[This is a multi-part story. Lexi Brown is trying to escape her past and create a new life for herself in Otter Village, 500 miles from where a traumatic event occurred 6 months ago. In our last episode, we read that Lexi and Kevin both have baggage and trust issues that will make a relationship challenging.
Here are the posts in order so far:
Lexi felt so relieved to see Kevin at the door. She didn’t want to be alone tonight! Vicky had left several anxious voicemails, asking if Lexi had heard from Dan and to please call ASAP. They’d just gotten off the phone, and Vicky sounded totally freaked out by her encounter with Dan at the park. Nick was concerned too, jumping in at the end and warning Lexi to be extra careful, which was ominous coming from a cop.
“Hi!” Lexi greeted Kevin brightly with a quick hug. “I’m so happy to see you! Come on in. The first tray of cookies is ready!”
Kevin looked bemused. “Great, thanks. For a second there, you seemed upset.”
“Me? Ha ha. Not at all!” She motioned for him to follow her down the hall, past the great room where a couple other tenants were watching sports on TV, back to the kitchen/dining area. “Just making sure my cookies don’t get burnt. No one likes burnt cookies!”
She fussed over him like a silly girl, trying to distract herself, making sure he had a plateful of perfect cookies and exactly what he wanted to drink. “Are you sure you don’t want coffee? It’s no trouble to make a pot.”
Kevin smiled. “I’m sure. This iced tea is fine, thanks. But you’re acting like you swallowed a few caffeine pills yourself. Sit down and relax!”
“I guess I am a bit wired,” she admitted, trying for some honesty. “I was talking to my sister right before you got here and we always get each other’s energy levels up.”
She noticed that Kevin’s smile faded when she mentioned Vicky, and she wondered if he could tell she wasn’t being straight. Though they hadn’t known each long, she had a sense he was trustworthy; besides that, she needed to confide in someone after Vicky had made her feel so nervous for her safety again. She didn’t know anyone else in Otter Village well enough to tell her secrets to.
“This crazy thing happened last spring,” Lexi whispered across the table. “I try not to talk about it. I came here to escape from it really. But today I found out that–”
“I can barely hear you over the fan,” Kevin said. “But… if you’re trying to tell me that you’re Alexandra Mitchell, I already know.”
Feeling a confusing mixture of relief, anger, and fear, Lexi arose from her seat at the table and walked over to the patio doors. She stared out at the darkness, wondering if Dan was going to storm up here, as Vicky feared, and continue harassing her about how she was responsible for Jim’s death.
But how did Kevin know her real name? Stalking her on the internet probably. She felt betrayed that she wasn’t allowed to keep anything private. Couldn’t start over. Couldn’t stay anonymous. Coming up here was all for nothing. Except…
“Full moon,” Kevin remarked, coming up behind her.
“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t wait until you told me.” Kevin touched her shoulder. “But I was curious if my mind was playing tricks on me. I could have sworn I saw you before and–”
She held up a hand to stop him. “I get it. My face was everywhere. It was a huge story. And now Dan can’t let it go.”
“Dan?” Kevin frowned. “Who’s Dan?”
“Oh, so there’s something you don’t know,” she snapped at him.
“I guess I should go,” he said, stepping away from the patio doors. “Thank you for the cookies, Lexi. They were really delicious.”
“Stop!” she said as he reached the doorway, and he turned around abruptly. “You have to take some with you.”
“Okay,” he said and leaned against the doorframe.
“I don’t have any Tupperware,” she said as tears formed in her eyes. “These are all Carolyn’s. I should get some…” sniffle… “Tupperware. But I have some baggies and you can rinse them out and reuse them.” She wiped her eyes on a napkin. “You really should, Kevin. Else it’s so wasteful.” Her shoulders shook as she tried not to cry.
He came over and hugged her. “If it means this much to you, I promise to wash and reuse the damn baggies. I’ll take pics.”
“Thank you,” she said into his chest. He was solidly warm. “I’m sorry for snapping at you. It’s okay to know things.”
Kevin continued to hug her and stroke her hair, which felt absurdly comforting after being alone this whole month with no one to talk to except Vicky on the phone, since she’d deleted all her social media and was trying to be nobody. Also, Kevin was so cute and yummy, so there was that…
“Here’s something you don’t know,” he said, “which might make it easier to talk to me from now on, if you want to.”
She lifted her head and stared at him. “Are you a cop too? That would be convenient!”
“Sorry to disappoint you.” He laughed. “But no. I’m just totally smitten with you, is what I was going to say. But I can see how having an armed guard might be more helpful.”
She wrapped her arms around him. “I’m good with this.”
He gazed into her eyes, and just when she thought he was going to kiss her, he said, “Now, who’s Dan?”
[to be continued]
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