It had been a month since her ordeal in the forest. She was going to therapy and that was helping. She was also taking self-defense classes as well as wilderness survival classes. She couldn’t be sure that the hunter wouldn’t come after her again, but she would be prepared if he did. She had talked to Stacy the first week after the man, who was named Austin, had rescued them. After that first week Stacy had disconnected her phone and moved. Amanda had also moved and changed her number. Every now and then Austin would call to check on how she was doing. She’d googled him and it turns out that along with being an avid outdoorsman he was also a successful real estate developer. He was in the beginning stages of developing parts of the forest where he’d found them. They had been spending a lot of time together over the past month and he was helping Amanda get back to normal. Normal was going out and having fun, which she was getting ready for now. Austin would be picking her up in thirty minutes and they were going for dinner and a movie. Amanda was glad to be getting out and she hoped that Stacy was doing the same. The police hadn’t been able to catch the hunter, even with Austin’s description. Stacy couldn’t remember anything about the hunter and all Amanda could remember was his voice. The case was still open, but Amanda wasn’t holding out any hope that he would be caught. Amanda looked out the window and saw Austin pull up. She took one final look in the mirror before heading out the door. Tonight, would be the first night of a start of a new, happy life, with minimal fear and worry of what could happen.
Stacy walked hurriedly to her car, her eyes darting around the grocery store parking lot. This was her life now, constantly vigilant, changing her number every couple of months and her address every six months. She didn’t go out unless she had to go to the grocery store, the doctor or to work. She’d considered quitting, but she needed the money to live. She had kept in touch with Amanda but after a while she just wanted to get rid of anything and anyone that reminded her of her nightmare in the forest. This also included Austin. Although he was nice and checked up on her occasionally, he too was a reminder of that time, so she had to cut him out of her life too. Stacy was scanning behind her when she ran into someone. He grabbed her shoulders to steady her. She just managed to hold on to her groceries.
“I’m so sorry. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.”
She had to look up to see who she had bumped into. He was very handsome, and he had the greenest eyes she had ever seen.
“No, it’s my fault. I was looking for my car. I can never remember where I park. I’m just glad I didn’t make you ruin your groceries.”
Stacy smiled. It was the first time she’d smiled in over a month.
“Nope. They’re all intact. You’re just like me. I usually lose my car too. Now I have an app on my phone that helps me locate it. You should try it.”
“I’ll definitely have to look into that. Thank you…”
“Oh…Stacy. It’s Stacy.”
“Well thank you, Stacy. You’ve saved me from a lifetime of losing my car in parking lots. I’m Justin, by the way.”
He extended his hand and then remembered that she was carrying groceries. She laughed and extended her pink which he took and shook with his own.
“It’s nice to meet you, Justin.”
“How about I carry those for you…to make up for running into you.”
Stacy hesitated and scanned the parking lot. There were several people around, walking to and from their vehicles. They would hear her scream if he turned out to be not as nice as he seemed.
“Ok. Thank you. I really appreciate it.”
Justin took her bags then stepped aside to allow her to pass.
“Lead the way.”
Stacy smiled up at him and headed to her car. He walked beside her, periodically glancing at her from the corner of his eye. Once her car was loaded she turned to him.
“I appreciate the help and it was nice meeting you Justin.”
He hesitated to leave.
“I know this may be a bit forward, but could I possibly have you number. I’d like to talk to you again, maybe we could go out to dinner or just for coffee.”
Stacy considered it. She hadn’t been out in weeks and she needed to start to move on with her life. Justin was nice and she didn’t get a sense that he was out to do her harm.
“Sure. It’s been a while since I’ve been out.”
Stacy gave him her number and he saved it in his phone. He sent her a text message so that should could save his number as well.
“I look forward to hearing from you and maybe going out. I’d better get these groceries home. I hope you find your car.”
Justin smiled and nodded.
“If not, I’ll have someone to call now.”
She smiled back and climbed into her car. She waved as she drove away. Justin stood watching her then went off to find his car.
It had been months since he’d saved Amanda and Stacy from who Amanda called “The Hunter.” He hadn’t talked very much to Stacy, but he and Amanda had been spending a great deal of time together. He really liked her and wanted to make things “official” between them, but he was afraid that she wasn’t ready for that ye. They were going out for dinner and a movie tonight and he hoped that eventually she’d want to date him. He definitely wanted to date her. He’d been sending signals and had been taking her out a lot more lately now that his project was moving to the next stage. He wasn’t sure if she knew much about his project, but he didn’t want to talk about it too much for fear that it would bring up bad memories. As he pulled up to her house he was nervous. Tonight, he had something special for her. He hoped that she would go for it but just in case, he had a back up plan for the night. She came out just as he pulled up. She was wearing a simple black dress, but it looked sexy as hell on her. He got out and opened her door for her.
