Luke stood up and held out a hand to help Pippa up. He didn’t let go after she rose, and he clasped it firmly as they walked together. It didn’t feel awkward—he’d already held her hand a couple of times. He felt protective. They walked along in silence.
They passed a mailbox, its hinge squeaking in the wind. The wind had picked up a plastic bag, which was scraping along the road, dancing with the fallen leaves. Every noise was amplified.
Luke pulled Pippa toward him to avoid a ditch. It was then that Luke sensed something. He glanced over his shoulder, and saw the flash of someone jump behind a tree. Luke’s muscles tensed. They were being followed.
“Don’t turn around, but someone is behind us,” warned Luke. “On foot.”
He saw Pippa’s neck stiffen. “Who is it?” she whispered.
“Not sure, but let’s speed up.”
They started walking as fast as possible without running. Luke felt as if there was a bullseye on his back. Was the person who was following them crazy enough to do something to harm them? What if he had a gun?
They were about a block away from the nearest streetlight. Luke feared that if they walked under it, they would be completely exposed to whoever was following them. It seemed safer to remain in the shadows. He abruptly pulled Pippa diagonally across the street. They picked up their pace and stayed on course.
“We’ll be able to see who it is when they pass the streetlight,” said Luke.
“Do you think he crossed, too?”
Luke pricked his ears. He could hear a distant tap, tap. Footsteps. “No, he’s on the other side.”
They walked past the streetlight and up about thirty feet before stopping short and turning around. For a split second, they saw a figure bathed in the light, but then it darted to the side. It looked like a man, in a baseball hat. But he was too fast for them. Luke grabbed Pippa’s hand tightly.”
“We need to run.”