, “so you better always be here.”
Her lips looked so soft, so kind and so full. Still, he waited to kiss her. “How are your friends?”
“Elliott and Mimi. Who else?”
“What do you call yourselves again?”
“REM. But are you really here to talk about my friends? I think you’re intentionally delaying the inevitable.” A glow in her eyes complimented the way she bit her lip, and when she touched his hand, he couldn’t resist any longer.
Time vanished within their kiss.
They lay together and watched old episodes of some show Rhett couldn’t care less about. All his focus was on her. The way Rosalyn rested her head on his chest made him feel like the protector of their world.
“Sleep with me,” she whispered.
“Rosalyn and Rhett.”
“You and I.”
Rhett opened his eyes and looked at his phone, realizing he’d been sitting in the tree for far too long. The light in Rosalyn’s room was gone, but the blinds were still open. Rhett looked through the binoculars. She wasn’t in her room.
Headlights punched through the trees covering the Rays’ driveway.
“Oh no.” Rhett almost fell off the branch as he jolted to reality. His truck was parked off the road, but could easily be spotted by anyone paying attention.
Panicking, he nearly slipped as he climbed down. The car closed in on his spot. He was about to hop from the tree and land on his truck when his binoculars got caught on a smaller branch. His face smacked against bark.
Fighting to release his binoculars, Rhett knew he wouldn’t be quick enough to hide. Headlights landed on him.
I’m a deer. I’ve always been a deer.
The car stopped, staring into Rhett’s soul. He squinted to see the driver, but the lights overpowered him.
After a few seconds, the driver slowly pulled up to Rhett’s truck. The window lowered.
More beautiful than she ever was in his thoughts and dreams, Rosalyn looked up at him and said, “What the hell are you doing?”
“I. Uh. What?”
“Is your truck broken?”
She doesn’t see the binoculars yet, he thought. She can’t know. “Yeah, it just needs to cool down,” he said, trying to shield the binoculars caught right above his head. “Overheats a lot.”
What am I even saying?
“Rhett, you delivered the food a long time ago. Did you call anyone?”
He remembered how excited he’d been when Rosalyn’s delivery was called in to the restaurant, and how he’d sat in his truck all nervous at the thought of speaking with her. But her dad had answered the door.
The past didn’t matter because his chance arrived to say whatever he wanted to Rosalyn. A lie left his mouth: “My phone isn’t working.”
Her eyes landed on the binoculars. “What are those?”
She turned, looking at her house, at her room, and was quick to realize what exactly Rhett had been doing. “Holy shit,” she screamed.
“Wait.” Rhett unhooked the binoculars and tossed them to the ground. He hopped onto his truck, then the pavement, and went to her car. “Rosalyn. I can explain.”
“You’ve been spying on me?”
“Have you been spying on me?”
“I was… I was… oh no. This is so embarrassing.” Rhett grabbed his blistering, sweaty forehead. For some reason, he thought everything would be smoothed over if he told his joke, so he said, “Two snowmen are standing next to each other.”
“Snowmen? What the hell are you talking about?” Rosalyn got out of her car and marched around the front of it until she stood a few feet away from him. They were about the same height. “Tell me what you were doing. I’ll call Sheriff Mancini if you don’t.”
His breath made some sort of strange noise. “I wanted to spend time with you.”
“Spend time with me? By watching me? Holy shit. This is so, so freaky. Even for you, man.”
They stood on the road for what seemed like an awkward eternity. Rhett knew what he’d been doing was weird; he was quite aware of that, but maybe after all that time Rosalyn needed to know the truth. “Rosalyn,” he said. “I….”
His words were lost under the rapid beating of his heart. He told himself, Say it now. Now or never. Say it.
“You what, Rhett?” Rosalyn asked. “What do you want to tell me?”
Say it. Say it. SAY IT. “I love you.”
Rosalyn dropped her hands from her hips and squinted at Rhett like he was the dumbest person in the universe. “You what?”
“Ever since elementary school. I’ve always loved you. Remember when we held hands back in the first grade? That first touch. I knew, Rosalyn. I knew I loved you.”
“First grade? What? We held hands? I don’t remember that.”
That’s okay, he wanted to say, that was a long time ago. We were kids. We didn’t know any better.
He said nothing.
“You can’t love me,” Rosalyn said. “You don’t know me.”
His head became weightless. “I know you.”
“No, you don’t. Watching me is not knowing me. You get to know someone by talking with them, not watching. We’re in our twenties, man, you should know this.” She stepped back. “This is crazy.”
He didn’t know what to say, and his body was ready to give out. A sickness consumed him. He needed to lie down and lose himself in something, anything to end that moment forever.
Before the night circled into the sewer, he found the strength to say, “I’m sorry.”
Rosalyn stared off the road, strong in thought. “I know you watch me in town. You watch me when we’re in the same place. I’ve always known that. All of Pine Bridge knows that. You seemed harmless before tonight. Now I don’t know.”
“I would never hurt you.”
Rosalyn raised a hand like she wanted to swat him away. “Don’t ever do this again. You say you love me? Fine. What do you expect me to say? I don’t know you. I don’t watch you. What should I say?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yeah. Okay. I’m calling the sheriff next time. I’ll even call Earl. Hear me on that.”
Lightning struck Rhett, paralyzing him in a pit of obscurity. I’m a stupid boy who thought he saved his princess. I was tricked by all those fairy-tale endings. The noble prince saves the girl and gets the girl. That’s not real. It never has been.
When he came to his senses, Rosalyn was gone. Likely forever.
The quiet in the trees thought the same.