“You look beautiful tonight, Amanda.”
She smiled and blushed as she ducked into the car.
“Thank you. You don’t look too bad yourself.”
He ran around and got into the driver’s side. He stopped before starting the car and stared at her.
“So I have something special planned for tonight but I have a backup if you don’t feel comfortable with it. I planned dinner and a movie at my house. It’s a little secluded from everyone else. I have reservations at a restaurant if you would prefer that.”
Amanda sat quietly. He wasn’t sure what she was thinking because he couldn’t read her facial expression. Slowly, she turned to him.
“I’d love to see your house. Up until now you’ve only come to my place. I was starting to think you had a secret wife.”
She laughed, and he breathed a sigh of relief.
“No secret wife. I just didn’t want to push you before you were ready.”
“I appreciate it. I’m ready though so don’t worry.”
He nodded, started the car and headed out of the city. His house was up in the hills far away from the hustle and bustle of his daily life. He’d found this land while working on a development deal and instead of turning it into a mall and high rises he’d decided to build his home there. He hoped that Amanda like his home and his plans for the night. As he pulled up to his house forty-five minutes later, he watched Amanda’s face as she saw it for the first time.
“This is gorgeous, Austin. It’s pretty much my dream house.”
He smiled at her. He got out and opened her door for her.
“Then I will have to bring you here more often.”
As they went inside and he showed her around he couldn’t help but smile at her reactions to the things he showed her. When they got to the theater room he thought she would leap out of her skin.
“This will be where the movie will be for that part of the night. I should get started on dinner. You’re welcome to roam around, get an idea of where everything is.”
She nodded, and he left her to her own devices.
Austin’s home was truly her dream home. It had a gourmet kitchen, a theater, a pool and even a bowling alley. She wasn’t much of a bowler, but she loved to play. After a while of exploring she began to smell something delicious and made her way towards the kitchen. She hopped up onto the barstool and watched Austin move around the kitchen. She could tell that he was comfortable in the kitchen. Every now and then he would glance over at her and smile.
“What movie is on the agenda for the night?”
He looked at her and smiled.
“A classic. I hope you like it. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.”
Amanda laughed. That happened to be one of her favorite movies.
“Have you been going through my movie list? That is actually one of my favorite movies.”
Austin looked at her and smiled.
“Well then we’re in for a good night.”
Later that night…
As the credits rolled, Amanda stood and excused herself to go to the bathroom. Instead of going to the bathroom she made a detour to the pool. She wasn’t sure if Austin would ever make the first move, so she would. That way he’d know she was ready to make this thing between them official. She stripped completely naked and dived into the pool. Earlier, she’d dipped a toe in so she knew that it was heated. She swam a few laps then began splashing around to draw Austin’s attention. She dived under the water and swam to the far side of the pool. When she saw him come out, she slowly made her way toward him, watching him intently. She saw the moment he realized that she was naked and it made her smile. She floated on her back staring up at him as he stared down at her.
“Are you going to stand there all night or are you going to join me?”
He began to undress slowly, keeping his eyes on hers. When he got down to his boxers and began to make his way towards the edge of the pool she tilted her head towards them.
“Don’t you think you should take those off? It would be a shame to get them wet. Plus, I’d feel lonely being the only one naked.”
She could see the shock in his eyes and laughed. She stared at him intently waiting for him to strip away his shorts. She could see that he was excited by the idea of her being naked. He stripped away his boxers and slowly got into the pool, making his way towards her. Amanda slowly paddled backwards increasing the distance between them. He never took his eyes off her. He stopped just as he was reaching the point where he couldn’t stand on the bottom anymore. He took a step back and then another keeping his eyes on hers. She smiled and began to close the distance between them. Once she could stand on the bottom she continued to make her way towards him until she was within arm’s reach. He looked at her as if to ask if she was sure. She nodded, and he quickly pulled her towards him lifting her up, so she could wrap her legs around his waist. Amanda felt as if a weight had been lifted when finally, he kissed her.
(To be continued)