“This is serious. Sending an idle threat is one thing, but if someone is sneaking around your house…we can’t just assume that it was the wind. Your safety comes first,” I tell her.
“So, what should I do? I don’t want to start accusing anyone of anything. If it was the wind, I'd look like an idiot. Please don’t make a big thing out of this yet. I’m probably overreacting.” She seems desperate to keep the situation quiet, and I realize that her reluctance can work in my favor.
“Okay, how about this? I’ll drive you home and spend a little time at your place. If nothing happens, we’ll consider the possibility that what happened in your yard was just a coincidence.”
“Oh, no. I can’t ask you to go out of your way for me. I don’t want to be a burden.”
“It’s no burden. I don’t have anything to do after school today. I’ll bring you home and order a pizza or something for dinner. We can just hang out for a while and see if anything happens. It’ll be like a stakeout.” I smile to try to ease her discomfort, and it appears to work.
She nods her head and says, “Thank you, Mr. Rogers. You don’t have to do this, but I guess I’ll feel better having a man around even if it is just for a couple of hours.”
If she had said no, I would have spent another night parked across from her house. At least now, I can spend part of that time in her company.
“Now, put my number in your phone. If you ever feel unsafe, call me,” I instruct her.
She smiles and says, “Thank you.”
ALONE WITH MR. ROGERS
It feels strange walking up to Mr. Rogers’ car, and I look over my shoulder to see if anyone is watching. I know that I’m not doing anything wrong, but yet, it feels like something that should be forbidden. I get in the car and he asks, “Is everything okay? You look a bit tense.”
“I’m fine. I appreciate what you’re doing for me, it just seems kind of weird is all.”
“Weird? Why? Because you’re a student? You’re also a legal adult. You’re entitled to ride in cars with anyone you want,” he assures me.
“So, you don’t worry about being seen with me?” I ask, praying the answer is no.
“Rose, I don’t know how to break this to you, but if I took you out people would stare out of envy. They’d all wonder how I managed to snag such a beautiful girl.”
A rush of heat runs through my body when he says it and I squirm in my seat. I wonder what it would be like to go out with him. I’m sure there’d be an awful lot of women wondering how I got lucky enough to be on his arm.
We pull up to my house and he gets out to open my door for me. I’m taken by surprise when he holds his hand out to help me out of the car. Sparks ignite in my fingertips as they disappear inside his big hand. He hesitates, squeezing my hand, then lets me go. My knees quiver as I lead him up the walk and through the front door.
“Let me take a quick look around. Can you show me the backyard? I want to check the latch on that gate you were telling me about,” he says so I show him through the kitchen to the back door. He takes notice of the windows on the way there and asks, “Are these windows all locked?” I confess that I’ve never thought to check, and he flashes me a stern look so I rush to check the latches on all of them.
He pushes the tall, wooden gate and the latch catches the hook when it closes. He opens it and repeats the process, “The latch is spring activated and seems to catch every time. I don’t think the wind could have opened it.”
“So, someone was back here? For sure?” The thought of someone sneaking around my backyard causes me to tremble.
“I’d have to say yes. I’m going to move my car further down the street and stay here with you. Maybe we can catch this person in the act,” he tells me and I become excited by the idea of spending this time alone with him. I watch out the window as he drives his car around the corner, then walks back to the house.
“All done, now. Did you want me to order something for dinner?” he asks.
“I could cook something if you want. I’ve been cooking for myself since I was eight,” I offer.
“Then I think you deserve a night off from all that. Tell me what you want and I’ll have it delivered.”
I’m not used to having someone do nice things for me, and my gut instinct always tells me to be cautious when someone is too nice, but Mr. Rogers is different. I think he likes the idea of taking care of me and maybe, by allowing him to, I’m giving him something in return.
“That’s super sweet of you. Do you like Chinese?” I ask.
“I love Chinese,” he smiles. “I’ll pull up the menu.”
* * *