Lena escaped the house. It was a relief to be outside in the brisk air. Tonight it wasn’t cloudy so she could see the stars against the black backdrop that was the sky. Once again she climbed over the fence and snuck into to the Elementary school’s playground. There were many well worn paths through the snow that the young kids created; Lena followed one to the swing set. She sat down and grasped the cold metal chains. The sting bite through her white mittens but she didn’t let go, she gripped harder.
She pushed against the frozen ground and started the swings momentum. She stretched her legs and tucked them under. Lena leaned back as far as she could to get higher, to go faster. She watched the galaxy come closer than move away. The impulse to just fling herself off grew with each second. She felt like she would just fly into the heavens. Her hand loosed on the chain…
She grabbed the chain tightly in surprise as her heartbeat raced. Derek was romping though the snow behind her. She slowed down as he made his way over. He snagged the swing next to her and sat down.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Are you stalking me?” she asked.
“No,” he said and pushing back and with his feet. “Why do you ask?”
“You’re in a deserted playground at night in the middle of winter.”
“So are you,” he pointed out grinning.
“Yeah, I was here first.”
“Great view, huh?” Derek said ignoring her.
She ignored his comment and started to swing again. The swing was like her life; freedom in sight but something always pulling her back down. No matter how hard she worked, she would only be able to attain a certain height. A predetermined distance.
Lena stopped moving and let the swing come to a stop by itself. She was staring ahead so she didn’t notice Derek coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Do you always use that indifferent tone?” Derek asked, evading her question. Most girls would have squealed or broken free of his hold and yelled at him. Lena didn’t even react; it wasn’t normal. It made him wonder what made her behave this way.
“You’re the only one that has a problem with it,” Lena pointed out.
Derek sighed and released her. It was no fun if she didn’t care what he did. He sank back onto his swing and kicked aimlessly at the snow. “Are you a vampire?” he asked.
“Why do you ask?”
“Because you only come out at night,” Derek answered.
“Yes, I am,” she said.
Derek looked up. “Whoa, seriously?”
“No,” Lena said and smiled.
Derek had the distinct feeling that she was making fun of him. But he liked her better for it. This time it was Lena that sighed and looked up at the sky.
“You have to go, don’t you?” he said.
“Yes,” she said.
“Do you have a curfew or something?”
“It’s more like I’m grounded. I’m not allowed to leave the house without permission,” she sighed again.
“I’ll walk you home,” Derek decided. He took her hand and pulled her up. She slipped on the ice and she fell against Derek who seemed to keep his balance.
“Do you always have to be so forceful?” she demanded. She didn’t realize he was so tall; she only came up to his shoulders. Her heart beat faster as she took in his scent and felt the warmth from his body penetrate her.
She missed his response but resigned to the fact that he would walk her home. He helped Lena over the ice and snow and watched grinning as she swung her legs over the fence.
“You have a really nice butt,” he commented as he joined her on the other side.
“I’m sure you get that a lot at school.”
“I don’t,” she said.
“What are people blind?” Derek asked appalled.
“I don’t go to school. I have a private tutor at home,” Lena explained.
“Private tutor…what are you, a rich girl?” he asked confused.
“Kinda. Although my parent’s wealth isn’t my wealth.”
He was quiet after that, thinking about what he just learned. Rich, sheltered, and not allowed to leave the house. Probably doesn’t have any friends. Strict parents.
“We’re here, you can go now,” Lena said, pulling him away from his thoughts.
Derek knew the area well, yet somehow this large house evaded his knowledge. It was partially hidden by woods, a mini manor of red brick and large windows. It had a three car garage and a tidy sculpted yard under the snow. He realized the long driveway was also the cause of the concealment of the property; it snaked darkly behind them.
“Whoa, whoa. Wait,” he said. He grabbed her arm to prevent her from leaving.
“Shh!” she shushed him hurriedly.
“I want to see you again,” he said, almost stubbornly.
The house lamps flickered on. As the only source as light it illuminated Lena’s long white coat and face. Her mittens, hat, and scarf matched; her hair was much longer than he originally thought. It went half way down her back.
“Lena! Is that you?” a man’s voice shouted as the front door swung open. A serious looking man in his forties stormed down the walkway. “What do you think you’re doing wandering around outside without permission, and at night?”
“I just went for a walk,” she said indifferently.
“I see you met a boy on your walk,” he said looking menacingly at Derek. “Come on,” he ordered grabbing her arm and pulled her toward the house. “We are going in. You are not to see my daughter again,” he shouted over his shoulder.
Derek could see a woman in a robe waiting at the door with another man. The door slammed shut behind them and as distant shouting started Derek grimaced. He didn’t mean to get Lena in troubled. They way things looked he wouldn’t be seeing her any time soon.
Without last glanced, he turned and headed back down the driveway. He thought about Lena all week. He couldn’t get her out of his head despite the distraction of school, friends, and family. His friends didn’t believe him when he told them about meeting Lena. They though he made it up and ragged on him for fun.
Determined to prove it to them, Derek snuck out of the house to go see her. It was a little far to walk but the noise of the car would give him away. After five minutes he thought he’s risk it since it was so cold. He huddled inside his coat and walked faster. He was relieved that he didn’t meet anyone on the way; he didn’t really want to explain what he was doing walking around at this time of the night and despite his efforts, he looked suspicious.