There, in the Shadow of a Snow Angel

Agoraphobic and alone, Grace Bell is too scared to change her life for the better. That is, until she meets the gallant and dashing Henry Beaufort who is determined to save her. But can he save her from herself?

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3. It’s weird to just hear that sort of thing from a stranger

I was taken aback. Even if I had known what to say, I don’t think anything would have come out. So, I did the only thing I could think to do in that moment: I shut the door.

 

My flight instinct had kicked in; I was in a state of shock and my legs were on autopilot. I eventually found myself lying on my bed and impulsively hid under my duvet. I began to hum as I tried to stop all thoughts of the world- all thoughts of him- from entering my mind. I closed my eyes and held my hands over my ears wanting so much to block out the banging that was coming from my front door.

 

Then, abruptly, the knocking stopped. I had hoped that this meant he was gone. I couldn’t face getting up knowing that he was just outside my door. I was too scared. The Big Wide World scared me and more specifically the people in it scared me. He didn’t know me, and that’s exactly how I wanted to keep it. I had spent so many years now trying to keep myself out of the scrutiny of other people’s company. It was the only way I could protect my heart. And so far it had worked. I couldn’t let him in. I wouldn’t. I lifted my head enough to see out of my window, breathing a sigh of relief when I found he was gone.

 

The rest of the day was a blur. I barely left the comfort of my bed after he’d left. I had initially gone down to finally put away my shopping, but I was unable to concentrate entirely on the task ahead. My washing up liquid had ended up in the freezer and my ice cream in the cupboard. I was a nervous ball of energy and I needed to calm down. After rearranging my misplaced groceries, I headed back up to the bedroom with a cup of tea, and that’s where I stayed for the rest of the day.

 

I awoke the next morning to a soft pounding at my front door. I didn’t think to question this in my half-asleep-half-awake state, and the thought of receiving another unexpected visit from him had yet to enter my mind. I reached for the front door and gave it a yank but it wouldn’t budge. Huh? I thought to myself, suddenly jolting awake, and realised that I’d put all the locks on at some point yesterday before I’d conked out.

 

In my now lucid state, I was weary of opening the door; a quick glance through my peephole had caused flashbacks of the day before to entirely overwhelm me. And I stumbled back at the reminder of our brief conversation.

“Look I’m really sorry but what do you want exactly?” My feigned confidence still shocked me even now. I had just wanted so desperately for him to leave. But his reply…I didn’t know what to say.

“You” I cringed at the memory. I had put it so wholly out of mind last night and now here he was; back again. Back, here, at my door.

 

And then I heard him speak. Quietly at first, but then his voice seemed to gain confidence.

“Err, hi. I heard you coming down the stairs so I know you can hear me.” Then he seemed to go silent for a moment but the familiar voice soon returned. It seemed different though- more vulnerable, shaky even. “I just wanted to apologise… for what I, um, said yesterday. I shouldn’t have been so…Look, please just open up. It feels a bit awkward saying all of this to a door.”

 

I thought about it for a minute. I was still anxious about what had transpired, but something about his voice today…I could empathise. It was an only an apology, right? I mentally debated with myself, it’s not like you have to let him in, just open the door and hear him out. At that thought, I unlocked the door but decided to leave the chain lock on; just in case.

 

I peered through the gap, and gazed down at my doorstep, unsure of what to say.

“Hi” He spoke again. I just nodded, still unsure.

“Look, I know I scared you yesterday. I shouldn’t have been so forward. I’m sorry. You don’t know me and I guess it’s weird to just hear that sort of thing from a stranger. But, I just…When I saw you yesterday,” I was starting to feel awkward again; I didn’t know where to look. I wanted to just close the door in his face again, but I knew that if I did that he would just come back again. I mentally chided myself for getting into this mess in the first place- a mess that I had no way of getting out of. How was I going to tell him to-  

 

“Are you even listening?” He chuckled, cutting me off from my thoughts. I looked back up, realising that I hadn’t heard anything that he’d said for the past minute. I shook my head trying to think of a reply and opened my mouth before quickly closing it again.

“Look, never mind, it’s fine,” his voice filling the silence once more. “I just came here to say I’m sorry and let you know that I like you and wanted to get to know you,” the last part came out rushed and I recognised the nervous trembling that was now present in his voice. Maybe he’d faked his confidence yesterday, just like me? I began to think but immediately doubted this when I saw the same arrogant smirk from yesterday playing at his lips again. He was writing something on a card.

 

I stared as he placed the pen in the breast pocket of his finely cut suit, before handing me the card. My eyes widened as I read what was written on his business card: I know you like me as much as I like you. And I won’t give up until you admit it, so call me. When I looked back up, my mouth hanging open in bemusement, he was gone.

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