They walked throughout the grocery store, picking up the last of the items they needed. Ok, so that wasn't exactly true. James followed her up the isles like a puppy, randomly picking up items to make it look like he wasn’t stalking.
Which he totally was.
She wasn’t his type, brunettes were more his thing. Hot wouldn’t be a word used to describe her. She definitely wasn’t the kind of the girl any of the guys would go after—make up caked on, boobs pressed up to her chin, wearing next to nothing.
But this girl, there was something about her that James couldn’t stop staring at, he was oddly attracted to her. Her hair was pinned back and kept away from her delicate face. Her eyes were by far her best feature, highlighted by minimal makeup. The fluorescent lighting above magnified her pale skin. James had to keep his eyes from traveling down the long necklace that draped down the front of her vintage music t-shirt.
She was embarrassed, as if her red face or how she turned her back on him wasn’t enough of a sign. He could leave her alone and finish his shopping before heading home.
But isn’t chicken on my list? He snickered to himself, and walked up next to her just in two strides. After a moment of staring at the selection before them, he spoke up.
“Push It was always my favorite of theirs,” James said casually. “Oh, baby, baby. Baby, baby,” he sang with the best girly yet gangster voice he could muster up. For emphasis, he stuck his hips out and moved them in a wide circle.
She threw her head back and laughed.
I lied. Her smile is her best feature. And that laugh…
When finished, she headed towards the two lone registers that were light up and manned.
James stepped into the lane behind her and started unpacking his basket of groceries.
“And how are you doing this evening Miss Charlotte?” he overheard her get greeted.
Her name, check.
He was so caught up in trying to eavesdrop Charlotte’s conversation that he didn’t realize the teenage girl behind his own register.
“Sir? Excuse me sir? You’re total is $45.98,” she smacked her gum.
Snapping out of his gaze, he swiped his card. “Sorry about that.”
He took his time grabbing the bags at the end of the belt.
“You’re not walking home alone young lady, it’s eleven o'clock at night!”
“Janet, I’ll be fine—“ Charlotte tried.
“Now what would I tell your mother if something happened to you?” the older woman scorned.
Charlotte looked around as ‘Janet’ went on with her lecture about safety. Her eyes landed on James, and a small smile graced those pink, full lips. He paused at the end of her lane.
“Janet,” she interjected, and nodded towards him, “I’m not walking home alone,”
Janet was like the overprotective aunt she never had, and wasn’t going to let her leave. She saw him out of the corner of her eye and went for it.
Cutting Janet off, she piped up. “I’m not walking home alone,” she nodded towards the man at the end of the register.
The stranger played along. “Ready Charlotte?” he asked, grabbing a few of her groceries. She hid her surprise when he knew her name, and walked along side him as they headed for the exit. Waving behind her as Janet called after her to say hello to her mom.
“Thanks a lot for saving me,” she smiled and reached for her bags but he pulled them away. “Which way?” he asked instead, and started walking through the parking lot.
She led him in the direction of her place, and their steps became in sync.
“Charlie,” she said after a moment.
The man looked at her, confused.
“I go by Charlie,”
Oh hot damn, she thought, that smile is a beauty.
He grinned over at her and introduced himself, “James. I go by James,” he mocked her. James held out his hand before remembering it was full, so instead Charlie gave him an awkward fist pump, giggling.
“This is me,”
Charlie stopped in front of the double doors of an old building, only three blocks past James’ apartment. They stood there awkwardly in silence for a few seconds before she rolled back onto the heels of her boots.
“Ok. Well, thanks for walking me home. I appreciate it, and I know Janet did to,” she teased and went for the door.
James was quick to stop her, “Charlie?”
She turned around and looked him in the eyes. He stood there with his eyebrow cocked and arms out, “your groceries.”
He handed them over, making sure she could carry them up to her second floor apartment. He made sure they had all their groceries straightened out before he took a step back. “Goodnight,” he smiled.
“Night,” she replied before quickly disappearing up the stairs, and James made the short trek to his own apartment.
He walked into his apartment and unloaded the groceries on his island counter and started to put them away.
Fish sticks. Cream cheese. Sour cream. Popsicles. Why did I get all this? James had to laugh when he remembered he was randomly grabbing items to keep near Charlie.
It was a cold and cloudy day in Pittsburgh. With the day off from practice, James took jog around the neighborhood.
As he was running down the familiar nearby street, his mind flashed back to the late night shopping almost a week ago.
He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t thought about her.
Without hesitation James looked both ways and jogged up to the door of her building. He slipped past the front doors and took the steps two at a time before stopping at her door, a light shown through the frosted glass.
I hoped that means she’s home, he thought as he knocked on the door.
Wait. What do I say when she asks why I’m here? Shit. I am pathetic.
But James didn’t have to worry, no one came to the door, no noise could be heard inside. He lingered there for a second more before heading back down the steps to finish his jog.
One foot was under the warm water of the shower before she heard a knock at the door.
Your timing is impeccable, Charlie rolled her eyes.
She turned the water off and wrapped a towel around her naked body. She turned the latch latch opened up the door, only to find no one there.
Hmmm... maybe I'm just hearing things.
Charlie locked the door again and tiptoed across her quiant family room to the window. She pushed the curtain aside and looked outside. All she saw was a woman walking her dog and a man jogging down the street just before he turned the corner.
Oh well. Shower time.