“I can’t believe you have to go back to school so early, Bella,” Liam grumbled. “Can’t you hang out with us some more?”
“I’d love to, Liam, but I’ve got to get ready for my classes to start. I’m lucky that I’ve got some free time. My schedule is pretty flexible and you guys are my favorite dates,” Bella said, driving them to Target. She had to pick up some office supplies and a new flash drive for her new curriculum. “After we get my stuff from Target, we’ll get some lunch and then we’ll hang out at the beach. Your dad is meeting us there.”
“Can we go to that the taco place on the beach?” Lucy asked.
“It’s a plan, pretty girl,” Bella beamed, parking her car. “Come on, kiddos. Let’s get these errands done.” They went into store, getting the office supplies and some snacks for the beach.
As they were wandering in the store, a blonde woman was following them. She was taking pictures with her cell phone, her over made up face pinched and fuming with anger. She watched Bella as she laughed with the little girl, Lucy, buying her some books and colored pencils. She scowled as Bella helped the boy, Liam, grab some beach toys, brushing her fingers in the boy’s red hair. Lucy bounced on her toes, asking to get some sunblock and aloe for the trip to the beach. Bella nodded. She turned and ran to the opposite end of the store. The woman followed her. The girl ran into her legs. “Ooops, sorry,” Lucy chirped.
“No big deal,” the woman replied. “You’re very pretty.”
“Thank you, but I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” Lucy said, taking a step back. She narrowed her eyes at the lady. “I’ve seen you before. You look like …” Lucy trailed off, shaking her head. “Leave me alone.” She turned, bolting down the aisle and forgetting the stuff she’d picked up. The woman frowned, following the little girl and watching as Bella paid for all their stuff, leaving the store.
“Who’s ready to go to the beach?” Bella asked, backing up and driving to the taco place. “Lucy? Are you okay? You seem a little quiet.”
“I’m fine, Bella,” Lucy said, trying to forget the creepy lady with too much makeup on.
“You can talk to me, pretty girl,” Bella whispered. Lucy shrugged. Parking in a public lot, they went to the taco place and settled down for some lunch. Liam went to the bathroom and Bella idly played with Lucy’s hair. “There’s something wrong, Luce. What’s wrong?”
“Some lady was following me in the store. I think it was the same lady from Red Robin,” Lucy whispered. “She looks like I should know her.”
“What does she look like, Lucy?” Bella asked, her heart stammering.
“Tall with the same colored hair as me,” Lucy said. “She has on way too much makeup and she was dressed like Miss Lauren. Her dress was too short.”
“Shit,” Bella spat out.
“You said a bad word,” Lucy chided.
“I’m sorry, pretty girl,” Bella apologized. “I know who is following you.”