Anna – You’re Never Too Old(Book Two of the ‘Never’ Series Trilogy)
Linda Kane Paavola
May 2009 – Waverly, South Carolina – Anna
Anna Hollister had noticed the mysterious man looking at her for several days while she was walking along the boardwalk. She loved her afternoon walks along the beach. It was a little warmer temperature than in the mornings when Bailey went running. The day was gorgeous. The wind was not very strong and she loved the salt-scented smell of the ocean as it was rolling onto the sand. There were quite a few families on the beach now that it was May and the water was warming up a bit. Some families didn’t care if the water was a bit cooler than it would be during the height of summer. Their children still loved playing in the sand, some even wading into the water. She loved hearing the children giggling and watching the families share in the fun.
All of a sudden, she noticed he was coming toward her. If she hadn’t been watching the families playing in the sand, she would have noticed him earlier, turned and ran home. It was too late now. He seemed to slow down as she came alongside him. When she didn’t stop, she noticed out of the corner of her eye that he made a U-turn and he was now following her. She started jogging a bit. She took a chance and looked over her shoulder. He had upped his speed too. Anna didn’t like the feeling of being followed. She didn’t know if she was being followed or stalked. She then thought back to all that her daughter, Bailey, had gone through and began to worry if this had anything to do with Bailey’s situation. What if this man was connected with her ex-husband, Jared, and the extremist group that he was involved with? He might be here to revenge the detainment of the members of his group. There was no way she wanted to be the reason that they found out where Bailey was. She was not going to do anything to put her daughter in danger again.
The first off-shoot from the boardwalk was coming up soon. Anna looked over her shoulder again quickly. She was further ahead of him now but he was still jogging. If only she could make the turn and lose herself inside one of the stores she wouldn’t be found. She had to do something, anything to keep her daughter and family safe.
Anna quickly turned off the main boardwalk and just as she was making the next turn she saw the man turning off the boardwalk toward her. She had to lose him quickly. She ran into the third store. That was as far as she could go before the man would make it to the next turn and see her. She quickly made her way to the back of the store and found a clerk that was folding t-shirts. She told him she was being followed and asked him if there was another way out of the store. He told her there wasn’t. He could tell by the shakiness of her voice and the sweat dripping down her face that she had been running and was very scared. He blocked any view of her from the front of the store. He told her to go into one of the dressing rooms and said he would take care of it.
The clerk turned towards the front of the store and saw a man peering into the store as though he was looking for someone. The clerk walked towards him and asked if he could help the man. The man asked, “Did a woman with long, red hair just come in here?” The clerk shook his head and said he hadn’t seen anyone like that. The man continued to the next store.
Anna didn’t know how long she stayed in the dressing room. The next thing Anna knew, the clerk was handing her a bottle of water and telling her to drink. People were so kind in this area. He said, “Just sit here as long as you need. Is there anyone you can call to come and get you?” Anna thought and decided she would call to see if Josh would come down to pick her up. She called him and explained the situation. He said he would be right there.
As Anna was sitting there, she thought back to her previous days of running or walking when she had noticed the man. Luckily, she had never gone directly home those days, so she couldn’t have taken him back to Bailey. She was going to either have to change her walking times while she was here or she would have to stop them altogether.