There was a single whack behind me as the ax was returned to the chopping block and left there.
“You don’t talk much,” he said.
Six months of silence, of resting shoes and swift glances, and now …
“Why are you here?” I asked.
Boots moved behind me, stomping over dew-covered grass before resting next to mine. “Maybe I like quiet people,” he replied. I felt his eyes fall to my untamed hair. “You sort of intrigue me.”
My stomach clenched, my insides filling with crawling insects, and I was suddenly at a loss for words. Or maybe, I didn’t say anything because there wasn’t anything that could be said. There was nothing worth saying.
“And that’s why,” Heathcliff murmured, “your silence now. It’s as if you don’t feel the need to fill space with noise. But the one time you did speak, it meant something.” He leaned close. “What’s going on inside your head?”
My breathing grew harsh, my pulse quickening. “Are you one of those I find wounded animals to heal kind of people? I can promise you, I’m not wounded.”
My words surprised me, and for a moment, I think it did him, too.
“Maybe not,” he said finally, “but you do need a friend.”
My gaze shot to his chest, my eyes wide. “I don’t!”
He leaned against the shed, the muscles in his arms pushing against his rolled up sleeves. “Why won’t you look at me?”
I swallowed. “I know what you look like.”
“And yet you won’t look at me. Why?”
My lips curled, the smile as much a surprise as my words. “Because I don’t commit to faces.”
Heathcliff chuckled. “You only commit to shoes?”
My smile slipped. “Faces leave,” I mumbled. “Shoes walk away. You learn a lot about people by what they wear on their feet. I’d rather see what’s going to leave than what I’d miss if it left.”