Chapter 4

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Luke seemed to have forgotten the bags of groceries clutched in his hands. He was standing wide-eyed at the scene in front of him. A few more inches and he would have been in the middle of Holly's main thoroughfare, running the risk with each passing second of being run over by a slow Subaru filled with a family of day-trippers.

Anya gave up trying to get his attention as he hadn't responded to any of the times she had called his name. She had exited the butchers to find his eyes glued to the idyllic scene the small Vermont town of Holly offered.

Anya didn't bother to interrupt the small smile breaking across Luke's frozen expression. It was commonplace during the holidays in Holly and Anya had seen it many times before. But Luke's was the first that had ever tugged on Anya's heartstrings.

She had seen the look on his face before. Not just the wide-eyed gaze taking in the lights and decorations that made up Holly's exterior holiday decorations. But Luke's own particular stare. It was the reason they had even met in the first place.

Anya had been exiting her dorm room building her first spring semester at school in the city. New York was still a maze to her and so she had her nose deep in a subway map, trying to figure out how to get to her next class. She had run nearly head-first into Luke where he stood in the middle of the sidewalk outside her dorm building.

"Woah! Hey! Sorry!"

With his exclamations, Luke's arms were around Anya's shoulders before her feet could lose balance completely.

There was a moment where they stood frozen, locked in an awkward half-hug, with Anya's arms gripping Luke's, their breath frozen, after which they quickly realize that Anya was not going to fall and quickly dropped their hands and lost all physical contact. Anya even took a half step back to gain a normal amount of personal space for them both.

Anya shook the invisible dirt from her jeans, verbalizing an apology without looking up.

"Sorry. That's my fault. I wasn't looking where I was going."

"I probably shouldn't be staring at this building in the middle of the sidewalk. I insist on taking full responsibility for our little run-in."

When Anya looked up, she found a pair of soft blue eyes smiling at her behind black-framed glasses, his blonde hair only a centimeter from falling into his eyes.

"I'm Luke, by the way."

Anya took half a second to glance down at the hand extended to her, shaking it out of courtesy as her mind tried to piece together the man standing in front of her.

"Anya," she replied after a long moment of awkward silence while they kept shaking hands.

When she realized she was staring and that their hands still held one another, Anya quickly let go. Her nervousness seemed to entertain Luke as he let out a light laugh. Anya could feel the blood rushing to her face and looked down at the ground to avoid his gaze. It was still locked on her when she looked back up.

"It was just this building. It's so beautiful. I've read all about it. I just had to stop by and see it for myself."

Anya followed his gaze that had now transferred back to her dorm building. They stood there on the sidewalk, side by side for a long moment in silence.

Anya stared at the red brick building, not knowing the names for any of the external detailings the original architect surely put a lot of time and thought into. It was a beautiful building. It was one of the reasons Anya has originally chosen this university over the many others she and her grandparents had visited in the city.

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