Rachael stomped on the brake. The car jolted to a sudden stop with a sharp desperate squeal of the tires as the amber light changed to red. She nearly missed seeing it. “Whew!” She could have bought it just then as cars whizzed across the intersection of Lake Street at 26th Avenue in San Francisco's Richmond District.
That Matthew what's-his-name, if he comes onto me again, I'll…
She needed to concentrate on driving and not get preoccupied by that insistent guy in the park. She never sought his attention but saw something in him she could write about. Inadvertently, she had let down her reserve and allowed a conversation, somewhat. Her new novel and the hot lead character occupied her thoughts. She had secretly watched that guy in the park. Emulating some of his characteristics and mannerisms would help flesh out the love of her lady story character's life. Writing was something she could accomplish without the hassle of dealing with annoying people, like that Matthew what's-his-name.
Why are guys always hitting on me? I don't put out that kind of vibe. Dressing down in sweats and my old hoodie should discourage anyone's interest.
Rachael Connor was comfortable with her life, didn't need to be out showing the world what she was about. So what if men thought her aloof or reserved? The few men she had known were turn-offs. Men always made her feel the same. Hit on. Their comes-ons made her skin crawl, and that insistent Matthew with his easy flowing conversation distracted her.
What was it about him? Said his name was Matthew Knight. I didn't need to know his name to put him into my story.
A brown-haired knight with an inquisitive gaze, and wearing gray designer sweat pants and red tank tee came to her rescue. A man and woman arguing near the pond caused her to have an abreaction to her own tragic memories. Rachael loved visiting the pond and sitting inside the tree circle to work on her laptop. Then that ugly fight began, that couple almost coming to blows as they verbally sparred while walking in fits and starts along the footpath. Belligerent, like her mom and dad. Panic welled up and glutted in a lump in her throat. Her senses tingled in a warning of fight or flight. Then Matthew appeared by her side as she crouched behind a tree trying to hide.
In a few moments, he had shown more interest than merely wishing to calm her. He helped her nerves to settle down, but stayed longer on the pretense of wanting to make sure she was okay. That, she was sure of. She avoided looking at him but caught a glimpse of his sparkling eyes. Without hesitation, he reached over and picked fine pieces of tree bark out of her brassy red hair. Other guys were quick to comment on her hair and eyes. If he had mentioned it, and added that her eyes were green as emeralds, if she heard it one more time, she'd have walked away and left him with his mouth hanging agape. Red hair and green eyes were not that rare anymore since others dyed their hair and used non-prescription contacts. Her hair and eyes were natural. She wished people would stop calling attention to them. She also wished the guy who knelt beside her would have left, but his coaxing and conversation seemed inviting, trying to show he really cared. Yet, she wanted to be left alone to work.
Mountain Lake Park off Park Presidio Blvd, barely inside the Presidio grounds, was a place she spent many hours keying away, writing her stories. Days were becoming sunnier and warmer, perfect for being outdoors. Since seeing Matthew and his half naked body in a tank tee the previous summer, the main male character in her latest story was now graced with that fantastic physique. Rachael also wrote in her journal. That always helped her get clear of some of the lagging residual effects of old abuses at the hands of her mother and father. Actually, she considered herself well-healed, until something like that couple arguing set her off before she could stop herself from teetering into the abyss of fear.
Matthew had kept the conversation going. Rachael hadn't disclosed much about her herself though Matthew pried. She tried to nicely discourage his interest, yet he persisted, being friendly. He said he worked as a part-time counselor with troubled teens and understood more than just kids. He seemed genuine and caring, but her gut intuition kicked hard, advising caution. This guy could be using her abreaction as a pretext to get to know her. She wasn't dumb, had learned her lessons well, thanks to her tyrant father and domineering mother. After leaving their overly-protective shell, she had two relationships since moving to San Francisco; two that consisted of meaningless, juvenile conversations and hand-holding that made her feel like a high school girl. Had she not ended those fledgling relationships early, she'd have let herself in for more disappointment, like during her teen years. Those years were part of the past she wished to keep buried, yet tapes of old memories often times replayed spontaneously in her mind, uninvited.
After that first encounter with Matthew, Rachael changed the description of the secondary character's eyes in her novel. Hunter Lockwood would be graced with Matthew's amazing eyes. Rachael gave the auburn-haired protagonist, Melissa Turner, a couple of lines expressing the way she felt about Matthew.
Hunter's hazel eyes carried a look of knowing, like he was seeing into her soul. His eyes contained gold specs around dark pupils. The outer irises seemed sometimes blue, other times green. Depending on which way sunlight shined in, they turned a light teal color. His eyes were exquisite, but Melissa wasn't about to comment on them and encourage him to chat.
To her, he seemed gregarious, maybe too sure of himself, an in-your-face kind of guy, not a person to hold back when he wanted something. He exhibited one good quality, at least. He did not comment on her hair and eyes. Surely, he saw her as a person, not as a unique set of colors.