Mara knew that feeling, the small shiver down her spine, and the small hairs on the back of her neck. She also knew there were only two people in the world who could get close enough to give her that feeling without her catching them first.
“Come down and walk with me, or go away!” she called into the seemingly empty alleyway—not even bothering to look behind her.
For a moment, there was only silence, and Mara thought they had decided to just go back to the tower after all, then she heard the gentle sound of shoes hitting concrete. He came up into stride next to her, as casually as if they had agreed to meet here all along. “Hello, Mara.”
“Colin,” she answered in what she thought sounded calm, hoping her voice didn’t give away the fact that her heart had skipped a beat.
“How are you?” he asked, so casually. Mara couldn’t help but wonder how he could do it.
“Fine. And you? How’s the team? How’s…” Mara’s voice caught on the name, “Diana?”
There was a moment’s hesitation, before Colin, as blunt as ever, came back with “Do you mean how she doing with the team or how is she doing sleeping with me?”
Mara let a desperate little laugh slip through her lips. This was not how she had been expecting to spend her walk home. Not at all. “Honestly, I don’t know. Both, I guess. But—I don’t know if I actually want to hear the answers.”
Colin took half a step to the side as they walked so that his hand just barely brushed hers before straightening back out and continuing their parallel walk. “She’s fine, on bother regards,” and then quietly added, “Not as good as you. On both regards.”
Mara tried not to think about that. She didn’t need to fall back down the rabbit hole of dwelling on the relationship she and Colin once had. Because nothing had changed—No matter how much better she was than Diane, no matter how much better Colin was then any of her boyfriends since—their relationship was simply impossible.
“And Andy?” She changed the topic as quickly as possible. Of course, she knew how Andy was, she’d hung out with him only the night before—and she had a feeling Colin knew that too, but he allowed the change.
“Andy’s good. Doing stupid stuff, as always, but he hasn’t been hurt in a long time. So—Progress. Ava is going to throw him a hundred days without injury party next week. If he can keep it together for another five days.”
“That’s a big If. A Real big if.” Mara laughed.
“Yeah—but he doesn’t have any missions between then and now—so…” Colin shrugged playfully.
“Colin. Are you honestly telling me that you don’t think that Andy can hurt himself within HQ?” Mara asked skeptically.
“Hmm,” Colin considered for a second, before admitting, “You’re right. We’re screwed. It’s a shame—I wanted Ava’s cake. It’s delicious.”
“That it is.” Mara concurred, as she looked up and realized they had made it all the way to her building. “I guess this is where we part ways,” She tried to smile, as she gestured at the building with her keys.
“Yeah,” Colin tilted his head back to look up at the building as if he might be able to see what was going on in her sixteen-floor apartment from here. “Do—you think we can do this more often? Walk home together?” he offered, in a small voice that reminded Mara of when they were kids, when Colin was still a timid boy who was afraid to ask for anything he wanted.
Mara took a deep breath. “Let’s not push it, Col. We are playing with fire here, and we both know it.” Mara fidgeted with her keys for a second, knowing she should leave it there, but she couldn’t help herself. “Not often, but…occasionally, you should come by to walk me home.”
And then she hurried into the lobby before she could make him any more allowances.