A Perfect Stranger

When Lara meets a mysterious stranger in the park, they get to talking and she feels drawn to him. What happens when she finds out who he really is?

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1. Chance Meetings

“Hey, do you mind if I kip here?”  An accented male voice startled me from my daydream in the grass. Half-heartedly opening one eye, I squinted against the light and saw the dark silhouette of a tall, slender young guy standing at my feet, indicating at the free patch of shaded grass next to me. Seeing no reason to object, I closed my eye again and waved the stranger down next to me, “Yeah sure. It’s a free country…supposedly.” This comment earned me a chuckle. I grinned in response as I felt him slump to the ground to my left. “You sound doubtful. Any particular reason?” the stranger asked me in a gentle, almost feminine, yet very appealing voice. I was the one who chuckled this time. “Don’t mind me, I see conspiracies everywhere. Adds some excitement to an otherwise dull life,” I said jokingly, “So, you from around here? I don’t think I know you.”

“No, just visiting for a while. Me and some friends are travelling around the world together. This is our second last stop before we head back home.”

I considered for a second. “So where is home? England, by the sound of things, but correct me if I’m wrong.”

“No, not at all. I, we, live in London.”

“Oh hush!” I protested

My exclamation was met by a pause and then, “What?”

“Don’t worry; it’s just me being me again. I’ve been to so many places around the world compared to my friends, but England is one of the few countries I want to see that I haven’t been to. London must be so amazing to live in!”

“Yeah, it is definitely a great place to live. So you like to travel?”

I gave a dramatic sigh. “Do I ever. Airports, the rushing around, the flying, and seeing the world, I love it. I won’t ever get enough, not in one lifetime at least. What about you?”

“I’m the same. And I am lucky enough that I get to do it a fair bit, and with my best friends.”

“That would be so good. I’m even more jealous now.” We lay there for a few minutes in comfortable silence, the warm summer air carrying the scent of eucalyptus and the fluctuating hubbub of the world passing by. After a while my inevitable sense of curiosity grew too strong and I broke the quiet. “So what do you like to do, other than travel?” He began to speak, but I cut him off before he could finish the first word, with a breathless sentence that splurged out in a rapid stream, as was usual for me, “Sorry if I’m being a pest by the way. I’m lucky that I’m not a cat, being as curious as I am.” This earned me another chuckle. I felt my face flush in an uncharacteristic display of embarrassment, and was glad that this mysterious stranger couldn’t see my reaction. I took a surreptitious deep breath to help slow my heart, which I realised was beating at a million miles an hour. What was it about this guy that was making me react like this? I barely knew him. Like hell, I didn’t even know what he looked like, let alone his name! I needed to get a grip. He started again and my mind zoomed back to focus on the task at hand. “Well,” he began, “I love music, and just mucking around with my friends. I’m a bit of a joker. And football, or soccer as you seem to call it here.”

“Don’t worry, I call it football to. My mum is German.”

“Really? Have you ever been before?”

I nodded, “Yeah, we go almost every year. All mum’s family is over there.”

“Do you speak the language a little then?”

“I’m fluent.”

“Oh.” I burst out laughing at this taken aback response. It didn’t take long before he started laughing too. What a sight we must have been, two people lying on the ground in hysterics over nothing. When the laughter finally subsided, our conversation burst back into life. We spoke of superficial things at first, like favourite colours and animals and music, but gradually, I found myself pouring out my soul to this stranger, my hopes and dreams, fears and weaknesses. I didn’t know what it was, but I felt comfortable around him. Maybe it was because I knew that the chances of him sticking around long enough to judge me where minute. So we lay there, in our own little world, time passing us by without a care, and got to know each other better and better. And the more I learnt about him, the more and more I wanted for him to stick around.  And not just in a friendly way. “Get a grip! You don’t know enough about him. Not his age, his name or even what he looks like. Or if he is even single. You have no chance!” I chided myself. Yet the more we spoke, the more and more I felt myself falling for this perfect stranger.

 

“Hey, do you have the time on you?” I asked, noticing the dimming light and cooling temperature.

“Erm, yeah I do, hold on,” I waited as I heard him pull a phone out of his pocket.  A few seconds later, when he still hadn’t replied, I asked again, “Hello? Earth to you, what’s the time?”

“Oh, sorry. I was just a little stunned. Its five pm,” came the hasty reply. I nearly passed out from shock. “Five?! You’ve got to be kidding me,” I exclaimed. I had gotten to the park at lunchtime, and he had joined my no more than half an hour later. We had been here for over four hours.  “Did you need to be somewhere?” he queried. I shook my head, and then realised that he wouldn’t be able to see me, “No, I was just surprised is all. Did you need to be somewhere? Won’t your friends be worried that you’ve been gone so long?”

“Nah, but I should probably get going soon. Will your parents be worried?”

“Nope. I’m all alonesome for the next week. Mum and Dad are away on holidays in Vietnam. I didn’t really feel like being eaten alive in yet another tropical sauna, so I stayed home. They’re looking at it as a test of responsibility.”

“Oh, haha. Mosquito magnet then?”

“If only you knew. Every biting, stinging thing in a ten kilometre radius seems to think I am a homing beacon or a free  All-You-Can-Eat buffet.” My indignant response caused another round of laughter from him. I kept quiet, but I couldn’t resist the grin that tugged at the corners of my mouth. The sound of his laughter was infectious. “Hey, it’s not funny when you’re the one in my shoes! And almost nothing helps with the itching either,” I protested, half-jokingly. I regretted my outburst a moment later, when the laughing stopped. However, my regret didn’t last long. In a tone that was both serious and flippant the stranger apologised, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. Will you let me make it up to you by walking you home?” I could have sworn my heart stopped. Trying my best to sound light hearted, I consented, “Sure, if you want to, that would be great.”

“Wonderful. Now, forgive me for being bold, and please don’t feel pressured in any way at all, but..” he trailed off. I tried desperately to quash the impossible theories running rampant in my head as I replied, “But what? Go on, say it. I promise I won’t hate you for it, and you’ve made me desperately curious now….pleasssseee?”

“Okay, okay!” he laughed, “Well, what are you doing tonight? I thought that maybe we could catch a movie at my place and you can meet they guys.”

“Are you asking me out on a date?” The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. I groaned internally as I felt the blush race to my cheeks, “Great job self. Way to make things awkward and ruin any chance you had. And all in one go too! You should be proud, you socially retarded mop. No wonder you’ve never had a boyfriend.”

Which is why his following words surprised me so badly. “Yes. Is that too much to ask? If it is I’m really sorry.”

“Yes, I mean, no. Argh! Yes, I want to go on a date with you. No, it’s not too much to ask.” I felt like I was about to explode from sheer joy. This was turning out to be the best day ever. He began to speak again, “Awesome. But you need to make me one  promise before we go, okay?”

I frowned in confusion, but agreed, “Okay, what is it?”

“When we get up, and you look at me, don’t scream, squeal, faint or burst into tears or anything else drastic okay? Just remember the last four and a bit hours of conversation, and that I am just a normal person, okay?”

“Okay, I promise.” I was absolutely stumped, and if I was to be honest, a little nervous. I took a deep breath and stood, careful not to look at my stranger, “Okay, get up, and then on the count of three, I will trunk, okay? No squealing, I promise. Okay, 1-2-3-go!”

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