She was beautiful when she ran. Her hair was drawn back from her face in a ponytail that bounced as she took graceful strides that ate away at the pavement. Occasionally she ran through a pool of light that shone bright from the streetlamps lining the road, illuminated for a brief moment before she disappeared into the darkness again. This was when she loved to run. She was alone in the night.
Her friends warned her of the foolishness of her actions, but she never felt more powerful than when she ran cloaked in darkness. Her adrenaline rode high, and she felt as if she could take on the world. Her problems, the stress of the day, slipped away when the sun dipped down under the horizon. Running calmed her head, and there was nothing but her and the pavement. Nothing but him.
He watched her from a safe distance, careful not to get to close. Mustn’t alarm her. He followed her swiftly, staying beyond the woods that lay to the north. He leapt over fallen and broken branches as he matched her pace. Branches and crisp leaves newly fallen crunched under his feet, but he did not worry about startling her. She would have her music on, the beat pounding in her ears.
For months now, he followed her as she ran each evening. He was unable to keep his eyes off of her. He had tried to stay away. Tried to take a different route, away from her. Each time he found his feet leading him back to her.
They were coming up to the corner where she would turn left. Not much further until she arrived back at her front door. She was slowing down now, walking to cool down at this final stretch. As she passed under the lights, he could see the sweat beaded on her brow. She lifted her arm to wipe it away, as she evened her breathing.
He walked across the street, watching closely to make sure she would not see him. As she came up to her walk, he crossed the neighbor’s lawns, staying low. He watched as she keyed the lock and went through the door, closing it firmly behind her.
He edged around to the back of her cottage and leaned against the door. From this angle, he could see partially through the wispy sheers that hung over her kitchen window. He could make out a shadow moving across the panes.
He burst through the door and skidded to a halt in front of her. She stopped and stared at him, startled. A smile curved her lips, and she reached out to pull him into her arms. His striking blue eyes stared into her green ones. He rubbed his cheek against hers.
“Dinner, my sweet?” She laid a soft kiss on his forehead, then released him. She reached into the cupboard for a can. Peeling the lid back, she emptied its contents into a bowl sitting near the sink and set it on the floor. He sauntered over, whiskers twitching, and began to eat.
She shook her head as she watched him take dainty bites. Releasing her hair from its tie, she started towards the shower. She placed her clothes in a pile to wash for tomorrow night’s run, where she was never really alone.