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trees, but my attention had been riveted on Jason, and he d crept up, silent as always.
 Hmm? I said.
 You want to go get something? I m sure I can find a place on the way back.
I shook my head.  No. Thanks, but I m really not . . . I shrugged.
 Not hungry?
I blinked.  Oh, you meant something to eat? I thought you meant a drink.
I should have known he didn t mean the obvious. He never did.
 We could get a drink, if that s what you d like, he said.
 Definitely not. Doesn t do a thing for me except put me to sleep. But something to eat
would be good. I forced a smile.  Vent my frustration on a hapless burger.
 Good. Grab your knapsack and we ll go.
We walked down out of the park in silence. Comfortable silence, not that dead weight silence
that comes from not having anything to say or, worse yet, from waiting for me to talk about what
had happened. He didn t mention it, and I appreciated that. Like I appreciated the invitation to a
late-night snack something, anything, to keep my mind off Jason and to give me an excuse not
to head back to my dorm room, where he d probably be lying in wait.
Clayton found an all-night diner a block from the park. We couldn t see it from Bloor
Street not even the sign so I assumed he d been there before, but when we got inside, he
looked around, orienting himself the same as I did.
Kelley Armstrong Beginnings 87
He started toward a table in the back corner, then glanced over his shoulder.
 There okay? he said, jerking his chin toward the table.
 Perfect.
We settled into our seats. He took the one facing the wall. When we d grabbed coffees at
the university, I noticed he always did that, took the table as far from others as possible, then
selected the chair that faced the wall or the window or whatever barrier was there, putting his
back to everyone else in the cafeteria.
 Burgers page three, he said.
 On second thought, I may change my mind. I see they serve all-day breakfast. I skimmed
through the grease-spattered paper menu.  I think I might go for pancakes. Weird I know,
but 
 Have what you like.
I smiled.  Comfort food. Does the trick better than alcohol.
He started to say something, but the server arrived, coffee pot in hand.
 No thanks, I said, covering my cup.  Too late for caffeine. I think I ll have . . . I flipped
to the back of the menu, then smiled.  Root beer floats. Haven t had those in years. I ll take
one.
 And pancakes, right? Clayton asked.
 Sure, if you re ready to order. I ll take the pancakes and ham steak.
The server peered over her half-glasses.  With a root beer float?
I hesitated. Kicked myself for doing it, for letting a server make me rethink the
 appropriateness of my order, but I did it nonetheless.
Kelley Armstrong Beginnings 88
 Same here, Clayton said, smacking down his menu.  Pancakes, ham and a root beer
float.
The server said nothing, just rolled her eyes, and left mumbling about college kids.
 You like root beer floats? I asked.
 Never had one.
I stifled a laugh.  Well, I m not sure how well it ll go with maple syrup, but we re about to
find out. I glanced around the diner. The smattering of other customers was all across the
room.  I should have said it earlier, but thanks for trying to help back there. At the park. I
didn t mean to snap at you.
 You wanted to handle it yourself. Nothing wrong with that.
 Hmmm, well, as you doubtless noticed, handling it myself doesn t seem to be  I bit off
the sentence and looked away.  Anyway, thanks. I glanced back at him and grinned.  You
confused him, and that s probably the best way to get rid of Jason.
 Not too bright, is he?
I laughed and eased back in the booth.  No, not too bright, though I m pretty sure he can t
be as dense as he acts. It s just a convenient excuse. You know, pretend he honestly
misinterpreted our relationship or lack of relationship.
 So you and him never . . .
 Absolutely not. When you re a foster kid, you can t get into that. I paused, realizing I d
let slip something I preferred to keep to myself. But if he d overheard any of my conversation
with Jason, he already knew I d been in foster care. So I continued.  I tried it once nothing
big, just a little hand-holding kind of thing with another foster brother when I was twelve but
that taught me my lesson. Any relationship Jason thinks we had took place only in his head.
Kelley Armstrong Beginnings 89
 But he keeps following you? What s it been now? Three, four years?
 Three. And two since I turned eighteen and got the hell away from him and his screwed-up
family. As for Jason, I don t know what his problem is. He s a good-looking guy he certainly
can t have problems getting dates with willing girls. So why me?
 Probably because he can get dates with willing girls . . . and you re not willing. Buddy of
mine is like that. Not like that stalking and shit. But if you put him at a party with ten girls,
and nine of them are falling over him, he ll make a beeline for number ten, spend the night trying
to charm her.
 The thrill of the hunt. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]