Page 15 of Tripping on a Halo

“Creepy?” Nate tilted his head at him. “Come on. You afraid of a girl?”

“She knows where I live. It’s stepping over the line.”

“And you have her address,” he pointed out. “Look, of course, she knew your house. According to you, she follows you everywhere. You can’t be surprised by this.”

Nate had a point. Had he ever sat down and thought about it, Declan would have assumed that she’d had that information, just like she knew where he worked, the gym he used, and the sandwich place in Midtown he liked. But he’d never seen her near the house, and had lived under the pleasant delusion that she only stalked during business hours, and went away to her family or job or whatever during the rest of the time. He mentioned this and Nate squinted at him.

“So, you’ve never seen her at night?”

Declan considered the question. “I don’t think so… Wait—our softball games. I’ve seen her there.”

Nate frowned. “Why didn’t you point her out?”

“It was only once. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it.” Also, he hadn’t been positive it was her. It was hard to tell. The softball park was full of cute blondes in baseball caps, heads down or sunglasses on. And she was typically hiding behind something, her half-hearted attempts at subterfuge almost comical in nature.

“And you wondered why we thought she was imaginary.”

Declan sighed. “Try not to be a giant douche about this. I need your honest opinion on whether or not she’s going to hunt me down and kill me.”

Nate barked out a laugh.

“Seriously.” Declan leveled him with a stare. “Women do this. They obsess. They stalk. And when they don’t get the guy, they kill.”

Nate smirked. “We’re talking about the same girl, right?” He leaned back in his seat and stretched out his legs, digging in his front pants pocket for his phone. “This chick.” He tapped on the screen a few times, then turned it around to face Declan.

Autumn Jones’s sunny smile was displayed, right next to the pig.

“Yeah, her,” Declan growled.

“She’s freaking adorable. She’s…” he zoomed in on the photo. “Look. She’s wearing a candy necklace. And she’s with a pig. She’s not killing you. I bet she doesn’t even eat meat.”

Declan pushed at the phone, shoving the image away. “It doesn’t matter what she looks like. She’s insane.”

“I bet she tutors handicapped kids,” Nate continued. “Volunteers for Meals on Wheels.” He clapped his hands together. “She could even help your cause.”

“What cause?”

Nate’s grin widened. “The Get Declan Laid cause.” He slapped the table hard enough that the table behind them turned around.

Declan sighed.

“Come on, man. It’s been six months for you. SIX MONTHS.” He leaned forward. “I heard crazy girls are amazing in bed. Something about all that energy, that passion…” He closed his eyes in reverence.

“Please stop.”

“I can’t. It’s a good thing I love you, because I would be all over her otherwise.”

“So, you don’t think she’s going to kill me.”

“Eh.” He tilted his head from one side to the other as if weighing the probabilities. “Probably not.”

“That’s comforting.”

Nate leaned forward, his face sobering. “I do have to tell you something though.”

“What’s that?” Declan asked dryly.

“I hadn’t considered the possibility that she is violent. I mean, I didn’t think she even existed, prior to you pulling her damn calling card out of the trash. And I think you’re being a total pussy in terms of being scared of a woman. All that being said, you might want to keep your distance from her.” He shrugged. “Just to be safe.”

“What are you talking about? I am keeping my distance from her. I practically sprint in the opposite direction every time I see her.”

“Yeah, but…” he tilted his head with a wince. “Sending her a Facebook friend request… it might have sent her the wrong message.”

Declan shook his head. “I didn’t send her a friend request.”

“You did.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Well, technically you didn’t.” Nate turned his head, watching a girl walk by in yoga pants that showed every dimple in her ass.

“What does that fucking mean?”

Nate’s attention returned to him. “It means I may have sent the request for you. After you went to bed.”

Dread stabbed at Declan’s gut, his breath shortening. “Shut the fuck up.”

Nate leaned back, a wise move since he was a half second away from being punched in the middle of that pretty boy face. “I was drunk. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“To invite the crazy stalker with no boundaries to be my Facebook friend?” Declan half rose in his chair, his voice rising.

“Chill.” Nate raised his hands. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Declan stared at him and couldn’t even formulate a reply.

10

“He invited you to be his friend?” Ansley stared at me over the top of Paige’s head, her hands busy with a second French braid.

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